viernes, 18 de mayo de 2012

¿Es realista competir en Carolina del Norte?

The biggest challenge in North Carolina this year for President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats can be boiled down to something simpler: math.

Everything that could have gone right for Obama in 2008 did go right, and yet he still only won North Carolina by just 14,177 votes -- a tiny sliver of the 4.2 million cast statewide.

Thanks to his campaign's striking ability to expand the Democratic electorate, Obama even managed to win the state while losing independents to John McCain.

Volunteers blitzed college campuses and dominated the early voting game. New African-American voters were registered in huge numbers. Obama also performed better among white voters than both John Kerry and Al Gore. Crucially, Republican turnout fell off dramatically from 2004.

Obama world read the victory as a promising sign of Democratic realignment in the South and rewarded the Tar Heel State with the Democratic National Convention, which will take place in Charlotte in September.

Today, though, it's hard to find a Democrat in the capital of Raleigh who believes the president, saddled with the burdens of governing and a sputtering economy, can stir the enthusiasm of 2008 and repeat his near-flawless North Carolina performance.

"My heart says he will win here, but my head says it's going to be awfully tough for him," said Gary Pearce, a longtime Democratic consultant and adviser to former Gov. Jim Hunt. "This is a tight state for him. Race is part of it. The economy is a big problem. Four years ago he was new, he was exciting. He was hope and change. That has worn off now. The glow is gone. It's going to be tough for him to catch magic in the bottle again."

Obama's fading luster has put enormous pressure on his team not only to mobilize the existing Democratic base but also to find new voters.

The president's path to victory becomes even narrower if Republican turnout grows from the dismal 31% showing of 2008 -- a certainty according to political operatives in Raleigh who watched in 2010 as a fired-up GOP captured both houses of the state Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.

(...) "McCain did very little in North Carolina, and Obama did everything," said Dee Stewart, a Republican strategist in Raleigh. "The McCain campaign's presence was minimal at best. While that was happening, the Obama campaign was knocking on the doors, not only of swing voters but of solid Republican voters."

The Romney campaign recently moved a state director to Raleigh and is piggybacking off the early joint efforts of the North Carolina GOP and the Republican National Committee, which have opened four field offices so far.

(...) Obama for America has 15 field offices around the state. More are slated to open in the coming months. Some organizers never left the state after 2008, and the campaign hired 22 new staffers last month.

Campaign volunteers also went to work under the radar in several local campaigns last year -- including the Charlotte mayor's race and school board races in populous Wake County -- to elect friendly Democrats and identify new voters.

Finding those new voters will be critical for the Obama team as they try to grow the electorate from 2008, and the steady North Carolina population boom offers a fertile hunting ground.

In April alone, the campaign registered 15,000 new voters.

(...) "I don't think mechanics alone do it," said Pearce, the former Hunt adviser. "An essential part of Obama winning here is to reignite the spark. Idealism, hope, whatever it is. He had an ability to inspire last time. Without that, he can't win."
Si la elección se mantiene tan competida como hasta ahora a nivel nacional, no os extrañe que, en el último mes de campaña, Chicago destine su personal y recursos de Carolina del Norte (15 votos electorales) a tratar de defender Virginia (13) y Florida (29). Después de dar por perdida Indiana (11), Carolina del Norte es el siguiente de la lista de estados ganados por Obama en 2008 que sería abandonado si la cosa se pone fea a nivel nacional.

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