Battleground status doesn't bring presidential candidates to NC

Posted October 5, 2012
Updated October 6, 2012

— Although North Carolina is among a handful of states that could decide the presidential election, the candidates have made few appearances in the state in recent months.

Since the May primary, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have been in North Carolina only once each. Romney made stops in High Point and Mooresville, while Obama accepted his nomination for re-election at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last month.

Yet, President Obama and Romney often make several appearance in states like Ohio and Florida in a single day.

That's because North Carolina is considered a second-tier swing state, according to Democratic consultant Gary Pearce.

"Obama does not have to win North Carolina. If he wins here, he's going to have a blowout nationally – he'll probably get to 330 (to) 350 electoral votes," Pearce said. "But Romney has to win North Carolina to win the presidency."

Campaigns have four major tools – candidates, surrogates, ads and grassroots work – and Republican consultant Carter Wrenn said North Carolina is seeing plenty of the last three.

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First lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have visited the state for the Democrats, as have Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Romney's sons for the Republicans.

"A candidate doesn't have to be here to get a message out," Wrenn said. "It helps, but they're working on messages 10 different ways."

The best way to judge a campaign's presence isn't candidate visits but the money it's spending, he said, noting that North Carolinians are seeing more political ads this season than ever before.

"They're spending $50 million here. They didn't do that because they think this state doesn't matter," he said.

Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University, said the Romney campaign might be feeling confident enough about winning North Carolina to focus on pursuing the electoral votes in Ohio and Florida.

Florida has 29 electoral votes, while Ohio has 18 and North Carolina has 15.

"Those are the real, real true battleground states," Taylor said. "We can afford to expend resources here in terms of ads and organization, but our most valuable resource, our most finite resource – the candidate's time – needs to be spent elsewhere."

U.S. Sen. John McCain had a similar strategy in 2008, when he lost North Carolina to Obama by a slim margin.

Spokesmen for both the Obama and Romney campaigns in North Carolina said they feel they've done a good job getting their respective messages out. Neither could confirm their candidate would appear in the state before Election Day.


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  • Nancy Oct 8, 2012

    WRAL was wrong, even though other local news media reported Romney was coming, today, finally, after running this story for days, they post a story about Romney's upcoming visit to NC.

  • connieleigh4 Oct 8, 2012

    NC is NOT a battleground state and you know it! We have ALWAYS voted republican and will continue to do so despite what the so called "polls" say!! Nov 6th will tell the REAL story!

  • artist Oct 8, 2012

    Most in NC have already made up their minds.

    The NC libs/Dems are going to vote for obama no matter what he has/has not done.

  • wildpig777 Oct 8, 2012

    well of course WRAL would come out with a poll showing o bama in the lead--what do you EXPECT FROM WRAL?

  • dontstopnow Oct 8, 2012

    I think Obama knows his fast taking and quick jokes would not impress NC this go round with people sunk in the mud of this economy and high unemployment. You can trick people maybe once, or even twice, but I think NC folks are smarter than that this go around.

  • br549znc Oct 8, 2012

    PanthersFan45, you are correct.

  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun Oct 8, 2012

    I agree that it appears Obama has forgotten about NC. One of the most badly hit states who just 4 years ago was a very strong state. Well guess what MR Obama...We haven't forgotten you !

  • jdupree Oct 5, 2012

    Obama has given up on NC. He will spend all his time in WI, OH, FL, CO and VA. I think the silent majority will rise up again and shock some folks on election day. There does not seem to be the same enthusiam for Obama as in 2008.

  • PanthersFan45 Oct 5, 2012

    Maybe I have watched too much TV, but many analysts on all 3 networks have said the democrats have pretty much conceded North Carolina to Romney. The only poll I've seen where Obama has a lead was the one WRAL came out with 2 days ago. I don't think Obama will get the support and turnout he had 4 years ago. Some like to cite the african american vote, but it was the college aged (young) voters that came out in masses that made that difference for a 13,000 vote win. With the 9.6% unemployment rate and 50% of college students unemployed or under-employed ... I just see Obama having a very tough time getting the same turnout. I could be wrong, but thats my thoughts.