By DAVID BORAKS
It might have been hard for a passerby to figure out what was going on at the Snyder home in Davidson Thursday night. People were everywhere – on the front porch, the back patio, at the kitchen table – talking on mobile phones, and huddled around laptops.
They were the local face of Obama for America, joining one of a series of Lake Norman-area “telephone banks” urging voters to support President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
Area Democracts have been out in force this summer, registering voters, making calls and going door-to-door in a grass-roots effort to get out the vote for the Democratic incumbent.
Obama’s local army includes Patricia Tilburg, who was making calls at Thursday night’s phone bank. She also spent time canvassing in Davidson and Cornelius neighborhoods. She said she has been involved in Democratic campaigns since she was 18, when she worked for then-candidate Bill Clinton.
Since moving to North Carolina nine years ago, she said, “I’ve become much more active, because it’s a swing state.”
North Carolina’s importance in the 2012 race is stirring up party volunteers and activity among both Democrats and Republicans. President Obama won the state in 2008, and Democratic party faithful believe keeping the state’s electoral votes could mean the difference this time around.
Meanwhile, the Democratic party’s decision to hold its 2012 nominating convention in Charlotte, just 20 miles away, has charged up many volunteers.
Pam Pearson of Davidson helped organize Thursday’s phone bank. “I’m a big supporter of the president, and I think it’s critical he be re-elected,” she said.
She thinks he has the best chance of steering the economy, and especially likes his stands on women’s issues. “I don’t think there’s any question he’s by far the strongest candidate for women,” Ms. Pearson said.
The Democratic convention is Sept. 3-6 in Charlotte, wrapping up with Mr. Obama’s acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 6. Many local volunteers have been motivated in part by the campaign’s 9-3-1 guarantee: Anyone who devotes at least 9 hours and 3 volunteer shifts gets 1 ticket to the speech. (Tickets also will be available to the general public beginning this weekend – see below.)
Republicans have been visible in the Lake Norman area as well. Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, was in Mooresville Aug. 12. And Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus, who was in Cornelius Aug. 4 to open a new GOP “Victory Center.” With him were party leaders from North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, who vowed to help challenger Mitt Romney win the state. Republicans have grabbed headlines with other high-profile events, including appearances by N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, of Cornelius.
Democrats’ efforts have been sustained and lower profile around Lake Norman, where Republicans outnumber Democrats in many areas. Republican John McCain won Iredell, Catawba and Gaston counties in 2008 by 62 percent to 37 percent margins and Lincoln County 66 to 33. Mecklenburg went for Obama 62-38.
Cameron French, the Obama campaign’s N.C. press secretary said the party has been building its organization in the state since 2008. Obama now has 30 local offices around the state, and is relying heavily on grass-roots volunteers.
“A large part of that are these neighborhood teams, who are helping to advance and organize within their own communities,” Mr. French said.
“There’s nothing that makes up for a friend, a neighbor or a colleague on the phone, or showing up at your door,” he said. “We feel like that grass-roots level of support is going to make the difference for us in November.”
TICKETS FOR OBAMA
Obama volunteers who met the 9-3-1 requirements were getting their tickets this week for the president’s Sept. 6 speech. But party workers noted that the general public also has a shot at seeing Mr. Obama. Party literature promises “the most open convention in history.”
Tickets will be given on a first-come first-served basis beginning Saturday, Aug. 25, at 10 a.m. You can sign up for credentials in advance at http://ofa.bo/NCCredentials. A list of distribution sites is on the same site.
CONTACT LOCAL ORGANIZERS
Voters in Davidson and Cornelius may volunteer by contacting Obama for America neighborhood team leader Natasha Marcus at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find another neighborhood team, visit barackobama.com.
Aug. 8, 2012, “Tillis faults Obama’s welfare record”