Super Tuesday
Judy Baxter snapped a Super Tuesday self-portrait at her polling place
in Hahira, Georgia, the Shiloh Fire Station

Sen. Hillary Clinton did better than Sen. Barack Obama in rural communities in yesterday’s primary election, while in urban areas the two candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination reversed places.

The results of yesterday’s primary elections play against the post-partisan politics Sen. Obama has made central to his campaign. Obama was strongest in the bluest of blue counties. Obama handily won California’s San Francisco County, for example — a county that has grown more Democratic in every presidential election since the mid-1970s. It was Clinton who fared better in Republican counties. Clinton, for example, won staunchly Republican Orange County.

The Daily Yonder is just beginning to sort the vote by rural, exurban and urban counties in the two dozen states that held elections yesterday. But a few trends are appearing in both the Democratic and Republican primaries.

In the Republican primary, based on returns from California, Alabama, Illinois and New York, Arizona Sen. John McCain won in rural, exurban and urban counties. McCain, the frontrunner, however, did best in urban counties, where he won 47 percent of the vote. He fared less well in exurban counties, where he pulled 39 percent of the vote. McCain took 44 percent of the vote in rural counties.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee more than doubled his vote when he got out of the cities. The former Baptist preacher received only 14 percent of the vote in urban counties, but doubled his take in rural areas. Huckabee received 33.5 percent of the vote in exurban counties.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney did slightly better in urban counties, receiving 27 percent of the urban vote in these four states. He took 22 percent of the vote in rural and exurban counties.

In Tennessee, Huckabee won the state by winning in rural, exurban and urban counties. He did best in rural counties, however, where he took 37 percent of yesterday’s vote.

The rural-urban division between Democrats Obama and Clinton was clear in the early states examined by the Yonder. In Alabama, for example, a state Obama won with 56 percent of the vote, Sen. Clinton won the vote in the rural and exurban counties. She won 54 percent of the vote in Alabama’s exurban counties.

Obama, meanwhile, won 67 percent of the vote in Alabama’s cities.

The pattern was repeated across the country, according to the Yonder’s analysis. Clinton won 66 percent of the rural vote in New York, her home state. She took 56.8 percent of the urban vote. Obama won 66.5 percent of the urban vote in his home state of Illinois, but took 53.5% of the rural vote.

In Delaware, Sen. Clinton won the small state’s one rural county by 16 percentage points, but she lost the state by eleven points, 53 percent to 42 percent.

Perhaps the most graphic rural/urban division in the Democratic primary is found in Missouri. Obama won the state, barely. But he took only the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City, St. Louis County, Boone County (home of the University of Missouri), Cole County (home of the state capital, Jefferson City) and Nodaway County. In rural Missouri, Obama lost by margins of ten to twenty percentage points. (See the map below.)

Map courtesy of the Missouri Secretary of State

In New Mexico, Obama won hip and wealthy Taos County, but lost the dowdier communities nearby by large margins.

In rural and exurban Tennessee, Clinton won 70 percent of the vote. (Obama won only 20 percent of the vote in rural Tennessee counties.)

In urban Tennessee counties, however, Obama won 54.4 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 42 percent.

The Yonder will continue to update this story as the day goes on, so keep checking back.

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