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Listen to Me: Spotlight North Carolina

VP Joe Biden
In Charlotte, N.C., Vice President Joe Biden addressed supporters at a campaign event Tuesday. Photo by Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer
Vice President Biden hit the campaign trail in North Carolina Tuesday, making stops in Charlotte and Asheville. That state promises a close contest on Election Day, according to a recent NBC News/ Wall Street Journal/ Marist survey: President Obama is leading Mitt Romney 48 percent to 46 percent.

Four years ago, Mr. Obama squeaked out a tight win over John McCain, beating him by less than one percentage point. It was the first time the state backed a Democrat since 1976. Jeffrey Brown had more to say about this in the Political Checklist Tuesday, and his piece on the NewsHour explored enthusiasm in the state.

With just over one month to go, what are the big issues for North Carolinians?

Most of the state’s voters interviewed for the NewsHour’s Listen to Me project said that the economy and jobs are most important issues this election cycle.

“I have a lot of concern that the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer,” said Susan Funk. “I really think we need a big overhaul to change what’s happening in our country.”

“The most important issue to me would be job creation,” said Melanie Brinson, of Goldsboro. “You know a lot of people don’t have jobs and are losing their jobs, after being, you know, at jobs for years.”

In North Carolina the unemployment rate sits at 9.8 percent, nearly two percentage points higher than the national average, according to data from July 2012.

The economy is a topic both candidates are using in their pitches to voters.

“The economy is bad. It’s been declining for many years in North Carolina, a lot of the south has seen that,” NewsHour’s Political Editor Christina Bellantoni said during a Vote 2012 Map Center segment from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. “So both campaigns are trying to make the case. President Obama is trying to say, ‘I will create more jobs if I am re-elected,’ and Mitt Romney is saying, ‘Change course.'”

Going forward, the majority of voters interviewed for the project said they are hopeful about the future, but believe the political system is broken in some way.

“The elected officials…they don’t really represent what we, people out here on the streets, think.” said Brandon Walters. “They just represent a few of the people who pay them to think.”

“I feel it is partially broken, but I do think we have the right pieces in place to make amends,” said Chrishad Butler of Charlotte.

Tiger TV of Jackson State University and UNC-TV contributed to this report

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