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Electoral Map Reveals New Battleground States

This story was written by James Layman, Technician

In a changing electoral environment, several historically Republican-voting states, including North Carolina, may be in Democratic candidate Barack Obama's reach, according to Steven Greene, North Carolina State University associate professor of political science.

"With states such as North Carolina and Virginia, we're very much in play," Greene said. "What's interesting is that Virginia hasn't been competitive in decades, and North Carolina hasn't been competitive since 1992. Historically, that's pretty unique."

Much of this switch in affiliation has to do with ever-changing demographics, Greene said.

"In the case of Virginia, it's demographics are always changing," Greene said. "People from the north, which is typically liberal, are moving down and settling in Virginia. All of this is changing Virginia to the point where it balances out."

Similar demographic changes are occurring in North Carolina, but to a lesser extent, Green said. Another factor is changing the way citizens in North Carolina are voting.

"Historically, North Carolina has a fairly large African American population," he said. "I'd say 95 percent of them will be voting for Obama."

Greene also said there will probably be an increase in the number of African American voters at the polls.

Some students, such as Casey Parris, a sophomore in fisheries and wildlife sciences, feel that this change in party affiliation across North Carolina has to do with handling of issues by the Bush administration.

"With a lot of recent issues, people are becoming frustrated with they way things are being handled by the administration," Parris said. "They are looking for a change."

With the current state of the economy, some people are placing blame on the entire Republican party and are going to vote for Democrats in the fall election, Parris said.

"More and more people are against the war in Iraq and they believe that the Democratic party will fix all of the problems that they see," she said.

Greene said he believes there is a 50 percent chance that Virginia will vote Democratic in the fall election, despite having voted Republican in the past. North Carolina is a different story.

"In North Carolina, I believe McCain still has the edge, despite everything else," he said. "[There is] a one in three chance that North Carolina will vote for Obama."

Parris said she believes North Carolina will still vote Republican in the election, despite recent interest from the Democratic party.

"I was very surprised when Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigned across North Carolina," she said. "I didn't think they'd try to turn a Republican state Democrat."

Jim Ceresnak, a junior in political science and president of Students for McCrory, said he believes North Carolina has become a toss-up state because of the amount of money Obama has poured into his campaign.

"In this election, Barack Obama has spent countless millions on TV ads in this state, and he has more than 700 paid campaign staffers," Ceresnak said. "John McCain currently has 12 paid staffers in North Carolina, has run very few local TV ads, yet he still maintains a respectable lead in the polls."

Ceresnak also said he is happy to see citizens of North Carolina supporting Republicans on the state level and he is confident North Carolina will remain a Republican state in the upcoming election.

"I find the recent poll of N.C. State students showing Pat McCrory, who is running for governor, holding a 20 point lead over Democratic challenger Bev Purdue to be very impressive given that North Carolina has been controlld by Democrats on the state level for almost 100 years," he said. "I think it's the Democrats who are in real trouble in North Carolina this year, not the Republicans."