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NC Expected to Take Center Stage in Presidential Election

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January 23, 2012

RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina's primary is no longer the "May-be" election after a three-judge panel on Friday denied a request to postpone the date until the lawsuit challenging new district lines could be resolved. Opponents of the new redistricting plan say it unfairly affects African American voters and creates a confusing situation at the polls.

The primary is now slated for May 8, but is not likely to have much of an effect on the outcome of the race for the Republican nomination, explains Damon Circosta, executive director of the North Carolina Center for Voter Education.

"It's already so late. You know New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina hold their primary in the dead of winter and they have a role in who gets to be the eventual nominee. "

While the primary may have little effect on national politics, there are numerous state contests on the primary ballot as well as the controversial marriage amendment that aims to prohibit same-sex couples from having their unions recognized by the state.

Whatever happens with the primary in May, North Carolinians can expect a barrage of political ads and campaign stops in advance of the presidential election in November. President Obama carried the state in 2008 by only 14,000 votes, the first time a Democrat won the state since Jimmy Carter.

Circosta explains that the state is bound to figure in that national contest.

"The Republican and the Democratic campaign are going to compete to win North Carolina votes. It's pretty certain that neither the Republicans or Democrats can win the Oval Office without paying at least some attention to North Carolina."

Candidate filing for the May primary is expected to begin in less than four weeks.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC