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September 23, 2006

Rural Voters Trending Democratic

The rural swing vote if in play and is critical to the outcome of the November elections.   So says the results of a survey of likely rural voters sponsored by the Center for Rural Strategies.  The survey of rural likely voters was conducted in 41 of the nation's most competitive congressional districts and six of the states with competitive Senate races. 

NPR's Morning Edition reported the results earlier this week.  Anna Greenberg, the Democratic pollster who conducted the survey says that rural voters are split evenly between the Democrats and the Republicans in all of these critical races.  She adds:

It's a battle that could decide who controls the House and the Senate. Rural voters have been a critical part of the Republican base because Democrats are dominant in cities and the parties split the suburbs.

Bill Greener, a Republican consultant who helped design the poll and analyzed its results, says: 

Rural voters have given their votes to Republicans over the years… If we do not do well among (rural voters), it's hard to see how (we can) continue to prevail.

Why are rural voters changing their voting preferences?  A lot of it has to do with the war in Iraq.  Rural Americans are a lot closer to the impact of the war than city folk. 

Seventy-three percent of the survey respondents report they have family, friends or acquaintances who have served or are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. There's evidence that the military has a disproportionate number of troops from rural areas, and rural troops are dying at a disproportionate rate, according to an analysis of Pentagon statistics.

Dee David of the Center for Rural Strategies says:

The death rates from rural communities are about twice as high as they are from the largest communities. So those of us in rural areas have a real community knowledge of what war means, what the price is, what the sacrifices are.

That's not all of it of course.  Like the rest of us, rural voters are not happy with Bush and his policies.  Of those surveyed, 54 percent say they voted for the president in 2004 but 56 percent say the nation is now on the wrong track.  The Center plans to sponsor one more poll before the election. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on September 23, 2006 at 09:54 AM in Inside Baseball, National and International Politics | Permalink

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