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You can't keep score without a scorecard, so today the Yonder presents a handy dandy, state by state accounting of the 2004 presidential vote in rural, exurban and urban communities. As state polls come out over the next few weeks, use the chart to compare this election to the George Bush vs. John Kerry contest four years ago.
To get to the chart, just click on "read more."
The 2004 race was starkly divided between rural and urban. Democrat Kerry carried urban counties by 3.75 million votes. President Bush, however, won the nation's 2,049 rural counties by 4.1 million votes and exurban counties by 2.56 million.
A mid September poll of rural voters in 13 battleground states found McCain to be pulling ahead of Obama. The Yonder will have a new poll of rural voters next week that should show whether McCain has extended this lead in rural counties or whether Obama is catching up.
The Yonder defines rural counties as those designated "non metro" by the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Census. Urban counties contain cities with 50,000 or more people or they have a large number of workers commuting to jobs in counties with large cities. We created an "exurban" category by splitting out metro counties with a high percentage of residents living outside of cities. (For more detail on the Yonder's definitions, go here.)
Using these definitions, 2,049 counties (with 17.4% of the nation's voters in 2004) are rural. There are 530 exurban counties that in 2004 accounted for 9.2% of the total vote. There are 562 urban counties that were home to 73.4% of the voters in 2004.
Bush won 61% of the exurban vote nationally and 59.2% of the rural vote in 2004. Kerry won 51.6% of the vote in the nation's urban counties.
Kerry won the rural vote in only five states: Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Kerry won the urban vote in 25 states.
The Democrat lost the rural vote in every region, but came close to Bush in the Northeast, where the Republican won only 52.9 percent of the vote. Bush won at least 59% of the rural vote in the Midwest, South and West.
The chart below shows the 2004 presidential winner's advantage in rural, exurban and urban counties in every state. (A few states don't have rural or exurban counties, which is why some categories are left blank.) Red shading indicates Bush won those counties or states. Blue means the counties or states were taken by Kerry.
For example, in Iowa John Kerry won the urban vote by more than 49,000, but George Bush won in rural counties by 44,000 and in the exurbs by more than 15,000; Bush earned Iowa’s 7 electoral votes by a 10,000 popular vote margin.
The chart also shows the percentage of votes in each grouping — rural, exurban and urban. The voter turnout figures come from the U.S. Census and are for the entire state.