Rural Voters Swing Hard to the Dems

Following up on polling from last month that showed rural voters split evenly between the Democrats and the Republicans, Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg and Republican pollster Bill Greener conducted another survey this month for the non-partisan Center for Rural Strategies and the numbers are pretty overwhelmingly good for the Democrats.

The rural vote has shifted in favor of Democratic congressional candidates in the last month, indicating Republicans are losing ground with a key constituency, according to the Center for Rural Strategies Poll.

The poll of rural voters in 41 contested congressional districts found that likely voters preferred Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives by a margin of 13 points, 52 percent to 39 percent. In mid-September, the same population of voters was evenly split between the two parties at 45 percent each.

[...]

"We're seeing a real erosion in Republican support among rural voters, and that could determine who controls Congress," said Democrat Anna Greenberg, one of the poll's analysts. "There has been a perfect storm of issues that have led rural voters toward Democratic candidates -- the war in Iraq, economic struggle in rural communities and a muddling of 'moral values' because of the Mark Foley scandal."

"The numbers in this poll have to be disturbing to any Republican involved in the upcoming election," said Bill Greener, a Republican strategist and consultant on the poll. "Republican success has relied on strong support from rural voters, and this survey indicates we don't have that support today. We have to do better if we are going to reach our objectives on Election Day."

A significant shift to the Democrats in the rural vote could augur well for the party's efforts to win control of the House on November 7. As I noted last month, "Democrats are competitive or potentially competitive in a number of mostly rural districts currently held by Republicans including: Arizona 1 (Renzi), Kentucky 2 (Lewis), Minnesota 1 (Gutknecht), New Hampshire 2 (Bass), New York 23 (McHugh), North Carolina 11 (Taylor), Ohio 18 (Ney), Pennsylvania 10 (Sherwood), and Wyoming At-Large (Cubin)." Additionally, there are at least another dozen or more contested Republican-held seats like Washington 5 (McMorris) and Nevada 2 (Open -- Gibbons) that contain large amounts of rural voters, any major shift among whom could directly impact the outcome of individual races.

Now obviously the caviats that apply to generic congressional balloting among all voters also apply to such poll questions among rural voters. It's quite possible, for instance, that Democratic performance on election day is not quite as strong as it is in these pre-election polls, perhaps by as much as a half-dozen percent (though I don't think it will be that high). Nonetheless, given that George W. Bush trounced John Kerry by close to 20 points among rural voters, the fact that the Democrats are at least competitive now among rural voters and quite possibly actually leading is a striking shift, and one that could sway control of the 110th Congress from the GOP to the Democratic Party.

Tags: Democrats, House 2006, Rural Voters (all tags)

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12 Comments

Indiana

this is going to kill Republicans in Indiana, and the Midwest.  

Look at the map of the 1992 elections result by district.

Now look at the results by distict from 2004.

1994 has been cast as the year Democrats lost the South, but the loses in the Midwest and West were just as dramatic.  Looking at the 1994 map, tight races in Idaho, Arizona, and Eastern Washington should be no suprise.

Even more so the suprise announcement by the Republicans that they are going to spend $100,000 in the IN-3 should be no suprise because of this.   The IN-6 should be paid attention to for the same reason.

Remember that in 1992 Democrats held 258 seats, and many of those were rural districts.

This year is going to change the party, and make big money donors who decide on social issues very unhappy, because the Democratic party is going to win by speaking to the working class out in middle America.

by ManfromMiddletown 2006-10-27 11:14AM | 0 recs
This Will Kill Them in the Senate Too

Not only will this help in rural Congressional races, but doing well with these voters will kill them in several toss-up Senate races.  If Talent doesnt win rural voters big, he will lose.  The same holds true with Allen and Corker.

by Andy Katz 2006-10-27 11:18AM | 0 recs
CA-11

Crackerville, USA.

by stevehigh 2006-10-27 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Rural Voters Swing Hard to the Dems

Why do these pollsters keep focusing on the less useful macro polls rather than polling the rural segment on their voting intention between real candidates?

by ab initio 2006-10-27 11:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Rural Voters Swing Hard to the Dems

The "pollsters" in this case are focused on rural policy at all levels. What you need to know is who Dee Davis is.

http://www.planetwork.net/2003conf/textp ages/presenters/DeeDavis.html

Dee Davis

Dee began his media career in 1973 as a trainee at Appalshop, an arts and cultural center devoted to exploring Appalachian life and social issues in Whitesburg, Ky. A native of Hazard, Ky., Dee went on to become the first president of Appalshop. During his 18 years as Appalshop's executive producer, the organization created more than 50 public TV documentaries, established a media training program for Appalachian youth, and launched a number of initiatives that use media as a strategic tool in organization and development.

Dee has served as president and chairman of the board of the Independent Television Service, president of Kentucky Citizens for the Arts, and as a panelist and consultant to numerous private and public agencies. He was the first youth appointee to the Kentucky Commission on Children and Youth and was a delegate to the White House Conference on Children in 1970.

He is a member of the Rural Advisory Committee of the Rural Network, a national association of rural community development organizations, and serves on advisory groups for the Open Society Institute and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

He received an English degree from the University of Kentucky. Dee lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

http://www.soros.org/initiatives/justice /focus_areas/katrina/grantees/davis_2006

http://www.uky.edu/CommInfoStudies/IRJCI /deedavis.htm

http://www.ket.org/cgi-bin/foxweb.exe/db /ket/dmps/Programs?do=topic&topicid= COMM010104&id=COMM

My comment in a Kos thread earlier:

Dee Davis (3+ / 0-)

Recommended by:
    Devilstower, buckhorn okie, carolita

...was one of the founders of Appalshop (http://www.appalshop.org). Whitesburg, KY is a small place, and I imagine Dee's "think tank" is not too far from the Appalshop studios. He's a media critic, a politician, really, and somebody who has spent his life dreaming about solutions to rural people's problems.

Here are some links to acquaint you with this voice in the wilderness, and this hotbed of rural creativity and progressive advocacy.  These are the people whose efforts are undermined when people tag rural folk as all fundies. Dee Davis is an almost Mudcat like figure who can teach us a lot about wooing rural voters.

by frenchman 2006-10-27 01:25PM | 0 recs
Rural Votes

If it's true that rural voters are coming over to the Dems, I wonder if that means that on election evening we will have to stay up really, really late to get the final returns in close races?   Am I correct in assuming that rural districts are generally the last to report their results?

by global yokel 2006-10-27 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Rural Voters Swing Hard to the Dems

IN has the same job problems of OH and MI.  Ford and GM are cutting back and the parts makers are going to get hit.  Delphi, in Kokomo is in Chocola's district.  Workers are taking buyouts because they are afraid that if they don't they will be left with the same bag of nothing the big steel workers got when steel went belly up and left the workers holding the bag.  My Man MItch was on the board of IPALCO when they sold out IPALCO worker pensions in a corporate merger.  These workers don't have good options going forward.  What replacement job is going to pay as well with benefits?  They are scared that if they don't take the buyouts, they will be bigger losers.

In addition, the GOP State legislature in IN balanced the budget by pushing off mandates onto local government.  Since local government mostly collects property taxes, rural residents (with a lot of property) are unhappy about their tax bills.  In our county, we have an incompetent GOP assessor who is computer illiterate.  She hired outside consultants that botched the assessment.  They did stupid things like assessing farm structures with the same formula used for urban commercial buildings.  So the whole county is up in arms and ready to toss the assessor.  This incompetence bleeds over into the elections.

by bakho 2006-10-27 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Rural Voters Swing Hard to the Dems

Rural residents are also pissed at Your Man Mitch Daniels for putting most of the state on Eastern Daylight Time.  Many rural residents have off-farm jobs, so it means the morning chores have to be completed in the dark in order for them to be at work on time, even in the summer.  Plus the implementation has been a mess with border counties wanting to move from Central to Eastern or Eastern to Central times.  

The change itself probably cost $1 million in computer programming glitches/fixes.  You'd be surprised what changing time zones does to computer sync.  The automatic fixes clash with manual changes and sometimes double fixes hit automatically that have to be fixed manually.  It cost me at least an hour of computer time to fix my EDT issues.

As the GOP becomes less Chamber of Commerce and more Faith based, the faith based folks with connections get Peter Principled into jobs they can't handle.  Voter can write off some corruption if government is competent.  Incompetent government recieves a thumbs down from the voters every time.

by bakho 2006-10-27 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Rural Voters Swing Hard to the Dems

In OH and IN the jobs issue is doing as much to turn sentiment as Iraq.  The buyouts will ripple through the communities as buyout workers leave the community depressing home prices and spend less hurting small businesses.

GM is funding the $35,000 early retirement payment, while Delphi and GM are splitting the cost of paying other workers $40,000 to $140,000 to leave Delphi.

Delphi employed 34,000 hourly workers in the United States a year ago. By Jan. 1, the date workers accepting buyouts and early retirements must leave the company, fewer than 10,000 of those workers will remain.

By spring, Delphi might have only 3,000 "legacy" workers on the payroll, estimates Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

"Delphi's original labor force will nearly disappear," McAlinden said.

Delphi is replacing those expensive workers with thousands of temporary workers earning $14 an hour, roughly what Delphi's competitors are paying their U.S. workers. Those Delphi workers don't get any benefits.

Info on the Delphi buyout.

http://www.mlive.com/business/sanews/ind ex.ssf?/base/business-2/1160302947115530 .xml&coll=9

http://www.indianaeconomicdigest.net/mai n.asp?SectionID=31&subsectionID=62&a mp;articleID=25916

http://www.ohionewsnow.com/?sec=biz& story=sites/ONN/content/pool/200609/1761 911978.html

by bakho 2006-10-27 03:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Rural Voters Swing Hard to the Dems

Then there are the gas prices.  Yes prices came down in time for the harvest, but it takes oil to make fertilizer and the input costs were sky high this year.  Plus rural residents have longer commutes to their off-farm jobs.  Many are cynical about the long term future of gas prices.  Senator Lugar is running biofuels ads (ethanol/biodiesel) to take the edge off high fuel prices hurt felt by rural voters.  Bush is Big Oil and rural residents are not happy with Big Oil right now.

by bakho 2006-10-27 04:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Rural Voters Swing Hard to the Dems

Ya know:

IF this all pans out and I'm still going to say "if" until the fat lady sings, the sheer brilliance of the 50-state strategy comes to the fore.  

I haven't heard this commented about:  One of the great advantages of campaigning the "flyover states" is that it's CHEAPER!  More bang for the buck out there.  

Even more so, the Senate.  Instead of whining about how much power the Republicans get from the sparsely populated states, why not COMPETE for them and grab some of those "easy pickins".

All we needed were some candidates.  Don't be afraid of the "red states."  fight for them.

by sTiVo 2006-10-27 07:20PM | 0 recs
Mudcat Sanders

Every political junkie Democrat should read Mudcat Sanders' Foxes in the Hen House.  Rural voters are in most ways natural Democrats, as they are not rich and have benefited from competent government.

Democrats have a historic opportunity now.  Our candidates are so good, it is hard to believe the Democrats could recruit them, as they include military, physicians, cowboys, physicians, and professional athletes.  

To become the consistently winning party, in my opinion, means the focus has to be on building the middle class (similar to Lou Dobb's current crusade but tweaking his immigration stance).  Then the party must be able to incorporate moderate views and moderates.  Finally, there needs to be acceptance there are irreconcilable differences in opinions on social issues, especially abortion, and that the party absolutely should not take sides and recognize those differences.  

Instead the Democrats should find some means where most people with differences on hot button issues can agree to live in peace.  Once this is done, the Democrats will represent everyone except the self-interested rich and economic libertarians and can be a truly dominant party for years.  

Some of the best legislation came when the Democrats balanced the interests of its conservative Southern wing with its Northern liberal wing.  Now that blatant institutional civil rights discrimination has receded, Democrats need to return partly to this  paradigm.

by edonyoung 2006-10-28 06:01AM | 0 recs

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