Obama Eyes an N.C. Turnaround
“I need you Charlotte! I need you North Carolina!” thundered Sen. Barack Obama on Sunday, addressing 15,000 people who gathered to hear him in this bright red state.
Capping a speech about the economic “values at stake” in the election, Obama sounded more like a field organizer than a candidate, trying to persuade voters that a Democrat could actually win here. “I need you to knock on some doors!” he yelled, “I need you to make some phone calls! I need you to talk to your neighbors!”
North Carolina has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1968, with the post-Watergate exception of 1972, when the Southerner Jimmy Carter won the state.
Obama’s campaign would probably not be spending precious time here in September, however, or investing in large-scale rallies or buying TV ads, unless they thought the state was truly in play. Some recent polling supports their optimism.
Democracy Corps, the polling firm run by Clintonites Stan Greenberg and James Carville, just surveyed the state and found Obama and McCain are neck and neck, with libertarian Bob Barr drawing several points.
Locals say Obama “will do a better job than McCain on the economy and jobs” by 52 to 38 percent.
Even more striking, the firm’s memo, North Carolina Open to Democrats in 2008, states, “Obama holds a small advantage over McCain on taxes, 46 to 41 percent, a remarkable finding for a Democrat in North Carolina.”
Tar Heel voters say the country is on the wrong track by 68 to 22 percent — less than the country as a whole but still a strong majority.
Both presidential candidates now promise change, of course, but Obama can benefit more from antipathy for Republican federal policy in a state that’s been backing the status quo for a long time.
Footage from Obama Campaign YouTube channel, “Barack calls on North Carolina.”**
With research by Aaron Wiener.