Monday, October 29, 2012

Romney courts rural voters; geographical strategies appears increasingly critical in presidential contest

On Saturday, the New York Times ran a story titled "In Virginia, Romney Scours Coal Country for Edge over Obama," with the dateline, Appalachia, Virginia, population 1,839. But Michael Shear's story is about more than the Romney campaign's efforts in Virginia, amidst the mostly rural voters of the Ninth Congressional District. It is also about the candidates' efforts to attract working class voters and small business owners in various swing states. An excerpt follows:
The battle playing out in Virginia has echoes across the battleground states, where the final days of the presidential campaign have become a test of geographical strategies and an all-important focus on motivation, intensity and turnout. Republicans are pushing hard in suburban Denver and central Florida to appeal to Hispanic small business owners. Mr. Obama’s campaign is probing for white male voters around Toledo, where there are major auto plants that benefited from the auto bailout.
Speaking of geography, another NYT story this week-end focuses on the respective campaign's strategies, which often focus on the county level of the swing states.

Later, Shear turns his focus back to Virginia, explaining that Romney hopes his "appeal in sparsely populated coal country" can balance out the greater number of liberal votes in metropolitan northern Virginia.  Romney is playing up the perception that Obama declared a "war on coal," which you can read more about here and here.  Shear also writes colorfully of "self-described hillbillies" in southwest Virginia, few of whom, he reports, are undecided. 
And Shear quotes Dave Saunders, "a veteran Democratic strategist who lives in that region":
Three things are sacred in Southwest Virginia--the Holy Bible, moonshine and coal.  That's all I got to say.  [The Romney-Ryan ticket] will get big numbers in the Ninth.  No question at all. 
Recent polls assessing the vote across the rural-urban axis are available at the Daily Yonder, here and here.  The show Romney with a widening lead among likely voters from rural parts of swing states.

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