More than 41,000 people had voted for either Chattanooga or Boone, North Carolina to win recognition as best town in the south and move onto the semifinals. As of Thursday afternoon, Chattanooga retained a lead of fewer than 2,000 votes, a gap that had narrowed significantly from the day before.
Based on total votes so far, the winner of this southern division could coast to an easy victory over the winner of the eastern division — either Bar Harbor, Maine or Middlebury, Vermont — which combined have about same number of votes as Chattanooga by itself.
But the Scenic City could face stiffer competition in the finals, which will feature the winner of a competition between Port Angeles, Washington and Flagstaff, Arizona pitted against the winner of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Spearfish, South Dakota. Both contests are close, though no individual city has yet gathered as many votes as Chattanooga.
The Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau has pushed hard for voters to vote early and often, blasting out emails beseeching residents to make their voices heard once per round in the March Madness-style bracket.
"We are against Boone, NC in this round and the voting has been close," wrote Candace Davis, marketing and public relations manager for the CVB. "But we will win this."