In Play

It is conceivable that voters in our city will play a significant role in determining who becomes the next president of the United States. Bear with me.

Since Jimmy Carter, North Carolina has always voted for a Republican for president. It's usually not even close. But this year, as you may have heard, is different. The

Democratic nominee for president, some mumbler named Obama, is no ordinary politician. He's a rock star. And the Republicans went and nominated a seventy-two-year-old who seems to be having trouble making up his mind on certain issues. Obama's camp thinks it can win North Carolina. As of this writing, Barack Obama and John McCain are in a virtual dead heat nationally (admittedly, an early August poll means doesn't mean much). And turning North Carolina, and its fifteen electoral votes, from red to blue could tip the election to Obama. As Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, put it, "Win North Carolina, and it's game, set, match."

One reason Obama's camp is optimistic is because of North Carolina's shifting demographics (this is all in Mike Madden's story, page 92, by the way). People keep moving here from other places, bringing diverse political affiliations with them. On that front, Charlotte leads the way. It's no secret that this city is growing like a weed, and you'd have to have a tin ear not to notice all the new Northern and Midwestern accents. In 2004, Kerry carried Mecklenburg County. Obama has already been working hard here. Obama has a good shot at carrying Meck and then some this year. And if that happens, and the same thing happens in Wake County, and the counties close to Virginia, and a few rural counties tip Obama's way, well all of a sudden we're on a national stage.
Then again, maybe not. After all, Madden's story is titled "Yes We Can't," a play on Obama's campaign slogan "Yes We Can." It's an excellent, informed (Madden is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for analysis of our state's role in the presidential election, and it's a must read.

There's more good stuff in this issue. Recently, after too many years of rubber stamping dumb development by a City
Council asleep at the wheel, University City has been struggling to reinvent itself. David Walters, who teaches urban planning and design at UNC-Charlotte and, as you know if you've read his columns in local newspapers, isn't afraid to speak his mind, thinks light rail is the answer. But only if planners and boosters work together to leverage it properly. His piece, "Urban Expansion," begins on page 65.

Also, fall, finally, is almost here. Which means it's time to start wearing real clothes again. Senior Editor Blake Miller helmed our excellent fall fashion package, which takes over the Life/Style section this month. Fall also means that the cultural season begins anew. We have the city's savviest guide—I promise—starting on page 47. And before too long, it'll actually get cold again -- I promise -- which means a trip south is in order. We've got five tropical destinations that are a little tough to get to, but eminently worth the trip. In other words, everything you need to make the most of the rest of the year is right here in this magazine.

Coming next month: Great Barbecue (and Beyond) • Pat McCrory • Our 40th Anniversary

Charlotte Shop Talk
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Categories: Editor’s Note, Opinion, The Buzz