Name any one part of the country that has changed more economically and politically over the past decade, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better example than Mecklenburg County, site of the Democratic National Convention.
The region's explosive growth and economic development has transformed the city of Charlotte into a vibrant, modern banking mecca of the South. The newly developed uptown is filled with hip restaurants, a spanking-new basketball arena, and skyscrapers housing Fortune 500 companies such as Duke Energy and Bank of America, which set up shop in the city. Meanwhile, many natives have decamped to the surrounding suburbs to escape urban sprawl and rising taxes.
In turn, the surrounding region, once a Republican-friendly bastion, became so Democratic that it allowed President Obama to narrowly carry the state in 2008. George W. Bush won the county with 51 percent of the vote against Al Gore in 2000, but John McCain mustered only 37 percent eight years later.
The changes have been fueled by an influx of 147,000 new county voters in those eight years, many without any ties to the South and drawn to the region because of its business-friendly reputation.
"This is the new South; it is not the Deep South anymore. This is a whole different Southern state," said Democratic pollster John Anzalone, who consults for many Southern Democrats, including Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. "They don't have this tension between the business community and the government, black and white. There's a vibe here, and it's different [than] in other Southern states."