Exit Polls: Romney Improves in Rural

Gov. Mitt Romney did better than John McCain among rural voters — but not enough to overcome President Obama's strong performance in the cities.

Let’s get started on breaking down the election.

The first full results come from the exit polls. When people left the polls, they were asked a barrage of questions. One was about where they lived.

In previous exit polls, people were asked if they lived in a rural, urban or suburban area. This time, they were asked if they lived in a large city (over 500,000); a city between 50,000 and 500,000; the suburbs; a town between 10,000 and 50,000; or in a rural area. (See a chart from USA Today below.)

We combined the top two categories (weighting for population) and the bottom two categories to match the earlier polls. Then we added this year’s results to the graph above, which shows the results for the Republican presidential candidate back to 1984.

You can see that Mitt Romney did better among rural voters (with 59 percent) than either John McCain in 2008 (54 percent) or George Bush in 2004 (57 percent). He improved slightly over McCain’s 49.4 percent tally in the suburbs, winning 50.2 percent of that vote.

But Obama maintained his lead in the cities. Romney won only 35.9 percent of the vote in urban areas, no better than McCain’s vote in 2008 and well below George Bush’s 45.8 percent in 2004.

Here is the exit poll data on place as reported in USA Today



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