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June 11, 2007

Republicans Losing Lock on Rural Areas

NPR had a story this morning on Morning Edition on a new national poll that indicates that rural Americans are now as likely to vote Democratic as Republican.  It's all due to the ill-conceived, badly planned, terribly implemented war in Iraq.

The poll was conducted in "non-metropolitan" counties by Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg, with the assistance of Republican political consultant Bill Greener, for the non-partisan Center for Rural Strategies of Whitesburg, Kentucky.  When asked whether they would vote for an un-named Democrat for President in 2008 or an un-named Republican, 46% said Democrat, 43% said Republican.  In 2004, by contrast, President Bush outpolled John Kerry by 19% amongst rural voters.  Here's why:

Forty-one percent named the war in Iraq among their two top issues for the president and Congress. Half agreed with the statement that "the current course [in Iraq] cannot bring stability, and we need to start reducing the number of troops." Half also agreed with congressional attempts to reduce troop levels in Iraq. Less than half, 45 percent, affirmed the Bush administration's "stay the course" strategy; and 42 percent want their members of Congress to oppose "measures that could undermine the president's policies in Iraq."

It's not likely that rural voters will swing enthusiastically to Democrats.  Fifty-six percent said that "personal character and a commitment to core family values are more important in a presidential candidate than a commitment to changing Iraq war policy".  But, according to Greenberg, just winnowing the Republican lead will be all that's needed. 

It's about time!

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 11, 2007 at 08:44 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

Comments

These stats do not work here at home since in our state the urban voter tends to be a D and is viewed as wanting to save rural areas to play in, while the GMA and the CAO are used as tools by the GOP to drive the rural voter to the GOP. These factors worked very well for the GOP in 04 and may play a lessor role in 08, but will continue to be a greater factor here than across the nation.

Posted by: Particle Man | Jun 11, 2007 10:45:06 AM

Particle Man,

Would you be willing to elaborate on that? This entire issue of rural issues and rural voting patterns is very interesting to me.

Either on the comments or send me something to post.

Posted by: Lynn | Jun 11, 2007 3:36:12 PM

Well Lynn, I think it is dangerous to take a national poll which makes its own definition over who and where rural v/s urban voters are and then to suggest that the results can be applied here.
To understand the landscape here we must focus in on some facts. First, most of our population live in urban areas. Second, most of the remaining population lives within five miles of an urban designated area or along the urban/rural line. Much of the remaining areas have land use restrictions aimed at preventing our state from looking like Houston in just 20 short years.
Throw in our logging regions and changes in how we manage our trees, and farming areas faced with choices over water for salmon and the whole East West thing.
My point is that what drives the rural vote here is not some national trend. To be clear, I am in total support of the policies which I credit above for generating the Urban/Rural party rift. Still, it is policies here at home and adaptations in logging and farming that will/are helping bring about a shift over time.
In logging for instance, when we stopped logging old growth (thank God) prior to the last stand falling, the effect on logging communities was instant ruin as the mills could not handle small logs and the field equipment was ill suited for smaller log harvest. At that spotted owl moment a thousand small businesses lost everything. Now years later this economy has adapted and it is becoming less relevant that one party was credited with the crash. The same can be said for salmon policy and how Agribusiness use and protect water. And, along the urban rural line while pressure and passion continue to be high, the fears caused by the passing of county CAO's have been gradually replaced by a much less scary reality. In 04 for instance, in King County the CAO was passed just 10 days or so prior to the general election and the impressions of how bad that would hurt rural landowners and that the CAO was a Democratic policy were at very high levels. After a few months passed the true impacts (when matched with the real development potential of a given piece of land) were found to be far less than first believed (and publicized by the GOP). The timeing of this vote was one of the greatest unneccesary errors of D's in an elected body and as it turns out had no greater effect than in Dino's home district. (the R's on the council pushed to have it brought up and then only the D's voted yes)
As for the GMA, the hardest fazes of implementation were saved for last and with those in place and some time going by, the level of angst is dissipating.

One thing about the national poll is that to the degree it reflects social reaction to the war and attribution of how we got there to the GOP, I expect the trend would apply well to our rural areas.

Posted by: Particle Man | Jun 12, 2007 2:03:40 PM

Ummmm, raising my hand here Particle Man as an outnumbered Dem over on the East side of the mountains. Lest we be forgotten, the Dems have a lot of work to do in these wide open expanses of rural areas. Peter Goldmark ran an outstanding campaign and was an extraordinary candidate running against a GOP puppet and still he lost by about 12%.

But o/t, I was sickened this afternoon to find via Skippy a link to a Science Blog called Deep Sea News which gives a gut wrenching account of the whereabouts of the WMD's we decided to dispose of.

http://scienceblogs.com/deepseanews/

Posted by: mainsailset | Jun 12, 2007 8:23:28 PM

Mainsailset,

Yikes! That is truly scary.

Posted by: Lynn | Jun 12, 2007 9:36:21 PM

The Particle no has forgotten the REAL East Side. I was only using a few examples of which I had real time first hand knowledge in 04 in order to respond to Lynn's good questions.

AND the only thing I can say about your link is "Gee it sure is a good thing that when you dump something in the ocean that it never moves around as a result of never being seen again"
Oh and by the way have you ever noticed how when you pull your head out of the sand that some sand sticks to the corners of you eyes and then when you rub them it burns? Man I hate it when that happens.

Posted by: Particle Man | Jun 13, 2007 4:23:52 PM

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