North Carolina represented the high-water mark for the great Obama wave in 2008 — but he’s swimming against the tide there in 2012.
No state better illustrates the challenge Barack Obama faces in trying to consolidate the historic gains of his 2008 campaign at a time when hope, change and optimism have been supplanted by anger, skepticism and disillusionment.
It’s not merely that fewer than 45 percent of state voters approve of the job performance of the president who’s set to land there Tuesday, or that the state’s unemployment rate is pushing double digits. Or that both houses of the state Legislature flipped from blue to red in 2010.
Or even that a former top state Democratic official recently resigned amid accusations he sexually harassed a male staffer.
Obama’s Achilles Tarheel is the general lack of enthusiasm, especially among younger voters, that threatens to reverse his historic win in 2008, depriving him of a key part of his own map and imperiling his party’s tenuous foothold in the upper South.
Obama will deliver a speech on the iconic UNC Chapel Hill campus Tuesday, part of a three-state swing to pitch rate reductions on student loans. It’s an appeal to a critical bloc of young voters in North Carolina — tens of thousands of them in the state’s Research Triangle.
IOW, he’ll be attempting to – you got it – buy this state’s younger voters, just like he did in 2008. Why?
But for once, demographics aren’t on Obama’s side. The number of young Democrats registered to vote in the state has shrunk by nearly three times Obama’s victory margin; 40,000 of them have fallen off state voter rolls in the state since 2008, a Tufts University study in December found.
Support amongst black voters in this state may be off as well, for a variety of reasons:
And it’s unclear if African-Americans will be as energized as they were last time. They have been particularly hard hit by the recession. The unemployment rate for African-Americans in North Carolina was nearly double the state average at 18.9 percent in the last quarter of 2012, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute. That rate is the seventh highest in the nation.
As the Politico article notes, officials from both parties in this state predict a tight race, but I think if Romney and his campaign can hammer home Obama’s dismal record on the economy – not to mention his warped priorities as President (like putting nationalized healthcare first over the economy), as well as devote a lot of time to laying out his own economic game-plan, which has been vague up to this point, he’ll have a very good chance at turning this economically hard-hit state red again. In fact, the liberal Public Policy Polling outfit, which has done the majority of polling on Romney vs. Obama in this state, has never shown Obama ahead of Romney by more than 5 points – and most of the time it’s been no more than 3 points, which I think is the MOE.
I remember the sickening feeling I had in 2008 after finding out that not only had Obama won the presidency, but he had turned this state blue again. I am going to do my part in hopes of turning this state red again as part of an overall effort to win the WH back for the GOP, and if you’re a North Carolina resident, I hope you’ll join me.