GOP leaders look to lake area for support
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will visit Mooresville Sunday as a part of a bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia.
Romney is at least the fourth high-level Republican to visit the lake area this year.
Newt Gingrich visited Lincoln Charter School in Denver and the Penske Racing facility in Mooresville in April. Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers – the highest-ranking woman in Republican leadership – met with Lincoln County Republicans in June at Verdict Ridge. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus attended the opening of the party’s North Mecklenburg Victory Office in Cornelius on Aug. 4.
The influx of national GOP leaders shows that the party needs support in North Carolina to win big in November.
“This state (will) pave the way to save this country and fire Barack Obama,” Priebus said, speaking before a packed house last weekend.
In the last presidential election, the Lake Norman region turned out overwhelmingly in favor of John McCain, however, that wasn’t the case in most of Mecklenburg County. All total, 61.82 percent of voters or 253,958 people in Mecklenburg went with Obama in 2008, compared to 153,848 or 37.45 percent for McCain.
“Mecklenburg 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.
There are some factors, Heberlig said, that could help Republicans win.
“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, that same trend could be a problem for President 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.”
With the Democratic National Convention coming to Charlotte next month, the Obama campaign is aware of North Carolina’s swing status. Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit the state next week, but the campaign has not released details about where or when.
Romney’s victory centers
Romney is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 12 to tour the NASCAR Technical Institute, 220 Byers Creek Road, Mooresville.
Rachel Adams, North Carolina Victory communications director for the Romney Campaign, said the campaign chose Mooresville as a location for one of the state’s 20 Victory Center headquarters to mobilize Iredell County’s Republican stronghold.
The Romney campaign has established Victory Centers in key battleground states where Republican voters could tip national election results in their favor. The campaign chose two Lake Norman Victory office sites.
“We only lost North Carolina in 2008 by 1,400 votes, so every vote counts,” Adams said. “The purpose of the Victory Center is to identify as many Republicans and get them out to vote on Election Day.”
Focus on jobs
At the North Mecklenburg Victory Office Aug. 4, Priebus accused Obama of attempting to divert the conversation from the economy. The national Department of Labor reported Aug. 3 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.”