By Sommer Brokaw, Special to the NNPA from The Charlotte Post –
While Democrats gear up for their 2012 national convention in Charlotte, their presumptive presidential candidate is wrestling with political realities.
A “year out” rally was held for the 2012 Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena this week, a year to the day before President Barack Obama is expected to claim nomination for a second term. The convention is scheduled to open on Sept. 3, 2012.
“The energy and excitement we feel from the people of North Carolina is really a great fuel for the work we have to do,” said DNC CEO Steve Kerrigan, who led the site selection team that chose Charlotte. “We’re expecting a huge turnout…as a result of the excitement and energy that people feel about the president being re-nominated in North Carolina and in Charlotte.”
However, Obama’s popularity is slipping.
Frank Newport, PhD, who manages and analyzes The Gallup Poll, recently cast a bleak outlook on Obama’s 2012 prospects. Obama’s job approval rating, according to three-day averages based on phone interviews conducted across the nation, slipped after the debt ceiling deal, hitting a new low of 39 percent for Aug. 11-13, and recovering to 41 percent Aug. 22-24.
“Ten incumbent presidents have sought re-election since World War II, and none has won a second term with final pre-election job approval ratings below 48 percent,” Newport said in a Gallup Politics report. “The last two presidents who lost their re-election bids – George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter – had job approval ratings in the 30 percent range in the fall of the election year. Thus, Obama’s challenge is not only to move his rating back above 40 percent, but also to push it close to or above 50 percent.”
In addition to disapproval of his agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling, Obama faces pressure for more job creation after the recession that started at the end of George W. Bush’s second term and budget cuts spurred by the 2010 Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. Liberals and African Americans – core Democratic constituencies – have become more vocal in taking Obama to task over jobs, the deficit and his handling of tea party Republicans.
But Kerrigan said Obama’s difficulties haven’t drained convention enthusiasm.
“We’re excited about this opportunity to really showcase the work we’re doing in getting ready for a convention that’s a year away,” he said. “This isn’t just about what happens on the floor, it’s about opportunities across the board with economic development and organizing, and reaffirming who we are as Democrats. The president has been working tirelessly in job creation, it will be exciting to highlight all our hard work.”
Thelma Byers-Bailey, a Charlotte voter who has dabbled in political activism, is excited about the DNC’s impact.
“I’m not concerned about his poll numbers because they fluctuate with emotion and emotion rarely has anything to do with progress,” she said. “I think it’s good for the economy. It’s good for Charlotte image-wise. Charlotte wants to play with the big dogs. This one of the things the big dogs like to do. So it’s good for us.”
Shortly after it was announced that Charlotte would be the site for the 2012 DNC, the Carolina Regional Minority Partnership Coalition formed to ensure that minority businesses are able to equally participate and have timely access to information. “It’s a work in progress, and we’re doing all we can to make sure that minority vendors are fully included this time around,” said Charlotte attorney James Ferguson, chair of CRMPC.
Vice Chair Colette Forrest added: “I think the most important thing that’s lacking is information: How do I bid for a contract? What is the bid process? Who do I submit my bid to? That type of critical information right now hasn’t been made public. I think our organization could serve as that conduit by getting information from the Democratic National Convention officials and providing it to the public and our membership.”
Forrest isn’t worried about polls.
“Over the last 14 years, I’ve been working on campaigns, and I’ve never known anyone, especially a minority, to be called to participate in a poll,” she said. “I don’t really get too caught up with numbers because to me the most important poll is the poll that occurs on election day.”