Stickers for voters were available May 7 at the polling location inside the Jackson County Public Library. (Photo/Marilyn Odendahl)

This story was original published by Public News Service.

By Miek Moen, producer

Public News Service

May 9, 2024

President Joe Biden was in Wisconsin on Wednesday, touting plans for a new Microsoft data center. The visit comes amid new polling data in battleground states about what is on the minds of rural voters,with organizers noting surprising results.

The poll, released by the Rural Democracy Initiative, includes feedback from Wisconsin voters. Among respondents, 57% said they favored a more economic populist vision, with policies centered around lowering costs and raising incomes for the working class.

Patrick Toomey, researcher and partner of Breakthrough Campaigns, said the approach appears more popular than one often touted by GOP politicians.

“Just cutting taxes and getting rid of regulations is not going to do the most to help me in this economy,” Toomey explained.

While economic policies aligned with Democrats, such as minimum-wage hikes, are favorable in this poll, many rural voters indicated they think Republicans are doing more for working people. Analysts said it shows Democrats have work to do to rebuild trust in these areas. Meanwhile, three-quarters of respondents either support the right to abortion or do not want the government interfering with decisions on reproductive health care.

Toomey acknowledged it will take some time for Democrats to re-connect with voters and it will not completely turn around in this election cycle. But he suggested it is not completely hopeless for the party to make gains in rural America ahead of November’s vote.

“One of the key learnings here is that there are enough voters in rural areas of battleground states who are up for grabs to determine the outcome for 2024,” Toomey reported.

He suggested if Democrats are savvy with their outreach, they might be able to convince rural populations they are pursuing policies voters have outlined as a top priority.

More than 1,700 voters in 10 states were part of the poll. As for Biden’s appearance, it was at the same location as the failed Foxconn project announced by former President Donald Trump several years ago.

Disclosure: The Rural Democracy Initiative contributes to our fund for reporting on Environment, Health Issues, Rural/Farming, and Social Justice.

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