Donald Trump’s tariffs have severely hit the bottom line of American farmers, yet many of them still support him.
Farmers have been hurt in many ways by Trump, including lower prices for soybean and other crops they sell, and higher prices for metal grain bins and other equipment they buy.
Yet according to a survey by POLITICO, most rural voters plan to vote Republican in the midterm elections.
Democrats in agricultural areas have predicted that farmers would abandon GOP candidates this year, as Trump’s global trade war hits the Midwest. But they have discovered that the economic argument against the GOP may not be enough to carry Democrats to victory.
According to POLITICO,
“There’s a disconnect between the negative effect of Trump’s policies on his voters in farm country and their unwavering support for him. That could limit the size of the Democratic majority widely expected to take control of the House next year and give Trump cover to prolong his aggressive moves against U.S. trading partners.”
Farmers who have been hurt in the pocketbook say that they believe the pain will be short-lived. Thus they are retaining their faith in the Republican Party. Farm incomes are down 50% from five years ago and soybean prices are down 20% since Trump announced his tariffs.
Apparently they have bought into the Trump narrative that tariffs are necessary for American national security, so they support them for that reason. Also, they believe that the president will be successful over time in negotiating better deals with China, the European Union, Mexico and Canada.
On top of that, they cite the the Agriculture Department’s $12 billion aid package as proof that Trump isn’t going to let them down.
“I have to give the guy credit, Trump — he said he was going to do this, and we knew it,” one Illinois farmer said. “I personally honestly believe we have better light at the end of the tunnel, and in the end, this is going to help not only agriculture but the United States in general.”
John Jackson, a political scientist at Southern Illinois University said:
“The question is, do the farmers believe that they’ve been hurt, and are they angry enough about the dramatic decline in prices that they blame the president and blame his surrogates who are running for Congress as Republicans? I’m skeptical. Whether they vote against themselves based on the long-term belief that they’re going to be alright remains to be seen.”
Yet middle class Republicans have a long history of voting against their own economic interests. Whether that historical trend continues in the 2018 elections remains to be seen.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.