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America Votes 2002

Aired November 3, 2002 - 20:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of CNN PRESENTS, "America Votes 2002." The most narrowly divided Congress in half a century. Control of both chambers up for grabs. In the Senate, just one seat, one race could reverse the balance of power.
Also on the political line, President Bush invests in his popularity on the campaign trail during the most challenging of times.

Tonight, CNN's election team will be your guide to the closest races, the famous names, the surprise candidates, and the enormous stakes.

Plus, late-breaking poll numbers from crucial battle grounds just two days before America votes.

Now from CNN election headquarters in Atlanta, here are Aaron Brown, Paula Zahn, and Judy Woodruff.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CO-HOST: And brace yourselves because Election 2000 may have been the ultimate political cliffhanger, but Tuesday's vote is likely to be the type of sequel that keeps you glued to your televisions late into the night and keeps us glued to these chairs.

AARON BROWN, CO-HOST: And we expect it that way. The term elections only occasionally take on the kind of national significance of this year's vote. It is a vote that takes place in a time when by almost any measure the country is politically, at least, split right down the middle, and control of the Congress may well hinge, not just on a few stakes, but on very few votes in those states.

PAULA ZAHN, CO-HOST: So it is indeed very serious business, but it's also exciting with an unusual number of toss-up races and shockers, even before Election Day. Who would have imagined the fierce battle for control of the Senate would rest in part on the comeback of a Democrat who was vice president more than two decades ago.

WOODRUFF: And that Senate showdown, Paula, couldn't be much closer. Right now Democrats and Republicans each have 49 seats. But Democrats still have the majority, counting the seat of the late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota and of Independent Jim Jeffords of Vermont, who cast many votes with Democrats. Republicans need a net pickup of just one seat to reclaim control of the Senate.

ZAHN: And Judy, 34 Senate seats are at stake on Election Day. Eight are considered toss-ups. This hour we have our own late poll numbers to report on some of the tightest Senate match-ups.


ZAHN (voice over): The squeaker Senate races are all over the map and at least three still are neck-and-neck. In New Hampshire, Republican John Sununu is just one point ahead of Democrat Jeanne Shaheen in our new poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire. Congressman Sununu defeated Senator Bob Smith in the GOP primary. But Shaheen, the state's popular governor, is a more formidable opponent.

Just two points separate the Senate candidates in Colorado, incumbent Republican Wayne Allard and Democrat Tom Strickland. It's a bitter rematch of 1996 when Allard narrowly won a first term.

In South Dakota, Republican challenger John Thune leads incumbent Tim Johnson by three points. This race is billed as a proxy battle between President Bush and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

In Missouri, Congressman Jim Talent now is four points ahead of Democrat Senator Jean Carnahan, signaling a possible pickup by Republicans. Carnahan was appointed to the seat in 200 after her husband, Mel, died in a plane crash, but won the Senate race anyway.

Democrats appear poised to gain a Senate seat in Arkansas where State Attorney General Mark Pryor now has an eight-point advantage over Republican incumbent Tim Hutchinson. Hutchinson's divorce and remarriage to a staffer haven't played well with his conservative base.


BROWN: Well, if you had to choose a tight Senate race with the most dramatic storyline, it would probably be Minnesota, then I'm a Minnesotan. There was the death of Democrat Paul Wellstone in a plane crash and then former Vice President Walter Mondale coming out of semi-retirement to take Wellstone's spot.

Who's ahead in Minnesota tonight depends on which poll you read. The Minneapolis "Star Tribune" shows Mondale up by five points. The "Pioneer Press," the St. Paul paper, gives a six-point lead to the Republican Norm Coleman, the president's handpicked candidate.

These are, I guess, the inherent limitations in polls. The president was in the state today in an attempt to steal the deal for Coleman. CNN's Frank Buckley joins us now from the Twin Cities. Frank, good evening.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Aaron. Those dueling polls that you mention, really an indication of just how close this race is here in Minnesota. Most analysts saying that it is too close to call right now. And the appearance of the president here late today, another indication of just how important this race is to both sides.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BUCKLEY (voice-over): The president was received by an enthusiastic Republican audience in a state still officially in mourning for the late Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You lost a principle senator.

BUCKLEY: With respects paid, the president moved on to the purpose of his visit.

BUSH: The future of Minnesota rests with Norm Coleman.

BUCKLEY: To encourage voters to support his handpicked choice in the Senate race here.

BUSH: I want somebody from this great state with whom I can work.

BUCKLEY: Norm Coleman subtly suggesting that his 74-year-old opponent, Walter Mondale, is a throwback to another era.

NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA SENATE CANDIDATE: This election is about Minnesota's future. It's about tomorrow and it's about the right leadership to get us there.

BUCKLEY: In rural Minnesota...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're for you Walter. You helped my mom and dad way back in the '70s and...

BUCKLEY: Former Vice President Mondale said he was responding to a call amidst tragedy to serve.

WALTER MONDALE (D), MINNESOTA SENATE CANDIDATE: When Wellstone first ran, I said it is time for a younger man to take over, but we got five days to go, and we've got a huge tragic situation, and I'm trying to do my part to help.

BUCKLEY: Mondale is stressing his government experience.

MONDALE: If you'll send me back to the Senate, I can begin to make a difference on the first day.

BUCKLEY: The sudden death of Senator Wellstone seemed to affect the tone of the campaign. Neither side has gone negative. Many voters still in too much pain to tolerate a return to politics as usual.

(on camera): And there's no where the sense of loss over the death of Senator Wellstone is more visible than here at what was the Wellstone Headquarters in St. Paul. Along this wall here flowers, cards, notes that stretch for half a block.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Want a bumper sticker? Pull in.

BUCKLEY (voice over): But will sympathy for Wellstone help Mondale? On Monday both candidates will appear in their one and only debate of the five-day campaign. Political analyst Larry Jacobs among those who believe that Mondale has the most to lose.

LARRY JACOBS, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: If Walter Mondale stumbles in a debate on Monday, it will confirm the charges of Norm Coleman that this candidate is out of touch.


BUCKLEY: And that debate set to get underway tomorrow morning locally here at 10:00 a.m. After that, Norm Coleman plans to get on a bus and begin a round-the-state tour that will last through the night, ending with his voting on Election Day at 7:00 a.m. back here in St. Paul.

Walter Mondale tomorrow also planning to hold some sort of an event after the debate, hasn't been specified yet just what. And then later in the evening, he will help to kick off what the Minnesotans here call "midnight madness," in which literature will be dropped at the porches of voters so that when people wake up on Tuesday morning they will see some literature, once again, from Walter Mondale - Aaron.

BROWN: Frank, thank you. Frank Buckley in St. Paul. I recognize the capital behind you, and we should mention we'll carry the debate, the Mondale/Coleman debate tomorrow, 11:00 Eastern Time here on CNN.

We're with Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider, our analysts, tonight and on election night. Bill, you've got a 74-year-old Walter Mondale and a 70 -- help me -- eight-year old...


BROWN: ... Frank Lautenberg in New Jersey. Is age an issue? Does age sometimes work for a candidate?

SCHNEIDER: Well, these days older people take a lot of positions of responsibility. They are both extraordinary races in which the Democrats have turned to the two old bulls to save the party, and Republicans really don't know how to run against them.

I mean in New Jersey, Doug Forrester was all set to run against Bob Torricelli, doesn't know quite what to do against Lautenberg. In Minnesota, Norm Coleman can't go negative against Walter Mondale. Tomorrow in the debate all eyes will be on Walter Mondale to answer the question is he out of it or does he still have what it takes? Is he on top of his game?

What these races show is that the stakes are terrifically high in this election. Democrats will do whatever it takes to hold those seats, and you can bet Republicans would do the same thing.

BROWN: Just to quickly underscore that, Mondale hasn't been on the public scene in Minnesota for decades literally. Coleman's run a couple of mayoral campaigns in St. Paul, a gubernatorial campaign in this one. It really is, I mean the pressure really is Mondale to show he's still there.

SCHNEIDER: That's what the debate is about tomorrow, election eve.

BROWN: And Jeff, it's probably be going to be close in Minnesota. If our polling is right, it's going to be close in a lot of places. We've kidded around a bit over the last couple of days about how relatively few votes it'll take, but there's no joke here.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, it's not only that you've got a whole bunch of states that are close, but they're small states. You know, there's no Senate race in California. There's no Senate race in New York. There's a Senate race in South Dakota, where last time out the incumbent senator won by 1,000 votes.

There's a Senate race in New Hampshire, where the last time out Bob Smith won by 1,000 -- 1,500 votes. So we really are talking about, you know, there was 74,000 people in the Georgia Dome today, a few blocks from here. One section of that is how you measure the number of votes that can turn control of the Senate.

BROWN: It's a -- when you think about few people you're actually talking about scattered over...

GREENFIELD: Out of 60 million who will probably vote...


GREENFIELD: ... it's astonishing.

BROWN: Jeff, thank you. Bill, thank you. You'll both be with us come Tuesday night. We hope you will be too -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, and by Tuesday night Jeff will know how many people we're talking about. Thanks.

Well, we're just getting started in our coverage of this remarkable midterm election. Stay tuned for some strange, but true campaign moments along with the serious stuff -- Paula.

ZAHN: Coming up next, President Bush logging last-minute campaign miles. How much can he really help Republican candidates or his own political fortunes? We're going to head to Florida where the election really gets personal for the president, with his brother, Jeb, in a tighter reelection race than once expected.

And then a little bit later on, a ballot fight that's really ruffling some feathers. We'll be right back.



BUSH: If you love freedom, like I know you do, you have a duty to vote. I'm traveling the country, reminding Republicans, Democrats go to the polls, cast a vote on November the 5th. You have an obligation to participate in democracy. How about putting it this way? Let's win one for George W.


ZAHN: Well, as you know, President Bush is not on Tuesday's ballot, although it might seem that way to some of you. Mr. Bush has campaigned all over the country this past week or so with another 10 states on his schedule this weekend and election eve.

With us now, for more on the president's travel is John King. Good evening John.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Paula. Mr. Bush still at it tonight. You saw him in Minnesota earlier today. He is in South Dakota right now. Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri and Texas on the president's schedule tomorrow, the final day of campaigning.

No, as you noted, George W. Bush is not on the ballot, but the president knows he has as much as anyone at stake in the outcome.


KING (voice over): The president's late campaign focus is on turnout. His opposition as much history as the Democrats.

BUSH: You need to go to your coffee shops, your houses of worship, your community centers, and tell the people they need to go and vote, and tell the people the we've got some fine candidates.

KING: If Republicans have a bad Tuesday, it won't be for lack of effort by the president. He shattered records by raising more than $140 million this year alone and visited 40 states along the way. Thirty of those, at least twice.

BUSH: Next time you get me to come back, let's go pheasant hunting.

KING: The White House is confident it will beat the historical averages. In midterm elections since 1950, the president's party on average has lost 24 House seats and four Senate seats. The Bush White House has been hands-on from the outset.

The president personally recruited former Los Angeles Jim Riordan to run for California governor. He lost the primary. Mr. Bush also lobbied South Dakota Congressman John Thune and former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman to run for Senate instead of governor. Both are now in hotly contested races.

SCOTT REED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The fact that the president went out and encouraged these men to take a risk and run for office in these Senate races is why we're in the competitive stance we're in right now. So, you know, Bush is showing he's a good party man at the end of the day.

KING: And this one is personal. Brother Jeb Bush is seeking reelection as Florida's governor, yet another big midterm contest with major ramifications on President Bush's reelection effort two years from now.

BUSH: Go to the polls and take some friends to the polls so this good man can serve here for four more years.

KING: The congressional results will impact the president's success in selling his immediate legislative goals, making permanent the 10-year tax cut enacted last year, faster and more favorable action on his judicial nominees, and an elderly prescription drug benefit that is more modest than Democrats propose.

BUSH: There's a lot of issues we can work on to make America better for everybody. The biggest issue we'll work together on is to secure our homeland, prevent the American people from coming under attack again by a bunch of cold-blooded killers.

KING: Most of the president's late focus is on Congress, but this year's races for governor could have more of an impact on the president's long-term politics. Democrats are favored to make gains in the major industrial states critical come 2004.

JOHN PODESTA, FMR. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We're going to pick up governor's houses in Pennsylvania, in Michigan and Illinois and Wisconsin. So I think that you see a strengthening of the core Democratic vote, and I think the reason for that, again, is the weak performance of the economy.


KING: Now Mr. Bush will vote in Crawford, Texas early Tuesday, back in Washington in time for the results. He knows those results will determine the political landscape and climate here in Washington for his own two-year run up for reelection -- Paula.

ZAHN: We've seen some of the Republican's projections, but if the Republicans have a bad day on Tuesday, how does that reflect on the president's own personal standing?

KING: Well, Paula, nobody believes they will, and the president had no choice here, if you will. He is the leader of the party, so some criticized him, saying you're out there so much that you will be personified, if you will, by the results. If the Republicans have a bad day, it will be your fault. But what would the president to do, is how they would answer here at the White House.

They don't anticipate that will happen, and Ronald Reagan campaigned aggressively after his election in the first midterm. Republicans lost a lot of seats. Ronald Reagan won 49 states when he ran for reelection. Bill Clinton was swamped in his first midterm election. The Republican route was 1994. Bill Clinton coasted to reelection. So here at the Bush White House, they believe the president, even if Republicans have a bad day, that he has plenty of time to recover.

ZAHN: All right, thanks so much John -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And, Paula, we have some more results we want to tell you about from our "CNN/USA Today" Gallup poll. With us again, Bill Schneider, to talk a little bit more -- Bill, we saw earlier, we were giving some of these pure match-up numbers.


WOODRUFF: Are you seeing any good news in this poll, though, for either political party?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Judy, we are seeing some good news here for Republicans. President Bush is barnstorming the country and it may be paying off. Thirty-five percent of likely voters tell us they intend to vote for a candidate to send a message of support for President Bush. Only about half that number, 18 percent, said their vote is to send a message that they oppose the president, and about half say Bush doesn't really matter.

That suggests that President Bush is a net plus for Republicans around the country. He helps his party more than he hurts his party.

WOODRUFF: So are you saying he actually is rallying the Republican base?

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, we asked voters whether they feel more or less enthusiastic about voting this year than they have in previous elections, and take a look at this difference between the two parties. Sixty-four percent of Republicans say they feel more -- more enthusiastic about voting. Only 51 percent of Democrats feel the same way. That's what we call "rallying the base." Getting President Bush out on the campaign trail appears to have been a shrewd decision by the Republicans. The more they can make this election about him, not about the economy, not about the possibility of war with Iraq, the better Republicans will do.

WOODRUFF: So that means the Democrats now have 24 hours to rally their base...

SCHNEIDER: That's right. Very short time...

WOODRUFF: ... to get it up to where the Republicans are.

SCHNEIDER: And I don't know that they have anyone who can compete with President Bush.

WOODRUFF: We'll find out. Bill, thanks.

SCHNEIDER: My pleasure.


ZAHN: Now that we've had a look at the late national poll numbers, let's once again go to Jeff Greenfield. Jeff...

GREENFIELD: That's me.

ZAHN: ... a question for you. A lot of pundits out there are calling this the Seinfeld election, the election about nothing. Is that what we're looking at here? An electorate that hasn't been driven by a single issue?

GREENFIELD: I think this is, to use another cliche, the Winston Churchill famous line, "this pudding has no theme." We thought over the last couple of years that this election might be driven by 9/11, by the economy, by corporate malfeasants, by a possible war with Iraq. And it turns out it's not. It turns out that what the parties and the interest groups and the candidates are doing is trying to get their base out.

That's why there are so many negative ads. That's why a lot of people are turned off about this election, because negative ads the press turn out. I think we are likely to see a record or near-record low, as low as the last 60 years. And that -- what that means is that while the consequences of this election might be substantial in terms of policy, in terms of judicial nominations, the actual sense of the country engaged in it, I think isn't there.

ZAHN: I know you also think that there may be a lot of legal battles and we may not know what the balance of power is in the Senate come Wednesday morning. But let's assume we do for a moment. How much reflection is there on the midterm election, or is that just simply the jump-off point, the 2004 campaign?

GREENFIELD: We are at a permanent campaign situation. Wednesday or Thursday, the midterms are over, and the presidential campaign for 2004 begins and, you know, some of us actually think it might be an interesting idea if once in a while everybody take a breath and said we could govern for the next couple of months -- just govern. Think about what the country needs and not think about tactically how to be in the best position for the next election. I think that's one of the reasons why we are having a low turnout. I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people feel much of a connection between what everybody is running around doing and their lives.

ZAHN: Yes. It's strikingly obvious, I think in this election.

GREENFIELD: I specialize in that.

ZAHN: You do? We love that about you -- Aaron.

BROWN: Thank you, Jeff...

ZAHN: I didn't mean that as a dig.

BROWN: He did it himself. That would qualify the big stuff, why people vote or do not vote. Also tonight we have a few items we might call small stuff. Those little facts you might have missed along the way to the polling booth, first comes from the state of Connecticut, where relatives of State House member Dennis Cleary have taken out ads and put signs on their lawns supporting his opponent. Cleary's brother says the family thinks Cleary is corrupt and self-serving, a politician who's lost touch with his district. There are family values here.

Coming up on this special edition of CNN PRESENTS, a very different story about family and politics. Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his fight to get reelected with a lot of help from his brother.

We'll be right back.


BROWN: One governor's race above all is getting a huge amount of national attention and that of course is in the state of Florida. We've been there, haven't we? It's easy to see why with a Bush on the ballot in a state that has come to symbolize the angry political divisions between Republicans and Democrats.

CNN's John Zarrella is in Miami tonight. John, good evening to you.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Good evening Aaron. Well, Jeb Bush and his Democratic challenger Bill McBride spent the weekend sun-up to sundown and then some. Jeb Bush in his stronghold, most of the time in Central Florida. Bill McBride on the southeast Florida Coast, his stronghold.

Both men scouring the landscape for those last-minute, still very precious undecided votes. But if momentum is on anybody's side, it's on the side of the governor.


ZARRELLA (voice-over): Florida's Republican Governor, Jeb Bush, knows a little bit about the importance of brotherly love.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: Yes they give you a lot of hard time, you know.


J. BUSH: But then when you need them, they're always there to help, right older brother? Are you listening to me?

ZARRELLA: On the last weekend of the campaign, the president did what a good big brother does, he came to help.

G. BUSH: For the sake of the Florida taxpayers, for the sake of the Florida school children, for the sake of dignity and integrity in the office of governor, send Jeb Bush back to Tallahassee.

ZARRELLA: Democratic challenger Bill McBride was not left wanting for high-powered help either. Former Vice President Al Gore hit Sunday services. The former president showed up too.

BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And you need to tell everybody you can find between now and Tuesday, if you don't go this time because of what happened last time, it's like letting them take your vote away twice.

ZARRELLA: Clinton campaigned with McBride in South Florida, a must-win region for any shot at upsetting the governor. All weekend McBride pressed his theme, education. BILL MCBRIDE (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Our public schools have been falling behind every other state in every meaningful category.

ZARRELLA: And at every opportunity, the governor portrayed McBride as a big spending liberal.

J. BUSH: If he gets elected, I tell you what will happen, though, your taxes are going to go up.


ZARRELLA: The experts say that Bill McBride really hurt himself in the last couple of weeks, in the last debate in particular, not able to explain how he was going to pay for some of the programs he wants and that Jeb Bush has been able to capitalize on that. Voter turnout is going to be key in this election, and the Secretary of State, Jim Smith, says we can expect voter turnout upwards of 60 to 62 percent statewide -- Aaron.

BROWN: That means there'll be a lot of votes to count on Tuesday in the state of Florida, and I think everybody from here and down there hopes it goes easily. John, thank you. John Zarrella in Miami. It looks beautiful down there tonight -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks, Aaron. Voters will choose governors in 36 states this time around. Florida, of course, is one of the biggest, along with New York, Illinois, California and Texas. There now are 27 Republican governors nationwide, 21 Democrats, and two Independents.

Democrats are expected to make some gains on Tuesday, gains that could help their chances in the 2004 elections. Our own political analyst Stuart Rothenberg is keeping tabs on the hot governors' races and Stu, Democrats seem to have particularly high hopes that they're going to win a number of races.


ZAHN: Is that...

ROTHENBERG: They should because...

ZAHN: ... wishful thinking or not wishful thinking...

ROTHENBERG: ... they will. No, they're going to have a really good year. Basically, there's a significant Republican exposure in this year's gubernatorial elections. There are 23 Republican governors up, only 11 Democrats. There are cycles in gubernatorial races. They are going to help the Democrats. Many Republican governors were elected in '94, terrific Republican year, as you recall; '98, terrific economy, they were reelected. Now four years later, weak economy, voters looking for a change.

ZAHN: We have talked a lot over the years about the number of governors who've ended up becoming presidents. In this current crop of candidates, do you see any with presidential, not only aspirations, but true hopes?

ROTHENBERG: Well, Paula, they all have presidential...

ZAHN: Yes...

ROTHENBERG: .. aspirations. They're politicians. There aren't any obvious candidates. Most people mention Jennifer Granholm in Michigan, but of course, we all know -- we all know now that she was born in Canada. There is, of course, Roy Barnes in Georgia, who has been mentioned as somebody who might have the kind of appeal, a southern moderate who could put together a moderate campaign and coalition.

Right now it's not clear that he's got it, and of course, Gray Davis has been talking about it for a long time, really salivating at the idea of running for president, but his job approval numbers are so awful, he's probably going to win reelection, but limp across the finish line. So it's hard to take him too seriously for 2004, although let's not discount him yet.

ZAHN: Any final Tuesday night predictions?

ROTHENBERG: No, except it's going to be a good Democratic year, but it's not good simply because of issues. It's not as though the Democrats have generated some issue agenda that is electing them. It cycles in the economy, just remember that.

ZAHN: We will remember that -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks, Paula. Well, when it comes to the House of Representatives, Democrats' hopes of taking it back are not what they once were. There are all 435 seats that are up for grabs. Republicans now control the House with 223 seats to 208 seats for the Democrats and one Independent. Now three vacant seats belong to Democrats, which means the party needs a net gain of six seats to seize control of the House.

I'm here now with House analyst Amy Walter of the "Cook Political Report." All right, Amy, we've got just, what, 24 hours and a...


WOODRUFF: ... a little more before the election. Are you seeing any trends that could mean good news, surprising good news for the Democrats?

WALTER: Well, unlike midterm, most midterm elections, we're just not seeing that anything has swelled up here. No big trend for either side. You think back eight years ago, look at the big wave that brought Republicans into Congress. We really started to see that build, certainly the weekend before we had a sense that something was going on benefiting Republicans. We just don't see anything like that this year.

WOODRUFF: All right, so given that, what are your predictions? What are you looking for? What may surprise us on Tuesday? WALTER: Anything could surprise, and as you pointed out, it's really not looking likely for Democrats to be able to take back control. So the next question becomes, what does the balance of power look like? Can Republicans actually pick up a couple of seats? That certainly could be likely, in which case it would break historical trends. You know, traditionally the party in the White House loses seats in the House. This will be only the third time in history. So that would be something that I would certainly look for and also look for just not a lot of turnover. Very few incumbents are in trouble, and I think we're going to see very few new faces in Congress in this next term.

WOODRUFF: Something like less than 10 percent of the seats were even in play.

WALTER: That's right. We only have 44 seats that we consider competitive. We probably have 55 or so new members coming into the body. So I think we're going to see another year where we have very narrow margin and probably the same sort of partisan gridlock we've seen for the last couple of years.

WOODRUFF: And it doesn't mean we're not going to watch it very closely.

WALTER: That's right. It'll be very fun to watch.

WOODRUFF: OK, Amy Walter, thanks very much...


WOODRUFF: ... and we'll see you on Tuesday night.

Well we've all known or heard or known very well of spouses who argue about politics, but rarely if ever do they take it as far as this couple in Kansas. Democrat Sarah Sweet-McKinnon is challenging her husband Republican Steve Becker for his job as a district judge. They spend their nights together and their days campaigning against one another. And they both insist that they are comfortable with that.

Aaron, what do you think?

BROWN: I think it wouldn't work out well in my family is what I think. Thank you very much.

President Bush spent an awful lot of time in South Dakota this election season. A small state that has become hugely important to the White House in terms of politics. When we come back, why South Dakota?

Back in a minute.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: You work hard. You should be able to get ahead in life, and that's why he was one of the strong supporters of mine in the United States Congress to reduce the taxes on the working people. He knows what I know.


WOODRUFF: Live pictures from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. President Bush putting in a very long day indeed of politicking.

Well you know only four states have fewer people than South Dakota, but the Senate race there is among the handful that could tilt the balance of power in Washington.

Our Jonathan Karl is also in Sioux Falls. John, coincidence, right?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, we just happen to be here with the actual Sioux Falls behind me, named after the town here. With the president here, this is his fifth visit to South Dakota. That is a record, and with so few voters and such high stakes, big name politicians like the president have basically invaded this state in the final days.

It's the kind of situation where you could be a self-respecting South Dakota voter out in the field hunting pheasant, have your cell phone go off, and find former First Lady Barbara Bush on the other end of the line.


KARL (voice-over): November is hunting season in South Dakota. A bad time to be a pheasant. And this year the hunters find themselves hunted by politicians in one of the costliest and hardest fought races in the state's history.

DEAN STRAND, ROOSTER ROOST RANCH: It's disgusting. I carry a cell phone out in the field, and in between one of your calls to me this morning and my cell phone rang, I thought it was you. And I got a recording, this is Barbara Bush.

KARL: On the Republican side, John Thune, President Bush's candidate.

BUSH: For the sake of South Dakota, for the sake of our country, John Thune should be the next United States senator.

KARL: The White House wants Thune to win so badly the president has been here five times, a South Dakota record for presidential visits.

REP. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA SENATE CANDIDATE: We need a senator representing South Dakota in the United States Senate who represents South Dakota's core values, and that will work again with this president to get things done.

KARL: It's a power pitch President Bush is extremely popular here.


KARL: But Democrat Tim Johnson has a potent pitch too.

TIM JOHNSON (D), SOUTH DAKOTA SENATE CANDIDATE: Well thank you Mr. Majority Leader, thank you...

KARL: A vote for Johnson is a vote to keep native son Tom Daschle the most powerful man in Congress. He's traveling the state by bus with Johnson and going door-to-door to make his case.

So who's got more pull in South Dakota, you or President Bush?

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: I don't know who's got more pull. I think people know me better and know that after the election, I'll still keep coming back. I'm not sure he will.


KARL: With fewer than a half a million voters in the state of South Dakota, there's been a really aggressive get-out-to vote effort and election experts here in South Dakota predict a turnout in this state to be as high as 75 percent -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jonathan, did I see somewhere that the average South Dakotan sees something like 1,000 political ads this season?

KARL: I think that most South Dakotans that you talked to here would say that underestimates the number of ads they've seen. Judy, think about it this way. An ad -- prime time ad in South Dakota costs $850 for these candidates. So with all the millions of dollars they've raised for a race like this, they've had the money basically to buy almost all the airtime that's available here in South Dakota.

WOODRUFF: Well, maybe some of them are turning off their TV sets. We'll find out. All right, John, thanks very much. We hope not, Aaron.

BROWN: Sioux Falls is pretty, isn't it? Senate race in New Hampshire is fascinating in part for who's not on the ballot this time. The current Senator Bob Smith who lost out in the Republican primary to Congressman John Sununu. Sununu's challenger, Governor Jeanne Shaheen, it's a race where both candidates have tried to stress their independence from their party's line in a state where independence is very much a treasured commodity.

Bill Delaney joins us this evening from Manchester, New Hampshire. Bill, good evening to you.

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you Aaron. You know rarely has a New England political race mattered as much nationally as this New Hampshire Senate race this year. It's a hot race that at the moment is very much a dead heat.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Kennedy imitation I did was in bad taste.

DELANEY (voice-over): Nothing less than the balance of power in the Senate could come down to talk show host Eric Scott's write-in campaign for outgoing Republican Senator Bob Smith, who lost his party's primary, but could yet drain away critical write-in votes from the man who beat him, Republican candidate three-time Congressman John Sununu.

ERIC SCOTT, WTPL RADIO: There was a draft Sununu campaign run by people who are politically connected. They wanted their candidate for what they could get out of the political system. The hell with the people of New Hampshire. That made us angry.

DELANEY: Even the 2 percent's worth of anger Smith supporters predict will be written in could tilt this very close election to Democratic candidate, the state's Governor Jeanne Shaheen, who's already expert at working the percentages in a state 37 percent Republican; only 26 percent Democrats.

Independents now as numerous as Republicans. The governor's walked fine lines to court those independents. Pro-abortion rights, for example, while at the same time supporting President Bush's tax cut and Iraq policy. Sununu, by contrast, mostly a by-the-book conservative, who also supports a flat tax.

Son of the first President Bush's chief of staff, he was way ahead at first. Governor Shaheen steadily whittled away at his lead by showcasing her independence.


DELANEY: A small fortune is being spent in this small state with only about 300,000 voters even expected to go to the polls. Governor Shaheen is expected to spend as much as $5 million with another $3 million from the National Democratic Party. Congressman Sununu, about $3 million with another $3 million from the National Republican Party. Big stakes, big numbers here in New Hampshire -- Aaron.

BROWN: New Hampshire is a state that has changed a lot over the last 15 years or so. Is there any -- is it all about personalities? Is there any one issue more than any other that voters in New Hampshire seem to be caring about?

DELANEY: Well, there are some very parochial issues here that they do carry about very much. There's been a big debate here over spending property taxes to fund education. Property taxes have gone way up here to fund education under Governor Shaheen in a state that, of course, is very tax averse, where there's no sales tax or income tax. So sure, personalities matter, but very parochial domestic issues could matter also in this state despite the fact that who wins will have such national importance -- Aaron.

BROWN: Bill, thank you. Bill Delaney tonight up in Manchester, New Hampshire -- Paula. ZAHN: Thanks, Aaron. We've got another "did you know" item on the ballots in Tuesday's election? Dentures -- Oregon voters will decide if people who are licensed to install full dentures should be allowed to design, fit and install so-called partial dentures. Currently only dentists can work on partials. The ballot measure is designed to help the poor and elderly denture wearers cut their costs.

An inside look at how CNN plans to report Tuesday's election results just ahead.

Plus, it may seem cruel and unusual to some, but cockfighting is legal in Oklahoma, at least for now. We're going to round up some of the more interesting ballot initiatives for you coming up next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arrested for driving with a suspended license, arrested with his lookout for shoplifting, arrested for disorderly conduct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't you just let us get on down the road...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the fact will help the drug dealers get their money back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bob Riley, he doesn't tell the truth and he doesn't pay his taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ross (ph) loves to tell the really tall tales.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wants to hold office so bad, he's willing to sell his soul.


ZAHN: So if you're wondering what kind of money has been spent on ads like these, $1 billion, that is a campaign record. And in addition to choosing among candidates, voters will have other things to consider on ballots this coming Tuesday, some important and sometimes unusual ballot initiatives.

Anderson Cooper takes a look.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Should roosters have more rights? Will pot go legit? Can Arnold still terminate the opposition? Voters heading to the polls Tuesday will answer these and 199 other questions as they sort through a myriad of measures nationwide. Initiatives large and small, some legislated, others literally pet projects. In Oklahoma, animal rights activists have been crying fowl for years. Now they may soon have something to crow about. A ballot banning cockfighting appears to have a good chance of passing.

Janet Halliburton is a driving force behind question 687.

JANET HALLIBURTON, COCKFIGHTING OPPONENT: The issue is human cruelty. The purpose in slashing these birds to death in front of these crowds is for gambling and for the entertainment of people.

COOPER: Gamecock breeder Devin Smith says that argument is for the birds. He believes animal rights activists may be counting their chickens before -- well before, they're hatched.

DEVIN SMITH, GAMECOCK BREEDER: The animal rights activists' support is slipping away like a California mudslide, as I like to say.

COOPER: In Nevada, pipe dreams could become a reality. A measure legalizing the private possession of up to three ounces of marijuana for those 21 and over is lighting up controversy. It's also drawing some fiery reaction from the nation's drug czar John Walters.

JOHN WALTERS, DRUG POLICY CHIEF: I think it's ludicrous to say that law enforcement is going to benefit from this. Common sense tells you the beneficiaries of this change are going to be drug traffickers, marijuana traffickers.

COOPER: Californians could be witnessing the birth of a serious political career.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ACTOR/POLITICAL ACTIVIST: I've been on a crusade nationwide to get more after-school programs for our children.

COOPER: Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is leading the campaign for proposition 49 in California, a measure that would require state funding for after-school programs. Many Republicans are hoping Arnold's crusade is a rehearsal of sorts for his own run at the governor's mansion in 2006.

From action heroes to cockfighting, possibilities and propositions, the outcomes all just a bout away on Tuesday.

Anderson Cooper, CNN.


WOODRUFF: Whether it's ballot initiatives or races, the final word in CNN's reporting on election night results will depend on data compiled at the CNN decision desk in New York.

With us now to explain how this process will work is our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

All right Candy. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, sometime beginning Tuesday morning, these computers will be manned by vote analysts. They will begin to pour over the data, both voting information and eventually real votes. It will be making some very big projections.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, there are...

CROWLEY (voice over): Ever wonder about this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... again with 68 percent of the precincts report Hillary Clinton...

CROWLEY: Wonder how we project a winner before all the votes have been counted?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'm a little curious about that because it looks like they don't get it right that often.

JIM BARNES, CNN ELECTION ANALYST: We've actually had a very, very good system that basically 199 times out of 200 times it will be accurate.

CROWLEY: OK, but we blew Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN right now is moving our earlier declaration of Florida back to the too-close-to-call column.

CROWLEY: Politically it was a perfect storm, damaging everything in its way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which do you trust more, an election projection or weather forecast?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably weather forecast. They're more scientific.

CROWLEY: Clearly it's time to open our doors and let you know just how true those numbers are. This is Ted Savaglio, Director of Voter News Service.

TED SAVAGLIO, VOTER NEWS SERVICE: In this room, we have a number of things here. We have our operation for monitoring and managing the input of the national vote tally.

CROWLEY: Voter News Service is funded by all the networks and the Associated Press. VNS provides the same election data to all of them, but each member interprets the information on its own.

Warren Mitofsky is an interpreter.

WARREN MITOFSKY, CNN ELECTION ANALYST: This is all based on statistical theory, which is founded on probability theory. It's a branch of mathematics. CROWLEY: For those who slept through class, the translation is they have a computer model through which they feed data from Election Day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess they poll the people who, you know, they come out. They go house-to-house and they get -- they get petitions signed.

CROWLEY: Actually calling a race does include exit polling at the polls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long will it take?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Front page and the back, you...


CROWLEY: VNS sends over 1,000 people to randomly selected polling places to get info from exiting voters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In today's election for the U.S. House, who did you just vote for?

CROWLEY: Phoned into state desks at VNS Election Headquarters, the info is put into the computer and run through a series of statistical calculations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've just got two precincts in...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and the rest are in the...

CROWLEY: Tight races require something more. Votes from randomly selected precincts and all counties. Separately, CNN had hundreds more people in the field in 10 states with exceptionally close races.

MITOFSKY: We're having a second source of information, so if there's going to be a mistake, it's going to take two independent sources of information, both finding in the same wrong direction before a mistake is possible .

CROWLEY: We really should have listened in that class, but the point is this, we had a good system before. It's even better now and oh, it could be a late night.


CROWLEY: We are calling those states where we gather both VNS information and CNN information "real vote states." Will it work? Signs point to yes, based on statistical theory, which as we all know by now is founded on probability theory.

Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: But Candy, basically you're saying we're trying hard to get it right all the way.

CROWLEY: Absolutely and that it is -- that it is science and probability theory and you know yes, they can trust us.

WOODRUFF: OK, Candy, thank you. See you a lot in the next two days.

Well, Elvis Presley fans take note. The king of rock and roll may not be on Tuesday's ballot, but one of the countless Elvis impersonators is. Bruce Borders is a Republican candidate for the State House in Indiana. I'm not sure if he plans to keep his day job.

BROWN: An under represented group, the Elvis impersonator group.

Tuesday may not mean the end of the fall campaign, as it turns out. When we return, why all eyes point to Louisiana for a potential election overtime.

Short break and we'll right back.


BROWN: As we look ahead to Tuesday, all of us here are excited for the night and expecting a long and interesting night, perhaps not as long as the election of the year 2000, but it in fact, could happen again or very nearly so.

Jeff Greenfield with more on that -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: From your lips to God's ear. Look, after the election that would not end two years ago, many of us sought reassurance. A once in a lifetime quirk, we all said. Surely by 2002, we will know the results on election night. Right -- except...


GREENFIELD (voice-over): Except there's Missouri. Two years ago election night chaos led to late poll closings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biggest fraud...

GREENFIELD: Charges of voter intimidation and voter fraud. This year officials are predicting that tens of thousands of provisional ballots will be cast. Ballots' validity may take days, even weeks to decide, and there is a very, very close Senate race in Missouri.

And there's South Dakota...



GREENFIELD: ... where the air is filled with accusations of absentee ballot trickery. Lawsuits and late vote counts are a distinct possibility, and there is a very, very close Senate race in South Dakota. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Together we can win this race...

GREENFIELD: In Minnesota, the death of Senator Wellstone has produced a world of confusion over absentee ballots. Pennington County, with a quarter of the state's population has already said it will not release any ballot results until midnight, 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time, and there is a very contentious Senate race in Minnesota.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to tell you how to operate...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... so you don't...

GREENFIELD: And there's one in Georgia, where a new touch-screen voting system is being deployed for the very first time, and a very visible governor's race in Florida where...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is the swinging door chad...

GREENFIELD: Well, you remember Florida.

And in Louisiana, they've got a system all their own. Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu is running against not one, but three Republicans. She is way ahead, but if she doesn't get 50 percent of the total vote, there will be a runoff December 7, which just might be when we'll finally learn who will control the Senate next year.


GREENFIELD: But be of good cheer, there is every reason to believe we will definitely know the results before the NFL playoffs begin -- maybe.

BROWN: Which year?

ZAHN: Yes, really. That's the better question.

BROWN: Thank you.

ZAHN: Well, whenever it happens please stay with -- thanks, Jeff -- with CNN for complete election coverage from "AMERICAN MORNING" into the evening with "NEWSNIGHT."

WOODRUFF: And tune into "INSIDE POLITICS" for late-breaking news and interviews. Tomorrow, we will have a two-hour special with live reports on the campaign trail on the hottest races.

On Tuesday, CNN's election coverage will kick off at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

BROWN: And live coverage tomorrow, the Mondale/Coleman debate in the Minnesota Senate race. We hope you'll be back here again with us on Tuesday night for a long night for Judy, Paula, Jeff and all of us here at CNN.

Thank you and good night.

ZAHN: Good night.

WOODRUFF: Good night.


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