NC: The Closer

By Al Giordano



"In this country, justice can be won against the greatest of odds; hope can find its way back to the darkest of corners; and when we are told that we cannot bring about the change that we seek, we answer with one voice - yes, we can."

      - Barack Obama, Raleigh, North Carolina, May 6, 2008


WILLIAMSTON, NORTH CAROLINA; OCTOBER 10, 2004 2008: Five short months ago, on the night of May 6, the voters of North Carolina effectively ended the Democratic presidential nomination battle, deciding it definitively in favor of Barack Obama. As Cronkite used to say, "and you were there." (And if perchance you weren't, the video, above, will put you right back there.)

The Field has listened to all the talk of Obama possibly winning North Carolina and its 15 Electoral Votes with a healthy dose of skepticism, but also with great curiosity (which is why we added it to our swing state reporting tour when it was only number 15 among 538's "tipping point" states - it's now number seven). Remember that, in 2004, Republican George W. Bush won 1,961,166 votes here (56 percent) to just 1,525,849 for Democrat John Kerry.

And while there are more than 600,000 newly registered voters in North Carolina this year, Obama would have to win about 92 percent of them to make up that 435,317 vote deficit.

No. To win in North Carolina, Obama has to bring a significant number of people that voted for Bush four years ago into the Democratic column.

Add to that seemingly unlikely equation that Kerry had John Edwards - a North Carolinian - as his running mate, and that a large chunk of the state's voters are in the mountains or foothills of Appalachia (where Obama has struggled all year), and if past is prologue McCain - on paper - should win some number of Kerry-Edwards voters and thus carry North Carolina safely.

I mean, just look at how "red" this state was just four years ago:


In other words, a lot of "red" and "light red" counties that voted Republican in the last presidential contest, some of the unshaded counties virtually tied, but very few "blue" Democratic counties in 2004.

And yet the aggregate of polls out of North Carolina has showed Obama inching up and, this week, taking a narrow lead with 47.8 percent to 47.1 percent for McCain (and that means there's only 5.1 percent either uncommitted or voting for a third-party candidate).

So what's going on here?

Our first clue, shortly after entering the state from Tennessee, was when 26,000 people tried to attend Obama's appearance in Asheville last Sunday. This was not your father's Appalachia. The crowd reminded The Field more of those that hang in liberal rural Meccas a short distance from New York City; say, Woodstock, New York or New Hope, Pennsylvania, or even Vermont: Small Town Upwardly Mobile Professionals (or "Stumpies" as we used to call them!).

Bush had narrowly won Buncombe County (where Asheville is county seat, out in the west in the Eleventh Congressional district) four years ago, by 623 votes out of more than 100,000 that were cast.

Last weekend, in Asheville, I met Russell Johnson, a veteran of the first Gulf War. He walks with the help of a cane. He told The Field that he had registered 140 new voters himself. Another Obama volunteer who is in-the-know whispered to me that the Buncombe County campaign celebrated that it had hit the 10,000 mark in new voter registrations two weeks prior. There's no question that Obama is turning this county - the largest in Western North Carolina - blue this year.

The same will happen in rural Swain county where Bush won by just 173 votes last time (and where the Obama campaign has one of its 47 field offices). And Obama may well take Jackson county (Bush 52 percent, Kerry 48) and Yancey County (Bush 52, Kerry 47). And although local organizers report that there are some Democrats that won't vote for Obama this time - the most pessimistic view shared was that they could be as many as five percent of the voters in the western hills - the newly registered voters, mainly pro-Obama, will likely outnumber them significantly enough to exceed 2004 Democratic totals from the region.

To get an idea of where Obama's potential for growth over the Kerry-Edwards totals in '04 is greatest in the state, the primary map is helpful (dark blue represents counties won by Obama, light blue, by Senator Clinton):

As we move West to East the map gets bluer. (You can use the map interactively at and see the local primary results by waving your cursor over each county.)

In the mid-section of the state are three distinct metropolitan regions where, combined, slightly over half the population of the state live and vote:

- Greater Charlotte (part of a bi-state region known as Metrolina, whose urban center lies in Mecklenburg County), with 1.7 million residents on the North Carolina side;

- The Piedmont Triad (Forsyth County includes the city of Winston-Salem, and Guilford County, the cities of Greensboro and High Point) has 1.5 million residents, and;

- The "Research Triangle" of Durham (Durham County), Raleigh (Wake County), and Chapel Hill (Durham and Orange Counties), with 1.3 million residents.

These regions each have large African-American populations in the range of twenty to forty percent in given areas, and, significantly for Obama's chances, large segments of the Caucasian populations there came to these lands to fill white collar jobs in the banking, finance, tobacco and high tech industries, and to work, teach or study at research universities.

Durham County (where Obama received 76 percent of the primary vote) is famously liberal and upscale among its younger, upwardly mobile, white-collar population. Down the road, heading into Raleigh, you're greeted by a Whole Foods supermarket and a Bruegger's Bagel's franchise. They're in the two dark blue counties from the 2004 results map, above, are Durham and Wake Orange counties. If there's support for McCain-Palin around there, it's not very noticeable. Evidence of Obama support is everywhere. Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill is Obama Country.

But it's in Greater Charlotte and Piedmont where the votes are measurably switching from Bush '04 to Obama '08: Charlotte is home to the Bank of America and the carcass of Wachovia Bank (just bought out by Wells Fargo, a casualty the current economic crisis), plus 23 more of the Fortune 500 companies. It is second to New York as a financial capital.

The same deep worry that today afflicts financial professionals in Manhattan hangs heavily not only over Charlotte and its suburbs, but also Winston-Salem, where the old Wachovia Bank building shadowed surprisingly empty streets on a random weekday lunch hour earlier this week. Winston-Salem is home to its own share of international corporations from RJ Reynolds tobacco to Lowes Foods to Krispy Kreme donuts.

And the professional class here is, in two words, freaked out over the current economic tailspin.

Take Hugh McColl Jr., former CEO of Bank of America, who penned a column last week in the Charlotte Observer:

In 49 years of living in Charlotte, I've seldom offered my opinion in writing and never submitted a piece such as this. The condition of our country compels me.

The economic disarray threatening our community and nation poses critical challenges but also presents opportunity. We can observe the presidential candidates in the crucible of crisis.

Only one of them demonstrates the needed intellect, fortitude and temperament. That is why I have decided to publicly support Barack Obama.

(Update: Somehow the newspaper changed that above link to some other story. Here's a news report about that column. And this blog republished the column.)

This is the mirror image of opinion in the financial sector of New York, as stated by stock market guru James Cramer, who writes, "Obama is a recession. McCain is a depression":

Wall Street usually favors Republicans when it comes to managing the economy, but this time around the financial community is skeptical. John McCain has done everything he can to avoid talking about the economy, lest he be tarred with the brush of George Bush's ineptitude. And when McCain has attempted to step into the fray, he's been far from reassuring. First, he insisted that the fundamentals of the economy were sound; then he turned around and told us it was the end of the economic world as we know it, and suspended his campaign to scramble back to Washington and save the day on the bailout bill-only to have little visible effect. For all his talk of being a maverick, McCain looks an awful lot like President Bush on the credit crisis: He doesn't seem to understand Wall Street or Main Street, he is dogmatically anti-regulation, and his economic team is a joke. Carly Fiorina almost destroyed the onetime best technology company in America, Hewlett-Packard, and Meg Whitman took eBay, the best dot-com player, and turned it into a mediocre franchise that has no growth. Both are perceived by Wall Street to be also-rans who are on the team because they have nothing else to do.

"Middle class voters," says Gary Pearse, one of the state's top Democratic political consultants, "are scared to death about the economy."

These are the people who have 401ks and they will receive, with much dread, their quarterly statements around October 15 telling them just how much they have lost (so far, an average of 40 percent) in recent weeks. They're also a lot of the people who own stock and seen its value fall similarly. Many of them came from other places to fill corporate jobs in North Carolina, in many cases they've discarded their roots to the places they came from and can't imagine themselves going back there if they lose these high paying jobs.

Those folks voted for Bush in '04 but are deserting McCain in droves; and that's what's showing up on the recent polls to flip the advantage from the GOP to the Democrats this year.

Add to all those aforementioned factors the palpable intensity in the African-American community (which new voter registration has expanded from 20 percent of the North Carolina vote to 21.5 percent; you can add that as an extra 1.5 percent to Obama's tally on November 4, because most pollsters aren't weighting it sufficiently).

But as State Representative Dan Blue (D-Raleigh), a former Speaker of the House, tells The Field, there are four possible scenarios for the African-American vote on Election Day:

1. That the African-American vote, which traditionally turns out four to six percent below average turnout among other voting groups, will under-perform again.

2. That the African-American vote will, this year, equal its percentage of registered voters (21.5 percent).

3. That the African-American vote will rise to the level of its percentage of the population at large (22 percent, in the 2000 census).

4. That African-American turnout will "knock the socks off" the election results and change the game altogether.

"We've been aiming for number three," says Blue. "But I'm getting the sense and feeling that everybody has a stake in this election and that turnout will be much heavier than normal."

The Field saw that excitement t hroughout the many regions of the state where African-Americans live and work. Whenever I mentioned being a national political reporter here to cover the presidential campaign, so many of these citizens wanted to talk. They also wanted to hear whatever I had learned not only in their own state, but in the other swing states we've visited. It takes no push at all to invite that excitement, curiosity and the eagerness to talk about it. One afternoon, driving through Durham, stopped at a traffic light, I saw a group of African-American women pointing at me, smiling and apparently talking about the guy behind the wheel. I wondered whether I had suddenly become handsome, or something. Then I realized: I had been listening to the Potus 08 network on XM radio and its live broadcast of Joe Biden's speech that day in Florida, and perhaps I had the volume up a bit high.

The Field headed from the western and central parts of the state into Eastern North Carolina, to the same town of Greenville that Governor Palin had visited last Tuesday. Outside of the Piggly Wiggly supermarket, a duo was found at a table to register voters. "Tomorrow's the last day to register to vote," Kathy Walker informed a passerby. "Hey, brother, you already registered?" added Reggie Price.

A Latino man approached the table, "I've got to change my address."

A heavyset white woman, 39, heading into the supermarket proclaimed, "I don't vote." On her way out, Price reached out to her: "It'll only take a minute. I'll fill it out for you. You'll feel real good. Look what's going on in this country!" He had her. She signed up to vote, smiling.

Unlike in many of the other regions of the state, this supermarket parking lot did not have a lot of brand spanking new automobiles. A few that drove in and out didn't seem to have mufflers. Walker told The Field that she had signed up 13 new voters in her first two hours there. She and Price didn't have to make a hard sell: people were lined up, sometimes two or three deep, either to register or boast that they already had and to talk or ask about how the campaign was going. "Yesterday, I registered 52 voters at the Community College," Wal ker explained. "This is the best part of volunteering."

From there I drove a half hour through cotton and soybean fields to Williamston. In the rural areas outside of these small cities, the population is predominantly white and poor. Many a barn had caved in, and the landscape is dotted with boarded up homes, some completely covered with a vine that I presumed is kudzu, but being a northerner am not certain... Towns like Bear Grass (population 53). This is not the fast growing area of the state: it's losing it's young people and for every woman there are .76 men (the other quarter of them left to seek work elsewhere).

I pulled into the small city of Williamston, and walked into the New Beginnings Beauty Salon, festooned with Obama posters, across West Main Street from three vacant storefronts and a Salvation Army thrift shop, where Lois Greene was volunteering at a voter registration table.

"I turned in 40 completed forms this morning," she beamed. "We got nine more today. That's about average."

In walked Maggie Williams - Miss Maggie, to the locals - the owner of the beauty shop. The Obama campaign has mobilized hair salons, like hers, and barber shops across the state as "staging areas" for its voter registration drives in rural predominantly African-American towns like this one.

Since August, a local Obama staffer has organized Saturday canvasses in three shifts to go door to door in these towns. "I've lived in Williamston all my life," Greene said. "While canvassing, I found myself in places I hadn't seen for twenty years. Sure, we had some doors slammed in our faces. But we also found some ‘Yellow Dog Democrats' - I just learned that term - who vote for the Democrat no matter who it is!"

These small towns have had debate-watch parties and Democratic Convention-watch events and are now gearing up for "One-Stop Early Voting," beginning on October 16 through November 1, when, although the deadline passed today for changing one's voting address in the same county, new arrivals or the unregistered can sign up to vote and vote all in the same step.

Lois Greene is a co-chief for the local Obama "change crew." Every change crew is given weekly goals (number of new voters, number of door to door contacts, number of phone bank contacts) and reports in each day with the numbers. The local staff organizer meets with each change crew chief at least once a week to set the following week's action plan. Under the change crew chiefs are phone bank captains (responsible for two to three phone bank shifts a week), canvass captains (running one to two door to door canvass drives per week, and trained to train the volunteer canvassers) and voter registration captains. All of them, volunteers, are schooled in how to frame the campaign messages and carry out the "pre-planning" of all activities in advance. "All volunteers must be trained before they start calling," reads a six page internal memo obtained by The Field. There's no need to get into the whole document here, but suffice to say, this is the best organized campaign this political reporter has ever seen, and its clear that what's written on paper is implemented in real life.

At the end of the day on Thursday, The Field conducted an unannounced "inspection" of the regional Obama office in Greenville, to which the local organizers report each day. It was 8:30 p.m., the close of phone banking hours, and the headquarters was a beehive of activity with phone-bankers ending their shift and change crew chiefs bringing in the day's tallies. More than 250 newly filled voter registration forms sat atop an organizer's desk. After phone banking, the organizers then get on a regional conference call with statewide organizers to report the day's numerical progress (new voters, phone contacts, canvass contacts, etcetera). It took the local organizers until after 10 p.m. to finish their daily tasks.

Alright. Okay. I get it. This isn't just a political campaign. It's a steamroller. This is why North Carolina really is in play. And the excitement in this state - from West to East - is the highest and the hungriest among the five states we visited in the past two weeks.

As Representative Dan Blue told The Field: "We're definitely in play. If I had to make the call, I believe we're going to win it."

"Just like in the primary," he concluded, "when we were ready for the nomination fight to be over and we ended it. North Carolina is ready to make this entire election be over."

In other words, North Carolina - if all these great works come to fruition - could become, early on Election Night, the closer. Because if Obama wins here, it means he probably just won Virginia, too, and the Electoral College math then becomes impossible for McCain to overcome anywhere else that's still in play.


This is why we support Al.

Excellent report Al!

Considering McCain is getting booed now at his own rallys (multiple times today), and Paylin was just offically found to be "abusing her power" as Governor by Alaska Repubs, in addition to the unprecedented grassroots organization Obama has built, I'd guess that NC is very likely gonna go Obama, along with most of these other close states.

It's up to each and every one of us to seal the deal over the next few weeks.  Fired  up!

In synchrony from Texas

Texas conservative writes well about her support of Obama....

Western North Carolina

Al, Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling (based out of Raleigh, NC) has made many of the same points you have, in fact from everything I've heard, Obama's new strength in North Carolina (and Virgina) have come because of greatly improved polling numbers in the western parts of both states (Appalachia). I know not to trust ARG or their polls which shoot up, but I wonder if that WV poll showing Obama ahead by 8 doesn't have at least some truth to it (Palin's visit to West Virginia today suggests that McCain's internals are telling a bleak story for them).

I've never been one for gut feelings myself (mostly because my gut sucks at predicting things) but I've always felt that North Carolina would be a state that would surprise everyone on Election day.

One correction

Good article, but one correction. Those two blue counties in the middle of the state are Orange and Durham Counties. Orange is the home of the traditionally lefty Carrboro and Chapel Hill. The next county to the east is Wake County (where Raleigh is) and that tends to be more Republican. Even so, I think there's a good chance of it going blue this time. Sorry to have missed you when you were here. Hope you got to have some BBQ.


Jimmy Billy Bob - Thanks for the eagle eye. Corrected.

another correction

The dateline should be 2008, no?


i agree, excellent report

And I'm glad you got a chance to tour through there.  Those North Carolinians must be really fired up knowing that they could make all the difference in wrapping up Election Night for Obama!  It was great news on a day of good news - for the Obama campaign.  I have been missing your many blog posts and it is great to have you back on the site!

It would be great also to have your analysis of the possible polling impact of the Troopergate report: a couple of days ago Nate Silver postulated that Obama may have hit his ceiling numbers; I am skeptical since there seems to be a post-debate bounce forming in the newest polling.  Do you think Obama will go up any more or do you think he's reached the ceiling?

May 6th - Al, my favorite night with you!

That was such a fun night to be on The Field!!! It literally was a Field of Dreams to have the HUGE blowout win in North Carolina, the Gary, Indiana vote (I remember you saying something about the "interesting" delay after the 10pm news hee hee), Tim Russert's pronouncement and LOTS of Field Hands staying up late blogging the excitement of it all. Here's hoping for a second North Carolina Field of Dreams. It sure would be fun if maybe you could dig up that post from that night and put it on the sidebar? Maybe some other good ones too like Wisconsin? I don't know how many were here for Iowa (I hadn't found you yet) but those would be some fun reads now.

Inspired and vivid reporting

That's we we love ya, Al.  That's a tremendous piece of writing and even more enthusiasm.  

Are you going to make any comments on Michigan, or is that just old, flat news?

Living outside Detroit, I wonder if you saw anything curious here.

Al, I love, love, love this report

and its detail of how the lives of the many ordinary are coalescing to create the extraordinary. This is absolute music to the ears. We are waking up to become the force of change. We can actually remake our country! We can join other citizens in the world and begin to participate in the 21st century with an understanding that the we can create a future for the next generations.


Wow! What a revolutionary thought.


"Charlotte is home to the Bank of America and the carcass of Wachovia Bank"

Wow that was well put. Sorry but I'm posting anon since I work for that carcass. You are very correct about Charlotte being hit hard by this economic crisis. Wachovia is the second-largest employer of the city (20,000 in Charlotte, second only to Carolinas Healthcare). Are we (not just employees, but all residents of the city) worried about the economic crisis and what it's effect has had/may have on us? You bet. 

I say this as a lifelong resident of Charlotte (31 years). I have seen this city grow. I have seen the (positive) impact of BOA and Wachovia being headquartered in this city - and so have all the residents. We completely understand what a bank failure would have done to this city. And we are scared.

What's even more bizarre to a lifer like me is the utter and complete lack of public support for McCain. Charlotte is Obama territory. Even when you drive through the "upscale" neighborhoods (like Dilworth) you see nothing but yard after yard with an Obama sign. Make no mistake, Charlotte (Mecklenburg county) will go for Obama.

Sorry for the slight rant. I guess I'm a bit excited about what I'm seeing after living here my whole life. One caveat, however: Charlotte doesn't necessarily represent the rest of NC. I speak only for Charlotte. I'm just a little giddy about the thought of NC going blue for the first time since Carter. A blue NC would just be icing on the cake with an Obama victory.


Side note of hope: I went to the Obama rally in downtown Charlotte a few weeks back and it was like nothing I've seen in my life. The crowd was estimated at 20K. I'm wondering if that counted the people that didn't get in. At the time he began speaking, the lines to get in the two entrances were literally 4+ blocks long. I didn't get in because I didn't get there early enough, but I did listen. I felt better because I saw him back in the primaries, when it was an indoor venue with probably only around 10K attending. I read that the latest rally was the largest attendance in Charlotte for a political rally since Raegan in '84. 

Great work, Al!

I feel like I'm in the car with you. Digg it, Fieldhands!

Where next?

Did I miss whether or not we raised enough change for this trip? Is there enough for you to do FL and TX for us - and the book?

"And the excitement in this

"And the excitement in this state - from West to East - is the highest and the hungriest among the five states we visited in the past two weeks."

Al, I'ved posted here a few times here about NC turning blue and am really thrilled that you now see for yourself what a few of us have been seeing for months, there's a tidal wave of support for Obama in NC. McCain/GOPers really underestimated the huge Obama forces here built over the primaries. Obama paid so much attention to the state before and after primaries, NC folks started to believe it COULD be a swing state and like a self-fulfilling prophecy, once even long-shot belief set in, folks started working even harder and that excitement spread like wildfire.


OH, PA, FL, they are all used to the national spotlight and huge GOTV efforts. NC hasn't rec'd so much DEM attention in decades, Obama's surprise visit to DEM party last week was super smart, local pols are coming out even stronger for him and "vouching" for him which is a big help with undecideds.


Al, you note and alot of the focus has been on the AA turnout. I think you may be missing another equally important factor, the youth vote in NC. One big factor in Obama NC primary win was record African American turnout for sure, but it was the combo of AA and youth vote that surged him to 14point crushing of Clinton.

Obama needs BOTH AA and youth to turn out again in record numbers to win the state. Internals show he needs 20% AA but also 19% youth. That last number would be 2% increase of primaries percentage. Watch that number in exit polls, if large enough youth come out, the state is his. He's crushing McCain in the youth vote.


Al, FH's - Will the Alaasska troopergate gain any traction ?

 How is teh teevee media spinning it ?

Saw AC 360 today morn and he was spinning it as if she didn't violate 'any law', whatev that means.



Hey Al -- as a southerner, I can state unequivocally that if something is completely covered by a vine in NC, then that vine is kudzu :-).


Re: Troopergate...

First, after (2) wonderful mea culpas/smackdowns for McPalin late yesterday, I woke up this morning with a feeling of relief for some reason!

I know it's not over, and that they cannot be trusted, but I still felt that way.

Over on Jed, there's a great video Jed did with McCain's words over "the ad" from yesterday.

Also, there's a great piece that helps to understand.

Paraphrasing so I don't get it trouble again: there are two parts to the report. 1) Because the trooper was an "at-will" employee, she technically didn't break a law firing him, because at-will people can be let go (or quit themselves) without any reason.

2) However, she did "violate the public trust" which is against/part of the law...especially because Todd was so deeply involved.

Run over there to Jed's house real quick while we wait for Al's analysis...


waterprise2 AKA Pam

Liberal with a Capital L!


No, I don't think so

amk - I don't think the state trooper firing story in Alaska has many legs. To the extent it does it probably helps her rather than hurts her.

And - here's a confession - if I had been governor and a cop had tazered his own ten year old kid, I would have wanted him fired, too, and might have even fired the official that wouldn't do that.

Here's the first clue: If it's not about the economy or the war, or something important to the lives of most people, it's a distracting media freak show.

Of course there are many, many other blogs where they want to talk about it. That's also fine with me. Helps keep the level of media-driven chatter down here.

Re: Troopergate - As I

Re: Troopergate - As I understood the explanation last night on Rachel Maddow's show, her violation of the state law occurred when she put pressure on employees to fire the trooper, since that caused them to choose to fire him or displease a superior.  She put that pressure on them due to personal reasons rather than good of the state, thus a conflict of interests.  She was within her rights to fire Monehan(sp) but not to put pressure on Monehan and others to fire the trooper.

Already Voted in NC Stats - WOW!

One of the commenters on 538 who is way smarter than me said the following about this poll (look at the Column to the far right within the report titled "Already Voted?")

aussie bloke said:

"Already voted (5% of Respondents)

Obama - 65%

McCain - 31%

The NC poll was taken nearly a week ago with 5% early voting and Iowa taken a couple of days ago with 14% early voting. Both with Obama receiving 65% of the total early votes. Now I know that there is the margin of error to consider with these small subsets of the sample sizes, but if these margins are extrapolated to 25% of all votes (a guesstimated of total % of early voting) then Obama would only require 45% of the vote on election day. If the early vote hits 30% in these states then he only needs 42% of the vote on election day. I guess this stands to reason as Obama supporters are more enthused to vote and vote early, plus many concerned Democrat voters want to ensure their votes are done and dusted and don't endure election day lines, delays and shenanigans."

 October 11, 2008 1:52 AM

The Likely Voters (still haven't) column does show McCain with a higher percentage in this polll but it looks very good for Obama if the strong GOTV in NC continues.

Our Job...

is to follow our leaders and GOTV. As we (meaning Barack and Al) have been saying all of this time, McPalin brought themselves down.

Al will be busy enlightening us with his wisdom and keeping us inoculated, and O will take the high road as usual while playing his strategic chess and jujitsu. He won't say "nah, nah, nah, nah!"

As most of us know, Al's blog is the "calm amidst the storm" of most other progressive blogs, and O is the steady, cool leader than America needs right now, even as he tells McC: "tell it to my face, sucka!"...nicely, of course!

I'm going to try to be news/blog free for most of the next two days and "work ahead" on some of my projects so I'll have Nov. 3-5 free. I said "try"...

But I'll leave you with a Scripture--Proverbs 10:10

(S)He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow, and a babbling fool will be ruined.

'Nuff said!


waterprise2 AKA Pam

Liberal with a Capital L!


Scripture on Saturday

@Pam, I do love your enthusiasm for this election but with all due respect, what the hell does that Scripture mean? It drives me CRAZY when people read into something written a thousand or whatever years ago to interpret that the person who spoke those words then would KNOW that Sarah Palin would be winking during a presidential campaign in 2008. I mean seriously. The scripture is trying to say winks are bad? Generally they're not - they're pretty neat. I stopped going to church decades ago to avoid this rubbish and I don't know why people feel the need to preach on blogs that clearly have nothing to do with religion.

(p.s. my questions are rhetorical - I'm not really looking for a modern day interpretation of old religious books)

Not Won Yet

Not to be negative ... but it ain't over.  Everything is GOTV.  There are many things volunteers have to leave up to the campaign -- like how to handle the inevitable voter suppression and negative spin on voter reg -- but the one single thing that every single person who wants a chance of positive change in this country can and should do is volunteer time to help GOTV.  The higher the margin of victory, the less toxic the GOP reaction to an Obama win. They are already laying the groundwork to screech "illegitimate President" on talk radio for the next 4 years.  A win is a win but a big win is a muzzle.  And neither a small win or a big win is certain. 

Hugh McColl .... South Carolina is next


Al, your reporting on North Carolina strikes this South Carolinian in Georgia as spot on. Thank you, also, for including the Hugh McColl endoresement. McColl is from the Pee Dee region of South Carolina and is known and respected all over the state (SC) as local boy done good. (much more so than that other South Carolinian gone north, John Edwards). I am going to send his endorsement to everyone in my family. Don't trust me, the known lefty, listen to Mr. McColl. 
Anonymous from Charlotte said something that I want to explain. He said "Even when you drive through the "upscale" neighborhoods (like Dilworth) you see nothing but yard after yard with an Obama sign." That might sound unsurprising to people who think upscale = liberal elite. Unlike in other parts of the country, in the South, in my lifteime the vast majority of the rich white people have been republicans. Even those who wetnt to Yale law school, etc.  No question. In my grandparents' generation, yes, these folks would have been dems. But since then, the "elites", the "upscale" have been reliably republican. Young professionals who were liberal elites other places before they moved to Charlotte cannot explain the support everywhere.   
Al's reporting from NC, along with what I've heard from SC, suggests that SC might not be too far off fro Obama either. Back int he primaries, I found this site when I realized the mainstream media wasn't covering SC fully. I stand by what I said then:

As the Clintons and some media observers have been busy qualifying Barack Obama's landslide victory in South Carolina, I've been thinking about the demographics of SC.  Yes, a third of the state's population, give or take, is African American. BUT that percentage is not distributed evenly across the state. Almost all of the voters in some counties, especially in the SE corner of the state, are African American, whereas other counties have much lower African American populations. 

If the South Carolina vote was merely the result of race politics, Obama would have won where black people are concentrated and not in the whiter counties.  HE WON 44 of 46 counties. Obama prevailed in ALL except two counties (John Edwards took Oconee, where he grew up, and Hillary Clinton took Horry, where Myrtle Beach is located).  Obama did not prevail only in places like Orangeburg and Kingstree and Jasper County.

He took Greenville and Spartanburg. He took Lexington County, one of the whitest and most republican counties in the state.  He took all but one of the counties in the upstate, which are demographially more similar to North Carolina that the lowcountry of South Carolina.  

   Instead of looking at SC as a whole, and dismissing the results, because other states don't share it's demographic profile, I think we should look at the counties.  I think we would find that some of the counties, especially in the upstate, are reasonably similar to to the February 5 states.


Voter purges

Just a heads up about an NYT article showing massive purges of voters from the rolls (in conflict with federal regulations) - often in swing states - sometimes more voters purged than new registrations!  Definitely worth a read, and hopefully this will get enough publicity to be rectified before the election... Pretty scary.

OK now on to read Al's piece (and then to a phonebank at my office today...)


Catherine Cain - Pam cited ONE Scripture, she hardly gave a sermon. I understand that the "rubbish" offends you, but just as you feel free to express your views on the subject of religion, that freedom should extend to others as well. I agree that this is not a blog about religion, but if people want to cite the Bible, the Torah, the Koran or any other book, religious or not, when discussing a topic, I don't see why the shouldn't be able to. And Al, if you choose not to let this post through, I totally understand. Its not on topic, but I wanted to say my two cents.

Kudzu redux

Yeah, Kudzu produces VOCs and ground ozone...but on the upside, it is also being studied as a source of energy...a supplement to corn for biofuel.

Four Months Ago: "We can't vote for... one of them."

This Morning: "I'm voting for Obama. Roger too. He can't stand that woman."

I live in east Tennessee, deep Appalachia, and the above quotes are from  a rural white woman who does odd jobs on the weekends at the place where my mother-in-law works. Four months ago, in the break room, she saw Obama on the TV and declared that neither she nor her husband could vote for a black man. This morning, she was asking my mother-in-law when early voting started because she and her husband wanted to cast their votes for Barack Obama as soon as possible.

Again, this is rural Appalachia. Something is happening.

Authentic Journalism

Authentic Journalism.  The best.  Just the best.  Somehow Al managed to fit all of us into that little car - and none of us are complaining about the cigarette smoke!  Amazing.  It's inspiring to read these words.   Al, you share the passion and enthusiasm you're seeing and showing us what hard work it is, and how vital this work is, we're all smiling, crying, and praying with everyone you've met.

Where are you going next?  Can you stay on the road until 11/4? NH, NV?????




Funny, funny video:

Regarding those figures from NYT about voter purges, which seemed unrealisitc to me because there is transparency for most SOS offices. Here's one state that claims differently: I think it's prudent to remember that not everything the NYT says is true.

Palin- Abuser of Power

I would like to take a different slant on the finding from Alaska. The narrative there is not about a trooper who tased his kid ( the kid asked to be tased to find out what it was like.. sheesh..). The story line there is about a respected police chief, Commissioner of Public Safety, Monegan, whose career was destroyed by Palin for reasons of a personal vendetta. This story will only make a difference to those people who haven't made up their mind about Palin, and McCain's judgment. Most already have, and the conclusion shows she is in the negative zone of favorability, and most believe she is not qualified to be president, and most believe she was a flawed choice to be VP. So the impact will not be great, but a bipartisan investigation found her to have "unlawfully abused her authority". This will build on the story line that she's reckless, like McCain, and was a result of a reckless judgment by McCain, on this and every other matter that has  been before him. And his behavior in the campaign shows a reckless, desperate, lurching decision making process.

Good Pick on 10/15, your economy investigations rock.

10/15 will probably be a traumatic day as all those 401ks take their toll. It's oddly the last day of a mercury retrograde for the superstitious among us... bad juju.

It's great to see your instincts for the core make you easily fold in quality background on a murkey topic like the economy and convey it. I'll throw out comtours and color but you do the digging. Therin lies the difference between a hobbyist pamplhleteer and a seasoned pro.

The headlong flight into the calm serenity center of Obama and retreat from the schizoid MacBeth mess of McPalin is a joy to see. It's like some vast war wreckage flight of refugees from a Reaganesque pipe dream that turned into a Bushian nightmare.

And watching sleazy Paulson utterly crap out with his half baked plan reeking of kleptomania, croniism and desperation has been even more entertaining than the self inflicted evisceration of McCain.

International consensus is forming around the 'British Plan', more or less a version of what is generally done, pump temporary money into banks so they won't fail until the credit mess sorts itself out. It worked for FDR and more recently, the Swedes.

Paulson's nutty plan to blow the money on securities that can't be valued with payment for their pretend value was laughed off the map and no salute ensued when he ran it up the flagpole.

So 10/15 will be a day of very ugly news for any 401k fence sitters. It may go down in history as the moment when America discovers the Reagan/Wall Street model was fulla shit all along and we can finally drag it to the curb for collection.

As for troopergate, yes it is on a par with the 'Old Tatooed Lady' but if it keeps the toxic nutcase on edge and keeps her from doing Nuremburg level incitements then it is a handy distraction.

@ Catherine:

Sorry!  That was 1/2 in jest...but not really, and I kinda thought it was obvious...

Sarah and her winking did no good when she's caught by something that started 'way before she was even picked for VEEP; McCain often does seem to "babble" on and on and on this topic and that...and all his "babbling" about Ayers, etc., did him no good and he did look like a fool "taking it all back..."

I got it from somewhere else...

Kinda funny and really any kind of proverbs usually are...



waterprise2 AKA Pam

Liberal with a Capital L!


Al..any thoughts on why McCain is campaigning in Iowa?

Is his campaign seeing things in their internal polling that the other polls is not picking up?

Read Mudflats. Al, from what

Read Mudflats. Al, from what I read the kid asked to be tazered. It was a "how did it feel like" event, a light test. There were no charges filed or even a call to the police. The tazer incident did not come up until the custody dispute. And the reason the divorce was so nasty was that the trooper went back to his previous wife-and was having an affair with her. There are no charges of domestic violence filed against him, the protective order was thrown out by the judge who thought that it was malicious.

@ Al's confession

Well, you can abuse your power too Al.  Just sayin'.

But it was a great post.

And as an East Tennessean myself,  I will say that my experience is different from Klaus' upthread.  I have dealt with lots of folks who are 'terrified' of Obama but strongly dislike Palin.  They are struggling on what to do. Vote or not vote.  I encourage them all to stay home. That being said, there are tons and tons and tons of Obama supporters. It is not an easy thing to peg.  I am really interested to see the breakdown across the state after the election. I mean, TN will go McCain - but it will be closer than people think.  I hold out a sort of long shot hope that TN will deliver a November surprise, but it is unlikely.  Even if Knox County went Obama -- that is news.  If Hamilton County goes Obama, that is news.  So we'll see. Upper East Tennessee (real Appalachiany)--will go straight McCain.  That being said, there appears to be an active Obama effort in the tri-cities. 



OT @ Pam

Hi Pam,

 I hear ya. I have to admit I felt a little "preached to" with "...I'll leave you with a Scripture."

I think the Scripture could just as easily have been interpreted by a person on the other side as Palin attacking Obama "...and a babbling fool will be ruined". (45% of the electorate doesn't see McCain as the babbling fool unfortunately.) IMHO, this whole Scripture interpretation stuff is no better than astrology (and one could argue that at least astrology has some science in it). In fact, to my way of thinking it's about equal to a 2000 year old adult game of "telephone". 

Cheers to a nice weekend and I hope your GOTV is going well in Michigan. I'm taking a day off after a rough week at work and will be making some calls tomorrow downtown. 



Catherine - May 6th was an excellent milkshake - heh.  Me, (if it's possible) I'd also like the final primary night thread for posterity ;)*/


I've only found up to Feb 9th in the Internet Archive, hopefully as time passes, more will be added there.  Maybe there's a Fieldhand who is a better dataminer than I?

50 State Strategy

So glad we have you on the ground, Al, this is really exciting news!!

Slightly off-topic, but I have to share that I've seen two or three Obama commercials on the economy in the last 24 hours in Idaho. Northern Idaho, at that. I haven't seen a single McCain commercial since the Olympics.

This campaign really is running in every single state.

McColl for Obama

It is exciting to see that the Tar Heel State as a battleground. If Obama is to win in NC, he must win Charlotte. Newly transplanted Easterners and blacks have been Obama's biggest supporters, but there are some VERY well regarded old-school NC democrats speaking up for Obama now. Hugh McColl, the former chair of Bank of America, a political progressive and very generous philanthropist -- really an icon in this town -- penned an op-ed endorsing Obama: This is bigger and more influential than any newspaper's or politican's endorsement could ever be.


I do remember you drinking a lot of milkshakes lol. That was hysterical. Thanks so MUCH for looking and for posting the ones you found. I just read some of the Feb ones and they really timestamp the events and emotion with all the individual comments. Hopefully someone can find those beyond Feb 9th. @charlottemom - Al had posted a bit in his blog about Hugh McColl - right after his last NC map.

The McColl link....

At both Al and Charlottemom's links to the MColl article (and every other link on Google) I end up at this:


"Affordable housing not prominent component in deal.

(07.31.2008)--Robert Drakeford, chair of the Housing Trust Fund Board, hosted a public forum in Room 267 of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government...."

but with the comments from the McColl article...

Am I missing something or is the link messed up?

Hugh McColl's endorsement

Hugh McColl's endorsement was in monday's charlotte observer (10/6). The link worked correctly for me Saturday morning. If it doesn't now you should be able to search fir it. (I can't post it from my iPhone).

Thanks Helen!

"That might sound unsurprising to people who think upscale = liberal elite. Unlike in other parts of the country, in the South, in my lifteime the vast majority of the rich white people have been republicans. Even those who went to Yale law school, etc.  No question. In my grandparents' generation, yes, these folks would have been dems. But since then, the "elites", the "upscale" have been reliably republican."

Helen, thanks for the insight (and Hi from a fellow southerner!). I haven't been politically active for a long time and I never thought about this. I guess growing up in the south this is all I've known. I'm still learning and I just assumed that the elites and the upscales were always republican since that's what I've always been used to. I have a lot to learn.

FWIW, I went to the Obama headquarters for the first time today. I purchased and donated supplies that they needed and signed up for volunteering. I just can't stand on the sidelines anymore. NC is going blue this year, and I'm going to do everything in my power to make it happen.

Great Report & News

 I have only driven through beautiful NC once on my way to Florida from NY didn't have time to get a feel for it, but you made it feel like I know the place now. Thanks so much for everything you are doing this year.

I hope you head on down to Florida, I'll keep donating for that.

P.S. The downturn in the economy is hitting my family's business, I had to come home to CA for 10 days. I will be back in Nevada on the 23rd to finish up the last week of early voting & GOTV.

Why this matters

A friend of my wife's sent this note out the other day:


"On Wednesday, I went to Encino to join the Mamas for Obama and get trained to volunteer for this historic campaign. The whole drive up the 405 I was practically chanting under my breath "I don't want to go, I don't want to go." When I arrived, an energetic lady in an Obama tank top greeted me in the parking lot and thanked me for coming. She pointed me towards the gathering place in a nearby playground. I got out of the car and opened the back door to remove baby from car.

Momentarily I sobbed.

Then I knew why I didn't want to go to Encino. Not because it was 100 degrees. Not because of traffic or because I don't have time. I didn't want to go because I must have had the feeling that I'd be confronted with how I really feel. Sad. Sad beyond sad.

I am sad because I live in a country rife with ignorance, hatred and fear. And maybe even worse than this...numbness.

When President Bush told people to go shopping on 9/11, it was as if he was telling a nation of alcoholics to just get drunk - to not feel but to indulge in more numbness. When Barack Obama said he was not just asking for our votes but for our service, as far as I'm now concerned, he was asking us to feel.

I was afraid to serve, but my tears were cleansing. It's good to be alive, knowing I am part of something bigger than myself and that what I do counts - not just for me, but for you and every other living being. John Donne said it well: "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."

If you're not doing so already, you can serve too. It feels good. Trust me."


Fieldhands Rec It Up!

 This diary on Kos, "I cried my last tears yesterday".

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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