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Obama polling well in rural states

ST. PAUL - Rural Americans trust Barack Obama to fix the country's economic problems more than they do John McCain, leading to a surprising statistical tie between the two presidential candidates in a rural battleground states poll.

ST. PAUL - Rural Americans trust Barack Obama to fix the country's economic problems more than they do John McCain, leading to a surprising statistical tie between the two presidential candidates in a rural battleground states poll.

The poll conducted for the Center for Rural Strategies shows Democrat Obama leading 46 percent to 45 percent, cutting McCain's 10-point lead from a month earlier. The reason Obama caught up is because rural Americans like his idea for fixing a broken economy, the poll showed.

President Bush won among rural swing-state voters by 15 points four years ago, which went a long way to ensuring his re-election.

"It is a little surprising," said Dee Davis, president of the Kentucky-based rural organization. "McCain has got to get back close to Bush's rural numbers if he is going to have a shot."

The poll was conducted over the past three weeks in 13 rural states, including Minnesota, featuring tight battles between McCain and Obama. Poll results are not detailed enough to break out state-by-state information.

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"If these numbers hold up, and these numbers are very competitive in rural (states), it is going to be very hard for McCain to win," Davis said.

McCain lost his rural support at the same time national polls show the race becoming the toss-up. That, Davis said, gives rural voters more power.

"It shows that rural is in play," Davis said. "That has got to be good news for Obama."

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum.

He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com

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