Sanders Continues His Strong Showing Among Rural Voters
Bernie Sanders beat opponent Hillary Clinton in the rural areas of Nebraska and won West Virginia outright during the states’ primaries last night.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued to show a weakness among rural Democrats in the two primary elections held Tuesday.
In both West Virginia and Nebraska, Clinton saw her vote tail off as she moved farther away from urban counties.
Clinton lost West Virginia to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by more than 15 percentage points. In Nebraska, however, Clinton beat Sanders by seven points, rolling up a lead in the state’s cities while losing in rural counties.
The Nebraska primary, however, was just for show. The state chose delegates to the Democratic convention in caucuses earlier in the year.
The primary in West Virginia did determine Democratic delegates.
In 2008, when Clinton was fighting then Sen. Barack Obama for the nomination, she won over 70 percent of the rural West Virginia vote. But this year is different, not just in West Virginia, but in most states. Instead of winning rural primary voters, as she did across the country in 2008, Clinton is seeing her totals decline in rural counties.
Republicans also held their primary in West Virginia. New York developer Donald Trump won handily. He is the only candidate left in the Republican contest.
Sanders did well in both urban and rural West Virginia counties, winning just over 50 percent of the vote across the state. Clinton, however, saw her vote decline as counties became more rural. (See chart above.)
Clinton won 38.2 percent of the urban vote, 33.8 percent of the vote in “micropolitan” counties (counties with towns of between 10,000 and 50,000 people), and just 32 percent of the vote in rural counties.
Sanders didn’t pick up much of this drop off. The voters that Clinton lost in rural counties switched to the “other” category on the ballot.
In West Virginia, rural and micropolitan counties contributed 42 percent of the vote.
In Nebraska, Clinton won 55.3 percent of the urban vote, but only 50.7 percent of the micropolitan ballots and 46.6 percent of the rural tally.
Sanders won 53.4 percent of the rural Nebraska vote.
The micropolitan and rural vote constituted 30 percent of the total vote in the Nebraska Democratic primary.