North Carolina, true toss-up state and site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, still leans Romney by around 5 points, according to RealClearPolitics polls. While presidential election polls have fluctuated throughout the election, the gap that encourages Romney’s win looks to be ever-widening.
Key issues to the presidential election in the Tar Heel State include offshore drilling and the economy. Romney is a proponent of potential new energy resources in drilling directly off the coast of North Carolina, while Obama is decidedly more careful (especially after the BP disaster). Offshore drilling would have a significant impact on the state’s economy as far as jobs and tourism are concerned. The economy of North Carolina is of particular concern as well, because the state has 9.6% unemployment.
The young demographic, the Latino population, and the African-American populations of North Carolina are voters to whom the campaigns are paying particular attention. The Obama campaign has been using the First Lady as a surrogate to rally college campuses in North Carolina; most recently, she visited UNC at Chapel Hill. The nationwide trend of Latino population growth will undoubtedly affect the composition of the electorate in North Carolina. North Carolina also has the 7th largest black population in the U.S. at 22%, a figure which Obama capitalized upon in his 2008 campaign.
Despite the state’s swing state status, North Carolina has a largely Republican history of voting in presidential elections. Moreover, the state recently approved a ban of gay marriage and Republican candidate Pat McCrory is expected to overwhelmingly defeat Democratic challenger Walter Dalton.
Nate Silver of the NYTimes makes a point that this year’s election will largely depend on voter turnout, and I agree. Both the Romney and Obama campaigns are making huge efforts to get out the vote, especially because North Carolina’s early voting begins today.
My prediction is still what I thought 50 days from the election: Romney will the 15 electoral votes at stake here. While Obama won by a narrow margin in 2008, I believe that was a political anomaly and the Tar Heel State will side with the GOP in 2012.