Is Change What U.S. Agriculture Needs?

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Every two years, our media is bombarded with political commercials around this time of year. And the Democrats main battle cry this year is "it's time for change."

As a native of Iowa and now a resident of Ohio, I can enjoy the thrill of being in the middle of politics without all of the constant politics that comes with the grueling hours DC requires. The nation looks at both Iowa and Ohio for an indication of how the political pendulum will swing. In presidential elections, Iowa always gets the first look at candidates with its caucus. And Ohio tends to be a microcosm when elections roll around. It swung red to give President Bush his needed electoral votes in 2000 and 2004.

In Ohio, several races are categorized as "hot ones" this time around. One is between Republican Sen. Mike DeWine, a four-term congressman and two-term senator. His counterpart is Democrat Rep. Sherrod Brown who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1992. A stark difference between Brown and DeWine is Brown's opposition to "trade agreements that take jobs out of Ohio." Brown has tapped into the economic insecurity in Ohio and blamed it on the nation's free trade policy.

If the promise of "change" holds true for Democrats this year, then trade negotiations will likely take a back seat in the upcoming Congressional sessions. The Central American Free Trade Agreement was a close vote last year, only because of Republican "sweet" deals offered by the White House. Those will be no-more if Democrats take control of either chamber.

Democrats need to win 15 net seats to claim the House majority. Although the Senate is still a toss-up, Democrats need to pick up 6 seats to gain control. The latest polls show Democrats have a better chance of winning the House than both the Senate and House.

Rural vote turns blue

The rural vote has shifted in favor of Democratic congressional candidates in the last month, indicating Republicans are losing ground with a key constituency, according to the Center for Rural Strategies Poll in a poll released October 27.

The poll of rural voters in 41 contested congressional districts found that likely voters preferred Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives by a margin of 13 points, 52% to 39%. In mid-September, the same population of voters was evenly split between the two parties at 45% each.

In contested Senate races in states with significant rural populations, rural voters preferred Democrats by 4 points, 47 to 43%, reversing the 4-point lead Republican Senate candidates held among rural voters in mid-September. But those results fall within the poll's margin of error.

DC Dialogue at your service

Deciphering the changing world of politics isn't easy. But the goal of this blog is to keep you abreast of the changing political scene for agriculture. Please offer your comments on local, state or national issues as we head into one of the most decisive eras of U.S. agricultural policy.

This year's elections provide an early indication of what may be to come. Stay posted.

Check out all of the post-poll coverage here at DC Dialogue Wednesday following the elections.

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