Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Rural results in New Hampshire's primary were the reverse of statewide: Obama edged out Clinton

Barack Obama lost New Hampshire's presidential primary, but he ran better in its rural areas than he did in Iowa's, where he won last week's caucuses. The Illinois senator carried the nine rural counties in the Granite State, but narrowly lost the state to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who ran more strongly in the two urban counties -- and generally in the state's cities and suburbs, according to news reports.

Analysis of the county-by-county results as published in the New Hampshire Union Leader shows that Obama won 38.2 percent of the vote in the more rural counties, those north and west of Hillsborough and Rockingham counties, where the urban centers of Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth are located. Statewide, Obama got 36.4 percent of the vote to Clinton's 39 percent. Clinton won 36.3 percent of the rural counties' vote, while former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina won 17.3 percent, 0.4 points more than his statewide share. (Strafford County, along the Maine border north of Portsmouth, is in the Boston metropolitan area, but we count it as rural on the advice of our New Hampshire correspondents. It produced 9.4 percent of the vote and gave Clinton a 6-point margin.)

Put another way, Obama got 52.3 percent of his vote from the rural counties, which produced 50.2 percent of the total vote. Edwards' vote was 51 percent rural and Clinton's was 46.3 percent rural. A more detailed analysis, by town rather than county, might well produce somewhat different results, but this is all we can do at this juncture. We welcome calculations by those who know which towns are rural and which are not. (All New Hampshire residents live in a town, the basic unit of government in New England.)

Pre-election polls showed no statistical difference among the Democrats in rural and urban vote, but dis show that Arizona Sen. John McCain was leading in rural areas, and that proved true yesterday. As calculated by the Daily Yonder (which did not count Strafford County as rural), McCain got 40 percent of the rural vote, and 37 percent statewide.

The Yonder story by Bill Bishop notes, "Most of rural New Hampshire votes more Democratic than the urban counties along the southern border of the state. Only two rural New Hampshire counties — Belknap and Carroll — voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 election." For the Yonder's detailed story, click here.

UPDATE, Jan. 10: Karl Rove says in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that Clinton carried "less-affluent rural areas," and Pew pollster Andrew Kohut notes in a New York Times op-ed that Clinton beat Obama by 12 percentage points in households earning less than $50,000. One lesson here may be that rural New Hampshire is more affluent than rural America.

1 comment:

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