Since the presidential campaign began, most pollsters had North Carolina solidly in John McCain's corner. But John Zogby of Zogby International told Newsmax TV two weeks ago that the traditionally Republican state was in play for Barack Obama. Many of those other pollsters now agree with Zogby. Real Clear Politics has Obama with a one percentage point lead.
"This is not your grandfather's North Carolina," Zogby declares. "If you look at central, northern, eastern North Carolina, the Research Triangle, the growth of Charlotte, the east coast, a lot of new people coming in, a substantial increase in the percentage of African-American registered voters, you begin to see why Democrats are winning some elections in North Carolina," he explains.
VIDEO: Zogby: 'This Is Not Your Grandfather's North Carolina'
Zogby sees North Carolina "on the heels of Virginia" in a big demographic and voter shift. As for how that affects the candidacy of incumbent North Carolina Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole, Zogby says "she's been in trouble much of the year. Recent polls have Elizabeth Dole pulling ahead five or six points at or around the Republican convention, but no, she's in a very, very competitive race."
What about Pennsylvania, a blue state Zogby had in play for McCain?
"Pennsylvania has been flipping and flopping. It had been pretty blue much of the year and then after the Sarah Palin choice [and] the Republican convention, we started to see Pennsylvania tighten up; get a whole lot more competitive. Now it's swinging back pro-Obama, but I'm still not ready to call it safely-blue just yet," Zogby says.
How fluid does Zogby expect the poll numbers to be over the next few weeks?
"I think they'll be fluid within a very narrow range, very much a reprise, in fact, of 2000, 2004: Obama going up, and then, probably, McCain swinging up, depending on events and debates and so on," he predicts.
Zogby, however, doesn't think the race will be a photo-finish at the wire.
"I do believe, in the final analysis, the model for this election is 1980," Zogby tells Newsmax. "That is when Reagan defeated Carter in a landslide. That, too, was close until the weekend. I think over the weekend prior to November 4th, this election is going to break one way or another, very big," he said.
Zogby downplays the importance of the vice presidential debate.
"In perspective, generally speaking, a vice presidential nominee and a vice presidential debate is worth a point either way. Ultimately voters are voting for the presidency and not the vice presidency. There will be a lot of publicity and there's no telling how this will go. I think the expectations are so low for Sarah Palin that frankly, if she's not wheeled out on a gurney, she will have been seen to do okay against, you know, the master, Joe Biden, who's been around forever," Zogby says.
The veteran pollster and regular Newsmax contributor has an admonition for Biden, however.
"Biden has to be very careful not to appear to be a bully or a know-it-all, or shoot himself in the foot," Zogby notes.
"But in the final analysis, you know, given 24, 48 hours of discussion after that debate, it's right back to the main event: the presidential candidates."
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