Local Politics

Must Obama win in the South to take White House?

Posted August 28, 2008 12:37 a.m. EDT
Updated August 28, 2008 12:42 a.m. EDT

— Winning the South could mean winning the presidential election for Barack Obama. Obama's campaign has surprised people since it began 19 months ago. Among the startling moments, how well he did in Southern primaries.

The general election is expected to be different for Obama in the South. The major question dogging his campaign: Can he win the White House without winning a Southern state?

"No, I don't so. I think he has to find a Southern state that he can carry. Look, the numbers are the numbers, and he has got to have at least one Southern state," veteran CBS News correspondent Bob Schieffer said.

Obama is reaching out to Southern voters.  He has 16 campaign offices in North Carolina and dozens more throughout the South.

Schieffer said it is very clear that the South is pivotal for Obama. However, Democratic campaign strategist Joe Trippi hedges just a little on the issue.

"I think he can (win), but he also needs the South. Democrats have to compete across all 50 states, and he is committed to doing that. So, I think you are likely to see him campaigning across the South and trying to pick up one or two of those states," Trippi said.

If not North Carolina, Schieffer and Trippi believe a Virginia win could be within reach – maybe even Georgia.

Both stress that for Obama to win in the South, he has to put together a coalition of black voters, young voters and the working class. In addition, all must turn out in almost record numbers.

"Some of this could be chess strategy, but it may be a genuine shot at trying to take it," Trippi said.

"It is going to be a steep hill to climb. This is going to be a very, very close election. I think what happens between now and and Election Day is going to decide who wins. It is not yet decided," Schieffer said.

North Carolina hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976.