Under the Dome

Morning Memo: North Carolina as a model for the national GOP?

N.C. AS A MODEL FOR THE NATIONAL GOP? For most Republicans, November was grim. But in North Carolina it was a happier story. “North Carolina could be a model for ‘red state’ resurgence,” says Marc Rotterman, a GOP strategist from Raleigh.

North Carolina Republicans will showcase their performance this week to the Republican National Committee, which starts its three-day winter meeting Wednesday at the Westin in uptown. A presentation scheduled for Thursday is called “Success in N.C.: A Blueprint for the Future.” But how much of that blueprint can be replicated is debatable.

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for N.C. political news and analysis. Click below to read more.***

HOW THE GOP WON N.C.: A key part was turnout. Republicans went to the polls at a higher rate than Democrats in 65 of the state’s 100 counties, according to an analysis released Tuesday by Democracy North Carolina. It said white Republicans, like African-American women, were the most enthusiastic voters. Each group turned out 74 percent of its voters, compared with the statewide rate of 68 percent.
Republicans also narrowed the gap in early voting, which Democrats dominated in 2008. Democrats, who still led in absentee and early voting, saw their performance improve by 3 percent. Republicans saw theirs jump 20 percent.

ALSO: McCrory was a strong candidate. While North Carolina represented Romney’s narrowest victory, McCrory won by more than 11 percentage points. And while Democrat Obama carried populous urban counties such as Mecklenburg and Wake by large margins – 100,000 votes in Mecklenburg – McCrory won both. --His Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, was behind from the start in launching a statewide campaign after Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue waited until January to announce she wouldn’t seek a second term. --A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage galvanized conservative voters in May. Many stayed engaged. --The 2010 elections, which put Republicans in charge of redrawing congressional and legislative districts for the first time in more than a century, helped the GOP pick up seats across the state. --After holding the governor’s office for 20 years, Democrats were weighed down by unemployment. Only a handful of states had higher jobless rates. Exit polls showed that Romney carried 56 percent of N.C. voters who said the economy was their top issue, compared with 51 percent of voters nationwide. --The Democratic Party had other problems, including accusations of sexual harassment at its state headquarters.

AN ABERRATION OR SEISMIC SHIFT?“I’m not sure there’s anything in the North Carolina example that can be replicated or macro conclusions that can be drawn from it,” says Tom Fetzer, a former state GOP chairman from Raleigh. “There was a pretty unique set of circumstances here that led to the outcomes. …Time will tell whether this was a seismic shift or not or some kind of an aberration. And how Republicans govern will largely determine that.” Until 2008, North Carolina had been a reliably Republican state in ever presidential election for 32 years. Democrat Barack Obama turned that around, winning the state by 14,000 votes.

LEAD STORY IN FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVER: BURR DOWNPLAYS ARMY REPORT: Congressional leaders who represent Fort Bragg and the Cape Fear region say people shouldn't read too much into a new reporting suggesting that the Army post could lose 8,0000 solders and civilian workers by 2020. David Ward, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said the Army has not told Burr of any impending troop reductions at Fort Bragg.

MORE GRUMBLING ABOUT GOP LAWMAKERS' EDUCATION POLICIES: Lead story, front-page in Gaston Gazette: Gaston school leaders met with state legislators to outline what they see as the biggest issues facing the school system and what they’d like to see the state change: Eliminate the discretionary reduction for school systems. … Provide money for instructional materials, textbooks and professional development, items that had been cut from state budgets in recent years. …Pay for a mandate that requires after school tutoring and summer remediation for students in early grades who aren’t reading on grade level. … Give money to fund technology and people to manage it. …Change the school calendar law to align the start and end dates with community colleges and universities and give local school districts control over their calendars.

IMMIGRANT LICENSE ISSUE SHOWDOWN CONTINUES: Dozens of young Latino adults who entered the country illegally as children staged a chilly morning demonstration Tuesday to dramatize their push for driver’s licenses under a federal program that allows them to live here legally while deportation is postponed for two years. The protesters called on state Transportation Secretary Tony Tata to resume issuing licenses to participants in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. They chanted, “Transportation, yes! Deportation, no!”

TODAY AT THE NCGA: Groups opposed to likely legislation at the General Assembly this year requiring North Carolina citizens to show identification before voting in person are rolling out a plan to fight it at a news conference Wednesday.

JUDGE FAVORS TOWN IN MAJOR FIRST AMENDMENT CASE: A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the town in the “Screwed By The Town of Cary” lawsuit, signaling that the long saga in a free speech case that received national attention may be nearing its end. The Fourth Circuit Court found that the town government did not violate the First Amendment by fining the late David Bowden for the message he had painted on his house in 2009. Three judges unanimously overturned a lower-court decision in the Bowden estate’s favor.

VOTE ON COPS-IN-SCHOOLS PLAN DELAYED: A proposal to place unarmed private security officers at every Wake County elementary school drew heated opposition from both ends of the political spectrum Tuesday.

PUSH FOR TIGHTER PRESCRIPTION RULES: Front page display in Wilmington Star-News: With prescription drug abuse soaring to unprecedented levels, advocates pressing a tougher approach are urging North Carolina to embrace a comprehensive plan to curb overdoses and strengthen law enforcement. Advocacy groups and government advisers recently rolled out recommendations expected to influence legislative decisions when the General Assembly resumes work later this month, and one supporter of the proposed measures said his organization has already drawn bipartisan support for a bill to that effect.

The policy options reflect what seems to be a growing acknowledgement that prescription drug abuse is a widening, intricate issue requiring a multi-faceted solution. In 2011, prescription drugs killed 1,000 people in North Carolina, according to the state's chief medical examiner's office. The death toll continues to climb and has even eclipsed traffic fatalities as the leading cause of unintentional death.

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