CNN’s Peter Hamby describes the Obama campaign’s troubles in the Tar Heel State:
[I]t’s hard to find a Democrat in the capital of Raleigh who believes the president, saddled with the burdens of governing and a sputtering economy, can stir the enthusiasm of 2008 and repeat his near-flawless North Carolina performance.
“My heart says he will win here, but my head says it’s going to be awfully tough for him,” said Gary Pearce, a longtime Democratic consultant and adviser to former Gov. Jim Hunt. “This is a tight state for him. Race is part of it. The economy is a big problem. Four years ago he was new, he was exciting. He was hope and change. That has worn off now. The glow is gone. It’s going to be tough for him to catch magic in the bottle again.”
For my part, I would be very surprised if Obama won North Carolina again. There’s a good chance he’ll maintain his 2008 support from African American voters, but his support among white voters is almost certain to go down to the usual levels for Democratic presidential candidates. Indeed, if you just assume that the swing in North Carolina will match whatever swing happens on the national level, the odds for an Obama victory are slim. In the last election, Obama took 49.69 percent of the vote in North Carolina, and 52.9 percent of the vote overall. If he wins with almost anything less than that (or if he loses), odds are good that he’s also lost North Carolina.
Yes, the state is competitive enough so that it’s worth investing resources. But I would do so with the expectation that it’s a losing battle.