Romney Running Up the Score in the Rural Battlegrounds

Any analysis of the Obama campaign strategy typically talks about demographics and Obama running up huge margins with the “coalition of the ascendent” to offset dwindling White support.   However the exact same analysis is also based on geography where Obama needs to run up insurmountable leads in urban America to offset Romney and Republican strength in rural areas. Since 2004 is often the model used for this election, here is a county-by-county map of the 2004 election results where you see how red geographically the country is compared to the more balanced red state/blue state divide:

Thanks to a tip from Michael in the comments section, we see that NPR in conjunction with the Daily Yonder did a great expose on Romney’s growing advantage in rural counties across 9 Battleground States:

As Mitt Romney and President Obama get ready for their second debate, a new bipartisan survey shows a surge for Romney in a key voter group following their first debate Oct. 3. The random cell phone and landline poll of 600 likely rural voters in nine battleground states Oct. 9-11 has Romney at 59 percent among the survey’s respondents. Obama’s support is now down to 37 percent among rural battleground voters, a plunge of 10 points from the actual rural vote in those states four years ago. “What Republican candidates need to do is to rack up big margins in rural areas in order to offset smaller [Republican] margins in urban and suburban areas,” says Dan Judy of North Star Opinion Research, the Republican polling firm that participated in the survey.

Quick Note:  The factually accurate report above is misleading.  They mention the 10-point drop for Obama in this survey which is true, but they leave off the other half of the change from 4-years ago which translates into a actual 20-point swing … hide the decline!

Thankfully the Daily Yonder who focuses on rural America is on top of things:

In 2008, Barack Obama lost among rural voters in swing states by just a little more than two percentage points. According to the latest National Rural Assembly poll, rural voters in swing states favor Mitt Romney by 22 points. Rural voters polled last week said they preferred Romney to President Barack Obama by a 22-point margin, 59 percent to 37 percent.  In a similar poll from mid-September, Romney led Obama among rural voters in swing states by 14 points, 54 percent to 40 percent. The poll questioned 600 likely voters living in rural counties in nine swing states  — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The poll documents a continuing  — in fact, accelerating — collapse of support for President Obama among rural voters. Rural voters had been staunchly Republican in 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. George W. Bush won a nearly 20-point advantage among rural voters over John Kerry in 2004. In 2008, however, candidate Obama lost the rural vote in 13 swing states by just a little more than two percentage points.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a firm that works for Democratic candidates, conducted the poll. A Republican firm, North Star Opinion Research, helped devise and interpret the poll’s results. The poll was commissioned by the National Rural Assembly and the Center for Rural Strategies; it was paid for by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

To see a full copy of the poll’s results, click here.

Tons of great data at the Daily Yonder. I highly recommend you real the whole thing.


  1. jvnvch
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Romney needs to run up the score in rural areas a lot, obviously, because he will lose the urban vote by a wide margin, unfortunately. I think this time the rural and suburban folks will prevail.

  2. Vadim
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink | Reply


    Check out the new favorable / unfavorable numbers from the Gallup this morning. Looks like not only Obama lost his edge there but his unfavorables are now higher than Mitt’s by 4 points. Gallup says that this is because people know Obama better. Good, the more they know the more unfavorable the opinion gets. Obama (51/48) and Romney (52/44). This is really good news for our side especially because it is based on the registered voter sample and as you pointed out before they adjusted their weights to include more minorities.

  3. No Tribe
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink | Reply

    Romney’s favorables have kicked up considerably. Quite the bandwagon effect happening. My guess on the debate is that it gets a little too hot for both candidates. There’s no doubt that Obama will be snarking and such, but Romney could become a bit snippy back at him. I think Romney would be best just ignoring whatever Obama says, talk to the crowd and the cameras. He’s ahead, and just needs to close the deal.

  4. Tim
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink | Reply

    This confirms what I said about Romney’s path to victory in Virginia. He must, must, must win the western and southwestern part of the state with ~70% of the vote.

  5. mdr1972
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink | Reply

    Romney will win Virginia.

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