Skip to comments.Rural Economic Woes May Provide Opening for Obama (People in Fly-Over States Aren't Stupid)
Posted on 08/17/2008 3:55:49 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
BELLEVILLE, Pa. -- The folks in this picturesque mountain community with red barns and Amish buggies have been voting overwhelmingly Republican in national elections for decades.
But tough economic times in Mifflin County and in rural areas all around the country have created possible openings for Democrat Barack Obama.
President Bush won nearly 70 percent of the county's vote in both 2000 and 2004, but the standard of living here has declined steadily during his administration.
The farm equipment factory that employed 500 workers here is closing. So is the milk plant. Farmers are facing skyrocketing feed and fertilizer costs, and gas prices are squeezing household budgets of those who now have to drive elsewhere for work.
Nationally, Bush won almost 60 percent of the rural vote, but Republican John McCain doesn't appear to be doing as well.
In an AP-Yahoo News Poll in June, rural voters favored McCain over Obama, 40 percent to 34 percent. About 34 percent of rural voters said McCain "shares my values," compared to 27 percent who said Obama did.
Recognizing an opportunity, Obama has opened more offices in rural areas than any other Democratic presidential candidate in years, pushing a message focused on job creation. Neighborhood campaign teams have been going door to door talking about Obama and his economic policies. In Ohio, his campaign recently announced a "Barns for Obama" effort, in which farmers are encouraged to paint their barn with Obama's logo.
Economy is hardly the only issue, here as elsewhere.
Religion and race are still powerful forces in rural America, and whether Obama can gain ground in traditional rural safe havens for Republicans could hinge on whether voters focus more on economic issues or cultural values when they go to the polls. Likability is also likely to be a strong factor.
Republican Barbara Dettloff, 72, a retired bartender from Racine, Ohio, an Appalachian river town with about 750 people, voted for Bush in 2004 and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in this year's Republican primary. She's voting for Obama in November because "I think he's nice and I think he's sincere in what he says."
But, she added, "I'm probably the only person in this town that does."
Indeed, many of her friends have told her they're either not voting for Obama or are staying home. "They just won't vote for him because he's black," Dettloff said.
Some other rural voters like Carol Fuller, 45, of Lewistown, blame the Republican Party for their economic troubles but aren't ready to switch to a Democrat like Obama.
At the Belleville auction house on a recent day, Fuller described the future as "bleak." In part because of gas prices, she said she and her husband are living month to month on the farm where they raise poultry and cattle.
She accused the Republican Party of price gouging at the pump, mismanaging the Iraq war and failing to address health care. She said she would have voted for Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton because she thought a woman could clean up Washington, but, as for Obama, "I just don't like him." She plans to vote for McCain.
Another farmer, Robert Thompson, 58, a Democrat and retired state worker from Millheim who raises cattle and hogs, said he still hasn't gotten over Obama's comments at a private San Francisco fundraiser that small-town voters in Pennsylvania are bitter and "cling to guns or religion." He said he's considering not voting for president because he doesn't like McCain, either.
If many rural voters follow the route Thompson is considering, it could hurt McCain in critical swing states, said Terry Madonna, a pollster and professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.
"McCain will have problems getting a high turnout among those voters unless he finds some way to identify with them, some way to make them think that, A, he's not connected to Bush, and B, his economic plan is superior to Obama's," Madonna said.
He also needs to turn the conversation away from the economy, Madonna said, but "it's tougher to do that when times are bad."
Paul Lindsay, a McCain spokesman, said long-standing relationships Republicans have established in rural areas will pay off for McCain.
"John McCain continues to hear the concerns of rural families. ... That's why he has made every effort to engage these voters on his plans to create jobs and provide relief for working families," Lindsay said.
Says Dan Leistikow, an Obama spokesman: "We're getting a great response in rural communities that have been ignored by Washington and left behind in the Bush economy."
Mifflin is one of nearly 150 rural counties where the median household income has dropped by more than 10 percent since 1999, more than three times the national decline, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.
That could make a difference in traditionally Republican rural areas come November. In Ohio in 2004, for example, John Kerry might have won the state and the presidency had he won just 45 percent of the rural vote. As it was, Bush carried Ohio's rural voters by an almost 2-to-1 margin, according to exit polls.
Rural voters accounted for more than 10 percent of the total vote in all but three of 12 closely contested battleground states in 2004, and more than 20 percent in four of them Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin according to exit polls. In all but two of the states, Bush won the small-town vote overwhelmingly.
The AP analysis of median household income was based on 2005 estimates, the latest available from the Census Bureau. In some of the rural counties heavily dependent on farming, income may well have rebounded since then, as rising soybean and corn prices have helped offset feed and fertilizer costs.
And not all rural counties are hurting. The median household income improved during the Bush administration in many rural counties near metropolitan areas.
But for counties like Mifflin, the recent economic decline is just a continuation of a trend that's lasted decades. Some of the county's economic woes date to 1972 when rains from Hurricane Agnes flooded parts of the area, including a profitable rayon fiber plant that was a major employer.
Tara Davidson, 36, a single mother and hair dresser from nearby Unionville, said she worries about what opportunities will be available for her 15-year-old son, who is already working to help out with their expenses. But she's not sure she'll even vote in November.
"I'm considering it, but I don't want any of them," Davidson said. "What if they get in there and make it worse?"
What else is new? Socialists, Communists, and Tyrants always exploit the disadvantaged to their own ends.
The author is just “staff writer?” Why the anonymity? Maybe because if he lists his actual name, his inbox will instantly become deluged with requests for where to buy that awesome crack he’s smoking?
McCain needs to start talking creativity, entrepreneurship, social capital, social entrepreneurship, community, etc, etc, etc. It’s like he is stuck in the past. There is so much opportunity to leverage technology to structure society so it’s more tuned to conservative values but they’re not even engaging in that sphere. Obama is kicking there ass there. They need to stop calling him an empty suit and reverse engineer and refactor his policies so that the same outcomes can be gotten out of the private sphere.
Not in my neck of the woods. ;)
“We’re getting a great response in rural communities that have been ignored by Washington and left behind in the Bush economy.”
I, for one, am greatly RELIEVED that Washington has basically “left me alone” and “ignored” me for the past eight years. President Bush’s tax cuts have put thousands of dollars back into my pocketbook and out of the hands of Government, not to mention two awesome SCOTUS appointments. :)
Same here. ;-)
My soon-to-be 15 year old daughter fired a gun for the first time today. It was just a little .22 but her words to describe it: “cool!” and “sweet! No recoil!”
She doesn’t sound bitter to me.
Probably because he’s such a blatant Obama plant that his name would be instantly recognizable.
As if. As if red state residents will be fooled into thinking things would be BETTER under Osama van Krushev than under Juan McCain. No, they’ll hold their noses and vote for McCain. Or not, and vote 3rd party, allowing Osama to win. But no, they won’t pull the lever for Osama. NOT going to happen.
Most of the people out here are ranchers and farmers, and they all say they’re going for McCain. This is the Left Coast, Barack Hussein Obama has no chance of winning the rural hick vote anywhere.
He’ll do well in San Francisco, though.
Thing is, Osama is going to win because a lot of furious conservatives are going to sit out the election or write in Ron Paul or some other jackass who has NO chance to beat Osama, instead of just wrinkling up the nose, biting a bullet and somehow forcing themselves to vote for Juan McCain, like I am going to FORCE myself to do.
Won’t matter. Osama is a lock due to all the conservatives who refuse to vote for McCain. A lock. No libbies are going to vote for McCain. He was just selected by the DNC to hedge their bet incase someone with an “R” behind their name happened to win.
Heads, they win. Tails, they don’t lose. What a scam. And it is all planned in advance, just like Michael Savage says it is. 4 years of Bush. 8 years of Clinton. 8 years of Bush. 8 more years of Clinton, or in this case, Osama. The beat goes on and we get screwed.
“Indeed, many of her friends have told her they’re either not voting for Obama or are staying home. “They just won’t vote for him because he’s black,” Dettloff said.”
How long did it take to find someone to say this?
America is so screwed.
What if we just declare the Oval Office vacant for the next four years, until this blame thing gets sorted out?
It is NOT the job of the government to create jobs, but rather provide for an environment conducive to the private sector creating the jobs, i.e. less regulation and taxation. THAT is how jobs are created.
This conservative is voting for McCain. I’ve got some heavy-duty clothespins at my disposal.
Michael Savage, really? I haven’t listened to that dude since 2002. He’s off his rocker.
Pay no attention to his "sincere" desire to raise your taxes, weaken the nation's defense, spend you into poverty and provide wretched, untimely but "free" health care for all. It's the "nice" and "sincere" that count.
Did you watch the Rick Warren forum last night?
Yes. I did. McCain cleaned Obama’s clock.
Yes he did. I have not been enthusiastic about McCain, but I must say I was very impressed with him last night and feel much more comfortable voting for him now. He has so much life experience that Nobama will never have and it showed. It was a great forum. My pastor, who I have never heard say anything political from the pulpit, this morning told the congregation that if they got a chance to watch a re-broadcast, that they should as it was very informative and unbiased, which you don’t get in the “debates”. He didn’t say anything else and he has never told anyone how to vote. My guess is he was impressed with McCain as well.
I’m a reluctant McCain voter as well. Last night gave me a reason to vote for him. I do NOT want a President Obama.
As a very rural resident of the West, my political litmus test is small government and a sharp pull back on draconian environmental regulations that are strangling rural economies. So far, neither candidate satisfies my interests. Obama would continue the spread of regulation throughout every aspect of our lives - controlling us, locking up our natural resources and transferring our wealth to international interests.
So far, I don’t see anything different coming from “Teddy Roosevelt” McCain.
“But tough economic times in Mifflin County and in rural areas all around the country have created possible openings for Democrat Barack Obama.”
ROFHWL! To quote John Wayne - “Not hardly.” ;)
Note to Obama: Calling people bigots, etc., based solely on the color of their skin and/or where they live, is a bigoted statement and *not* the way to get said people to vote for you. ;)
(heading back to lurk mode :)
economy is not perfect. Let’s tax it!!!!!!!!
I think you’re wrong. Hold out to see what happens at the ‘Rat convention next week.
Hillary! isn’t through with us or Obama quite yet. ;)
And even my Dad, who is as conservative as they come, will hold his nose and vote for McCain. We ARE The Heartland and we know a Commie when we see one.
In fact, Dad said tonight (Dad has supper with us on Sundays), “The difference between a Communist and a Socialist is simple. A Communist will put you up against the wall and flat-out shoot you dead because you don’t ‘believe in the cause.’ But Socialists are even worse; they’ll just steal from you and wear you down until you WILLINGLY surrender.”
Now, think about that for a minute...If you’re paying attention you should feel as if you’re being pecked to death by chickens due to the CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS we seem to be losing at an increasingly fast pace. (Where to live, what we drive, helmet laws, seat belt laws, what we eat, if we can smoke or drink, mandatory vaccinations for our kids, the fight against Home Schooling, no parental notification if our daughters want abortions, etc.)
You need to ping Gabz or Eric Blair to get on their “Nanny State” ping lists. We ARE being pecked to death...and most don’t even feel it, it’s been so incremental!
Hi! Amen to that! :)
Come out of “lurking” more often, Mrs. Ranger. We need more ‘common sense’ women on this forum! We seem to be in short supply as of late. :)
Hi back -— and AMEN to what your dad had to say!
I’ve got my last batch of jam for the day in the canner right now.......I’m whipped :)
Yep. My Dad is pretty smart about these things...and this NUT hasn’t fallen too far from the tree. ;)
We’ve got this HUGE Elderberry shrub along the back fence line at the garden center. Lauri and I are going to harvest the berries before the birds get to them and make a batch of Elderberry Wine.
Screw the jelly; we’ve been working too hard all summer, LOL!
That's the problem with the Republicans in a nutshell. They keep trying to "free market" liberal programs and ideas.
Trying to get McCain to talk about what you describe is a fool's errand. This is what the national party needs to do: They need to start talking about limited government again. That'll help the GOP candidates in Congressional races. McCain will win by default anyway.
Oh, yeah, man! All the farmers down at the CO-OP can’t wait to vote for Obama! That “God Damn America” stuff was music to their ears.
I guess I’m really going to have to look into trying my hand at making wine.
I went through nearly 10 pounds of peaches today, I need to do twice that much more to have enough left for “pit ‘n peel” jelly.
I don’t feel I need to ping anybody. I am one of those who won’t throw my vote away on some idiot 3rd party candidate. I won’t stay home. I will hold my nose and vote for RINO idiot Juan McCain and AGAINST Osama. I’m not one of those who believe the parties are the same or that all politicians are the same. Basically it is bad, worse, and atrocious. I’ll vote for worse (McCain) to avoid atrocious (Osama) any time.
That said, I hope and pray I am wrong that this time the conservative base is mobilized against Osama and will hold their nose and vote for McCain. I’m calling an Osama win based mostly on the economy and somewhat on too many Conservatives throwing their votes away on third party candidates. You can take my prediction to the bank. Osama wins.
That said, I hope and pray I am wrong, and I will be glad to personally loudly and strongly eat crow for my prediction and I’ll be most happy if you remind me how wrong I was. I’ll be eating crow, but with a big smile on my face.
Osama is an empty suit being worn by his communist masters. So long as he gets to pretend to wield the power and is insured of glory, fame and riches after his 4 years in office, doing all that his communist masters expect of him.
The only caveat — and I am not going back on my prediction of an Osama win! — is that I never believed a woman or black man could win the presidency without softening up prejudices by becoming Vice President first. I always felt there were too many people who thought a women or minority couldn’t handle the job and would not vote for one. If Osama loses, then I’ll expect the answer to be found there in a bit of good old fashioned racism. That doesn’t mean it has to be the answer. A lot of women wish Hitlery was nominated and I think a lot of women are ready to wreck vengeance on Osama. If the women vote is split evenly Osama/McCain, then I’ll assume that the Hillary supporters sabotaged him.
But I’m not backing off my prediction. I can’t put the words “president” and “Osama” in the same sentence, but I predict he will win when he hammers away on the economy. He has a ton of money for commercials and the economic indicators are only getting worse. The MSM will sing this tune long and loud all through the month of October and Osama will ride that tune to victory. Puke!
That is my story and I’m sticking to it. When McCain wins, remind me I predicted incorrectly and I’ll be just thrilled to eat crow. Just jubilant.
According to the story the economic decline around that part of the country has been going on for decades. One woman worried about her son’s economic prospects. Gee, what could they possibly do to change things for the better? I guess for them staying in an economically depressed area is much better than moving to a place where there are good jobs. (smirk)
ratmedia wishful thinking.
Well, you’re reading fiction, if “that’s your story.” ;)
America will awake from her slumber between now and November. There are millions of disgruntled Hillary! voters out there that will not vote for Obama and will stay home or vote for McCain.
And when push comes to shove, I believe that even the long-time Freepers here who claim they’ll “sit on their hands” will vote for McCain, versus staying home. People that are as obsessed with politics and Constitutional Rights as we are here will NOT sit home in the end.
But, if you’re right, you know you’ll hear about it...and not just from me, LOL!
I hope and pray you are right and I’m dead wrong.
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