Tuesday, January 29, 2008

McCain wins rural Florida; Obama's campaign touts his own rural strength, a milestone of recognition

As Arizona Sen. John McCain rode a strong rural vote in Florida to become the Republican front-runner for president, Democrats looked ahead to Super Tuesday next week and advisers to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama touted his rural strength. (Associated Press photo by Charles Dharapak, via The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla., in Polk County, which McCain carried)

In the networks' exit poll, 11 percent of Florida Republicans were classified as rural, those voting at precincts outside metropolitan areas. McCain won 40 percent of that segment, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney got 27 percent. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee got 20 percent of the rural vote and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani got 9 percent. Romney and McCain were statistically even among urban Republicans, but McCain beat him 36-30 in suburbs, which provided 64 percent of the exit poll sample.
UPDATE, Wed., Jan. 30: When the actual vote is divided by metropolitan-area and city boundaries, McCain did better in urban areas (36.2 percent) than rural (34.3 percent), reports the Daily Yonder, which focuses on "exurban" voters, those "partly rural communities around the edges of cities." Such communities "are more conservative than either more rural communities or cities." Romney won those areas, and they are where Huckabee did best.

"One thing for sure, the exit-poll designations of what is rural, urban and suburban don't conform with the votes on the ground," the Yonder says. "Exit polling in Florida said Clinton won 45 percent of the urban vote. She pulled 50.4 percent on the ground. Exit polls said Obama won 40 percent of the urban vote. He won 33.6 percent of the vote in urban counties." (Read more)
Florida was not a good measuring stick for Democrats because the candidates did not campaign there, with no delegates at stake because the state scheduled the primary before national Democratic leaders wanted. In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Obama's campaign manager cited his candidate's rural and small-town performance in other states "for the first time in the campaign," Al Giordano writes in The Field. "We think we’re going to do very well in rural areas on February 5 and that’s going to make a difference in delegates," David Plouffe said.

Plouffe said Obama "did much better in the northern and rural districts" of Nevada than Clinton did. However, Clinton's campaign has said she won rural Nevada, apparently based on the networks' caucus-entrance poll, which had her winning the sample rural precincts 44 to 42 percent (within the poll's margin of error). But as Giordano notes, "Plouffe’s statements today mark a milestone in the efforts of rural voters to be recognized for their true worth as an important group of voters." (Read more)

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