Farmers select Walker as favorite ahead of Fox News GOP debate

Farmers select Walker as favorite ahead of Fox News GOP debate

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker runs neck-and-neck with Donald Trump before Fox News GOP debate debut Aug. 6

Update: Includes names of 10 candidates appearing in the Fox News GOP debate, announced late Tuesday.

Flamboyant businessman Donald Trump may be leading many national polls ahead of Thursday's first Fox News primary debates by a crowded Republican presidential field. But among farmers he's locked in a statistical dead heat with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who's riding a show of Corn Belt strength.

Republican presidential hopeful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker greets patrons at the Billy Goat Tavern during a campaign stop on July 27, 2015, in Chicago, Ill. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Walker was the first choice of 20% of 1,302 farmers surveyed by Farm Futures magazine, while Trump was second with 19.6%. While that was within the survey's statistical margin of error, the chief executive of America's Dairyland was also named as the second choice of another 15.1%, compared to 11.7% for Trump. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was a distant third in the race for first choice, but was the runner-up as a second choice, with 13.5%

Walker's finish is not surprising, perhaps, given the Midwestern flavor of the Farm Futures sample. Almost 50% of respondents to email invitations for the online survey July 17 to Aug. 3 hailed from a state bordering Wisconsin or Lake Michigan.

It's also a group that votes overwhelmingly Republican these days. Only 10.8% picked a Democratic candidate as their first choice.

Democratic frontronners
Among those with a Democratic preference, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led with 68.8%. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was second with 20.2%. Clinton was also the second choice of another 33.3% of Democrats, but Vice President Joe Biden was runner-up, beating Sanders 29.2% to 26%. Biden is said to be mulling a run, but has yet to formally announce.

Only 10 GOP candidates will appear in the Aug. 6 Fox News Republican Presidential primary debate. If farmers were choosing, the others on the stage would be Mike Huckabee (7.4%), Rand Paul (5.1%), Ben Carson (4.6%), Marco Rubio (4.1%), Ted Cruz (3.8%), John Kasich (3.8%) and Chris Christie (3.3%).

Officially, Fox News announced late Tuesday that Trump, Bush, Walker, Huckabee, Carson, Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Christie, and Kasich will appear in its debate.

Biggest issue in 2016 election
The farmers surveyed agreed on the biggest issue in the 2016 election. More than 30% of respondents picked "the way the government in Washington operates" as their top concern.But after that, the parties were divided by ideological differences, which is why the government often faces gridlock. 

For those backing a Democrat the second top issue was "income and wealth inequality." Republicans, by contrast, picked the "federal budget deficit" as their second most important issue.

See the full results on page 2 >>

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Farmers select Walker as favorite ahead of Fox News GOP debate

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