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Archive for March 19th, 2012

Obama Goes Pro Gay Marriage to Get NC on Election Day

Out of no where, President Obama suddenly feels the need to declare his objection to North Carolina’s pending vote to ban on gay marriage.

Similar state laws have passed over his plate no less than a dozen times since he took office, but he felt no need to step up to bat. In fact, until now, he wouldn’t take a specific position on gay marriage at all, choosing to support civil unions and call his views on gay marriage “evolving.”

Here’s Obama in 2010 (White House Makes Sure Everyone Knows Obama Doesn’t Support That Crazy ‘Gay Marriage’ Idea) and here’s Obama now (Obama Opposes Proposed Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in NC).

So why is he suddenly objecting to North Carolina’s ban when he didn’t weigh in on other state’s bans? And why would he do this when a clear majority of voters in the state are against gay marriage? It’s a matter of arithmetic.

First, North Carolina is perhaps the most important state in the nation to his re-election campaign. Here’s why.

North Carolina is now a purple state. Let to their own devices in a presidential race, its voters could return a razor thin margin of victory to either party’s presidential candidate. As the American Spectator pointed out in the link above, the Obama camp clearly believes that they can swing the state to their side if they can get the more than  45,000 voters who work in Research Triangle and make more than $75,000 a year to vote for him.

Here, again, is who these people, who may be the most important voters in the nation, actually are:

These newly successful people have become the pivotal bloc that swings the state between Republicans and Democrats. They are not committed to either party. They are not terribly involved with social issues. Their main worry is the economy. If Republicans make birth control and separation of church and state the major issue, they will go Democratic. If the Democrats mess up the economy and produce $4.50 gas and 8.3 percent unemployment, they will swing Republican. That will probably decide the 2012 election.

So what does gay marriage have to do with this? These are members of Richard Florida’s creative class, the youngish professionals who are now beginning to have children. I know these people personally. They are the women I went to college with and their husbands. They’ll go off just as quickly about Sarah Palin wanting to make abortion illegal (they are firmly against that, and her) as they will the national debt (they find it outrageous and irresponsible). They have a liberatarian streak, resented the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, prefer smaller government, have no great love for the welfare system, love innovation and forward thinking of any kind, have at least considered buying a hybrid car and find Ron Paul … interesting, maybe even appealing, though they don’t know a whole lot about him.

And what do they think of gay marriage? Their position has evolved dramatically in the past year, along with Obama’s.






Among the 18 to 34 set, support for gay marriage now sits at 70 percent, up from 54 percent just last year. And that answers the puzzling question I asked a few weeks ago. After a decade of the GOP bringing up the gay marriage issue every major election and Democrats running for the hills, why are the Dems now the ones trying to keep the issue alive? And why would the Dems even go so far as to put a pro-gay marriage plank on their party platform for the first time and actually plan to debate it at the Charlotte DNC convention this fall, making Charlotte ground zero for the gay marriage debate?

Now we’ve got our answer. They have done their homework and they have pinned their election hopes on young professionals, and in North Carolina, they are talking to them right now. The GOP would do well to listen, and strike up a conversation of their own.



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Meet the Delta Wing

Proof that innovation isn’t dead in racing. Where this ultimately goes I have no idea, but it certainly has the potential to be the biggest game changer in motorsport in many a year.

Update: Here’s an ESPN story as well.

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US Airways new baseline established

Over the past few years, Charlotte has gained a significant amount of flights as US Airways transformed itself from a carrier with major operations at eight airports (Charlotte, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington Reagan National, Boston, New York LaGuardia, Phoenix, Las Vegas)) to an airline with 99 percent of its service from only four places (Charlotte, Philadelphia, Reagan National, Phoenix). These service increases at CLT happened even as the airline reduced its overall flying.

The window of US Airways growth in Charlotte to destinations in the U.S. and Canada pretty much closed over the weekend, when the airline loaded the flight additions at Washington Reagan National (DCA) in the final portion of its slot swap with Delta Air Lines. From now on, there is no more shifting to do, the airline has achieved its goal of becoming a four-hub carrier. Thus what you see is essentially the new baseline of service for the carrier. It is what it is, and at least domestically, there’s no reason to expect many changes, whether here in Charlotte or any place else.

Which is to say that if you were hoping that the airline might add a nonstop to someplace like Tulsa, OK, Bloomington, IL, or Ft. Wayne, IN to make it a bit easier to visit the company headquarters and/or your sister, is probably not happening any time soon. To add routes requires aircraft, and they aren’t really adding planes except for maybe a couple of widebodies next year and in 2014 (which could allow a small amount of additional international flying).

Slot swap round two

Over the weekend, US Airways loaded flights from Reagan National to Augusta, GA, Fayetteville, Arkansas, Minneapolis, Montreal, and Toronto. The complete list of service that US airways is adding from DCA as a result of its slot swap deal with Delta, sorted by whether the city in question was on the original list of places to be added from DCA when the slot swap was first proposed back in the summer of 2009. (CRJ = Canadair Regional Jet, a type of 50-seat regional jet; E75 = Embraer 175 large regional seats 80 with a first-class section; E70 = Embraer 170 large regional seats 69 with a first-class section.):

On the original list and added: Birmingham (3 x CRJ), Cincinnati (3 x CRJ), Des Moines (2 x E70), Islip (2 x CRJ), Little Rock (2 x E70), Montreal (3 x CRJ), Ottawa (3 x CRJ), Pensacola (2 x CRJ), Savannah (1 x CRJ), Tallahassee (1 x CRJ)

Not on the original list but added: Agusta, GA (1 x CRJ), Bangor, ME (2 x CRJ), Fayetteville, NC (1 x CRJ); Fayetteville, AR (1 x CRJ); Ft. Walton Beach, FL (2 x CRJ); Jacksonville, NC (1 x CRJ); Memphis (3 x CRJ), Minneapolis (2 x E75, 1 x E70), Omaha (1 x E70), Toronto (4 x CRJ)

On the original list but not getting flights: Grand Rapids, MI, Ithica, NY, Madison, WI, Miami, Myrtle Beach

Some observations on the slot swap routes:

1. US Airways choose not to enter any new markets despite the addition of 42 highly desirable DCA slots. This comes despite Grand Rapids and Madison being on their original list of destinations they planned to add. The closest US Airways came was adding flights to Omaha and Des Moines to Reagan National — and Charlotte. Omaha and Des Moines were unusual cases in that they had US Airways service to Phoenix but not to anywhere to the east. So a long-expected connecting the dots move. They can’t do more of this though, as there aren’t any other places in the Central Time Zone that gets service only to Phoenix.

2. Oh Canada! Nearly a quarter of the flights added at DCA are to Canada. This is not a surprise; one of the few places US Airways has added flights to in recent years is Canada. (Charlotte got service to Montreal in 2008 and Ottawa in 2010).

3. Not much was added to the Northeast, just Bangor and Islip but a lot of additions to the Southeast, many of which are places that don’t have service to Philly.

4. In its original 2009 press release, US Airways stated that:

Following full implementation of the new schedule, the airline anticipates its passenger enplanements at DCA will increase by 30 to 35 percent as a result of the new flights and use of larger aircraft.

The larger aircraft part hasn’t really happened nor was there an increase in flights to existing markets. Which suggests that US Airways has changed its focus a bit, and is now concentrating more now on traffic going to/from Washington, DC and less on using DCA as a connecting point than what was envisioned when the deal was first proposed back in 2009. If DCA isn’t going to pick up the load as a connecting point to the Northeast, it’s possible that more of that function could in time shift to CLT — but only if/when US Airways starts adding capacity (which isn’t really currently planned).

5. Interesting that US Airways is adding flights to three Delta hubs (Memphis, Minneapolis, and Cincinnati) but is ignoring American Airlines despite American currently being in Chapter 11. US Airways is not adding DCA-Miami flights, though their original press release said they would, and is actually reducing service on DCA-Dallas/Ft. Worth to once daily (!). Memphis and to a lesser degree Cincinnati are dying hubs but it’s still a very strange use of a scarce resources by US Airways.

Bonus observation: Jerry Orr talks about adding a lot more gates out at the airport. Would love to see him lay out an actual business case for that.

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