Election 2008

Who Is South Dakota? A Pre-Primary Tour

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Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota

Mt. Rushmore: Past presidents looking down on present hopefuls. iStock.com hide caption

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Folks in the Mount Rushmore state may be used to seeing presidents' faces etched in granite, but at the beginning of the primary season, most didn't really expect to see much of the Democratic presidential candidates in the flesh. But even with the outcome of the nomination all but certain, South Dakotans feel that Tuesday's primary has put them on the political map, says Bob Burns, head of the political science department at South Dakota State University.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been campaigning heavily there, though their styles have differed. The former First Lady pledged that there would be at least one Clinton on the ground in the state every day last week, but, says Burns, she appears in venues with much smaller crowds — with several hundred attendees, compared to Obama's several thousand. But Burns says that Clinton's campaign message has become more effective as the economy has taken on more importance.

He notes that there's only been one independent poll, but it gives Obama a double digit lead over Clinton. He's also gotten endorsements key South Dakota Democrats, including former senator and presidential candidate George McGovern and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.



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