|Candidates Make Last Minute Appeals to Voters|
Nov. 5 -- South Carolina's gubernatorial race between Democratic Governor Jim Hodges and Republican challenger Mark Sanford remains a close call as voters go to the polls. The most recent Mason-Dixon poll, conducted October 28th and 29th, gave Sanford a 4-point lead over Hodges, at 49 to 45 percent. A Zogby poll from October 8-10 showed Hodges leading at 45 to 43 percent, again well within the margin of error.
Sanford and Hodges wrapped up their series of nine debates last Friday, with voters telling the South Carolina newspaper "The State" that the debates had minimal effect on who they will vote for in today's election.
According to the paper, even undecided voters said the debates had failed to convince them in either direction. The two candidates have continued their heated battle right up to Election Day, with a final rush to churches, lunches and rallies to garner crucial last-minute approval from voters.
Recognizing that black voters could hold the key to the election outcome, Democratic Governor Jim Hodges recently visited rural Calhoun County and Benedict College in Columbia in a bid to gain support.
"Is the optimist going to win, who believes we're making progress, or is the pessimist going to win, who sees nothing but shadows up ahead?" Hodges asked rally attendees in Calhoun County. "Well, I believe in my heart of hearts that the optimists are going to win Tuesday."
Hodges spent part of Sunday at churches in the center of South Carolina, such as Brookland Baptist Church and Northminster Presbyterian Church. He also spent part of Sunday afternoon calling voters in Richland County.
"The governor is not going to take one vote for granted," Hodges' campaign manager Jay Reiff said. "Part of it is turning out our supporters as we get into the final hours, which we have been working on a program for months and feel very good about our operation."
Republican candidate Mark Sanford spent Sunday traveling around South Carolina towns Summerville, Columbia and Clinton in a "Family Caravan" and greeted voters saying, "It's an exceedingly close race. It all boils down to turnout." Sanford also spent Sunday visiting churches, focusing on upstate South Carolina, where a heavy Republican turnout is crucial if he is to secure a win over Hodges today.
Sanford's campaign spokesman Will Folks says he believes voters respond to candidates' last minute attempts.
"People always say it's something special when you've seen these guys on TV for the last few months to really put a name with a face and shake a guy's hand. That makes a big difference, particularly with undecided voters which I think everyone would admit are the key to this race."
. --By Jessica Moore, Online NewsHour