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

While not a single Republican voted in favor of the third stimulus check, only half of rural voters in a new poll gave Democrats any credit.

By: Ayelet Sheffey | Business Insider

Americans have so far received three direct payments from the federal government in response to the coronavirus. The first two were distributed under President Donald Trump’s watch, but while not a single Republican voted in favor of the third round, only half of rural voters in a new poll gave Democrats any credit.

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 associated providing COVID-19 stimulus checks to American families with the Democratic Party, while 32% associated the payments with Republicans, 11% associated them 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 supported stimulus checks, it’s clear Democrats weren’t getting credit for a cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

Most rural voters did associate Democrats with extended unemployment benefits and state aid, though. Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan passed using a mechanism known as budget reconciliation without a single Republican vote.

The first two payments occurred under Trump, who signed payments topping out at $1,400 and $600 into law during the pandemic, but even then 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 and by some estimates would cut the number of Americans in poverty in 2021 to 16 million from 44 million.

Twenty-one Democratic senators urged Biden in a letter to include recurring direct payments in his $4 trillion infrastructure plan and said “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 whom to credit for certain policies is nothing new.

When President Barack Obama was attempting to expand healthcare access over a decade ago, many voters didn’t want the government to interfere with their Medicare when Medicare was already a government-run program.

“I got a letter the other day from a woman. She said: ‘I don’t want government-run healthcare. 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 healthcare plan that people are very happy with.”

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

Scholten, of the Rural Objective PAC, told The Post that if there’s one thing 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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