Analyzing North Carolina

Last week, The Washington Times published a piece I wrote after looking at the election returns in all 100 North Carolina counties this cycle and in 2004. (Sorry it took me a few days to post, I was actually in North Carolina catching up on turkey, barbecue and basketball.)

A few stats:

* Durham County, home to Duke University and North Carolina Central University — and a 39 percent black population — gave Barack Obama a margin of 70,000 votes, compared to John Kerry's 39,900.

* Forsyth County, home to Winston-Salem, which George W. Bush won in 2004 with 54 percent, gave Obama 55 percent of the vote.

* Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, gave Obama a margin just under 100,000 votes, compared to Kerry's 12,500-vote margin.

* Wake County, home to Raleigh, was won by Bush in 2004 by nearly 7,500 votes. Four years later, the largest county in the state gave Obama a margin of more than 64,000 votes.

Still, the biggest change may have been in the east. Of the 12 counties Obama turned from red to blue, half were in the east. Cumberland County, home to Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base — and a major visiting spot for both campaigns — went for Obama with 59 percent. Obama even carried Wilson County, a battleground county in the east that traditionally goes Republican.

As the GOP looks back on what happened in 2008 and how it can improve, North Carolina is a good place to start.