Can Obama win North Carolina? If you believe the polls and the vast number of early voters, the answer might just be a resounding YES HE CAN.
Wake County, where I currently live, has seen a major influx of new residents since 2004. I should know – I’m one of the them.
I was born and raised in central New Jersey. I started working in the Information Technology sector right out of college. In 2004, my wife and I packed up and moved out to San Diego, California to avoid massive layoffs at the company I was working for at the time. A few months after we moved out to California, a friend of mine offered me a job as a salaried consultant which allowed me to work from home. In 2006, after my first child was born, we decided that we wanted to buy a house. (We were renting a 2 bedroom apartment at the time since it is nearly impossible to afford housing in Southern California.) With our families still back in New Jersey, and my new job allowing me to live anywhere in the country, we decided that we had to move back to the East Coast. We had considered moving back to New Jersey, but housing prices in the New York-New Jersey area were almost as bad as California.
So, we took out a big map and started doing our research. Where could we find an affordable nice sized house in a family friendly community with good schools that was near a major airport (since I do travel frequently). Everything we looked at pointed to North Carolina.
We paid $210,000 for our 2,300 square foot house in Holly Springs – right in the middle of Wake County. In a recent issue of Money Magazine, Holly Springs was named the #22 best place to live in the country. Our town, along with the neighboring towns of Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, as well as Raleigh, the state capital, have seen such an increase in people just like me. In my subdivision, we know more transplants than native North Carolinians. I play a semi-weekly poker game with neighbors originally from places like Buffalo, Chicago, and Long Island, NY.
So, its no wonder why Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the Tar Heel State by over 832,000.
North Carolina is not the same state it was 10-15 years ago. Sure, there are still many rural parts which are still lopsidedly Republican territory. But that’s not where new residents are moving to. They are moving to Wake County. They are moving to Charlotte. And they are mostly Democrats who earn higher salaries and have a more vested interest in politics. In other words, they are not your low-information voters.
Let’s not also forget the many fine colleges and universities here. NC State, UNC, Duke. Obama should do extremely well at those institutions.
North Carolina also has a very proud African American electorate which will turn out in great numbers (and already has thanks to early voting.) Yes, I know many people argue that blacks are voting for Obama simply because he is black. The problem with that logic, is that blacks typically vote Democratic anyway. Obama’s presence on the ballot just gives MORE blacks a reason to vote that might otherwise have stayed home.
Some recent polls show Obama with a lead as high as 7 points. If Obama can pull off an upset here, I doubt the margin of victory will be that high. Obama is going to need high voter turnout in Wake County and the Charlotte area, and will also need the support of at least 80% of Democrats. I think he will easily get that level of Democratic support. And if the long lines for early voting are any indication, I think voter turnout will be extremely high.
A new South is forming. I can remember as a kid, one family vacation, we drove to Disney World from our home in New Jersey. We stopped overnight at a motel in a North Carolina town right off I-95. Everyone we talked to spoke with a deep Southern accent. That was in 1986. Now, 22 years later, as a resident of one of the fastest growing areas of the state, it has become almost a novelty for me if I hear a Southern accent, and that should sound pretty good to Obama supporters.