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North Carolina has been a Republican stronghold for decades. So can Barack Obama really overcome the history of racial prejudice in the southern states?

The polls suggest that America will elect Barack Obama its first black president in two weeks. But the tidal wave of enthusiasm for him points to him not just winning the White House but capturing two important states of the Old Confederacy, North Carolina and Virginia.

Both have reliably gone Republican during every presidential election for 40 years, and only once since 1948 has Virginia voted to put a Democrat in the White House. On a US electoral map, these are the highest peaks of prejudice the Democrat is poised to overcome. North Carolina, especially, is a place where some of the nastiest race-based campaigns have been fought in modern times. The ground is now shaking under the country club Republicans as the polls give Senator Obama a margin of some 10 percentage points in Virginia and put North Carolina on a knife edge. Read more.

Question: Can Obama really pull this off and does it mean a sea-change in US society as well as politics?

Comments

( Comment )
sparkstealer wrote:
Oct. 21st, 2008 12:46 am (UTC)
Speaking as a North Carolinian with family in Virginia, I can say there's a lot of different factors going on. You have, of course, increased urbanization, especially in North Carolina.

Former rural areas are either being eaten by larger cities or becoming suburbs, especially Greensboro, Raleigh, and Hampton Roads (which is actually spreading into northern NC as well as its VA surroundings). The kids don't want to run the family farm any more, so they move to cities and the farm becomes run by a corp or sold for housing.

There's also been a recent influx of northen immigrants (or, as we like to call them, damn Yankees), mostly from New York to VA and New Jersey to NC, who bring their mostly Democrat-leaning views with them.

On top of that, we've also had an Hispanic influx, especially over the past 4 years. They themselves tend to favor Democrats, but it also leads to an interesting phenomenon in easing black-white racial tensions because both blacks and whites hate the Hispanics enough that the other side no longer seems so bad (I call it "The Devil You Know Syndrome").

As if that was not enough, NC & VA have lost a ton of manufacturing jobs over the past few years, mostly in textiles. My area - Greensboro - has been hard hit by the recent world furniture market in Las Vegas. Our neighbor city of High Point held the only one until just a couple of years ago, but now a lot of furniture manufacturers are closing their doors because of the new competition. And that's just one example.

Can Obama win these states? Yes. Will it be easy? No, we've still got a lot of narrow-minded folks clinging to life (which is another factor - most of the die-hard segregationists have passed on) and a lot of inertia to overcome. Will it mean a sea-change? I think it would be more a symptom than a cause.
( Comment )