Lack of jobs is the deepest concern facing communities in rural America, according to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
President Trump carried rural areas in 2016, and the foundation wanted to understand the experiences and political views of individuals in these areas. For this study, researchers polled voters in Ashtabula County in Ohio.
Fifty-four percent said they approve of Trump’s handling of his job compared with 40 percent who said they disapproved. Fifty-one percent of rural voters were confident that Trump's policies would create jobs, 57 percent said they believed his policies would keep the country safe from terrorism, and 61 percent believed he would protect individual freedoms.
The poll found that most of these voters—21 percent—said jobs were their main concern followed by 14 percent who said drug abuse and 8 percent who named the economy as an issue.
While 67 percent in rural areas said the job market was poor or fair, only 47 percent of individuals polled in urban areas said the same. Additionally, 51 percent of those in rural areas rated the cost of living in their area as poor or fair.
Most of those living in rural areas—39 percent—said that the availability of jobs is about the same as it was 10 years ago, 31 percent said the availability of jobs had gotten worse, and 27 percent said it had gotten better.
A large majority—79 percent—said the area they lived in experienced a loss of jobs in at least one industry, compared with only 32 percent who said the area they lived in recovered from job losses.
However, 38 percent were hopeful that the job market would improve, and 45 percent said they expected it to stay the same. Even more rural residents—43 percent—were hopeful that the standard of living for their children would be better than their current situation. Only 24 percent believed they would get worse.
When asked whether government programs improve an individual's standard of living, views were roughly split even. Thirty-three percent said government programs make things worse, 32 percent said they made them better, and 31 percent said they didn't have an impact.
Most of the residents in rural areas polled said they believed it was important that the government decrease regulations on businesses (68 percent), lower taxes on businesses (79 percent), invest in infrastructure projects (93 percent), make better trade deals (79 percent), and stop illegal immigrants from working in the United States (63 percent).
While only 2 percent of rural voters said that the cost and availability of health care was a main concern to their community, 47 percent said they were confident the president would improve health care, and 54 percent supported the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Only 40 percent opposed repeal.