Monday, June 11, 2007

Poll shows Iraq war could deliver rural vote to Democrat for president

"A new national poll indicates rural Americans are no longer reliably Republican and the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq seems mainly to blame," reports Howard Berkes of National Public Radio. "President Bush's dominance in rural counties is credited with giving him his winning margins in both 2000 and 2004, but the new survey of 804 likely voters living beyond cities and suburbs indicates that the Republican formula for winning presidential elections is losing a key component."

Asked how they would vote if the presidential election were held today, 42 percent said they'd vote for the Democratic candidate, and 4 percent said they leaned in that direction; 37 percent said the Republican candidate, and 4 percent said they leaned that way. Seven percent remained undecided, and 2 percent said they would vote for some other candidate. The error margin was plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.

The overall Democratic advantage of 46-43 was a huge turnaround from the 2004 election, in which found that 59 percent of rural voters said they voted for Bush and only 40 percent for Democrat John Kerry. "But rural voters remain more conservative than the nation as a whole, creating an opportunity for Republicans to make up their losses," noted the Center for Rural Strategies, which commissioned the poll.

The poll was the latest by a bipartisan polling team working for the center, a non-partisan group trying to focus attention on rural issues. Pollsters Anna Greenberg and Bill Greener said in their memo about the poll, "Given the current national climate, Republicans must win rural areas to see success in 2008, while Democrats in turn have a historic opportunity to strike deep into the Republican base. For these reasons, rural America may emerge as one of the most heavily contested parts of the country."

The poll was taken May 31 through June 5 in counties outside metropolitan areas, so it includes people living in small urban areas and does not include rural residents of metro areas. For other results, click here.

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