An extremely short diary, but important today before events at the convention begin and the volume of content begins to overwhelm us, that:
Huge HAT TIP to Team Obama for picking Charlotte, NC for the convention.
As you may recall
, Democrats were considering Cleveland
, St. Louis
for the convention; these were the four finalists.
I'm an Ohioan and pulled at the time for Cleveland (which ended up being the runner-up). It's a city that has struggled mightily in recent years and is, hopefully, in the early stages of a renaissance. I don't know as much about Minneapolis or St. Louis, but by all accounts they are somewhat similar (though not nearly so badly off, I suspect).
But from a state-by-state electoral standpoint, Charlotte was hands down the right call.
Polls show Obama leading in Minnesota by double digits. To me, the optics of him heading up north following the GOP event down south would be one of retreat, to circling the wagons and having a safe convention in a safe state Obama was all but assured of winning. Bad.
Conversely, Missouri looks like a safe bet for the GOP, with recent polls averaging a Romney lead of six points. There is some flux there of course, on the heels of the Todd Akin controversy, and one never knows. But overall my sense is that the optics of a Missouri convention would be that of overreach, of Obama hubris trying to naively force a win in a state that was impossible to win. There's also the likelihood that a Missouri convention would have drawn even greater attention to Akin's remarks than there will be already (if that's possible), and while on the whole it's clearly a winning issue for Democrats, I think one runs the risk of having a "small" convention too focused on one issue rather than one that thinks big and looks at the whole picture.
Finally Cleveland. Ohio is certainly a battleground again this year, and a near must-win for anyone's winning coalition. It's a state that went for Obama in 2008 but swung hard to the right in 2010 in state offices and the governorship, and a convention here could have made a statement by Democrats eager to take it back.
But the state offices in question aren't on the ballot in 2012, so that desire would have felt misplaced. And every state officeholder, all Republicans, would have been working against him. And with polls showing Obama holding an oddly stable lead here (if only of 1-2 points), a convention here might again take on that "circling the wagons" feel. Gotta hold Ohio. Can't lose that one. Safe. Hesitant. Anxious.
* * * * *
Charlotte is different. North Carolina is the perfect battleground for Democrats this year. You can argue about whether Virginia is "the south" or not (to this Ohioan, it is), and some think of Florida as somehow not "the south" either, but there's no doubt about North Carolina. That's the south. Not Mississippi, but definitely the south. And Democrats are competing there now. Obama won it against all odds in 2008, by a hair, and would like to do so again. Polls show a tight race -- certainly in the 1-2 point range -- with Obama behind. So it's a reach -- but not a naive one, not a waste of money, not an overreach. Contesting it forces the GOP to spend here. And it's in the "hold" category, not the "new win" category.
Honestly if you skim down the list of RCP battleground states as of September 4, 2012, I'm not sure you could pick one better than NC.
All of this is to say kudos to the planners that decided more than a year ago to hold the convention there. The weather, the economy, the statements of others, international events, state-by-state polling, etc. -- all of these were unknowns, and they could just as easily have gotten unlucky. But they didn't. They got it right.
Can't wait to see what happens.
[short prediction below the jump for anyone interested]