Barack Obama's doing much better in North Carolina than you ever would have expected for a lot of reasons- concern over the economy, a superior field operation, likely record black turnout, etc.
But you should also never underestimate the power of showing up. John McCain had led in the Mountains by an average of six points over our last three polls before this week. After making an appearance in Asheville this weekend Obama led 54-37 in the western part of the state in this week's poll. Even with the usual caveat that the regional crosstabs are small sample sizes that is still a remarkable turnaround.
This isn't the first example of this phenomenon. Before Obama went to Charlotte three weeks ago he trailed 49-43 in the region. In the two polls there since his rally he's led by margins of 49-44 and 47-46.
Particularly for a place like Western North Carolina that isn't used to this kind of attention, an appearance from the candidate can make a difference. Independents in the Mountains give Obama a 60-30 advantage in this survey- for voters without strong allegiances to one party or the other, feeling the love more from one candidate than the other may be a tiebreaker in the ballot box.
John McCain has not made a public appearance in North Carolina for the last five months. He probably will now.