Republicans kick off election season
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – In order to win in November, Republicans need support in North Carolina.
Officials from three states, as well as local residents and the national party gathered in Cornelius Aug. 4 to kick off “Super Saturday,” focusing on building that support.
“This state (will) pave the way to save this country and fire Barack Obama,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said, speaking before a packed house. Priebus was in Cornelius for the opening of the Republican Party’s North Mecklenburg Victory Office.
In the last presidential election, the Lake Norman region turned out overwhelmingly in favor of John McCain, however that wasn’t the case in the rest of Mecklenburg. All total, 61.82 percent of voters or 253,958 people in Mecklenburg went with Barack Obama in 2008, compared to 153,848 or 37.45 percent for McCain.
“The county has been trending Democratic over the last 20 years, due to a lot of migration and demographic changes,” UNC Charlotte political science professor Eric Heberlig said.
Heberlig said there are some factors that could help Republicans win in Mecklenburg County.
“The Republicans had been in power (in 2008), so all the swing voters who were unhappy with the status quo voted against the Republicans and for the Democrats,” Heberlig said.
Four years later, Heberlig said that same trend could be a problem for Obama.
“When the economy is bad, people blame the incumbent party,” Heberlig said. “As a result, they’re more likely to vote Republican in this case, to let someone else have a chance.”
Heberlig pointed to funding as another key that helped Obama win in North Carolina, as the president’s campaign invested heavily in the state and in the Charlotte region.
During his Saturday address, Priebus and other Republican officials highlighted that fact, stating that they would invest time and money into the area. Members of the Republican parties from Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee all pledged to help support the North Carolina effort.
Focus on jobs
Priebus accused President Obama of attempting to divert the conversation from the economy, during the Saturday speech. On Friday, Aug. 3, the Labor Department reported that the economy grew by 163,000 jobs in July, however the jobless rate rose as well, from 8.2 percent in June to 8.3 percent, as more people search for work.
Priebus and other Republicans questioned why Obama’s campaign rolled out a new television ad attacking Romney’s stand on abortion on the same day as the Labor Department’s report came out.
“This president has a problem with the American dream,” Priebus said, questioning why the most successful were seemingly being targeted with the possibility of a tax increase.
People shouldn’t take Saturday’s packed house as an indicator for November’s election, Heberlig said.
“What it shows is that Republicans are willing to come out in support, but it doesn’t tell how swing voters are going to break,” Heberlig said. “It all depends on what happens between now and November.”
Want to go?
Mitt Romney will kick off the North Carolina portion of his “Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class” buss tour at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 12 at the NASCAR Technical Institute, 220 Byers Creek Road, Mooresville. Free tickets for Romney Mooresville appearance are available at www.mittromney.com.
Vice President Joe Biden has also announced he’ll tour Virginia and North Carolina next week. Specific locations have not been set.