Rainy Morning in Battleground of North Carolina
By Krissah Williams Thompson
RALEIGH, N.C. -- A steady rain poured through North Carolina's capital Tuesday morning and the dark clouds gave extra weight to an already tense day.
Sen. Barack Obama supporter Brock Brogan, 48, stood beneath a tree in front of the polling station at the Wood Valley Swim and Racquet Club. His black cap and blue raincoat were sopping wet, but he guarded the Democratic voting guides he had been tasked to hand out in a plastic bag.
"If Obama doesn't win, we'd be absolutely devastated," said Brogan, who planned to stand in the rain all day. Other than Brogan's canvassing, the polls was quiet as were most in the area, according to local news reports.
There were no lines. The people who stepped in and out of the voting booths in the clubhouse lobby were among the last of the voters in this state to cast ballots. Turnout in North Carolina has already been staggering. Before polls opened this morning at 6:30 a.m. there had already been more than 2.5 million early votes cast, 75 percent of the entire number of votes in 2004.
One stay-at-home mom who had skipped early voting because the lines were too long jetted in and out of the clubhouse without opening the copy of the novel "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" that she'd brought in case of a wait. She voted for Obama. Her husband picked McCain.
Their neighborhood is similarly divided. Wood Valley is a middle-class community full of tall trees and big suburban homes, where the lawns are equally dotted with McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden signs. It is a microcosm for the changing state where affluent, well-educated whites have been drawn to the nearby Research Triangle Park and have helped to bring North Carolina to a tipping point.
For the first time in 37-year-old Alison Keever's life her home state is a battleground.
"We've always voted but we felt like it didn't make a difference because it was decided before we went to the polls," said the longtime Democrat who grew up near Greensboro. "Now we see how much the state has changed with people coming from all over. It's exciting."
It's also been annoying, said Mike Bennett, 47. He's a moderate who has been in the crosshairs of both campaigns. His mailbox has been flooded with campaign literature and his answering machine often full of messages from both camps.
"I'm so sick of it," Bennett said. "For the past two weeks it has been five to 10 calls everyday....I looked at them both and we're in some perilous times on the foreign policy front."
Bennett liked McCain's foreign policy experience and voted for him.
"I'm not sure he's ready for the job," said Bennett of Obama. "If McCain is elected I don't think it will just be the status quo. He is more liberal than some Republicans."
Robert Grant, 51, also went back and forth. He is a traditionally Republican voter, but liked what Obama has had to say and was concerned about McCain's pick of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Grant, who works in electronic sales, sat on the fence until a McCain advertisement finally swayed him last week.
"I don't like the negativity but what the ad said makes sense," he said. "Obama's never been in charge of anything. In the event of a crisis, McCain is much more experienced than Obama."
Brogan, the cold, wet Obama canvasser, said he was picking up more support for McCain than Obama from his perch and it worries him. His wife had already bought a bottle of champagne -- either to celebrate or drown in their misery.
Washington Post editors
November 4, 2008; 12:09 PM ET
Categories: Battlegrounds , The Voters
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