Thursday, October 23, 2008

New poll shows McCain lost a great deal of rural support this month

A story on NPR this morning features the results of a poll sponsored by the Center for Rural Strategies. The rural voters surveyed were asked whether John McCain or Barack Obama would do a better job with several issues. The graph compares responses from a Sept. poll with those of an Oct. poll. Note the big difference a month made on the issue of taxes. (More details on methodology are below).

Here's an excerpt from the NPR report:
Republican John McCain was doing so poorly among a key voter group during the first three weeks of October, it seemed unlikely he could capture the presidency.

That's what a newly released survey indicates.

The poll of 841 likely voters in rural counties in battleground states was conducted during a three-week period from October 1-21. Rural voters were instrumental in the election and re-election of President Bush, and big Republican margins in rural areas are considered critical to a John McCain victory next month.

The survey had Democrat Barack Obama slightly ahead, 46 to 45 percent, among the rural voters polled. That's a statistical dead heat during the survey period.

"That is really bad news for John McCain. If the rural vote is essentially split in these swing states, then John McCain is certain to lose," says Seth McKee, a political scientist at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. McKee specializes in rural voting patterns.

"In 2004, George Bush won the rural parts of the battleground [states] by 15 points," notes Anna Greenberg, the Democratic pollster who conducted the bipartisan survey. "It was his base, and he got a massive amount of voters to turn out in those battleground states. It drove his victory."

But in 2008, Greenberg says, "John McCain is struggling just to win the rural vote in the battleground. That was supposed to be his base. If he can't win the rural battleground with substantial margins … it seems very unlikely that he can win this election."

The poll surveyed 841 voters in rural counties during the period Oct. 1-21. All counties were in the swing states of New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.

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