Romney And Obama Compete For Rural Voters' Support

Mitt Romney tells voters in small towns that he planted alfalfa on his uncle's farm as a teenager. And Barack Obama doesn't hesitate to remind people in such far-flung places that his mother grew up in Kansas.

So go the nostalgic pitches as each of the presidential candidates tries to connect with rural voters — and convince them that only he can jump-start a struggling economy.

Both campaigns expect Romney to win the majority of the voters in these reliably Republican places, but Obama's team is trying to keep the margin as narrow as it was in 2008, when he lost rural voters by just 8 percentage points to John McCain. Romney's team, in turn, is looking to run up the score, perhaps as high as the 19 percentage point advantage that George W. Bush enjoyed among rural voters in his 2004 re-election bid.

"Romney's going to win the rurals. The question is by how much," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist who advised McCain's rural outreach. "If Romney cannot boost rural turnout, he's going to lose. If Mitt Romney's going to win the White House, it will be the rural vote that pushes him over the top."

Even the Democratic president's top aides acknowledge the hurdle he faces with these voters.

Read more from Phiip Elliot at AP

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published this page in In The News 2012-06-15 10:00:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy