Coastal Carolina and the 2016 South Carolina Primaries

drewprpfile-01-01Dr. Drew Kurlowski, Assistant Professor of Politics at Coastal Carolina University, Shares Detailed Synopsis of Students at South Carolina Primaries

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South Carolina’s ‘First in the South’ primaries generated a good deal of attention this election cycle, and Coastal Carolina students were out in force, campaigning for their favorite candidates. Horry County, home to Coastal Carolina, was a popular stop for Republican and Democrats this year, as both groups tried to snag votes from the second fastest growing county in the state. Coastal Carolina students were able to see many of the candidates as they stopped on campus to rally young voters. Students at Coastal worked in a wide array of positions and with almost all of the various campaigns, gaining valuable insight in to the campaign process.

Austin, a political science major, had been working on the ‘Hillary for South Carolina’ campaign since last summer.  He worked as an intern volunteering at phone banks, canvassing, and helping at events, keeping close ties with the organizers of the campaign, and working to recruit more volunteers on the Coastal Carolina campus and in the community. He was also active within the Horry County Democratic Party, and was invited to drive in the motorcade of Secretary Clinton when she held a rally in Myrtle Beach. Before the election, he had the chance to meet Secretary Clinton and her personal staff as they traveled around the area. They were certainly pleased with their efforts, as Clinton won a decisive victory in the Democratic Primary.

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Cody and Samantha worked with Marco Rubio’s campaign. Cody was ‘Millennial Liaison’ and worked to get young voters involved in the election and volunteering for the campaign. Additionally, he was tasked with planning several campaign events in the area. The highlight of his campaign season was the one-on-one time he spent with Rubio as he drove him to various events in the county. Samantha worked hard fighting the public relations battle. She developed press releases, organized volunteers, and worked as a contact for the media. After a hard-fought campaign, the Rubio crowd was very happy about their late surge, and their second place finish.

Dr. Kurlowski joins WPDE evening news anchor, Tim McGinnis, during the #SCPrimary.

Another Democratic supporter, Courtney, worked hard to recruit volunteers and voters for the Sanders campaign. Starting small, she organized a county Facebook page for Sanders, and before long, she was organizing events for supporters. In the end, she truly became an online force in the area, leading a team of 10 web admins in organizing live debate chats and other ways for supporters to interact with the campaign digitally.

Many of our other students helped out their respective candidates by working on GOTV efforts, voter registration drives, phone banking, and getting the word out on campus. Even some of the faculty got in on the fun by helping our local news cover the primary with expert insight and commentary. We were very lucky to have nearly every candidate visit our area. While the energy level has gone down, and the airwaves are returning to normal, it’s clear that a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for political science still exists in these students.

Dr. Drew Kurlowski is an Assistant Professor of Politics at Coastal Carolina University. He received his M.A. in Government from the University of Virginia and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. He was previously the senior research fellow at a Washington, D.C. polling firm. His research interests include American campaigns and elections, election law, party organizations, political behavior, and public opinion. He is currently recruiting and training students who are interested in the development and implementation of public opinion polls. He hopes to field a statewide election and opinion poll for the 2016 general election.