Friday, February 08, 2008

Clinton, McCain carried Super Tuesday's rural vote; Democratic battle escalates in rural Southwest Va.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain won the most votes from rural Americans on Super Tuesday, according to a county-level analysis just published by the Daily Yonder.

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama "won the urban vote, but lost in rural and suburban areas. Nationally, Clinton won 55.3 percent of the rural vote. Obama took 38.1 percent," the Yonder reports. "The span between them was greatest in the South. There, Obama won 62 percent of the vote in metro areas while Clinton took just 35.1 percent. In the rural South, however, Clinton won 58.1 percent of the vote to Obama's 33.2 percent."

Bill Bishop and Tim Murphy write, "The candidate who found the biggest advantage in rural America was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The ordained Baptist minister won only 16.2 percent of the vote among urban Republicans. He took nearly 31 percent of the vote in rural counties and over 34 percent in exurban counties. ... McCain's percentage dropped as the election moved from metro areas to the exurbs and rural counties."

What does the analysis say about potential general-election matchups with McCain? "Obama and McCain did the best in the cities and both did less well in rural counties. Clinton, meanwhile, was less popular in deep blue counties but did better in counties that normally lean Republican.

For the Yonder's regional and state-by-state breakdowns of the Democratic vote, click here. For the Republican tallies, click here.

UPDATE, Feb. 9: The next big rural battleground is southwest Virginia, as first reported here. "A day after Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign announced plans to visit Roanoke, her chief Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, said he too would come to Roanoke on Monday," writes David Harrison of The Roanoke Times. "Later Friday, the Clinton campaign said that former President Bill Clinton would be in Blacksburg today." He is scheduled to speak in Chesapeake at 9:30 a.m., then head to the southwest, speaking in Abingdon at 4:30 p.m. and in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. Hillary Clinton has scheduled town meetings Sunday in Roanoke and Manassas, and she and Obama will speak at Saturday night's Democratic Party dinner in Richmond. (Read more) UPDATE, Feb. 11: Bad weather led to the cancellation of the Clinton and Obama events in Roanoke. (Read more)

UPDATE, Feb. 10: Obama led Clinton 53 to 37 percent in a poll taken Thursday and Friday for Virginia newspapers by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. "Southwest Virginia is the only part of the state where Clinton leads," Laurance Hammack writes for the Times. "Forty-seven percent of the voters surveyed in the region supported Clinton, compared with 43 percent for Obama, the poll found." And that lead would be well within the error margin for such a small sample. On the GOP side, "The poll showed McCain running well ahead in every part of the state except Southwest Virginia, where the Arizona senator was dead even with Huckabee."

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