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Sen. Hillary Clinton won Texas Tuesday because she built up overwhelming margins in rural communities.
In the race for the Democratic nomination, Clinton lost to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in urban Texas. Obama won the cities with 52 percent of the vote against Clinton's 47.3 percent. And since nearly three quarters of the Texas Democratic primary vote was in the cities, Clinton needed a big win in rural and exurban communities.
And that is exactly what she got.
In rural and exurban Texas, Clinton scored landslide margins. In all the areas outside the cities, the New York senator won 60 percent of the vote. Obama failed to crack 38 percent of the vote in rural or exurban communities, according to an analysis by the Daily Yonder.
In Ohio, Clinton won rural, urban and exurban communities. But, as in Texas, she built her margins in Ohio among rural and exurban voters.
Clinton won just a smidgen more than half of the vote in urban Ohio. (Obama won about 48 percent of the city vote.) But the New York senator won nearly two thirds of the votes coming out of rural and exurban Ohio communities.
Clinton won by 228,000 votes Tuesday in Ohio; 109,000 of those votes came from rural Ohio.
In the Republican race, Sen. John McCain won in all regions of the two big states. As in previous races, the Arizona senator — and Republican nominee — did better in the Ohio's cities than in rural areas. In Texas, McCain won in rural, exurban and urban communities — but pulled barely more than 51 percent of the vote in these areas against former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Clinton's strength in rural areas against Obama has been evident in most of the party's primary votes. Obama has done considerably better in rural communities when the primary consisted of caucuses. (Super Tuesday results are here. Here, the Yonder finds that Obama has done best in the nation's bluest counties.) In the Wisconsin primary, Obama polled considerably better in rural communities and it appeared the Illinois senator had broken through among rural voters.
That trend reversed in Ohio and Texas — and one reason may be the work of the former president.
Although Bill Clinton appeared to have gone missing during the past few weeks of the campaign, he could be found in the pages of small newspapers, working hard in rural Texas and Ohio. On Monday night, the former president climbed on to the bed of Del Rio (Texas) Mayor Efrain Valdez's 1982 Chevy pickup truck to address a standing room only crowd. (The rally was held at Del Rio's new fire station on East 15th Street.)
Bill Clinton in Del Rio, Texas, Monday night.
Photo: Del Rio News Herald
The crowd chanted "Viva, Hillary" while Bill Clinton listed the reasons people should vote for his wife, the senator from New York, according to a report by the Del Rio News Herald's Karen Gleason:
Clinton blasted the failure of the “No Child Left Behind” education program, saying his wife will reform public education based on proven models of excellence.
Clinton called his wife “the best person to bring the troops home from Iraq,” and said as commander in chief, she will continue fighting the war on terrorism and take care of America’s military veterans.
As the country’s “diplomat in chief,” Clinton said Hillary will use military force “as an absolute last resort” and promised that she would restore U.S. standing in the world.
“She has the plan to turn America around again,” he said, as the crowed cheered wildly.
He also told those present that he knew how easy it was as president to become impressed with oneself.
A song is played every time you walk into a room, he said; you whisk through the snarled Beltway traffic “and your airplane is so cool they make movies about it.”
“But we don’t want a president who forgets what it’s like to be you,” Clinton said and promised that he wife would not.
Bill Clinton was turning up everywhere in rural Texas and Ohio. Sen. Clinton won Washington County, Ohio, with more than 70 percent of the vote — and Bill Clinton held a rally there on Sunday night. “I think Sen. Clinton demonstrated, by the time that she and former President Clinton spent in Washington County, that she does care about this area,” state Rep. Jennifer Garrison, D Marietta, told the Marrietta Times' Sam Shawyer.
Obama did not visit Washington County, a community tucked up next to the Ohio River in the southeast corner of the state. Sen. Clinton was there twice last month and Bill Clinton had a good crowd at Marietta College two days before the vote.
Clinton won more than 70 percent of the vote in Ross County, Ohio, and more than 78 percent of the vote in Pike County, both in the south central section of Ohio. There, one resident told the Chillicothe Gazette that Sen. Clinton benefited from Republicans voting against Barack Obama. "Local supporters for Obama felt slighted by Ohio's open primary laws that allow anyone to vote either a Republican or Democratic ballot," the paper reported. "I'm very disappointed in the people of Ross County for switching their vote," said Judy Lanning. "They may have voted for her, but it's not because they like her."
Bill Clinton also visited San Angelo, Texas, a ranching and oil city in the dry western part of the state. "Clinton, en route to a projected statewide victory, easily captured a county she wooed earnestly she sent her husband, her daughter and dozens of out of state campaign volunteers to work phones and knock on doors," reported Paul A. Anthony of the San Angelo Standard Times. "It was clear from the first reports that Clinton's significant efforts in San Angelo had paid off, likely aided by the large number of Hispanics and elderly voters, which are two of her key constituencies."