North Carolina, North Carolina, North Carolina.
The 2016 election could hinge on the Tar Heel State, and with the polls now open, the cross currents here can be mind-boggling.
Hillary Clinton is counting on heavy turnout in urban areas including Raleigh and Charlotte, while Donald Trump needs white, rural voters in the rest of the state to step up. Most analysts agree it will be nearly impossible for Trump to win the White House without North Carolina's 15 electoral votes, which Mitt Romney won in 2012.
Final early voting figures released by the State Board of Elections on Tuesday show Trump still has a legitimate shot at the state, and could explain why Clinton chose Raleigh for her final campaign event early this morning.
A record 3.1 million people voted by the end of the early voting period on Saturday, officials say, and registered Democrats cast 42 percent of the votes compared to 32 percent for Republicans. But African-American turnout — which exceeded 50 percent in 2012, dropped to 45 percent this year. That is a potential warning sign for the Clinton camp, which increased its get-out-the-vote effort going into Election Day.
"There might be a little room for (African-American turnout) to drop off," said Steven Greene, a political science professor at North Carolina State University, "but if it drops off more than a few points from what we've seen in previous elections, then that makes it very hard for Hillary Clinton to win North Carolina."