Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rural voters apparently do matter, at least in the swing states

I'm in Denver on the final day of vacation, and a front page story in today's Denver Post caught my eye. It indicates that the organizations of both Presidential candidates are devoting considerable resources to swaying undecided voters and getting out the vote in Colorado. Allison Sherry's story notes that the state is new to the list of swing states, having voted only once for a Democrat for President in the last 40 years -- Bill Clinton in 1992. Recent polls show Obama and McCain in a statistical tie in Colorado.

With the dateline Salida, population 5,504, the story also refers to the Obama campaign's "rural tour" of the southwestern part of the state. Obama's surrogates there are former governor Roy Romer and the Salazar brothers, U.S. Senator Ken Salazar and U.S. Representative John Salazar. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was also traveling on the bus shown above (photo by Craig F. Walker for the Denver Post).

The story's final subhead is "Rural roots strong," and it closes with these paragraphs:
But not forgotten in either campaign are the state's rural roots, and the voters in outlying areas who are usually more fiscally and socially conservative.

In Ken Salazar's swing through these areas last week on behalf of Obama, he affirmed that the Illinois senator wouldn't take away their guns and that he believed in protecting wildlands for hunters and fishers.

Valerie Harris and Guy Hummel, who live outside Pueblo, sat at a diner while Romer and the Salazar brothers, Sen. Salazar and U.S. Rep. John Salazar, gladhanded people eating huevos rancheros and biscuits and gravy.

The brother and sister pair run a small cattle ranch and are struggling with the recent financial crisis because they can't get a short-term loan from the local Pueblo bank to buy more cattle.

"We care about water, health care and the economy," said Harris, watching Obama staffers set up a podium near their booth. She and her brother are undecided. "It's hard for us here. . . . We need someone to understand."

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