By Alan Breslauer on 10/27/2006, 11:38am PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

NPR's Morning Edition ran a 2006 election story today centered around a poll of rural voters in "41 heavily contested congressional districts" which has shown a "dramatic shift" in favor of Democrats in the last month.

Twelve days before the midterm elections, Republican congressional incumbents are struggling to corral a key voter group --- rural residents. A new bipartisan poll indicates that Democrats now dominate rural voters, a critical part of the Republican base.

The poll was conducted for the non-partisan Center for Rural Strategies, a Kentucky group working to attract attention to rural issues.

Five hundred likely rural voters were surveyed in 41 heavily contested congressional districts and six states with close Senate races. Most of the House districts surveyed have Republican incumbents. Fifty-two per cent of the respondents indicate they'll vote for Democratic congressional candidates; 39 percent say they'll support Republicans.

This is a dramatic shift from a similar poll conducted last month. At that time, the rural voters polled split the congressional vote evenly.

"This is not encouraging information for Republicans," says Bill Greener, the Republican political consultant who supervised and analyzed the bipartisan poll. "And I think that to pretend otherwise is not helpful."

The bad news is that Karl Rove told NPR a couple of days ago that he doesn't believe the polls and is confident that Republicans will hold on to the House and the Senate. Over the last three election cycles Rove has proven himself a far better gauge of elections than just about any poll. It's uncanny.