Tagging along with Obama and McCain canvassers in North Carolina.

A guide to the swing states.
Oct. 30 2008 5:36 PM

How Does a Red State Turn Blue?

Tagging along with Obama and McCain canvassers in North Carolina.

(Continued from Page 2)

At a small apartment complex around the corner, a man engages them—but with frustration. "You're too late. I already voted," he says. May we ask who for? "It doesn't matter—there was nobody good to vote for. I was thinking of putting my own name in." He shakes his head. "It's a real disappointment."

The next day is a warm Sunday afternoon, and an Obama volunteer stands outside the door of the main library in downtown Charlotte handing out voting guides. The library is an early-voting site, and the line snakes up the stairs from the basement, where the polls are.  One woman tells me she came here after spending an hour and a half waiting at a local community college; another couple says poll workers told them to come here because the line at their site was three hours long.

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For everyone here, if there is a last-minute October surprise, it will come too late. It's getting late for John McCain, too: 1.6 million people have already voted in the state, and 54 percent of them have been Democrats, compared with 29 percent registered as Republicans. It's not necessarily damning since the polls could fill with Republicans on Election Day. But the numbers suggest an enthusiasm for Obama that McCain can't match.

Across town, it's game day, and Steve Hinson from Pineville holds up a huge McCain sign outside Bank of America Stadium, where the Carolina Panthers are about to kick off. He says he's worried that Obama might win Virginia but that McCain will eke out a victory in his state: "Most people we talk to are the silent supporters, not being as vocal or public as Obama supporters," he says. "Young people are a lot more vocal about what they believe."

If the vocal youth turn out big this year, that silent majority could become a minority. The state probably won't be a bright shade of Carolina blue for a while. But anyone will tell you the hues of the landscape are changing. Perhaps in 40 years, Ballantyne will be a Democratic canvasser's paradise.

Laurel Wamsley, a former Slate intern, is a writer living in Washington, D.C.

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