2012 turned out to be the blockbuster political year for North Carolina that had been predicted. But details weren't as some had anticipated.
The Democratic National Convention came to Charlotte in September, marking the first-ever major-party national convention in the state. But North Carolina was the only battleground state President Barack Obama lost on Election Day after he won the state in 2008.
Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage won a May referendum by 22 percentage points, even as opponents called the vote a bellwether on gay rights nationally.
Pat McCrory became the first Republican elected governor in 24 years in November, but he didn't run against Democratic incumbent Beverly Perdue. She surprised the state by announcing in January she wouldn't seek re-election.