Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rural voters key for Democrats to win back control of Senate; Clinton nomination could hurt party

If Democrats want to win back the Senate next year they will have to do it by winning over rural voters in states that have swung in Republicans' favor, Matt Barron reports for The Hill. In six of the nation's most rural states—Arkansas, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Dakota, New Hampshire and North Carolina—both Senate seats are held by Republicans.

Even states that have long been considered Democrat-friendly are struggling to keep the party in control, Barron writes. "As recently as 2000, Democrats held a registration advantage in 11 of Arizona's 13 rural counties, but Republicans now hold the edge in seven of the 13."

Missouri, Nevada and Ohio face similar challenges, especially in Nevada, "where the Democrats must hold on to retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's seat," Barron writes. Rural voters will be key in Nevada, where former Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley lost the 2012 election in rural areas by 40,000 votes.

Those Republican-controlled states could face an uphill climb if Hillary Clinton gets the Democratic presidential nomination, Barron writes. "Her thread-the-needle base mobilization campaign will take a huge detour away from most of rural America, and the consequences could be devastating to other Democrats sharing the ballot with her." (Read more)

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