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Swing Status Brings Added Focus To North Carolina

This story was written by Saja Hindi, Technician

Today's the day.

North Carolina mattered in the primaries when people thought it couldn't happen, because the state's primary was so late.

And now, although the state has voted red since 1976, it's being considered a swing state.

"Part of it is changing demographics in a lot of places, people moving in from the northeast," Chris Ellis, North Carolina State University assistant professor of political science, said.

But Ellis said it's more than that.

"People that are traditionally conservative or moderate voters are changing their minds," he said.

However, Ellis said he doesn't think North Carolina's change of attitude is enough to change the state's status as a red state.

"It wasn't a close state at all in 2004," he said. "It takes a lot of attitude to change to [turn blue]."

Jim Ceresnak, a junior in political science, is an advocate of gubernatorial Republican candidate Pat McCrory and Republican presidential candidate John McCain, and he remained optimistic in North Carolina's performance.

"McCain will win," he said. "It's going to be an extremely tight race, [but] McCain will pull it out."

Ceresnak said the GOP headquarters in downtown Raleigh was so full Monday night that people could barely get in.

"Despite all the news and all the coverage and the polls... we're looking at polls now every 30 to 15 minutes, and the margins keep tightening, especially in the state," he said.

Ellis said there's only so much history to go against to win a state like North Carolina.

"You have a national tide toward the Democrats," he said.

Melissa Price, an alumna and vice president of Young Democrats in North Carolina, disagreed.

"It will be a tight race, but Obama will probably pull it off," she said.

Obama, Price said, had a "really amazing ground effort" in North Carolina that helped him become competitive in the state.

"People knew what he was for -- it's what turned North Carolina into a swing state," she said. "He had to fight harder in North Carolina, [and] by fighting harder, he positioned himself better in the general election."

Ceresnak agreed that attitudes are definitely changing.

"On the national level, as a Republican, it's not a great thing to hear that our state that's been red... could be turning blue," he said.

But both Price and Ceresnak recognized the importance of the local races as well.

"I think [U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Kay] Hagan is going to pull it out and it's going to be really good for North Carolina," she said.

Ceresnak said the changing attitudes in North Carolina apply to the local races, not just those on the national level.

"This is such a monumental election in so many ways on so many different levels in North Carolina," he said. "People want changes in the national offices as well as the local offices."

McCrory, he said, is running on a similar agenda -- for "the same reason people are fed up with Republicans on the national level," the Republicans want a change in Democratic governors.

"The excitement about this election is at such a high level," Ceresnak said. "It's great for people who understand politics."

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