As Barack Obama campaigns in Asheville today, he is already doing much better in the Mountains of North Carolina than John Kerry did in 2004.
John McCain has led Obama by an average of 49-43 in the Mountains over the course of PPP's last three surveys. According to the 2004 exit polls George W. Bush won 59-41 in the region so Obama was already out pacing recent Democratic performance there by 12 points even before his visit this weekend.
A PPP analysis during the Democratic primary found that there are fewer black voters and fewer likely young voters in the Mountains than any other region of the state. Obama's strong performance there is an indicator that while his ability to turn out black and young voters at a higher rate is often cited as the reason for his surprising success in the state this fall, he is also winning over a good number of regular voters who supported George W. Bush in 2004.
He couldn't make up a 12% deficit from 2004 just with new voters, but he is also showing an ability to cut into Bush's overwhelming margins in some of the more conservative parts of the state and that combined with his registration efforts is fueling his current small lead in North Carolina.