Primary in Nation's 10th Largest State Could Matter for First Time in Decades
By Jon Ponder on 3/12/2008, 5:53pm PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.

You wouldn't know it by tuning into the Beltway pundits but there are actually two "big states" with primaries remaining in this cycle, not one --- if "big state" is defined as one of the top 10. Pennsylvania (sixth in population, with 12.2 million) votes on April 22, and North Carolina (ranked tenth, with 8 million) votes on May 6.

It surprises people to learn that North Carolina is the tenth largest state despite the fact that this has been true for years, except for a brief drop to 11 recently when Georgia moved up while New Jersey was moving down. Georgia is now the ninth and New Jersey is eleventh.

While Hillary Clinton leads in Pennsylvania, early numbers from Rasmussen show Barack Obama with double digit lead in the Tar Heel state...

Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, is favored by 47 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, compared with 40 percent for Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York...

Obama leads by 14 points among men and 2 points among women, according to the poll. He has a 71 to 18 percent lead among African-American voters, while Clinton holds a 20-point lead among white voters.

While comparisons are not one-to-one by any means, North Carolina demographics are similar to Virginia's, where Obama won handily. African-American make up 22 percent of the population. (In Virginia, they are 19 percent of the population.) College-educated white collar workers dominate the state's two largest urban areas, Charlotte and Raleigh.

North Carolina is less Republican than most people think, too. While both its senators are Republicans, and it has voted for the Republican candidate in every election since 1976, seven of its 13 House members are Democrats, as is the governor, and both houses of the legislature are controlled by the Dems.

North Carolina will send 134 delegates to the Democratic Convention.

Full disclosure: I'm a Californian, but as you may have guessed I grew up in North Carolina.