For example, 48 percent of rural voters said they had positive feelings toward McCain; 17 percent chose "very positive" and 31 percent "somewhat positive. Only 23 percent said their feelings were negative. Obama's positive-negative rating was 40-40, with 29 percent choosing "very negative." Asked if each candidate had "a background and set of values" that they could identify with, 69 percent said McCain did and 25 percent said he did not. Obama fared poorly, with a result of 40-49.
However, rural distaste for Obama has its limits. When asked if he "is in the mainstream of most Americans' thinking, or is out of step with most Americans' thinking," Obama actually fared better than McCain, with 56 percent putting him in the mainstream and 30 percent saying he was out of step. McCain's rating was 50-34. This incongruity could be a function of Obama leading in all national polls; in this one, among all voters, he led 47-41.
The key to Obama's lead were self-defined urban voters, who favored him 64-29. In the suburbs, he led 44-41, with an error margin of 5.1 percentage points. Among those who chose the "small town" option to describe their residence, McCain led 46-44, with an error margin of 6 points. The telephone survey was taken by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican pollster Neil Newhouse July 18-22. When the two news outlets reported the poll, they lumped rural voters with self-defined "small town" voters to get a larger sample and a smaller error margin. NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd provided the more detailed breakouts at our request. Thanks, Chuck!
One issue that splits rural voters in the race is ethanol, subsidies for which Obama favors and McCain opposes. Bill Bishop writes about it in the Daily Yonder: "Republican or Democrat matters less than whether you represent a corn state or a livestock region. It's an issue that has more to do with geography and rural economies than with ideology," and perhaps the best example is the central battleground state of Missouri, where Obama is campaigning this week. The Associated Press reports.
On another current dispute of rural interest, because military recruitment is disproportionately rural, Annenberg Political Fact Check says McCain's latest television commercial falsely insinuates that Obama "canceled a visit with wounded troops" because "the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras." For details, go to http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/snubbing_wounded_troops.html.