The Palmetto State’s first-in-the-South voting status carries a big role in the national presidential primaries, but all that influence disappears once a nominee is chosen. South Carolina has reliably voted Republican in the past eight general elections, and that tradition will likely continue this November.
Now that local races are mostly locked up, South Carolina political operatives finding themselves with little to do before the general election heats up are migrating north — to a state that is very much still in play this fall.
In 2008, the Obama campaign won North Carolina by only 14,000 votes. The state is expected to be even tougher for the president to win this time around after scandals and setbacks suffered by North Carolina Democrats in the past three years. The decision to host the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte — not to mention the Obama family’s multiple vacations to Asheville since moving into the White House — show just how important the campaign considers North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes.
Republican field hands are flocking north from the Palmetto State to work on the fall campaign. The SCGOP has pledged to send 1,000 activists to North Carolina to make phone calls to voters, knock on doors put up yard signs supporting Mitt Romney.
“South Carolina is not a battleground state, but our close proximity to North Carolina provides our volunteers the unique opportunity to make a big difference in what will be a crucial battleground state and the home of the Democratic National Convention,” SCGOP Chair Chad Connelly said back in May.
Palmetto State political operatives are also working on down-ballot campaigns in North Carolina. Charleston-based Democratic operative Lachlan McIntosh is the new spokesman for U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, who faces a tough reelection bid against Republican state Sen. David Rouzer. McIntosh had been helping run Ted Vick’s campaign for South Carolina’s 7th District seat, but we all know how that turned out.
It remains to be seen whether the emphasis Democrats are placing on North Carolina will pan out as far as election results are concerned. Political guru Larry Sabato told the Charleston Post & Courier that holding the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver helped such a GOP stronghold like Colorado go blue, though he believes it will be harder for the president to do the same in North Carolina this year.