DNC Changes Reach Out To Working-Class Voters

Michael Bitzer, Associate Professor of Politics and History, Catawba College

Anyone who buys a house knows the first rule of real estate: “location, location, location.” The DNC’s host committee shook up this week with the announcement that the Democratic National Convention will break with tradition. In doing so, President Obama’s re-election campaign may be sending a signal that the negative perception of one of Charlotte’s hometown institutions — Bank of America — can be countered with another hometown institution—that of racing.  And it all has to do with location.

In breaking with the tradition of a four-day convention, the Democrats could use the Labor Day holiday to their advantage.  By inviting citizens, fromVirginia down to South Carolina, to join the activities at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Democrats aim to revitalize an energy-level that is critical to their new “Southern strategy” for 2012. 

Obama’s re-election campaign has made a calculated decision to go after key Southern states, most notably North Carolina and Virginia, by having the convention in Charlotte.  Now, the Obama re-election team has decided to capitalize on a holiday by hosting a massive campaign activity designed to highlight a key constituency: working-class voters and unions. 

In holding the convention in a right-to-work state, the Obama campaign team irritated some labor unions, a crucial voting bloc in key swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio—critical states that Obama needs to win a second term. But in using the Labor Day holiday as a symbolic “kick-off” to the convention and his re-election bid, Obama may be making a concerted effort to bring unions back into the Democratic fold. 

Using Labor Day to celebrate the American worker would be an interesting counter to the public perception of how the Obama campaign wants to end the convention in Bank of America stadium. Much like he did inDenver at Invesco Field to deliver his acceptance speech, Obama was seeking a similar opportunity to invite 74,000 of his closest Democratic friends to celebrate his re-nomination and kick off the general campaign. 

While Charlotteans still look at their home bank as an integral part of the community, many outside the area may remember the bank as a “bailout” beneficiary who then tried to charge a fee for customers’ use of their debit cards—something that BofA had to abandon in the end.

With BofA signage a prominent feature of the stadium, the Obama team may be trying to blunt that negative aspect with an early celebration of the American worker—and a group of voters that Obama needs to secure a second term.

While only time will tell whether the old adage of real estate holds true, it appears the Obama campaign is making an aggressive move toward a hard-fought re-election campaign.  Nothing should be taken for granted by either political party, and both sides need to think outside the typical campaign strategy.

It appears that the Democrats are doing that. It will be interesting to see if the GOP counters with breaking any traditions of its own.

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