Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Is Gov. Palin the 'secret weapon' for Sen. McCain in rural America? (Long, but interesting)
High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal ^ | October 10, 2008 | Sara Wyant

Posted on 10/10/2008 8:54:55 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Supporters wonder why Sen. Obama is not polling higher in farm country

By all conventional standards, Sen. John McCain is not courting what some might call the "traditional" farm vote in his race for the presidency--members of those interest groups and trade associations who are strong supporters of commodity price supports. In fact, some might argue that he's gone out of his way to alienate this voting block, with his opposition to subsidies in the farm bill and for ethanol.

For example, consider his comments made recently to an invitation-only group at the Harry Truman Library in Independence, Mo.

"My administration will reduce the price of food by eliminating the subsidies for ethanol and agricultural goods," said McCain. "These subsidies inflate the price of food, not only for Americans but for people in poverty across the world, and I propose to abolish them."

Comments like that, made in the midst of corn country, make him about as popular as a skunk in church.

Little wonder then that some corn growers cringe when they hear his remarks. To demonstrate their frustration, six former National Corn Growers Association presidents signed up to endorse the Obama campaign. This week, the Obama campaign sent out a new list of endorsers, including 34 individuals who previously held government jobs as state rural development directors. And the Nebraska Farmer's Union Political Action Committee (PAC) signaled their endorsement last week.

However, frustrations aren't limited to the corn growers. John McClung, a former GOP political appointee who is now the president and CEO of the Texas Produce Association, recently endorsed Obama at the group's annual convention in McAllen, Texas.

Obama supporter and rural co-chair Marshall Matz recently told participants at that annual meeting:

"This farm bill was the very best ever for specialty crops. Obama supported the bill and McCain opposed the bill. If you are in the produce industry and want to live like a Republican, vote Democratic."

McCain is still ahead

So why is McCain still ahead in the polls across rural America? Is it because some farmers still agree with him on other issues like taxes and trade? His farm and rural co-chairs, former Secretary of Agriculture John Block and Missouri Farm Bureau President Charlie Kruse, think that's definitely part of the answer.

Is it because rural non-farmers, who make up more than 99 percent of the 65 million Americans who live in rural America, don't like large farm subsidies either? Both Senators Obama and McCain have supported capping farm program payments at $250,000.

Or is it because some farmers don't trust Sen. Obama's long-term commitment to corn-based ethanol any more than they do McCain's?

The Illinois senator recently told the National Farmers Union that he supports the Renewable Fuels Standard that mandates the use of ethanol and has consistently supported renewable energy legislation. But on NBC's Meet the Press, the late Tim Russert asked Sen. Obama whether he would be willing to change ethanol subsidies so that people are not using corn for ethanol and would see lower food prices? His answer follows:

"We've got rising food prices here in the U.S. In other countries, we're seeing riots because of the lack of food supplies. So this is something that we're going to have to deal with. There are a number of factors that go into this. Changes in climate are contributing. There's no doubt that biofuels may be contributing to it. My top priority is making sure that people are able to get enough to eat. And if it turns out that we've got to make changes in our ethanol policy to help people get something to eat, then that's got to be the step we take. But I also believe that ethanol has been an important transitional tool for us to start dealing with our long-term energy crisis, ultimately. Over time, we're going to shift to cellulosic ethanol, where we're not using food stocks but we're using wood chips and prairie grass."

The Palin factor

Some have suggested that McCain may have connected with rural voters on social issues and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, especially embodies many of their small-town values. A working mom and owner of a fishing business, she understands the challenges of raising children in a rural area and issues like education and health care.

According to a poll released Sept. 22, 2008, by the Center for Rural Strategies on behalf of the National Rural Assembly, McCain leads Obama by 10 points among rural voters in key battleground states. Those numbers are virtually unchanged since the last Rural Strategies/National Rural Assembly poll taken in May. But other measurements in the poll indicate that McCain's popularity is rising with rural voters. One reason: Palin is very popular with rural voters, as the chart below indicates.

Indiana farmer Jim Moseley, who served as USDA's Deputy Secretary under Secretary Ann Veneman and is now a McCain supporter, says voters connect with McCain and Palin on "main street issues" like controlling taxes and regulation, which is playing well across the Heartland.

"John McCain supports reducing the estate tax to 15 percent and permitting a $10 million exemption to farmers and ranchers so they can pass their farms down to family members. Given the recent increases in farmland values, this is a tremendous concern," Moseley adds. With some farmland going for $5,000 an acre in the Midwest, landowners would reach that limit with 2,000 acres.

Sen. Obama told the American Farm Bureau Federation that he would retain a 45 percent rate on estates worth more than $7 million per couple. And he would support a "reasonable estate tax policy that would effectively repeal the estate tax for 99.7 percent of estates." Using that same $5,000 land price as an example, farm couples owning 1,400 acres would be impacted.

Moseley, who is also a pork producer, says he's also very concerned about livestock production under an Obama administration because of statements made about cracking down on confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). When you consider that over 75 percent of farmers have some type of CAFO for raising livestock, his (Obama's) comments don't bode well for any continued investment in that sector."

Nov. 4 will tell

It's still too early to tell whether or not rural voters will stay with McCain and help him in key battleground states like Missouri and Ohio. Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, which conducted these polls, pointed out that McCain's overall improvement with Gov. Palin did not translate into more voters preferring him in the November election.

"We think that's because he has failed to make an effective argument on the one issue rural voters care about most--the economy," she said. "Rural voters seem to be trying to decide which candidate can best address their economic concerns, and that means the rural battleground could be more competitive than we saw in 2004."


Editor's note: Columnist Sara Wyant is president of Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc. and publishes a bi-weekly newsletter, Agri-Pulse, on food and farm policy. For more information, you can e-mail her at

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Missouri; US: Ohio
KEYWORDS: 2008; 2008polls; agriculture; election; elections; ethanol; mccain; obama; palin; ruralvote; taxes
You have to admire Senator McCain: It would be easier for him to pander to the farmers than stand up to them. Also, if that poll is right, how in the world is Senator Obama "leading" in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, etc.? Something doesn't add up here!
1 posted on 10/10/2008 8:54:55 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
Something doesn't add up here!

Pollsters have recently loss the ability to perform simple arithmetic.

2 posted on 10/10/2008 8:59:07 PM PDT by JEH_Boston (There's a landslide coming.....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

McCain is Obama’s secret weapon. McCain has been alienating his own supporters at various events of late. I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest those actions aren’t commensurate with someone who wants to win an election.

John McCain has far more problems than whether or not he panders to farmers or not. He has a fundamentally fatal flaw and that is he would rather be collegial and make overtures to leftists, hoping they will like him, than to take the ball and advance it down the field on this Marxist.

News Flash: They are never going to like you, John, no matter what you do. The man thinks he is coming off as some great statesman with all his bi-partisan BS. The truth is, he appears as Harold Stassen preparing to kick the football the big-eared Marxist is holding.

3 posted on 10/10/2008 9:21:03 PM PDT by WildcatClan (The world is full of fatheads; so I invented Diet Shampoo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: WildcatClan

“I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest those actions aren’t commensurate with someone who wants to win an election.”

That is not on a limb at all. That is what we have been saying for weeks, only to be shouted down by those RINOs who follow the McMessiah at all costs.

4 posted on 10/10/2008 9:22:36 PM PDT by jddqr (If you live in a swing state, VOTE FOR MCCAIN. Otherwise, vote your conscience!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Either McCain or Sarah Palin needs to make the case for lower taxes the way Reagan did. Simplify. When companies are taxed at a higher rate, they raise the price of the goods they produce. That means higher prices for everybody. Goods produced in countries where business taxes are lower can sell the same goods for a lower price. If we begin to buy more cheap foreign goods, Americans lose jobs. Higher taxes means higher prices (inflation) and job losses in the US.

Stop trotting out Nobel winning economists. They even get yawns from FReepers.

Explain that high fuel costs increase the price of all goods that are transported. Except for buying tomatoes from your neighbor’s garden, everything costs more as fuel prices go up. When we drill in the US, there is more oil. When there is more oil, prices go down. When fuel prices go down, prices on shoes and milk and school supplies go down. Etc. Etc.

Simple, simple, simple. The reason people don’t get the difference between McCain and Obama on the economy is that nobody has taught the basics to them since Reagan ran for president.

5 posted on 10/10/2008 9:31:42 PM PDT by Bertram3 ("Never give up. Never Give up. Never, never, never, never." Churchill)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: JEH_Boston

Frankly, farmers a re a very small percentage of the voting population. They don’t matter all that much.

6 posted on 10/11/2008 12:35:12 AM PDT by glorgau
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

“According to a poll released Sept. 22, 2008, by the Center for Rural Strategies on behalf of the National Rural Assembly, McCain leads Obama by 10 points among rural voters in key battleground states. Those numbers are virtually unchanged since the last Rural Strategies/National Rural Assembly poll taken in May.”

A few weeks ago, Hofstra University a small school just outside of NYC, released its findings on a national survey it did on suburban voters. Hofstra has McCain plus 10.

7 posted on 10/11/2008 4:11:10 AM PDT by jmaroneps37 (Conservatism is truth. Liberalism is lies.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

ping for later

8 posted on 10/11/2008 9:28:57 AM PDT by RightWingMama
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AdmSmith; Berosus; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; george76; ...

9 posted on 10/11/2008 12:25:44 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ( hasn't been updated since Friday, May 30, 2008)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson