Poll: Romney leading by a long shot in rural swing counties

Some quick, non-scientific observations from this Virginia resident: The number of Obama bumper-stickers that I must endure observing whenever I drive around my neighborhood (which is just a stone’s throw from D.C.) is enough to have me gnashing my teeth by the time I reach my destination. Whenever I venture a bit further outside the city, however, that trend changes significantly. Driving south/southwest away from D.C. these past few weekends, it seems like every yard — be it the plot of an upscale country home or a more humble farmhouse — has a Romney/Ryan sign planted out front, and there’s comparatively very little Obama/Biden paraphernalia to be seen. You don’t even have to go that far to see the change; just driving through the woods towards my local shooting range this past weekend, there may have been a few hallmarks of Obama support, but it was pretty much the same story — and I was still very much in northern Virginia.

Again, obviously not scientific, but it corroborates with NPR’s report on a new bipartisan survey of voters residing in the rural areas of swing states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin):

The random cellphone and land line poll of 600 likely rural voters in nine battleground states Oct. 9-11 has Romney at 59 percent among the survey’s respondents. Obama’s support is now down to 37 percent among rural battleground voters, a plunge of 10 points from the actual rural vote in those states four years ago.

“What Republican candidates need to do is to rack up big margins in rural areas in order to offset smaller [Republican] margins in urban and suburban areas,” says Dan Judy of North Star Opinion Research, the Republican polling firm that participated in the survey. …

“It’s a boon to Romney,” says pollster Anna Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, the Democratic partner in the survey. “It will help him … because, of course, he will lose urban areas by a similar margin. And the suburban areas are still pretty competitive.”

A similar survey last month had Romney at only a 54-to-40 percent margin among rural swing voters, and the pollsters argue that the first presidential debate helped to dissolve the elitist, out-of-touch image the Obama campaign has been pushing and helped to acquaint and familiarize Romney with voters in a way that will have particularly resonated with rural residents. Obama managed to win over a lot of rural voters to his side in 2008, but that’s looking like much more of an uphill battle this time around.

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