Why do the Arkansas delegates have such bad seats at the 2012 Democratic National Convention?
That’s the first question that came to mind Monday morning while we were perusing the seating map for Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., the host city. Arkansas, the state that produced the last Democrat who won reelection to the White House, doesn’t just have a bad location; the Arkansans have the worst seats in the place. They’re at the very back, in the middle of the arena, half-wedged behind a camera platform. Some of them might need periscopes to see the action at all.
OK, Arkansas is a red state now, likely to fall to GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Plus, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her ex-presidential spouse haven’t lived there for years. But their current state, New York, is a blue leaner, big, and a crucial building block for any Democrat looking to put together an Electoral College victory. And New York’s seats are not fantastic. They’re right next to Arkansas in the back. Their only advantage is that they’re not behind the camera platform.
Is President Obama trying to send the Big Dog a subtle message? Illinois, Mr. Obama’s home, has the best front-and-center seats in the arena. Well, it’s easy to overthink this, so it’s probably just due to the fact that the Razorback delegation is a small group that hails from Romney territory. But still. We wouldn’t take the risk of maybe offending someone who’s giving a key speech. We’d at least have cleared it with him. (Of course, maybe Team Obama did.)
Other than that, the seating’s pretty much what you’d expect. Key swing states are up front – we’re looking at you, Ohio. Illinois shares the front row with host state North Carolina and Delaware. (Joe Biden is from Delaware, in case you’re scratching your head.)
Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida – they’re all swing states, and their delegates are all close enough to the podium to actually see what’s going on.
In the back, Arizona, home of 2008 opponent Sen. John McCain, has perhaps the next-worst seats to Arkansas'. They’re on the other side of the camera cluster. The District of Columbia is stuck back there, too. So is New Jersey. Are Jersey Democrats getting hurt because of subliminal anger at Gov. Chris Christie?
Of course, the real Democratic seating problem isn’t inside the Time Warner Cable Arena. It’s over at Bank of America Stadium, a 74,000-seat football venue where Obama is scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech.
Given that voter enthusiasm is down among Democrats, some Democratic officials have worried about filling that cavernous space. Empty seats wouldn’t look good for the cameras.
According to the Associated Press, the DNC is going to bring in college students from the region by the busload. They’re also recruiting members of predominantly African-American churches.
“The response we’ve seen from the community has been incredible and it’s obvious that people have a big interest in owning a piece of the most open and accessible convention in history,” campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher told the AP.