From Democratic backwater to swing-state big league.
NORTH CAROLINA was solidly in the GOP camp in 2004, when a record 3,501,007 voters gave Bush II a 56-44 victory. But four years later, turnout in North Carolina jumped by 10.8 points to 66.5%, the strongest improvement in the US, and Obama eked out a win of 0.3 points and 14,177 votes. This was the first Democratic win since 1976, when a (smaller) boost in turnout helped Carter, another fresh face, easily carry the state for the party. Republicans hope that the Obama win is just as fleeting.