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This is number seven in a planned series of 50 entries between now and November, looking at each of the 50 states in terms of every race on that state's ticket--Presidential, Gubernatorial, Senate, House, State legislatures--the whole pack of cigarettes.  Special attention paid to identifying and promoting the most important contests per state.

This time, we look at North Carolina, the state that made Barack Obama the Democratic nominee for President!

Previous diaries in this series:




Texas, Part One:

Texas, Part Two:



North Carolina is a complex state politically, defying geographic boundaries.  On the Atlantic end, there is the outer banks, where more of the houses are vacation homes than primary residences.  The lowlands east of the Research triangle are basically Democratic-leaning, with red islands of military base cities and white enclaves (Greenville, Jacksonville, Fayetteville).  The research triangle itself, in the middle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, and surrounding areas) is blue territory, getting bluer, and the fastest growing population center in the tarheel state, which bodes well for our long term prospects here.  Further to the west, the political landscape becomes more mountainous and pretty solidly Republican with the blue islands of Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Asheville.

Next, there’s BlueNC, the premier progressive blog of the Tarheel State, and a great source of news and information.

PRESIDENT: Leans GOP, but with a very tantalizing promise of hope. While Virginia to the North is a genuine almost toss-up state that is certain to be hotly contested, North Carolina is more of an uphill climb, and could either become very close, or just thrown to McCain as a gimmee, depending on what the Obama campaign does.  The most likely outcome if Obama decides to go all out here is a replay of the 1990 Helms-Gantt Senate race or the 2006 Ford-Corker Tennessee race, in which polls show the race surprisingly close and then the Republican desperately goes racist and ekes out a disappointing win.

Nevertheless, if I were an Obama strategist, I would say go for it, even with the odds against him, for the following reasons:

  1. Due to the long primary season, Obama has already committed the resources to build a base of support here, and McCain has not.  Obama can do what it takes to keep the race competitive here without expending too much more. This is the case in all of the swing states that had late primaries, whereas, say, Tennessee is at more of an Obama disadvantage.
  1. This is a national race, not a statewide race, and what McCain does to win Southern states will have consequences in other states.  Both Helms and Corker drew outrage nationwide when they stooped to their racist "white hands" and "call me, Harold" advertisements. But tough cookies, that was what it took to win with a majority of the only votes that mattered in those statewide races.  If McCain tries those dirty tricks in Dixie, however, it may well win him the solid south, but it will also cost him votes in the west and midwest, possibly putting Obama over the top in EVs.
  1. While Obama can win without the south, McCain cannot win without carrying North Carolina and every other southern state.  By keeping these states competitive, we force McCain to spend time and money campaigning here that he will be unable to spend in Ohio, Missouri and Colorado.  And McCain will not find a corps of ready volunteers in the south.  There are many who will hold their noses and vote for him to avoid getting a Democrat elected, but they will not canvas and they will not be enthusiastic.  McCain’s expenditures in the south will have to come from the outside.  Meanwhile, Obama will have no shortage of volunteers in the south who will be as motivated and enthusiastic as any volunteers we’ve seen anywhere.

Now onto other races. And here, I’ve had a lot of fun researching NC.
I admit it. I swoon for smart, powerful, liberal political women. From the determined college girls who rule my area’s local Democratic Headquarters to the Speaker of the House, if they’re liberal, I thrill to the sight of a woman defeating an icky, reactionary, backwards Republican neanderthal. Especially since they so often look like they’re having fun doing it.  And North Carolina is maybe the premiere state of 2008 in the formidable females category.  And they’re good looking (iron) belles, too, for the most part!


Here’s Kay Hagan, who just won her primary and the right to take on Elizabeth Dole for US Senate. Because we have so many top tier Senate contests, this one is relegated to the Second Tier for now, and because of the long primary, Hagan is at a severe cash disadvantage, maybe one that will cause the DSCC to ignore her in favor of the many, many other promising races. That means it’s up to us.  

I peg Hagan’s position right now as similar to Claire McCaskill’s in Missouri in Spring of 2006. Most people were writing her off, but as we know, that race tightened and tightened and she eventually won and has been doing us proud ever since. Hagan can, too.  Wanna see Dole go down in November? Then go show Kay some love (and if you’re like me, you can have some fun imagining her loving you back). I linked to her biography page, simply because her pictures and her accomplishments are so inspiring.

UPDATE: A Rasmussen poll now puts Hagan and Dole neck and neck already, even shows Hagan with a 48-47 lead!  Could be, now that we've settled on a nominee, we're already BEYOND where McCaskill was in Spring of 2006!


Bev Purdue is another powerful woman, and the odds-on favorite to keep the North Carolina Governor’s mansion in Democratic hands. Vital for redistricting purposes, so the GOP is guaranteed to go to the mat to take it from us.  Most pundits noticing that the only really competitive races for Governor in 2008 are the GOP seats in Missouri and Indiana, feel compelled to point up North Carolina for the sake of fake "balance". Nevertheless, the odds are with us here, but we shouldn’t get complacent. Go Bev!


Our candidate for Lieutenant Governor is State Senator Walter Dalton.

For Secretary of State (vital in NC redistricting plans), Incumbent Democrat Elaine Marshall.

For Attorney General, Incumbent Democrat Roy Cooper, an up and coming rising star in the Dixie Democratic party.

Our nominee for State Auditor is Beth Wood, taking on an incumbent Republican.

For State Treasurer, after the incumbent Democrat was defeated in the gubernatorial primary, we have nominated the powerful Raleigh businesswoman/city councillor Janet Cowell.  Lesbians and heterosexual males won’t be sorry if they click on her link—she has that "girl next door with wicked smarts and business acumen" look that always makes me want to jump through hoops and roll over. I’ll bet she can balance the state budget on two chairs and a beach ball, and make it look easy!

Finally we have the incumbent Democratic state Education Secretary, June Atkinson, reportedly another easy win

All of these offices except for the State Auditor are currently held by Democrats.


The North Carolina House of Representatives has 68 Democrats out of 120, so losing four seats would tie it.  The whole House is up every two years, so Tarheel Democrats will have to be careful. Due to population growth in the blue parts of the state, we’ll have an excellent chance of consolidating our hold on the state if we can hold on to the trifecta through the next census.

The State Senate is 31-19 Democratic and in no danger of flipping by the time of redistricting.

Congressional Districts

District 1—G.K. Butterfield (Inc D)—Safe Democrat

District 2—Bob Etheridge (Inc D)—a potentially competitive district, but safe for Etheridge barring some unforeseen disaster

District 3—Walter Jones (Inc R) v. Craig Weber(D).  Not presently on the map.  Jones, a former Democrat and the son of Democrats, is best known for bringing us "Freedom Fries", but he’s also one of those rare Goopers who occasionally challenges Bush for reasons of conscience, especially rare in the South.  In fact, Club For Growth tried and failed to primary him this year.  In my more optimistic moments, I dream that Jones will be inspired by the pervasive shittiness (oops, pardon my Freedom) of the GOP to take "Freedom Leave" from the party and come back to the Democrats. Could be that’s the best way of bringing the 3rd back into blue.

District 4—David Price (Inc D)—Safe Democrat.  This, along with parts of the 2nd and 13th, is the solid blue Research Triangle district.

District 5—Roy Carter (D) v. Virginia Foxx (Inc R)—not on the map right now. This one, along with the 6th and 10th, are the solid red Appalachian districts in the west. Vern Robinson, the crazy wingnut who aspires to be "the black Jesse Helms" (kinda like aspiring to be the "lesbian Pat Robertson" or the "Jewish Goebells", as if pandering to people who want to destroy you is going to get them to invite you into their disgusting club) is from around here.

District 6—Teresa Sue Bratton (D) v. Howard Coble (Inc R). Not on the map for now, just like the 5th above, but if you’re like me and swoon for med school grads and professors with glasses, click her link anyhow.  I’m glad we’re fighting these tough nut districts with everything we have.

District 7—Mik McIntyre (Inc D)—Safe for McIntyre, though the district itself is not safely blue.

District 8—Larry Kissell (D) v. Robin Hayes (Inc R). OK, NOW we’re talking.  This is the single most likely district in North Carolina, maybe in all of the Confederate States, to boot out a Republican incumbent in the general election.  Kissell almost did it the last time around despite being ignored by the DCCC. And the DCCC does learn from its mistakes, and is not ignoring Kissell this time.  And he’s not ignoring us, either. This is a genuine progressive netroots candidacy in the heart of Dixie, and it deserves every bit of love you can scrape together. Perfect for those of you who want Democrats but who refuse to support blue dogs in districts that supposedly won’t elect any Democrat other than blue dogs. Here’s your chance to prove that progressives can win anywhere , if we want it bad enough!

District 9—Harry Taylor (D) v. Shitty Sue Myrick (Inc R). I’m frustrated that this charlotte based district has been so hard to win.  The problem is that too many democrats have been cut right out of the heart of it and put in the 12th.  This one is uphill, but winnable in a wave year.

District 10—Daniel Johnson (D) v. Patrick McHenry (Icky R). McHenry belongs in a special category with Jean Schmidt, Adrian Smith, Bill Sali and that lady in MN-6. Loudmouthed blowhards who manage to hang on in solid red districts but who may end up doing us favors outside their districts by inspiring voters elsewhere to shrink from the Republicans in disgust.  The race is not now on the map, but we can do something for Johnson. First prize is, he gets in. Consolation prize is, McHenry continues to embarrass the Republicans.

District 11—Heath Shuler (Inc D)—Republicans still say they have a chance to oust first term Democrat Shuler. I say this is a safe Dem hold.

District 12—Mel Watt (Inc D)—along with the 1st, a specially carved minority district. Safe D.

District 13—Brad Miller (Inc D). They did their worst against our Brad last time around, and failed. This time, he’s getting easier treatment. Safe D. Oh, and he posts on Kos occasionally, too.

REDISTRICTING NORTH CAROLINA:  With a little luck, we’ll hold onto the solid state legislature and the Governor’s mansion, and will be able to run the table on redistricting after the 2010 census. Is there a way to tilt the delegation further in our favor at that time?

The answer depends on whether you’re willing to sacrifice the two minority districts. And here, there’s no one right answer.  It seems to me that it would be better to have a solid blue Democratic delegation of whatever color than to have a couple of black Democrats continually outvoted by white Republicans in surrounding areas.  But then again, I’m white, and the reasons for those districts existing simply aren’t there for MY consideration.  The value of having "one of your own people" representing you in Congress may be something I just can’t fathom, not having walked in certain shoes.  So we can agree to disagree.

Here’s the 3rd District, the only GOP one in east NC:

It’s a shameless gerrymander, and NC Democrats could get rid of it, but ONLY by swapping voters with the black 1st district.  The other nearby districts, the 2nd and 7th, are already dangerously red and could not be further diluted without an unacceptable risk that those districts might flip to the GOP.  So, there’s your choice. Jones and Butterfield canceling each other out, or two white Democrats. What’s it going to be.

Farther west, here’s the 12th:

To make THIS piece of earthworm roadkill, they took every black Democrat out of both Charlotte AND Winston-Salem, leaving the surrounding 5th, 6th, 10th and 9th districts virtually uncompetitive for Democrats (the 8th is also contiguous and Republican, but that one is actually likely to change this year. Go Kissell!).

Mel Watt has been around since 1992.  It seems to me that it would be a good idea, at least to put enough of Blue Charlotte into the 9th to get Sue Myrick out, and take a chance that the rest of the 12th has come to like and trust Watt enough that they’ll continue to vote him in without a black supermajority.  He regularly gets very high victory margins.

And that’s North Carolina! As you can see, it’s a VERY happening state in 2008.  Good luck Tarheelers, and let us know what we can do to help!

Originally posted to AdmiralNaismith on Mon May 12, 2008 at 07:12 AM PDT.


Will Obama win some Southern states in November?

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| 122 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips, Recs and BBQ (18+ / 0-)

    North Carolina had a great week last week. Let's have several more by November.

    "...And I woulda got away with it, if it hadn't been for that meddling Kos!" ---attributed to Tom DeLay

    by AdmiralNaismith on Mon May 12, 2008 at 07:14:00 AM PDT

  •  Great stuff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdmiralNaismith, Fredly

    The coattails of Obama and Hagan may make some districts competitive.

    Regarding the Research Triangle -- I read, in a guide book, this phrase

    "Chapel Hill is about as southern as Birkenstocks and muesli"  :-)  The town of Chapel Hill actually gave McGovern a majority!

  •  Wow, this is so thorough! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdmiralNaismith, wuod kwatch

    Fantastic diary, Admiral.  

    NC's nutty districts have been a problem for over 20 years, but now that the districting is starting to sway to the Dems' favor, I doubt anything will be done about it.

  •  Very good synopsis (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdmiralNaismith, MsWings

    One minor quibble -- Roy Cooper is hardly up and coming -- he has been a factor in NC politics for years now.

    I personally know Janet, and she is definitely a rising star, along with State Rep Ty Harrell.  Either of both of them may be Governor or U.S. Senator within the next decade.

  •  Your 2nd point about the Pres race (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is very good.  Any missteps, even by the state GOP party, will reflect poorly upon McCain and could cost him states in other parts of the country.

  •  With respect to redistricting... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm positive we'll pick up a 14th after the next census...don't know if there is a chance for a 15th or not.

    •  NC redistricting is very important (0+ / 0-)

      We need to make blessed certain that we keep the redistricting trifecta, which means getting Purdue elected and keeping our hold on the lower house.

      My reading is that if we hold through one more redistricting cycle, the bluing demographics will keep NC safely majority Democrat for a generation.

      If they get their nose into the map and redraw the lower house to suit themselves, the result could be misery comparable to the Florida legislative map.

      "...And I woulda got away with it, if it hadn't been for that meddling Kos!" ---attributed to Tom DeLay

      by AdmiralNaismith on Mon May 12, 2008 at 08:10:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Go Harry! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    NC-09 is my district and it's time for Harry Taylor to retire Sue Myrick!!!

    Harry Taylor for Congress, Courage is Contagious

    by Fredly on Mon May 12, 2008 at 07:28:47 AM PDT

  •  I think NC is more in play than many realize (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdmiralNaismith, DJShay, MsWings

    CW assumes that the military areas will go McCain. But I think they are dead wrong. The war is very unpopular here and military families especially have felt the brunt of it along with more impact from the poor economy. I suspect you will see them go whole hog for Obama.

    And don't buy the white rural thing here.  While Obama may lose the area closest to Appalachia, he has more than enough support in Asheville, the Triangle, and Charlotte to make up for it. Charlotte went for Kerry in 2004 and will go even stronger for Obama.

    The NCGOP does not have near the money the Dems have nor the ability to GOTV. And the more religious Conservatives at least here in the Charlotte area are not all that gung-ho for McCain. In fact there are far more Ron Paul signs and stickers here and in surrounding areas.

    "I'm not against all wars. I'm against dumb wars." Barack Obama

    by DWKING on Mon May 12, 2008 at 07:34:20 AM PDT

    •  A tantalizing promise (0+ / 0-)

      I agree that Obama really does have a shot here.  But I also see the most likely outcome (for now) being a replay of Gantt-Helms or Ford-Corker.

      I agree with you about white Appalachia. The big potential monkey wrench is Bob Barr's indy run, which I suspect will get disproportionate favor in west NC, east TN and the like.  A lot of Appalachians HATE McCain and are only considering him because he's the only alternative to ThoseDamnDemmycrats. Could Barr be the right wing's Nader of 2008? Could it put Obama over the top in some states?

      "...And I woulda got away with it, if it hadn't been for that meddling Kos!" ---attributed to Tom DeLay

      by AdmiralNaismith on Mon May 12, 2008 at 08:14:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The people of Appalachia... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AdmiralNaismith, DWKING

        ...have a great mistrust for the gov't.  That's normally lead them to vote 'Pub, but Bush has been about as bad in that regard as possible.  I think a viable Libertarian candidate can do very well in the hills.

        And frankly, it's not a huge factor in NC.  The large majority of the people live in the piedmont, not the mountains or the coast.  See the Republican gubernatorial primary, where Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory won ~1/3 of the counties but still won easily.

        •  Southern Appalachians (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The southern Appalachians have had a strong Republican presence since the Civil War when many of the poor farmers there sided with the north.  Many resented efforts to break up the Union their forefathers fought to create and there were few slaves leading many to proclaim that the Civil War was "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight."  Partisan allegiances have been handed down from generation to generation to the extent that many of the counties in the southern Appalachians never voted for FDR.

          Attitudes with a strong libertarian bent (as opposed to Libertarian) are common, and the term "mountain Republican" describes are much different kind of Republican than you find in the flatlands to the east.  When he made his first run for the US Senate in 1972 Jesse Helms won the Republican primary by trouncing his opponent in the eastern part of NC, but he lost many of the mountain counties.  Likewise in 1976, when the NC primary gave Ronald Reagan his first win (with the help of Helms) and began a streak of wins that would bring his close to defeating Gerald Ford the mountains backed Ford.

          With lots of wealthy retirees moving into the NC mountains the flavor of the Republican party has changed to be more in line with where it is nationally.

          •  This raises one of my long-term questions (0+ / 0-)

            CW has most of "the South" as a solid Democratic bastion during the first 60 years of the 20th century, changing to Republican during either the Civil rights era, the Reagan era or the Newtist era depending on who you listen to.

            However, there are also mountain regions (including West NC, East TN, North GA, etc) that are traditionally described as "rock ribbed Republican since the Civil War", and those districts still vote Republican today.

            It always seemed to me that, if we had to lose so many of those NONAppalachian districts as the price of doing the right thing by equal racial rights, it would be fair for us to at least have the consolation prize of flipping those districts that had been Republican for the right reasons all those years ago.

            Why have those districts not changed, even after long-term Republicans retired (as happened recently in NC-5 and TN-1), and as the Republican party has piled increasingly noxious intrusions into individual privacy into their basic philosophy?

            "...And I woulda got away with it, if it hadn't been for that meddling Kos!" ---attributed to Tom DeLay

            by AdmiralNaismith on Mon May 12, 2008 at 12:40:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  The demographics in NC have changed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        dramatically over the past years even since 2004. More young people and retirees from NY, Oh and Pa have moved here. More people from foreign countries have assimilated into the cities and are making positive contributions to the economy and culture. It is a very positive environment for Obama this year.

        "I'm not against all wars. I'm against dumb wars." Barack Obama

        by DWKING on Mon May 12, 2008 at 08:59:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Gooooo Larry!!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdmiralNaismith, MsWings

    He's gonna wipe the floor with Hayes this year :-)

  •  Apparently (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Mel Watt was instrumental in getting the little piece of NC-08 that protrudes right into the liberal heartland + high minority neighborhoods of east Charlotte added on to the 8th, which was also a shameless gerrymander to improve chances of winning the 8th.  At least, I've heard him claim that at a Kissell fundraiser.

  •  Gov. Easley, is that you? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdmiralNaismith, kisler1224

    I admit it. I swoon for smart, powerful, liberal political women.

  •  nice post (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That was an epic tour of North Carolina.  If you are going to do this for all 50 states I am really impressed!

    by sneaky on Mon May 12, 2008 at 08:21:04 AM PDT

    •  We'll see if my willpower holds out (0+ / 0-)

      I started in April so that I'd have the time to do all 50 by the election.

      I have for inspiration ultrageek who did a similar series on the House districts in 2006, and plf515 who, believe it or not, has summarized all 435 House contests TWICE this year so far.

      I'm capable of petering out in August sometime, but I'll try not to. The response so far to this series has been very encouraging.

      "...And I woulda got away with it, if it hadn't been for that meddling Kos!" ---attributed to Tom DeLay

      by AdmiralNaismith on Mon May 12, 2008 at 12:21:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  you forgot an island (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You forgot Greensboro!  We're a huge island and went blue for pres. in 2004. As of May 1st, there are more Dems registered than Repubs so there shouldn't be any problem with Obama winning in November.

    •  My Bad (0+ / 0-)

      Greensboro is significant. Being a dumb Yankee, I sort of had that area lumped in with Winston-Salem, but really, they're two different metro areas. Two different, adjacent counties even, Forsyth and Guilford.

      The blue parts of Greensboro contribute to the regular victories of Watt and Miller in the 12th and 13th districts, while the rest of Guilford County is in the 6th.

      "...And I woulda got away with it, if it hadn't been for that meddling Kos!" ---attributed to Tom DeLay

      by AdmiralNaismith on Mon May 12, 2008 at 12:27:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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