Local Politics

N.C. Democrats: Obama has chance to move state's vote

Posted August 27, 2008 6:28 p.m. EDT
Updated August 27, 2008 10:22 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina Democrats are cautiously optimistic that Barack Obama can break a long losing streak for the party in November.

The state hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976, but long-time political observers said they believe the dynamics of this year's election give Obama a chance to outdistance Republican John McCain at the polls.

"When I say the state's in play, I mean I think he can win it, and I think he can," Gov. Mike Easley said.

Easley cited the strong Obama organization on the ground in North Carolina and a renewed energy for Democrats across the state.

Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, an Obama delegate at the Democratic National Convention, said Obama's strength in the state runs more deeply than his political organization.

"This is the year where there are a lot of young people involved," Rand said. "I certainly think (they will go to the polls). They certainly appear to be involved, and they certainly were there in the primary."

Bob Schieffer, the chief political correspondent for CBS News, said he has closely watched North Carolina for the past year.

"Is (an Obama victory) a long shot? Yeah, I think it's a long shot, but I think he has a chance to do it," Schieffer said.

North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Meek said the combination of a sputtering economy, an unpopular war and public disenchantment with President George W. Bush lessens the challenge for Obama.

"I think it's winnable. Is it a stretch? Yeah, it might be a little bit of a stretch, but it's winnable," Meek said. "We're seeing dynamics this year in North Carolina of a nature that I don't think we've seen in a long time."

Rand said he's ready for a fight and expects the fall campaign to become a real dogfight.

"It's not the dog in the fight, it's the fight in the dog. So, we'll see what happens," he said with a laugh.