Don’t look for any presidential candidates in the places hardest hit by a troubled economy, especially if they’re rural, writes Beth Reinhard in the National Journal. They ain’t there. 

Sorry, the communities with the highest unemployment rates (see the map below) are simply not in the states considered “swing” in this year’s presidential race, and they are in darned inconvenient places.

“The reason the most impoverished counties are overlooked is obvious to anyone who makes a living in politics: Most of these counties aren’t in the handful of all-mighty swing states that will tip the presidential election,” Reinhard writes.


Also, these places are often out of the way, too out of the way for a busy politician to get to. Reinhard writes:

There are other reasons the nation’s most downtrodden places—mostly small towns and scarcely populated rural areas—don’t make it onto the itineraries for Obama and Romney. Time is precious, especially for a sitting president, so staffers are reluctant to schedule stops in far-flung places. 

And, finally, poor places look bad. “What’s more, poor communities create potentially unpleasant backdrops for television spots and, in 2012, uncomfortable questions for both a Democratic president who failed to revive those local economies and a Republican nominee who wants to perpetuate tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans,” according to Reinhard.

Most Famous Undecided Voter — The Washington Post says the nation’s most famous undecided voter is Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat. 

Manchin supported Barack Obama four years ago, but he says now, “I don’t feel compelled as I did in 2008.” Manchin isn’t alone. The state’s Democratic governor, Earl Ray Tomblin and Rep. Nick J. Rahall II also have declined publicly to support the president.

Romney Scours Coal Country — The New York Times reports that “Mr. Romney’s campaign is aggressively tapping into anger at President Obama’s environmental policies throughout the Appalachian counties where the state’s coal miners live, hoping that huge margins there will offset Mr. Obama’s equally aggressive campaign to woo female voters in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, just outside Washington.” 

Record Land Farm Land Sale — Eighty acres of farm land in Sioux County, Iowa, sold for $21,900 an acre Thursday, a state record, Dan Piller reports

There has been several high-priced land sales recently in Iowa, all above $15,000 an acre. 

Lame Duck Farm Bill Vote — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia says he’s committed to holding a Farm Bill vote after the November election but before a new Congress meets in January. 

Agri-Pulse reports that Cantor made the commitment in a campaign stop in Boise, Idaho, where the Virginian was supporting Rep. Paul Labrador. Cantor said, “I’m committed to bring the issue to the floor and then to see a way forward so we can get the votes to pass (a bill).”

Micro-Markets for Young Farmers — DTN’s Lindsay Calvert reports that young farmers are finding that niche markets provide an easier entry to the business than conventional farming. 

Rural Film Wins EmmyWhere Soldiers Come From, a documentary about kids from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan who join the Army Reserves and fight in the Middle East, won an Emmy Award. 

Filmmaker Heather Courtney followed high school graduates from the U.P. who went together to Afghanistan. See a clip here

The Real Reason for Rise in Food Prices — It’s speculation, two researchers with the New England Complex Systems Institute report

“More than 40 percent of grain futures can now be traced to financial institutions, which nearly doubled their commodity bets over the last five years — from $65 billion to $126 billion,” two researchers write. 

A Genetic Food Tie — Proposition 37 in California, which would require labels on genetically engineered food, “has seen its voter support plummet during the last month, and a new poll shows the high-stakes battle now is a dead heat,” the Los Angeles Times reports

The food industry has spent over $40 million opposing the measure.

BP Cancels Ethanol Plant — BT is canceling a facility it had hoped would turn sorghum and cane into cellulosic biofuel, the so-called “next generation” of nonfood crop ethanol. 

Companies are worried that Congress may remove or further reduce the mandate that required refiners include a certain percentage of cellulosic ethanol in gasoline.

Don’t Blame Gerrymandering — Think our politics are too partisan? That’s fine. But don’t blame gerrymandering of congressional districts. 

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