Brad Crone says Interstate 85 is the state's new political lifeline.
The Democratic political consultant has been giving a presentation based on Census data, recent elections returns and polling that he says shows the road to the Governor's Mansion will go from Raleigh to Charlotte, with few side trips.
He projects that just 14 urban counties will represent nearly 53 percent of the vote in 2008. Nearly all of them are along the Interstate.
Based on his polling, Crone argues that will mean more independent voters; more concern for kitchen-table issues like education, roads and health care; and less interest in social issues like abortion, gay marriage and school prayer in the gubernatorial race.
"If Republicans take the bait to talk about immigration and corruption and abortion, and the Democrats are talking about building schools and fixing roads, then the Democrats are going to have an advantage," he said.