COLUMBIA — This could be a boring time of year for David Pascoe.
The 1st Circuit solicitor is running for re-election, but he has no opponent. Of the 62 elections in the three counties in his circuit, 51 have candidates who are unopposed. And neither presidential candidate bothers to campaign in solidly Republican South Carolina.
It might be a good time for Pascoe, a Democrat, to take a vacation.
Instead, Pascoe spent the day in Charlotte, N.C., last Saturday, knocking on the doors of undecided voters in a state that President Barack Obama narrowly won four years ago and political experts say could prove crucial to the Democrat’s re-election in November.
“I wanted to volunteer a few hours of my day,” Pascoe said. “I would like to get up there at least one or two more Saturdays.”
Pascoe is one of thousands of S.C. political activists – Democrats and Republicans – who have volunteered to deploy to the Palmetto State’s neighboring “swing” state. Every weekend, busloads of South Carolinians cross over the North Carolina border to knock on doors and hand out fliers while others make phone calls into other battleground states across the country.
While South Carolina is not a player on the national stage – its nine electoral votes almost certainly will go to Republican Mitt Romney – leaders from both state parties are pushing their activists to campaign in swing states as a way to stay connected to and help win a presidential race that most polls show is tied.
“If the president wins North Carolina, there is no equation where he loses the election,” said Amanda Loveday, executive director of the S.C. Democratic Party. “This is a way that people in South Carolina can feel as they contribute to the presidential campaign.”
‘Not going to change anybody’s mind’
What are the two political parties doing?
• The state Democratic Party spent $18,600 earlier this year to pay for a TV ad in Charlotte, mocking Romney.
• S.C. 7th District congressional candidate Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, is so comfortable with his November contest – against Democrat Gloria Bromell Tinubu – that his campaign manager went to work full time for the Romney campaign in North Carolina.
• State Republicans have sent about 300 volunteers – dubbed “Palmetto Patriots” – to North Carolina, according to DeLinda Ridings, state field director for the S.C. Republican Party.
• A Republican group from Horry County also is in Florida, another battleground state, working with the Romney campaign in Clearwater.
The state GOP also is organizing trips to the swing states of Virginia and Ohio this weekend and the next two weekends leading up to the election.
‘Four hours for four more years’
The state Democratic Party says it has sent “hundreds of volunteers, filling thousands of volunteer hours,” to North Carolina but could not provide exact figures. It, like the state GOP, has buses of volunteers in North Carolina every weekend.
But state Democratic officials only are asking for their party’s activists to volunteer four hours each in North Carolina, using the slogan “four hours for four more years.” That leaves activists with plenty of time to volunteer and canvass in their local races, S.C. Democratic chairman Dick Harpootlian said.
“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” he said.