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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 2012 presidential race could very well end up in a photo finish, with several national polls essentially calling it a draw.
National polls show the race between incumbent President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney extremely close. The same is true for the battleground state of North Carolina, where the latest polls show Romney holding a slim 3 percent lead.
The president and the Democratic Party hope their convention in North Carolina will help push them over the top. They're hoping for a similar situation to the 2008 convention held in Denver, which helped the Democrats take Colorado.
Final preparations are being made in the Time Warner Arena, and unlike in Tampa, Utah's 34 delegates will be, relatively speaking, in the nosebleed section. The hot seats on the floor are all reserved for swing states like North Carolina.
Outside the arena, it is not hard to find Obama supporters like Michael McNair, who secured a ticket to the president's speech Thursday night.
"I'll tell you, I'm a Democrat as it is, and I voted for Barack Obama the first time and I'm going to vote for him again," McNair said. "Not just because he's a black man, but I think he's helping out the people that really need help."
Both the Obama and Romney campaigns are looking to win over a key North Carolina demographic: undecided white males. Richard Otterborough, who is retired and was unemployed, is part of that demographic. He said he's still on the fence.
North Carolina is a must win for us and so is Florida and Ohio. But we're going to have a few surprises too. I think you're going to see states like Wisconsin and Iowa, maybe a state like Michigan come our direction. We're doing well out in Colorado, near you all.
While it's bustling with the convention in town, North Carolina's unemployment rate is at 9.6 percent, which is more than a point above the national average.
Republicans have a presence in Charlotte, setting up shop inside the Nascar Hall of Fame. They're gunning to take back a state they've traditionally won, asking voters if they're better off than four years ago.
"North Carolina is a must win for us and so is Florida and Ohio. But we're going to have a few surprises too," said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. "I think you're going to see states like Wisconsin and Iowa, maybe a state like Michigan come our direction. We're doing well out in Colorado, near you all."
Democrats are hosting their first national LDS Democrats event Tuesday, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who tangled with team Romney over his taxes, is expected to speak. The Democrats are hoping to gain as many LDS voters who are thinking about voting for Romney.