The Rural Vote in the Western Swing States
[imgbelt img=2012IowaPres.jpg]In the western swing states (Iowa, Nevada and Colorado), President Obama saw a decline in both his total votes and his margins from 2008. But he won anyway because of strong tallies in urban counties.
Let’s go out West for the last of our swing state roundup of Tuesday’s vote.
included are the states west of the Mississippi — Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. We are looking to see how rural and exurban counties voted. By exurban, we mean counties that are within metropolitan areas, but have about half their populations living in rural settings.
Iowa has the largest (in percentage terms) rural population, and it’s the place where President Obama began his national run for office five years ago. You can see the Iowa results in the chart above — and you will notice what by now is a familiar pattern.
President Obama won Iowa by carrying the cities (which account for 48.6 percent of the vote in Iowa). Romney won the rural and exurban counties. And the Republican carried the exurban counties by higher margins than rural.
What the chart doesn’t show you is that President Obama’s margins were smaller than four years ago. As in other states we’ve examined, the President was running two to three percentage points behind his share of votes in 2008.
And his total votes were lower, too. In 2008, Obama won rural Iowa by 19,866 votes. This year, he lost rural counties by just over 20,000 votes. He got 21,000 fewer votes in Iowa this year than four years ago.
The same pattern emerged in Colorado: the President’s percentages were lower in rural, urban and exurban counties this year than in 2008. And, again, Romney won rural counties by a good margin and the exurbs by a landslide.
Nevada has a very small rural and exurban population (only about 13 percent of the total population) and it is extraordinarily Republican, as you can see in the chart below.
The Nevada vote in rural and exurban counties moved strongly Republican this year. In 2008, for example, Obama received 45.6 percent of the exurban vote. This year, he got only 39.8 percent.
The President’s tally in rural Nevada dropped from 36.8 percent in 2008 to just 31.6 percent in 2012.