Will this be "The Year of the Black Voter?"

From the beginning, the Obama campaign has said it would change the election map -- and a key piece to this strategy was registering and turning out record numbers of African-American voters, especially in the South.

According to the AP, so far Obama has succeeded:
Blacks are already surging to the polls in parts of the South, according to initial figures from states that encourage early voting -- a striking though still preliminary sign of how strongly they will turn out nationwide for Barack Obama in his campaign to become the first African-American president.

There have been predictions all year of a record black turnout for Obama. The first actual figures suggest that wasn't just talk:

- In North Carolina, blacks make up 31 percent of early voters so far, even though they're just 21 percent of the population and made up only 19 percent of state's overall 2004 vote.

- Roughly 36 percent of the early voters are black in Georgia, outpacing their 30 percent proportion of the state's population and their 25 percent share of the 2004 vote. [...]

In Louisiana, more than 31 percent of the early voters are black, and Democrats are topping Republicans nearly 2-to-1. In the crucial battleground state of Florida, nearly 55 percent of early voters are registered Democrats - well above their 41 percent share of the electorate in the Sunshine State.

Virginia, another Southern state that usually votes Republican - but where Obama is doing well in opinion polls - does not track voter registrations by race or party. But some of the largest increases in registrations this year were in Democratic-leaning cities with large minority populations.
When you combine this historic black turnout with the fact that much of Obama's gain in Southern polls has actually come from winning over white voters, you can see why Obama has put several Southern states in play.