North Carolina Eager to Choose Their Candidate

Once again, as with all these late-voting states, none of them thought they would amount to a hill of beans in this election. However, as seen in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Indiana are now going to become grand central station for the 2008 election, at least for a few weeks.

Here’s a report on it from Yahoo News:

RALEIGH, N.C. – Not since 1988 has North Carolina had much of a voice in choosing a presidential nominee. Back then, it joined several Southern states to help pick Al Gore, a neighbor from Tennessee.

But the longer-than-expected race between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination will thrust the state into the national spotlight when it has its say on May 6. Indiana also votes that day.

The primary, offering 115 national convention delegates, comes two weeks after Pennsylvania gave the former first lady the win she needed to stay in the race. But Obama is favored to win North Carolina, the largest prize among the contests remaining.

“My crystal ball wasn’t working well last year, and I certainly would not have anticipated this,” said state Democratic Party chairman Jerry Meek. “But, in retrospect, having a May primary was a tremendously astute decision.”

Voters, especially new ones, have taken note.

More than 165,000 people have registered to vote in North Carolina in the first three months of the year, a nearly threefold increase from the same period in 2004. Election officials expect a record turnout May 6 — about half of the more than 5.7 million registered voters, compared with past turnouts ranging from 16 percent to 31 percent.

Another wild card: A new law allows unregistered voters to sign up and vote on the same day through May 3. Both campaigns have launched efforts to turn out those voters, and the polling sites have been flooded since they opened last week.

In North Carolina, many voters have already cast their votes, this from Fox News:

RALEIGH, N.C. — Nearly 75,000 people have already cast their ballots in North Carolina’s presidential primary, even though the state’s primary election day is nearly two weeks away.

The early votes have been cast under new rules that allow previously-unregistered voters to sign up and vote on the same day until May 3.

Both campaigns have launched efforts encouraging people to take part in the early voting. And polling sites have been flooded since they opened last week.

Voter registration is up overall, but the biggest spike is among blacks, who make up 20 percent of the state’s registered voters. Those are positive numbers for Barack Obama, who has seen strong black support throughout the primaries.

The Obama campaign is gearing up to really fight it out in North Carolina where they believe a win is imminent, if polls are correct.