September 25, 2019


One Country Project-Third Way Poll: A Majority of Rural Americans Believe Climate Change is Having an Impact Now, Looking for Practical Solutions

A poll of Likely Rural Voters in AL, IA, MI, MN, OH, PA, and WI shows desire to increase U.S. competitiveness, distrust of both parties

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, the One Country Project and Third Way released a poll of likely voters in rural communities, which found respondents know climate change is happening, and want practical solutions that help their communities, but have yet to see them offered.

In the survey of rural voters in Alabama, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, a plurality (54%) of all respondents believe that climate change is having a serious impact right now. That number increases to 59% among Obama-Trump voters in rural communities, a group who voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 and voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 and is considered a key voting bloc in the upcoming 2020 election. Fifty-nine percent of the voters polled also believe that if US policies addressing climate change are done right, they have the potential to not only create new jobs and economic opportunities, but would also make America a global technology leader capable of influencing countries like China to follow its leadership on climate.

“Rural voters, many who live and work in agricultural and manufacturing communities, feel the impact of climate change every day. Whether it’s nonstop rain damaging crop yields or interrupting supply chains of raw materials and manufactured goods, rural Americans see how this extreme weather threatens their way of life,” said Heidi Heitkamp, former North Dakota Senator and founding board member of the One Country Project. “The President’s policies don’t address these needs and his misguided trade wars are only exacerbating these problems. This poll shows that rural communities are looking for practical, measured solutions that will help sustain our climate, create new jobs, and position the United States as a world leader in innovation.”

“Rural Americans believe climate change is having an impact on their communities now. Our research challenges and clarifies long-held misconceptions about voters who live in rural communities and climate change.” said Josh Freed, Senior Vice President of the Clean Energy Program at Third Way. “Rural Americans want practical steps taken to create more clean energy, invent what we still need, and have America lead. What we’re getting from the President is the opposite — policies that are hurting rural communities, exacerbating climate change, and eroding our nation’s leadership and ability to compete.”

Other key findings include: 

  • Rural voters polled do not believe they are being considered by President Trump (54%), Republicans (58%) and Democrats (54%) when officials talk about climate change.
  • 36% of rural voters trust scientists a great deal on climate change, followed by farmers and ranchers (33%), people in their communities (25%) and even environmental groups (25%).
  • 71% say that rural voices have an indispensable perspective on climate change.
  • 45% of voters preferred “concrete steps” to fight climate change while protecting their jobs and way of life.
  • 69% agree that farmers could benefit from incentives to improve soil health and develop more environmentally friendly forms of agriculture, including 74% of Obama/Trump voters.

For a more in-depth review of our findings, review our full poll deck HERE.


About One Country Project

The One Country Project, led by former Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly, is working to promote greater opportunities for rural communities and ensure leaders earn their support. One Country is reengaging with rural Americans, serving as a clearinghouse of research and information for rural Americans, and working to ensure leaders regain trust by fighting for these communities. To learn more, visit the website,