Obama Gives Up On North Carolina?

President Obama’s victory in North Carolina in 2008 was among the closest of any state that year, only Missouri was closer. For 2012, though, most analysts had doubted that the President would really be competitive there even though the DNC had chosen Charlotte as the location for the party’s convention. Inexplicably, though, President Obama continued to remain close to Mitt Romney in the Tarheel State, something which seemed like a bad sign for Romney given that he should have been pulling ahead there. Ever since the first debate, though, Romney has been pulling ahead and there are signs that Democrats may be abandoning the state:

Former Clinton strategist Paul Begala, an adviser to the super-PAC aiding President Obama’s reelection efforts, said Monday that it appeared that the president had given up on North Carolina.

Begala was asked whether the president had essentially conceded the state to GOP challenger Mitt Romney, and responded flatly with a “yes” during an appearance Monday on CNN.

“I’m not supposed to say that,” Begala continued, after a beat. “I’m working for the pro-Obama super-PAC, so I’m being paid to help re-elect the president, but if you look at where he’s spending money, it looks like Gov. Romney is likely to carry North Carolina.”

The Obama campaign pushed back against Begala’s comments:

When Democratic strategist Paul Begala, an adviser to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, said on CNN on Monday that “it looks like Governor Romney is likely to carry North Carolina,” the Obama campaign’s Southern Regional press secretary, Addie Whisenant, quickly responded it was “in no way giving up on North Carolina,” and in a statement added, “Not only have we registered more voters than in any other state but we have seen an incredible number of the president’s supporters voting early over the past four days.”

The real sign of the importance the campaign is placing on North Carolina, though, is the fact that neither the President not the Vice-President have visited the state since the convention nearly two months ago, and the fact that the state is not included on the three six Swing State tour that the President is departing on this morning. Indeed, I doubt North Carolinians will see the President at all between now and Election Day. (Romney and Ryan, incidentally, have been been in the state several times since the campaign started.)

RealClearPolitics currently has North Carolina as “Leans Romney” with a poll average of +5.6 in Romney’s favor. Absent some radical change, I think the Governor can count on those 15 Electoral Votes being in his corner on Election Night.

Update: Begala is walking back his comments:

Democratic strategist and CNN analyst Paul Begala has walked back his comment that the Obama campaign is conceding that North Carolina will go to Romney in November.

Begala told Talking Points Memo, “I have no contact with the Obama campaign, and I am glad to hear Messina say they’re fighting on in NC. Happy to be proved wrong.”

As I said, the real test is where the campaign is spending its resources. If neither Obama nor Biden are visiting the state then you can assume they are not putting much hope in winning.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Aidan says:

    This is a dumb non-story started by someone with no connection to the Obama campaign. The “signs that Democrats may be abandoning the state” consist of a baseless Paul Begala quote on CNN. OFA has increased its spending in North Carolina.

  2. LaMont says:

    Did the Obama campaign get the Romney campaign to spend money in a state they should NOT have had to spend money in? If so, mission imcomplished – nothing to see here folks!

  3. LaMont says:


    “imcomplished” – accomplished – I know I know, I’m a terrible writer!

  4. legion says:

    Heck, if I were on the Obama campaign and funds were running low (which it doesn’t look like they are, BTW), I’d gladly trade NC for Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Florida.

    Of course, I’d trade Florida for a ham sandwich, but that’s different…

  5. Franklin says:

    Nate currently has it at an 84.4% chance that Romney will win. Certainly strong, but not foregone.

  6. Curtis says:

    Well, as the reddest of the swing states, this can’t be much of a surprise. Certainly, the most straightforward path for the president runs through Ohio. If he wins Ohio, Wisconsin, and Nevada, then the gig is up even with losses in NC, FL, VA, NH, IA, and CO.

    I also think that part of this decision is that NC is one of the least elastic states in the union right now, especially among the persuadables. NC has become purple because of demographics much more than a large number of people who switched from Bush to Obama. The Bush-Obama voters tend to be located in the midwest, especially Wisconsin and Ohio, and so that group would seem to be the most elastic. So time is probably spent less efficiently there than other of the battleground states.

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    NC in ’08 was a fluke. Lightning generally doesn’t strike twice in the same place. When the Dems announced Charlotte as the site of the DNC convention Republicans breathed sighs of relief. Cleveland was the obvious no brainer choice for the Dems.

  8. Tillman says:


    OFA has increased its spending in North Carolina.

    I have firsthand knowledge of this. I work for a private company that rents theatrical lighting equipment and does stage lighting and sound productions in central North Carolina. For example, we did the lighting and sound work for a Biden rally about a month ago and something with Michelle Obama in it recently (gaffe tape with “FLOTUS” written on it littered the shop for about a week). If the Obama campaign’s pulling out of NC, somebody had better tell my company’s managers so they can ignore the phone calls they’re getting from imposters.

  9. Geek, Esq. says:

    Both sides are spending plenty of money and have invested a lot of campaign resources there.

    Obama won’t abandon it for the simple reason that they’re forcing Romney to spend resources on GOTV there.

    NC is about as close as Ohio, to put things in perspective as to which candidate you’d rather be right about now.

  10. Jr says:

    Obama isn’t giving up on NC.

    Their GOTV machine in NC is second only to Ohio, I doubt Obama will win NC in the end. But the fact that Mitt has to spend on a state that he should have locked up during the convention can only help them in the stretch run.