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The Party Line is dedicated to examining regional issues and policies through the figures who give shape to them. These are critical, complex, and even downright confusing times we live in. There’s a lot to navigate nationally and in the Carolinas; whether it’s elections, debates on gay marriage, public school closings, or tax incentives for economic development. The Party Line’s goal is to offer a provocative, intelligent look at the issues and players behind the action; a view that ultimately offers the necessary insight for Carolina voters to hold public servants more accountable.

The Tale Of Two McCrory Videos

While Gov.  Pat McCrory this week made a “formal” announcement video via Twitter for his re-election bid, another video released a week earlier also provides a good sense of how the incumbent is planning a campaign strategy.

The “formal” video, labeled Our Story, shows a series of photos of the governor and his wife, with a lead-in of the governor relating to what many citizens (i.e., voters) have experienced: the loss of a job and having to convey that news to a spouse or family. The governor, in a voiceover, then documents the accomplishments that he will lay claim to over the past three years and frame his campaign narrative going into the next year.


This video is certainly a soft sell. Its target audience is most likely those North Carolina voters in the middle—the small number of true independents who are typically less partisan.

The other video, however, clearly aims to motivate the partisan base.


The first half of the video, called Blueprint, presents the classic “us versus them” mentality to generate enthusiasm. It references Moral Monday rallies, liberals, out-of-state groups, unions, the liberal media—the typical conservative hit-list of code words and target groups designed to energize and remind conservative voters of McCrory’s “outsider” status.

And by using both videos, McCrory’s camp seems to be hedging its bets: to begin a re-election bid using both the strategy of firing up the base and appealing to the middle of the electorate.

McCrory scored an 11-point victory in 2012.  According to 2012 exit polls, McCrory secured 15 percent of Democratic voters, bucking the trend that typically we see less cross-over voters from one party supporting a candidate from the other party. Still, expect a closer gubernatorial election in 2016.

Four years ago, only 9 percent of NC self-identified Democratic voters voted for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who won the state by two points. And last year’s U.S. Senate race saw less than a two-point victory by Republican Thom Tillis.

It will be interesting to watch McCrory and his campaign to see if their strategy continues beyond this ‘introductory’ phase of his re-election bid, most likely against Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper. Both candidates will probably utilize the two-prong strategy of appealing to their respective bases, but acknowledging that there could be a critical strategic component of appealing to those independents.

Dr. Michael Bitzer is an associate professor of politics and history at Catawba College, where he also serves as the 2011-2012 Swink Professor for Excellence in Classroom Teaching and the chair of the department of history & politics. A native South Carolinian, he holds graduate degrees in both history and political science from Clemson University and The University of Georgiaââ