No, North Carolina isn’t going to miss out on hosting the Democratic National Convention. It would be logistically impossible and politically suicidal. But the public angst over negative developments in the Tarheel State demonstrates why President Obama will have a very difficult time winning it again in 2012.
Keep in mind that North Carolina, under ideal circumstances for the president, barely voted to elect him in 2008 — by a 14,000-vote margin. His job-approval rating has dropped significantly there since then. Furthermore, Obama needed a significant spike in youth and minority turnout to win. Enthusiasm among those demographic groups has ebbed, and the white vote in the state is still deeply conservative (64 percent voted for McCain), consistent with its Southern roots.
Unlike neighboring Virginia, which is a true battleground, North Carolina’s economy is struggling and doesn’t have the benefit of a Democratic-leaning, fast-growing federal workforce near the nation’s capital. North Carolina’s unemployment rate of 9.7 percent is the fourth-highest in the country.
There are other tangential statewide factors dogging Democrats: The state party leadership is in disarray; Republicans are heavily favored to win the governor’s mansion and several seats in Congress; and a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage passed with more than 60 percent of the vote.
Polls, most of which feature questionable methodology, may suggest the presidential race is still a barn-burner in North Carolina. But the fundamentals point to the state returning to the GOP fold.
— Josh Kraushaar, Hotline executive editor
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Will Young Mitt Hurt Candidate Mitt?
[Politico, 5/11/12] With Mitt Romney largely still undefined among voters nationally, reports of bullying from his high-school days threaten to provide those just not tuning in with an unflattering impression. "It’s an instance of a defining biographical detail breaking through that feeds into an existing narrative pushed by rivals, about intolerance toward gay people," writes Maggie Haberman.
[The Economist, 5/10/12] In his final column for The Economist before his death in a car accident on Thursday, Washington bureau chief Peter David wrote, “On a variety of objective measures, [America] is in an awful mess right now. And yet America of all countries still has plenty of grounds to hope for a better future, despite its underperforming politics, and no matter who triumphs in November.”
Marriage Issue is Test for Romney Campaign
[Boston Globe, 5/11/12] The Romney campaign is trying to figure out how to use the former Massachusetts governor’s opposition to gay marriage to its advantage. Aides say he wants to use the contrast to Obama’s position to draw a “bright-line difference in this campaign.” How will the candidates’ positions carry in the swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio?
Mormon Cultist for President!
[BuzzFeed, 5/11/12] Mitt Romney will deliver the commencement address at Liberty University, the conservative Christian school in Lynchburg, Va. The only problem: The university teaches Mormonism is a cult. McKay Coppins went around campus to see how the student body was reconciling that with the presumptive Republican nominee’s faith.
Bullying Story Spurs Apology From Romney
[New York Times, 5/10/12] The day after Obama endorsed gay marriage, Romney found himself responding to allegations that as a teenager he harassed a fellow student who later came out as gay. The story, which prompted an apology from the presumptive GOP nominee, is also a measure of how much social attitudes have shifted since Romney’s youth.
Clooney Fundraiser Raises $15 Million For Obama
[Associated Press, 5/11/12] Obama was among Hollywood’s elite on Thursday night for a fundraiser at actor George Clooney’s Southern California home that brought in roughly $15 million, a record for a single campaign event.
Marco Rubio in 2016?
[National Journal, 5/10/12] Whether or not he is picked as Romney’s running mate, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is beginning to look and sound like a contender for president himself — in 2016. In a speech on Thursday, the charismatic senator laid out his vision for the country.
Bloomberg Presses Romney to Change Course on Gay Marriage
[Wall Street Journal, 5/10/12] New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wavered for years on gay marriage before becoming an outspoken supporter, called on Romney to join Obama in endorsing same-sex marriage.
Republicans Want You to Know What #Obamaforgot
[National Journal, 5/10/12] Romney supporters and Twitter-savvy media members like BuzzFeed reporter Zeke Miller jumped on a Thursday remark by Obama that he “sometimes” forgets about the recession — and the hashtag #Obamaforgot was born.
Biden Apologizes to Obama for Gay Marriage Controversy
[CNN, 5/10/12] Vice President Joe Biden has apologized to President Obama for his shotgun comments on Sunday that put Obama in a tough spot over the issue of gay marriage. But he may have made his boss a Twitter legend: Obama’s Wednesday tweet that “Same sex couples should be able to get married” was retweeted 59,492 times as of Friday morning, making it one of the most retweeted tweets in history.
Paul Clan Has Dynastic Ambitions
[National Journal, 5/10/12] He said he’s not in it to disrupt the convention, so why is Ron Paul still in the race? Some speculate that his continued presence is in large part an effort to secure funds and infrastructure for his son Rand’s own possible White House bid in 2016.
Obama in Reno Friday: Swing State's Economy Slow
[Reno Gazette-Journal, 5/10/12] After rubbing elbows with George Clooney and his Hollywood gang, the president is headed to Nevada — a crucial swing state in November. The economy has been hard on the Silver State, especially with the housing crisis. His visit, expected to bring in a big crowd, most likely won’t be the 10,000 he saw at an event four years ago.
Playing Their Hand
[National Journal, 5/10/12] Since 1992, no Democratic nominee has garnered fewer than 251 Electoral College votes. Will hard times allow Romney to breach this formidable “blue wall” in November?
Romney Says He’s ‘Fine’ With Gay Couples Adopting Children
[National Journal, 5/10/12] In his most detailed comments to date on the issue of civil rights for gay people, Romney said on Thursday that while he opposes same-sex marriage, he is “fine” with gay couples adopting children. He also declined to criticize Obama’s reversal on the issue.
Congressional Insiders Agree: Pick Portman
[National Journal, 5/10/12] As Romney mulls over who to pick as the vice presidential nominee, members of Congress in both parties agree that among their colleagues there is not better pick than Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a first-term Republican routinely described as “vanilla.”
Obama Winning Investors by 49 Percent-38 Percent Against Romney in Poll
[Bloomberg, 5/10/12] If elections were based on foreign investors, then Obama would have the edge over Romney. In a new Bloomberg Global poll, Obama edged Romney 49 percent to 38 percent in handling the global economy and providing a better vision for the future of the U.S. economy. American investors, however, prefer Romney 2-to-1.
Attend a National Journal LIVE eventSign up for National Journal newsletters
DON'T MISS TODAY'S TOP STORIES