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August 31, 2004
The Kerry Conundrum Squeezes North Carolina Governor

Last night before John McCain took the floor, I had an opportunity to spend a few minutes with Warren Cooksey, Vice Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Republican Party and an alternate to North Carolina's delegation. He noticed that I was a blogger, and after introducing myself, Warren proclaimed himself a new but devoted fan to Captain's Quarters. Naturally, this helped our conversation!

I asked Warren about the selection of John Edwards as Kerry's running mate and whether that would have an impact on the state in the presidential race. Bush won North Carolina by 13 points in 2000, but that had narrowed considerably this year until just recently, due to the economic conditions in the state. Warren feels that Edwards would have no effect on the outcome in his home state, although it had seemed to give Kerry a little momentum earlier, if you read the polls. As analysts outside of the state have predicted, Edwards doesn't have much popularity at home.

Warren also filled me in on a problem that Kerry and the Democrats will have in the Tar Heel State. Democratic Governor Michael Easley has to run for re-election this year in a state that has had its share of economic issues and recovered slower than the nation as a whole. The Republican challenger, Patrick Ballantine, has pressed Easley on economics. In order to win re-election, Easley will have to convince voters that the state economy is sound and improving.

That sets up a serious problem of dissonance with the national Democratic campaign. John Kerry has emphasized his economic policies as a cure for the supposed national economic failure of Bush, all evidence to the contrary. When Kerry and Edwards stump through North Carolina, their speeches will talk about economic injustice, joblessness, and poverty -- all of the things that Easley has been trying to de-emphasize in order to promote his management of the state during his term.

Easley obviously will be spending all of his time in his state, while Kerry and Edwards may get back for a day or two each month, which means that Easley's message of economic success will keep battering the national ticket's contravening message of despair. Warren feels, as do other analysts, that the resulting cognitive dissonance will sinply turn people off of the Democrats altogether (although two weeks ago, Easley enjoyed a substantial lead over Ballantine).

Bottom line, and one emphasized by polling late in August, John Edwards can't win North Carolina for John Kerry. And if that's the case, one has to wonder why Kerry chose Edwards over someone with more experience, like Dick Gephardt, who could have made a big difference in a true battleground state. It's yet another example of John Kerry's poor judgement that voters nationwide should consider before pulling the levers in November.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 31, 2004 5:15 AM

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