Published: Oct 05, 2012 3:25 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 06, 2012 6:31 AM EDT

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina's population has nearly doubled since 1970, fueled by an economic renaissance built around banking, health care, technology and widely regarded universities.

The result is a presidential battleground.

Many transplants like Carol Fentiman, a 66-year-old retiree, and Piper Phillips, an 18-year-old student at the University of North Carolina Asheville, brought their Democratic politics with them. They're the kind of voters that helped make Barack Obama the first Democratic presidential nominee to win here since 1976.

But some white North Carolina natives have abandoned long-standing Democratic loyalties.

Lebern Rouse Jr. of Greenville says his father once believed Democrats were for the little guy, while Republicans favored the rich. But Rouse says they both rejected that line of thinking as time went by.