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America Votes 2002: Election Night

Aired November 5, 2002 - 20:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: "America Votes 2002" from CNN election headquarters, with Judy Woodruff, Aaron Brown, Paula Zahn, and Jeff Greenfield.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you for joining us.

It is 8:00 in the East. The polls have just now closed in 15 states and the District of Columbia. We have some very close races we are watching.

We want to tell you about four of them right now off the bat.

In the state of Florida, the governor's race, this is one of those RealVote races CNN is keeping a special eye on. The incumbent, Jeb Bush, the Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Bill McBride. We're watching that one, no call to make,

In New Hampshire, the Senate race: an open seat because Bob Smith was defeated. Republican John Sununu beat him. And he is in a very close race with the Democratic current governor -- but she is running for the Senate -- Jeanne Shaheen.

Another Senate race couldn't be much closer: Missouri. The incumbent is Jean Carnahan, the widow of the late governor, who took over that spot when her husband was killed in a plane crash two years ago, facing a very tough challenge from Congressman Jim Talent.

And another Senate race where we had a surprise candidate: Frank Lautenberg just got in that race a few weeks ago. He is facing Doug Forrester, the Republican. It is open because Bob Torricelli, as we know, dropped out.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: No calls on any of those races, but we can -- I'm sorry. Did I jump you on that?

WOODRUFF: That's quite all right. We all get a chance here.

BROWN: No call yet on Delaware either, Joe Biden, the incumbent senator from the state of Delaware. We can make calls.

WOODRUFF: That's right. We are not making calls in Delaware or in Illinois, but we are watching this one very closely, because this is the incumbent, Dick Durbin, being challenged by the Republican, Mr. Durkin.

In the state of Maine, Susan Collins, the Republican, being challenged by the Democrat, Chellie Pingree. We're watching that one.

In Oklahoma, Jim Inhofe, the Republican incumbent, is being challenged by David Walters, the former governor of that state. He's a Democrat.

And one of the other state where the polls have just closed: Tennessee, the Senate race -- Lamar Alexander. It's an open seat. He's a former governor and a former senator. He is running for that Senate seat now and he's being challenged by Congressman Bob Clement. He's the Democrat.

BROWN: I was so eager.

WOODRUFF: We're all eager.

BROWN: We can now make a call in West Virginia. CNN projects that Jay Rockefeller, who went to the Senate in 1984, will serve yet another term from the state of West Virginia. CNN projects he will win tonight.

Also tonight, we can project that Jeff Sessions, the Republican senator from the state of Alabama, will go back to the U.S. Senate, defeating Susan Parker in Alabama.

And then a couple of others we can put check marks on now: John Kerry, the Democrat in Massachusetts, running unopposed. Think about that. Someone gets a free ride for one of the 100 best political jobs in the country.

And Thad Cochran, likewise, in the state of Mississippi, running unopposed, the Republican senator there -- Jeff.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: As John Kerry prepares to run for president in 2004 -- which most of us think he will do -- we should note that he has another distinction. He is the richest man in the U.S. Senate, because he married Teresa Heinz, who is the widow of Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz, and thus inherited his ketchup fortune.

But Senator Kerry says he doesn't plan to spend that money, should he run for president, although I guess he could actually have 57 varieties of ads, if he chose to do so.

PAUL ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And then some.

BROWN: Thank you.

ZAHN: And purple ketchup.

BROWN: You walked all that way just to do the 57 varieties of ads, didn't you?

ZAHN: It was worth it, though, Aaron, wasn't it?

GREENFIELD: Exit polls are late, Aaron.

ZAHN: On to the governorships that we are looking at affected by these 8:00 polls closing.

In Alabama, the incumbent governor, Don Siegelman, up against Bob Riley -- even the Democrats acknowledging that Siegelman is the most endangered governor in 2002.

On to Connecticut, where you have a rematch here between the incumbent governor, John Rowland, and the comptroller, Bill Curry, a Democrat he beat by just three points in 1994. If he wins, Mr. Rowland, again and serves all four years, he would become Connecticut's longest-serving governor since 1784.

On to Illinois, Jeff, where there was some name confusion that hurt Republican Jim Ryan.

GREENFIELD: Well, Democrats haven't elected governor since 1972. But they think they have a shot with Congressman Rod Blagojevich in part because Jim Ryan, the Republican, keeps getting confused with the outgoing and highly unpopular Governor George Ryan. George and Jim have spent the last couple of months mutually insulting each other, which has not helped party unity.

ZAHN: On to Maine, where John Baldacci is running against Peter Cianchette. This was a seat that normally leans Democratic, an open seat vacated by Governor Angus King.

On to Maryland, where Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is in a very tight race with Bob Ehrlich. We should make of note of this, Jeff. The last Republican to win the Maryland governorship was Spiro Agnew back in 1966. And yet Ms. Townsend, according to polls that we've seen over the last couple of weeks, has some problems.

GREENFIELD: She has the dubious distinction of being the only Kennedy -- she's Robert Kennedy's eldest daughter -- ever to lose a congressional or statewide race. She lost for Congress some years back. And I'm sure that it's not in her desires to add to that distinction.

ZAHN: Let's go on to Massachusetts, where you've got a whole stage of characters here.

Jeff, you want to give us a quick run-through on this?

GREENFIELD: Well, the two major-party candidates: Mitt Romney, son of George Romney, one-time governor of Michigan, ran the Salt Lake City Olympics, came back. Jane Swift, the acting governor, decided not to run for a full term.

He is being challenged by Shannon O'Brien, who survived a tough Democratic primary, beating, among others, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. This race is very close. And it's one of those races where we are waiting to see whether or not the year of the woman now extends to statehouses. And both minor-party candidates, the independent candidate and the Green Party candidate, could have an impact on this race because it's so close.

ZAHN: On to the state of New Hampshire, where Governor Jeanne Shaheen's seat is up for grabs tonight between Mark Fernald and Craig Benson.

Then, in Oklahoma, a familiar name, Steve Largent, the Republican candidate, up against Brad Henry.

And then on to Pennsylvania, where Ed Rendell, a name familiar to many people across the country, is running against Mike Fisher.

GREENFIELD: And if Ed Rendell wins, he will be the first mayor of Philadelphia to become governor of Pennsylvania in 90 years. They have a real problem with big-city mayors in the rest of the state. And he is fighting history.

ZAHN: And finally, in Tennessee, Phil Bredesen against Van Hilleary. This, of course, is a seat that is open because Governor Don Sundquist is term-limited and is quite unpopular.

WOODRUFF: And, Paula, what we are also able to tell our viewers now is that the Voter News Service, which is the group we've been talking about all evening, not in a position to use exit polls, but they are in a position to call a couple of those races that you all just mentioned.

One is in Pennsylvania. Ed Rendell, we are -- Voter News Service is saying that Mr. Rendell is the winner. CNN is not ready to do that, but we want to let our viewers know about that. And, in the state of Illinois, the Voter News Service is calling Dick Durbin, the incumbent Democrat, the winner over James Durkin, the Republican challenger. And, again, when CNN is ready to call that one, too, we will do it.

Well, CNN's Candy Crowley is in New York, Candy watching what we are calling the RealVote states, those 12 contests in 10 states where we are adding more information.


Basically, a RealVote state is pretty simple to explain. It's a state where CNN has its own body of information that is being sent back and put into computer models and is also using VNS information, which is doing the same thing. And that way, we have a backup.

I wanted to sort of show you the room here. Why are we doing this? One word: Florida in 2000. We thought that people really needed to see what we were doing. And what we've got here, back here, are people who are poring over this data and looking into it, putting it into the computer and seeing if it fits within the models.

When they feel strong enough, with all of their statistics, that they can call a race based on these randomly-selected precincts and the vote totals that they are getting in, that's when you'll hear from us in those 10 races.

I also wanted to show you one of the toys they've given me to play with here. Now, look, this is called spatial logic. And what this is, I want to show you here. This is North Carolina. What you are beginning to see here, blue is Democratic and red is Republican. Just think red states, blue states.

So we are beginning to get from VNS some preliminary vote totals. Now, this is not the end of the votes. But the bluer it is, the greater the margin of the Democratic votes in that state. The redder it is, the greater the margin of Republican votes. It can change over the night. But what we hope is that, through the night, as these colors change -- and they can change minute by minute if the vote totals come in that fast -- we will be able to show you, in all of our 10 real states, just exactly where the counties are going.

And if we can't call a state, we'll be able to say: "Well, look, the reason we can't call it is, there's a problem up here near Raleigh. It's not going according to historical patterns."

So, next, we can do this with a lot states. Missouri, let me just show you that real quickly. We can move to that. Again, what we can do is move through here, show you where, historically, Democrats or Republicans have voted and whether or not they're following the same pattern. And we can do that on and on with all of our 10 states.

So stay tuned. We hope to show you some pretty pictures and have some RealVote decisions.

WOODRUFF: And, Candy, just a little clarification here. When they call these votes in from the precincts, we're talking, what, eight, 10 precincts in a state? Or, presumably, in a state like Texas, we are talking more precincts.

CROWLEY: Yes, absolutely.

And I can tell you that, for VNS -- that's the Voter News Service -- there is someone in every county in the country. So, obviously, the precincts report to the counties. But we also have both CNN and VNS in these RealVote states, other people that are out there at the precinct level. And so they can call in votes, obviously, earlier than the county will get them.

And, so, yes, there are -- it depends on the size of the state. They're randomly selected.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy with the RealVote.

And, Aaron, it takes us right back to civics 101.

BROWN: Where we count the votes.

And these are real votes that are coming in now from the state of Florida. And we can give you a look at where the vote is now at a little bit after 8:00, about 8:10 Eastern time: the incumbent, Jeb Bush, with a sizable lead. Now, having said all that, we don't know where these votes are coming from. But it is a formidable lead.

This is one of those races that, a couple of weeks ago, the Democrats had lots of hope for. The last couple of weeks, their hopes started to diminish a bit. This is the first look we've had at real votes out of the state of Florida. And the president's brother, Jeb Bush, looking for a second term there, at least coming out of the gate pretty well, which has gotten the attention of the "CROSSFIRE" gang over in the other part of the room.


PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Aaron, thank you.

I don't see any gentlemen here, but I gather you mean us.

This is a race where the Republicans began saying, "We can't lose." You thought Janet Reno was going to be the Democratic nominee. Bill McBride comes out of nowhere, defeats Janet Reno and, all the sudden, it's a dead heat. It did look like, in the end, McBride sagged just a little bit.

But even if the Democrat goes down, this has tied up enormous resources for the Republicans. The president, the whole Cabinet -- I think he moved the federal seat of government to Tallahassee for most of this election year.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Paul, I don't know what they tied up of their resources for. This is not a presidential year, in case you might have forgotten. There's no presidential races that are starving.

I don't know that McBride ever caught up with Jeb Bush. But what happened was that the Democrats in Washington, particularly the national chairman, Terry McAuliffe, got very, very excited. They said, "Boy, we are going to send down people." They did send down an agent from the DNC to take over the campaign and didn't have much success.

Former President Clinton was there. Former Vice President Gore was there, probably did more harm than good. But I don't think this race was ever very close. I think it was a wasted resources by the DNC.


JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": The secret agent? Was this some sinister thing or whatever?

Look, these early results I would be the first to tell you are discouraging. I think there are two things to keep in mind here. No. 1 is, it was a primary. And I was in Florida campaigning with Bill McBride, who is an outstanding guy. And I think, in terms of South Florida, the Democratic base never quite warmed up after the primary.

And the second thing is, I think that he would probably tell you when this is over, be the first to tell you, they should have been more aggressive in answering some of the charges. But I guess their agent that they sent down from the DNC is now going back to prison or wherever he came from.


TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I hope so, but here's the problem.


CARLSON: No, but, truly, here's the problem.

This race was never about issues. If you talked to Democrats, if you talked to Terry McAuliffe, they could never tell you the five things Jeb Bush had done wrong. They didn't hate him on ideological grounds or even on the basis of ideas. They hated him because he was the president's brother. And that's a pretty weak reason to hate somebody. It's not his fault he's the president's brother.

It was a ludicrous campaign to begin with. Bill McBride has never been elected to anything. He has a great biography. But that's it.

BEGALA: In point of fact, education was one of the central issues.

CARLSON: Oh, please.

BEGALA: There's a fiscal mess -- what's the matter?

The governor did a terrible job managing Florida's fiscal balance. He took the surplus and turned it into a deficit. And class size became the issue the Bill McBride ran on. Now, he stumbled. And I think this was the break point. It Didn't have anything to do with anybody else coming in. He ran on this idea, but didn't tell people how he was going to


CARLSON: During the debate.

BEGALA: Stumbled badly in the debate, which means you need more ideas, not fewer. And the Democrats did run on ideas, but they should have done a better job


NOVAK: Paul, let me explain to you what happened.

BEGALA: Yes, sir. Educate me. Enlighten me.


NOVAK: What he did was, he said: "Gee, we need more money for schools."

The Republicans, Jeb Bush says: "How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to have higher taxes?"

You see, the problem with the Democrats that's been the problem for about 30 or 40 years is, they're the high-tax party. And what really nailed Bill McBride, he had never caught up with Bush, but he in charging, in challenging distance of Bush. But what nailed him was that he looked like he was going to raise taxes. People don't like to pay taxes. They really don't.

CARVILLE: I agree. And children don't like to go to school in trailers and everything else that they're doing in Florida.

And, remember, this is a governor who actually took credit for the installation of a traffic light.


CARVILLE: ... his accomplishments as governor. But the agent at the DNC should have been more aggressive in answering some of the ridiculous charges that they were putting out there.

CARLSON: What they shouldn't have done is toss aside Janet Reno after eight distinguished years.


BEGALA: He won the election fair and square, Tucker. What is she supposed to do, rig it? That's what Florida's Republicans do. They rig the elections.


CARVILLE: Democrats, we don't rig elections. We just don't run. It's a little different party.

CARLSON: She ought to come back and run again with Gore in 2004. She's a proud member of the Clinton administration. And I think Democrats need Janet Reno.

BEGALA: Speaking of rigged elections, let's not let our conversation of Florida go without mentioning District 13. Katherine Harris, the Cruella DeVille look-alike, who stole the 2000 election from Al Gore.

CARLSON: Tell me in one sentence what she did wrong. Oh, you can't. Oh, sorry.

BEGALA: I'll tell you in one sentence. She stopped the legal counting of voting in the state of Florida. And she, the rumor in Washington this week -- take it for what it's worth, which is not much -- is that she was actually in trouble in a very safe Republican seat. If she goes down, you guys have to


NOVAK: Cruella was up by 10 points


NOVAK: There was a little basis for rumor because of some tracking polls. They had shown that her opponent had almost caught up with her. But that is really a safe Republican

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: I think we can report with confidence, I think she's 10 points up, 55 to 47. She, thankfully, is going to win. She'll be on "CROSSFIRE." We can guarantee that -- back to you, Aaron Brown.

BROWN: Thank you, gentlemen.

And one reason to keep an eye on the bottom of the screen as it goes by throughout the night is, Katherine Harris' name went by with a check mark next to it. So, we are projecting that she has defeated Jan Schneider in the 13th District in the state of Florida.

Ms. Schneider, as I recall, is a law school classmate of Hillary Clinton's.

GREENFIELD: I guarantee you, even though this was a safe seat -- there was no doubt -- for Democrats who regard her, as, I don't know, Lady Macbeth with a hanging chad, the fact that Katherine Harris is going to the Congress is just another salt in the wound if you're a Democrat who hasn't gotten over 2000 yet.

BROWN: Anyway, so, in the 13th District in Florida, Katherine Harris, former secretary of state -- everyone knows that by now -- that is a pickup for the Republicans as well.

And it is just an easy opportunity to remind you that, throughout the night, on the lower part of your screen, a lot of information, particularly in these House races, is going by. And the check mark means that we've made a projection there. So, you'll want to keep an eye on that as well.

Our coverage continues after this short break.


WOODRUFF: It's 20 minutes after 8:00 in the East.

And here's one you want to listen to. We have a projected winner in one of our RealVote states.

Let's go quickly to the desk in New York.

Candy Crowley, what's the news?

CROWLEY: Judy, it is a big one. Democrats called Jeb Bush their No. 1 target. It looks as though they have missed. CNN now projects that Jeb Bush has been reelected and will be reelected as governor of Florida and that he will beat Bill McBride -- back to you all.

WOODRUFF: So, it doesn't get any clearer than that.

This was the Democrats' fondest hope, that they could knock Jeb Bush off, the president's brother. And they didn't do it -- or we're projecting that they didn't do it.


GREENFIELD: I'm sorry.

They had very high hopes when McBride beat Janet Reno, who the Democrats regarded as a sure loser. And the polls have closed. There was a debate where Bush, by most observers, clearly bested McBride. There was a ton of money that came in. And the president himself had a rooting interest in this one.

ZAHN: This will be interesting to see, if and when we ever get exit polling, if we look at the African-American vote, which the Democrats have always been highly dependent upon, although it only represents I guess 10 percent of the population.

BROWN: These are the numbers as we have them. And this is the first time we've had to explain this, so let's take a moment.

The CNN check mark is a RealVote projection. VNS, the network consortium -- you'll be saying this in your sleep tonight, I'm afraid -- the network consortium has yet to make a call on Florida. But we have analyzed the data and we are comfortable now projecting Jeb Bush as the winner in the state of Florida.

Bill Hemmer is at Bush headquarters in Florida -- Bill, can you hear us?

BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I sure can, Aaron. Thank you.

Just to pick up on Jeff's point there, Floridians will tell you that, essentially, this race turned for the better for Governor Bush two weeks ago during that debate, October 22, when Bill McBride was pressured and questioned many times as to how he was going to pay for his education reforms across the state of Florida.

At that point, it appeared that Jeb Bush really started gaining major traction throughout the state. And if these numbers hold up, that 19 percent advantage for the governor, Jeb Bush, will show two things: No. 1, that it was an overwhelming victory, far ahead, far ahead of the early projections we've been watching for the past week now.

The other thing it shows is that, for the first time in Florida state history, a Republican governor has been reelected. And the Democrats really want to knock off Governor Bush in '02, then go after President Bush in '04. If these numbers hold up, again, that will not be the case.

President Bush has been to this state 13 times since taking office back in January of 2001. He's helped the Republican Party of Florida raise almost $8 million. That is second only to the state of California. Republicans wanted to make sure that the president stayed strong in '04 for reelection. They could not afford his younger brother being upset here. At this point, it does not look like that is the case.

We do expect the governor. He is in the building here. So, too, is his father, the former President Bush, No. 41. If things continue to hold up this way, we shall see them shortly as the night continues -- Aaron.

BROWN: One of the issues that voters in Florida are dealing with tonight and became a very prominent issue in the campaign is this initiative to reduce class size.

This is, in many ways, a classic example of voters, on the one hand saying they want to improve public education, they believe in public education, public education matters, but, when the issue came down to how to pay for reducing class size, and Governor Bush was against the initiative, McBride had some problems explaining how he was going to pay.

HEMMER: Indeed, that was the case.

And the moderator of that, Tim Russert, pushed Bill McBride right at the outset of that debate. And it appeared at that time that McBride could not support his answers. And, for the folks who were watching it, that helped seal the deal.

In addition to that, there's a referendum on the ballot that Floridians were voting on today, Aaron, regarding reformation throughout the Florida school system. Education was a major point for McBride throughout this entire campaign. It appears right now that that did not hit home with Florida voters.

BROWN: Bill, thank you very much. Bill Hemmer is in Miami tonight.

We are expecting Governor Bush to come down shortly. We will get to that.

And we are ready to make yet another RealVote predict -- projection -- which would be the contraction between prediction and projection.

We go back to Candy Crowley in New York -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Aaron, another RealVote projection here. It is out of New Jersey. Another comeback kid, Frank Lautenberg, will return to the Senate. CNN is projecting that Lautenberg will beat Doug Forrester in that race in New Jersey.

BROWN: And Mr. Lautenberg will be delighted you referred to him as a kid at 78 years old.

CROWLEY: A comeback kid.

BROWN: He'll be more than happy. Not exactly an accidental senator, but three, I guess four weeks ago, we would haven't anticipated it.

GREENFIELD: Doug Forrester, whose campaign I covered a bit, ran his entire campaign on one premise: "I am not Robert Torricelli," the ethically challenged New Jersey incumbent. And, by God, the New Jersey voters decided they were not going to vote for Robert Torricelli. It's just that it's a Democratic state. WOODRUFF: And Frank Lautenberg pulled this off with a lot of New Jerseyans upset at the way that happened, that Lautenberg was put on at the last minute, even though the deadline was supposedly longer than that.

I am told that John King at the White House already has some reaction to the Jeb Bush projection -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Judy, from the White House.

The president is still having dinner with Republican congressional leaders. We are told, at least as of a few moments ago, he has not spoken to his brother as yet, but that he will definitely speak to him tonight. White House officials are ecstatic at what they see as the early margin there. They're hoping it holds up.

Remember, this White House has had a strange experience of its own with the state of Florida. So it would like to see 100 percent reporting on the screen, not the 25 percent we had up a few minutes ago. But they say they are ecstatic with the results, and for obvious reasons. The president's younger brother will be reelected to a four- year term.

And his younger brother, a strong Republican, will be in the Florida governor's mansion in Tallahassee as the president prepares for reelection and prepares to dedicate a lot of time, a lot of travel, and a lot of focus on the state that decided the last presidential election by such controversial means, 12 trips by the president to Florida since he has been president. Look for him to perhaps come close to matching that in the second two years of his first term -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, we did get the impression that this was important to the president and to Karl Rove and all those people around the president, who really want the president reelected in two years.

J. KING: This race very important.

And, Judy, I want to give you a little more insight into the president's midterm Election Day. We are focused on what the composition of the Congress and the governorships will be next year. CNN also was told, though, that the president had a telephone conversation today with a man whose tenure in the Senate will be quite brief: Dean Barkley, the independent interim senator appointed by Governor Jesse Ventura in Minnesota to fill the seat, the vacancy created by the tragic death of Paul Wellstone.

The president called him, offered him any help the White House could offer him, as he was getting up to speed on the issues. The implication here is, there will be a lame-duck session of Congress. They believe Mr. Barkley's vote could be key, not only in determining whether the Democrats or Republicans run that lame-duck session, but whether the president gets a compromise on terrorism insurance, whether the president gets a compromise and finally gets that new Department of Homeland Security -- so short-term politicking by the president, even as he looks ahead to the long-term results here.

WOODRUFF: You're right, John. The Senate comes back into session, the Congress does, next week. And in that, even just those few days before whoever the permanent or six-year senator is from the state of Minnesota, in that interim period, legislation can get passed.

J. KING: Legislation can get -- and very important legislation can get passed.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King at the White House, where the president is enjoying dinner, we are told, still, with several leaders of the Congress.

ZAHN: And back to New Jersey now, where CNN can project that Frank Lautenberg is back as the senator of New Jersey, which would make him the first U.S. senator to voluntarily leave his office and then come back to win another Senate election since Mr. Humphrey, Hubert Humphrey.

Let's go to Deborah Feyerick, who is standing by at his headquarters, to see what the reaction is there -- Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, the reaction one of jubilation here at Lautenberg headquarters when the announcement was made that he has apparently won this election.

One political analyst I spoke to this afternoon said the real wild card here was, would enough angry Republicans turn out at the polls to really make a difference? Of course, angry because of the fact the Democrats swapped candidates at the last minute, changing from the scandal-tainted Robert Torricelli to the three-time senator, Frank Lautenberg.

There was a major effort to get out the vote. Republicans spent $1 million calling up people to make sure they'd go to the polls. But the Democrats spent three times that amount of money. They also had triple the number of workers, some 11,000 people, in the last 24 hours calling up voters here in New Jersey to make sure that they got out to the polls.

No official number yet on just what was voter turnout here, but the people I'm speaking to informally say they think it was higher than it normally is during an off-year election. Had the race been close, of course, everybody would have turned to the absentee and military ballots, but there only 1,000, so not enough to really make any sort of a difference. Those ballots have until next Monday to be counted -- Paula.

ZAHN: Have you seen any sightings of Senator Lautenberg there yet this evening?

FEYERICK: Everybody was eagerly anticipating his arrival here, but he went in a backdoor.

His campaign spokesperson said that he would be basically writing his speech and watching election returns as they came in. He didn't have very much to watch, since there were no election -- or exit polls, I should say. But he has been preparing his speech. We have yet to hear from the Forrester campaign, because the announcement just coming in that Lautenberg appears to be the winner.

ZAHN: Deborah Feyerick, thanks for the update.

GREENFIELD: When I say New Jersey is a Democratic state, the last Republican to win a Senate seat in New Jersey was Clifford Case in 1972. They don't send Republicans to the Senate.

ZAHN: Wow.

BROWN: And a pretty moderate Republican at that.

GREENFIELD: Lost in a primary to a conservative, who promptly got his clock cleaned.

WOODRUFF: They do send Republicans to the House, though.

GREENFIELD: And to the statehouse. It's a Senate thing there, that they just don't do it.

BROWN: Coming up towards 8:30 now in the East. Actually, it is 8:30 in the East.

And a couple of races we'll keep an eye on, as polls have now closed in Arkansas. No calls here yet. Tim Hutchinson, the incumbent Republican senator, in an interview yesterday with one of the papers in Arkansas, virtually conceded that he would lose to Mark Pryor. This is another one of those family business candidates -- well, both of them, actually. Hutchinson -- they both served in the Congress. Asa Hutchinson now runs the Drug Enforcement Agency.

And Mark Pryor is the attorney general. No call yet, but the polls have closed.

And Mike Huckabee, the incumbent governor in the state of Arkansas, at one point was thought to have a fairly easy go of it. But his wife is running for secretary of state and is not doing very well. And it is sad. It is thought by people in Arkansas that that has hurt the governor's chances. In any case, no projections to make in either of those races. The polls in Arkansas have just closed.

So, we have some states where VNS, the Voter News Service, has made some calls. There are some states where we have made some calls.

And Candy Crowley has the responsibility tonight to explain why one and not the other -- Candy.


One of the things -- one of the promises we made after 2000 was that we would put a backup system in place -- and that's our 10 RealVote states -- and that we would also try to bring our viewers in and try to give them an idea of how these races are called. So, it brings me back to Joe Lenski.

Joe, how did you call Florida? What was there that made you so certain we could just project Jeb Bush?

JOE LENSKI, CNN ELECTION CONSULTANT: Well, we had hired 100 reporters to go to specific precincts around the state. And 68 have already reported. And, as the numbers came in, they were rock-solid for Bush. And we became convinced, with two-thirds of our reporters in, that Bush is going to win this race.

CROWLEY: And tell people how you do that, because there are many more than 68 precincts in Florida. So, how can you take 68 and go, "Oh, Bush"?

LENSKI: Well, you use random probability theory. But you make sure that the sample you pick is representative of the state, both geographically and by past party vote.

And what we were making sure before we made the call is that, in each region of the state, that Bush was overperforming what he needed to do to win. And it was consistent across the state, that he was overperforming what he needed to win.

CROWLEY: And you had, again, two layers of information. You had both the Voter News Service precincts and the CNN precincts.

LENSKI: Correct. And we were comparing the two. And in terms of just the reported vote numbers only, not the exit poll -- we were not looking at the exit poll in the race, just the reported vote numbers only -- our numbers and VNS' numbers were very close to each other.

CROWLEY: OK, I have to ask. Given Florida's history in 2000, how this all started, was there any part of you that said, "Boy, I'm sure, but I just don't want to do it"?

LENSKI: Well, if it were any other state with any other governor not named Bush, we probably would have made this call even earlier. But we wanted to make sure every precinct had the right data, every region, that Bush was overperforming what he needed to do to win.


So, now tell me about New Jersey. this was one we thought would be closer. But as the days wore on, it looked like it was -- but you called that fairly early. What told you New Jersey was callable?

LENSKI: Well, again, we had 70 reporters in New Jersey; 36 of them reported really quickly. And Lautenberg's lead was rock-solid again. And, again, we were comparing to just the reported vote that VNS is showing us. And the numbers matched very good -- very well.

CROWLEY: So, again, was this something that became clear pretty much immediately? How quickly? We have people that are sitting in some of these precincts. They call in physically where? LENSKI: They call in to our computer system. And they plug the numbers in. We prompt them for the candidates. And they plug the numbers in that they got from the voting official at their precinct.

CROWLEY: OK. And, then, all those numbers show up on your computers back here.

LENSKI: Yes. Yes.

CROWLEY: I wish you all could have heard the tension and excitement level here, because I kept hearing Florida and New Jersey in the background. And the voices got louder and louder. So there was a lot of excitement, particularly with Florida.


CROWLEY: So, when you look at these, what's the discussion about? Like, if somebody says, "No, don't call it because of this," and you say "No, no, we can because of that"?

LENSKI: Well, we are looking at our data precinct by precinct and comparing it to past races. We're also looking at geographic region in the state to make sure those compare well. And, also, we're looking at heavy Democratic precincts and heavy Republican precincts and make sure they're performing the way we think they're performing.

CROWLEY: Joe Lenski, come back and talk to us.


CROWLEY: Call a really good one next.

LENSKI: I'll try to find one.

CROWLEY: Aaron, back to you.

BROWN: Thank you.

You think your job gives you heartburn. Think of the men and women sitting behind Candy and, honestly, the responsibility that is on their shoulders and in their computers tonight to get it right, particularly given what happened two years ago. They are working very hard and very well -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And I was just guessing that many of them may be teaching math in their real life, but they're doing this because they want to make sure we get it -- help make sure we get it right on election night.

As we've been telling you tonight, our Wolf Blitzer is keeping a close watch on the polls, seeing if there are places with problems.

And, Wolf, we know that some have cropped up. Where do things stand right now?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, there's a serious problem that's cropped up in Arkansas. Aaron just reported that the polls in Arkansas were supposed to close at 7:30 Central time, 8:30 on the East Coast. Well, in most of the state, polls have indeed closed.

But in Pulaski County, which is the largest county, the home of the state capital, Little Rock, polls are going to have to remain open for an extra 90 minutes, until 9:00 Central time, 10:00 Eastern, because some ballots were simply missing as voters showed up to vote throughout Pulaski County, representing about 27 percent of the state's eligible voters.

Two key races, as we all know, are going on in Arkansas right now, for the Senate, as well as for the governor's races. Arkansas Democrats asked a judge to file an injunction to keep the polls in Pulaski County open for an extra 90 minutes or so. The judge has agreed, because, for some inexplicable reason, there were not enough ballots.

Some of the Democrats were saying that the people who were showing up at 3:00 this afternoon, there were no more ballots for them in Pulaski County in Little Rock and in the suburbs outside of Little Rock. So, at least in one county in Arkansas, and perhaps another one, the polls are remaining open for an extra 90 minutes as they sort through what could be potentially a serious problem, if that race for the Senate and for the governor, of course, becomes increasingly close -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Wolf, when they make a decision like that, presumably, they do have to go to a judge or to some official. It's not just an arbitrary thing, where the people running that poll -- they've got to go check with an authority who oversees polling procedures and the polling law -- election law.

BLITZER: Right. And they went to a judge. The Democrats went to the judge. And the judge granted their request to keep the polls open in Pulaski County, because there were a lot of ballots that weren't there.

Now, there have been reports throughout the state of Arkansas all day. And we've been checking with election commission officials, as well as Democrats and Republican Party officials in the state. There is apparently high voter turnout in Arkansas, especially in Pulaski County. That may have been one of the problems.

But Democrats are at least crying foul, to a certain degree, saying there weren't enough ballots to go around in Pulaski County. And a judge has agreed to let the polls stay open for an extra 90 minutes in that county.

WOODRUFF: All right. So that means that it will be 10:00 before we can begin to report anything on the state of Arkansas.

BLITZER: That's right.

WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf, thanks very much -- Paula.

ZAHN: Well, the turnout may be good in Pulaski County, but we do know from 1998 that only 35 percent of the electorate even bothered to show up to vote.

Let's turn to Anderson Cooper, who is standing by in Minnesota, where we are told turnout was expected to be very good, as former Vice President Fritz Mondale takes on former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman.


It's interesting you mention 1998, because, here in Minnesota in 1998, voter turnout, in a nonelection year, was at a record high at 60 percent, which is just extraordinary. The average here in a nonelection year is still very high at 55 percent. And in the presidential election in 2000, they actually had the biggest voter turnout in the United States. I believe it was at 69 percent.

As you mentioned, today, we are seeing long lines, people waiting their turn to cast their ballot in this very important, this crucial election between former Vice President Walter Mondale and Republican Norm Coleman.

In Hennepin County, Minnesota, which is where Minneapolis is, not only have there been long lines. The state actually had to print extra supplemental ballots, because so many people were coming out and voting. What we've learned now about the supplemental ballots -- of course, the reason they have supplemental ballots is because of the death of the late Senator Paul Wellstone. They had to change the ballot.

They weren't able to have the high-tech optical devices that they normally have in other elections to add the name of Walter Mondale. They had to use these supplemental ballots. That means they're going to be counting by hand. It is going to be a long night. Polls close in 20 minutes.

But, importantly, those people who are still on line when the polls close, under state law, are allowed to vote. So, even though the polls may be closed, some people may still be in lines and will still be able to cast their vote -- Paula.

ZAHN: Before I let you go, just what does the reaction continue to be to the debate yesterday?

COOPER: It's been really fascinating. And I actually watched the debate again for a second time, because the original debate was on at 10:00 a.m. local time here, at a time many people weren't able to see it, frankly. They replayed it last night. A lot of people watched.

And people across the board, no matter what party they were in, I think were very impressed. It was really an extraordinary debate. I'm not from this state. For an outsider see this kind of debate, I've never really seen anything like it: two candidates literally across the table from each other basically just talking. And it was a real exchange.

It wasn't sound bite after sound bite, playing to cameras. It was really very Minnesotan, I am told. I think people were very impressed. Even if they don't like one of the candidates, I think most people came out and said that they were very pleased with how the debate came off. And, of course, what the candidates really wanted was to try to convince that estimated 10 percent of Minnesotans who were still undecided in a Sunday poll.

And the candidates felt they were able to get their messages across -- Paula.

ZAHN: Well, Anderson, the Minnesotan sitting next to me nodded in an approving way when you said the debate was very Minnesotan. Would you like to explain to those of us from Chicago what that means?

BROWN: First of all, there is great truth to Minnesota nice. And you had two nice men in the former mayor of St. Paul, Norm, Coleman, and in Walter Mondale.

And this is how politics, I'm telling you, is practiced in the state. It is not that they don't have their sleazy little moments, mind you, but, by and large, it is pretty above board. And Minnesotans vote, right?

ZAHN: Well, you heard that 60 percent in the last off-year election.

BROWN: You betcha, as we say in Minnesota. You betcha.

GREENFIELD: Which is why Jesse Ventura is an unusual, if not unique figure in Minnesota politics.

BROWN: It's always -- I mean, not to go off on Minnesota politics. But it has always produced a weird -- I don't mean weird like they're weird people -- but outside-the-main candidates frequently. Jesse was yet another, but he was way outside.

ZAHN: Well, as we watch, Anderson, this race come down to the wire between former Vice President Mondale and former St. Paul Mayor Norman Coleman, we'll keep you posted on that.

But let's skip to New Hampshire, where there's another Senate race that will be capturing a lot of our attention this evening. And that's where we find Bill Delaney -- good evening, Bill.

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Paula.

Well, the polls are closed here in New Hampshire. And election officials are now saying that this will be the highest turnout ever for a midterm election in New Hampshire, voters apparently, pretty obviously, inspired by what's expected to be the razor-thin margins in this race that will elect either Republican Congressman John Sununu or his opponent, Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen.

An example of how intently everybody is taking this: Many absentee ballots, we are told, around the state are already being challenged by one side or the other. This is an election that could come down to a few thousand votes. Now, we spoke just moments ago, Paula, to John Sununu Sr. Now, he's the former governor of New Hampshire who was the first President Bush's chief of staff. The senior John Sununu, a man who knows politics, of course he brings a certain prejudice to all this. But he had some hard numbers for us.

And the numbers were that, for example, in the city of Manchester, which should have been a Jeanne Shaheen stronghold, it now looks like John Sununu, Congressman John Sununu, will take the city of Manchester. That's a small reading. It's still early. But that's a significant reading.

The other thing John Sununu Sr. told us is that, in rural places, where outgoing Republican Senator Bob Smith won last time, Congressman John Sununu is trending well ahead of Senator Bob Smith, 3 to 5 percent. So they're looking for a big score here for Congressman Sununu in the rural district. But it's still early. All of the trends so far, with 20 or 30 percent of the votes, indicating that Sununu will do well in the rural areas and that Governor Shaheen will do well in the urban areas.

But, as I say, it looks like Shaheen may have lost just, by 1,000 or 2,000 votes, the city of Manchester. And that could mean something, but it will still be a very long night ahead here in New Hampshire -- Paula.

ZAHN: Yes, Bill, and we're going to have to wait to go through the rest of the geography of the state. Jeff was just making the point that it is important, to keep this all in perspective, that New Hampshire has not sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1974.

GREENFIELD: New Jersey doesn't send Republicans. New Hampshire doesn't send Democrats. Jeanne Shaheen is definitely fighting the fact that this is the one conservative bedrock in the moderate liberal region of New England. New Hampshire is different.

BROWN: New Hampshire is not quite the same state it was, though, in 1974. I mean, there are parts of New Hampshire now that are almost suburban Boston. I mean, in that high-tech corridor there, it's just a very different state.

In any case, we can now take a look at a gubernatorial race, the race for who will replace Jeanne Shaheen. And we are now, CNN is prepared to project -- we will project -- I keep looking for exactly the right language -- Craig Benson -- that's the right language -- the Republican candidate for governor in the state of New Hampshire. That would be a net gain of one for the Republicans in statehouses -- Craig Benson the winner in New Hampshire.

And our coverage of this election night continues after this break.


ZAHN: And as we move up on the 9:00 hour here and a number of new poll closings at the top of the hour, let's check in with Candy Crowley in New York, who has another RealVote projection to make.

Good evening again, Candy.

CROWLEY: Hey, Paula.

We are on a roll now up here. CNN projects that, in North Carolina, another important state with another familiar name, Elizabeth Dole, we project, will be the winner in the Senate race in North Carolina, defeating former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles -- back to you, Paula.

ZAHN: Let's talk about that among our team right now.

WOODRUFF: Well, that means the Republicans hold on to that seat. They very much wanted to hold on to Jesse Helms' seat. He's held it for how many terms, Jeff, four terms?

GREENFIELD: Thirty years.

WOODRUFF: OK, sorry, five, six -- how many? Six terms.

GREENFIELD: Well, that would be five terms, if I do my math correctly.

WOODRUFF: Five times six is 30. Thank you.

GREENFIELD: But you're quite right. This is one that the Democrats kept hoping was tightening. They kept saying that they thought that Erskine Bowles could make it. A lot of Democrats said, if the primary had been in May, rather than delayed in September, Bowles would have time. But Elizabeth Dole's roots were in North Carolina, lots of money.

ZAHN: Initially, the Democrats thought they would get a lot of mileage out of attacking her for this fund-raiser she had held with Ken Lay of Enron. That didn't have much traction, did it?

GREENFIELD: You realize the spouses of both presidential nominees from 1996 are in the Senate. Hillary Clinton, say hello to Mrs. Elizabeth Dole. That's -- talk about unprecedented.

BROWN: And this is the first of the true marquee matchups of the night that has been called. One does not a trend make, but it is the first of the marquee matchups that we have been looking at. And it goes to the Republicans and Mrs. Dole.

WOODRUFF: And Erskine Bowles, we keep saying he's the former Clinton White House chief of staff. But he never wanted Bill Clinton in there to campaign for him.

Let's go directly to Dole headquarters, where we find our Jeanne Meserve -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Judy, you can find a very enthusiastic crowd behind me. Maybe you can hear some of the shouting over there. They heard that projection made by Candy. They are a very happy crowd here.

Of course, when this race started, a lot of people thought this was going to amount to a coronation of the woman some people call Queen Elizabeth. That's Elizabeth Dole. But Erskine Bowles, in the final weeks, mounted a very serious challenge. He brought to this race a number of the same things she did: experience, national connections, and money, a lot of money, $21 million, almost, spent on this race by the candidate.

Bowles himself poured in millions of his personal fortune. In the end, our projection shows it might not have been enough. I talked to the Bowles campaign just moments ago. They were still optimistic. We'll call them back right now and get some reaction -- back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeanne Meserve, still watching that.

And, Aaron, as I come back to you, we are able to report, our White House correspondent John King says the president has now called his brother in Florida to say congratulations.

ZAHN: It's about time.


ZAHN: We've known about this for a little while.

WOODRUFF: We've known.

BROWN: A couple of hours ago, John reported the president likes to be in bed by 10:00, which made me think two things. He watches "LARRY" and doesn't watch "NEWSNIGHT."

Larry King is up next -- Larry.


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