Only half of rural voters know that Democrats voted to send them stimulus checks, new poll finds

biden stimulus hurdles
President Joe Biden.

  • A poll conducted by a rural super PAC found only half of rural voters credit Democrats with stimulus checks.
  • This is notable given that not a single Republican voted for Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus.
  • A persistent feature of American politics is voters’ failure to understand government’s role in their lives.
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Americans have so far received three stimulus checks. The first two were distributed under President Donald Trump’s watch and not a single Republican voted for the third round, and yet, only half of rural voters are giving Democrats the credit.

A poll conducted by Rural Objective PAC – a super PAC that works to build support for Democrats in rural areas – found that 50% of voters in rural areas associate providing COVID-19 stimulus checks directly to American families with the Democratic Party, while 32% associated the payments with Republicans, 11% with neither party, and 7% weren’t sure.

“We’re not connecting with these voters, even if we have great policy,” JD Scholten, the executive director of the Rural Objective PAC, told Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman of The Washington Post, which previously reported on the poll’s findings.

The poll surveyed 2,149 voters in nine battleground states – Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin – and while 68% of those voters support stimulus checks, it’s clear that Democrats aren’t getting credit for a cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The majority of rural voters did associate Democrats with extended unemployment benefits and state aid, though, and even as Democrats are calling for recurring stimulus aid, voters are not associating the already provided aid with Democrats. Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan passed using budget reconciliation without a single Republican voting for the plan, which included $1,200 checks.

It’s true that the first two checks occurred under Trump, since he signed a $1,400 check and a $600 check into law as part of his pandemic aid efforts, although he signed both of those while Democrats controlled the House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Some Democratic lawmakers are also calling to make stimulus checks permanent – something that has received broad support from both Republican and Democratic voters given that it would cut the number of Americans in poverty in 2021 from 44 million to 16 million.

Twenty-one Democratic senators urged Biden in a letter to include recurring direct payments in his $4 trillion infrastructure plan and said that “a single direct payment will not last long for most families, and we are worried about the cliff facing unemployed workers when the unemployment insurance extensions expire on September 6.”

But voters not knowing who to credit for certain policies is nothing new. When former President Barack Obama was attempting to reform the healthcare system over a decade ago, many voters don’t want the government to interfere with their Medicare when Medicare is, in fact, a government-run program.

“I got a letter the other day from a woman. She said, ‘I don’t want government-run health care. I don’t want socialized medicine. And don’t touch my Medicare,'” President Barack Obama said at an AARP-hosted town hall on healthcare in 2009. “I wanted to say, you know, that’s what Medicare is: a government-run health care plan that people are very happy with.”

The Washington Post separately reported in 2009 that a rural voter told South Carolina Rep. Robert Inglis to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” to which Inglis had to explain to the voter that his healthcare was provided by the government.

As Scholten told the Post, if there’s one thing that Democrats could use to win support of rural America, it would be direct payments.

“This was one of the biggest investments we’ve seen in rural America since the New Deal,” Scholten told Sargent and Waldman. “It’s good policy. It should be good politics, too, but right now Democrats aren’t taking advantage of it.”

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