Rural battleground moved toward Obama during October
CONTACT: Tim Marema, 865/688-9546, email@example.com
October 23, 2008
WHITESBURG, Ky. -- A poll of rural voters in battleground states shows that this critical group of voters moved toward Democrat Barack Obama during a three-week period in October.
The Center for Rural Strategies poll, commissioned on behalf of the National Rural Assembly, sampled rural voters in 13 swing states from Oct. 1-21. During these three weeks the poll found that Obama led McCain 46 to 45 percent, which is within the poll's 3.38 percent margin of error.
Democrat analyst and pollster Anna Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research said that the poll shows erosion in Republican support among rural voters and that this is a good sign for Obama.
"Barack Obama is running very competitively among this group of rural voters, and along with his general advantage in metropolitan areas, this will be enough to put him over the top" she said. "We've been saying that the Democratic candidate has to lessen the Republican advantage among rural voters, and Obama has done even better than that. He's pulled the race to a tie among these voters."
Republican strategist and poll consultant Bill Greener agreed that to win the race McCain must perform better among rural voters than was the case during the three week period covered by the study. However, Greener said there are already indications McCain is making up ground with rural voters.
"During the three weeks of the study, economic issues greatly impacted support for Sen. McCain among rural voters," Greener said. "But I do not think you can use this data to state where things stand today. The good news is recent, snap-shot data from other polls indicates to me that Sen. McCain is indeed recouping support among rural voters. To win, Sen. McCain must maintain strong support from rural voters. That is simple arithmetic."
George W. Bush won among rural voters in battleground states by 15 points in 2004, and that margin was critical in his victory in key states such as Ohio.
Dee Davis, president of the Center for Rural Strategies, which commissioned the poll, said the rural voters also hold the key to the 2008 election. "How these candidates do in the rural parts of states like Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania is likely to determine who wins this thing," he said.
"Much of rural America was in a bind before the Wall Street meltdown," Davis said. "With rural in play, it would be helpful for these candidates to talk about ways rural America could contribute to a national recovery." The poll also found that:
More rural voters thought Obama would do a better job handling the economy than McCain (49 percent for Obama vs. 40 percent for McCain).
More rural voters said McCain would do a better job handling the situation in Iraq (53 percent for McCain vs. 43 percent for Obama)
Voters were evenly split on which candidate would do a better job on taxes (46 percent for Obama vs. 43 percent for McCain) and the nation's financial crisis (46 for Obama vs. 42 percent for McCain).
The nonpartisan poll was commissioned by the Center for Rural Strategies on behalf of the National Rural Assembly, a group of rural leaders that seeks to increase national awareness of the importance of rural communities. More information on the Rural Assembly is available at www.ruralassembly.org. Rural Strategies is a nonprofit organization located in Whitesburg, Ky.
The survey polled 841 likely voters Oct. 1-21 from rural parts of key states of New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. The survey carries a margin of error of +/- 3.38 at a 95 percent confidence level.
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Anna Greenberg, Bill Greener, and Dee Davis are available for interviews by contacting Tim Marema, firstname.lastname@example.org, 865/688-9546.
More information on the National Rural Assembly is available at www.ruralassembly.org.