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FixCam: Choose Your Own (North Carolina) Adventure

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The Fix grew up a HUGE fan of "choose your own adventure" books.

So, when David Plouffe, campaign manager for Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, promised on a Wednesday conference call that North Carolina would be a "central battleground" in the general election if the Illinois Senator winds up as the Democratic nominee, we were intrigued. (Plouffe's comments were made in response to a statement by Harold Ickes, a senior adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the New York Times that the "Carolinas" would NOT be competitive in the general election.)

Hearkening back to The Fix childhood, we offer our readers two separate adventures:

1) Plouffe is right. Democrats have controlled the North Carolina governor's office for the last sixteen years and currently control the House and Senate. Party registration favors Democrats; at the end of 2007, 45 percent of North Carolina voters were registered Democrats while just 34 percent were registered Republicans. The Tarheel State also has a considerable black population -- 20 percent of the state, according to the 2000 Census -- and Obama has shown an ability to win that key voting bloc by massive margins. All of those numbers add up to one thing: a competitive race in November.

2) Plouffe is dreaming. Democrats may be able to point to wins on the state level but they have had next to no luck on the federal level in recent years. Republicans won open Senate seat contests in 2002 and 2004; President Bush carried the state by double digits in 2000 and 2004 despite the fact that then North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was the vice presidential nominee. While party registration numbers favor Democrats, the average voter in the Tarheel State tends to be conservative minded -- especially on issues like abortion and gun control. While these wedge issues are often not part of the debate in a state race, they are a central part of the decidedly partisan presidential process. Could Obama do better than then Vice President Al Gore (43 percent) or Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (44 percent)? Sure. Can he get to 50 percent plus one? No.

Which North Carolina adventure did you follow? And why?

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 14, 2008; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  FixCam  
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