After weeks of planning, polls and punditry, the North Carolina primaries are here. This letter in today's Raleigh News & Observer captures the excitement in a state that hasn't had a primary count on the national stage in a long time:

No matter which candidate people support, this is a great election in North Carolina. I can't remember a time when what we think actually mattered! It's about time that we got a voice, and it should be like this all the time. Who says Iowa and those other "early" states get to choose the presidential nominees for the whole country!? Changes need to be made so every election is like this one.

Jeannie Inskeep

Some odds and ends from the campaign trail:

* Weather is beautiful across the state -- high turnout!

* Clinton has gained ground on Obama, but RealClearPolitics averages the last seven polls in the state and finds Obama up 8 points.

* McCain is in North Carolina today as well. With the GOP nomination in the bag, Under the Dome speculates he's here to (1) raise money, and/or (2) stay in the public eye, and/or (3) land a few blows on the Democrats.

* Democracy North Carolina has set up a very useful website with info on voting and your rights at the polls. They are also partnering with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to staff a toll-free hotline if you have problems voting: 1-888-OUR-VOTE

* The Charlotte Observer predicts up to 2 million voters could cast ballots in the primary (1.5 million Democrats, half-million Republicans) -- 34% turnout.

* The State Board of Elections is reporting that 471,000 North Carolinians voted at One Stop voting centers, and 24,900 had mailed in absentee ballots.

* North Carolina primary election results here.