Farmers and those living in rural communities are usually far off from reality in terms of politics because of how their lifestyles keep them focused on working in their farms or in communities that are naturally far away from the urban areas where politics is usually centralized. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t care about politics and voting because farms and rural communities still vote. In that regard, let us explore how farms and those who live far away from urbanized sectors do vote.
How do farm/rural communities vote?
Farmers and those living in rural communities in the United States are usually those that tend to be distant from the political realm largely because a lot of the major political decisions by nationwide leaders are more likely to focus on those in the urbanized sectors instead of affecting the people who are far away from population centers across America. In some cases, because the lifestyles of those living in farms and rural communities seem too different from the ones who are living in population centers, they themselves choose to distance themselves from politics.
However, no matter how far farms and rural communities are to the realm of politics in terms of lifestyle and distance, that doesn’t mean that farmers and people thinking about how to start farming don’t care at all. They still actually participate in politics especially when it comes to voting because of how there are still political decisions that impact the lifestyle of the farming and rural communities across the nation.
So, how do farm and rural communities vote?
In the recent 2020 elections, we have seen a rise in mail-in ballots particularly because of the COVID-19 pandemic that made people fear contracting the illness if they were ever to vote in person in voting stations across America. That’s why, in 2020, the numbers that reflected this fact were staggering.
Out of all of the voters in the US, Pew Research Center showed that 46% opted to vote through mail-in ballots rather than voting in person on or before Election Day. And if we look at the voters who supported Joe Biden, 58% of them voted through mail-in ballots.
The numbers reflected the urban sectors more particularly because of how their large populations made it more fearful for people to vote in person. But what about the rural communities?
For starters, rural communities are far less dense in terms of population compared to urbanized areas. That’s why those who voted in person were much less likely to wait for more than half an hour to vote. As such, the likelihood of farmers and those living in rural communities to vote in person rather than through mail-in ballots increased. The fewer the people are in such areas, the less time they needed to wait and the lesser the chances that they would end up contracting the Coronavirus as they won’t get exposed to a lot of people when they vote in person.
However, what you also have to look at here is that there aren’t even a lot of registered voters in farms and rural communities, to begin with. In 2016, it was found that 2.2 million people in the United States worked on farms. The number would only increase if you factor in their families as well. However, out of the 2.2 million farmworkers in the US, 53% of them were ineligible to vote either because they are unregistered voters or because they are undocumented workers as only 662,000 farm workers who worked on at least 200 acres of land were eligible to vote back in 2016.
In that sense, it is easy to think that farms and rural communities are more likely to vote in person rather than through mail-in ballots regardless of whether or not there is a pandemic.
Then, you also have to consider the availability of voting centers. While America has made voting centers more available to different rural communities in the country, there was still a good chance that some farmers were still living far away from the nearest voting centers. As such, in some cases, it might have been better off for a few farmers who lived too far away from voting centers to vote through mail-in ballots, if ever they even actually voted or are registered voters at all.
History of farm community votes
Even though farm and rural community votes pale in comparison to the entire voting power of those who live in urbanized sectors, they have still played a huge role in determining who sits at the seat of power in America.
Historically, a lot of former presidents targeted farmers and those living in rural areas primarily because of how the pre-industrialized America was reliant on farming and that there were more people living in rural communities back then than there is today. William Jennings Bryan, who represented the Democratic Party several times in the past as their nominee for President, made it a point to garner votes from farmers back in the 1896 US Elections. While Bryan may have won the votes of the farmers in the South, West, and Midwest, he still lost the presidential seat because of how eventual president William McKinley won the votes of large-scale farmers.
So, as history would show, farmers have had an effect on politics even though they are no longer as influential in terms of electoral college votes today as they once were. This is due in large part to how more and more people from the rural areas have migrated to urbanized sectors leaving only a few people in farming communities.
Impact of farm community votes
Still, regardless of how small the population of farming and rural communities is in the US in comparison to those who are living in the more populated urban areas, they have still maintained an impact in the nationwide votes even in recent years.
The numbers would show that rural communities are increasingly becoming Republican from the 2008 elections to the 2016 elections. In 2008, 53% of those living in rural communities preferred Republicans while that number increased to 59% in 2012. And in 2016, 62% of those in rural areas voted for a Republican candidate. And the further away the rural area is to an urban sector, the more likely the farmers and the people living in such areas were willing to vote for a Republican candidate.
What we can be clear about is that rural voters have indeed had an impact in the US Elections particularly in 2016 when Donald Trump won thanks to the support of the farms and those living in rural communities.
Why farmers were more likely to vote for Republicans?
So, as the numbers would show, it is clear that rural voters still have an impact in the US Elections even though more candidates are focusing on urbanized areas due to the large gap in the population. But why is it that farmers and those who are living in rural areas are more likely to vote for Republicans rather than for Democrats?
It is almost impossible to pinpoint an exact reason for that. However, the popular belief is that farmers in rural areas believe that the Republicans and their conservative beliefs are more likely to help their communities than the Democrats are. As noted by Katherine Cramer, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, those in farming and rural communities feel like they are not getting their fair share in comparison to those who are living in urban communities. It is as if they feel like voting for a more liberal-minded Democrat would force the economy to leave them behind as opposed to Republicans, who are more conservative in their policies.
Meanwhile, it was also found that rural communities are more racially isolated than the more integrated communities in urban areas. This can also explain why farmers were more likely to vote for Republicans, specifically Donald Trump, as they are not as racially open in comparison to those who are living in urban areas.