The Rural American Battleground


Greenberg Quinlan Rosner / Greener and Hook
Center for Rural Strategies

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Executive Summary

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, in association with the Republican media firm Greener and Hook, recently completed a survey of rural voters in 13 battleground states, on behalf of the Center for Rural Strategies. The results suggest that there should be a real fight for the votes of rural America. Voters in this survey split evenly in a McCain-Clinton race and deliver a 9-point margin to McCain in a match up with Barack Obama. This competitiveness reflects the on-going national problems facing the Republican brand, as well as the deep economic anxiety that is particularly acute among rural families.

Key Findings

  • Each candidate faces some challenges here. It is striking that all three major candidates draw more unfavorable ratings than favorable ratings in the thermometer (personal appeal scores). More specifically, a fair number of voters believe McCain, while sharing their values, is not sufficiently sensitive to their economic problems; significant numbers of rural voters indicate Obama understands their economic problems, but does not share their values.
  • These weaknesses play out when we ask voters to compare the two front-runners. Obama enjoys an advantage over McCain on “bringing the right kind of change,” and on “the economy.” McCain answers in seeing a near-equal advantage on “sharing your values.”
  • The economic anxiety here, as elsewhere in the country, is driven largely by the higher cost of living. Asked which economic problems are the most important, 50 percent identify high energy and gas prices, twice as high as any other economic problem.

Methodology

This survey was conducted by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, in consultation with Republican media firm Greener and Hook on behalf of the Center for Rural Strategies. It surveyed 682 respondents between May 13th and 15th, 2008 from rural parts of the battleground states of New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada. The survey carries a margin of error of +/- 3.75 at a 95 percent confidence level.