|Obama's Chief Political Advisor, David Axelrod|
In a bold effort to define the roadmap to victory, the DNC announced yesterday that Charlotte, North Carolina will be the site of the Democratic National Convention in 2012. North Carolina, along with Virginia, went Democratic in the last election for the first time since Jimmy Carter, and basically since leftist politicians passed the Civil Rights Act. But thanks to more robust economies, more social and racial diversity, and large voter turnout among blacks, some Southern states are once again turning into political battlegrounds. David Axelrod highlighted the importance of states like North Carolina on Monday, saying “[T]he mistake we make in this town is often to sit on the back of the truck and look at what just happened and extrapolate from it and assume that the next election is going to be just like the last one."
But as Democrats are working to be more competitive in historically Republican regions, the electoral map is beginning to reflecting that. The Midwest was another region that voted more democratic in 2008 than in had over the past decade, where Obama carried states like Indiana, Ohio, and Iowa (all of which went for George Bush in 2004). But Obama’s team is, at least for now, paying less attention to this region since the revival of the auto industry is proving to be essential to these states economic recoveries. Obama is right to think he can win in those states without too much extra attention, with success stories like the GM revival to point towards. Just a week ago GM sold more vehicles in China than the US for the first time, showing it can be a successful global competitor. Dana Rouse, chairman of the United Automobile Workers, told the New York Times “Less than two years ago, we didn’t even know if we were going to have a company,” in response to the Ford Motor Company announcing their decision to add 7,000 jobs to their plants in Flint, Michigan by 2012.
Not only is it a shrewd choice to choose North Carolina to remain competitive in that state, but Democrats should aggressively take on the rest of the Southern states as well. This is, in essence, Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy in 2006 of competing in every single state no matter how uncompetitive it seems.
Many people are still critical of trying to win states like South Carolina and Georgia. Huffington Post Author Howards Fineman wrote yesterday “the interior border states are trending Republican. West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri used to be competitive. They no longer really are.” But although it’s true that these states have historically gone Republican, we cannot deny that Democrats have made dramatic gains in the South over the last two elections. Dems lost Virginia in 2004 by 10%, but won by 6% in 2008. They lost NC by 10% in 2004, but won in 2008. Even states where Obama still lost in 2008 have seen many more people vote democrat than in the last few decades. Dems lost Georgia by 20% in 2004, but lost by only 5% in 2008. They lost SC by 20% in 2004, and 10% in 2008. They lost West Virginia by 23% in 2004, but lost by 13% in 2008. The gains are subtle but undeniably there, and by choosing North Carolina as the first major stop on the President's roadmap, Obama is making a very bold move to take on Republicans right at the core of their base.
And it may just work.
Huffington Post: Obama Bets on the New South
NY Times: Can North Carolina Deliver Again?