North Carolina Democrats have survived three near-death elections: 1972, 1984 and 1994. But will 2010 be the one when the dam finally breaks and we go the way of the rest of the South?
Some smart Democrats here think so. They see a decade – or more – of Republican dominance ahead. They believe 2012 could be a repeat, not a reversal, of 2010. They fear the impact of redistricting. They openly speculate about Governor Perdue losing in 2012.
I thought about this last night at the reunion of Jim Hunt Alumni – everybody who worked with and for him from 1970 through today.
Hunt’s political career goes back 50 years – to the election of Terry Sanford and John Kennedy in 1960. Ever since, the South has trended Republican. Yet Democrats stemmed the tide again and again. Often, it was Hunt who was the bulwark, especially in 1972 and 1992.
Last night was full of energy and enthusiasm. Governor Hunt, as usual, picked everybody up from Tuesday’s disaster. Even this year, he noted, North Carolina reelected Democratic congressmen in tough races.
But I couldn’t help wondering if I was watching an era end.