Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rural Straw Poll Picks Fred Thompson and Barack Obama for President

by Kyle Michaelis
Last week's Husker Harvest Days celebration in Grand Island, sponsored by the Nebraska Farm Bureau, included an unscientific presidential straw poll of Nebraska farmers, ranchers, agricultural workers, and their families.
 The Associated Press reports the results:
Of the 387 who voted Republican, 36 percent picked [former Sen. Fred] Thompson, 16 percent picked Sen. John McCain of Arizona and 15 percent picked Rudy Giuliani.

Of the 165 votes cast by Democrats, 35 percent were for [Barack] Obama, the U.S. senator from Illinois, 31 percent were for Sen. Hilary Clinton of New York and 16 percent were for John Edwards.
Anyone surprised by these results? How well do these numbers conform with your expectations of Nebraska voters? Personally, I see Thompson's numbers reflecting his position as flavor-of-the-month in a weak Republican field. There's no justification for his being the front-runner beyond the fact that Republicans have seen him on Law & Order and are buying into the hype that he could be the next Ronald Reagan.
It doesn't surprise me that rural Nebraskans would reject a smooth operator like Mitt Romney - who failed to even register in the top three. Giuliani also polled a lot lower than would be expected from his national standing, suggesting that a former New York mayor who doesn't pander completely to the religious right would be a tough sell to the Republican base in Middle America.  Honestly, if anyone knew who he was, I'd expect the sort of voters who'd attend Husker Harvest Days to favor former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. I'll give my fellow Nebraskans enough credit, though, that I don't think they'd rally to the likes of Sam Brownback or Tom Tancredo.  As for the Democratic straw poll, it's hard to say what exactly to glean from these results. Probably what stands out the most is that the numbers simply don't support John Edwards' claim to be the only candidate who can connect with red state voters. Rather, Nebraska Democrats seem to be banking what hopes they have for a new beginning on Obama, while a number of others thumb their nose at the Republican majority by rallying to Clinton.   Either way, a black man and a woman ended up with a combined 2/3rds of the vote. Who would have guessed such a thing would have been possible in Nebraska just a few years ago?  Of course, there's no reason to put much stock in these number. For starters, it isn't a very large sample. Not to mention, the ratio of voting Republicans to voting Democrats (70% - 30%) is pretty damn disappointing - even taking into account this being an agricultural sector poll taken in the Third Congressional District.
Still, it's something to think about. Something to talk about, as well. Let's hear what you have to say.

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