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Election Day in the South
By John R. Dixon, 10
Scholastic Student Reporter


From left: Voorhees College students Marcia Gooding, Leslie Eaddy, Charita Scott, and Akia Cleaves break into an improvised dance to music, coming from the campaign tour bus of U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards,s after a stop in Denmark, South Carolina, on February 2, 2004. South Carolina is one of the seven states participating in the February 3, 2004, primaries and caucuses. (© Roberto Schmidt/AFP Photos)
Tuesday, February 3—After a three-day ice siege, things have been heating up in South Carolina. Democratic presidential candidates and their supporters have blanketed every segment of society. Volunteers canvass the city while staffers hustle about at events like worker ants in support of their various candidates.

Today is primary day in seven states, and the candidates' teams are working to get voters to the polls. The media is in a frenzy. They are sometimes like sharks at a fresh kill, letting nothing get in the way of the next story. The candidates and their supporters are gracious despite it all—most of the time.

As a Scholastic Student Reporter, in the past week I have attended a nationally televised debate, a family forum, and a special campaign event at the Bishop John Hurst Gymnasium at Allen University for Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

I have personally questioned four candidates about the issues most important to my family and my state. I have interviewed the "Band of Brothers Brigade," a group of Vietnam veterans who support Senator John Kerry. Countless volunteers and campaign staffers from the campaigns for Kerry and General Wesley Clark have shared what they do and why they do it. I have also met Congressman Jim Clyburn, a staunch Kerry supporter, and Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Bob Coble, who supports Senator Edwards.

What I do know is this: Excitement fills the air at events for frontrunners Kerry and Edwards. Hopes are high at the Clark campaign, and everyone continues the frantic work of supporting their favorite candidate. Dean is hoping to hold on long enough to make it to the national party convention this summer. The convention is when the political parties formally name the nominees elected during the primaries.

If the mood at Allen University today, where John Edwards rallied his supporters, is any indication of things to come, tomorrow should prove more exciting than the Super Bowl, at least for those who follow the sport of politics. For Edwards it's do or die. He told reporters he will drop out of the race and support Kerry if he does not win any states today.

With seven states holding primaries today, there's sure to be more than one big winner, even with polls showing Kerry has a chance to sweep all seven into his support column. But the contest is not over. Next Tuesday, February 10, Virginia and Tennessee vote. Ten states, including the vote-rich states of California, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, will hold primaries on Tuesday, March 2. Four more big states—Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi—will hold their primaries on Tuesday, March 9.

Read more coverage of the South Carolina and Missouri primaries by Scholastic Student Reporters here. And check back here for election results as they become available.