Last week Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter called for a debate about urban America, saying the candidates had laid out their plans for rural communities but not for the cities.
Nutter was repeating a line of argument taken up by the New York Times in mid-February. The Times then wrote that “many Americans have heard the presidential candidates talk about issues close to the heart of rural America…Yet urban issues have gotten scant attention in this campaign.”
There’s nothing wrong with having a discussion about the cities, but the remaining contests in the Democratic primary are largely non-urban. Perhaps that’s why the University of Kentucky’s Al Cross called last week for a Democratic debate about rural concerns.
Just how “rural” are the remaining eight states that will hold primaries between now and the first week in June? The Daily Yonder has the answer:
Pretty darn rural!
The assumption is that the more rural the state, the better the chances for Sen. Hillary Clinton. That has been true in many primary states, particularly in the recent elections in Ohio and Texas. Clinton won these states because she took the vote in rural communities.
Since that time, the Clinton campaign has consciously adopted a rural strategy, dispatching former president Bill Clinton to small communities. Last week, Mr. Clinton hopscotched from one rural town to another, holding a firehouse rally in Indiana and making his own Dairy Queen cone in Kentucky.
The Washington Post noted that “the former president is keeping up a breakneck schedule focused heavily on rural areas where he remains extremely popular.”
The Yonder counted the population in urban, rural and exurban communities in each of the eight remaining states: Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Oregon, Kentucky, Montana and South Dakota. Just under 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in a rural county. Every state remaining on the Democratic dance ticket except Pennsylvania has a larger percentage of people living in rural communities than the national average.
The most rural states are Montana and South Dakota, the last two primaries on the calendar (June 3). The most urban are Pennsylvania and Indiana and Oregon.
West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky have the largest exurban populations, about 20 percent in each state.