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Look at Senate Races as Poll Numbers Begin Coming In

Aired November 6, 2002 - 03:00   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And coming now from the CNN world headquarters here in Atlanta, we continue our live continuing coverage of AMERICAN VOTES 2002. Leon Harris here, along with the rest of the team here, Daryn Kagan. Welcome Burt, Bill Schneider, and we are just now getting more and more of the final results. We are down to perhaps, what would you say. The bottom of then ninth now? We got pretty much almost everybody in?
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: That we are. Time for the analysis and figure out who won the World Series and why.


KAGAN: And that would be the republican.

HARRIS: So we are gong to take a quick look now at some of the results

Some that we are getting in, some we are still waiting for. Here the Senate race in Missouri, we've just been able to get this one called within the last few minutes here, and CNN is projecting here that Jim Talent has made a pickup of Republicans there in Missouri over Jean Carnahan. And moving on to the next one, in South Dakota we are still waiting on that particular race.

This one again - this one, as they say, to close to call, John Thune, Tim Johnson. The two of them battling it out now, and we have got 89 percent of the precincts reporting, and still no candidate here really clearly pulling ahead of the other one. And finally, in Minnesota, we just got the word from reporters there, a still - that race again, at this particular point, too close to call, with 56 percent of the precincts reporting.

Norm Coleman is still holding something of an edge over Walter Mondale, between party candidate Moore's way at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at two percent, and at this particular point we believe the candidates may have just called it a night, and - I don't know, we will just have to wait and see what happens here.

KAGAN: We will. Meanwhile lets move on to the house, which the Republicans will control as well as the senate. Here is a race out of the fifth district of Florida. This one a pickup for the Republicans in Brown Waite over Thurman. Taking away from the Democrats.

We move on now to Kentucky, as significant race here because Ann Northup considered one of the more vulnerable Republicans, and yet we found out pretty early in the night, right Stu, that she was going to hold on to this, be over Jack Conway, and that was a sign of things to come.

ROTHENBERG: Absolutely. Conway was hyped by the Democrats. Northup always has close races. The fact that she won was a good indicator for (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KAGAN: And finally one that did not win the few house races that did not go the way for the Republicans, that is Connie Morella out of Maryland getting beaten by Chris Van Hollen. A pickup for Democrats. In the house. What went wrong for Connie Morella?

ROTHENBERG: This is all about redistricting. The Maryland legislature - actually Maryland was an very bright spot for the Democrats in the house. They picked up two seats, Bob Ehrlich's seat. He ran for governor. His seat went democratic. Connie Morella's seat was redrawn. Republican voters taken out, democratic voters added in. Chris Van Hollen a strong candidate. Morella was very popular even to the end among district zone eight voters, but they were Democrats, and they preferred to elect a Democrat.

KAGAN: So it goes against two trends. It goes against the republican's trend of the night, and also incumbent (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ROTHENBERG: Absolutely. But redistricting was the reason.

HARRIS: Speaking of trends, governor Grey Davis may have, in the last hour or so, reversed one. We are now seeing that he is well ahead of Bill Simon there, and it appears as though he may have won the race there in California. We got a -- we are giving him the call there, as you see, 47 percent of the vote with 72 percent of the precincts reporting, and that surprised many people. Maybe even some of them in the campaign.

KAGAN: Talk about surprise.

HARRIS: Speaking of surprises


KAGAN: Surprise.

HARRIS: This has got to be one of the biggest surprises of the night. The race for governor here in Georgia, Roy Barnes the incumbent, had a sizable, double digit lead coming in terms of the polls here, and a huge advantage with money. However, Sonny Perdue makes this state a pickup for the Republicans and with a surprisingly large margin there. And finally here in Oklahoma, here a surprise for another reason here. What we are seeing here - a dead heat to this particular point, with all the precincts reporting. They are going to have to go over things with a fine toothcomb there in Oklahoma. And the surprise for many, me particularly, is Steve Largent here who has got perhaps the best name recognition there in the state, and still that not being strong enough to at least establish a clear lead for him there.

KAGAN: Alright, and with that we want to go ahead and bring in our Jonathan Karl. Jonathan. Who I don't think is expecting to hear from us. I know it is late in the night, but I - Jonathan Karl, can you hear us?


KAGAN: You are live on CNN.

KARL: Well, you know, it is getting late here in South Dakota, I got to tell you. I got to tell you, we got a story here. Have you seen the results here. It is a very tight race. We are talking about just the few thousand votes separating the two candidates here, John Thune the republican, and Tim Johnson the Democrat.

But what I have to tell you is that there are two counties that have not reported any votes yet. No votes at all. And this is interesting and significant. One of those counties is the - let me get this right - Shannon (ph) county, which is the county that houses the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Now the Native American vote is very heavily Democratic. There are about 3,500 votes in that county. Democrats certainly expect that most of those votes by the tune of about 90 percent will be for the Democrats. They believe that they can get back much of their deficit right now in that county alone. But there is also been no votes yet recorded in Davison county.

Now bear with me on this one. This is an interesting story. Davison County has about 10,000 registered voters. When they started to count their ballots tonight, their computer system went down. They needed a new computer chip, so what they had to do was that they had to drive to Omaha, Nebraska, about 4 hours away, get the new computer chip, and bring it back up. We are told it has just arrived back up here. They are getting that computer up and running again, but it could take them another hour or two hours to count those ballots. The reason why you had the delay on the reservation county, the Shannon (ph) county, with the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, is they have to drive their ballots an hour from their polling places to the place where they will be counted. So it gets complicated here.

Every single vote is obviously counting in a race as close as this one, and we just heard from the republican candidate, John Thune, not directly, but from his people, that he is going to go to bed, and he will not come back out and talk to anybody until tomorrow. Not expecting results anytime soon. So this is where it all comes down to, and as you know, Daryn, we have got a situation here where Tom Daschle has had a very bad night nationally, Democrats have had a very bad night nationally. It looks like they have lost control of the senate, but hear is the one last hope they have to pull out a victory.

And it is an important victory psychologically for Tom Daschle because it is here in his home state. This is obviously Tom Daschle's state. He has put a lot at stake in this race. He campaigned very hard for the Democrat Tim Johnson, and now he is waiting just like the rest of us, to see how it turns out.

KAGAN: Well, good for Johnson that he gets to go home to bed. We are not going to quite let you do that. John Karl. I heard you mention something earlier in the evening I thought was interesting, and that is how they are handling the absentee ballots there in South Dakota.

KARL: Yes, that's another interesting thing, because they don't want to have any problems here. They don't want to have any Florida style recount. So what they have done with the absentees for the first time in South Dakota, is they are counting them last. They are waiting until all the regular ballots are cast, and then count the absentees. And then what they do with those absentee ballots, are they are checking each one of them to make sure that the person that cast an absentee ballot did not already vote in person at the precinct. So it is a very tedious and labor intensive process, and it's yet another reason why we've had a delayed result,

KARL: But they want to get it right, here. They don't want to get a recount here in South Dakota.

KAGAN: Even though as you have already pointed out, it will have no effect on the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

But as you said, very important symbiology for the Democrats and the Republicans as well. Jonathan Karl in South Dakota. Thank you so much.

HARRIS: Listen, Jon Karl brought up a very interesting point there, Bill, when he talked about the psychological effect of Tom Daschle not being able to pull this out with Tim Johnson. And what do you make then, of the psychological effect of George Bush's coattails being that strong, where he even goes into Tom Daschle's home court and pulls out a victory?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is a very big and dramatic story. I mean president are not supposed to have coattails in a midterm election. In fact usually presidents have negative coattails in a midterm election. They usually loose seats. Take a look,

Here are the most recent midterm elections, here is how the president's party has done in senate races. A net loss of one seat for the former president, the elder George Bush, in 1990. Clinton lost eight senate seats in 1994, and it was a wash in 1998. Now let's take a look at how presidents have done in house races the last three midterms. In 1990, the Republicans lost eight -- a net of eight house seats under Bush. 1994, wow. 52 house seats, and the house shifted from Democrat to republican for the first time in 40 years under Bill Clinton. 1998, Clinton made a very small gain of five seats. That was a dramatic breakthrough. That wasn't supposed to happen. And it led to the resignation of Newt Gingrich.

But tonight is even more dramatic. Not only have Republicans so far gained four seats in the house, one in the senate, maybe more. There are several races out. But they already control the House of Representatives. They have picked up the senate. They control the house, and they've added to their majority. That is quite spectacular.

HARRIS: Yeah, as we are sitting here talking here, we are looking at a picture that we got from the White House early this evening, as you can see here. President Bush - they are conferring with the house and senate leadership there. Dennis Hastert the house speaker there on the left, you see, and perhaps the man who will next be the leader of the Senate there, Trent Lott, on the right of that picture. And obviously talking about the gate plan at that particular point. They were about ready to get out and start celebrating, because they know it was a big evening for the Republicans, when the president pushed on that point. But now, lets talk about - and maybe be a bit early, but 2004, I mean we are looking at - there are some implications here about happened tonight on 2004.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. The midterm is the starting gun of the 2004 presidential race. Now we expect to see Democrats declaring themselves interested, exploring their candidacy. But - and Al Gore says he is going to make up his mind before the end of this year, which is the end of next month. But you know what? I think a lot of Democrats are going to think twice about this. They are going to say, you know, George Bush looks pretty formidable. He - the main point of this election was he went out and campaigned all over the country, rallied the Republican base. They came out to support their president and he was pretty effective. So some Democrats may be thinking about this.

On the Republican side I am going to make a prediction. How about this. I think, with the reelection of Jeb Bush, the Republicans would very much like to see Jeb Bush. They want to see George Bush reelected in 2004, and then they are, I think Jeb Bush has got to be counted as the frontrunner to succeed his brother, and continue the dynasty. Therefore my prediction is George Bush will keep Dick Cheney on the ticket as his vice president. Cheney has already said he would like to stay on the ticket.

Bush will keep him, because people do not expect Cheney to run for president. I Bush were to replace Dick Cheney, he would be picking his likely successor. I think he would like to see his brother be his likely successor. And by the way, could he put his brother on the ticket? Hello. It is constitutional because they come from different states. But I don't think he would want to do that, because a lot of people would say , that is going a bit far.

KAGAN: That's a bit much. OK, while I have a prediction that I think is safe. Within the next half hour, Bill Schneider will be tucked in bed. Because we are going to cut him loose. Because he has had a long day, and he has got an early morning. But before we let you go. I want you to give us kind of your big picture - one take on what you just saw tonight, with the elections.

SCHNEIDER: I saw spectacular victory for the Republicans. And a lot of Democrats are going to say they are spin is going to be all politics is local. This was about President Bush, his stature. I liked the way Cynthia Tucker put it. She said tonight - today he won the mandate, he did not win in 2000. He didn't have any coattails in 2000 when he was elected. In fact, he didn't even have a coat. The fact is tonight he got his mandate. A lot of it had to do with 9/11, his enhanced stature, and people - Republicans in particular, coming to his support. And apparently a lot of Democrats finding nothing that their party offered worth voting for. HARRIS: And what else, though, has been said this evening, is that the Democrats really didn't come out with any cohesive - or coherent plan of their own. They didn't have a unified voice, or a unified - or image of themselves. They didn't really necessarily come out and have anything to do, but it is just speak against something. And that - does that have an effect here, and did that not actually help?

SCHNEIDER: Well, we are going to start. My favorite part of the campaign, which is recriminations. And you are going to see Democrats fighting among themselves, because one of the arguments is Democrats let Bush have his way on Iraq. They didn't stand up to him on the war. A lot of Democrats didn't like that. They also weren't - were unable to oppose him on his tax cut. They were unwilling to say we want a repeal or even modify the tax cut because a lot of Democrats supported it. So a lot of Democrats are going to say, if we'd only stood up and been tougher with George Bush, we might have stood for something and won some votes. But the other Democrats that are going to say that would have been suicidal.

HARRIS: Let me ask this, and then he can - you know, belabor the point here. But you know, if we have been saying that George Bush and his coattails, he being the big winner here. Is there a big looser tonight? Is there a single person that could have that pinned upon him?]

SCHNEIDER: Well, I think of all the - Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt both of them were considering running for president, do not look good tonight. Neither one of them fared well. they are part - they did not lead their party, they are congressional leaders. And when Democrats come to nominate a presidential candidate, they are going to look at Daschle and Gephardt, and they are going to say, they are the guys who guided the Democrats to oblivion in congress. Why should they be our presidential candidates. I think they are both big losers.

KAGAN: And Stu, before we let Bill go, any final thoughts on his thoughts?

ROTHENBERG: I think that if you look at these individual contacts. So far there - the Republicans have picked up one senate seat. It may be more. It is one. It is an important one, because it gives them the majority, but it is only one. If you look at the house, the Republicans have picked up 2-3-4, maybe as many as five. A small gain. A significant gain, but still small. Governorships, the Democrats gained a few, not as many as they expected. If you sit back and you say, well, each of these is an incremental gain.

The problem I think for the Democrats, and maybe Bill is getting at this, or maybe Bill disagrees, is that the Democrats created some expectations over the past few weeks. But they were going to have a very good election night. So well, I think this was a good night for the Republicans. Lets be very clear about it. There is no seat change in American politics here. This is - when I listen to Bob Novak earlier in the evening, it sounded as if we had now only one party in this country. The Democrats were destroyed. (CROSSTALK)

KAGAN: I told Bob Novak this is the best night since Maryland won the national basketball tournament.


ROTHENBERG: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Democrats backed themselves into a corner with their expectations.

KAGAN: Very good. Are you underselling what the Republicans did though, in the senate? They pick up one seat, but there are five open seats that they could have lost, and they hung on to each one of them..

ROTHENBERG: Absolutely. But we always knew that there were three Democratic seats that were going to be tossups. What happened recently is the Democrats suddenly started talking as if they were going to win Colorado. They were going to win New Hampshire. They were going to win North Carolina. These were difficult races, but in the past few weeks, it looked like they were coming in to play. Again, remember these states. These are - many of them are Republican and conservative states. South Carolina, Georgia was certainly an upset. New Hampshire. These are states that all things being equal, it is not surprising a Republican won.

SCHNEIDER: I would disagree only slightly on one point. There is a lot of economic anxiety out there. Despite the war on terrorism and the prospect of war with Iraq, the number one issue around the country was the economy. And it has been growing for the last two months. For Democrats not to be able to capitalize on that is shocking and a bit shameful. And I think Democrats are going to be asking themselves how did we blow it.

ROTHENBERG: But it is clear that the voters did not blame George W. Bush for that.

KAGAN: They didn't. Does this remind anybody of what a lot of people thought was a free ride the Democrats had in 2000 with Al Gore, where they had a strong economy, and he was the vice president and it looked like it was the presidency should have been his, as a blown opportunity? This yet again a midterm election with so many people out of work, so many concerns about corporate scandal, and yet -

SCHNEIDER: That's right, that is another issue. I have never seen such a corporate administration.

KAGAN: They could not convert. They were in the red zone. They couldn't convert.


KAGAN: We wish you sweet dreams.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you. See you in the morning. KAGAN: Which I think is about four hours for you. So a very long day for our Bill Schneider. We really appreciate it for your time, and your insight. But if you are still with us, of course you are still awake, don't (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

HARRIS: Stu is chained to the chair. He can't leave yet, so -

KAGAN: Yeah, he is not excused from the table.


KAGAN: And then there will be a quiz. So stay with us and we will be back right after this.


HARRIS: And welcome back as we pick up our continuing coverage of AMERICAN VOTES 2002. Leon Harris, Daryn Kagan, Stu Rothenberg here carrying on this evening - and this morning, I should say now. We want to go ahead and go back for some more of the results that we were able to get, and some of the that we were able to nail down

At this particular point here. Now looking at the governor's races in this particular moment now. Looking at Maryland. Bob Ehrlich coming up with the Republican pickup here over Kathleen Kennedy Townsend here, in something of a surprise there in that race. And this is with almost all the precincts reporting there as well. And the next race we are looking at here, Jennifer Granholm, in picking up here for the Democrats here in Michigan, here the governor's seat over Posthumus.

There again, strong margin there. A 52 percent over 47 percent with 88 percent of the precincts reporting, and in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney who is back living in Massachusetts after spending some time in Utah there with the winter Olympics. He is now going to be, it appears, the governor of Massachusetts, beating O'Brien there kind of with a handy margin there of five percent.

KAGAN: And if you are catching on, we are looking at the ten women who were nominated for major parties for the governor's races in this election. We want to move on to Arizona, where former U.S. Attorney Janet Napolitano, right now it looks like she has a slight edge over former congressman Matt Salmon. That one is still too close to call. We will keep our eye on this one. We do know there will be a woman governor in - oh, we are going to Rhode Island next.


KAGAN: I thought we were going to go to Hawaii, but this one Myrth York losing to Carcieri. Carcieri as the new governor of Rhode Island. That was one of that perhaps was expected to go to a woman, and do we have the Hawaii board ready to go? We don't. Well we will just mention Hawaii and just say we know no matter what, there will be a female governor of Hawaii, because it is two women, Mazie Hirono and Linda Lingle. Maui mayor Linda Lingle. HARRIS: Alright, now here we go. Back to another one. We have Alaska here. Fred Murkowski who was the former senator is now going back as governor, back to Alaska. He defeated Ulmer in that race there, and quite handily. And that was quite an early call we made on that one. The polls hadn't closed for nearly an hour or so there, before that call was able to be made. In Arkansas Mike Huckabee there, coming up with the win over Jenny Lou (ph) Fisher, another woman who had high hopes for this particular election cycle, but not to be there. And then finally in Kansas Sebelius here with a pickup there for the Democrats. I don't know how much of a surprise this was, but the margin may be something of a surprise here. Quite strong win there over Shallenburger.

KAGAN: Let's get back to one of the races - one of the races featuring women that was not a surprise, and that is Jennifer Granholm picking up the seat for the Democrats as the next governor of Michigan. She spoke earlier tonight. Lets go ahead and listen to some sound from her.


JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), MICHIGAN GOVERNOR-ELECT: The victory belongs to you . To the families that are the heart and soul of our cities and our suburbs, to those who work in the factories and on the farms. Democrats and Republicans and independents. To Michigan's old and young. Those to whom we owe a debt. And those whose future we hold in trust. This victory belongs to our Michigan.


KAGAN: And just to make a historic note out of that. One of the reasons it was important to note that ten women were nominated for governor, as governor nominees, that is the largest number ever in the history of the United States, as women continue to make inroads into the political process.

ROTHENBERG: That's right.

KAGAN: You wanted to talk about Massachusetts, where Shannon O'Brien, the state treasurer did not beat Mitt Romney.

ROTHENBERG: Yes. Lets mention Jennifer Granholm first.

KAGAN: OK, lets talk about her.

ROTHENBERG: It's a bit of trivia that everybody should know or seems to know. One is that she was born in Canada, and therefore is not eligible to run for president. She one of the Democrats who was a Democratic governor who was elect this year in a class where there are no obvious presidential contenders. The other bit of trivia of course, is that she was a DATING GAME contestant.

KAGAN: I never thought though, if she was picked.

ROTHENBERG: I think she was. She is the state attorney general. A woman tough on crime, articulate, attractive, running against the lieutenant governor, sitting lieutenant governor, and in this case John Engler of course, has been the Republican governor of Michigan for many years. A big political figure. And his lieutenant governor was overshadowed - Jennifer Granholm - turned out to be a very strong candidate. She has been leading for some time.

KAGAN: No surprise. OK, so she was able to do what Shannon O'Brien, the state treasurer of Massachusetts was not able to do.

ROTHENBERG: Well, what's particularly interesting about Massachusetts and Rhode Island where Don Carcieri a businessman beat Myrth York, a former state legislature two terms of gubernatorial candidate. The Republicans - I should note that this has been an anti incumbent year in governor's races. If you were an incumbent or the party of an incumbent, you were in trouble, because of the state budget problems. But in this case, two Republicans in states with Republican governors, got elected. They beat women. How did they do it? They ran as political outsiders. Both business men Don Carcieri and Mitt Romney against two Democrats, Shannon O'Brien the state treasurer, Myrth York a veteran state legislator. Republicans pulled a little switch here, running for - as candidates for change, that helped them win the election.

KAGAN: You don't get much more outside than Mitt Romney. I mean, some people suggesting he didn't live in that particular --

ROTHENBERG: That's right. The Democrats (UNINTELLIGIBLE)


ROTHENBERG: replace on the ballot. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)



HARRIS: He was from outside the state. That is how far outside he was.

KAGAN: That would be outside.

HARRIS: Now lets talk about one of the women who did not win. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and that particular race. What do you make of what happened there.

ROTHENBERG: I think it is actually two things, Leon. First of all, the sitting governor, Paris Glendening, a Democrat. Again some budget problems. Not beloved in the state at the moment. Very poor job approval ratings. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, his lieutenant governor, that caused us some problems. And she failed to convey a sense that she was a tough leader, that she was strong, she had her own ideas, she was dynamic. Bob Ehrlich again, a member of congress was able to run as a candidate for change. That was a good year to do that.

HARRIS: Alright, lets listen. We actually have some tape in from Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Some comments that she made just moments ago. Lets listen in.


KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Unfortunately, we fell short. But we stood up for our beliefs, for our future, of justice, and equal rights, and opportunity for all. I congratulate Congressman Ehrlich on his victory tonight.


TOWNSEND: No, no, no. no, no, no, no, no, no, no. He was a formidable opponent, he ran an affective campaign. You know what you guys, I love you. You are dear in my heart. But we have to move forward. And I ask that each of you join with him in doing what is right for Maryland.


HARRIS: I have to give all the credit in the world to a politician that can come out after a losing and still put on a bright face. I don't know how they do it, to be hones with you. But let me ask you, I don't know how fair this is to even ask this question about her, but it is an obvious one. What does what happened in Maryland with that race there say about the Kennedy mystique? Does it still work, is it something that is still playable card here at all?

KAGAN: She is not the only Kennedy who lost.

HARRIS: That's right.

ROTHENBERG: Mark Schreiber (ph) lost the Democratic primary in Maryland eighth congressional district in September. Leon, I think that is a good question and I don't think there is one simple answer. I think it depends on the state, on the circumstances. I think it says something about these two Kennedys. Both Mark Schreiber and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend were regarded as Kennedys too, were a little bit short on substance. Both likable, both affable. Mark Schreiber somewhat more dynamic than Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, but the question was always substance. Were they really just trading on their names. Voters don't seem to like that.


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