Campaigns rely heavily on volunteer ground game

Volunteers at an Obama campaign center in North Carolina working on their computers on Monday, Sept. 3, 2012
CBS News

(CBS News) CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - It's no coincidence that Democrats are holding their convention this week in Charlotte. North Carolina is among a handful of battleground states expected to decide the election.

Both campaigns are relying heavily on their "ground game": An army of volunteers deployed to get out the vote.

Mary Parry, 39, is a stay-at-home mom in Chapel Hill, with a husband, three kids and a growing passion for politics. She volunteers 30 hours per week. Her goal: Reelect President Obama.

"I feel that we've come a long way since 2008 when President Obama took office, and it is just too important to the future, to my kids' future for me to say, 'Well, I am too busy,'" Parry said.

In 2008, Obama's slim victory in North Carolina was built on an army of volunteers. Parry was one of 17,000 volunteers and paid staff across the state who knocked on doors and made phone calls.

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"I would say asking for volunteers is even easier...because we had a lot of new people in 2008 like myself who had never been involved with a campaign before, Now we know what we are doing," Parry said.

The Obama campaign strategy in North Carolina will rely on turning out the youth vote, registering more African-American voters and energizing women.

"When women go into the voting booth, they are thinking about their rights, and women would want ownership of their own bodies and their own healthcare decisions. So we do not want men making those decisions for us in Washington," Parry said.

Chuck Painter, 46, is a registered independent serving as a Romney volunteer in Cornelius, North Carolina. In 2009, Painter lost his job as a salesman for a plastics company -- a job he had for 20 years.

"I had my house repossessed through foreclosure. I couldn't afford to make the payments. I was homeless during my birthday in May because I was in between, did not have a place to stay, could not afford anything," Painter said.

Four years ago, candidate Obama won 54 percent of North Carolina voters who said they were concerned about the economy. On Election Day, unemployment was inching toward 8 percent. Now, in the state of North Carolina, it's 9.6 percent.

"It is very hard to talk about because I really haven't shared it with a lot of people because it's embarrassing. I never thought that I would be in this situation," Painter said.

A key part of the Romney campaign strategy in North Carolina is tapping into voter dissatisfaction with the economic recovery, re-energizing the conservative base and winning a majority of independents like Painter.?

"I do hold (President Obama) responsible. I don't think I would have lost my career and so many others would be struggling if they would had made different decisions and if our country was a better state," Painter said.


President Clinton will speak directly to independent voters like Painter when he address the convention on Wednesday.