North Carolina has been a Republican stronghold for decades. So can Barack Obama really overcome the history of racial prejudice in the southern states?

The polls suggest that America will elect Barack Obama its first black president in two weeks. But the tidal wave of enthusiasm for him points to him not just winning the White House but capturing two important states of the Old Confederacy, North Carolina and Virginia.

Both have reliably gone Republican during every presidential election for 40 years, and only once since 1948 has Virginia voted to put a Democrat in the White House. On a US electoral map, these are the highest peaks of prejudice the Democrat is poised to overcome. North Carolina, especially, is a place where some of the nastiest race-based campaigns have been fought in modern times. The ground is now shaking under the country club Republicans as the polls give Senator Obama a margin of some 10 percentage points in Virginia and put North Carolina on a knife edge. Read more.

Question: Can Obama really pull this off and does it mean a sea-change in US society as well as politics?