Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Ted Cruz an anti ethanol guy won the Iowa Republican caucus. I know it is a caucus and not a primary and it is IOWA but wow.
The “Rural Vote” matters but does the Farm and Ranch Policy vote matter?
Their are less and less commercial production agricultural people. Social Security and Medicade/Medicare are the most important government money transfer programs in most rural counties.
Only in a few very rural, very agricultural states does the farm and ranch policy vote matter. There are probably 40 Congressional Seats where it matters a bunch and another 40 where it matters some. So a candidate for congress from an agricultural area better have a good ag policy background, but on a larger scale it does not matter as much anymore.
So does a Presidential Candidate need a big time agricultural coalition??? It is nice but not near as a necessity as it was just 20 years ago. Rural voters care much more deeply about other issues than ag policy when it comes time to go to the voting booth.
As recently as 2006 the republicans lost control of the House of Representatives because of a refusal to pass a crop and livestock disaster bill. Which they then allowed to be passed after the election. Thankfully for them the TEA PARTY roared the republicans back into power in 2010. Maybe it had more to do with Obama and how he is not really oriented to rural issues at all. But remember I am talking about the House not a nationwide campaign.
In the 1990’s it mattered what your agricultural policy was. Now remember I am saying agricultural policy not rural policy issues. I will get to those later.
The Electoral map has changed. Used to be a republican could not win the presidency if they did not win Illinois. Not now. Illinois has not voted republican since 1984. Iowa has voted for a democrat since 1984, except for 2004. So, your 2 big corn producers 2 of the 3 “I” states have voted democrat from 1984 until now except for Iowa in 2004. From 1968 until 1984 they went reliably republican. And, we are talking about 2 of the states most heavily dependent on farm program payments.
In the 1990’s it mattered. Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton were fighting over control of the House and Senate and they went at it in many rural areas. Areas in the old south that used to vote conservative democrat switched to conservative republican.
So for a Presidential election the battleground states have changed and they have went away from many traditional agricultural policy big money receiving states. Florida, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina are the big ones now. Also Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Wisconsin, and yes maybe Iowa. But most ag states will be won on lower taxes, less and I mean less regulation. Can you say no WOTUS and repeal and replace ObamaCare.
Remember some really big ag states are firmly in the democrat tank. No need to waste time and energy on ag policy for Minnesota or Illinois. Rural voters in let’s say Springfield, Missouri are probably wound up on lots of other conservative issues rather than agricultural policy.
Agricultural Groups are going away from rural people. I know really a bold statement. Lately they have been hiring lots of ex democratic staffers as commodity and farm group organization staff. The groups want “access” to the democratic lawmakers. I sometimes wonder what good it will do. You may get to meet with them but will it really get you anything in the end??? Maybe I also think you risk upsetting longtime relationships with conservative members. But, they figure 2 things I think. One, the conservatives naturally support lots of issues the ag groups do, and the members of the ag groups are the people who vote and live in the conservative members districts. And two, none of the ag groups members live in many of the democrat members districts so we have to hire somebody to get in the door with them.
Democrat farmers tend to be a lot more involved in farm organizations than many republican farmers are. I just like to keep track of stuff and I try and pick up on hints and how people lean. I also have the advantage of being publicly out on the right side and I often get little comments directed my way. So my observation. Membership in farm organizations is about 80-20 republican over democrat, but those heavily involved is about 60-40 republican over democrat, but when you get to top leadership it is more 50-50. And, from comments by staff especially retired staff posted on social media, staff is much more liberal than membership. Staff is important they really run things.
Many big agricultural organizations also have big time business interests that they have to protect.
And, I like this example. There are at least two Illinois counties that have no organized democrat political organization, none. No elected democrat precinct committee person, so that means no county organization. None, nothing, nada, and now I ask do the county organizations for agriculture really need to worry about that side of the isle??? It is all becoming big city, big suburbs on one side of the isle and I see it continuing that way. Less rural representation because we are losing population, but what is left is becoming more conservative. The old Roosevelt democrats are dying off in rural America.
In the end ag policy does not matter in national politics as much as it once did because of numbers. Do the math.
Rural Issues that matter to rural voters, not in any particular order, just stuff that matters to voters.
Private Property Rights
Social Issues, the conservative ones
Health Care Costs
Self – employed business issues
Rules and over regulations
Then maybe Agricultural Policy