Some North Carolina politics....

On the Road: Charlotte, North Carolina:

An observation we've heard repeated in Obama offices across America, Crandall emphasized how beneficial the contested primary had been for building the foundation for record turnout. "We had real hints of it in the primary," Crandall said. The first-time voters the campaign energized for the May 6 vote foreshadowed what North Carolina is seeing today. Crandall remembers thinking "these are NOT your typical primary voters."

Pathetic yard sign captured in Raleigh - and Q of the Day:

By far I see more Obama stickers and signs in my town, including a hilarious "Tina Fey in 2008" sign next to an Obama sign on one yard in Durham. What have you seen in your area? Take a stab at the proportion of Obama to McCain signs and stickers.

On the Road: Raleigh, North Carolina:

With only a short time to go, the Obama campaign is tightening up with information and statistics, and most of our questions for numbers were met with referrals to already-published newspaper stories. Still, when asked what kinds of numbers the data-obsessed field teams were seeing in the early voting precinct-by-precinct statistics, Cox said "in terms of the early vote, we feel very comfortably that we're in a good position."

While there was no way to predict a win, Cox gave off the vibe of a man who was liking what he saw in the numbers. With more votes cast already at the halfway point than in all of 2004, and registered Democrats holding a huge double-digit lead in those ballots, the campaign here is already in full fledged GOTV mode.

Polls suggest electoral gains for Obama:

It's a simliar story in North Carolina, which last voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 1976, when Jimmy Carter was running. A new poll suggests Obama has a six-point lead over McCain, 52 percent to 46 percent. Obama was up by four points in our last poll, conducted last week. "Other polls are showing North Carolina is essentially tied, but our poll shows Obama picking up support among younger voters and the blue-collar segment. Those are two reasons the race in North Carolina has gone from a 49-49 tie in early October to a 52-46 edge for Obama, at least in our results," Holland said.

On the Road: Wilmington, North Carolina:

Hillary Stookey wouldn't tell us her age. "60 and holding" and a big smile was all we got. But on her birthday, Hillary Stookey canvassed Wilmington, North Carolina for Barack Obama from 1:30 until 8:00 pm. That's three hours past the time the Republican office had closed.

Updated: More statistics that supports why North Carolina won't might swing blue:

I'm told that electoral votes are based on popular votes. Well I'll be damned. If that's the case, then I really don't see what the big whoopie is about people being against electoral votes. Unless the elector doesn't vote with popular vote. I still don't believe NC will swing, but the probability becomes a lot larger from a mathematical stand point. The place where it fails is the historical trend data pulls it to the red still from a predictability factor.

Early balloting ends Saturday; Obama supporters flock to polls:

According to the State Board of Elections, more than 1.4 million votes had been cast in North Carolina through Oct. 27--23 percent of the 6.2 million registered voters. The figure eclipsed the total 984,000 early votes in the 2004 election--with five days to go.

In heavily Democratic Durham and Orange counties, the numbers were even higher: About one-third percent of voters in Durham and Orange had cast early ballots by Oct. 27.

That turnout jibed with the state elections board report that 58 percent of the early voters statewide are registered Democrats, while just 25 percent are registered Republicans. And the statewide turnout was heavily African-American, the board reported: Black voters accounted for 28 percent of early voters, though they make up 21 percent of the population; they accounted for just 18.5 percent of the turnout four years ago.

In 2008, it's the Democrats who can't wait to vote, especially black Democrats, since Obama is on course--the polls say--to become the first African-American president.

New African-American voter registrations comprise 31 percent of the total in the state since the start of the year--271,000 out of 875,000 total new registrants through last Thursday.

Maybe voting at the mall isn't such a great idea:

Conspicuously absent from the mall voting experience were political candidates, their supporters and party volunteers, who normally greet voters and hand out campaign literature. Security officers have ousted politicians and their supporters attempting to campaign, including one who was warned that his car would be towed. Confusion surrounding mall voting rules has allegedly prompted at least one election worker to enforce policies that contradict election law. Outcry over the policy prompted picketing and a boycott effort by critics who say it violates the First Amendment.

This year marks North Carolina's first experiment with mall voting. As officials ponder whether that experiment is successful, they should also consider whether the promise of higher turnout trumps the right of voters to receive information--and the right of candidates to provide it.

Last year, the state legislature voted to allow non-public buildings to serve as early voting sites--a move Wake County election officials clamored for. The goal was to make early voting more convenient and get more voters to the polls, especially in areas where there are few public buildings that can absorb thousands of voters over the course of two weeks.

The historic 2008 election--without John Edwards:

The irony, of course, is that it only matters in America. The day the bad news about Senator Johnny began to make the rounds, we were eating lunch with a Chilean businessman, husband of an old friend of my wife's. "In Chile, anywhere in Europe or Latin America, no one would have known about this," he said. "And if they knew, no one would care."

"What's the big deal?" asked the Chilean, in the presence of his wife. But Edwards was no Candide. He knew what we all know about America's double standard. Our private morals might make rabbits blush, but the standards we impose on public servants have changed very little since the Mayflower dropped anchor. Nowhere else in the world is there such a hypocritical discrepancy between private and public morality. Edwards knew the risk and took it. That's where hubris comes in, as a sense of entitlement and immunity that comes with uncommon success.

I admit to a certain sympathy for this ruined man, this outcast. I don't make political contributions, but I wouldn't be surprised if my wife, who knows Edwards' wife and is not bound by my scruples, has sent a check or two in their direction. I liked many of the things Edwards was saying during the primaries; some of them have even more bite now that corporate avarice and irresponsibility have brought the American economy to its knees.

I met him a couple of times. He had the nerve, rare among North Carolina politicians with more than local ambitions, to show up at holiday parties for the staff of the notorious Independent Weekly, once denounced by a Republican as "Left-wing attack media from hell." Last spring I sat next to him at a small fund-raising luncheon and confess that I was unnerved by his boyish appearance--he could pass for 35 in the right light--and surreptitiously inspected his profile for signs of the plastic surgeon's hand, or the hair-restorer's.


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Electors are now chosen by the popular vote in all states. But the Constitution doesn't require that; It provides for the state legislatures to decide how the electors will be selected.

So the idea exists, rightly or wrongly, that a state's electors (and possibly an entire presidential election) could be hijacked by a politically motivated legislature.

Another problem many people have, of course, is the possibility that the candidate who didn't get the most popular votes wins the White House. This is very unusual, but obviously it happened in 2000, when Bush became president even though Gore received roughly a half-million more votes.