A simple analysis of the New Hampshire Democratic primary shows little difference between the preferences of voters in rural counties versus voters in urban ones.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who placed first in the statewide contest, won a plurality of votes in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties. Sanders performed just 1.1 percentage points better among nonmetropolitan voters than metropolitan ones.
The urban and rural vote paralleled the statewide results, with former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg finishing a close second in both urban and rural areas. Amy Klobuchar took third place, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden ran fourth and fifth respectively.
Sanders’ performance with rural voters in 2020 follows roughly the same contours of his primary victory in New Hampshire in 2016, though his rural gains were much less pronounced this year in a crowded field. In 2016, Sanders defeated Clinton by a 16-point margin among urban voters and a 29-point margin among rural voters.
His margin of victory this year was just 0.4 percentage points among urban voters and 2.7 percentage points among rural voters.
Democratic turnout was up 17% this year compared to the 2016 Democratic primary. The gains were disproportionately urban, with metropolitan turnout rising by 21 percent and rural turnout rising by 11 percent compared to 2016. Of approximately 290,000 votes, about 60 percent came from metropolitan counties and 40 percent from nonmetropolitan counties.
On the Republican side of the primary, President Donald Trump ran virtually unopposed. In the 2016 primary, President Trump whipped a crowded field in New Hampshire after finishing second in the Iowa caucuses. In 2016 New Hampshire, he performed slightly better with urban Republicans than rural ones.