The heart of Bush's red states is rural, and without the rural vote in 2000, El Presidente would not be El Presidente but rather a fake rancher in Crawford, Texas. So it was with some surprise that we awoke Monday morning to the story on National Public Radio of a poll taken in 17 "battleground" states of strictly rural voters which shows Bush's support there softening significantly. Oh, he would still win among rural voters, but by a dwindling margin, and if he doesn't win by a huge margin in rural areas, as he did in 2000, it's another sign that this particular ship of state is indeed taking on water.
The poll and its results are available on the website of the Center for Rural Strategies, our friends over in Whitesburg, Ky., who successfully opposed CBS's plans to air a reality show called "The Real Beverly Hillbillies." The Center for Rural Strategies is completely non-partisan and in fact hired a Republican to conduct the poll, Bill Greener, who sounded a note of alarm for Republicans in analyzing the poll results.