The entrance to vote at the Herbert Young Community Center polling place… (Shawn Rocco / Raleigh News…)
WASHINGTON -- Republican Mitt Romney has won North Carolina, according to early returns and network exit polls, prevailing in a state that President Obama narrowly won in 2008, but which most analysts had expected to side with the Republicans this time.
Although Obama’s margin in North Carolina was paper thin in 2008, at just under 14,000, Democrats pinned their hopes on an increase in the state’s minority population and a steady influx of migrants from other parts of the country that has made the state significantly less conservative. Obama aides often cited North Carolina as having their campaign’s best get-out-the-vote effort.
LIVE: Presidential election results
But Republicans insisted that no matter how good the operation on the ground, it would not be enough to counter Obama’s loss of support among residents hir hard by the recession.
Obama counted on strong turnout in the state’s two largest metropolitan areas, Charlotte, where the Democrats held their nominating convention in September, and Raleigh-Durham. Charlotte has one of the country’s largest black middle-class populations, and the Raleigh-Durham area has grown rapidly with highly educated workers attracted to the region’s technology-oriented industries.
Romney’s base of support came from the state’s large white, evangelical population. He also drew a majority among people who have lived in the state for more than 20 years, reflecting the division between conservative long-time residents and more liberal newcomers.
For most of the year, polls in the state showed Romney with a lead, although even as the lead see-sawed, the two remained within a few points of each other in nearly all surveys.
PHOTOS: America goes to the polls
Follow Politics Now on Twitter and Facebook