Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
Center for Rural Strategies


Executive Summary

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research recently compiled data from rural voters in 13 battleground states on behalf of the Center for Rural Strategies. These results show a dead-heat among rural voters through the month of October (46 Obama, 45 percent McCain) and represent a dramatic swing from McCain’s lead among these voters in September (51 - 41 percent McCain) and May (50 - 41 percent McCain).

Key Findings

  • The two candidates also match each other in personal appeal, an outcome that erases all of McCain’s gains in favorability after the Republican convention. Moreover, much of the erosion occurs among older voters, where Democratic attacks on McCain’s plans for health care and other senior issues seem to have had an impact.
  • Sarah Palin also suffers significant erosion in this survey, falling from 48 percent positive, 33 percent negative in September (then, the most popular candidate in the rural battleground) to 40 percent positive, 42 percent negative currently.
  • Obama’s improvement is driven by rising voter concerns over the economy in the aftermath of the collapse on Wall Street. Voters prefer Obama (49 to 40 percent) on the economy, a 12-point net shift in Obama’s favor since September.
  • It is equally striking the degree to which McCain’s tax offensive failed to find real traction. In September, McCain enjoyed a 17 point edge on this issue. Now voters prefer Obama by a 46 - 43 percent margin.


The following memo represents the third installment in a series of reports tracking the state of the presidential race in the rural battleground. In this case, rather than representing a single survey, this memorandum reflects data from a combined data run of rural voters from six Democracy Corps surveys taken throughout October. As such, the results reflect a more stable data set, less sensitive to daily political events or changes in the political conversation. This project was coordinated by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner on behalf of the Center for Rural Strategies. It surveyed 841 respondents between October 1-21, 2008 from rural parts of the battleground states of New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. The survey carries a margin of error of +/- 3.38 at a 95 percent confidence level.