Obama announced his support for gay marriage a day after North Carolina, which he won narrowly in 2008, voted for a constitutional ban on such unions. The Democratic convention is in Charlotte, but that's no guarantee.
As of Wednesday, President Obama now openly supports gay marriage. North Carolina voters, just a day earlier, decided by a wide margin to amend their constitution to ban gay marriage and civil unions.
Even though Obama won the Tar Heel State by only three-tenths of a percent in 2008, his team hoped he could build on that success and win again there in 2012, especially with all the attention and money lavished by the convention.
Maybe, if members of the Democratic National Committee could have a do-over, they would rethink this one.
But that decision was set two years ago, and so Charlotte it will be. Maybe North Carolina's electoral votes were already a lost cause before the president announced his support for gay marriage, given the sour mood of voters over the economy. But if he is to have any chance at all of winning the state again – he was the first Democrat to do so since Jimmy Carter in 1976 – he will have to watch two key groups: swing voters and African Americans.
Swing voters, typically based in suburbs, matter everywhere. They are, by definition, the deciders in battleground states. But the African American question could be trickier. While national polls show that a majority of white voters support gay marriage, among African Americans, support lags. Last year, a Washington Post/ABC News poll put the percentage of black support for gay marriage at 42 percent, with 55 percent opposing.