Wednesday Roundup: Of Local News and BBQ

New fracking study due • Shuford writes about barbecue and politics, setting the record straight • Farm Bill ads going up in Great Plains states

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“Residents of smaller towns are the most likely to worry about what would happen if the local newspaper no longer existed,” says a new report from the Pew Research Center. 

Pew asked Americans in four geographies — large cities, rural areas, suburbs near large cities and small towns — about their news habits and needs. You can find the full report here

We are most interested in how rural and small town residents responded, naturally, and here is what the Pew poll found about us.

First, we are different. According to Pew, people who live in “rural communities generally are less interested in almost all local topics than those in other communities. The one exception is taxes. They are also more reliant on traditional platforms such as newspapers and TV for most of the topics we queried. And they are less likely than others to say it is easier now to keep up with local information.”

Small town residents prefer the local newspaper and read about a long list of subjects, including local weather, crime, community events, schools, arts and culture, taxes, housing, zoning, local government and social services. 

Urban and suburban residents use more sources for their news and they are more likely to get their local news from mobile devices than residents of small towns and rural areas. (Maybe that’s why it’s safer to drive in rural — fewer people doing the zombie thing with their iPhones.)

Rural residents, on the other hand, “are the least likely to say it is ‘easier’ to keep up with local news and information today than it was five years ago.”

Everybody’s favorite topic is the weather.

New Fracking Tests — The U.S. Geological Survey is supposed to release results today from a new round of groundwater tests in a Wyoming gas field where other rests found that hydraulic fracturing contaminated two water wells. 

We Are Hungry — The “We Are Hungry” video done by Kansas students we featured last week got big play on The Today Show. Check it out here

Farm Bill Ads — Democrats have released political ads in North Dakota criticizing Republican Senate candidate Rick Berg for the failure of the House to pass a Farm Bill. 

Berg is a member of the House that failed to act on a Farm Bill. He’s running against Democrat Heidi Heitkamp for the open Senate seat in North Dakota.

The failure of the House to pass a Farm Bill is being used by Democrats in tight races in North Dakota, Montana, Iowa and South Dakota.

Rural, Vets and the Middle ClassMark Trahant notes that Republican Mitt Romney is losing nationally, but he’s winning with rural voters, veterans and the middle class. 

Shuford on BBQ — Earlier this week we linked to a story in the Washington Post about barbecue and politics — how this presidential election is running through some strong BBQ states. Here’s the story. 

This got the attention of Daily Yonder Barbecue Editor Chuck Shuford, who writes:

First, let me say that I bear full responsibility for following your link to the Washington Post column attempting to define barbecue as an arbiter of gastronomic partisanship within the Presidential election.  I know better.  I don’t know why I do these things. 

 I don’t know the author Jim Shahin. He seems like he may be a good old boy.  I understand that he spent a number of years in Texas where, undoubtedly deprived of smoked pig, he developed a taste for beef brisket.  Fair enough.   

Out of deference for the Yonder editors who also harbor a love of brisket, I shall refrain from any opinions about his placing Texas among the top 4 barbecue states.  I’ve nothing against brisket. It’s just that where I come from barbecue is a noun and when you hear the word, bovines don’t come to mind.  But that’s not my point.

Shahin puts forth Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, and North Carolina as the top 4 states with a barbecue culture. As promised, no comments about Texas – okay I will say that of all the states mentioned in the article, it’s the only one that boasts of smoked beef as its claim to fame.  

I lived in Tennessee for 25 years and while it has many wonderful pleasures to offer, a barbecue culture is not one of them.  Memphis, yes.  Any other part of the state, no.  Shahin paints Tennessee as a barbecue capital solidly in the R column. I haven’t read any polls on this and I don’t need to but I’ll wager that Memphis, the only barbecue hotbed in the Volunteer state, is not going to vote for Romney.  

In 2008 McCain took 57% of the Tennessee vote but Barack Obama took over 63% of the voters in the Tennessee barbecue Mecca.  Same for Missouri.  Missouri is not known as a barbecue state. It’s Kansas City that is the barbecue capital and in 2008 Obama won 62% of the vote there. 

Okay, I don’t know how the vote will turn out in North Carolina, but it’s important to note that there is not one but two barbecue cultures in the state.  If the Lexington style voters win, Romney takes the state.  If the eastern style aficionados  prevail, Obama wins again. 

The Tar Heel electorate is as evenly divided over Presidential politics as it is over barbecue culture. 

From this picture it seems that two of the top barbecue capitals are definitely in the Obama camp and a third may well be.  So what is to be learned from all of this?  The top pig purveyors are solidly in the Obama camp or give Obama a good chance.

Only the bovine state is a certainty for Romney and with demographic changes in play, by 2016 a lot more people in Texas may be eating pig.   

 

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