Poll: U.S. farmers support a Republican for president

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Editor's note: On Jan. 6, Dairy Herd Network asked readers in an information poll who they thought would receive the Republican presidential nomination. Like the Reuters poll, the Dairy Herd Network poll showed that the majority of visitors (37 percent) expected Mitt Romney to win the nomination. Rick Santorum was the second most-likely with 20 percent of the votes. As of Friday, 143 people had responded.

U.S. farmers overwhelmingly support a Republican to be the next president, despite a strong farm economy during President Barack Obama's Administration, according to a Reuters survey released last week. 

The farmers give a slight edge to Mitt Romney over Rick Santorum as the best person to take on Obama and the Democrats in the November elections.

Some 74.7 percent of farmers and ranchers intend to vote for a Republican as president, according to a random survey of 462 farmers and ranchers at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting last week in Honolulu.

While traditionally socially and fiscally conservative, only 3.5 percent of the group said they would back Obama. Some 20 percent said they were still undecided, however.

"Barack Obama is leading the country to possible destruction," Danny Mills of Accomack County, Va., said, explaining that he believes government borrowing and spending got out of control under President George W. Bush but that Obama has not done enough to reign it in.

"This is totally unsustainable," he said.

In 2008 when Reuters conducted a similar poll at the convention, both parties were still going through the nomination process. But Obama and Hillary Clinton garnered support of only 5 percent each. Republicans Mike Huckabee got 30 percent and John McCain, the eventual nominee, came in at 29 percent.

Obama faces a tough re-election in a weak economy and would-be Republican challengers have decried his job-creating capability.

The farm economy, however, has been booming thanks to high crop prices and strong demand globally.

The government said last week the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent, but Republicans say huge spending efforts such as the 2009 stimulus package have not turned the economy around fast enough.

In the race to challenge Obama, 30.5 percent of the 367 farmers who said they voted or will vote in a Republican primary this year backed Romney. Santorum, who lost last week's Iowa primary to Romney by just eight votes, came in second in the farm survey with 25.9 percent.

Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor, swept Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, solidifying his front-runner status. Farmers at the conference expressed admiration for Santorum and former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich but said they viewed Romney as the inevitable winner.

"He's probably the last guy standing," said Gale Koelling of Illinois, who said he planned to vote for Romney. He said he likes Santorum but doubts the former Pennsylvania senator will last long past New Hampshire.

Santorum, Gingrich, Texas Governor Rick Perry and others hope a strong showing in the upcoming South Carolina primary will keep their candidacies alive.

Gingrich finished third in the farm survey, with 18.8 percent, followed by Perry with 9.3 percent and Representative Ron Paul with 6 percent.


Farmers in the survey also said they thought Republicans should control the U.S. Congress, although participants did not echo the anti-incumbent sentiment that has been talked about in the lead up to November.

About 77 percent of farmers said they think Republicans should control Congress. Fourteen percent said they did not know who should have power and 5 percent said they would prefer Democrats in Congress.

Republicans won power in the House of Representatives in a 2010 mid-term election strongly influenced by Tea Party activity and anger at Obama over the economy and health reform. The party now has set its sights on the U.S. Senate, which Democrats control by a narrow margin, in 2012.

"Republicans did a horrible job when they had control, but I think they're the lesser of two evils," said Mills, the Virginia farmer. "I think the entire spending structure of the government is going to have to be addressed."

The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, coupled with abysmally low approval ratings for Congress in 2011, have led experts to predict voters could throw incumbents out of office.

The failure of the deficit-reducing "supercommittee" and a stalemate on a payroll tax cut hurt voters' opinion of Congress.

Farmers in the survey did not support this prediction, with 56.1 percent of survey participants saying they plan to vote for their current representatives to return to Congress. Twenty-five percent said they would not vote for incumbents, and 19 percent did not know or did not respond to the question.

"I don't think, as a whole, politicians are doing that bad a job," said Shawn Harding of Chocowinity, N.C., even though he said he has never voted for his congressman, Democrat G.K. Butterfield, and will not vote for him in November.

"The American people think they can just go up there and snap their fingers and create jobs, and it just doesn't work like that," Harding said. (Reporting By Emily Stephenson; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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mn  |  January, 16, 2012 at 09:22 AM

Wow, that is a suprise...everybody knows Farm Bureau is a very right leaning organization, it is like doing the survey at a NRA convention or at the NAACP meeting and not knowing how the results will come out.

NY  |  January, 16, 2012 at 09:49 AM

Ha ha! Once we all get our super small government we should make sure not to complain when we receive no payments, no more FSA offices to get our sign ups no more gov't sponsored crop and disaster insurance, DCP and no ethanol subsidy or MILC . Think if it was all gone, maybe even the whole USDA, the money we'd save. And the FDA, too. Imagine, finally, face to face and toe to toe with New Zealand China and India. What a ride we'll have. What an era in which to be a dairyman. To the Victor will belong the spoils!

Buffalo, n.y.  |  January, 16, 2012 at 09:29 AM

Republicans spend just as much as Democrates, they just lie and say they are not going to and when they do spend they make the rich, richer. So all you farmers keep workiing for little of nothing to make the big business your selling to more money.

earnest crist    
Oklahoma  |  January, 16, 2012 at 09:45 AM

I guess not having a farm bill doesn't matter to the members of the farm bureau. Kill the farm bill, cut spending on rural infrastructure including money for rural electric and telephone cooperatives, and make sure nothing is done to help slow all those post offices that are closing--hell, maybe the farm bureau and the farmers that think like they do would like to see the great plains turned back into territories (might as well since their population density in a lot of places already qualifies as frontier under the 19th century definition). How can we be so darn dumb?

Tuttle OK  |  January, 16, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Not necessarily about party lines anymore people, it's come down to either you are conservative or a liberal. Republicans have generally sided to conservative side.

PNW  |  February, 01, 2012 at 09:27 AM

Republicans are generally not helping to dairy but are more free market, dems are clueless to agriculture but like giving hand outs. So you have to decide do you want to be the poor farmer with his hand out like everybody else in this country and stand by and watch the country go broke or do you support free markets. This is totally typical government, they have screwed up the dairy policies for decades pandered to processors with the mind set of "if no processors no dairy" I say if no dairies there will be no processors and dairies will build processing plants if needed. If governemnt would do there job and regulate the processors from importing crap into our cheeses and other products we would use a lot more milk in these products and clear more from the market plus have better tasting products on grocery shelves and a product we can feel good about. Our whole model of dairy is screwed up and the government just makes it worse. We should be looking to New Zealand on how to run our dairy industries, they kicked the government out told them to keep there money and made products the consumer and the world wanted. Here in the US we make "B" grade products the world really doesn't want but the processors dont care cause the governemt will buy it if know one else does. New Zealanders said it hurt the first few years but now they are doing great without all the government hand outs. So you choose between repubs and dems they both suck but as I said above I would rather have a free market and feel good about the money I've made and keep more of it than have the dems hold my hand and take half of my spoils to give it to people with there hand out.

PA.  |  January, 17, 2012 at 06:43 AM

Now I know why the term used is- Dumb Farmer

Kirby Hanson    
Mo  |  January, 21, 2012 at 05:28 PM

You Lib are the Dumb Asses, don't for get to wipe on the way out

pa  |  January, 17, 2012 at 10:24 AM

This is very bad journalism. Please stop wasting our time.

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