Category Archives: North Carolina

Obama’s Anti-Kerry Strategy = Genius

In an interview with Politico‘s Ben Smith published this morning, Obama field director Steve Hildebrand vowed that their team would be spending a lot of time and money in Bush country this Fall. He named 14 red states, some of which were close in 2004 and some of which Kerry didn’t even consider, and he also vowed to give resources to down-ticket races in ruby red states like Bush’s Texas and Cheney‘s Wyoming.

The move is genius.

A big reason why Kerry lost is because he had tunnel vision and couldn’t see beyond a handful of competitive swing states in the Midwest, a failed strategy for several reasons: First, it oversaturates the target voters; secondly, it discourages friendly voters in unfriendly states (in this case Dems in red states) from getting involved; and thirdly and most importantly, it sends a very poor signal to the electorate in neglected states (in Kerry’s case the Heartland and South).

When a candidate puts all his chips on one hand, half of the time he’s going to end up felted.

Of course, resources are always an issue and something Kerry didn’t have in abundance. But as Smith notes in the Politico article, “Hilebrand’s plans underscore the unusual scope and ambition of Obama’s campaign, which can relatively cheaply extend its massive volunteer and technological resources into states which won’t necessarily produce electoral votes.”

And the ROI could be substantial. As Hokie fan Daivd “Mudcat” Saunders points out this week in the brilliant Weekly Standard cover piece “When Bubba Meets Obama,” when Dems pick off a Republican voter, it’s a “twofer” — one for Obama, and one less for McCain. Instead, Mudcat says, Dems often fall into the habit of “hunting squirrels they’ve already killed” (more on this story later).

Mudcat will probably be happy to know that the campaign has promised to contest 14 states that Bush carried in ’04 — “The closest four, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Nevada, [Hildebrand] said, would see ‘a ton of attention.'” The campaign also plans to fight for Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Georgia and Alaska. Hildebrand also said they’d be spending a lot of time in New Hampshire, and in my personal favorite: Nebraska’s 2nd District.

I think it’s a smart move, and one that will certainly give The Electoral Map a lot to talk about in upcoming months.

North Carolina Watch: Obama Within MoE

A Rasmussen poll out today has McCain at 45% and Obama 43%, within the ±4% margin of error.  According to TPM Election Central, “the poll also found that 54% of respondents said it’s more important to bring the troops home form Iraq than it is to win the war, versus only 40% who think victory is more important than leaving — a very bad finding for McCain in this traditionally red state.”

North Carolina

Map compliments of Cartophilia.

Could Obama Really Win a State in the South?

If Barack Obama wins any of the states in the former Confederacy, it’ll probably be Virginia or North Carolina. But a few analysts have suggested that he could boost African-African turnout across the rest of the south — the Deep South, mind you — to make some really red states competitive. Chuck Todd and Marc Ambinder, who were both my bosses at The Hotline and who are two brightest political minds I know, have hinted that Obama could make Georgia and Mississippi interesting.

Chuck wrote in March that “Mississippi is one of those rare Southern states that might be in play in the general election if Obama becomes the nominee. One Dem statistician tells First Read that there are three red states that could swing if African-American turnout was ever maximized (both in registration and in actual turnout): Georgia, Louisiana and, yes, Mississippi. So don’t assume this is just one of those untouchable red states.”

Marc took it a step further in May and broke down the actual numbers, asking, “Did you know that a half a million African Americans in Georgia are eligible to vote but haven’t registered? The Obama campaign knows this. And they plan to register these voters by November, campaign folks say.” The Southern Political Report noted on Tuesday that the DCCC and DSCC have already registered 70,000 new voters in some Louisiana parishes.

Stateline also took a look at it on Tuesday and noted that “Some Democrats hold out hope that Obama could actually win one of the six Southern states that he won so convincingly during the primary season — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina — all of which have voted strongly Republican in recent presidential elections.” But the key phrase from that observation might have been that Dems are “holding out hope,” because after all, it’ll be a long shot.

Tom Schaller, another superb political handicapper, actually crunched the numbers (something that no one else has done), and found that Obama is facing steep odds. In a conversation about white voters posted on Salon, Schaller presented his data:

“I did a correlation between the black share of statewide population in the 11 Confederate states and the share of Bush‘s support among white voters, and it correlates at .76 with all 11 confederate states and if you take Texas out, which Bush obviously did well in, though it has a relatively low black population, with a data set of just 10 data points, it correlates at .9. Human height and weight doesn’t correlate at .9. With 10 data points, it’s ridiculous. I don’t even think this is an empirical matter of dispute.”

Schaller has a point and his numbers are tough to argue with.  But if Obama’s campaign is really about redrawing the electoral map and scrapping the old Clinton-Bush model, then he needs to leave no stone unturned and leave no county uncontested.

The Significance of Obama’s Raleigh Visit

The Obama camp has repeatedly boasted they can win North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes, so it’s no surprise that the campaign visited Raleigh to kick off its economic tour.  As I wrote last year my National Journal article “Is North Carolina the New Virginia?,” the Research Trinagle around Raleigh is changing in many of the same ways that Northern Virginia changed 15 years ago, and in turn, is increasingly influencing statewide elections the way NoVA does.

I emailed Ferrell Guillory, director of the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC-Chapel Hill, and asked what he thought about Obama’s chances in North Carolina in 2008. This is what he told me:

“The embedded GOP general election vote surely makes McCain the frontrunner in N.C. Still, like Virginia, NC going through a transition, economically and socially that will eventually have a ripple effect politically. I’d say Virginia is somewhat farther along that N.C. in that transition. If Obama has any chance here, he clearly — emphatically — must stimulate a strong turnout in Raleigh and Research Triangle environs, not only among black citizens but also among independent high-tech folks and young newly arrived voters. It makes sense for the Obama campaign to make an early stop here to assess the situation — and determine later whether it’s worth investing more time and resources to the state. To win N.C., he has to change the dynamic.”

Bob Barr Could Make Georgia and North Carolina Competitive

A new poll for a former adviser to Newt Gingrich suggests that Libertarian candidate Bob Barr could pick off enough votes in Georgia and North Carolina to make the two states competitive for Barack Obama.  The InsiderAdvantage survey found Barr picking up 8 percent in Georgia and 6 percent in North Carolina, putting Obama within three points of McCain in the Tarheel State.

I make a point of not dwelling on polls at The Electoral Map, but North Carolina is a state the Obama camp has repeatedly boasted that it could put into play.  It has a large bloc of African-American voters and a bustling new population of creative-class independents, mostly around the Research Triangle but also in Charlotte.  If Barr continues to poll well there, it makes sense for Obama to execute on his promise and make North Carolina a Tier I target.

Obama Wins Big in Charlotte

In Mecklenberg County, N.C., which is home to Charlotte, Barack Obama cruised to victory with 70%. But if you look at the map below of where Hillary Clinton did well, it looks like she ran much better in the outskirts of the web.

Clinton in Mecklenberg County, N.C. (Charlotte Observer)

Charlotte Electoral Map

All Eyes on North Carolina

And not just on UNC hoops.  A consensus is emerging that the Tarheel State could be the decisive contest, according to Mark Halperin.  If Barack Obama wins, then the nomination is his; but if Hillary Clinton prevails, then the battle will drag on.

It’s the first time since 1976 that North Carolina will be in the national spotlight in the presidential nomination process, according to the Fayetteville Observer

“While Ford got the nomination, [Reagan‘s] Tar Heel victory saved [his] presidential aspirations for another day. Historians say Reagan would have left politics had he not won North Carolina.  That same year, the Old South, represented by segregationist icon George Wallace, and the New South of Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, clashed in the state’s Democratic primary. [Carter’s victory and Wallace’s loss] ended Wallace’s national political career.”

Will the 2008 contest put Clinton’s dogs to rest?

I think Obama has a distinct advantage based on both the percentage of African-Americans in the Democratic primary and the influx of independent voters, which are both constituencies that the Illinois senator has excelled with.  I’m posting a map of the black population below, and for analysis on independents in North Carolina read my National Journal article “Is North Carolina the New Virginia?

For her part, Clinton should do well in North Carolina’s western hills and hollows.  Politico‘s Jonathan Martin had a smart observation that “Clinton’s strength in the highlands is undeniable. Which is why she’ll do well in Pennsylvania on April 22 and then very well in West Virginia and Kentucky on May 13. And in between, she’ll probably win every county in North Carolina west of Winston-Salem and Charlotte (except possibly in Buncombe, home to bohemian Asheville).”

2004 North Carolina Electoral Map (CNN.com)

2004 North Carolina Electoral Map

African-American Population in North Carolina  (U.S. Demographics Visualizer)

More purple is more African-American.

African-American Population in North Carolina