Jobs and Economy Most Important Election Issue in Rust Belt States: Poll

September 19, 2020 Updated: September 24, 2020

A new Epoch Times poll of registered voters in the Rust Belt shows that by far the most important issues in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are the state of the economy and jobs.

More voters cited the “economy and jobs” as the issues most important to their vote in the November presidential election, at 33.8 percent, beating out “coronavirus” at 22.9 percent, “healthcare” at 19.2 percent, and “policing and crime” at 8.5 percent. Nearly 70 percent of likely voters who cited the economy and jobs as their top issues also identified as supporters of President Donald Trump.

Rust Belt state voters also overwhelmingly support tariffs on other nations (45 percent support, while 21.5 percent oppose). Trump, who notably called himself “Tariff Man,” has used this policy tool multiple times as a way to exert pressure on countries that he believes prior administrations have allowed to establish inequitable trading relationships that are skewed against the interests of the United States.

“I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN,” Trump wrote in a 2018 tweet.

“The rank distribution scores can help to underscore the inevitable trend in voters’ priorities,” Big Data Poll Director Rich Baris said in a statement. “The more the president makes this election about the economy and jobs and policing and crime, the more likely it is he will be reelected. The more this election is about coronavirus and healthcare in general, the more likely it is Mr. Biden will be the next president.”

Trump and Biden on Sept. 18 brought their campaigns to the battleground state of Minnesota, both highlighting their visions for job creation but laying out different approaches. The Trump campaign organized a large airport rally in Bemidji, while Biden met with a handful of labor leaders at the Jerry Alander Carpenter Training Center in Hermantown.

Trump, who narrowly lost the state in 2016, stressed his signature policies of deregulation and reduced government intervention in the free market. Biden, who in a Labor Day speech vowed to be “the strongest labor president we’ve ever had,” toured a labor union training center, where he highlighted his plan to promote American-made goods by the sweeping use of the federal government’s regulatory and spending power.

Epoch Times Photo
President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at Bemidji Regional Airport, in Bemidji, Minn., on Sept. 18, 2020. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

In a speech, Biden sought to portray himself as a champion of working-class Americans, picking up on the “Scranton versus Park Avenue” theme he has raised in recent days of campaigning.

“Like a lot of you, I spent a lot of my life with guys like Donald Trump looking down on me; looking down on people who make a living with their hands, people who take care of our kids [or] clean our streets,” Biden said. “These are the guys who always thought they were better than me, better than us, because they had a lot of money.”

He criticized Trump’s touting of stock market gains that the president has referred to repeatedly as part of his record on the economy.

“What the hell’s he talking about?” Biden said. “People I grew up with in Scranton, Claymont, [Delaware], they don’t have money in stocks. Every penny we made was to pay the bills and take care of the families, put clothes on the back and a roof overhead.”

Epoch Times Photo
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tours a union training center in Hermantown, Minn., on Sept. 18, 2020. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)

Before speaking at his Bemidji rally, Trump referenced Biden’s “Scranton versus Park Avenue” claim, framing the challenger as an internationalist who will put other countries’ interests ahead of the United States’.

“Joe Biden says this is a race between Scranton and Park Avenue,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “This is a race between Scranton and China. Joe Biden betrayed Scranton, and America, to China and foreign countries. I will always put America First!”

In follow-up tweets, Trump wrote: “Joe Biden delivered remarks to union members after spending 47 years giving their jobs to China and foreign countries in exchange for campaign cash … … Biden is a corrupt globalist sellout who never missed a chance to stab American workers in the back. If Biden wins, China wins – it’s just that simple!”

The Epoch Times Rust Belt Poll also showed Biden holds an overall 6-point lead (46.7 percent to 40.7 percent) among registered voters in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. However, among likely voters with no undecideds, the race between the two candidates tightens to nearly dead-even (48.7 percent to 48.6 percent), fueled by greater enthusiasm among Trump voters.

The Epoch Times Rust Belt Poll was conducted by Big Data Poll from Sept. 11 to Sept. 15, interviewing 2,191 registered voters and 1,440 likely voters in the Midwest via online panel targeting Iowa (7 percent), Michigan (20 percent), Minnesota (12 percent), Ohio (23 percent), Pennsylvania (26 percent), and Wisconsin (12 percent). The sampling error is ± 2.1 percent for registered voters and ± 2.6 percent for likely voters at a 95 percent confidence interval.

For more information on the methodology and survey design, please refer to the AAPOR Transparency Initiative Checklist, for an overview of survey results click here.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

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