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« on: May 20, 2010, 11:29:47 am »

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Tonight, the waiting is all but over. Americans are voting in what appears to be one of the closest presidential elections in years.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This election is in the hands of the people.

JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This campaign has been an amazing journey.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's special election day coverage as AMERICA VOTES 2004. Here now, Lou Dobbs.


DOBBS: Good evening and welcome. For the next two hours here we'll be bringing you up to date on what's happening after one of the longest and most contentious presidential campaigns ever. Voters have turned out today in huge numbers all around the country. Some election officials are predicting a record turnout. The first state polls close in just two hours. There have been some problems in some polling places in the country, but overall, this election appears to be very very orderly.

We'll have complete coverage of the voting problems where they do exist, the election issues that have dominated this campaign, and the battle to control Congress, particularly the Senate. And we'll be talking with leading political analysts and journalists throughout the next two hours but we begin with live reports from three of the most closely contested battleground states. Adaora Udoji is in Canton, Ohio, Jason Carroll is in Lower Macungie, Pennsylvania, and John Zarrella is in West Palm Beach, Florida. We go first to Adaora Udoji in Ohio where Republicans won an important legal battle today -- Adaora.

ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Lou. Indeed, there has been non-stop heavy voting we're told by officials at this polling station here in Canton, Ohio, right across the street. In fact poll workers tell us they have never seen anything like it, that more than double of the usual number of voters have made their way to these polls and it's not even rush hour yet. And as you mentioned this is happening in the backdrop of what this morning high legal dram and that is the issue about challengers. We were waiting this morning for the United States Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue and they did. They let stand a lower court ruling which upheld a law in Ohio allowing each party, both Democrats and Republicans to place volunteers inside polling stations to question the legitimacy of any voters.

Now, the Democrats argued that the Republicans were simply trying to intimidate voters and they had taken their case to a federal court which agreed. Republicans appealed. They denied they were trying to suppress the vote. They said their concern was voter intimidation. Whatever the case, appeals court said the challengers could go in. From what we understand, there were some of them throughout Ohio, unclear how many and whether they were in all 88 counties. However, we never really heard any reports, or we haven't, I should say, up until this point, of those challengers disrupting any elections or any of the voting in any of the precincts in the state. Of course there are still two and a half hours left.

What we have heard and what we can see right here with some pictures is heavy turnout. Officials both here in Stark County as well as in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland talking about unprecedented number of folks waiting in lines patiently for hours. In fact we talked to some "Get Out The Vote" advocates who said it was just incredible. In fact, Governor Taft this morning predicting a record turnout somewhere north of 70 percent and of course, Lou, as you know, Ohio is a critical state. To underscore that point President Bush's last minute stop, unusual last minute stop on election day through Ohio here today, clearly, clearly, his campaign, as Kerry's campaign desperately want to get the 20 electoral votes here in Ohio -- Lou.

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DOBBS: Adaora, thank you very much. Adaora Udoji from Canton, Ohio.

In Pennsylvania tonight, Republicans say some polling machines in Philadelphia already had votes on them before voting began. City officials said the charges were unsubstantiated. Jason Carroll is following all the latest developments in Pennsylvania, reporting from Lower Macungie -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the story here, Lou, is the story you heard before here in Macungie. It's all about voter turnout and they have seen it here in record numbers. I want you to take a look right now inside as we show you people who are casting their vote right now for the first time. There have been long lines here all day long. Election workers anticipated a huge turnout given the high interest in this presidential race. We saw long lines this morning, expecting even more this evening. We've also seen a lot of partisan bickering going on, Republicans vowing to challenge people suspected of being ineligible voters. Democrats accusing Republicans of voter intimidation tactics. The voters we talked to today say that they basically tuned out all the bickering and instead they've just focused on the candidates.


(on camera): Are you making any predictions at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, sure. I feel very strongly that John Kerry will win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went for President Bush, because I think in the middle of everything that's going on right now, it would be really kind of bad for us to change commanders in chiefs (sic).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband and I are voting for two different people.

CARROLL: How do you think things are going to go this time? It was very tight last time. Think it's going to be tight again this time? Any predictions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's going to be tight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably tight.

CARROLL: Probably tight?



CARROLL: Very tight. It will go down to the last hour we are sure of that. One election worker told me that the story that the media will probably be focusing on tomorrow in the state of Pennsylvania won't necessarily be about all this political bickering going on, it will be about the huge voter turnout -- Lou.

DOBBS: Jason, indeed, the voter turnout looks huge across the country tonight. Jason, thank you very much. Jason Carroll reporting from Lower Macungie, Pennsylvania.

In Florida tonight poll workers in Volusia County have been recounting 13,000 votes, that after a voting machine's memory card failed, but officials say voting elsewhere in Florida has been taking place without any problems. John Zarrella has our report from Florida tonight. He's in West Palm Beach -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, certainly the story here, record voter turnout possible. Two million people in Florida already voted in the early voting process, another 6 million could be voting today, bringing it to 8 of the 10 million voters potentially voting here in Florida today.

Again, the good news, problems in Florida virtually non-existent. Just small glitches here and there. In Broward County, just south of us here in Palm Beach County, 21 of the electronic voting machines, they're used by about 50 percent of Floridians in 15 counties, the biggest counties included, failed. 15 of those machines. They have been replaced or are going to be replaced as we move into the rush hour afternoon here and the heavy voting picks up again. But officials with the elections office down in Broward County say they have been able to harvest those votes from those machines, that the votes will not be lost from those machines.

Here in Palm Beach County which, of course, four years ago was the scene of the butterfly ballot and the hanging chad. None of that this time around. They used the Sequoia electronic machines here. Everything going well. Again, here, record voter turnout expected today. Huge numbers of people coming to the 770-some precincts they have here in Palm Beach County. They expect those numbers to swell as we move between 5:00 and 7:00 this evening before the polls close.

Now, the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board has already been at work here today, going over absentee ballots that have been coming in and, in fact, they have had to throw some absentee ballots out. What they're trying to do is match signatures that they have on record to signatures on the absentee ballots. In some cases, it's difficult, because the signatures are 30 and 40 years old on the ones that they have on file. So that has been a difficult task. And up till yesterday at noon, they had already thrown out more than 300 absentee ballots, simply because people hadn't signed their name to the ballot before they mailed it in. Now we've heard about the thousands of elections workers here from both parties. That, in fact, is the case. They're on hand at the polling places, monitors to watch and make sure everything goes OK -- Lou.

DOBBS: John, thank you very much. John Zarrella reporting from West Palm Beach, Florida. Well, as part of our election coverage, there is a clock in the lower left corner of your screen. It is counting down to the time polls will be closing in the first six states to close their voting. Some polls in those states may close earlier but CNN will not begin to report results until all of the polls in any given state have closed. As of 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, all of the voting polls in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia will be closed. At that time, CNN will begin to bring you the very first results from this presidential election.

President Bush tonight is in Washington waiting for the first results to come in. President Bush began today in Crawford, Texas. He then traveled to a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio. White House correspondent Dana Bash reports from the Bush-Cheney headquarters in Arlington, Virginia -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Lou. The president as you said is at the White House. He got back several hours ago and he is spending the afternoon and the evening in the residence with his family, his extended family is coming into town. And as you can imagine he is certainly in touch with his aides, his senior staff at the White House, his staff here at the campaign headquarters, getting information, getting updates about the latest that they're hearing from on the ground. And as you mentioned the president did start his day in Crawford, Texas, where he voted. Then he made the unusual move for him of having a campaign event on Election Day, went to Columbus, Ohio, made some of his own get out the vote phone calls, even had some surprised, perhaps incredulous, people on the other end of the line.

And as he talked to reporters today, the president described himself as calm. He said that it is really out of his hands now, but he felt that he gave the race his all.


BUSH: I am going to run this race out to its fullest. I will be able to have -- we -- both of us will be able to say that we campaigned as hard as we possibly could. I have made the differences as clear as possible about why I think I am the best leader for the country for the next four years. And you know, we'll find out tonight.


BASH: Now, here at Bush/Cheney Headquarters, they have a war room set up much as they do certainly over at the Kerry campaign. And they have staff -- they are monitoring what is going on all around the country, particularly obviously in key states. They are making phone calls to field staff. And we're told that they have about triple the field staff, the paid staff in the key states like Ohio and Pennsylvania that they had three years ago.

And this war room component includes, as you can imagine, Lou, a legal component. Lawyers are on the phone, getting the latest in terms of any kind of issues that they're having in places like Ohio and Florida.

Now, while we're hearing -- talking to some people over at the Kerry campaign, some giddiness even. They feel like they're happy about what they're hearing from what's going on the ground.

Here at Bush/Cheney Headquarters, the best way to describe them as matter of fact. They've been through this before. They say that it's very early. They're still certainly working hard. Karl Rove, the president' top political aide, for example, is doing a series of radio interviews in Florida. And as one senior aide said to me just a short while ago, the watch word right now is patience -- Lou?

DOBBS: And I imagine there has to be a considerable amount of just plain fatigue after this campaign is drawing to a close.

BASH: All around.

DOBBS: Dana Bash, thank you very much.

Senator Kerry tonight is in Boston after he attended a last campaign event in Wisconsin. Senator Kerry declared America will be strong and united, whatever the outcome of this election.

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Frank Buckley has the report from the Kerry/Edwards Headquarters in Boston -- Frank?

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, this evening, Senator Kerry is splitting his time here in Boston between his campaign hotel here in Copley Square and his home on Beacon Hill. He expects to end his evening here in Copley Square at a big rally with supporters.

Earlier today, he voted here in Boston at the State House. He was accompanied by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and his daughters, Alex and Vanessa. Mrs. Heinz Kerry had voted earlier in Pennsylvania. Kerry said it was exciting to see his name on the ballot for president, and he said the campaign for him has been an amazing journey.


KERRY: I'm very confident that we've made the case for change, the case for trust in new leadership, a new direction, a fresh start. But what's really important is that both the president and I love this country. It's really important that people go out and vote and express their love for our country, no matter who they vote for. We want people to participate.

And finally, let me just say that whatever the outcome tonight, I know one thing that is already an outcome: Our country will be stronger.


BUCKLEY: Now, after the casting of his vote, Senator Kerry participated in a tradition -- Election Day tradition. He went to the Ye Olde Union Oyster House here in Boston, Lou, for a bunch of clams and chowder, something he does on Election Day.

And then Kerry, who said he was leaving no stone unturned, participated in a series of satellite television interviews with TV stations in battleground states. Joe Lockhart joking that he would probably stay in front of that camera and keep doing interviews until no local market would have him.

And again, later tonight, Senator Kerry hoping it all ends right here with a victory speech in Copley Square -- Lou?

DOBBS: Frank, thank you very much. Frank Buckley from Boston.

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader today held a news conference in one of Washington's poorest neighborhoods. Nader rejected charges that his campaign could help President Bush by taking some votes away from Senator Kerry. Nader says a vote of conscience is never a wasted vote.

Coming up next, we'll have much more live coverage of this important election. We'll have a live report from Wolf Blitzer in Times Square, where CNN will be reporting the very latest election results as they come in.

I'll be joined by former presidential advisor David Gergen as we analyze this campaign, the issues, this election, and its results.

The battle for Congress -- control of the Senate tonight could come down to a handful of key races, including Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's battle in South Dakota.

We'll have all of that and a great deal more, all coming up next.


DOBBS: Throughout this evening, we're going to be focusing on a host of issues that are critically important to voters and which have been debated throughout by the candidates themselves. We're also going to look at some issues that were all but ignored -- immigration, for one.

A controversial ballot measure in Arizona is drawing attention certainly to the issue of illegal immigration. Arizona's Proposition 200 -- the ballot initiative would limit state benefits for illegal aliens and prevent them altogether from voting.

Casey Wian joins me now with more on the issue and the story -- Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Arizona's Proposition 200 is an effort by citizens to do something the federal government has been unable to accomplish: reduce illegal immigration.


(voice-over): Proposition 200, or Protect Arizona Now, would require that voters show proof of citizenship before registering. It would also deny state and local welfare benefits to illegal aliens. And it would order government welfare workers to check the IDs of those applying for benefits and impose criminal penalties for failure to report illegal aliens to federal immigration authorities.

Supporters say they are battling Arizona's illegal alien invasion.

KATHY MCKEE, CHMN., PROTECT ARIZONA NOW: We can't sanction employers, because that's only the federal government, and we can't deport people, that's also only in the federal government. What we can do and we are doing is we are getting our state constitution enforced...

WIAN: 200 had a huge, early lead in the polls, but that's narrowed as a coalition of lawmakers, business, and immigrants' rights groups launched a media campaign against the measure.


(on camera): And it has so far survived three legal challenges. And even if it's approved by voters, more lawsuits are expected. Opponents compare it to California's Proposition 187 10 years ago, which died in the courts. Supporters say they've crafted this measure to withstand court challenges -- Lou?

DOBBS: And as one reads the language in that proposition, they have been extraordinarily careful. I don't think that will in any way slow down the challenges in court, however.

WIAN: Absolutely. Both sides say the challenges are coming and are almost going to be automatic because of some of the provisions of the measure that are within federal jurisdiction. DOBBS: How confident are the opponents? How confident are the sponsors?

WIAN: The opponents say they're hopeful. The sponsors' reactions range from very confident to very nervous. The lead that it had in the polls has been narrowing over the last few days, so it's going to be tight it look like.

DOBBS: OK. And of course, we'll be following it throughout here on CNN. Casey Wian, thank you.

CNN's extensive coverage of Election Night results begin when the first statewide polls close, and that will be in just a little over an hour-and-a-half.

Wolf Blitzer leads our coverage tonight from the Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square here in New York City. He joins me now with a preview of what we can expect -- Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We've got a wealth of information we're going to be able to share, Lou, with our viewers because of these video screens from the Nasdaq MarketSite here in Times Square in New York.

Let me take you on a little tour, some of the things we're going to be able to do tonight. All of these video screens we can change whenever we want change whenever we want to get information up there.

For example, governors' races -- there are 28 Republicans right now, 22 Democrats. We'll be able to show you what's happening with these governor races at any one time.

As far as the race for the White House is concerned, we'll be able to project that once we know a lot more information from some of the exit polls we're getting and the real numbers that will start coming in once all the polls in a particular state close. The race for the White House, 270 electoral votes needed to become elected president of the United States.

The popular vote will show our viewers across the country, including Ralph Nader, the balance of power in the Senate, the balance of power in the House of Representatives -- all of which we'll be able to change at any one time. And in fact, we can put up on the screen behind us all 50 states plus the District of Columbia in an instant to show our viewers what's happening in each state, especially those key battleground states.

Let's say, for example, we want to take a look at what's happening in Florida. When all the polls in Florida close at 8:00 p.m., we'll be able to show our voters what the numbers are for Bush, for Kerry, for Nader and the precincts reporting the percentage.

So, we're going to be able to share simultaneously, Lou, with our viewers the information, the numbers we're getting. At the same time, the viewers are going to be able to see those numbers. There's going to be no lag between what we know and what all of our viewers know. DOBBS: An extraordinary visual display that you're going to have for all of us, Wolf, there. And of course, we're looking forward to your insight, your perspective, and your reporting throughout the evening as you lead our colleagues through our coverage on this very important evening.

Wolf Blitzer, thank you.

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BLITZER: Thank you.

DOBBS: Joining me now for his insight into this election is former presidential advisor David Gergen, who served under four presidents -- I'll even name them, David -- Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. David Gergen here with me in New York. David, good to have you here.

DAVID GERGEN, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: Thank you, Lou. It's good to be back.

DOBBS: Let's start with the turnout. This looks like it is going to be a barn burner in every respect from turnout.

GERGEN: It's terrific news. The long lines -- I know it must be painful for people. They have to be patient to wait two or three hours to vote, but I think it's terrific for democracy. You know, we've decried for so long the declining turnout since the 1960 election, goes down steadily, young people were disengaged.

This election, for all of its flaws and for all of the polarization, has actually engaged people. And now the decision is in the lap of the gods, you know? You and I have talked about all the commentators that are so-called chattering (INAUDIBLE) have been talking, talking, talking. And finally, the voters have a chance to make their voices heard. And they're doing it in enormous volume.

DOBBS: You know, as you've said, we've all bemoaned the lack of participation in this democracy. It looks like we're getting that participation today. And what is remarkable, I think this may be perhaps the first election, certainly since 1968, which I can remember, that no one has said to me, David, "You know, I'm not voting this in this one. I'm sitting this one out."

GERGEN: Not at all. And what's also been remarkable would be the number of people one hears about who are leaving their home states where it's safe -- they vote absentee -- and they're going to Ohio, they're going to Iowa, they're going to Florida, driving to Florida to help work on the turnout. I mean, kids are doing it, but a lot of adults are doing that, too.

You know, I live in Massachusetts right now, and I can just tell you tons of people went up to New Hampshire today.

DOBBS: Well, that kind of participation is great.

Now, let's talk about a couple of the things that are driving that kind of participation, at least ostensibly: one, Iraq, certainly; this economy; and the war on terror.

What is your sense of what is the most important element in that, those three, and others that are driving participation?

GERGEN: Well, it's an interesting question, but I think we're going to be waiting to see what the exit polls say tonight. The polls so far, you know, leading up to the election have suggested terrorism was the number one issue, Iraq was number two, and the economy was number three.

But there's some indications anecdotally today that, in fact, what's driving a lot of people actually to vote is the reverse of that. The economy is very much on their minds. CNN interviewed some people in a line this morning that I saw out in Ohio, and they were all talking about the economy. So, it may be -- while some people say terrorism number one, what actually gets a lot of people out of their homes and goes to vote may be the pocketbook and maybe Iraq.

DOBBS: In one critical state -- Ohio, of course, with its critically important electoral votes -- over 200,000 jobs -- I know certainly the Bush administration expressed its concern about that, and the Kerry campaign focused rigorously on those job losses.

GERGEN: They did, indeed. And I think it's -- that's the toughest -- going to be the toughest obstacle the president faces in Ohio. Symbolically, very important, the president today flew from Texas to Ohio before going back to Washington. It's rare that he would do that. You typically don't want to go in as a presidential candidate on the day of, because all your workers are supposed to be out getting people to the polls.

So, they must have felt a special urgency about Ohio.

DOBBS: And the president obviously wanting to make certain he left no effort expended...

GERGEN: No, none.

DOBBS: ... in his battle to retain the White House.

David Gergen, thank you. David will be with us throughout the broadcast here on CNN with his insight and analysis as we look at a number of issues and events shaping the results of this 2004 presidential election.

Still ahead here tonight, the balance of power in the House and Senate depends upon the election today. We'll have the latest for you on a number of extremely close races in both the Senate and the House.

And then, long lines not the only problems reported at polling places around the country. We'll have a report on the potential for lawsuits and possibly even worse.

That and a great deal more still ahead here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: In the House of Representatives, all 435 seats, of course, are being contested today. Thirty-four Senate seats are being contested, but the outcome in both houses will likely depend upon the outcome of a few key races.

Congressional correspondent Ed Henry has the report -- Ed?


The House of Representatives, the Democrats would need 12 seats to take it back. Very unlikely they're going to be able to do it. They'll probably pick up a few seats here and there, as you mentioned. But redistricting in Texas is really going to hurt Democrats. They could lose five seats or more.

In the Senate, that's what's really up for grabs, only a two-seat majority for the Republicans in the Senate. There are nine states that are too close to call right now. Democrats think they have a shot at taking it back. And there's a lot at stake there, Lou. If President Bush wins reelection and he has a Republican Senate, I can tell you, they're already saying they're going to put the pedal to the metal.

They're going to pass more tax cuts. They're push through conservative judges. They're going to have energy reform, finally, and they're also finally going to have tort reform, which they have only missed by a couple of votes in the last couple of years in Congress.

Now, if President Bush has a Democratic Senate, I can tell you, I've talked to Democratic senators who say they'll put the brakes on the president's second-term agenda, on those tax cuts, on any Social Security reform he wants. And also, they'll finally launch investigations of Halliburton and other issues that a Republican Congress has not wanted to look into.

Now, if John Kerry wins the White House, obviously, he would much prefer a Democratic Senate. He is going to be watching those returns very closely. He wants to get his health plan passed. He wants to get his tax reform changes through as well, trying to roll back some of the Bush tax cuts that Kerry has talked about on the stump.

Now, if John Kerry, though, if he does win the White House and if he gets a Republican Senate, obviously, the Republicans will be looking for gridlock, looking to slow down his agenda, even pick some fights over maybe some members of his Cabinet. So there's a lot at stake here tonight.

Some of the hottest races. Tom Daschle, the Senate Democratic leader in South Dakota, locked in a dead heat with Republican John Thune. We have always known this will be close race. John Thune only lost in 2002 in another Senate race by about 500 votes. This one is going to be something that we'll be up late watching very closely. A Senate leader has not lost reelection back home since 1952, when the Democratic leader, McFarland, lost, that obviously history in the making if -- and I stress if -- Tom Daschle were to lose tonight.

Another big race is in Kentucky, Republican incumbent there, Jim Bunning, the former baseball player, the Hall of Famer. He's had a series of miscues in recent weeks. All of sudden, this race that was supposed to be a slam dunk for Republicans, all of a sudden, it's a very close race. Democrats think they have a shot there.

But the bottom line is, most outside experts are thinking this will be status quo in the Senate, that, in the end, it will be very tight, but that the Republicans are likely to hold on to a slim majority, in part because most of these nine tossup Senate races are in Bush states, red states that even if President Bush were to lose reelection, he's likely to win these particular states, like South Carolina, like Oklahoma, by double digits -- Lou.

DOBBS: We're truly shaping a government here today, as that participation, those long lines are suggesting.

HENRY: That's right.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Ed Henry from Capitol Hill, who will be following those critically important races throughout the evening here on CNN.

Still ahead, investigations already under way as to the whereabouts of tens of thousands of ballots in one closely contested state. We'll have that report for you.

And Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala, they take a look at some of the critical issues that could swing this election -- all ahead as we look live now at voters casting their ballots in Denver, Colorado, tonight. We'll check in with polling places all around the country here tonight.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Well, it is much, much too early to say this categorically. It appears at this hour that this election is going along rather orderly in all quarters of the country. However, voters and election officials have encountered a few problems also in the country today.

Lisa Sylvester is here and has the very latest for us as we watch these problems around the country -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, we have seen a little bit of everything today, charges of intimidation, allegations of fraud and technical glitches.

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SYLVESTER (voice-over): In Florida, 13,000 votes had to be refed into a computer after a memory card failed. In Pennsylvania, lines wrapped around the polling places, most notably in six precincts in Mercer County, where voting machines went down.

In Philadelphia, GOP attorneys say some of the machines were improperly calibrated. They maintain there were votes already on the machines. Democrats dispute that. A New Jersey polling station was closed for two hours after a white substance was on the floor. It turns out it was salt. And across the country, hand-wringing and confusion over provisional ballots.

DOUG CHAPIN, DIRECTOR, ELECTIONLINE.ORG: Our guy in Pittsburgh actually reports that a poll judge this morning asked him what a provisional ballot was and how it worked, so there is some confusion out there as to how these ballots will work. And if those become decisive in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, those kinds of problems could end up being not only noteworthy, but newsworthy.


SYLVESTER: And some areas are having to deal with a shortage of poll workers.

At least in one precinct in swing state Missouri, it opened 45 minutes late because the poll judges did not arrive on time -- Lou.

DOBBS: And with all the lines that are strung out at polling places around the country, that's just got to be annoying.

But people seem to be willing, this year, because they're so impassioned, to put up with those long lines and the frustrations.

SYLVESTER: Right. I think the word here is patience.

Everyone saw in 2000 how every votes counts, so that people knew that even though it might take a little longer, even though it might mean a three-hour wait in line, bring a book, do whatever you have to do, but that it was very important to vote. So we saw that in this country.

DOBBS: Two thousand four, no excuses, no tears.

SYLVESTER: Right. Exactly.

DOBBS: Everybody is doing their part.

Thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester, who will continue to watch out for problems here on CNN, as she watches these polls around the country.

Joining me now with their take on today's voting problems and voting successes, the hosts of CNN's "CROSSFIRE," on the right, Tucker Carlson, and on the left, Paul Begala.

Gentlemen, good to have you with us.



DOBBS: You have just heard Lisa report, at least again, as I say, with the caveat that it is still early, it seems that this election has been far more orderly than it was feared might be.

BEGALA: It is.

Think of if the early projections look like they're true, turnout will be way up this year. I certainly hope it is. I hope everybody who hasn't voted yet goes out and votes. But with that increase in turnout and the long lines, the frustration, I have heard very few reports -- and I heard Lisa's report just now -- but very few reports about problems.

I do think -- I am, of course, a Kerry partisan, but I do think it's probably good news for John Kerry. The higher the turnout goes, probably the better it is for the challenger. As one Kerry aide said to me this afternoon, he said, you know, you don't stand in line for 45 minutes to vote for more of the same.

DOBBS: Do you agree with that, Tucker?

CARLSON: Sadly, I do agree with that. I can tell you, Democrats agree with that.


CARLSON: I listened to two well-known Democrats -- I won't tell you their names -- literally involved in a conversation of who was going to be Kerry's White House chief of staff. They are picking the curtains in the White House, which is reason enough in my view to hope they don't win.

The gloating has begun already. But, yes, they definitely think it's good for them. And I think, sadly, they're probably right.

DOBBS: You really believe that, then?


I mean, look, I agree. All this week, we heard reports of voters standing in line for three hours or more to vote in Florida and other places. And you've got to ask yourself, the obvious question. Are people going to do that to support the incumbent? And people do support the incumbent. But people who do that are intense. And the intensity in this election is all on the Democratic side. There are a lot of people who really hate President Bush. And I think that makes a difference, again, sadly.

BEGALA: But, Lou, let me give you the alternative theory.

And that is, Karl Rove, the president's chief political strategist, an old acquaintance of mine from years back in the day in Texas, has believed for years, really, since the 2000 election, that there were four million conservative, white, Protestant, evangelical Christians -- that's about six levels of redundancy, but you get the point.

DOBBS: I got it.

BEGALA: Who did not vote in 2000, presumably because of the drunk driving story that came out in the final days of that election, that they got disenchanted with Bush in 2000.

And Karl wants them to come out. And so it may be that some of those people in those long lines are voting for more of the same. But I strongly doubt it. My own experience in campaign consulting is that the challenger does better when the turnout is high.

DOBBS: And in your minds -- and I'm still trying to get over Tucker's view here that basically those folks are all supporting Senator Kerry -- but, in your minds, you believe the principle issues, Tucker, that are driving them are what, Iraq?

CARLSON: Yes, I would say Iraq and then Iraq and then Iraq, the war and the occupation. And that's fair. I mean, it is fair; 50 years from now, of course, that will be the issue that defines the Bush administration, Bush's legacy, this whole era, this time, this generation.

And so it's fair, I think, to have an election on it. And the bad news for the president is, the majority of people, when asked about by Gallup anyway, say it was not worth waging in the first place, this war in Iraq. So that can't help but hurt Bush.

And I must say, it buries the allegation that Bush somehow waged this war for political reasons. Of course he didn't. That would have been politically stupid. And Bush is not politically stupid. He did it I think for honorable reasons. It just hasn't turned out as well as a lot of people had hoped.

BEGALA: Well, I agree with Tucker strategically, that it's Iraq that is driving the election.

But, tactically, you know what's turning these people out? Negative campaigning, my favorite thing. I love negative campaigning.


BEGALA: All of the smart guys, all of the hand-wringers and the Ivy League elitists always said, oh, negative campaigning depresses turnout.

Well, guess what? We are on line to the highest turnout in 40 years. If people go and vote in the evening in the numbers that they did in proportion that they did in the morning, we could break records, Lou.


BEGALA: So more negative campaigning means more voters. God bless them.


CARLSON: That's disgusting.

DOBBS: Well, Paul, Tucker, thank you both for that interesting analysis, as always.

And shortly, in a little more -- a little less, actually -- than an hour and a half, we'll begin to get some early returns to see what the reason was for those long lines, as their votes are counted, begin to be counted, at least.

Thank you very much, gentlemen.

When we continue, one controversial issue in voters' hands today, gay marriage and banning gay marriage. We'll have a special report on this issue, important in 11 states.

And then, calling a winner, how the television networks, including this one, CNN, are exercising great caution, I assure you, in something they've always rushed to do in the past. Judy Woodruff will be here. She'll join us from CNN's election analysis center.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The issue of gay marriage is on the ballot in eleven states today. American voters will decide whether to change their state constitutions in order to ban gay marriage and civil unions.

Christine Romans has the report -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, one in five American voters will face an issue that was barely on the radar in the last election, gay marriage.


ROMANS (voice-over): It's called the defense of marriage. In Oregon, Mississippi and Montana, the constitutional amendment initiatives would ban gay marriage. Initiatives in eight other states ban civil unions. But gay rights groups say wording in several of the proposals would actually roll back gay partners' health benefits, hospital visitation rights and other hard-fought civil rights.

In Michigan, the Catholic Church spent more $1 million to preserve what it calls the sanctity of marriage. Conservative family groups say they just want to uphold what the majority of Americans believe, that marriage is between a man and a woman.


ROMANS: Lou, obviously we're having some audio problems there.

I want to tell you, these ballot initiatives are about more than just defining marriage. Some political strategists believe that the initiatives were placed on the ballot to energize the conservative base and in some cases appeal to African-American voters. At this point, it looks like, at least in 10 of these states, these bans on same-sex marriage will likely pass.

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DOBBS: Thank you very much, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

DOBBS: Christine Romans. And we apologize, again, for those technical problems.

Coming up next here, avoiding another 2000. The news media, the news networks have a new plan for calling a winner in this election, the news networks, the news divisions. Judy Woodruff will be here with me next. And we'll have live reports for you from the critical swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, three states that in fact could determine the outcome of this election. And I'll be joined by three of the nation's very best political journalists assessing this Election Day.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The election debacle of 2000 has certainly changed the way in which the news media will report today's election. News organizations across the country have taken extensive precautions to avoid any projection errors.

For more now on the guidelines of this network, I'm joined by Judy Woodruff at our news analysis desk -- Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Lou. How are you?

DOBBS: Doing great.

Tell us about what it's going to -- what will be really different this year that will assure our viewers of absolute accuracy as we report these numbers and results and projections?

WOODRUFF: Well, Lou, first of all, the watchword is caution. We are going to be cautious. We would much rather get it right than get it first, by a long shot.

So, we're going to be focused on having the right results tonight. But, No. 1, one thing we're doing differently is, we're waiting for all the polls to close in particular states before we project a winner in that state. Second of all, we are relying on the Associated Press, a news organization, wire service, which will be collecting actual vote counts from thousands of counties all over the United States.

And we have our own team of analysts and statisticians here at CNN, at Time Warner Center, and they are going to be looking at these numbers coming in, both the exit polls that are done as voters leave the polling places and the sample precinct numbers. So we have got our own layer of analysis.

DOBBS: A layer of analysis and some terrific analysts and terrific journalists, most especially Judy Woodruff, who will be with you throughout the evening here.

Judy, thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Thanks, Lou. See you later.

DOBBS: You betcha, Judy Woodruff.

Coming up next here, we'll have the very latest from the reporters on the ground in key battleground states around the country, also, a live report from early exit polls and voter turnout in this very close election.


DOBBS: I'm joined now by the A-team in political journalism, Ron Brownstein of "The L.A. Times," from Washington tonight, Karen Tumulty of "TIME" magazine, from Boston, Roger Simon of "U.S. News & World Report."

It looks like we have got a close one, Ron. Have you seen one closer than this, Ron?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, which one of us is Mr. T., Lou?



Well, you know, 2000 was pretty darn close, too, the second narrowest Electoral College victory ever, only the fourth time in history a president has lost the popular vote and won the White House.


DOBBS: Well, Ron, actually, I was talking about at this point in the election.

BROWNSTEIN: No. I'm saying, I'm saying that, you know, I think in many ways what we're seeing here is that many of the lines that we saw in 2000 are engraved even deeper. The polls coming into this have shown the country divided in many similar ways. We'll see how it breaks finally tonight, but I think the basic divisions that we saw are still in place.

DOBBS: And, Karen, the long lines that we're seeing, conventional wisdom has been that a heavy turnout would favor Senator Kerry. Anything that you want to add to that conventional wisdom?

KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": You know, I haven't seen anything that would shake that conventional wisdom today. What is more surprising even than the turnout is the complete lack of problems that seem to be happening. Those tens of thousands of lawyers who are standing around the polling places probably have a lot of time on their hands. So, while people are standing in line to vote, if they want to draw up a will, this may be the time to do it.


DOBBS: Well, those lawyers, I suspect, are on retainer or somehow figuring out a way to make due, given all of the lack of activity.


DOBBS: Roger, as you're analyzing what's happening here, is this turnout, do you judge it to be approaching a record?


I think -- I don't know if it will set a U.S. record. I doubt it. But it is going to set a record for several decades. And I agree with Karen. The motivation is that, if you want change, you get out and vote. If you're satisfied with the status quo, you're more likely to stay home, and that probably favors John Kerry.

DOBBS: And do you believe that the principal issue here -- because Senator Kerry has focused like a laser on Iraq for the past week. Is that what you think is driving most of these voters, the primary issue in their minds, Roger?

SIMON: I think we're going to find that it is going to differ from state to state and voters to voters.

But I think the same mind-set is going to be the same no matter whether the issue is homeland security, terrorism, the economy, or Iraq. It's going to be, stay the course and vote for George Bush or vote for change and vote for John Kerry. It almost doesn't matter what the issue is. It's your attitude to whether you want the country to continue the same way for the next four years or you want change for the next four years.


BROWNSTEIN: Lou, can I jump in?

DOBBS: Sure.

BROWNSTEIN: I think George W. Bush is the fuel for the turnout on both sides in this election.

We have had, as we've talked about before on the show, the widest gap in the history of modern polling in way Democrats and Republicans view this presidency, the widest gap in the approval ratings. We've seen that intensity in the campaign finance contributions we saw all year. And I think we're going to see it again in this turnout. This president has deeply attached himself to his base, but he has also generated enormous opposition among those who didn't vote for him last time. And I think both of those forces are propelling this turnout that we're seeing.

DOBBS: And this turnout, is it, Karen, in your best judgment -- and is it affecting the race in the House and the Senate as well or is that fairly irrelevant to the outcome there?

TUMULTY: Well, interestingly enough, the states that have the hottest Senate races and a lot of the hottest House races are not the states that are in general, at least, with some exceptions, like maybe Colorado, that are in the greatest contention in the presidential race.

So, certainly, the high turnout in the -- in the noncontested states could affect it, but -- but it's -- it's been an interesting electoral map this year.

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KAREN TUMULTY, TIME MAGAZINE: So, certainly, the high turnout in the non-contested states could effect it, but it's been an interesting electoral map this year because we've actually had almost two separate elections going on.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: As you are talking there, Karen, we're looking -- our audience and all of us here are looking at the live pictures of Clayton County, Georgia, with voters lined up, milling about, plenty of activity at 6:00 Eastern Time, participation full.

We have not seen a single section or quarter of this country in which turnout has not been at the very least impressive, if not an outright -- just extraordinarily heavy.

Let me ask you -- each of you do you think we're going to -- based on what you're sensing here, I'd like to ask each of you, beginning with you, Ron, do you think we're going to have a winner tonight?

RON BROWNSTEIN, L.A. TIMES: I hope so. I think it will depend on how many provisional ballots there are in the key states and how those compare to the margins of victory. I think that's going to be the key question about whether we know tonight. Perhaps we'll know, I hope we know, but I'm not a hundred percent sure we will.

DOBBS: Karen.

TUMULTY: Yes, I am feeling more so than I was a day or two ago confident that we, in fact, may know the winner by the time we go to bed tonight, assuming we go to bed in the wee hours, that is, and, you know, I think that it does appear that this turnout could perhaps create a wave.

DOBBS: Your thoughts, Roger?

ROGER SIMON, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: The same. I think we'll have a winner. I think he will win 51:48:1. I just don't know which guy will get that, but I think...


SIMON: But I think we will have a clear winner. That win will be magnified in the electoral college. It won't go to the House of Representatives, and we'll know who's president tomorrow morning, and we can all either be angry or be sad or be happy, but breathe a sigh of relief that we know. DOBBS: Well -- and one thing we can all be happy about: It looks like democracy is certainly working today. A lot of voting, democracy at work.

Thank you all. We'll be talking to you soon. Ron, Karen, Roger.

Coming up next here, live reports from three of the critical swing states in this election. We'll have the very latest for you from our reporters on the ground in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.

President Bush and Senator Kerry's final day on the campaign trail. We'll have live reports for you from both campaign headquarters.

And I'll be joined by former presidential adviser David Gergen next.

And CNN's special election night coverage begins tonight at 7:00 live from New York. Trust CNN to track the votes, the exit polls, the swing states, all of the voting irregularities and legal challenges. We hope there are few of them.

Wolf Blitzer and CNN's full election team will be kicking off our primetime coverage tonight beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Stay with us.


ANNOUNCER: We now return to CNN special Election Day coverage as America Votes 2004. Here now, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Tonight, millions of us voting in what appears to be one of the tightest presidential elections in history.

The first statewide polls will close in just an hour from now, just about 55 minutes.

Both the Republicans and Democrats have deployed huge armies of attorneys and poll watchers to challenge any voting irregularities.

We have three reports tonight from those following the secretaries of state in key swing states. Our reporters led off by Dan Lothian in Columbus, Ohio, Deborah Feyerick in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, David Mattingly in Tallahassee, Florida.

Dan Lothian in Ohio -- Dan.


Well, you know, it rained pretty much all day, but that, apparently, did not impact the voter turnout. The secretary of state's office here projecting voter turnout of about 73 percent. That is not a record, but, yet, it is very heavy.

We did see a lot of voters standing in long lines at polling places across the state. Some were complaining that there were not enough voting machines inside of those polling places in the urban areas as opposed to the suburban areas. That, of course, could not be verified.

We also heard from some voters who said that they had to stand in line for more than three hours.


LOTHIAN: What's the wait been like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About a three-hour wait. It's been worth it, though, you know. Moving pretty quick. You know, people are getting in and out, you know, so it's not too bad.

LOTHIAN: What's the mood here? Are people getting frustrated or not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, just waiting, taking their time, you know, and casting their ballot.


LOTHIAN: Now, on the legal front, of course, the biggest event that occurred overnight was when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, in fact, those challengers, which Republicans wanted, would be allowed inside of polling places. Republicans feeling that this was the way to go after voter fraud. Democrats concerned that this would just lead to voter intimidation.

Of course, the Republicans got to win in this particular case. The court saying, in part, that "there's strong public interest in permitting legitimate statutory process to operate to preclude voting by those who are not entitled to vote."

One other legal issue also that occurred today: An Ohio woman, who said she did not receive her absentee ballot, tried to use a provisional ballot but was turned away saying that the state law did not allow for that. So she filed a lawsuit, and her wish was granted. So that means that anyone else who was in her similar situation could also use that provisional ballot.

Back to you.

DOBBS: Dan Lothian.

Thank you.

There have been reports of some voting problems in the State of Pennsylvania. Deborah Feyerick reports now from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania -- Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the biggest problem really had to do with provisional ballots. Many of the counties simply did not print enough, and so the chief of elections here in Harrisburg about midday sent word that they could Xerox these forms and people could fill them in. This way, nobody would be turned away.

Of course, it's unclear just how many of them will ultimately count. All of the provisional ballots will have to be checked at the end of the day.

Now another problem also involves absentee ballots, specifically in Philadelphia. Republicans in court there. They're asking a judge for more time to be able to review and also challenge anyone who may have put their name down for an absentee ballot improperly.

Now voter turnout was extremely high across the state, and there's expected to be a big surge between now and 8:00 when the polls close.

But all those threats, all those scares about potential challenges of first-time voters never really materialized. There were a couple of scattered problems.

For example, in Mercer County, a couple of machines broke down. Everybody had to vote on paper.

In Philadelphia, Republicans threatened to impound four machines which they said had illegal votes on them. The district attorney came in and debunked that.

But really here in Philadelphia -- I'm sorry. Here in Pennsylvania, anyway, a lot of state officials, a lot of lawyers who were ready to mount whatever challenges they needed to spent a lot of time chasing down and then debunking about nine out of every 10 rumors -- Lou.

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DOBBS: Wouldn't it be fun to disappoint all of those attorneys all around the country today?

Deborah, thank you very much.

Deborah Feyerick.

In the State of Florida, Secretary of State Glenda Hood has just said there have been only isolated voting problems in her state. Florida, the center of the 2000 Election fiasco, and great anticipation about this day's flow of process in the voting of millions of Floridians.

David Mattingly reports now from Tallahassee, Florida -- David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Election Day in Florida started with a very familiar sight, one of people standing in line at the polling places, and all indications are the turnout has been heavy and sustained all day long throughout the Sunshine State.

Ten-point-three million people are registered to vote here. That's a record. Election officials are expecting a record turnout. In fact, election officials here in the Tallahassee area, just for the Tallahassee area, are predicting a turnout today of 80 percent, and, unlike four years ago, state officials are reporting only occasional problems. This confirmed by both the Bush and Kerry campaigns. And Secretary of State Glenda Hood says these problems were dealt with quickly and by local authorities.


GLENDA HOOD, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: We have had some isolated incidents reported of double voting where there's been some confusion as it relates to early voting and going to the polling place today. I can assure you that this has been immediately dealt with by our supervisors of elections.

If there is an instance of that, it is being reported to local law enforcement. It is a felony to double vote, and people will be prosecuted.


MATTINGLY: A hot line was set up by the secretary of state's office for voters who might be having problems. We went into that office today to get pictures, and we found out the biggest questions coming in today: Am I eligible to vote? and Where do I vote?

We were told by both the Bush and Kerry campaigns that very few voters were challenged when they went to the polls today, so we are expecting to see relatively few provisional votes cast here in the State of Florida.

Right now, in the waning hours of this campaign, it's all coming down to the ground game, everyone trying to get every last voter to the polls before the polls close tonight.

The secretary of state says she expects to be here very late tonight counting these votes, but, she says, she expects to have a very clear winner when those votes are counted -- Lou.

DOBBS: David, thank you. Wouldn't it be nice if we've all remembered that voting and elections don't have to be as difficult as we made it all back in 2000?

David Mattingly.

Thank you.

We've reported here extensively on the issue of trade and the outsourcing of American jobs to cheap overseas labor markets. Both President Bush and Senator Kerry agree that trade is certainly good for the country. But there are major differences between the two candidates on the issue. Few, though, they may be.

Bill Tucker reports -- Bill.

BILL TUCKER, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, bottom line comes down to this: that no matter who wins the election, America still will be deeply in debt to its overseas trading partners.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TUCKER (voice-over): America's exporting its economy at breakneck speed. We're on pace to log a record current account deficit this year of more than $600 billion.

President Bush believes that deficit is a sign of our economic strength and that trade is good for the economy. He wants more trade agreements along the lines of NAFTA.

Senator Kerry agrees trade is good, but, before negotiating further agreements, he would review the ones we have to see if they're being lived it up by our trading partners.

Neither candidate has a plan for rebalancing trade.

ALAN TONELSON, U.S. BUSINESS & INDUSTRY COUNCIL: It seems quite clear that both candidates have followed the globalization and free trade line of big multinational companies and big finance, meaning Wall Street.

TUCKER: And there is little disagreement between the two over the exporting of American jobs overseas to our trading partners, even though Kerry has hammered Bush on the loss of jobs during his administration.


TUCKER: It comes down to this: The president has called outsourcing a good thing, and Kerry says it disturbs him, but then concedes, Lou, that there's little that can be done about it.

DOBBS: Well, maybe he'll get a few suggestions along the way if he wants some thoughts on it.

Bill Tucker.

Thanks a lot.

We've got a book for him to read if he'd like to.

TUCKER: Exactly.

DOBBS: Bill Tucker.

Appreciate it.

Joining me now, advisers to both the Bush and Kerry campaigns. Here in New York, I'm joined by Ron Christie. He was until recently a special assistant to President Bush.

Good to have you with us, Ron.

In Boston tonight, Gene Sperling, economic adviser to Senator Kerry.

Gene, good to have you with us.

Gene also served under President Clinton as national economic adviser.

Let me begin first with you, Ron. The issues here of the economy -- the administration has argued throughout that this economy is strong and robust. Do you think that the voters are agreeing?

RON CHRISTIE, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BUSH: I think the voters are seeing that the policies that President Bush has put in effect after the 2000 -- September 2001 disaster are really making a strong difference.

I'm talking about reducing tax burdens on Americans, four times in American society, and making sure Americans have more disposable income to spend. I think that's really made a strong difference.

But, on the other hand, there's no question that we've lost a million jobs right after 9/11, in the first three months after 9/11, but I think those tax cuts have really taken a strong measure to revitalize the American economy.

DOBBS: And, Gene, the issue of outsourcing -- Bill Tucker was talking about Senator Kerry has suggested there's not much that can be done about it. Is there a real difference between Senator Kerry and President Bush on the issue of what I have referred to here as just free trade at any cost.

GENE SPERLING, KERRY ECONOMIC ADVISER: Well, there's a dramatic difference in their policy towards jobs, Lou. This administration -- I mean, if you listen to them, they spend most of their answers talking about excuses in 2001.

You wouldn't know that you have a president who's been there four years with a Republican Congress who could have put a focus on creating incentives for job creation here and eliminating the incentives for moving jobs overseas.

He could have done more to enforce our trade agreement to make clear to China that it was not OK to manipulate currency and give our trading partners an unfair competitive advantage. It is absolutely the case that Senator Kerry does believe we have to engage in the global economy, but it doesn't mean we're helpless.

There are things we could be doing that President Bush has failed to do. We could be lowering our health-care costs. We could be having universal broadband. We could be increasing instead of politicizing our investment in technology.

This president actually cut manufacturing assistance during a time when we were losing 2.7 million jobs and brought less trade enforcement measures than President Clinton did, significantly so.

So there is a very strong difference in their focus on jobs and competitiveness. Senator Kerry is putting that front and center.

DOBBS: Gene...

SPERLING: President Bush has put... (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: I think Ron wants to get a word in edgewise here, Gene, if I can interrupt.

SPERLING: ... as their top priority.

CHRISTIE: Hey, you know, Gene, it's almost like you didn't hear a word I said. As I was just saying to Lou a few moments ago, the tax cuts have really helped to stimulate the American economy.

The president has made sure through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, for one thing, that those workers who were displaced by foreign competitiveness -- that those workers who have been displaced that they have the opportunity to be retrained and to get different skill sets to make their selves as competitive in the market as possible.

But to go back to what Gene just said a second ago, Lou, that I just absolutely disagree with -- this president presided over 9/11. Whether Gene likes to admit it or not, 9/11 had a dramatic impact on our economy here, a dramatic impact on our products and our services, and, given that, given that we inherited a recession from the previous administration, I think the president's measures have stimulated the economy and have helped bring it back to a stronger recovery.

DOBBS: Gene, your thoughts on that?

SPERLING: Well, this is the excuse presidency. It's "The-dog- ate-my-homework" presidency. I will grant...


SPERLING: ... that those would be legitimate things. I would grant that those would be legitimate things to talk about if it was January 2002, but they're in their fourth year. They've had an all- Republican Congress.

Lou, the president's own Council of Economic Advisers projected that we'd be seven million jobs ahead of where we are now. We have a seven million job deficit even if you don't count anything negative that happened in 2001.

This president missed opportunities to take on health-care costs, technology. He missed the chance to do more to get tax cuts that create jobs here, new jobs tax credits, and not protecting tax incentives that moved jobs overseas, which he stood by and even expanded in the most recent corporate tax bill.

CHRISTIE: Excuses.

DOBBS: Ron, you get the last word on it.

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CHRISTIE: Lou, excuses, excuses, excuses. I would say that the president had a very pro-growth economic package, and it's just disappointing that rather than running on a strong economic record and rather than having an agenda, the Kerry campaign continues to attack as opposed to focusing on what the Bush administration has accomplished for the American people, both reducing health-care costs and reducing the tax burden on American society.

DOBBS: Ron Christie, Gene Sperling, we thank you both, and good luck to both your candidates.

Still ahead here tonight, the first statewide polls close in just about 40 minutes. CNN will have, of course, the very latest results for you just as they come in. We'll have a live report from Wolf Blitzer on what we can all expect and what this coverage at the world's greatest news network will look like throughout the evening.

Election 2004 has already made its way into the courts in a few of the key swing states across the country. We'll report on that. There's a great deal more still ahead.

And right now, right this very moment, you're looking at live pictures of voters in Henderson, Nevada.

CNN special election night coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern live from New York City. Trust CNN to track your votes, the exit polls, the swing states, any voting irregularities -- we hope there will be few -- and legal challenges -- we know there will be some.

Stay with us as we continue.


DOBBS: Well, you'll be pleased to know that dozens of foreign observers are in this country monitoring our election in the world's biggest and best democracy. But some key states have turned them away.

Kitty Pilgrim joins me now with the story.

Kitty, who's turning them away?

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Lou, international monitors were invited in by the State Department, but that was not an entrance ticket into every state.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You punch holes.

PILGRIM (voice-over): America's polling places are under international watch. The OSCE, a Vienna-based election monitoring group, has sent 87 observers to 10 states, plus Washington, D.C. The largest teams are in Ohio, Florida and Maryland.

The National Association of Secretaries of State have not endorsed the monitors. It's a state-by-state decision whether or not they can observe. Some states, such as Colorado, refused to have them. International observers say they are particularly focused on the touch-screen voting systems and are scrutinizing the election for any irregularities.

KONRAD OLSZEWSKI, OSCE ELECTION OBSERVER: I suppose the key issue will be whether the parties of election administration is able to conduct an election in a nonpartisan way.

PILGRIM: Some voters take the "it-can't-hurt" approach to the observers. Election officials in Miami-Dade County, Florida, have let them in.

SETH KAPLAN, MIAMI-DADE ELECTIONS: If you're doing the right thing, you really don't mind who's watching, and that's the way we feel. We're very proud of the process that we have here.

PILGRIM: Others find it a troubling sign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's kind of disturbing because it kind of shows how bad it went the last time here in Florida.


PILGRIM: Now the OSCE says they will have preliminary results in a week and will come out with a full report in a month, but some feel that is tantamount to passing judgment on one of the best electoral systems and one of the oldest democracies in the modern world -- Lou.

DOBBS: Let's show them. What do you think?

PILGRIM: I think we could show them.

DOBBS: Kitty, thanks. It looks like we're off to a very good start.

As part of our election coverage tonight, there's a clock, as you may have noticed, in the lower left corner of your screen. It's counting down to the time that polls close in the first six states.

Some polls in those states may close a little earlier. In fact, some certainly do. But CNN will not begin to report the results until all of the polls in any given state have closed.

As of 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time -- that about 35 minutes from now -- all of the polls will be closed in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. At that time, CNN will begin to bring you the very first results from this 2004 presidential election.

Throughout the night, we'll be counting you down to the time the next polls close until all of the votes are in, and, therefore, I have explained, I hope adequately, that little clock in the left-hand corner.

Wolf Blitzer will be leading our coverage -- our extensive election night coverage from the NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square right here in New York City, and he joins me now with more of what's ahead -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: One of the reasons, Lou, why some of the people in certain states, like Florida, for example, or Indiana, might be confused about when we will start projecting results is we're going to wait in those states that have -- that are -- span two time zones.

Florida, for example, has part of it in the Eastern Time Zone, but out in the West, Florida Panhandle, Pensacola, for example, they're in the Central Time Zone.

We're going to wait until all of the polling booths in Florida or Indiana or any other state that spans different time zones are closed before we go ahead and project results. We don't want people on the western part of the state to be forlorn, if you will, if their candidate is not shown to be winning.

We made that mistake, remember, four years ago, and, this time around, we have made the decision that we'll wait for every single precinct to shut down in a state before we go ahead and project any winners.

DOBBS: Well, Wolf, I do recall dimly 2000, and I also know that, with your guidance, we will be absolutely perfect tonight, avoiding any -- even a suggestion of 2000. We're all about 2004 here at CNN right, partner?

BLITZER: We're so cautious this time. I don't think just CNN, but I think all of the major television news organizations, the Associated Press. We're going to err on the side of caution. There's no rush to judgment.

And, if necessary, what we're going to do, Lou, is we're going to wait and do it the old-fashioned way, wait until all the precincts, 100 percent of them, have reported in, and then we'll be able to presumably report a winner.

But even then, there might be absentee ballots, military ballots, these provisional ballots that are now out there. So this could take a while.

DOBBS: It could take a while, and that's why we're glad we've got you in the lead anchor chair. Wolf, we look forward to it. Thank you. We'll be talking here again soon.

BLITZER: Thanks.

DOBBS: I'm joined now once again by a former adviser to four presidents, David Gergen.

David, all of the buildup to this with the caveat again that it is early, it appears this election, despite extraordinarily heavy turnout, is going very smoothly.


GERGEN: And I might say, you know, on your conversation with Wolf, you know, if voters can stand in line for two or three hours to vote, we can wait 20 or 30 minutes to report the results.

DOBBS: Absolutely. You know, this mad rush that all of us in television news got into -- it blew up in our faces in 2000. It could have blown up much sooner than that, as you well know.

GERGEN: I do agree, and I have to tell you, you know, we also had a fear about this locust of lawyers going out into the states, they're going to be checking up everything.

It may be that we'll look back in retrospect and say the prospect of all those lawyers forced a lot of communities to say let's make sure this runs well, let's make sure this doesn't run with a lot of hitches, no more Floridas.

No one wanted to be the Florida this time around, and that's a good thing. I...

DOBBS: Including Florida.

GERGEN: Including Florida!

DOBBS: Most especially Florida.

GERGEN: You know, I was thinking -- but, you know, there's a lot in Lou Gerstner's book about, you know, who says elephants can't dance.

DOBBS: Right.

GERGEN: He was talking about leadership, and he said...

DOBBS: Lou Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM.

GERGEN: Right. And when he was at IBM at the turnaround of IBM, he made the argument that he found that in turning a company around, the word "inspect" often made more sense than the word "respect."

And the notion that people are going to be there often encourages people, you know, we're going to bring this up to snuff, we're going to bring it up to standards. Really encouraging about this voting.

DOBBS: Our national pride may be offended by the folks from the OSCE coming in to watch our ballots or whatever, but it's like the fellow in Florida said. It's real simple. If you haven't got a problem and you're not doing anything wrong, who cares who's watching?

GERGEN: You want to be the shining city on the hill that Reagan used to talk about it? Let your light shine.

DOBBS: David, thanks a lot.

GERGEN: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: We're going to be talking about a host of other issues coming up.

Kitty Pilgrim, thank you again.

Still ahead here, they're lined up by the thousands, attorneys from both sides. They're battling -- or at least prepared to battle -- over this election. It looks like we all may just disappoint them a bit.

We'll take a closer look at the lawsuits, however, that have been filed and are underway and just who they will effect. And later, the presidential candidates have returned home.

We'll check in with the Bush and Kerry campaigns as they await the results of this presidential election 2004.

And you're watching live pictures now right there of voters at the polls -- it doesn't look too busy, but I'll bet they soon will be. It's early in the day in Seattle, Washington.

CNN special election night coverage begins 7:00 p.m. Eastern live from New York, coming up in just about a half-hour. And, remember, trust CNN to track all of the votes, the exit polls, the swing states, any voting irregularities or legal challenges, and everything else as well.

Stay with us.


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DOBBS: Well, in 2000, the presidential election came to an end With a five-to-four Supreme Court ruling. This presidential race could also end up before the high court. We desperately hope not. And it doesn't look like it will. But we do raise the possibility.

Lisa Sylvester is here now with more on the litigation that has shown up in this election. Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, in the last couple of hours, we've seen a flurry of 11th-hour court decisions. Republicans were challenging some 30,000 registered voters on the grounds that their current address did not match the address on their registration cards.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): The courts considered whether challengers could be at the polling places in Ohio and also whether Republicans could use their list of disputed voters. U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, hours before the polls opened, rule that the GOP challengers could be at the precincts, but a separate ruling has kept the Republicans from using their list.

A lawsuit in Pennsylvania would force the state to accept absentee ballots up until 30 days after the election. In Iowa, Republicans are fighting a decision by the secretary of state that allows provisional ballots to be accepted even if voters are at the wrong precincts.

Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court could play another decisive role.

PROF. ROY SCHOTLAND, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Let's say, as in 2000, that the electoral vote turns on a dispute in one very close case -- state. Then, we're back at the races.


SYLVESTER: And Democrats have filed a lawsuit in South Dakota accusing the GOP of intimidating Native American voters. Meanwhile, Republicans in Pennsylvania are talking about possibly filing a lawsuit to impound four to seven voting machines that they say were not calibrated correctly.

So a number of these isolated, scattered cases throughout the country.

DOBBS: Isolated, scattered, and again, that's a Senator Daschle lawsuit in South Dakota where he's locked up in that very tight race with the Republican, Thune. Lisa, thank you very much.

SYLVESTER: Thank you.

DOBBS: We appreciate it. Lisa Sylvester.

The first polls closing in just about a little under a half-hour from now.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is already taking a look at some of the interesting responses from early exit polls and joins us now from the Nasdaq Market Site in Times Square, where he will be posted throughout this exciting evening. Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Lou, we have partial exit poll results based on interviews with some of those early voters. These results could change a bit as we continue interviewing, but they give us some insights into what the voters are thinking.

For one thing, Bush and Kerry voters turn out to have totally different agendas. Here's what Kerry voters said today when we asked them to pick the issues that were most important to them. The top issue was the economy and jobs to Kerry voters, followed by Iraq and health care.

Bush voters, however, had a totally different issue agenda. Moral values and terrorism topped the list for Bush voters. Only 5 percent of the Kerry voters even cited terrorism as one of their major concerns.

Now, Bush and Kerry voters were sharply split over the state of the nation's economy. Over 80 percent of Bush voters tell us the nation's economy, in their view, is in pretty good shape. Nearly 90 percent of Kerry voters think the economy is not good.

Now, here's one reason why. Forty-five percent of Kerry voters report that somebody in their household has lost a job in the last four years. That's almost half of them. Among Bush voters, the figure is just 22 percent.

But one issue divided the voters even more than the economy did, and that was Iraq. More than 80 percent of Kerry voters are telling us that they disapprove of the decision for the United States to go to war. Almost 90 percent of Bush voters approve of going to war in Iraq.

And, Lou, finally, it looks like those predictions of high voter turnout may be on target. One in seven voters today said they did not vote in the 2000 presidential election. And that suggests a lot of new voters, Lou.

DOBBS: And a lot of interest, a lot of participation, Bill.

David Gergen is here with me. And I want you to join me in here (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with your thoughts on this. But I want to ask both you, Bill, and you, David, the fact that that split -- I find that fascinating -- that split on those in a household who have lost a job breaking that decisively for Senator Kerry versus President Bush. What do you make of that, David?

GERGEN: Well, I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what Bill's report overall is that we came on the brink of this election. We thought terrorism, then Iraq, then the economy were the most important issues in the public's mind. And now, we find a lot of voters are voting -- Bill Schneider is telling us -- based on economic concerns.

A, that's a reversal where we thought it means, and it also, that's good news for Kerry. Two things are good news for Kerry in the report, people voting on the economy, not on the terrorism, because that's where his strength is, and secondly, it's so many new voters, because new voters tend to vote for the challenger.

DOBBS: And Bill, this idea, we're basically seeing the polling talking about the issues of most importance to voters sort of turned on its head in these results, at least the early results that you have there.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, the issues of concern to the voters weren't always the issues stressed by the press. One of the striking results is that in 2000, 85 percent of the voters thought the economy was in good shape. You know what the figure is now? Forty-four. That's really having an impact.

DOBBS: Wow. OK, Bill Schneider, thank you very much for that analysis. Bill will be here on CNN throughout the evening, and he, Wolf and the entire CNN election team. And David Gergen, we thank you, as always, for your insight and analysis. I'm going to turn now to two other very important talents, the co-hosts of "CROSSFIRE." On the left, of course, James Carville, also known as the Ragin' Cajun, and on the right, Bob Novak, who's known by a number of names, but we'll just call him associate, colleague, and friend. Good to have you both with us.


DOBBS: Bob, what do you make of those early results, exit polls that Bill Schneider was just talking about, the way it's breaking in terms of employment, and that heavy turnout?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I don't think that's very surprising. I think that the people who are hurting, who don't think the economy is doing well, are turning to Senator Kerry, and the people who really do think we are in a war against terrorism are sticking with President Bush. I think we're really -- we're really waiting for two big states, Ohio and Florida...

DOBBS: Oh, yes.

NOVAK: ... where both of them, maybe the economy is a little more important in Ohio, terrorism more important in Florida. And I think those states, how they come out, may well determine who the next president of the United States is.

DOBBS: And James Carville, the same question. You're not in any way surprised by those early exit polls and what they're suggesting about the turnout, the heavy turnout, and the way in which it's breaking, and, of course, the importance of economic issues?

CARVILLE: Yes, well, I mean, I'm, no, I'm not surprised at the turnout. I mean, it was widely predicted, almost, I would say, widely assumed that there would be a heavy turnout. Going to be interested to see what the figure is, if this translates into 115 or 120 million voters. I think people are looking at the top number.

DOBBS: Right.

CARVILLE: I'm not surprised either that people who've lost their jobs are more inclined to vote for Kerry. I mean, they tend to be a little more downscale. The Bush voters are probably a little bit up the economic ladder, so probably less affected by what happens in the economy.

And Bush has made terrorism such an issue that if you're voting for him, I think you want to identify with him on that issue.

But I don't -- I've always viewed the job of president of the United States as being able to do both. I mean, they got a lot of staff and a lot of airplanes and should be able to do the economy and fight terrorism at the same time.

DOBBS: Well, let me ask you, I mean, actually, it was the inverse, a lot of assumptions, certainly, leading up to this point had been that Bush had picked up a lot of support among the lesser- educated voter, voters, and Senator Kerry had picked up a lot of support among the higher-educated voters and the more affluent voters who were precisely the ones that he said he's going to tax. What do you all make of that?

NOVAK: I think that's an illusion. I think the Kerry support among the higher-educated voters is a small fringe of people in the academic world, in the arts...

DOBBS: Right.

NOVAK: ... in communications. But most of the people making a lot of money are going to vote for Bush, while, on the other hand, I think that the lower-income voters are going to vote for Senator Kerry. I just -- I don't think there's any doubt on that. And that is -- really gets down to, Lou...


NOVAK: ... the question of people who think that they really need the government to help them through, and people who think that the government should get out of the way. That's been a debate going on in America for a couple hundred years, I would say.

DOBBS: I want to give James Carville the last word here, Bob. Thank you, because he's always so reticent. James, you have the last word.

CARVILLE: Well, you know, I think we could, you know what? Not much can be said now. We're going to know what this thing is going to be in a couple or three hours, or we'll know if it's going to be so close all night. I'm not surprised. You have people, there are a lot of people out there who look to Social Security, look to Medicare, look to student loans, look to these types of things as things that protect them and things that give them opportunity.

And I think it's perfectly legitimate issue, and I think a lot of these people are voting for Senator Kerry. But I think they -- I think we'll know here pretty soon, and spin's done.

DOBBS: You got it. Thank you very much, James Carville. And I know that hurts when you can't spin.

CARVILLE: That's it, man.

DOBBS: Bob Novak, thank you both so much.

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DOBBS: Bob Novak, thank you both so much.

NOVAK: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: We'll be looking forward to your thoughts throughout the evening here on CNN and our 2004 election coverage.

Still ahead, President Bush making a final campaign stop in what could be the most important state in this election, while Senator Kerry spent the final morning of this campaign in battleground Wisconsin. We'll have live reports from both campaigns. Three of the country's top political journalists join me next. And stay with us throughout the evening here. Our special election night coverage begins in just a few moments, Wolf Blitzer leading the way.


DOBBS: President Bush and his family tonight awaiting the results of this election at the White House. Senior White House correspondent John King is there and has the latest for us.

John, what can you tell us about the mood at the Bush-Cheney campaign?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, a mood of anticipation, Lou, I wouldn't say nervousness. These are veterans, of course, of the 2000 campaign. They say, Let's wait, let's not discuss anecdotes about turnout, let's not even discuss the early exit poll information out there. Let's let them count the votes.

I just spoke to Karl Rove, this president's top political adviser. He is well aware that the Kerry campaign is saying turnup is up and that benefits them. Karl Rove saying, Not so fast, let's count the votes in the hours ahead. He says they have the most ambitious 72-hour volunteer effort to turn out the vote in history, and Karl Rove telling me just moments ago they surpassed every single goal in the past 72 hours, including voter contact.

As for the president, he is here in the White House, he worked out earlier today. Aides say he's content with the campaign he ran, win or lose. But he expects to win.

A little bit of irony, Lou, 16 years ago on election night, George W. Bush, the son, comforting his father. They knew then that George Herbert Walker Bush was going to lose that election. The former President Bush and Barbara Bush among those here at the White House tonight to have some time with now-President Bush as he awaits the results, Lou.

DOBBS: John, thank you very much. John King from the White House.

John Kerry is back at home in Boston. In the event of a win, the Kerry team is planning a victory party in Copley Square in downtown Boston.

Candy Crowley is there and has the latest for us. Candy, what's the mood in Boston?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, if busy can be a mood, that's kind of where they are right now. The candidate spent most of the time today after he left Wisconsin sitting doing satellite interviews. I mean, they're still in this game. And what they're doing is, when their ground game coordinator thinks that maybe in precincts where they might not be getting as many voters in that are their voters, they'll say, Well, let's call up station so- and-so and do an interview. And so the candidate's been doing interviews, in Michigan, in Ohio, among others. So he's been doing that. He's now actually back at his residence, having some dinner.

Having said that, they say they remain encouraged. Mostly, they believe that what has been widely reported as high turnout is going to favor John Kerry.

They also say that they are looking at Nevada and Colorado again, at precincts where they believe a heavy vote will help them win the states, and they're beginning to shift resources to those two states, saying, you know, We think, in fact, that we can make a good play there. They, in fact, have sent Wesley Clark, who was in New Mexico. He's gone over to Nevada to see what he can do.

So they're still kind of busy and remaining, as they say, optimistic. But they're still waiting to see the actual tangible votes, Lou.

DOBBS: Candy, thank you very much. Candy Crowley from Boston.

Candy Crowley, and, of course, John King, two of our premier team members on this election 2004 CNN news team that will be bringing the results throughout the evening.

Coming up next, leading political journalists join me. We are minutes away from the closing of the first statewide polls. Wolf Blitzer will join me live at 7:00 p.m. with our special election night coverage. He'll have the projections of the first election results. That coming up next.


DOBBS: Joining me now here in New York, Mark Warren of "Esquire" magazine, Marcus (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Mabry Of "Newsweek" magazine, and, in Boston, Roger Simon of "U.S. News and World Report." Good to have you all with us.

Let me start -- we just heard from the correspondents with the candidates tonight. They seem to be holding up pretty well. Anything you can divine from all of that?

MARK WARREN, "ESQUIRE" MAGAZINE: Their respective behaviors?


WARREN: Well, I mean, I think that the campaigns are putting the best face on the outcome here tonight. We heard earlier, I think, on this network that there's cautious optimism from both sides. I don't know what to make of that. So, no.

DOBBS: How about a close election? Think we can -- do you agree, Marcus?

MARCUS MABRY, "NEWSWEEK" MAGAZINE: I do agree. The problem at this point is, we just don't know, you know, what is spin and what is real. All of us in the press, I think, all day and all night have been divining, kind of, what did Kerry look like in his last appearance, what did the president look like? You know, who looked more dour? But no, we really don't know.

DOBBS: And Roger Simon, in Boston, we've just heard our senior White House correspondent John King report that the Bush-Cheney people are saying that it would be a mistake to assume that this large turnout favored Senator Kerry. What are your thoughts?

SIMON: I don't know what else they could possibly say, Lou. I mean, it is true that certain segments of the population that favor George Bush, evangelical Christians, for instance, a very important component of his electoral base, could be turning out in record numbers, and that could be helping to boost those figures.

But I have to say, with the caveats that you just heard from my two colleagues on the show, there is a quiet confidence here in -- among the Kerry staff. They're not hysterical, but there's a quiet confidence that he is going to pull this thing out.

DOBBS: In what -- in the sense that this is going to be determined by one or two particular influences, Mark, what do you think is most beneficial to the Kerry campaign in this election?

WARREN: Well, Senator Kerry, I think, had -- after he secured the nomination, a fairly -- was running a fairly lackluster campaign until the last month. He's had a spectacular last month, I would say, aided by a cascade of regular bad news for the White House on Iraq. He identified the issue, finally settled on his issue -- his position on the issue and has been delineating it very regularly for the voters.

DOBBS: And President Bush?

MABRY: I think the president's greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. He's been incredibly clear about who he is, about what he wants to do. This is a guy where no one has a doubt about what he stands for. But at the same time, that really does solidify his base in a way that's phenomenal, and probably has not been seen since Ronald Reagan.

But at the same time, he has really angered lots of Americans with the feeling that he's too stubborn, too doctrinaire, and too ideological. And that may be a problem.

DOBBS: And Roger Simon, your best judgment as to the most powerful determinant in this from the standpoint of both candidates?

SIMON: The desire for change, Lou, versus people who are happy and satisfied with the way things are going and want to stay the course with President Bush, versus those who aren't so happy, for economic reasons, for reasons of dislike of the war, and want a change, and are willing to take a risk on someone they may not even know very well, like John Kerry, but are willing to say, We know George Bush well enough, we're going to vote for John Kerry. The thing in George Bush's favor is, he is a incumbent wartime president, and the United States has no record of turning such presidents out of office.

DOBBS: Well, we're going to find out how many Americans are thinking very soon now. Roger Simon, Mark Warren, and Marcus Mabry, we thank you all for being here.

As the first projections of some of the first election results occur, if we choose to make projections, those results are expected in just a few moments. Wolf Blitzer will be joining us in just a moment to lead off CNN's special election night coverage. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The first statewide polls will be closing in just a matter of a few moments. We hand over now to Wolf Blitzer, our leader on this CNN special election night coverage. He's at the Nasdaq Market Site in Times Square, and he will have projections for the first election results in just a few moments.

I'm Lou Dobbs. Thanks for being with us.

Wolf Blitzer, take it away.

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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's live coverage of America Votes 2004.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Times Square, New York City, 43rd and Broadway, in the heart of Manhattan. You're looking live at the Nasdaq Market Site. Inside, a wealth of information.

We're here at CNN election headquarters. We're going to be able to show you results as you've never seen them before. Take a look at this. In only three minutes plus, we'll be able to start projecting some winners in states across the country. Six states will be closing their balloting in only three minutes from now. Another three states will be closing at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, and half an hour later.

This is a night that so many have been looking forward to. The campaign, a long, arduous campaign, coming to a close. We're going to take a look at all of the races tonight, the governors' races, the Senate races, House races. We'll have projections. We'll have data. We'll have all the information you need to know. As quickly as we get it, you will get it yourself.

Jeff Greenfield is joining us here as well, as he always does on these occasions. Jeff, thanks very much.

But first let's go over to the White House. Our senior White House correspondent John King has been covering the president.

John, give us a little flavor of the mood. What's in store over there?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Nervous anticipation, Wolf. The question for George W. Bush tonight, will he be president for 78 more days or four more years plus that 78 days? Mr. Bush is in the White House, he is awaiting the results. He is being joined by his family, including the former president and his mother, Barbara Bush. His brothers coming to the White House as well, Neil and Marvin already here, waiting for the results, receiving constant updates from his top political team, including his top adviser, Karl Rove.

Now, they have been listening throughout the day to Kerry advisers saying they believe things are going their way because of high turnout. They say, Let's wait for the votes to be counted. They say, Let's remember four years ago. And what the Republicans are saying, Wolf, and we'll see if the results hold it up, veer it up, is that their turnout operation says things are going gangbusters out there in the states and in the precincts where it matters. So now they wait, and they say the big challenge now is to count the votes, don't worry about the exit polls.

BLITZER: John, we'll be getting back to you.

Candy Crowley is in Boston, Copley Plaza, the Kerry campaign. What's the mood there, Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's two words, actually. The campaign remains encouraged, that coming from Joe Lockhart speaking for the campaign, but mostly, Wolf, they've been busy. The candidate came home from Wisconsin, he went to vote, he said a few words to the press.

And then they sat him in what they call the Chair, and for most of the afternoon, he did interviews. If they saw a precinct that wasn't turning out Democrats in the numbers they felt they should, they would offer the senator up to a local television station, and he would do a satellite interview. So he did that most of the afternoon before going over to his house on Beacon Hill to have dinner.

So they are still working this. They are still shifting resources, looking now at Nevada and Colorado. They have moved Wesley Clark, who has been out there as a surrogate, from New Mexico, sent him to Nevada, trying to get people out. So they're still working it at this point, but they're feeling pretty good, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Candy Crowley, thanks very much.

Jeff, only, what, 28 seconds to go before the first polls close.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And so what we're going to do is let you project those first state closings, and when that's done, we're going to show you where things ended up in 2000, and what both Bush and Kerry hope to do to either keep that map red or make it blue, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeff Greenfield, we'll be checking back with you, obviously, throughout the night.

Right now, six states are about to close since six seconds from now. Once all those states, the precincts are closed, we'll be able to start bringing you results of this election.

And right now, we can project that George W. Bush, the president of the United States, will carry several states in among these first states that are up for grabs. The president will win, we can project, Indiana and its 11 electoral votes, Kentucky and its eight electoral votes, and Georgia and its 15 electoral votes. We can project that John Kerry will carry the New England state of Vermont and its three electoral votes.

So far, so far, we do not have enough information yet so be able to project a winner in either Virginia or South Carolina.

But Jeff Greenfield, the race for the White House is moving forward. Right now, at this extremely early, extremely early moment in this night, Bush already, according to our projection, has 34 electoral votes, Kerry has three. The blue state, Vermont, is for Kerry. The red states are for Bush.

GREENFIELD: That's right. This is the calm before the storm. None of these results are anything but expected.

But I think the best way to tell these voters where we expect to be is where we wound up four years ago in 2000. If we can switch to that map, and I'll start talking before that map is on, back in 2000, George W. Bush won the -- he won the South, he won the mountain West, he won, of course, Florida. He won Ohio and Missouri. And Al Gore won New England, the middle Atlantic states, the upper Midwest, the industrial Midwest with the significant exception of Ohio. He won, of course, Florida.

Now, if the map looks like this when tonight is over, George W. Bush will be reelected with 278 electoral votes, because population shifted into the red states. So the Kerry strategy, obviously, take something away from the president.

For instance, if he were to win Ohio, a state beset by almost a quarter-million job losses, that alone would put Kerry over the top. He also has designs, not surprisingly, on Florida, with 27 electoral votes, by far the biggest battleground state up for grabs. He's looking at well at New Hampshire, up here in New England, which Al Gore lost by only 7,000 votes. That's a state that Nader affected.

So what about the Bush strategy? They say they have a shot at Pennsylvania, a state that George Bush has visited more than any other state except his home in Texas. They're looking at Michigan, where they think social conservatism may play among the so-called Reagan Democrats, and Wisconsin, another state that Al Gore only carried by 0.2 percent of the vote.

So you can see, throughout the night, Wolf, we'll be showing viewers how these states affect the outcome. We need one more thing to show you, if we can go back to the 2000 map and give John Kerry New Hampshire, with four electoral votes, and Nevada, with five electoral votes, guess what we have? A tie at 269 votes each, and welcome to 2004 where a House of Representatives will choose the president.

It is unlikely, Wolf, just as unlikely as an election that came down to 537 votes and hanging chads in Florida.

BLITZER: And the new House of Representatives as well, would be...

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GREENFIELD: You got it.

BLITZER: ... making that decision if there were a tie.

Let's talk about some turning points, some moments that you are looking at right now, what we should be looking at throughout these hours to come. GREENFIELD: Right. Well, as we look at back at this campaign, I think we can see a couple of critical turning points that affected this campaign. The first one was Iowa. John Kerry was virtually counted out before 2000 began. He said, I'm going make Iowa a do-or- die state. He won those caucuses and was never headed.

The second turning point, and this one is -- may turn out to be the most significant one of all, money. The Republicans assume that the nominee of the Democratic Party would be bankrupt by the spring, but thanks to the Internet, thanks to John Kerry following Howard Dean and opting out of public financing, and thanks to a loophole in campaign finance that let very rich people pour millions into advertising and vote mobilizations, the Democrats played this game on equal grounds.

Third, the conventions. This has been looked at by a lot of Democrats as a missed opportunity for John Kerry, stressing his Vietnam experience, not stressing his Senate record or what he would do. The Republicans came out of their convention with a big lead, which survived until this other turning point, that first debate. That put John Kerry right back into the mix of things.

And finally, the question that lingered throughout this campaign, Iraq and terror. If Iraq is seen as part of the war on terror, George Bush should do well tonight. If voters see Iraq as a diversion and a quagmire, a slog, as Donald Rumsfeld called it, that's probably good political news for John Kerry.

How this turns out, Wolf, I think we ought to ask the viewers to stick around.

BLITZER: They will be sticking around. We'll be sticking around all these turning points throughout the night.

Judy Woodruff is anchoring our coverage from our CNN election analysis center over at the Time Warner Center.

Judy, tell our viewers, first of all, what you're looking at, and that team of experts with you, what they're doing.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Wolf, this is what we are calling the election analysis center. It's a team of people, a combination of veteran election political analysts and statisticians. And they have been looking at numbers coming in all day long, Wolf. The so-called exit polls, these are interviews with voters as they left the polling places, about 1,500 precincts around the United States in every one of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

So they're looking at that, and it is on the basis of those exit polls, Wolf and Jeff, that CNN is felt comfortable enough to make the calls that you just did, Wolf, and that is, in the state of Georgia, in the state of Kentucky, and in the state of -- let me get the other -- Indiana, those three states for George Bush based on exit polls that show a comfortable enough margin that tends to match other information CNN had about the direction those states were going in politically. But on top of that, we are going to be looking at sample precincts and calls coming in from those sample precincts. We are all obviously also going to be looking at the raw vote. The Associated Press tonight is calling in from 3,500 counties across the United States. We're going to be taking in that information, and our team right here in Manhattan, in New York City, is going to be watching those numbers.

We've got layers of information, the exit polls, the sample precincts, and finally, the raw vote numbers, on top of the expertise of these people, which you cannot underestimate.

BLITZER: All right, Judy. And just to be precise, the fact that we cannot project the winner in Virginia and South Carolina, that simply means that we don't know enough about those two states. Is that right?

WOODRUFF: That's correct, Wolf. At this point, we do not have enough information to be able to call the result, either in the state of Virginia or in the state of South Carolina. That should not be read to mean that either one of these states is too close to call.

I will add, however, that the Democratic governor of the state of Virginia said a couple of days ago, Maybe we're going to see a surprise in that state. The public opinion polls in Virginia have been showing a race of somewhere between 3 and 6 points, closer, of course, than some of these other Southern states.

But in no way do we have information at this point that would lead us to believe that this is a state that's not going to go to George Bush.

GREENFIELD: And just to be clear, Judy, because after 2000, I think we want to bring the viewers in as close as we can. If you do get enough data to say the state is too close to call, CNN will call the state that way, correct?

WOODRUFF: That is correct. And that will be a specific call we make at a point in the evening when we have enough information in from a combination of these exit polls, sample precincts, and the raw vote, when we get enough information in that makes the men and women on this team comfortable to make that call, we will say it is too close to call.

But that is not what we're saying at this point about either Virginia or about South Carolina.

BLITZER: Judy Woodruff at the CNN election analysis center, thanks very much. We'll be getting back to you.

Let's walk over, bring in some other members of our team, no strangers to our viewers in the United States and around the world, Larry King and Carlos Watson.

Larry, what are you looking at at this early stage? LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Well, I'm looking at, first, this amazing setup we have here tonight. And I think we're going to be here a long time. I know we can't project certain winners in certain areas based on what happened four years ago. The question I'd ask you and you, how are we preventing four years ago?

BLITZER: Well, we have learned a lot of lessons, Larry, from what happened four years ago. The data, the new research that is coming in, this is a much more sophisticated operation. But I think it all boils down to, when all is said and done, is this, we're much more cautious this time than we were four years ago. And if we don't know something, we'll tell our viewers, we simply don't know.

Carlos, tell our viewers what you're looking at right now.

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we're testing history, frankly, today. History says, if you're an incumbent president, certainly if you're a president during war, you have raised a lot of money, and you have a lead going into Labor Day, you should win. John Kerry wins, we haven't had a senator get elected in 44 years, would be the second Catholic to get elected, wasn't ahead in the polls, even the Democratic primaries, coming into this year, January 1.

So a lot of convention will get turned on its head tonight. So lots of big historical importance, not just importance in terms of (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: What, Jeff, surprised you the most? What in this whole campaign?

GREENFIELD: That after four years, when everything changed, every assumption we had going into 2000 had changed, from invulnerability to an attack that we could never have dreamt of, from peace to war, from economic security to anxiety, the country remains apparently evenly divided, with the red and the blue states, by and large, as we showed, lining up pretty much the way they did four years ago.

You would have thought that those events, those hammer blows to the United States, would have resulted in a political upheaval. Looks pretty much the same.

KING: What is the turnout story?

BLITZER: We don't know specifically what the turnout story is, because the polling -- the results won't be coming in till all the states are closed. And then we'll get the hard, raw numbers that are coming in. Anecdotally, as we have seen on CNN all day, there are long lines in many of these key battleground states. And you know what? There are long lines in some of the nonkey battleground states as well, Carlos. What you to make of that?

WATSON: Well, I, again, I think people are as energized as we've seen in a long time. We might get the highest turnouts since 1968, which would be significant. And one of the things I note in my home state of Florida, which Larry knows well as well, close to 2 million people voted early. And I've had a number of people say, if that early voting hadn't taken place, the system wouldn't have been able to handle all the people who ultimately did show up today.


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KING: And there were reports earlier today about some snafu in Philadelphia, then they said that didn't happen. Any reports of any major occurrences occurring anywhere that are causing lawsuits and people upset?

GREENFIELD: It has been going more smoothly than one would have thought, especially when you throw 10,000 lawyers into the mix. They're capable of making mountains out of any molehill. But I think people are surprised so far that it's gone relatively smoothly, especially because people on both sides were so keyed up to spot any instance of voter fraud or voter suppression.

And unlike 1968, at the end of that tumultuous year, the electorate was so exhausted that the turnout went down from four years ago. I think the one thing everybody expects this year is the turnout way up. That's something we're not going to know till the end of the night or maybe even tomorrow.


BLITZER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is taking a look at the exit polling data. What's the, what's on the minds of Americans, based on what we can tell, Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there are three big issues that define this election, three big ones that may seem to be working in different ways.

Let's take a look at our exit poll results. George Bush wanted this election to be a referendum on the war on terror. So we asked people, Do you feel safer from terrorism than four years ago or less safe? And the answer is 52 to 44 say they feel safer from terrorism. That is good news for President Bush.

But another issue, the economy. How do people feel about the nation's economy right now? Only 44 percent say the economy is in good shape. A majority say it is not good or poor. Four years ago, 85 percent said the economy was in good shape. So the economy is working on behalf of Senator Kerry.

Two issues, different directions. What is the tie breaker? How about the war in Iraq? What about do voters think about the decision for the United States to go to war in Iraq? And the answer is, they're split. Forty-nine percent say they approve of the decision to go to war in Iraq. Forty-seven percent say they disapprove. This, the Iraq issue, is an issue that divides the country. But it could be the issue that defines this election.

BLITZER: And we're going to be sharing these exit poll numbers with our viewers around the world all throughout the night. So Bill Schneider, we'll be talking with you again.

Do you want to ask Bill a question?

KING: Yes. These are national exit poll numbers, right? You're not breaking it down by state? And this election is electorally.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. These...

KING: That's not a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) electorate.

SCHNEIDER: This is the national electorate, and we see three issues pulling the voters in three different directions.

KING: Senator Ted Kennedy is joining us now from Kerry headquarters in Boston. I'll start, senator. What surprised you, if anything, today?

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I think the extraordinary turnout. I know what John Kerry was hoping for a big turnout, and there was a big turnout. I think the number of young people that turned out has been very positive and very constructive. Many people thought that the young people really weren't involved, turned off the system. But clearly, they want to be involved, they want to be a part of the future.

I think that's going to be a real challenge for John Kerry, about how you're going to make sure that the number of people that turned out in this election are going to be part of the political process over the period of the next four years.

BLITZER: Senator Kennedy, you've been with the junior senator from your home state all these many, many months. How do you feel that he's done over the past, let's say, year or so?

KENNEDY: Well, we're very proud of John Kerry. You know, sort of the ripple around here tonight is that we have the Super Bowl champions with the New England Patriots. We have the World Series champions with the Red Sox. And now, above all, we've got John Kerry home, hometown boy, that's won the presidency. We are very hopeful about it.

He has demonstrated, I think, over the period of the last year the kind of inner toughness, the kind of strength of character, the kind of determination that is going to be so important in a president, in any president, and I think particularly now.

BLITZER: Let me point out, Senator Kennedy, he hasn't won the presidency yet. It is still relatively early in this night.

KENNEDY: Well, I think it is important that those that haven't voted go out and participate and vote. It is amazingly important that they do. I know John Kerry has certainly urged that, all of us would certainly do that. But I say that we are encouraged with the kind of response that John Kerry has received.

KING: Senator, are there key states that you, as a political pro, and you're a pro among pros, are looking at? Are there certain things that will indicate to you early on where this is going?

KENNEDY: Well, I think your analysts have gone through the major states, with the major electoral college numbers. And they are clearly the Ohios and Floridas and Pennsylvania and Michigan and (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and the cluster of other states that appear, Wisconsin and Minnesota and Iowa.

And, but what I think is enormously important and impressive is that there is a whole movement and a whole tide. The turnout has been uniform, really almost uniform, across the country. And the numbers have turned out. Americans wanted to participate in this election. Americans want to have a voice in their future.

And I think what you're seeing, at least my impression is, that they want a new leadership. They want to have a restoration of American prestige and influence and leadership abroad, and they want a president that's going to focus on the middle-class working families here at home, and education and health care and these other issues.

BLITZER: Senator Kennedy, what...

KENNEDY: And I think they're going to receive that.

BLITZER: Senator Kennedy, a lot of people think that the country is about as divided today as it was perhaps during the Vietnam War in '68 or '72. Have you to seen the country this divided in a long time?

KENNEDY: Well, it is clearly divided. These races are going to be close. I think it's going to be close in the United States Senate as well. I'm hopeful that we'll do well in the Senate races, because in order for a president really to get his program on through, you need the support in the Senate, and obviously the House of Representatives.

So I'm hopeful that in some of these tight races for the United States Senate, it will go John Kerry's way.

But, you know, I find, in my colleagues and friends in the Senate on both sides, they really want to get about the business of addressing the challenges that we're facing at home. There is a general sense among, I find, Republicans and Democrats alike that we're just not dealing with the real problems and challenges that we're facing here at home.

And I think that the John Kerry, his great challenge, will be to try and bring people together. But I think with those efforts and being sincere about it, he'll work hard at it, and I think it can be done. It has to be done.

KING: If he is elected, can he work well with the Republican majority, Senate and House?

KENNEDY: Well, that's going to be certainly a challenge. I think there are members in the leadership on -- in the Republican Party, and among the Republicans, that really want to see progress made on our domestic issues, and also in foreign policy. And I know John Kerry. It will be a challenge in trying to work out the, you know, these differences, and because there are a lot of raw endings, you know, from the result of this campaign.

But I think he's up to the task. I think he is ready to take that challenge on as well. It's going to be necessary. It is going to need the kind of skills that John Kerry has. But I know he's capable and will do it.

BLITZER: Well, there is still a possibility, Senator Kennedy, as you well know, that John Kerry might not be elected, that George W. Bush might be reelected. If he is reelected, how disappointed will you be?

KENNEDY: Oh, I'll be very disappointed. But I don't think I'm going to be very disappointed. Every indication is moving in John Kerry's favor.

This has been a hard, tough-fought campaign. I respect the candidates that obviously have been out there, the presidential candidates, president -- President Bush. But I think tonight is John Kerry's night, and I think we're going to see some good outcomes in the -- for our Senate races as well. This has been -- people have gone to the polls and said they want a new direction, new leadership. And I think that is going to be the outcome.

KING: What do you hear from your Senate majority leader? How is he doing?


KING: Minority leader. Thinking ahead again the wrong way.

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KENNEDY: Hopefully he'll be the majority leader by our next meeting. He's in a tough race. He's always known it. That's a very close election out there. But I think that people in that state know that, in South Dakota know that Tom Daschle delivers for them.

Why would anyone in South Dakota, when you have the chance, what I believe, and you're going to have a Democratic president, want to give up having someone who is the Democratic leader in the United States Senate, has a good chance of becoming the majority leader.

If you're concerned about all of the challenges that they're facing, particularly the Native Americans, who need to turn out, and no one has been a stronger supporter for Native Americans than Tom Daschle.

But why in the world would they want to turn out someone who is highly regarded, highly respected, and is able to get things done for South Dakota, when you -- particularly when he has a good friend, and John Kerry is a good friend, of Tom Daschle? They have the opportunity to have such an influence.

So I don't think that's going to happen. I think Tom Daschle is coming back. BLITZER: All right, which we will soon find out. Senator Kennedy, from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he's been with Senator Kerry from the beginning, thanks very much for joining us from Boston.


BLITZER: Anderson Cooper is standing by to give us some word on the United States Senate. What do we know so far, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we were following a number of Senate races very closely. Some of the most fascinating stories of this election are happening in the Senate.

We can project three states now. First, Georgia, a win for Johnny Isakson, a pickup for the Republicans. This, of course, is Zell Miller, a Democrat's old seat. Johnny Isakson, not a great surprise, though, picking it up in Georgia. CNN projecting Johnny Isakson is the winner there.

Also Indiana, Democrat Bayh is the winner in Indiana. And in Vermont, of course, Patrick Leahy is the winner there. Really no two great surprises in the state of Indiana and Vermont, nor in the state of Georgia, Johnny Isakson up against Denise Majette, a representative, but who did not have the name recognition that he had, really not have the money. He entered, she entered into the race rather late, she from Atlanta.

These are the nine key races we're watching. Want to bring in Amy Walter with the "Cook Political Report," who's also been following this all with us.

Amy, thanks for joining us.

These races are fascinating. If you have not been following these nine races, you've really been missing out on one of the great stories of this campaign. Let's just briefly go around the board, take a look. Let's look at the where we have numbers first.

Right down here, South Carolina. It is at this point Jim DeMint, Inez Tenenbaum, Jim DeMint seems to have a firm lead, but at this point it is still very early days. This is really virtually meaningless, only a couple hundred votes here. The race is surprisingly close.

AMY WALTER, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": Well, it's amazing that this race is even on the board. It is a Democratic-held seat, this is Fritz Hollings's seat down in South Carolina. But the fact is, this is a state that's so Republican, it's quite remarkable that Inez Tenenbaum was able to keep the race as tight as she has.

COOPER: A very conservative district. Jim DeMint has raised some eyebrows. He at one point said that gay people should not be, gay men should not be teachers. Also he said unwed (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- pregnant women should not be teachers as well, which I think he apologized for that. But again, we're still getting results in. It looks like Jim DeMint in the lead. But again, these numbers are very early.

Kentucky, another fascinating race. Jim Bunning, former major league ball player, pitcher, pitched a perfect game for the Philadelphia Phillies, against Dan Mongiardo.

WALTER: Right, again, another race that wasn't supposed to be on this board. In fact, this is race that from very, very late, in part due to Senator Bunning. Dan Mongiardo made a big deal of the fact that Bunning, his question is his fitness, the 73-year-old has made some comments. This has been a real issue in this campaign. Remember, Bunning very narrowly won his race in 1998. So it was supposed to be a close race. Now it is.

COOPER: Polls have closed in South Carolina and Kentucky. But at this point, we do not have enough information to call any of them.

Want to talk about some of these races a little bit later on. Most importantly, though, South Dakota, you heard Larry King, just heard Senator Kennedy talking about it, this is a remarkably close race, a big money race, some more than $30 million put into this race by both candidates. And there are only about 350,000 voters in the state.

WALTER: That's right. This is a state that has been inundated with money for the last four years. Remember, two years ago, there was a very, very close race...

COOPER: John Thune.

WALTER: ... that John Thune, yes, exactly.

COOPER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) lost by some 500 votes.

WALTER: Five hundred -- 524 votes. So this is a state that will be very, very close. It's obviously very important watching it...

COOPER: Right.

WALTER: ... very closely.

COOPER: There are some 700,000 people in the state, but only about 300,000 or 350,000 registered voters.

WALTER: Right.

COOPER: A lot to watch tonight. These are the nine races we're going to be keeping a very close eye on for you all night long. It is going to be a fascinating night, Wolf.

BLITZER: Those races very, very important for the American public. Anderson and Amy, thank you very much.

We're going to take a quick break. What, in only about six minutes, three more states will be closing. Six minutes and 13, 12, 11 seconds to go. Ohio, North Carolina, West Virginia, coming up. We may have some projections. We may not. Stick around. We're at Times Square in New York. BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN election headquarters here in New York City. We're picking up our coverage right now.

I think we have, what, how much time do we have? Two minutes and 45 seconds before the half hour, and we'll be able to presumably maybe make another projection or so.

But let's show our viewers, Jeff, what we can do on these walls. Let's put up all 50 states and the District of Columbia and give our viewers a sense, obviously Alaska, that's going to be way, way, way on the West Coast, 1:00 a.m. But these early states, in fact, let's walk over to the early states on the East Coast and give our viewers a sense of some of the numbers that may or may not be coming up right now.

Maine is a state, it's an interesting state, because it can split its electoral votes.

GREENFIELD: That's right, it blasted it in 1828. They think there might be one electoral vote up there for George W. Bush this time. But that's one of the states that we're all watching, it's a state that Bush won by 7,000 votes, Nader widely credited or blamed with making the difference, and John Kerry's campaign really wants that one (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BLITZER: Vermont, we've already projected, will go for John Kerry. Not a surprise there. Massachusetts, closing at the top of the hour, 8:00, Rhode Island and Connecticut still to come as well. Pennsylvania closing in, what, about 32 minutes from now.

GREENFIELD: Bush campaign wants that more than any other. Twenty-one electoral votes, they think they have a shot because it is a state with a lot of pro-life, gun-owning Democrats. Everybody's poured in tens of millions of dollars to that one.

BLITZER: Let's continue walking down this wall and take a look at some other states we're going to be looking at at the top of the hour. How about that one right there called Florida?

GREENFIELD: I think we all remember Florida, Wolf. I think it is fair to say that 27 electoral votes were decided by 537 votes or, if you ask the Democrats, five members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Big Kahuna would be in Hawaii, but there is no state more in play than that one.

BLITZER: Florida. Georgia we've already projected will go for the president of the United States, Kentucky as well. These Southern states pretty much expected to go for the president as well.

GREENFIELD: The Democrats cast a covetous eye on Arkansas. Bill Clinton was down there the Sunday before the election. There is no data we have yet, but that's one the Democrats would love to pluck out of the Republican column. BLITZER: All right, we'll see what happens in Arkansas. We'll be watching. No doubt about Texas, I think it's fair to say, the home state of George W. Bush.

GREENFIELD: Safe call. Missouri, the Democrats pulled out of Missouri three weeks ago, and some Democrats think that may have been a mistake. That's a state that's voted with the winner all but one time in 100 years. We'll see whether that was a mistake at the end of the day.

BLITZER: Michigan is also a state that the Republicans seriously covet.

GREENFIELD: That state, along with Pennsylvania, are the two Gore states from 2000 the Bush campaign most wanted. This, again, is -- these are where the Reagan Democrats were born in reaction to patriotism, where the Nixon Democrats deserted the party on busing, social issues in rural Michigan play a big role. But it's also a state that's been hard-hit economically. That affects the Democrats.

BLITZER: It is 7:30 exactly now on the East Coast and CNN is ready to project that George W. Bush will carry -- George W. Bush will carry the state of West Virginia.

Jeff Greenfield, West Virginia is the state the Democrats hoped to be able to carry, but this state and its five electoral states we project will go for the president.

GREENFIELD: Michael Dukakis won this state. It was about as reliably Democratic as possible. But social issues, gun ownership abortion plays very badly here for the Democrats. And it is a state that is now in George Bush's pocket once again.

BLITZER: And I want to alert our viewers, we do not have enough information yet to make projections in the other two states that are closing right now, North Carolina and Ohio. Ohio is about as important as it gets.

GREENFIELD: You know how they say that blue is the new black in fashion? Ohio, a lot of people, think is the new Florida. Not just because it is in play but because huge pre-election controversies grew up about whether or not provisional ballots would be counted and how. Everybody's eye will be on Ohio.

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BLITZER: The fact that we can't project a winner in Ohio or North Carolina, what if anything does that mean?

GREENFIELD: We don't know. Could mean nothing. Could mean we don't have enough information, which it probably means, and eventually down the road it may mean it is too close to call. But we really want to emphasize, Wolf that the fact that we're not calling a state doesn't mean it is close. We are being cautious. All of us have -- we don't have Georgia on our minds, like the great Ray Charles said, we have got Florida on our minds, 2000.

BLITZER: All right. Let's go to Judy Woodruff. She's over at the CNN Election Analysis Center. Judy, Ohio, North Carolina, why can't we make a projection there?

WOODRUFF: Well simply because we do not have enough information to call either state. We are only calling the states at exactly at poll closing time when base purely on the exit polls, those interviews with voters as they leave their polling places, when based purely on that, we feel comfortable that there is a comfortable wide enough margin that we feel it is safe to make that projection. Otherwise we are holding off.

And at this point, both in Ohio, Wolf, and in North Carolina, which as we know is the state that John Edwards has represented in the Senate, neither one of these states do we have enough information. Now, Ohio, both of these candidates have focused on it about as hard as you can. Ohio was in George Bush's pocket four years go. He won it by four or five percentage points--actually just under four percent. But John Kerry has made a run at it because they've lost over 200,000 jobs in that state. That's what has made Ohio the competitive state that it is. But North Carolina, we're keeping an eye on, too.

BLITZER: Judy, those two states that closed at 7:00 at the top of the hour, 7:00 p.m. Eastern that we have not been able to make a projection on, Virginia and South Carolina, we're beginning to get real numbers, raw numbers in that will help us when combined with the exit poll numbers and the earlier surveys that we have done.

WOODRUFF: That's right, Wolf. And our team of election analysts and statisticians here at the Election Analysis Center, they're looking constantly not only at the exit poll information that has been coming in throughout the day, but now they are looking at the sample precinct numbers that have been called in and at the raw numbers. And when they feel comfortable that they've got enough information, and they are all in agreement on it, then we will make a call.

But as of now, we're not there yet on South Carolina. We're not there yet on Virginia. And as you just said, we're not there yet on either Ohio or North Carolina, comfortable enough to make any presidential call, presidential projection and, of course, Ohio, we knew it was going to be that way. These other three states, you know, we know those states have been, you know, the polls have been a little closer in those states.

BLITZER: Judy, I think this might be a good time to spend a minute or so and tell our viewers some of the lessons that our experts, our statisticians, our pollsters, our analysts learned from four years ago that they've incorporated into the new system not only CNN, but all the major news organizations are using to make these projections.

WOODRUFF: Well for one thing, Wolf, we have built up from the ground a whole new system, if you will, using the latest computer technology and we're able to feed in now more -- even more political analysis and information so that when these calls are made, everybody feels more comfortable about them. We all remember that what happened in Florida four years ago among other things is that frankly there were just some mistakes made. Some numbers were called in wrong from various counties around the state. There was an error in projecting how many absentee ballots were still out. And when you put all that together, coupled with an old computer statistical model, if you will, mathematical model, it was a recipe for a problem. And everything seemed to come together the wrong way. This time, everybody is trying to do everything we can here at CNN to make sure that doesn't happen again. That means layers of information double-checking with a lot of smart people who have been doing this for years and years and years.

BLITZER: Judy, you remember back in 2000, one of the big milestones on the way to that disaster was a computer took thousands of votes away from Al Gore up in Volusia County in Florida. I'm told that our system and the other networks' systems have a built-in red flag so if that kind of number shows up again, you're going to have more bells and whistles than we do here in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

WOODRUFF: Exactly right. Because -- and don't ask me, Jeff, to explain how the computer works, the inside of it. But the fact is that these newer -- we all know that computers get better and better every few months, practically. We now have a computer system that is able to factor in -- string in a particular county, right down to the smallest geographic political area that you possibly can get. And they're constantly -- the computer is constantly comparing the new information that is coming in with how that county voted in the past or that precinct. So this is constantly going on. And all of this is informing our decision-making here at CNN and the Election Analysis Center.

BLITZER: Judy, I want to point out to our viewers if they see that man behind your left, that's Tom Hanan (ph), our political director, who is in charge...

WOODRUFF: Take a good look. There he is.

BLITZER: ... of all of this. He's working feverishly...


BLITZER: ... now getting information. We don't want to bother him. He's shaking his head. He's getting information together with our other team, making sure that all of the information we have is precise. Jeff, right now, by our count, by our projections, George W. Bush has 39 electoral votes and John Kerry has three electoral votes. Some people will be saying, you know what, that looks like George W. Bush is really doing well.

GREENFIELD: Well, it is not exactly like a sports event where, you know, the runs come randomly. These are all Bush states. There are no surprises that we have seen so far. When the New England states come in and the Middle Atlantic States come in, it may look like John Kerry has a big lead. Everybody knows there are six to 10 states that are going to decide this election. We have no idea when we'll be able to tell the viewers what's going to happen. BLITZER: And as we take a look at the popular votes, these are raw numbers that are coming in right now. Bush at 58 percent with nearly a million votes. Kerry at 42 percent with 662,000 votes. And that will be changing, Nader already has more than 6,000 votes in the raw numbers that are coming in. We shouldn't read much into that either.

GREENFIELD: No. The big -- we learned four years ago, I think a lot of people were surprised you can get more votes than the other guy and lose because of our system. One of the numbers I think all of us are going to be looking at the end of the night, there are about 105 million votes last time, 100 to 105 million. People are expecting as much as 120 million votes. And that's going to tell us whether there was a surge in turnout and whether that surge helped one side or another.

BLITZER: Let's walk over to Larry and Carlos and bring them into this discussion as well. Larry, you're watching all these numbers go by.

KING: I have a few questions. West Virginia was late night four years ago. Now it's touch and go. Surprised that it went so quickly to Bush tonight?

GREENFIELD: That's one of those states where a heavily rural population has been trending Republican for years. It is the biggest -- one of the biggest problems the Democrats have, in Ohio, in rural Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin is that rural and small town Americans, mostly on values, have just been moving away from the Democrats. That and a lot of coal miners who didn't -- who don't like the Democrats' environmental policy.

KING: And Wolf, do you think Senator Kennedy was real overly optimistic?

BLITZER: Well he's obviously feeling very, very upbeat right now based on anecdotal information and earlier information that he was getting. It certainly is possible that John Kerry will win. It is certainly possible that he won't.

KING: But he was acting like it is a done deal...

BLITZER: One of the things...


BLITZER: ... and it didn't surprise me -- and I'll let Carlos weigh in on this as well -- because both of these sides learned a lesson from four years ago. They want to exude victory. In case there is a problem, they don't want to look like they were spoilers. They want to look like it is theirs and they're on top.

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Very much so and what is interesting is the hundreds, literally, of what they call satellite interviews on television, on radio, the thousands, millions if you will of phone calls and door knocking that is still happening today as we speak, particularly in some of those western states. So no one is giving up at this point.

The vice president just 24 hours ago or so was in Hawaii. So, there is a lot of effort being made in the western half of the country where lots of states are still open. I wanted to say one thing about Ohio, one of the big stories of this election is that in Ohio and in Pennsylvania, two of the big three states this time, no Ralph Nader on the ballot. Could be a big deal. We won't know until it is all said and done. But, remember, Ralph Nader scored about 2.5 percentage points in Ohio last time. Didn't do poorly in Pennsylvania either. Could make a difference.

BLITZER: He is on the ballot, though, in Florida.

WATSON: He is on the ballot in Florida one more time...

BLITZER: Democrats will never forget what happened four years ago.

GREENFIELD: You know what is on the ballot in Ohio and Michigan, gay marriage? And one of the reasons...


GREENFIELD: ... one of the reasons why the Republicans think they have a shot there is that they believe that's a kind of issue that mobilizes their social conservative base. Whether that's true or not, only time will tell...

KING: Do you think Pat Buchanan will get any write-in votes in Palm Beach? He's not on the ballot. He was four years ago.

BLITZER: If there is a butterfly ballot and some hanging chads, perhaps there will be some people who will make that mistake.

KING: I know you guys deal with computers, but how could Nader have no percent?

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or not quite one percent yet...


WATSON: Maybe not enough to justify one percent...

BLITZER: In order to get up to one percent, he has to have a specific number and it is just shy.

GREENFIELD: I don't do fractions...


GREENFIELD: Not yet at least.

WATSON: You know, another one of the really interesting story lines when we talk about Nader and we talk about Florida and Ohio and some of these other places, are the very different strategies the two sides took to getting out the vote. Republicans leaning on some success of 2002 in some Senate races, decided to get very centrally organized. So coming out of the Republican National Committee and the Bush campaign, they organized things down to the precinct, had volunteers, had paid staff members.

Democrats on the other side, though, decided to partner, not officially, because it is not legal, but effectively had help both from unions and from these independent political groups called 527s. If Democrats ultimately succeed, that may become the new model on both sides. If conversely Republicans succeed, this will be a transformational change in that Republicans who normally haven't been good on get out the vote effort will succeed in not just some Senate races but in presidential races...

BLITZER: Let's take a quick look ahead. And Larry, I want you to take a look ahead, the top of the hour -- what, the top of the hour is only less than 20 minutes or so from now. They're going to be a lot of states closing including Florida, Pennsylvania, states that potentially could play a decisive role, New Hampshire one of those battleground states as well.

KING: I have a feeling, just a gut feeling, that we're not going to predict Florida and Pennsylvania at the top of the hour.


WATSON: What makes you think that?

KING: Just, just, I don't know...

BLITZER: Sixteen states will be closing at the top of the hour.

GREENFIELD: You vividly talked to me about one of the turning points might have been money that the Republicans thought they were going to be able to face a bankrupt Democratic Party. You realize in Ohio if you add up Kerry's spending, the Democrats spending and the so-called 527s, these independent groups, they outspent on advertising the Republicans by a factor of almost two to one. I think if Kerry winds up carrying Ohio, and carried some of these battleground states, this is going to be a significant factor...


KING: How much did George Soros spend?

BLITZER: I believe he spent more than $10 million out of his own...


WATSON: ... 23, 24 million...

BLITZER: George Soros, the billionaire who's been passionate about his opposition to George W. Bush...

WATSON: You know what is interesting about the numbers that Jeff mentioned is that if you talked to Democrats, four years ago, they say one of the reasons they believe they lost Florida was that they ran out of money and they were outspent by some $700,000, almost $1 million in the last week alone. You look at the 11 most contested states, Democrats or Democrats and Democratic National Committee have outspent Republicans in 10 of the 11. Big deal in the final week.

BLITZER: Money talks in these kinds of races (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

GREENFIELD: I thought you were going to finish that sentence another way...



GREENFIELD: This is the number that is going to jump out at everybody. And the 527s, these independent groups, that loophole in the McCain-Feingold Finance Law turned out to be literally $100 million or more loophole and the Democrats feel that so far, it looks like better than the Republicans.

WATSON: Although one thing that the Republicans did very well is you'll see that they coordinated with the Republican National Committee by putting a key phrase in their ads that allowed them to spend money. I'm sure Chairman Gillespie will talk about that a little bit later.

BLITZER: I think we want to talk to them right now...


BLITZER: In fact, let's walk up there. The chairman of both parties, Ed Gillespie, of the Republican Party, Terry McAuliffe of the Democratic Party. Ed Gillespie, how are you feeling right now?

ED GILLESPIE, RNC CHAIRMAN: I feel great. I'm very excited about it. I'm looking at the numbers come coming in from the field and the fact is we have busted through our targets for key precincts that we know are strongly supportive of the president. In Florida, absentee ballots, you know they process in Florida by registration, it is a party registration state. We're running two to one ahead, probably a margin of between 150 to 200,000 votes for us in the absentee ballots. They are yet to be counted. But when you look at partisan break down, looks very, very good for us. And our ground game is better than we had even hoped for. So feeling very good, Wolf.

BLITZER: How are you feeling Terry McAuliffe?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: Wolf, I've never felt better. You can feel the excitement. I'm in Boston today. The millions of people -- I said it in the morning show today on CNN -- that we have 120 million people vote. I think that's what we're going to have. But you know we had a million volunteers on the street today. I announced that the DNC today raised over $350 million in federal money. We had 80 million in 2000, extraordinary. We were able to do everything that we needed to do, with a great nominee in John Kerry. Everything is happening. People record numbers, I just talked to Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the congresswoman from Cleveland. She said there are lines for hours still out in Cleveland. People waiting to go vote. It's exciting. It's great for America. It's great for democracy.

KING: Ed, it's Larry King. You both can't be right. So let's try it this way. What, Ed, concerns you tonight? What are you worried about?

GILLESPIE: Larry, I feel good about the fact that West Virginia has already been called. It's one of the states that the Democrats targeted early to try to take back from the president when we surprised them in 2000. We're both on the ground strong there...

KING: You're not worried about anything?

GILLESPIE: I'm not worried about anything right now. I'm waiting -- I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I'm waiting for the votes to be counted and feeling good that we have executed against a very well done plan. The president ran a fantastic campaign. And I have faith in the American people and I know that from what I'm seeing in terms of the -- where our precinct goals were and what I'm seeing coming in from the fields that we have met and exceed our goals in our battleground states.

KING: Terry, do you have any worries?

MCAULIFFE: Yes, the only worry I have right now, Larry, is to make sure that we keep these polls open. As I say, I just talked to the folks in Cleveland. They have people waiting still hours in line. The polls are supposed to close in about 20 minutes. Let's make sure that everybody gets in, if you're in line, let's go in and vote.

There are so many people who have come out. And as you know, these record amounts of people are not coming out to support an incumbent president. They're coming out because they want a fresh start for this country. And we need to make sure that all these people who are out there in the pouring rain out in Ohio and other places, stay in line, call your friends, tell them to stay in line, get out there and vote. It is exciting what is going on. A fresh start for America starts tonight.

KING: Ed, did the huge turnout concern you at all?

GILLESPIE: No, not at all Larry. We were hoping for a big turnout. The fact is if you look at our governor's races and the Senate races in 2002, Republicans benefit from big turnout. We registered 3.4 million Republican voters in this election cycle. We were turning them all out. I anticipated between the growth of the population between 2000 and 2004 and the extra emphasis of both parties.

I think one of the most important things that both Terry and I do as party chairs is bring people into the political process. On the Democratic side, frankly, they contracted out to these outside groups. By the way, to answer your question about George Soros. He spent $24.5 million. He and two other gentlemen accounted for $50 million in soft money in this election cycle. But that's fine.

We were able to raise plenty of resources as a result of the president's strong appeal amongst Republicans and a lot of Democrats and Independents as well. So we'll match them dollar for dollar I think at the end of the day with our federal dollars against their soft dollars. And the fact is I think you're going to see the benefit of our strong turnout effort tonight as the votes start being counted.

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« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2010, 11:43:28 am »

BLITZER: We're going to wrap it up. And a quick question to you, Terry McAuliffe. Do you see any evidence out there that there was any hanky panky out there across the country by our anecdotal reporting? It looks like things are going relatively smoothly.

MCAULIFFE: Yes, I agree Wolf. I think things have gone very smoothly. We had all of our folks out there to monitor situations. I'm very happy that people went in, they cast their votes. But as I say, we had a record amount of people that came out and put their footwork out there to say I want to go vote for John Kerry. I want to change this country. So it was a great day for democracy, great day for America and President-elect John Kerry a couple of hours from now.

GILLESPIE: Wolf, if you give one more second, I'm happy to let Terry respond to this. But I do think that needs to be remarked upon. Because there has been, unfortunately, hanky panky as you put it out there. We had it in Wisconsin, 40 of our fans for "Get Out To Vote" had their tires slashed. We have seen in the precincts MoveOn.org, a group that supports Senator Kerry intimidating and harassing Republican voters in line.

We have seen constant reports on the ground of Republican voters being intimidated by MoveOn.org and union members supporting Senator Kerry. It is unfortunate. It ought to stop and I hope Terry McAuliffe and Senator Kerry supporters not to engage in those intimidation tactics as I have done for President Bush's supporters.

BLITZER: All right. Terry McAuliffe, you want to respond quickly...

MCAULIFFE: Sure. I could sit here. The letters that went out the other day telling people to vote on November 3, all the types of antics, I'm not going to do that tonight. You know why...


MCAULIFFE: This is about democracy. This is about people going to vote...

BLITZER: All right.

MCAULIFFE: ... and it's a great day for America. Let's move on. It's exciting. John Kerry will be elected president tonight and it will be a new America starting tomorrow. (CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right...


BLITZER: Terry McAuliffe and Ed Gillespie...


BLITZER: ... thanks to both of you for joining us. We'll be checking back with you. What were you saying Larry?

KING: One of these guys is wrong.

BLITZER: Right. Yes...

KING: ... don't know which one...

BLITZER: You figured that out...

KING: I figured...

BLITZER: They're both very happy (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Dana Bash is joining us now, our White House correspondent at Bush Headquarters with information. What have you learned, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. Well you just heard Ed Gillespie talking about the fact that the Republicans believe they have almost a 200,000-vote advantage when it comes to absentee ballots. Well folks here at the Bush/Cheney campaign are saying that they have now heard from the election supervisor in Miami- Dade County in Florida who says that they are likely not going to be able to count a majority of the absentee ballots. That is perhaps as many as 65,000 ballots until Thursday.

So they are telling us that, essentially bracing for perhaps not just a long election night, but perhaps a couple of days now. You heard the president today say that he wants election night to be over on election night, but they are looking at this and saying that because a big part of their strategy is absentee ballot because Miami- Dade County is a place that is very Republican, they say. They are certainly thinking that perhaps this might not be over tonight. Of course, that depends on the rest of the margin in the state of Florida, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Dana Bash. We'll be checking back with you as well. Sixteen states about to close their precincts, their balloting. Coming up at the top of the hour we'll take a look, see if we can project any winners. We'll let you know.

In the meantime, we'll take a quick break from the NASDAQ market site here at Times Square in New York City. Much more coverage coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: There it is, the CNN election express bus. Look where it is -- in the heart of Times Square, right across the street from where we are, the NASDAQ market site for CNN Election Headquarters complete coverage of election night 2004. Welcome back.

Paula Zahn is joining us now from the CNN Time Warner Center. She's got the "CROSSFIRE" crew over there and they've got some opinions, I suspect, Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, no. Not those guys. Let me introduce our audience now to men by now they're familiar to them, Tucker Carlson. Bob Novak, Paul Begala, James Carville. I think we have been talking here throughout the last hour about the only story we seem to be in agreement on and that we can arrive at some conclusions about is that we believe we're looking at record turnout here. And we know that through our exit polling, 15 percent of the folks we talked to coming out of the polls today did not vote in the year 2000. I don't have a comparative number for the year 2000. But we know that we have some 10 million new voters out there who probably -- a majority of them will vote.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": And that's nothing but good for the challenger. Some of them -- Karl Rove, the president's chief strategist, has long believed that there were four million Protestant Christian evangelicals, conservatives, who did not vote in 2000, who should be voting for the president this time around. So maybe some of them are Karl's phantom four million. But I think the better bet is that when you get 10 million new voters turning out, the likelihood is very strong that they want to vote for change. They want to vote for the challenger.

ZAHN: I guess the question I have for you -- what would bring the evangelicals out? These are folks who are against the war. These are folks who think this president has run up the deficit.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I don't think the evangelicals are against the war. I don't think they worry about the deficit. I think they like George Bush. But...


ZAHN: Pat Robertson on the air told us that.

NOVAK: But we're at a point now where this was the debate that was going on during the campaign. We're now down to the short strokes on who's going to win the electoral votes. And I've been on the phone to some Republicans in Ohio and they're very pessimistic. The polls have closed in Ohio. They're talking to the -- looking at the returns, they think it's going to be very tough for Bush -- President Bush to carry Ohio.

Now, no Republican has ever been elected president without carrying Ohio. There's always a first time. But let's say he loses Ohio. Then he, of course he must under any conditions carry Florida. In addition to that, he's probably going to carry Iowa and Wisconsin, which are not gimmes. That makes it a very tight thing. So -- and I understand, too, that the NAACP is suing to keep the polls open in Toledo, maybe even until midnight, as well as neighboring states.

BEGALA: In fact, I just talked to a friend of mine with the Kerry campaign in Ohio who was a lot more optimistic than maybe your sources in the Bush campaign and he told me that in Cuyahoga County, which is Cleveland is the dominant city in that county, that 20 minutes now, 25 minutes after the polls closed, African Americans were still waiting in line at predominantly black precincts, and they're going to be able to still vote. And so Kerry people, you know, based on turnout patterns, they feel pretty good about Ohio, which as Bob points out, is a Bush state, and it would be the first takeaway that Kerry would get.

ZAHN: It is interesting, though, because we have seen those numbers continue to erode throughout this campaign. Sometimes in our own polling showing that the issue of the economy trump the issue of the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq.


ZAHN: The economy is a huge issue because of the number of jobs lost, manufacturing jobs lost.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I don't buy that for a second. I never bought that. I think, in fact, the Kerry campaign, which for most of the last two years was I think even by agreement of most Democrats extremely badly run, was not a great campaign. Only pulled itself together when it narrowed the themes down to one, Iraq. That's why Kerry is competitive and indeed may win. They spent, you know again, two years trying to get his people (UNINTELLIGIBLE) second worldwide depression. People didn't guy that the economy is soft. But all the polling on people's attitudes about the economy show it has been pretty hard to win on that alone. I really think, and I'm not saying this for any partisan reason, I just think it's true, that the only issue that really matters is the war on terrorism and Iraq.

ZAHN: Do you agree with that, James?


ZAHN: What do you think...


CARVILLE: I think people...


CARVILLE: ... you know the president of the United States gets a huge house, he's got office buildings, a gazillion staff. He has 12 cabinet departments. He's got all of this and, you know what? He ought to be able to protect us and help make us prosperous and keep the budget in balance all at the same time. And it is not a choice between we can protect you from the economy, but we can't keep the deficit under control or the crime rate or something else.

And I think that people actually expect both. They pay taxes. They have -- these people actually expect to keep them safe and to do the best they can. I understand that there is a limit to what the president can do, but there are a lot of people in places that 22 -- what is it -- I forgot, high percent, 22 percent of people who voted for Kerry had a family member that lost a job. When you're fired, when you walk out of there, you're worried about your job.

CARLSON: But here's the problem. Kerry was never able to articulate how his economic program was substantially different from Bush's. He said well he's, you know, cutting taxes for the rich, I'm against it, which is fine...

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« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2010, 11:45:12 am »


NOVAK: The Republican pollster, Ed Goets (ph), shows that for people who think that the economy is the most important issue, jobs, Social Security, are overwhelmingly voting for Kerry. The people who think that Iraq and terrorism is the most important issue are overwhelmingly voting for Bush. So I have to disagree with Tucker. I believe that the economy is the issue that has made the Republicans and Ohio so nervous. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they still think they might barely carry Ohio. But they're very nervous right now and that's going to be a very difficult thing for Bush to be elected. He has to really clean the board on other states if he loses Ohio.

ZAHN: Although, haven't we seen in the last couple of days, John Kerry closing that gap a little when it comes to the issue of leadership and the war on terror...


ZAHN: ... and in prosecuting the war in Iraq?


BEGALA: The president's lead on terrorism was 22 points about a week or two ago. Half, it's down to 11. It's cut in half down to 11. I mean that is a huge break for John Kerry and it hurts the president.

ZAHN: And the one thing we'll be watching very closely from here, Wolf as the polls close at 8:00 in particular, what happens in Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Hampshire. James Carville thinks it's very important. He'll explain why the next time we come back -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Paula. Thanks to the entire "CROSSFIRE" gang as well. Look at this -- 43 seconds to go and we're going to be able to make some projections right at the top of the hour once the polls in these 16 states that are closing at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Once all of those polls are closed, we'll be able to make some projections. These are important states for both of these candidates.

A lot of them widely anticipated. We're going to see shortly whether there are any surprises in store for our viewers in the United States and around the world. We got new projections. All of these projections that we're about to make are projections that have come to us as a result of our exit polls and other data that we've collected some sample precincts in all of these states.

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« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2010, 11:46:00 am »

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It is now exactly 8:00 p.m. on the East Coast. CNN can project these states for the precincts reporting. These states going for George W. Bush and John Kerry. Illinois, we don't know yet; we don't have enough information. Connecticut, we don't know yet; we don't have enough information. The District of Columbia, we don't have yet.
But let's take a look at what we do have. And I'm going to look into the camera and tell our viewers because we -- here we go, here we are. Here are the numbers; the states that we can project. For Illinois, John Kerry wins that state, as expected. He wins Connecticut, as well, as expected. The District of Columbia, there was never any doubt there. New Jersey, a big win for John Kerry. This state, supposedly, had been contested. We will project it goes for John Kerry. Maryland, as well, expected.

Here is a very interesting development: Maine. There are four electoral votes, the two at large votes we project now will go to John Kerry. The first district will go to John Kerry. But the second district, we don't have enough information yet, so we can just project now that three out of those four electoral votes go for John Kerry. We don't know about the fourth electoral vote.

His home state of Massachusetts and those 12 electoral votes will go for John Kerry. Delaware and three electoral votes, as well.

The president, we project, will carry Tennessee, as expected; Alabama and Oklahoma, both as expected, three states in this 8:00 Eastern Time Zone. So right now, right now just after 8:00 p.m. on the East Coast, we project that President Bush has 66 electoral votes. John Kerry has 77 -- 270 needed to be elected president of the United States.

You see those various colors, Jeff Greenfield. Red states are Bush. Blue states are Kerry. We got a little purple up there, as well, in Maine.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Well, we don't know yet about one of those two districts. And as I say, this is one of the two states in the country -- Nebraska being the other -- the allocated its electoral votes winner take all. Could one vote be important? Bush's margin of safety four years ago was exactly one electoral vote.

New Jersey, as you pointed out, Wolf, may have been a minor disappointment for the Bush campaign. The polling in New Jersey was looking at times at though that race were tied. New Jersey -- five counties around New York lost some 500 people on the morning of September 11th. Security seemed to be playing very well. They had an unpopular Democratic governor who had to resign, Jim McGreevey. As it turns out, apparently, the voting pattern is as it has been now for the last four elections, a safe Democratic state.

BLITZER: We don't have enough information -- I want to alert our viewers -- to project a winner in two important battleground states, closing at this hour, Florida and Pennsylvania.

GREENFIELD: Right now the polls are closed in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. And to say that the two campaigns and the army of political journalists are kind of interested in those three states, I would like to claim that as the understatement of the night.

BLITZER: Point out to our viewers, Jeff, those are the white states. Those are the states that closed their polling booths, but we don't have enough information yet to project a winner.

GREENFIELD: Right. New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia -- it is a geography contest -- North and South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. What is interesting so far is that none of the states that we have called have flipped yet. That's what we're all looking for. Will any state move from one or the other. I'm sorry, this is not, by the way, Louisiana. This is Mississippi.

BLITZER: Let's go to Judy Woodruff at the CNN Election Analysis Center to give us some information on why we have been able to project some winners, and why we haven't been able to project some winners.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, I'm sure a lot of people are asking why, particularly in some of the states that we thought George Bush was comfortably ahead -- Mississippi, South Carolina -- why we still have not been able to make a call. I'm going to quickly try to get the attention of our political director, Tom Hannon, who is overseeing our Election Analysis Center.

Tom, I think I know what you're going to be able to say at this point. But what can we tell our viewers about those states that we still can't call, especially those states where we thought there was a larger margin?

TOM HANNON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, in any of these states, at this point, we're going wait for more information. Right now, we're operating almost entirely off of exit poll responses, which serve us well in races where there is a wider margin. But I don't know if you can get around and see this, but see this tctc here?


HANNON: That's their language for saying that this is too close to call, based on the information out. We don't think it is going to be, necessarily, a close race, but we're saying that right now we don't have enough information to make a call there.

WOODRUFF: All right, and that's the state of Florida, which we knew was going to be close.

Tom, just quickly, what about a state like South Carolina? The polls closed an hour ago.

HANNON: Right, we're still looking at the vote in South Carolina. We want to make sure that we're not seeing some biases in the exit poll. It is not a character -- I wouldn't characterize it as a state that's going to have a close outcome at the end of the night, necessarily, but right now we just don't have enough information.

WOODRUFF: What about the state of Virginia, where the polls were a little closer?

HANNON: Same thing -- all of these are the same, the same answer.

WOODRUFF: OK. All right, we'll let you get back to work.

Tom Hannon -- and of course, Wolf -- our political director, and they're trying their best to get all this information in. But as you know, as we have been saying for days now, we don't want to jump the gun. We are not going to make any projections until we are entirely comfortable with them. Even though it may seem conservative to some people out there who think, Gee, South Carolina, that surely is going to be a Bush state. We are not going to jump to any conclusions.

BLITZER: Well once, Judy, we get these raw numbers coming in through the Associated Press, presumably, we'll have more information, and at some point, we might be able to make projections in those states like Florida and Pennsylvania and New Hampshire -- key battleground states.

WOODRUFF: That's right. What we're doing is we are layering information. Information from those exit polls has been coming in all day long, the sample precinct information that we're getting from about 3,000 precincts around the country.

And then, as you just said, the actual raw vote. We are going to be looking at that. Our statisticians are election analysts, all the people you see sitting around these computers, right here in our Election Analysis Center, part of CNN's offices in the Time Warner Center, right here in Manhattan. They are looking at all of this information, and at some point, there will be enough, either through the sample precincts, a combination of that with the raw vote to make them comfortable. But as you just heard Tom Hannon say, we're not there yet.

And if there are any anomalies in those numbers -- I mean, we all know, there has been a lot of discussion this year, Wolf and Jeff, about the public opinion polls. We have seen them. They've been -- it seems like they've been all over the map. We're not taking any chances, because it may be that the models that were used in some of those polls were a little bit off. We don't know. And so we're just being extra cautious.

BLITZER: All right, Judy Woodruff, we see a lot of those experts sitting behind you, drinking a lot of coffee. They are going to have a long night. We're going to have a long night, as well. Stay with us. To our viewers, stay with us, as well.

Anderson Cooper is watching some key Senate races. What have we learned, Anderson?

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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Wolf, we can now project a winner in, of course, the race in Illinois -- not a great surprise. Democrat Barack Obama is the projected winner in the state of Illinois. Again, this is a widely expected -- he ran against Alan Keyes, who was really at no point during this race any great threat to him. Alan Keyes came under some criticism for comments he made about Mary Cheney. But he really never got any traction in this race. Barack Obama, rising star in the Democratic Party, is on his way to the United States Senate.

And he has actually, Wolf -- what is interesting about this race, is he has actually gone out and campaigned for a lot of other candidates around the country. Just this last weekend, he was campaigning in Kentucky for Dan Mongiardo, who is running in a very contentious race against Jim Bunning. So Barack Obama, as we said, a rising star in the party, and he is now on his way to Washington, D.C. He is the projected winner tonight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, you want to make a point about Barack Obama?

GREENFIELD: This is the first Democratic pickup. This is an open Senate seat of the retired Republican Sen. Fitzgerald. It was never in doubt. But as we look to see the balance of power that you'll be telling us about all night, with the Georgia pickup for the Republicans, we've already called, now we're back to square one.

COOPER: And we should point out to viewers who haven't been following this as closely, in order for the Democrats to take control of the Senate, they would need to pick up two seats -- that's if George Bush stays in office. If John Kerry stays in office, they need a net pickup of one seat. So at this point, Barack Obama picks up one seat. But as Jeff mentioned, you have Johnny Isakson picking up one seat for the Republicans from Fritz Hollings' old seat. So at this point there is -- I'm sorry, from Zell Miller's seat in Georgia. So, at this point, there is no net gain.

BLITZER: All right, Anderson Cooper, thanks very much. The reason they would only need one seat, the Democrats, if John Kerry is elected president, that's because John Edwards would become the vice president of the United States, and by definition, he's the president of the Senate. He would be able to break a tie. That's why they would only need one seat.

Bill Schneider is looking at exit polls, as he always does for us. What else have we learned, Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We learned something very interesting about New Jersey, Wolf. New Jersey lost the second largest number of people on September 11th, and three-quarters of the voters there said they are worried about another terrorist attack on the United States. But New Jersey voted for John Kerry. Let's take a look at those voters in New Jersey who said they're worried about another terrorist attack. Look at this: 55 percent, a majority of those voters worried about another terrorist attack, are voting for John Kerry; only 43 percent for George Bush. That has got to be a big disappointment for the White House.

Do they trust Bush to handle the terrorist issue? Let's look at what New Jersey voters said. That was about an even split: 47 percent said no; 46 percent said yes. They are divided on whether they trust Bush on the terrorism issue. So this was a big blow to Bush. They didn't do better in New Jersey, a state where terrorism was the No. 1 issue of concern to voters.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Was that would you say, so far, the surprise of the night, the early call on Jersey?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, New Jersey was supposed to be a more competitive state. Republicans had some hope there. It is a state that historically has voted Democrat. But Republicans felt, you know, after the September 11th attacks, they had a real chance in New Jersey. But look at this: Even those who were concerned about terrorism were voting for John Kerry.

KING: And the president did go to Jersey?

BLITZER: He did go to deliver that major foreign policy speech, only a few weeks ago, although, it was in southern New Jersey, near the Philadelphia television market. So he knew he would get a lot of pickup in a much more important state for the Republicans. At least the hope was for Pennsylvania.

KING: With a little over an hour, what is surprising, Jeff?

GREENFIELD: Actually, not much, because every state that we called so far is in line with 2000. I think you actually put your finger on it. The fact that New Jersey went this early, given so many pre-election polls that had a two or three points, a lot of us were scratching our heads saying, this is a state that has been comfortably Democratic for 12 years. What is going on? Well, apparently, not much, except the pollsters were talking to the wrong people.

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, we can't draw too much, again, being cautious about our calls, but I will be interested to watch and see what happens in North Carolina. That early on when John Edwards was picked as the nominee, first nominee on either portion of the ticket since the mid-1800s, people thought it might become competitive. The polls later on showed the president re- opening up a lead. But it will be interesting to see what happens.

KING: What about the Senate race there?

CROWLEY: You know, I think the Senate race -- one of the interesting things about that Senate race there, where you have former President Clinton's former chief of staff, Erskine Bowles, running against a congressman, Richard Burr, there, is that it is another one of these places where the presidential race seemed to open up, but the Senate race remained very close. You see the same thing, for example, in a place like Ohio. You had it a close presidential race, but the Senate race opened up. So it is interesting, you're not seeing the dovetail between Senate races and presidential races that you see in the past.

BLITZER: You know, it is very interesting also, Larry, that the Democrats, the Kerry campaign, never gave up on North Carolina. They never pulled their staff out of North Carolina, like they did other states that they once thought they might have a shot in, like Missouri, for example, or Virginia.

They never left North Carolina. I think, in part, because of the impact it could have on Erskine Bowles, the Democratic Senate candidate. And also, in part, because they don't want to embarrass John Edwards, who is the vice presidential nominee.

KING: What is the rule of people on-line? If you're on-line, do you vote? They are reporting that they may be open in Toledo until midnight.

GREENFIELD: The general rule, if you're online, you get to vote. The state...

KING: So when the precinct closes, someone comes and puts a rope, so if you show up at five after 8:00, you don't vote?

GREENFIELD: That's right.

BLITZER: You got to be there before the...

KING: You got to be there and online.

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BLITZER: Although every state -- and, Jeff, I think you'll agree -- they have their own rules, they have their own regulations, and precincts may have their own rules, as well.

KING: I could let you vote, and he may not let you vote.

BLITZER: That's right.

GREENFIELD: Sometimes, you'll have -- four years ago, there were big court fights in Missouri about whether the polls in St. Louis should stay open; is it legal or not.

One quick point: In most of the competitive Senate races, with the exception of Colorado and Florida, the Democrats are under a big disadvantage. They are running in deep crimson red states. Those Senate candidates, including Senate Minority Leader Daschle, have to overcome a top of the ticket spread that could be as much as 20, 25 points. That's a difficult problem.

BLITZER: Carlos, let's get back to New Jersey for a minute, because as Larry King accurately points out, this is the first major state that has -- we have been able to project a win for John Kerry, New Jersey. So many of -- 500 residents -- of New Jersey were killed in the World Trade Center bombing. There was a sense that Republicans had that, perhaps, they had a shot there a few weeks ago, but something changed.

CROWLEY: Or were the polls wrong? I mean, one of the things that Jeff and I discussed a number of times and one of the things that, obviously, our viewers out there are wondering about are all these polls that constantly showed close contests. By the time we get to the end of the night, will we be surprised that so many places we thought were going to be tight weren't.

KING: Were we fooled by the governor having to resign?

BLITZER: I don't know if that had a direct impact. What do you think?

CROWLEY: I think, initially, there was some thought that it did. That controversy might have caused people to sour a little bit on Democrats, generally. But given that we called it this early on, boy, that's meaningfully good news for John Kerry there.

I think, by the way, West Virginia was similarly good news for the president, that we called it that quickly.

GREENFIELD: Let me try on our humility hat. We don't know why the pre-election polls in New Jersey called the close race, when it apparently hasn't. I think, the phrase "we don't know" may be useful as we get through the rest of the night.

BLITZER: Although, I will point out, in defense of the pollsters, that in the most recent polls over the last few days, we did see a growing gap in favor of John Kerry in New Jersey, in fairness to all the hard working pollsters who make these phone calls and get this information -- easy to deride them.

Let's bring in two of the finest political reporters out there. John King is over at the White House. Candy Crowley in Boston.

First to you, John. What are you hearing? What are you seeing?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, first let me say, election night here at the White House is a Bush family reunion. The former president is here. The current president's brother, other family members. We have Karl Rove set up as the go between, if you will. He's in the old family dining room in the residence behind me, watching results, also shuttling back to the Roosevelt Room where other senior staffers are watching on several walls of television screens -- tracking the results, working the telephones, trying to talk to people around the country. They insist here that their turnout operation in Ohio and elsewhere is doing quite well. They say, wait for votes to be counted.

One quick word on -- you were just discussing about New Jersey. Nobody here at the White House ever expected to win New Jersey. What they hoped to do by going to the Philadelphia market, as you noted, was get some air time in Pennsylvania, perhaps convince the Democrats to put some late time effort and money into New Jersey. The Democrats didn't take the bait. It is not a state the president expected to win. He did hope to force John Kerry to spend more time and money there. He failed in that regard, and obviously, that state goes Democrat tonight.

BLITZER: So, John, the whole family, the Bush family is basically behind you in the residence at the White House right now watching television, we presume.

J. KING: That is right; watching the results. It is great irony here. Step back for just a minute -- it was 12 years ago when this president's father found out he would be a one term president. This president campaigned aggressively. He said today that he was content with the campaign he had won. Win or lose, he said he expected to win. One of the Democratic rallying cries, if you will, in this election was, "Like father, like son; four years, he's done."

This President Bush finding out tonight if he will get a second term, unlike his father, or if he will suffer the same fate.

BLITZER: I know Larry wants to talk to you, John, as well. Go ahead before we bring in Candy Crowley.

KING: Here's one thing John: Jeb Bush was on our show last night. He's not there. He said he was going to stay in Florida.

J. KING: He is not. Because of all the questions about whether his state would have a rerun of four years ago, Jeb Bush thought it was best if he stay home, keep his eye on the vote count.

KING: He's the only one not there, right?

J. KING: Not here. Jeb is not here.

BLITZER: He was a no-show at the Republican Convention, also, as our viewers remember, because there were hurricanes. I believe there were four hurricanes in Florida that preoccupied him. Let's bring in Candy Crowley -- she's in Boston at the Kerry campaign headquarters.

What is the mood over there, Candy, at this hour -- it's about 8:17, 8:18 -- on the East Coast?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you right now, they have CNN on. So the crowd that has started to gather here, you are hearing cheers.

Look, the senator actually just finished campaigning about half an hour ago. He spent almost four hours satelliting (ph) in interviews where his ground troops told him that, in fact, an interview might help -- so usual suspects -- Ohio, Florida, places like that. John Kerry has been doing interviews for four hours. Now he's over at his house having some dinner.

Let me add to the New Jersey discussion and just tell you that the reason the Democrats didn't fall for what looked like a George Bush play for New Jersey is that they had internal polls showing them that New Jersey wasn't that close. They said, in fact, you all just have seen a head fake, referring to the president. They knew he was looking at that Pennsylvania market. They never thought that New Jersey was much in play.

BLITZER: Larry, want to talk to Candy?

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KING: Candace, would you call the mood there upbeat? Are they excited by what they see so far?

CROWLEY: Upbeat is OK. What you're talking about the crowd -- because I think you can hear them. If you're talking about the Kerry people -- absolutely. Look, they are seeing the kinds of things come in that, in fact, we are seeing. They feel good about it. But they felt good about it for the past week.

What they are keying on now is the turnout and the reports of the turnout. Obviously, we don't have numbers. But they see the long lines. They are talking about places that are asking for later closing times because the lines are so long. So they believe that all of those new voters that Bill Schneider talked about earlier, and all of those that are now coming out that didn't come out in 2000 are mostly Kerry voters. So they feel pretty good.

KING: John and Candy -- John, you first. Is anyone down? Everyone we talk to is flying high. I guess, Nader is down.

GREENFIELD: Well, Larry, one of the challenges on election night is to keep your spirits up. You were joking earlier with Wolf that somebody, when you had the two chairmen on -- Ed Gillespie and Terry McAuliffe -- one of those guys isn't telling the truth. They don't know right now. So, of course, they're both going to say they think they can win.

And one of the reasons they say that is because they worry a bit about psychology. There are some people who are in states where the polls are still open. So if you seem down, then the people might not get up and go out and vote. So everyone wants to keep their spirits up. And they simply say this is so close, what other choice do you have?

BLITZER: Right now there is time for all sides to be up, because there will be plenty of time for one side to be down. John King, Candy Crowley, thanks very much.

Bill Hemmer is over at the CNN Election Analysis Center. You have got this tool, the Spatial Logic, Bill. And you want to focus in, right now, on Florida, what we know and don't know.

BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're starting to see a trend here, Wolf. Now we want to repeat here, it is too close to call in this state.

We're only seeing a trend here through this great technology we're using this year. Spatial Logic allows it to take specific states and look at them county by county and then start the gauge by the vote count, which way it is going -- George Bush or John Kerry.

Stuart Rothenberg, CNN political analyst is with me again here tonight.

Good evening to you. We want to show our viewers how to really use the Telis Rader to help demonstrate our point tonight.

The I-4 Corridor, many believe, this is where the state will be decided. What are you finding out on that?

STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN ANALYST: Well, let's look right at the map here, Bill. The I-4 Corridor it is this part of the state. It is critical; a lot of voters. The Democrats did very well four years ago.

But if we look at where the votes are coming in now, starting at Polk County, Osceola, Orange County, Volusia, -- and we clear that right in there -- Lake County, we see the president leading in four of the five counties. One of them is a tie. If you compare that to four years ago, Al Gore won three of these five counties. The Republicans needed to make gains, and with some significant partials in each of the counties, George Bush is doing better.

HEMMER: Let me just be clear here. The trend you're seeing is that he's doing better this time at this point in the vote compared to four years ago, which would portend good news for the White House now for Florida.

ROTHENBERG: That's right. But there are significant parts of the state that are not in. For example, if you again at this map of the southeastern corner, you can see there is no color in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. There should be some significant Democratic votes there, and elsewhere. Some of the colors may change from red to blue, but at the moment in that central part, it is pretty good for the president.

HEMMER: Just so viewers know, red denotes Bush, blue denotes Kerry. The gray on the screen you show shows no information at all from the county. Now we can show another map comparing the counties from four years ago, perhaps, to emphasize the point a little more. There is a dark red and a pink almost.

ROTHENBERG: Look at that again. That's the I-4 Corridor. The darker the red, the larger the gain. Pink is a Republican loss. We have very few votes over here in Pinellas. Significant number of votes over here, suggesting that the Republicans, George Bush, is getting more votes out of this area.

HEMMER: That's the trend that we're seeing so far. And again, as you point out, significant parts of the state not reporting just yet. That's why we're here -- to watch it more.

Back to the NASDAQ and Wolf now.

BLITZER: Bill Hemmer and Stuart Rothenberg, thanks very much.

Let's take a look at the raw votes. These are actual votes that have already come in from the state of Florida. The president now with only a quarter of the vote in, 24 percent, has just over a million votes at 55 percent; John Kerry at 45 percent. Ralph Nader with 9,000 votes has not yet reached one percent, still 0 percent. That's a quarter of the vote in, in Florida. We'll be watching to see the numbers change, even as we're speaking.

CNN's Aaron Brown is here with us, as well. He has got some thoughts that he wants to share with our viewers about -- what, incumbents?

AARON BROWN, CNN ANALYST: Well, election nights are supposed to be about suspense, and in one important race, the most important race, it certainly is. But while I hate to be the night's party popper, in 95 percent of the elections going on in the United States today, they are not only lacking in suspense, they were virtually decided when the incumbent decided to seek re-election. For all the grousing we do about our government, we send the same people back each year.

Tonight, a couple of sitting senators may lose. But the change in the Senate will come not by tossing the incumbent, but because the incumbent decided he had better things to do than run again. Lobbying is more lucrative. Retirement more fun. The same holds true in the House.

A decade ago, Republicans championed term limits. Then they took control of the Congress. Term limits are only cool if you want the job; not if you have it.

Maybe we're just content with government or maybe the special interests, from the drug companies to the labor unions, just like doing business with the people they know. Plenty of money to incumbents; the challengers campaign on food stamps. One way or another, the process is stacked, rigged, to keep new blood, and perhaps new ideas, out.

Someday the country may decide that ought to change. But it won't be tonight, and it won't come from the Congress -- at least not from those with power.

BLITZER: Anything standing out at this early, relatively early, stage in your mind, Aaron?

BROWN: I enjoy how much I have heard, "We don't know."

BLITZER: We're not ashamed to say that.

BROWN: Well, if we were, we learned four years ago not to be. It will just play out. I mean, we just saw Florida vote -- you know, we had about 2 million votes counted, a little less than 2 million. We have got a long way to go in Florida. Ohio, we haven't even seen numbers yet. We don't know in that race. But we sure do know in a lot of others.

KING: How many incumbent congressmen will we lose tonight?

BROWN: Congressmen? Six, maybe.

BLITZER: We're talking about Senators. Congressmen, 400... KING: How many are in the House?

BLITZER: Maybe 30 or 40 races that are competitive in the House of Representatives.

BROWN: But a handful. A handful. That's the way it is -- 95 percent go back every year, every two years. And maybe they're just doing a terrific job. I mean, that's one way to look at it.

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BLITZER: That's an optimistic way of looking at it.

BROWN: I'll be an optimist for a while.

BLITZER: Let's bring in Vanessa Kerry. She's joining us from Boston, the daughter of Sen. John Kerry.

You're smiling broadly, Vanessa. But then again, I always see you smiling. Do you ever not smile?

VANESSA KERRY, DAUGHTER OF JOHN KERRY: Trust me, I do. You should see me in the morning. It is not necessarily always pleasant. But I'm smiling tonight because it has been an incredible journey. And I'm just very proud of my father, and I'm optimistic about this evening.

BLITZER: Take us behind the scenes. You've spent time with your father back there. What is it like with your dad?

KERRY: Well, he's still working away. He's really -- he's still working, trying to get Americans out to vote. You know, this is a really important election. And I've heard many people say it is the most important election of their lifetime. And I would say that, too. I'm 27. I don't know how much leverage that actually has.

But I do feel a real gravity to this election. I think that there is so much at stake. And it is really important that people get to the polls and they vote because it is their future in their hands. And my father is the first to say that this election is not about him. It is about the American people and the next century, really. It is about health care and jobs and education, and that's what we're fighting for. And we're fighting to try to give America the kind of leadership it deserves.

KING: Vanessa, is there anything encouraging or discouraging you so far?

KERRY: You know, I'm not one for watching the polls. And I'm not one for taking it all in. I've been listening to some of the stuff, and it has been a great turnout. That's incredibly exciting. And I think that's really encouraging, that this many people have chosen to be a part of this process. I hope people continue to on the West, and many polls aren't closed yet. People should keep going and really being a part of this process.

I can't say anything's discouraging me yet. I'm just watching and waiting, and I'm somebody who will finally really accept things when things are really done. But I feel really good about tonight.

KING: Does your father expect a long night?

KERRY: I think we expect a long night. But I also think that, you know, we expect this to be decided in, you know, into the, maybe, the early morning of tomorrow. But, hopefully, not longer. I think if everyone gets out there and votes, and every vote that deserves to be counted is counted, we are going to have a decision. We are going to have our next president of the United States, and I hope we do, because this country needs to heal from 2000.

BLITZER: Vanessa, your dad is a little superstitious. He does certain things on election days throughout his political career. Tell our viewers in the United States and around the world some of the superstitious things that he's on to.

KERRY: I think that the thing that is most well known is that, after he votes, he goes to the Union Oyster House and has a long neck clam lunch. And he did that today. My sister and I actually did not join him because we never have.

But we did go vote with him because we've been with him every time -- every vote we made for our father when he's been on ballot, we have done with him. We joined him today to vote, and it was a pretty emotional moment to see your dad's name on a ballot for president of the United States. But I have to tell you, it was extraordinary. And it is probably the best vote I've ever made in my life.

KING: Are the Edwards there yet, Vanessa?

KERRY: I don't even -- to be honest, I don't know if the senator is here yet, but Kate is here, and I've had a chance to see her. She's been working away. And they are going to be in tonight, if they're not yet, and we're looking forward to being all together again. We have been crisscrossing this country, fighting for every vote for the last weeks, and it has been an incredible journey, two families. I really look forward to what I hope will be the next four to eight years.

BLITZER: I don't know if you know the answer to this question, but if you do, maybe you can share it with us. I'm interested if the speech writers for your dad prepared two speeches today -- a victory speech and a concession speech.

KERRY: Tell you what, I think you just have to watch and wait.

KING: How will we know?

KERRY: I'm sorry?

KING: How will we know if he had two speeches?

KERRY: You know, I don't know the answer to that. That was my attempt to buck around the question. But, you know, I don't know. What I can tell you is we're feeling very good. We know that this country wants a fresh start. We know this country has been frustrated for the last three and a half years, the under-funding of education. If you look at Ohio, there has been 100 school districts that have to pay $500 in order to be able to have their children be involved in after school activities. In the state of Nevada, you have veterans that are going to be under funded by $35 million, based on the president's proposed budget for next year.

This country deserves more. I think the American people know that. I'm optimistic that we're going to see that in the voting process tonight.

BLITZER: All right, Vanessa Kerry, thank you very much for spending a few moments with us.

KERRY: Thank you for having me on.

BLITZER: This note to our viewers, we'll be hearing shortly from Ken Mehlman. He is the Bush/Cheney campaign manager. We will talk to him. He's in Washington, D.C.

We want to reiterate what we just heard from Vanessa Kerry, still polls open in much of this country. This is still a good time for you to go out and vote. Go ahead, don't turn off the TV. When you come back, you continue watching CNN.

We'll take a quick break -- much more coverage from CNN election headquarters. Also, cnn.com, if you need any additional information, up to the minute information on all of the races. Go to cnn.com. You can find up to the counties what is going on in states in the United States. The best information out there. Cnn.com, a great companion to watching CNN on television.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Just after 8:30 here on the East Coast. Bill Clinton's home state of Arkansas, the polling is closed there. We don't have enough information to make a projection there.

We do have enough information to project that the president will carry Virginia and its 13 electoral votes. Virginia had closed earlier. Based on exit polling numbers and real numbers, raw numbers coming in, we can project that the president will carry Virginia. This had been expected. Thirteen electoral votes.

Also, we can project the president will carry South Carolina and its eight electoral votes. Once again, this had been expected. South Carolina had closed earlier. Real numbers coming in. Raw numbers, together with all of our analysis, exit poll numbers. Both of these states going for the president of the United States.

Judy Woodruff is joining us once again from the CNN Election Analysis Center at the Time Warner Center. You've got some news, Judy. WOODRUFF: Wolf, we do. No -- there's no state that President Bush has wanted to take away more from the Democrats than Pennsylvania.

And we do have something to tell you about in the western part of the state, the Pittsburgh suburbs, Allegheny County. This is an area that Bush and Kerry had fought very hard over. We are learning that Allegheny County is extending the poll closing time an hour and a half.

Pennsylvania, as you know, the polls closed across the state at 8 p.m. But because the lines are so long, we have now been told from three different sources that the county has decided to keep those polls open until 9:30 Eastern Time.

Now this is an area of the state where blue collar, socially conservative voters, so this is an area presumably very much up for grabs. We are keeping a close eye on that part of the state. It's Allegheny County. Perhaps you want to take a look at a map to look at exactly where it is. But it is part of the Pittsburgh suburbs in the western part of Pennsylvania.

So in a nutshell, Wolf, the polls are staying open an hour and a half additionally in this one county so far that we know about in Pennsylvania.

BLITZER: All right, Judy. Presumably, that same thing could happen elsewhere around the country where polls are still open and there are long lines as well. This is a decision that individual counties and states will be making, right, Judy?

WOODRUFF: That's right. I mean, and presumably if there were issues all over a state, a secretary of state might do it. But typically this is something you would see made at the county, judgment made at the county level, because we know that it's -- it's the officials in those county election boards that have to answer for how an election is managed.

BLITZER: All right. Judy Woodruff reporting for us, thank you very much.

Let's recap where it stands now, the race for the White House. Two hundred seventy electoral votes needed to be elected president. At this point in the night, 87 so far we projected going for President Bush. Seventy-seven we projected so far going for John Kerry. That's pretty close. It's expected to be close throughout the night. We'll have all the latest information.

Let's go to Washington right now, CNN's congressional correspondent, Ed Henry, is joining us.

Ed, you've got some information on what's going on out there. What's happening?

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ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Everybody paying attention to the South Dakota Senate race. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle in a dead heat with Republican John Thune.

Now, in the eastern part of South Dakota, the polls closed at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, but in the western part, they're open for about another half hour. Just got off the phone with the Daschle camp. They have people literally at this hour combing through voting roles in precincts, checking for people who have not voted yet and then calling them at home and saying get to the polls. There's about 25 minutes left; you have to get to the polls.

Now, in 2002, John Thune lost by only about 524 votes. Tom Daschle knows that if he wins, he's only going to win by somewhere less than a thousand votes. This race is again going to be decided by a very small margin.

Now, Republicans not being outdone, John Thune also working the polls at this hour. Some 6,000 volunteers throughout the state of South Dakota for Republicans between the Republican Party and John Thune's campaign itself.

Significance here, major. There has not been a Senate leader who has lost re-election since 1952, Ernest McFarland. Before that, 1950, also a Democratic leader lost. That created a power vacuum that LBJ filled. Lyndon John became Senate leader.

Same thing could happen again here. If Tom Daschle loses, there's a lot of talk that there would be a Democratic leadership race between Harry Reid, Tom Daschle's No. 2 and someone like Chris Dodd. His name keeps coming up.

In fact, Democratic people are saying some phone calls have been made very quietly by Harry Reid and Chris Dodd in recent weeks. They obviously don't want to see Tom Daschle lose but they're calling colleagues saying that if he were to lose, keep me in mind.

There could be a very interesting leadership battle here if Tom Daschle were to lose to see who is going to take charge of the Democratic leadership, Wolf.

BLITZER: And give our viewers around the world a little perspective, how important this race is. There are a bunch of Senate races, what, 34 Senate races out there. But this one, as far as the Democrats are concerned, I think it's fair to say is the most important.

HENRY: Absolutely, because of the symbolic nature of it. Also the fact that President Bush has personally had himself and his surrogates going out and going after Daschle in recent years.

But also the numbers game here. Nine Senate tossups, South Dakota the most significant because Democrats have high hopes of picking up some Republican seats like Colorado. They've already picked up Illinois with Barak Obama. But if they were to lose the Tom Daschle seat, that would obviously be a real hard blow for the Democrats. They are only two seats down. It's 51 to 49 for the Republicans, a two-seat margin. If Democrats pick up some seats but then lose Tom Daschle's seat, that could prevent them from taking back the majority.

A lot at stake here. Both John Kerry and President Bush paying attention to the Senate battle, because whoever wins the White House, they're going to need their party to be controlling the Senate.

BLITZER: We'll be watching South Dakota with you, Ed Henry, in Washington. Thanks very much.

Jeff Greenfield, what we just heard from Judy Woodruff about what's happening in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state, that's pretty fascinating stuff.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Allegheny County, which is the city of Pittsburgh, went solidly for Al Gore four years ago. It also happens to be the home, or was the home of Teresa Heinz Kerry. It is the headquarters of one of her foundations, which has poured tens of millions of dollars into that community.

So anything that keeps the polls open later in an area of core strength, you would kind of conclude would probably be helpful to the Democrats, that is to John Kerry.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What's the key counties in Florida?

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, when you look at Florida, a lot of people focus on Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach.

But I think the really interesting place to look this year is the Northern part, in Duval County where Jacksonville's located. Last time around the president literally won that by 45,000 votes. But about 27,000 votes was thrown out. Many believe those were Democratic, African-American votes. I would keep my eye on that over the night.

If that's a place where the president is doing well, good news for them. If that's a place that's close, 10,000 or 20,000 separating it, suggests good news for John Kerry.

KING: No reports, no major reports, Wolf, of any problems, right, so far?

BLITZER: We did hear -- we did hear Ed Gillespie complain about what he called...

KING: Well...

BLITZER: Right. Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Party. I suspect there are incidents happening around the country that we don't yet know about, but presumably we'll learn about. GREENFIELD: One of the things we're doing here is some very old- fashioned notion called making telephone calls. We've got all these computers. And there are two pieces of information that may be worthwhile.

In Lehigh -- the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, which Gore won by about one percentage point, it is a swing district in a swing state. According to one of the local newspaper reporters there, the Kerry get out the vote operation is massively outperforming the Bush...

BLITZER: Hold on one second. I'm going to interrupt for a second. We have a important projection to make right now.

Let's go to the projection board. The CNN is now ready to project that North Carolina, North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes will go to President Bush. This had been expected, although it was -- some that thought it was in contention. But CNN can now project that North Carolina, the home state of John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, will go to George W. Bush.

Important enough for us -- in fact, let's look at the map right now, where it stands with North Carolina going to George W. Bush, at least our projection. Right now at this point, 102 electoral votes for George W. Bush. Seventy-seven for John Kerry. Two hundred and seventy needed, just to remind our viewers.

The blue states are Kerry states. The red states are Bush states. This state is Maine. We see a little purple there. Four electoral votes. We can only project that three of those electoral votes will be going to John Kerry. One still we don't have enough information to know where that fourth electoral vote will be going.

North Carolina, I guess, it's not much of a surprise, but the Democrats had hoped that maybe they could have caused a surprise there.

GREENFIELD: This -- this is -- from the time that Larry and I were young, many decades ago, when the solid South meant Democratic.

KING: Yes.

GREENFIELD: The South is now virtually -- virtually solidly Republican except when they run a Southerner. The last Northern Democrat to carry a state -- Hubert Humphrey carried one state, Texas, in 1968. John Kennedy got a few. That's it. They have been shut out, the Northern Democrats, from the South for the better part of 44 years. And this is just another example of what's gone on.

WATSON: Well, you know, one interesting thing we talk about Northern Democrats and Southern Democrats, if John Kerry wins tonight, it will upset a whole lot of conventional wisdom.

You know, for the last several decades, we've heard that the only Democrat who can win the presidency is a Southern Democrat. Right? It's got to be Lyndon Johnson. It's got to be Jimmy Carter. It's got to be Bill Clinton. If John Kerry ultimately succeeds and wins tonight, it will be a big piece of conventional wisdom that's gone, along with jettisoning the old map.

And the reason they would have won is winning without strength in the South, gobbling other areas in the Midwest and Southwest.

KING: Does anyone know where four years ago right at this time it stood?

WATSON: Oh, yes.

KING: Was it still like 102 to 77?

GREENFIELD: We called Florida for Gore.

KING: This early?

GREENFIELD: We called Florida for Gore at ten minutes of 8 Eastern Time. That is burned in my memory, and I will never forget it.

WATSON: 10 minutes of 8?

BLITZER: Probably before all the precincts in the western part of Florida had closed, Pensacola, because that's in the Central Time Zone. And as you remember, Larry, we were hammered, because we made a projection, then all the networks made a projection even before all the polls in one state had closed.

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