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Should North Dakota Turn Blue, the Reason Could Surprise You

November 4, 2008

Fargo, ND – North Dakota has been a red state for decades, but polls show the race is close enough that the state might switch to being a blue state. If it does, observers say much of the credit will belong to an all-volunteer grassroots organization.

The Barack Obama campaign pulled its staff out of the state in September to add resources to neighboring states, but an organization founded by two women continued working to keep the race close. Beth Nodland, chairperson of the North Dakota Grassroots for Obama, admits she had to rekindle old political passions.

"Many years ago I was active in politics but I had kind of become disillusioned."

Nodland says that, since her son was born this year, she now has a new drive to get involved in the political process. Nodland says North Dakota hasn't voted Democratic since 1964, but in the last month she's seen a cross-section of new faces step up to volunteer.

"What we have seen coming in off the street here are young families, lots of independents, and quite a few cross-over Republicans."

She credits two factors for North Dakota being in play this year - the downturn in the economy, and the state's history of "progressive prairie populism." Even though the latest poll gives their candidate John McCain just a one-point advantage, Republicans are confident they can hold the state.

Dick Layman/Bill de Armond, Public News Service - ND