Why these North Carolina voters can’t wait until November

August 4, 2014

President Obama spoke about the economy at North Carolina State University in Raleigh in January. (Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

Durham, N.C. — It’s hard to find people raring to go to the polls this November, but for Wanda McIver, convincing friends and family to cast ballots in the midterm elections is an urgent matter.

"I plan to make my kids vote -- everybody," said 56-year-old McIver, a video manager at a state college, as she and two friends chatted on the sidewalk outside a downtown eatery on Monday.

Election Day, they said, is the chance to have President Obama's back as he contends with hostile Republicans in Congress and calls for his impeachment. The issue animates conversations in African American circles in this Southern town, resonating with residents who have lived through the city’s struggles with integration.

"The disrespect by members of Congress -- it's rude," said Durham resident Ruby Christmas, 65. "They should be censured for all the craziness that they’ve done to the president of the United States. We’re still running a racist society."

Does she still feel the same way about the president as she did when he was first elected? "I love him more!" Christmas declared.

In the eyes of these staunch Obama fans, the president does not get credit for his achievements -- particularly the improving economy. McIver’s son, who was out of work for year, recently got a sales jobs at a company in the Research Triangle.

"I think it’s getting better, for sure," she said.

Christmas said she’s been impressed by the president's worker training initiatives. "He’s interested in training kids to repair the infrastructure for the future, and I think that’s beautiful," she said.

The elections also provide a chance to take a stance against conservatives who control the state legislature here. One of the leaders of the GOP-controlled General Assembly, House Speaker Thom Tillis, is challenging the incumbent Democratic U.S. senator, Kay Hagan.

"North Carolina is messed up because they don’t accept anything from the government," said 71-year-old Margarie James of Durham. They don’t accept unemployment, Medicaid. We need that. They’re not trying to help the poor people."

Added McIver, "I think in North Carolina, because people feel so strongly about the Republican legislature, they are going to go out and vote."

Matea Gold is a national political reporter for The Washington Post, covering money and influence.
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