There's kind of a silly argument going on over this -- which tends to turn on whether Brown County (where Hackett ran 20 points ahead of Kerry) is described as "rural" or "exurban." (The Census Bureau lists Brown as part of the Cincinnati metro area and the county gained about 20% in population in the 90s, so I'll go with exurban). One problem is that only parts of Hamilton & Warren Counties are within the district (and so it's harder to figure out the Kerry vote), and between them, they cast 56 percent of the district vote. But from what I can tell, Hackett ran about 14-15 points or so ahead of Kerry in both of them. (Unfortunately, I can't find the Kerry vote for the portion of the city of Cincinnati contained within the 2nd, although it appears to be heavily Republican. The Hamilton County suburbs within the 2nd are very Republican -- Kerry won only about 30 percent there -- and their residents outnumber Cincinnatians within the district by about 2-to-1. The gap among voters is probably even greater. So Hackett's 49% in Hamilton County is quite impressive).
If Hackett made bigger gains over Kerry in rural than in suburban/exurban areas, it was a matter of a percentage point or two -- nothing to make a big deal about. And even that may have been due to the presence of some conservative Democrats who would vote for a pro-gun Iraq vet over a Massachusetts liberal. And those rural counties had too few people to matter much, anyway.
And that's that for me on this.