And not just on UNC hoops. A consensus is emerging that the Tarheel State could be the decisive contest, according to Mark Halperin. If Barack Obama wins, then the nomination is his; but if Hillary Clinton prevails, then the battle will drag on.
It’s the first time since 1976 that North Carolina will be in the national spotlight in the presidential nomination process, according to the Fayetteville Observer.
“While Ford got the nomination, [Reagan‘s] Tar Heel victory saved [his] presidential aspirations for another day. Historians say Reagan would have left politics had he not won North Carolina. That same year, the Old South, represented by segregationist icon George Wallace, and the New South of Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, clashed in the state’s Democratic primary. [Carter’s victory and Wallace’s loss] ended Wallace’s national political career.”
Will the 2008 contest put Clinton’s dogs to rest?
I think Obama has a distinct advantage based on both the percentage of African-Americans in the Democratic primary and the influx of independent voters, which are both constituencies that the Illinois senator has excelled with. I’m posting a map of the black population below, and for analysis on independents in North Carolina read my National Journal article “Is North Carolina the New Virginia?”
For her part, Clinton should do well in North Carolina’s western hills and hollows. Politico‘s Jonathan Martin had a smart observation that “Clinton’s strength in the highlands is undeniable. Which is why she’ll do well in Pennsylvania on April 22 and then very well in West Virginia and Kentucky on May 13. And in between, she’ll probably win every county in North Carolina west of Winston-Salem and Charlotte (except possibly in Buncombe, home to bohemian Asheville).”
2004 North Carolina Electoral Map (CNN.com)
African-American Population in North Carolina (U.S. Demographics Visualizer)
More purple is more African-American.