CHARLOTTE – On the first day of early voting in North Carolina, the lines to cast ballots snaked down the block at the Hal Marshall Annex in Uptown Charlotte. The dense concentration of African Americans in the crowd indicated that the Obama ground game had succeeded in its months-long push to get its supporters to vote early.
Onrea Green came directly after work and waited an hour to cast her vote. Green relocated to Charlotte from Phoenix in 2008, just in time to volunteer and vote for Obama in a state where it made a difference. Four years later, she has no reservations about doing it all over again.
“I honestly feel that President Obama wants to make some positive changes for everyone,” she says. “I think it would be a shame not to give him the time he needs to continue changing the direction of the country.”
Marc Brown is a small business owner who has not come through the recession unscathed. He had expected a quicker recovery but believes the economy is headed in the right direction because of the president and in spite of what he calls an obstructionist Congress.
“I’m not at all disappointed,” says Brown. “Some people thought they could vote him in and everything would change but you have to stay engaged. Sending Obama to DC without maintaining pressure on Congress was just undermining the man.”
He still supports Obama because of what he has already accomplished rather than what he hopes he does in a second term. “He saved us from a depression and put healthcare reform in place,” says Brown. “As a small business owner, I have seen rate increases over the years. This was a competitiveness issue for the business community that became politicized unfortunately.”
While DeAlva Glenn has agreed with the majority of the President’s policies and accomplishments, she admits she has been less than pleased with the way some of them have been executed. Her greatest disappointment is in what she sees as a failed communication strategy that allowed the Affordable Care Act to be tarred with untruths.
“The administration should have had a stronger communication plan,” she says. “Many people are still unaware of the benefits that are now available to them.”
Most analysts have been skeptical that the Obama team could repeat the turnout success of 2008 here in North Carolina, and polls have found Democrats to be less enthusiastic about voting than Republicans. But in the first days of early voting, Democrats have outperformed Republicans, aided by a strong turnout among blacks.
“It’ll be a very close election but I don’t think he’s going to lose,” says Brown. “If that happens, I’m going remain engaged to make sure that my representatives have a move-forward agenda for this country.”
Green takes a similar outlook. “After I recover from my complete mental and physical breakdown, I will just have to pray and continue to fight the good fight,” she says.