Obama wins the Triad and re-election while Romney takes NC

by Brian Clarey

Barack Obama won re-election last night, by he did it without North Carolina’s help. And as of press time, Romney led the popular vote by more than 1 million.

The North Carolina presidential contest ran deep into the night, with Mitt Romney officially turning it red just before midnight.

Romney’s margin of victory in the Old North State as of press time was less than 2 percent.

The story in North Carolina begins with early voting, which drew more than 40 percent of the electorate — 2.76 million of the state’s 6.65 million registered voters cast early ballots at polling places or with absentee ballots. Almost 46 percent of registered Democrats showed up, 1.3 million, and a similar number of registered Republicans, 42 percent or about 869,000. Unaffiliated voters and Libertarians made up about 575,000 early votes.

In Forsyth County, early voting favored Obama 56-43 percent. Guilford early numbers also favored the president 60-39.

The state broke for Romney early, by a slim margin that stayed too close to call throughout the evening as the rest of the South ticked off red on the map.

Voter turnout rose slightly in the Triad from 2008, ticking up from 69 percent to just above 70 percent, while overall in the state it dropped slightly.

Predictably, Obama drew votes from the state’s urban counties in the Triad and around Charlotte. Wake County, which showed an early lead for Romney, flipped for Obama at the 11th hour with the urban precincts giving him the edge 55-43.

Romney swept the western half of the state, with the exception of Buncombe County, Asheville’s county, which leaned heavily towards the incumbent. Obama lost Jackson and Watauga counties, which he won in 2008.

Likewise, the coastal counties went heavily for the Republican challenger. Obama won Hyde County in 2008 but lost it to Romney this year. Obama picked up Nash County, which he lost in 2008.

In Guilford County, results fell in a predictable pattern, With Romney taking the urban precincts on the periphery and a swath through north-central Greensboro. Obama did well in the city and took most High Point precincts. He won it by more than 40,000 votes, more than 16 percent.

The Forsyth County results showed a similar core of blue around the center city, with outlying precincts going red. The difference in Forsyth was more modest, with Obama winning by about 10,000 votes, or about 7 percentage points.

Breona Barr, a Wake Forest University student voting at Bethabara Moravian Church polling place in Winston-Salem in mid-afternoon, said, “I was pretty enthusiastic. I thought it was important to do my part.

“I voted for Obama. I’ve always supported Obama. I feel like a lot of the social services that I grew up with that helped me succeed are at risk if Romney gets elected. Those services like free lunch and welfare, people feel like they’ve been taken advantage of, but they’ve actually helped a lot of people get into the middle class. Things like loan forgiveness, I’m in med school, and I have a lot of loans. I do need help.”

Despite widespread hysteria about voter fraud and suppression, things seemed to go smoothly at Triad polling places. At NC A&T University, Precinct Judge Dawnita Lawrence said that by 10 a.m., eight voters said they had registered at voter drives but were not in the system so they filled out provisional ballots. One student, Deon Brown, 26, held a voter-registration card identifying his precinct as Craft Recreation Center, but said he wasn’t on the rolls and was sent back to A&T to vote, where he was also unregistered. He left without filling out a provisional ballot.

“I wasn’t really excited about the election anyway,” he said.