Overall, the president won 4 of the top 5 turkey producing states — Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina — losing only the nation’s top producer, Minnesota. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
Donald Trump may have lost the popular vote, but he likely won by a landslide in the place that produced your Thanksgiving turkey.
In a sign of his dominance in rural America, the president roasted Joe Biden in the nation’s top turkey-producing areas, carving out big victory margins in every one of the top 20 congressional districts ranked by the number of turkeys sold.
Overall, the president won 4 of the top 5 turkey producing states — Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina — losing only the nation’s top producer, Minnesota. But that stat is slightly misleading: according to an analysis of Department of Agriculture data and unofficial election returns, Trump captured Minnesota’s turkey country, winning the three congressional districts that sell the bulk of the state’s turkeys.
Several Trump policies — including his biggest trade achievement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — benefited turkey growers in the state since Minnesota exports more turkeys to those countries than anywhere else.
“The turkey industry was looking forward to the USMCA. That was very helpful,” said Sarah Anderson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. “We as an industry were excited when we were included in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program funding round two. We weren’t included in the first one, and so we had to work on getting ourselves included in that.”
By MATTHEW CHOI
The strength of Trump’s electoral performance in western Minnesota — home to the top turkey-producing district in the nation with 29.9 million turkeys sold — helped take down Democratic House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Collin Peterson.
A veteran of three decades in Congress, Peterson lost reelection by roughly 50,000 votes. He was unable to withstand Trump’s top-of-the-ticket dominance in his largely rural 7th District, where 37 of 38 counties voted for the president.
Trump won 64 percent of the vote — a slight improvement over his 61 percent there in 2016. Turnout among the president’s supporters was high: he won roughly 27,000 more votes than four years earlier.
Trump also won southern Minnesota’s 1st District, which is ranked 10th in the nation in terms of turkey production, and northeastern Minnesota’s 8th District, which ranks 15th. As part of his failed efforts to win the swing state in 2020, Trump made visits to all three congressional districts at various points during his reelection campaign.
Sid Miller, Texas’ agriculture commissioner and member of the Farmers for Trump coalition, said unlike previous presidents, Trump took an interest in family farms and had a successful track record.
“Everything he touches turns to gold,” Miller said. “He proved that he was going to take on China, win the trade wars. He was going to rebuild NAFTA into a better deal, which he did.”
In Arkansas, said Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), Trump was a good fit for his own district, which ranks third in the nation in turkey production. The president carried every county Womack represents.
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“Rural America has long been the center for the values that define America,” Womack said. “The family values, the traditions, the multi-generation farms, the belief that we are here to provide for ourselves and not necessarily rely on the federal government to do it for us…I think those are the values espoused by the rural communities that make them so red in color in terms of their political leanings.”
Trump also carried the neighboring 4th District in Arkansas, another top turkey producer.
The president’s showing in turkey-producing counties, which are typically rural and agricultural, was emblematic of his deep support across rural America. Trump’s unexpected traction in key swing states — and his victories in battlegrounds such as North Carolina — were fueled by big margins in rural areas.
According to exit polls, Trump won 57 percent of the rural vote, compared to 42 percent for Biden. Trump grew his vote totals in many rural counties, though his overall share of the rural vote declined compared to 2016. That’s in part because Biden was more competitive than Hillary Clinton among rural voters.
In Texas, where Trump won a stunning 74 percent of the rural vote — two percentage points better than in 2016, according to exit polls — Miller said farmers admired the president’s approach to the job.
“He’s a very successful businessman, and that’s how a lot of farmers see themselves,” he said. “They’re independent. And he’s nobody’s man, he’s everybody’s man.”