CHARLOTTE, N.C. Among the first orders of business for Democratic National Convention delegates: approving a party platform thats expected to include support for same-sex marriage, abortion rights and organized labor.
Not exactly popular topics with voters in North Carolina or in other swing states considered pivotal to President Barack Obamas reelection chances.
While delegates approval of these and other guiding principles is key convention business, the content of a platform doesnt necessarily sway voters, experts say. And elected officials arent bound to it.
Ninety-nine percent of the people couldnt tell you whats in it, said Allan Lichtman, distinguished professor in the department of history at American University in Washington, D.C.
Social issues like abortion, or gay rights usually dont matter. Those are not the things that are most important to voters, Lichtman said.
What really matters to voters is how well the party in power has governed.
Democratic platform committee members met last month in Minneapolis and Detroit to finalize the draft, designed to reflect the partys vision for the country.
Tensions over marriage
When approved, the platform is expected to include wording supporting marriage equality and equal treatment for same-sex couples a first for a major political party.
This spring, Vice President Joe Biden, and then Obama, endorsed same-sex marriage. Then North Carolina voters convincingly approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Since then, Republican Mitt Romney has held a slim lead over Obama in most North Carolina polls, notes economist William Hauk with the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
I expect that President Obamas explicit endorsement of same-sex marriage will be a slight negative with North Carolina voters, Hauk said.
Jobs, economy and unions
Convention organizers said Monday that the theme of this weeks gathering will be building an economy from the middle out language thats similar to what appears in a draft of the platform.
In addition to supporting high-tech manufacturing, cutting red tape for small businesses and raising the minimum wage, theres also an express commitment to continue supporting unions long a mainstay of the Democratic party.
But the South isnt known for its pro-labor stance. A recent poll showed 50 percent in the South consider labor unions necessary, compared to 60 percent outside the south, according to Scott Keeter, director of survey research for Pew Research.
In North Carolina, workers cant be forced to join unions under the states right-to-work law.
Womens rights issues discussed for inclusion in the platform include equal wages, contraception and a womans right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion.
While controversial political issues like abortion rights dont typically tilt elections, Lichtman said, they could make a difference in a state like North Carolina, which Obama narrowly won in 2008 by about 14,000 votes.
If Obama is going to win North Carolina like he did last time, its going to be very, very close, Lichtman said. While those particular issues generally are not going to matter, they could if it comes down to a few thousand votes.
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