One reads about the idea of "Real America" - small town, rural. This is explicitly Republican leaning. Because it is also implicitly not black, it has been interpreted as racist. But, this kind of appeal is not solely directed against blacks, but also against Catholics - Irish(1)/Italians, recent immigrants, Jews, asians, Hispanics... A little something to convince your touchy, fence-sitting Irish friends.
Arguing for small town values seems like a loser - just over 20% of the population lives there. Insofar as arguing for small town values is a dig at city- and suburb-slickers, it seems likely to piss off big parts of the electorate.
It doesn't seem that most people take my zero sum urban/rural view. Perhaps urbanites just see it as part of the dumb pander that politicians have to do, a source of cynicism, but not outrage. Since every state has both urban and rural areas, urban voters will have been conditioned by a lifetime of watching big city politicians pitchforking hay.
The 20% also misses a large group. One aspect of modern small towns is that the young are constantly moving away. There will always be a cohort, then, which can be guilted into voting for the party identified with the values of the parents they 'abandoned.'
So, no negatives, diffuse positives, pander me up!
1. I think there was one Irish kid in my high school class