That battle heated up this week after the gay marriage ban was approved by a 61 to 39 margin along neat geographical lines, making North Carolina the 26th state with such an amendment.
Solidly in favor were the state’s vast rural tracts, where the state’s political power still resides. Solidly opposed were the state’s growing urban areas, like Raleigh and Chapel Hill, which have come to define the transformation of North Carolina from an agrarian, tobacco-growing backwater to a polyglot society of immigrants and newcomers, where about half the populace hails from somewhere else, often from another country.
In 2008, Obama managed to exploit anger at George W. Bush while rallying young people, many of them first-time voters, to the polls. But this time those voters may be harder to reach.
Young people, especially, are bearing the brunt of economic hard times. And blacks in North Carolina, who came out in force for Obama in 2008, overwhelmingly supported the gay marriage ban, highlighting the hazards of the President’s political high-wire act on gay marriage.
That stance may become even more complicated as many Democrats are now pushing for gay marriage to become part of the Democratic platform to be approved in Charlotte, which could turn out to be divisive and distracting, especially given that the majority of voters in North Carolina remain, at least on the books, Democrats.
The Charlotte pick for the convention has also angered many union workers, who complain that there are no unionized hotels in North Carolina’s banking capital. Some of them plan to join gay marriage advocates in protest at the convention.
The President’s North Carolina woes don’t end there.