Republican Mitt Romney holds a 14 percentage-point lead over President Barack Obama among rural voters in nine swing states, according to the National Rural Assembly Poll released today.
The nonpartisan poll found that 54% of rural voters in these important swing states favored Romney; 40% said they would vote for Obama.
The poll surveyed 600 likely voters in nonmetropolitan counties in the swing states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The survey was commissioned by the Center for Rural Strategies for the National Rural Assembly. The poll was funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
The poll was designed and analyzed by Democrat Anna Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Republican Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies.
The size of the Romney lead points to a close election in November, Bolger said.
"The challenge for President [Obama] is just not to get beat too badly in the rural areas," he said. "This presages a very close election because, as well as Obama did in the rural areas in 2008, he's clearly not replicating that."
Democrat Greenberg agreed. "Rural areas in this country are very tough for President Obama," she said. "It was tough four years ago and they're even tougher now. I think that that is obviously important in a very close presidential race because it's really Mitt Romney's geographic base."
Obama narrowed the rural voter gap in 2008, contributing to his election. But four years later, Romney is leading President Obama by margins comparable to President George W. Bush's lead over John Kerry at a similar time in the 2004 campaign.