With the first contests unfolding next year in South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire, small-town voters will play a critical role in choosing the next Democratic nominee.,Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders lamented rural decline during an Iowa swing this weekend.,Several candidates plan to attend a March 30 rural issues forum at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa — population 10,600.,AP VoteCast, a national survey of more than 115,000 voters, found rural and small-town residents cast 35 percent of midterm ballots; 56 percent of those voted for Republican House candidates, compared to 41 percent for Democrats.,Sanders noted that many Vermonters, as in the rest of rural America, view guns differently than most big-city residents, but Clinton successfully used the issue against Sanders, particularly with black women.

But unlike HBO and “Game of Thrones,” WGN and the Cubs aren’t hyping their final season together after 72 years.,In my first year as Cubs beat writer in 1997, WGN televised 144 games.,The following January, the Cubs owners — Tribune Co. — decided to reduce the WGN schedule to 92 games, placing 62 games on CLTV, the company’s local cable news channel.,Fans gradually grew accustomed to watching more games on cable, and in 2003 the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks began their own sports channel, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, which is now NBC Sports Chicago.,WGN will televise the Cubs' season opener — likely for the last time »

'I have more confidence than last year': A healthy Yu Darvish eyes his return to dominance with the Cubs » read more