Rural Americans express far more concern about jobs in their communities, but the poll finds that those concerns have little connection to support for Trump, a frequent theory to explain his rise in 2016. Economic troubles also show little relation to the feeling that urban residents have different values.Rural voters who lament their community’s job prospects report supporting Trump by 14 percentage points more than Clinton, but Trump’s support was about twice that margin — 30 points — among voters who say their community’s job opportunities are excellent or good. Trump also earned about the same level of support from those who say they don’t worry about paying their bills as those who couldn’t pay their bills at some point in the past year.
The poll reveals that perceptions about abuse of government benefits often go hand in hand with views about race.When asked which is more common — that government help tends to go to irresponsible people who do not deserve it or that it doesn’t reach people in need — rural Americans are more likely than others to say they think people are abusing the system. And across all areas, those who believe irresponsible people get undeserved government benefits are more likely than others to think that racial minorities receive unfair privileges.In response to this poll question — “Which of these do you think is the bigger problem in this country: blacks and Hispanics losing out because of preferences for whites, or whites losing out because of preferences for blacks and Hispanics?” — rural whites are 14 points less likely than urban whites to say they are more concerned about blacks and Hispanics losing out.
Rural residents are also more likely to say that recent immigrants have different values than their own — 50 percent, compared with 39 percent of urban residents.Trump voters in rural areas are the most critical: 74 percent say recent immigrants are not doing enough to assimilate to life in America vs. 49 percent of rural Americans overall who think that, as well.One reason for rural Americans’ concern about immigrants could be their lack of exposure to them. Foreign-born residents make up 2.3 percent of the population in rural counties, compared with nearly 15 percent of urban counties, according to Census Bureau data for 2011-2015. . . . The Post-Kaiser poll finds that in rural areas where less than 2 percent of the population are immigrants, less than 4 in 10 residents say immigrants strengthen the country. But that rises to nearly 6 in 10 in rural areas where at least 5 percent are born outside the United States.