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Amendment One to Obama’s rescue

By D. G. Martin
Posted Thursday, May 3, 2012

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Chapel Hill, NC - Amendment One. Whether it wins or loses, the effort to defeat it could be a crucial factor in a successful outcome for the Obama campaign in North Carolina this fall.

Prospects for the effort to defeat the proposed marriage amendment to the constitution are still uncertain, notwithstanding a well-organized and impressive effort on the part of the amendment’s opponents.

The enthusiasm of the “Vote No” campaign reminds people of the Obama effort in North Carolina in 2008, both in the primary and the general election.

Obama’s general election campaign that year built on his primary campaign, which established working organizations across the state. When the general election campaign began, Obama had an organization of passionate and well-trained volunteers.

This year Obama has a problem. Some of those who worked so hard in 2008 have moved on to other things. Some are not as enthusiastic for the president as they were four years ago. Some just say, “I have done my part, but it was a once in a lifetime experience.”

Obama’s challenge in North Carolina now is to recreate a hard-working volunteer cadre to make phone calls, keep records, send out emails and letters, and build a get-out-the-vote effort that squeezes every drop of potential supporters into votes at the poll, like he did in 2008. It is a monumental challenge.

You can say what you want about the financial drain that primary campaigns create for candidates. But you cannot argue about the advantage Obama gained in North Carolina as a direct result of the training and practice the primary gave his campaign.

A good solid effort by a political campaign in the May North Carolina primaries is like a good solid spring practice is for a college football team. The campaign leaders, like the football coaches, know whom they can count on in various positions. Team members have learned to work together and found the positions where they can contribute the most. When the fall campaign or season begins, those teams that are tested in spring practice or spring primaries have a head start on their opponents.

Without a primary contest like the one in 2008, the Obama campaign did not have a “spring practice” to recruit and train the campaign staff and volunteers to take the places of some of the 2008 workers who are coming back.

Amendment One to the rescue.

While some polls still show that the amendment is likely to pass, the opposition to it is passionate, well organized, broad-based, and well funded.

Amazingly, that opposition group includes some opponents of same-sex marriage who say they do not want to enshrine discrimination in the state’s constitution.

Many business leaders, fearing the consequences to their increasingly diverse work forces, oppose the amendment.

Prominent Republicans like former gubernatorial candidates Richard Vinroot and Robert Orr, as well as John Hood, President of the conservative John Locke Foundation, and Congresswoman Renee Ellers are in the opposition.

Even a supporter, Republican House Speaker Tom Tillis, predicts the amendment, if passed, will be repealed within 20 years.

While Republican ranks are split, Democratic leaders are more united in their opposition. The anti-amendment campaign relies on its opposition to the Republican-controlled legislature that put the amendment on the ballot.

The anti-amendment troops in the field, including the telephone callers, the social media workers, the get-out-the-vote experts, and the fundraisers, are working against that Republican initiative.

Almost every one of them is a prospect to transfer their passions and experience to the Obama’s presidential campaign.

If Obama gets a large share of these seasoned workers to help replace his own depleted volunteer corps, and if they help him win North Carolina this fall, I hope he remembers to send a thank you note to the Republican leadership in the North Carolina legislature who made it possible by putting the amendment on the ballot.


D.G. Martin hosts UNC-TV’s "North Carolina Bookwatch," which airs Sundays at 5 p.m. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at

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Amendment One to Obama’s rescue

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