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To Win Over North Carolina Voters, Organizing Democrats on the Ground

September 3, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
The importance of North Carolina in the general election is highlighted as anticipation builds in Charlotte for the start of the Democratic National Convention this week. Though President Obama narrowly won the state in 2008, current polls have Romney and President Obama running dead even. Hari Sreenivasan reports.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The convention may begin tomorrow, but in and around Charlotte, signs of November 6 are everywhere, and so are signs of North Carolina’s importance.

In 2008, the Democrats held their convention in Denver, and it may have played a part in winning that state.  The last time Democrats won Colorado was 1992.  The party hopes that happens here in North Carolina, a battleground state that President Obama narrowly won.  Everything surrounding the convention is an attempt to energize the base, register new Democrats and swing the election.

ROLANDO PARKS:  I think it will affect the Democrats in a positive way.  It will definitely improve the visibility of Democrats in Charlotte.  I think it will definitely have the president or the Democratic Party win the election for this county at least in November.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  The sale of buttons, T-shirts, and Obama gear are considered campaign contributions, and that means more opportunities to gather information on potential voters and supporters.

Buyers are asked for their names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, all valuable information that will likely be used in get-out-the-vote efforts this fall.  There will be another very visible way to see the importance of North Carolina.  When the events kick off tomorrow at the Time Warner Center, delegates from North Carolina will have the best seats in the house, front and center.

Nathan Gonzales is from The Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call.

NATHAN GONZALES, The Rothenberg Political Report:  I think North Carolina is important because it changes the math of the Electoral College.  If Democrats are able to win North Carolina, it takes less of a stress off of winning Florida or Ohio.

North Carolina is a microcosm of the groups that Democrats want to target for the next generation, suburban, affluent, younger voters, African-Americans voters and Hispanic voters.  Those are all key to the coalition that President Obama wants to win another term.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  In 2008, President Obama, seen here in blue, eked out a victory here by just 14,000 votes over Senator John McCain, seen here in red.  The margin was only 0.3 percent.  He was the first Democrat to win North Carolina since Jimmy Carter in 1979.

The Obama campaign is hoping North Carolina’s demographic picture, a high African-American population, coupled with an influx of younger voters and Latinos, will give them an edge in the long run. Current polls have Romney and President Obama running dead even in the state.

TAYLOR BUSBY:  I think a lot of my friends and neighbors are die-hard Republicans.  So I think everybody recognizes it’s a great opportunity for Charlotte to show itself off.  It’s a beautiful city.  I think everybody loves it here.  At the same time, they’re not running out in the streets to come support the Democratic National Convention and all the politics that it entails.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  When the president speaks Thursday night, in a nearby football stadium, it may look like a repeat of the culmination of the 2008 convention.

That’s when supporters filled Invesco Field in Denver.  The tickets to the finale are already sold out.  And the only guaranteed way to get a seat is to volunteer for the campaign.  Nine hours over three shifts earns one ticket.  But for the past few days, afternoon and evening thundershowers have rolled through, casting storm clouds over the convention.