ANDREA SEABROOK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Andrea Seabrook.
Today, it's the Democrats' turn in South Carolina. After a rancorous campaign, voters are making their choices among Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and native son, John Edwards.
The polls in South Carolina are open until 7 p.m., Eastern time. NPR and npr.org will have updates as they come in. And we'll have a preview of Tuesday's Republican primary in Florida.
NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving is here with me in the studio.
RON ELVING: Good to be with you, Andrea.
SEABROOK: Great to have you here. Let's begin with NPR's Audie Cornish, who joins us now from the Convention Center in downtown Columbia, South Carolina.
Audie, tell us about turnout, and how was the weather?
AUDIE CORNISH: The weather was actually great, considering what it was like last week. I was out for the GOP primary, and it was cold and rainy, and it was snowing in some areas that some people think it's dampened the expectations for the turnout.
Today, it was a little bit chilly, but it was sunny, and people were out. There were a lot of long lines at polling stations. And state Democrats here are really excited to have this level of excitement for their race.
SEABROOK: How about the candidates, Audie? What were they up to today?
CORNISH: Well, Barack Obama was campaigning right up until the last minute here in Columbia. He visited the Bethlehem Baptist Church. He met with voters there. He went to a polling station at a college in the area. He did a lot of local interviews. And whereas Senator Hillary, really, there - that campaign has lowered expectations for this state. And while she was - made a stop in Columbia today, this week, she's managed to sneak in trips to Arizona, California, New Jersey. You know, her attention has been divided.
SEABROOK: In fact, tonight, during the election return, she won't even be in South Carolina, will she?
CORNISH: That's right. She'll be in Tennessee. Unlike John Edwards, who was born here. He actually visited his parents today as well made some stops at polling stations.
SEABROOK: Audie, you've covered lots of these primaries now as many as there have been. And I want as the results come in, where shall we be looking to sort of assess the candidate's strengths?
CORNISH: Well, here in South Carolina, it's interesting. I mean, it is a heavily Republican state. And so what we're going to look for are places like Beaufort County, a coastal country where you may have heard the name last week as a place that may have been a place for votes for Senator John McCain because there were a lot of independents there.
And it's also a place where they had some voting problems last week. So keep an eye out what's coming at Horry County as well as a county like Orangeburg, which is rural, has mostly black voters and has had a lot of concerns about the economy, higher joblessness rates in other parts of the state. And it's a place where a lot of the candidates have been visiting throughout the week.
SEABROOK: Audie, I know Ron Elving has a question about the debate this last Monday night.
ELVING: Hi, Audie.
CORNISH: Hi, how are you?
ELVING: Good to have you with us. Audie, I'm wondering if the level of acrimony that we saw in that Democratic debate this week was sustained throughout the week or if they backed off that a little bit.
CORNISH: Well, it's certainly carried throughout the week. It's not because it wasn't just between Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama, but also between Barack Obama and the former president, Bill Clinton. Being with here today, he was at the polling station this morning. And he made his presence very much known throughout the week.
And it wasn't until very week - the very end of the week when you had both candidates pointing at that both are - were too negative.
SEABROOK: NPR's Audie Cornish in Columbia, South Carolina.
Thanks very much, Audie.
CORNISH: Thank you.
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