In N. Carolina, Obama won cities, young

Charlotte ObserverMay 7, 2008 

Charlotte, N.C. — Jeavy support from North Carolina's urban areas swept Sen. Barack Obama to a lopsided victory in North Carolina's Democratic primary Tuesday.

Obama won 91 percent of African American voters while capturing just over a third of white votes. He scored his biggest margins among voters under 29, but also carried middle-aged voters. He took 54 percent of women's votes.

From Charlotte to Raleigh, Obama piled up big margins in urban counties along the I-85 and I-40 corridors, as well as in rural, northeast counties. He carried predominantly white Mecklenburg precincts in areas such as Eastover, Myers Park and Davidson. Clinton won suburban counties such as Gaston and Iredell and most western counties.

Half of North Carolina voters said the ability to bring change was the most important attribute they looked for in a candidate, while just one out of five cited experience, according to exit polls.

"The last eight years have been kind of rough," said Charlotte voter Ben Brooks, a 28-year-old sports marketer. "I just think he provides the best opportunity for change and getting our country to where it needs to be."

N.C. polls tightened after inflammatory remarks by Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Exit polls showed the controversy was important to nearly half the voters. Most of those chose Clinton.

But most voters dismissed the controversy.

"(Clinton) gave him such a hard time about Rev. Wright, and they just kept it going on and on," said Charlotte voter Avella Bessent, 64.

Exit polls showed Obama won two-thirds of those who said they were voting for the first time. Clinton had a narrow edge among independent voters, who will be a major target of Democrats and Republicans this fall.

Though Obama's win could steer more superdelegates his way, one, U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, apparently will throw his support to Clinton. That's because she appeared to carry the counties in his 11th District, and he vowed to support whomever won his district.

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