Turnout high in South Carolina

Edwards says there's an "opportunity for a surprise."

Topics: 2008 Elections, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, War Room, John Edwards,

Democrats were predicting a record turnout in today’s South Carolina primary — on balance, probably a good thing for Barack Obama — and voting patterns so far are pointing in that direction.

The State is using words like “good,” “strong” and “heavy” to describe turnout, which would be a dramatic change from last week’s Republican primary, where bad weather and a lack of enthusiasm put a lid on the percentage of eligible voters who actually voted. The New York Times reports that turnout appears high today in both predominately white and predominately black precincts.

The candidates continued to campaign in South Carolina even as voters went to the polls. Obama visited a predominately black church and a historically black college in Columbia this morning before stopping by a Columbia restaurant at lunchtime. Hillary Clinton campaigned at another Columbia restaurant, while Bill Clinton hit a third. Stressing his wife’s experience, the former president suggested that it made about as much sense to choose an inexperienced politician for the presidency as it does to hire an electrician for your surgical needs. John Edwards campaigned in Columbia and Mount Pleasant, where he said that voters “deserve a president and a presidential candidate who’s focused on the things that affect their lives,” rather than engaged in “petty bickering.”

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Edwards has been climbing in the polls in South Carolina. Campaigning in Columbia Friday, he said there’s an “opportunity for a surprise” in the state.

The polls close tonight at 7 p.m.

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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