Campaign 2024

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VIDEO: A conversation with Rep. Jan Schakowsky

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Video: Voters apathetic about the 2024 presidential election

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Changes in Columbia voting locations lead to confusion and anger on primary day

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Many South Carolina voters arrived at their usual voting locations on Saturday to find no other voters there, which was an unexpected sight on the day of the state’s Republican primary election. These locations weren’t just empty, however – they were no longer voting locations. 

“They had two signs up at the entrance of the parking lot where I normally parked that directed me to this location,” said voter Ben Inabinet. 

Inabinet’s typical voting location is Hand Middle School, which is over a mile and a half away from his new voting location, Ben Arnold Center Park. That same location is one that many voters in the area were rerouted to, now counting as the designated voting location for five separate South Carolina precincts. 

Many voters were informed of this rerouting through signs posted at their previous voting locations redirecting them to their new locations. Others were informed of the change from neighborhood advisories. Notably, no one learned about this change from the South Carolina state government. 

“I got an email from my neighborhood association,” Bailey Davis, a voter in Ward 10 said. “I didn’t get anything from the state of South Carolina.”

Although the South Carolina government quietly put out these voting location changes, it has been proven that increased distance from voting locations has a direct negative impact on voter turnout

Because South Carolina is a car-heavy state and voter location information was posted online, many voters were able to go to their new voting locations without much struggle. However, In Richland County, an area where 16.2% of the population lived in poverty in 2022, access to motor vehicles and fast internet are not reliable for many.

To let other voters know about voting location changes, many Columbia residents took to using word-of-mouth, informing neighbors about their new polling locations through social media and conversation. Inabinet was informed about his new location by his aunt and Davis found out through a neighborhood-wide message. In some cases, inconsistent spread of this information led to panic among voters in Columbia. 

“All the teachers were like ‘I don’t know where my polling location is, they changed it, I got a letter three months ago telling me it changed and I don’t remember where it is,’” schoolteacher and voter Melanie Walker said. “It’s kind of a disaster.”

Despite still showing up to vote, many felt that this sudden location change could have widespread impacts on other voters in Columbia. 

“It has an impact,” Davis said. “I’ve never been here before, it’s not super far, but it’s definitely more inconvenient for me versus having it in my neighborhood.”

Photos: Trump Jr. rallies supporters in Charleston before primary day

North Charleston, S.C. — The day before the South Carolina Republican primary, a crowd of supporters gathered at the Team Trump state headquarters to hear Donald Trump Jr. speak.

As former President Donald Trump hosted a rally in Rock Hill, his son spoke to Trump campaign volunteers at smaller events in the South Carolina Lowcountry on Feb. 23.

“We need to go out there, we need to finish this thing off,” Trump Jr. told the crowd.

He accused Republican candidate Nikki Haley of trying to undermine the Republican party and called her a fake conservative.

Trump Jr. also criticized the Biden administration for failing to enact stricter border policies and said Republicans were “just as bad” for spending money on Ukraine.

Of the 45,000 Americans he asked at Trump events, he said, only one thought it was a top ten issue, and that person was from Ukraine.

“What does that get us? Well, it gets Nikki Haley a board seat at Boeing and probably Raytheon. A couple Americans will make a lot of money while mortgaging our children and grandchildren’s future,” he said.

Attendees said if Trump is re-elected, they’d want to see him do the same thing he did four years ago. They trust he will close the border and stop funding the war in Ukraine.

South Carolina resident Alex Smith, 27, said he supports Trump over other Republican candidates because he has the best shot at the presidency. “He’s been there, he’s proven himself,” Smith said. (Clare Zhang/MNS)


Todd Gerhart, who was selling honey outside the event, shows Trump Jr. one of the Trump-shaped bottles. The sign at his table reads, “Give the ‘Donald’ a squeeze.” (Clare Zhang/MNS)


Trump Jr. takes selfies with attendees as he leaves the headquarters. (Clare Zhang/MNS)

Biden losing support in South Carolina, young Black voters say

Columbia, S.C. — In 2020, Black voters in South Carolina handed now-President Joe Biden his first primary victory and helped propel him to the White House. This year, Biden changed South Carolina’s Democratic primary to the first in the nation, because its diversity “reflects the nation more,” with Black voters comprising over 60% of the Democratic base. With no real challengers, the president swept 96% of the vote.

But some young Black South Carolinians say they have seen enthusiasm around Biden fading in their communities since he took office.

Eboni Dawkins, an 18-year-old student at the University of South Carolina, remembers going to the polls in November 2020 with family and seeing members of the Divine Nine — historically Black fraternities and sororities — showing out in their Greek-letter shirts for vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

“Black people are always gonna ride for that. That’s a family for people that’s part of it,” Dawkins said. “They wanted to support that Black woman that was running.”

Seeing someone who looked like her in office, Dawkins thought, meant they would represent her interests and bring change in her community. But she said she hasn’t seen Biden or Harris doing anything to improve the lives of those whose support propelled them to office.

“You don’t really see him doing nothing but falling down stairs,” Dawkins said, referencing when the president slipped on the steps of Air Force One in September. “I’ve heard that you don’t really see Kamala doing nothing. Being a part of D9, being Black in general isn’t enough anymore.”

Without an endorsement from veteran Black Democrat Rep. Jim Clyburn in 2020 and the resulting support from Black voters in South Carolina, Biden wouldn’t be president today, said Scott Huffmon, a professor of political science at Winthrop University.

Skyla Praylow, 19, said Biden and other politicians try to court Black communities but aren’t doing much to help them. She pointed to Biden’s January visit to Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, where a shooter killed nine parishioners in 2015.

“I heard about Biden going to the church,” she said. “But it’s not like there are policies there to help it. It is a poor area, and it’s really visible.”

It’s a sign that the Biden administration hasn’t reciprocated the support they received from Black voters in 2020, she said.

Students said Biden broke his 2020 campaign promise on forgiving student loan debt. Just Wednesday, Biden announced another $1.2 billion canceled in student loan debt, bringing the total during his presidency to $138 billion canceled for 3.9 million borrowers.

Students knew little about Biden’s progress in canceling student loan debt, or who it applied to. Lashay Jackson, 19, said it was another empty promise that candidates make to get in office and fail to act on quickly enough.

Their critiques came in sharp contrast with what Clay Middleton, Biden’s South Carolina senior advisor, said Biden’s message was in this year’s South Carolina primary: promise made, promise kept.

Biden won overwhelmingly in the primary, but turnout fell from 16% of total eligible voters in 2020 to 4% in 2024. Huffmon identified a few potential reasons for low turnout, including voter confusion over the early, first-in-the-nation date, and a lack of enthusiasm for Biden.

“Usually the approval rating for a Democratic president among Democrats is going to be close to 90%. For Biden, his approval rating among Democrats is only a little over 70%. And that’s in South Carolina, where African Americans make up a ton of the Democratic support,” Huffmon said. “The (primary) was definitely an attempt to show enthusiasm for Biden. I’m not sure it succeeded.”

Jackson said she doesn’t know what Biden has done during his presidency. But she sees plenty of problems getting worse: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, high prices and even COVID-19. 

“After his presidential election, it’s like he fell off the face of the earth,” she said. “I feel like if things were going well, we would hear about it a lot more.”

Biden has participated in fewer interviews and news conferences than any of his predecessors going back to Ronald Reagan, and Democratic officials have pushed him to make more public appearances to shore up confidence in his mental sharpness.

Meanwhile, reporters and Biden’s opponents have jumped on the narrative that his age makes him unfit for office. Many students said Biden’s age makes him out of touch with what the country needs, and Praylow said she wants him to listen to the younger people in the Democratic party.

“I feel like there need to be younger candidates,” Praylow said. “Both (Biden and Trump) are old men, honestly. Both need to be out of there.”

College students feel apathetic toward voting in South Carolina Republican primary

Columbia, S.C. – Many college students are choosing not to vote in Saturday’s Republican presidential primary election in South Carolina, saying they feel unrepresented by the candidates and apathetic towards politics.

In 2020, only 16.4% of S.C. voters participated in presidential primary elections, while 72.1% voted in the general election. Many college students at the University of South Carolina seemed to fall in line with this trend, reporting that the primary felt unimportant to them.  

For USC student John Koch, registering to vote just hasn’t felt urgent. 

“I really just haven’t gotten around to [registering],” Koch said. “I know that I should, but none of my friends have really been talking about it or anything. I just didn’t see the need.”

Koch also said he feels Trump’s selection as the Republican nominee is a “foregone conclusion,” which has discouraged him from voting. Former S.C. Governor Nikki Haley’s defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as Trump’s popularity here, indicate a Trump victory in the state is imminent.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s going to be a close race, so I just don’t feel like putting in the effort at the moment,” Koch said. “I would like to vote against [Trump], but it honestly doesn’t seem like it’ll make a difference.”

Video report: College students sitting our Republican primary in S.C. (Alicia Tang/MNS)

Danielle Vinson, a professor of politics and international affairs at Furman University, said that many college students feel disillusioned by the state of politics in the U.S. “I hear [students] saying that politics is just a lot of people squabbling, and they’re not actually getting things done,” Vinson said. 

Vinson also argued that because many students don’t vote, politicians sometimes ignore them and instead focus on older generations. According to the Pew Research Center, 27% of nonvoters in the 2020 presidential election were between the ages of 18 and 29. 

“A lot of young people just don’t think it matters, but you see the politicians paying attention to the people that vote,” Vinson said. “If young people as a group become more active, then I think you’ll see politicians starting to focus a little bit more on that.”

Some students are held back by busy schedules and a lack of information about the candidates. 

“I’ve just been really focused on school,” said USC student Juliana Narral. “I haven’t really had time to research any of the candidates because I’ve always been in the books.”

Narral said that if she was going to vote, she would look for a candidate who would “prioritize people of color like [herself].”

Other students said they didn’t feel motivated to vote in the primary but plan to vote in the general election in November. USC student Casey Smith said that he wouldn’t be voting in Saturday’s primary but would vote for Trump in November. 

“Our state of the economy when Trump was president I feel like was a lot better,” Smith said. “His policies with immigration and the border wall, I felt like that was a pretty fair policy.”

Ashleigh Robinson, a USC student from Rockhill, S.C., said that she isn’t voting because she feels “promises aren’t kept” by politicians. 

“I feel like a lot of the politicians nowadays, they only appeal to what people want to hear,” Robinson said. “They don’t put a lot of action into the things they say they’ll do or the groups that they’ll pay attention to.”

Robinson said she wants a “realistic” candidate that “doesn’t make false promises.” She hopes for a candidate who will advocate for marginalized communities and low-income individuals. 

Vinson has seen similar perspectives in her students at Furman University. She argued that politicians need to appeal more to issues that are important to Gen Z, including climate change and LGBTQ+ rights.

Despite choosing not to vote in Saturday’s primary, Robinson said she is optimistic that there will be candidates that she will want to vote for in the future. 

“I have hope that maybe a potential Gen Z candidate will come about one day and everybody will be willing and ready to vote for them,” Robinson said.

Maria Heim contributed to production.

Video: Protesters debate Trump’s ballot eligibility amidst Supreme Court hearing

WASHINGTON — In an unprecedented case that could determine the fate of former President Donald Trump’s appearance on the Colorado Republican primary ballot, oral arguments before the Supreme Court lasted over two hours on Thursday.

At the center is whether the Colorado Supreme Court was justified in determining the former president ineligible. 

Outside the Court, a handful of protesters gathered with homemade signs and a bevy of opinions about how the case should be decided.

“It’s not fair what’s being done and things need to change,” said Trump supporter Rylee Walk. 

Others are concerned with the importance of upholding Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and whether it applies to the presidency. 

“If you have taken an oath to the Constitution to uphold the Constitution, and then you engage in an insurrection or try to overthrow the U.S. government,” Jennifer Hobbs said. “Then you are disqualified from running for office.”

Watch the video story here:

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Trump Eligibility

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Thursday for the Trump v. Anderson case to decide whether Donald Trump “engaged in insurrection” deeming him ineligible to be on Colorado’s primary ballot.

The arguments lasted about two hours with little mention of Trump’s role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, which turned violent and deadly. 

Jonathan Mitchell, an attorney for Trump, began by saying the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to keep Trump off the ballot was “wrong and should be reversed for numerous, independent reasons.”

Justice Clarence Thomas asked Mitchell whether Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is self-executing or if Congress needed to create legislation to enforce it. 

“It is entirely up to Congress,” Mitchell responded.

Mitchell argued that Section 3 only prohibits a person from holding office but not from appearing on the ballot. 

The justices expressed concern over whether it would be left up to the states when questioning both the lawyers representing Colorado voters and Trump’s legal team. 

A great deal of Trump’s case hinges on whether the justices agree that the president is not an “officer of the United States.” 

The 14th Amendment disqualifies any person who took an oath, “as an officer of the United States…to support the Constitution” from “hold[ing] any office… under the United States.”

His legal team said that since Trump did not hold a prior office that required him to swear an oath of support to the Constitution, the disqualification does not apply to him. 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor pressured Mitchell about his understanding of Section 3. 

“A bit of a gerrymandered rule, isn’t it, designed to benefit only your client?”

“This case does not come down to mere prepositions,” said Jason Murray, attorney for the Colorado voters, about the Trump legal team’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment. 

As the nine justices questioned Murray, some showed signs that they would side with Trump, including Chief Justice John Roberts, who said, “the whole point of the 14th Amendment was to restrict state power.”

Justine Ketanji Brown Jackson put pressure on Murray by circling back to the fact that the 14th Amendment does not list the president. 

“The fact that electors of vice president and president are there suggests that really what they thought was if we’re worried about the charismatic person, we’re going to bar insurrectionist electors and, therefore, that person is never going to rise?” Jackson questioned.

As it continued, the justices’ concerns about states having different ballots and the implications this would have on future elections became clear. 

“I would expect that, you know, a goodly number of states will say whoever the Democratic candidate is, you’re off the ballot. And others for the Republican candidate, you’re off the ballot,” said Roberts.

All of the justices asked hard questions to both attorneys. 

This is the first case involving Section 3 to come before the Supreme Court.

“Those novel arguments in some ways are kind of splashing paint on a wall and hoping that it is able to stick,” said Dr. Michele Goodwin, a Constitutional Law professor at Georgetown Law. 

In September, four Republican and two independent voters in Colorado filed a lawsuit to keep Trump off the primary ballot. Following a five-day trial, District Judge Sarah B. Wallace found that Trump had engaged in an insurrection but Section 3 didn’t apply to the presidency. 

On Dec. 19, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed the decision, concluding that the presidency is included in Section 3, disqualifying him from holding the Office of President.   

Goodwin explained that Section 3 was created to hold the nation together after the Civil War.

“If one is interpreting the 14th Amendment, Section 3, in an originalist way, those members of Congress that were constructing a new constitution, a reconstructed constitution, were deeply concerned about insurrectionists.” 

How the Supreme Court ultimately rules affects more than just Colorado’s primary. Maine’s secretary of state concluded that Trump should not appear on its primary ballot, but the decision is on hold until the Supreme Court’s ruling. 

Lawyers for both sides have asked the Court to rule quickly, before Super Tuesday on March 15.



Medill Today | March 14, 2024