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Beth Peterson

North Carolina, as a battleground state in the presidential election, has been a hot topic in the media as both the democrats and the republicans make their case for who would best serve as commander-in-chief. One of the most recent political figures to toss around the Tar Heel State’s name was Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Priebus declared North Carolina to be “‘ground zero’ in the fight for the White House,” according to WCNC, a local news station based in Charlotte, N.C. The question remains, now that Romney’s campaign has focused its attention on the general election, how are Obama and Romney gearing up to compete for North Carolina?

North Carolinians have not experienced being a battleground state in a presidential election for many years. Even presidential primaries do not often affect North Carolina, as the state’s primary date is considerably after when most primary seasons realistically have determined a party’s nominee. However, it appears the 2012 general election will rebel against this norm.

The Obama campaign has 15 offices across the state and the republicans are opening four “Victory headquarters” in North Carolina. Each party is implementing a strategy to sway N.C. voters and as the campaigns swing into full-gear, the specifics of each approach are becoming clearer.

The democrats have maintained a presence in North Carolina since 2008. Additionally, their decision to hold September’s Democratic National Convention in the state has been discussed as a strategic decision based on the idea the convention will “mobilize volunteers and supporters,” according to an article in the Charlotte Observer.

Priebus said the republicans have pledged to “match them and surpass them,” referring to the Obama campaign’s North Carolina efforts, according to the article.

Based on President Obama’s track record of visiting North Carolina and the republicans’ goal of exceeding his spending and presence, it is safe to presume the Tar Heel State will be seeing a lot of both candidates and their advertisements during this election season.

Candidate appearances and marketing strategies have long been linked to winning outcomes in elections, as Joandrea Hoegg and Michael V. Lewis explain in “The Impact of Candidate Appearance and Advertising Strategies on Election Results.” Their research examines many variables that will come into play in the battle for North Carolina. Likely of particular importance in the upcoming election is the effect of the perception of candidate personality, gathered from campaign appearances, that are taken into consideration alongside marketing strategies and campaign spending.

When the situation in North Carolina leading up to the general election is examined through the lens of Hoegg and Lewis’ research, it can be suggested the candidate who presents himself most strongly and visits most will win over the state’s important electorate.

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