North Carolina becomes a battleground state as urban boom shifts the voter landscape

Democrats look to flip North Carolina
Democrats look to flip North Carolina 04:54

The increasingly young and diverse population in cities like Charlotte are making North Carolina one of the fastest-growing states in the country.  As voters head to the polls for Super Tuesday's primary election, both Democrats and Republicans are eyeing the state as a battleground in November. 

North Carolina voted Republican in every recent presidential election except 2008, but in 2016 it went for President Trump while electing Democrat Roy Cooper as governor. Since then the state has added nearly 300,000 new jobs and over a million new voters have registered.

New businesses like American Underground, founded a decade ago in the basement of an abandoned cigarette factory, reflect the changing face of North Carolina and the reason Democrats' goal to flip the state seems attainable. Molly Demarest, who manages one of American Underground's campuses, said the area was a magnet for young, high tech-oriented people.

Briana Brake, who launched Spaceway Brewing in 2018 and calls herself "the black woman brewer in North Carolina," is one of the many faces of North Carolina's voting population with her own beliefs when it comes to politics.

"There's a ceiling for black women," fellow entrepreneur Nicole Oxendine told CBS News' Chip Reid. "It ripples into so many different layers of life. But no, I don't hear anybody talking about that."  

Brake said she favored "people that say the most radical things," like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

"He's got my mom like, 'How's this man going to do all this stuff?' But I'm like, 'Shouldn't you go with the dude or woman or whoever that's saying the most broadest things, maybe you'll get some of that?'" Brake explained.

"People who've been here for years, they've been doing it, and that's black and white," Oxendine said. "You know, how can we as the next generation kind of pull together and say, well, we want something different?"

Outside of North Carolina's booming cities, farmers are struggling as the state's most profitable crop saw sales to China plummet from $166 million in 2016 to just over $1 million in 2019. Still, CBS News spoke to nearly a dozen farmers who hope new trade deals would turn things around for rural areas.

Farmer Brandon Batten, who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue after cutting his tobacco production in half, supported President Trump and said he just "needs a little more time."

"It didn't get this way overnight and I know it's not going to be fixed overnight," Batten said. "But I'm hopeful that the president's right and we'll need better tractors and more land. But I haven't ordered any yet."

Democrats hope growing disillusionment with the current administration coupled with North Carolina's growing urban population will get the tide moving in their direction.  

Trey Nix, former campaign manager for Democratic governor Roy Cooper, said "the state is way more competitive today than people totally realize."

"I think now that you have got so much growth… there will be a day when Republicans will not win here very much," he predicted.