While some pundits are having fun with Obama losing 41% of the West Virginia Democrat primary vote to a convict, perhaps an even more troubling result for Obama can be found in Tuesday's North Carolina primary. After all, once the national Democratic Party decided to wage a holy war on the coal industry, the once Democrat electoral college stalwart of West Virginia has gone Republican in presidential elections. On the other hand, ever since Obama's narrow victory in the Tar Heel state in 2998 North Carolina has been considered a 2012 battleground state.
North Carolina is also a none of the above state. Voters in the presidential primaries have the option of voting for an unspecified candidate of their party. Although Obama was officially unopposed on the North Carolina Democrat ballot, on Tuesday 20.8% of Democrat voters in North Carolina selected the unspecified option.
This is not a fluke result from a low turnout election. A constitutional amendment against gay marriage -- which passed with 61.05% of the total vote -- has been all over the news. It also dominated last Sunday's sermons and fueled countless for and against robo calls. An open gubernatorial seat and several hot Congressional races in both parties also contributed to a 34.37% turnout rate for Tuesday's primary. This compares favorably with the 36.42% turnout during the very hotly contested 2008 primary match between Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Mitt Romney also had his detractors in North Carolina. While only 5.2% of Republican voters chose the "none of the above" option, Romney won only 65.66% of the total votes cast in the Republican primary. Ron Paul came in second with 11.08%. The rest of the votes were split between Santorum and Gingrich. Although some of those votes may have been cast during early voting before the candidate dropped out of the race, I suspect most were cast as a message to the presumptive nominee that he is still not completely trusted by the base.
Perhaps of greater interest is that while Democrats have enjoyed a considerable edge in statewide voter registration, there were more Republican ballots cast in Tuesday's primary than Democrat ballots -- 966,418 in the Republican presidential primary versus 958,418 in the Democrat primary. Indeed, had Mitt Romney been competing on Tuesday against McCain's 2008 primary vote total, Romney would have won by only slightly less than the 2 to 1 advantage he enjoyed this year -- 634,718 votes for Romney in 2012 compared to 383,085 votes for McCain in 2008.