DNC 2012 Notebook: Is North Carolina turning red?

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In Charlotte, the weather and the presidential campaign have been scorching. Catch the advertising wars already being played out on TV?

The Obama campaign has been touting the upward trajectory of economic progress and his women-friendly policies while attacking Mitt Romney’s offshore financial dealings and his record on job creation. The Romney campaign has been touting the GOP’s presumptive candidate’s business background and his plans for Day 1 of his presidency while attacking the Affordable Care Act and Obama’s record on job creation. And it’s only July.

An economic report showed the numbers are improving, but very slowly. Maybe that's why The Washington Post, where I land from time to time, and its closely watched The Fix moved North Carolina from the “toss up” to “lean Romney” category, though it reserved the right to change its mind.

The New Republic said not so fast, arguing that instability in the state Democratic Party and a higher-than-national unemployment rate won’t trump changing demographics that show an increase in minority and college-educated voters who favored Obama in 2008. Polls are tight, last month's showing a slight Romney lead and recently seeing a swing back toward Obama, most within the margin of error.

Will black women, active in 2008, come out in force again this year? I reported on that, too, with three Charlotte women at the center of a national story.

The convention is taking some hits after Rachel Maddow asked why Democrats are hosting their convention in a city that does not have a union hotel. “How did that happen?” she asked.

As of now, the convention — and its promise to function as an organizing tool for the Obama campaign — is “right on track,” to borrow the phrase used by DNC organizers when asked to report on fundraising progress.

But the real test of strength might be who gives up first in the high-dollar advertising game of chicken. When one side pulls the TV ad plug, it’s a sure sign of concession.

To be continued.

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Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte-based journalist, is a contributor to The Washington Post's “She the People” blog, The Root and theGrio. Her “Keeping It Positive” segment airs Wednesdays at 7:10 a.m. on Fox News Rising Charlotte, and she was national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter.

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