AEM Poll Finds Manufacturing Top Issue for Voters in 2020

The national poll found 91% of surveyed voters consider manufacturing critical or important to the economy, while 92% said it is critical or important to the job market.

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More than three quarters (76%) of registered voters want to know how 2020 presidential candidates plan to support and grow manufacturing in the United States, according to a new national poll from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) conducted by Morning Consult.  

Ninety-one percent of surveyed voters said that manufacturing is critical or important to the economy, while 92% said it is critical or important to the job market. One in five voters ranked manufacturing as the number one sector to focus on, third only behind agriculture and health and social care. Democratic and Republican voters agree that manufacturing is critical to keeping communities across the country strong and prosperous.

“The issues that are important to equipment manufacturers in the United States will be front and center during the Manufacturing Election, especially in swing states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin,” says Kip Eideberg, AEM Senior Vice President of Government and Industry Relations. “Candidates for public office in 2020 need to understand and support the issues most critical to the continued growth and success of manufacturers if they hope to be successful.”

The poll identified a number of key findings. Voters in Michigan and Wisconsin are slightly more likely to believe that Democrats will be stronger champions for manufacturing, whereas voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania are split between favoring Republicans or Democrats as champions for manufacturing.

Seven in 10 voters are more likely to support candidates running for office if they support efforts to bolster the economy of rural America and prepare students for careers in manufacturing.

“With manufacturing squarely in the spotlight this year, it is more important than ever that we come together as an industry to show elected officials and candidates the policies that matter, the values that are critical, and why the men and women who make America are the source of our nation’s strength,” says John Garrison, chairman of the board and President and CEO of Terex Corporation, and 2020 chair of AEM’s Government and Public Affairs Committee.

The poll also identified splits in the electorate. Voters are split on President Trump’s performance on keeping, bringing, and/or increasing manufacturing jobs in the United States, with one quarter of voters saying he has done an excellent job and one quarter of voters saying he has done a poor job.

Voters are also split on whether a hypothetical Democratic nominee will actually keep, bring, and/or increase manufacturing jobs in the United States.

The national poll included an oversampling of registered voters in manufacturing-heavy Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The equipment manufacturing industry supports more than 560,000 jobs in the four swing states that President Obama won in 2012 and President Trump carried in 2016.

To keep manufacturing front and center in 2020, AEM is launching a series of initiatives to educate and engage the men and women of the industry in the political process, including a 3-month “Manufacturing Express” tour of 20 states that will highlight the importance of equipment manufacturing to communities across the country, connect manufacturing voters with elected officials and candidates, and promote civic engagement.

About the Poll 

This poll was conducted by Morning Consult from Jan. 2-5, 2020, among a national sample of 2,000 registered voters. There was an oversampling of 300 registered voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio – states largely recognized as important swing states heading into the 2020 elections. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of Registered Voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/- 2%.