In October, a National Rural Assembly poll found Mitt Romney winning rural voters in nine swing states by 22 points. By the time the election came, that massive lead had been reduced to a smidgen over 10.
In September and October, the National Rural Assembly ran two polls of rural voters in nine swing states.
The first poll showed Republican Mitt Romney leading President Obama 54 percent to 40 percent. In October, the Republican had surged to a 59 percent to 37 percent lead.
That was the high point for Romney — and begins the good news/bad news story for Democrats in rural America.
By the time the final votes were tallied, Romney’s rural surge had subsided a bit. He won the rural vote in those nine swing states with 55.3 percent of the vote compared to 43.1 percent for Obama. (The states were Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Virginia.)
The October poll seemed to catch Romney at a high point in his campaign. By the time real votes were cast, Romney won 53.3 percent of the vote and Obama got 43.1 percent — about what the September poll showed.
If Romney had received the percentages that he got in the October poll, the Republican would have won an additional 318,000 votes from rural counties in these swing states. That would have cut President Obama’s winning total in these nine states in half.
In 2008 in those same states, Republican John McCain won 50 percent and Obama won 46.7 percent. Obama lost a little over three percentage points among rural swing state voters from his 2008 totals.
That was about average. The Democrat was down in most areas and among most demographics from 2008.
So the good news for Dems is that things weren’t as bad as they could have been — or as they were eight years ago. The bad news for Democrats is that gains they made in rural America disappeared in 2012.