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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Aired November 2, 2004 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAREN TUMULTY, TIME MAGAZINE: So, certainly, the high turnout in the non-contested states could effect it, but it's been an interesting electoral map this year because we've actually had almost two separate elections going on.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: As you are talking there, Karen, we're looking -- our audience and all of us here are looking at the live pictures of Clayton County, Georgia, with voters lined up, milling about, plenty of activity at 6:00 Eastern Time, participation full.
We have not seen a single section or quarter of this country in which turnout has not been at the very least impressive, if not an outright -- just extraordinarily heavy.
Let me ask you -- each of you do you think we're going to -- based on what you're sensing here, I'd like to ask each of you, beginning with you, Ron, do you think we're going to have a winner tonight?
RON BROWNSTEIN, L.A. TIMES: I hope so. I think it will depend on how many provisional ballots there are in the key states and how those compare to the margins of victory. I think that's going to be the key question about whether we know tonight. Perhaps we'll know, I hope we know, but I'm not a hundred percent sure we will.
TUMULTY: Yes, I am feeling more so than I was a day or two ago confident that we, in fact, may know the winner by the time we go to bed tonight, assuming we go to bed in the wee hours, that is, and, you know, I think that it does appear that this turnout could perhaps create a wave.
DOBBS: Your thoughts, Roger?
ROGER SIMON, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: The same. I think we'll have a winner. I think he will win 51:48:1. I just don't know which guy will get that, but I think...
SIMON: But I think we will have a clear winner. That win will be magnified in the electoral college. It won't go to the House of Representatives, and we'll know who's president tomorrow morning, and we can all either be angry or be sad or be happy, but breathe a sigh of relief that we know. DOBBS: Well -- and one thing we can all be happy about: It looks like democracy is certainly working today. A lot of voting, democracy at work.
Thank you all. We'll be talking to you soon. Ron, Karen, Roger.
Coming up next here, live reports from three of the critical swing states in this election. We'll have the very latest for you from our reporters on the ground in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.
President Bush and Senator Kerry's final day on the campaign trail. We'll have live reports for you from both campaign headquarters.
And I'll be joined by former presidential adviser David Gergen next.
And CNN's special election night coverage begins tonight at 7:00 live from New York. Trust CNN to track the votes, the exit polls, the swing states, all of the voting irregularities and legal challenges. We hope there are few of them.
Wolf Blitzer and CNN's full election team will be kicking off our primetime coverage tonight beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to CNN special Election Day coverage as America Votes 2004. Here now, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Tonight, millions of us voting in what appears to be one of the tightest presidential elections in history.
The first statewide polls will close in just an hour from now, just about 55 minutes.
Both the Republicans and Democrats have deployed huge armies of attorneys and poll watchers to challenge any voting irregularities.
We have three reports tonight from those following the secretaries of state in key swing states. Our reporters led off by Dan Lothian in Columbus, Ohio, Deborah Feyerick in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, David Mattingly in Tallahassee, Florida.
Dan Lothian in Ohio -- Dan.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Hello, Lou.
Well, you know, it rained pretty much all day, but that, apparently, did not impact the voter turnout. The secretary of state's office here projecting voter turnout of about 73 percent. That is not a record, but, yet, it is very heavy.
We did see a lot of voters standing in long lines at polling places across the state. Some were complaining that there were not enough voting machines inside of those polling places in the urban areas as opposed to the suburban areas. That, of course, could not be verified.
We also heard from some voters who said that they had to stand in line for more than three hours.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: What's the wait been like?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About a three-hour wait. It's been worth it, though, you know. Moving pretty quick. You know, people are getting in and out, you know, so it's not too bad.
LOTHIAN: What's the mood here? Are people getting frustrated or not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, just waiting, taking their time, you know, and casting their ballot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: Now, on the legal front, of course, the biggest event that occurred overnight was when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, in fact, those challengers, which Republicans wanted, would be allowed inside of polling places. Republicans feeling that this was the way to go after voter fraud. Democrats concerned that this would just lead to voter intimidation.
Of course, the Republicans got to win in this particular case. The court saying, in part, that "there's strong public interest in permitting legitimate statutory process to operate to preclude voting by those who are not entitled to vote."
One other legal issue also that occurred today: An Ohio woman, who said she did not receive her absentee ballot, tried to use a provisional ballot but was turned away saying that the state law did not allow for that. So she filed a lawsuit, and her wish was granted. So that means that anyone else who was in her similar situation could also use that provisional ballot.
Back to you.
DOBBS: Dan Lothian.
There have been reports of some voting problems in the State of Pennsylvania. Deborah Feyerick reports now from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania -- Deborah.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the biggest problem really had to do with provisional ballots. Many of the counties simply did not print enough, and so the chief of elections here in Harrisburg about midday sent word that they could Xerox these forms and people could fill them in. This way, nobody would be turned away.
Of course, it's unclear just how many of them will ultimately count. All of the provisional ballots will have to be checked at the end of the day.
Now another problem also involves absentee ballots, specifically in Philadelphia. Republicans in court there. They're asking a judge for more time to be able to review and also challenge anyone who may have put their name down for an absentee ballot improperly.
Now voter turnout was extremely high across the state, and there's expected to be a big surge between now and 8:00 when the polls close.
But all those threats, all those scares about potential challenges of first-time voters never really materialized. There were a couple of scattered problems.
For example, in Mercer County, a couple of machines broke down. Everybody had to vote on paper.
In Philadelphia, Republicans threatened to impound four machines which they said had illegal votes on them. The district attorney came in and debunked that.
But really here in Philadelphia -- I'm sorry. Here in Pennsylvania, anyway, a lot of state officials, a lot of lawyers who were ready to mount whatever challenges they needed to spent a lot of time chasing down and then debunking about nine out of every 10 rumors -- Lou.
DOBBS: Wouldn't it be fun to disappoint all of those attorneys all around the country today?
Deborah, thank you very much.
In the State of Florida, Secretary of State Glenda Hood has just said there have been only isolated voting problems in her state. Florida, the center of the 2000 Election fiasco, and great anticipation about this day's flow of process in the voting of millions of Floridians.
David Mattingly reports now from Tallahassee, Florida -- David.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Election Day in Florida started with a very familiar sight, one of people standing in line at the polling places, and all indications are the turnout has been heavy and sustained all day long throughout the Sunshine State.
Ten-point-three million people are registered to vote here. That's a record. Election officials are expecting a record turnout. In fact, election officials here in the Tallahassee area, just for the Tallahassee area, are predicting a turnout today of 80 percent, and, unlike four years ago, state officials are reporting only occasional problems. This confirmed by both the Bush and Kerry campaigns. And Secretary of State Glenda Hood says these problems were dealt with quickly and by local authorities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENDA HOOD, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: We have had some isolated incidents reported of double voting where there's been some confusion as it relates to early voting and going to the polling place today. I can assure you that this has been immediately dealt with by our supervisors of elections.
If there is an instance of that, it is being reported to local law enforcement. It is a felony to double vote, and people will be prosecuted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: A hot line was set up by the secretary of state's office for voters who might be having problems. We went into that office today to get pictures, and we found out the biggest questions coming in today: Am I eligible to vote? and Where do I vote?
We were told by both the Bush and Kerry campaigns that very few voters were challenged when they went to the polls today, so we are expecting to see relatively few provisional votes cast here in the State of Florida.
Right now, in the waning hours of this campaign, it's all coming down to the ground game, everyone trying to get every last voter to the polls before the polls close tonight.
The secretary of state says she expects to be here very late tonight counting these votes, but, she says, she expects to have a very clear winner when those votes are counted -- Lou.
DOBBS: David, thank you. Wouldn't it be nice if we've all remembered that voting and elections don't have to be as difficult as we made it all back in 2000?
We've reported here extensively on the issue of trade and the outsourcing of American jobs to cheap overseas labor markets. Both President Bush and Senator Kerry agree that trade is certainly good for the country. But there are major differences between the two candidates on the issue. Few, though, they may be.
Bill Tucker reports -- Bill.
BILL TUCKER, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, bottom line comes down to this: that no matter who wins the election, America still will be deeply in debt to its overseas trading partners.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TUCKER (voice-over): America's exporting its economy at breakneck speed. We're on pace to log a record current account deficit this year of more than $600 billion.
President Bush believes that deficit is a sign of our economic strength and that trade is good for the economy. He wants more trade agreements along the lines of NAFTA.
Senator Kerry agrees trade is good, but, before negotiating further agreements, he would review the ones we have to see if they're being lived it up by our trading partners.
Neither candidate has a plan for rebalancing trade.
ALAN TONELSON, U.S. BUSINESS & INDUSTRY COUNCIL: It seems quite clear that both candidates have followed the globalization and free trade line of big multinational companies and big finance, meaning Wall Street.
TUCKER: And there is little disagreement between the two over the exporting of American jobs overseas to our trading partners, even though Kerry has hammered Bush on the loss of jobs during his administration.
TUCKER: It comes down to this: The president has called outsourcing a good thing, and Kerry says it disturbs him, but then concedes, Lou, that there's little that can be done about it.
DOBBS: Well, maybe he'll get a few suggestions along the way if he wants some thoughts on it.
Thanks a lot.
We've got a book for him to read if he'd like to.
DOBBS: Bill Tucker.
Joining me now, advisers to both the Bush and Kerry campaigns. Here in New York, I'm joined by Ron Christie. He was until recently a special assistant to President Bush.
Good to have you with us, Ron.
In Boston tonight, Gene Sperling, economic adviser to Senator Kerry.
Gene, good to have you with us.
Gene also served under President Clinton as national economic adviser.
Let me begin first with you, Ron. The issues here of the economy -- the administration has argued throughout that this economy is strong and robust. Do you think that the voters are agreeing?
RON CHRISTIE, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BUSH: I think the voters are seeing that the policies that President Bush has put in effect after the 2000 -- September 2001 disaster are really making a strong difference.
I'm talking about reducing tax burdens on Americans, four times in American society, and making sure Americans have more disposable income to spend. I think that's really made a strong difference.
But, on the other hand, there's no question that we've lost a million jobs right after 9/11, in the first three months after 9/11, but I think those tax cuts have really taken a strong measure to revitalize the American economy.
DOBBS: And, Gene, the issue of outsourcing -- Bill Tucker was talking about Senator Kerry has suggested there's not much that can be done about it. Is there a real difference between Senator Kerry and President Bush on the issue of what I have referred to here as just free trade at any cost.
GENE SPERLING, KERRY ECONOMIC ADVISER: Well, there's a dramatic difference in their policy towards jobs, Lou. This administration -- I mean, if you listen to them, they spend most of their answers talking about excuses in 2001.
You wouldn't know that you have a president who's been there four years with a Republican Congress who could have put a focus on creating incentives for job creation here and eliminating the incentives for moving jobs overseas.
He could have done more to enforce our trade agreement to make clear to China that it was not OK to manipulate currency and give our trading partners an unfair competitive advantage. It is absolutely the case that Senator Kerry does believe we have to engage in the global economy, but it doesn't mean we're helpless.
There are things we could be doing that President Bush has failed to do. We could be lowering our health-care costs. We could be having universal broadband. We could be increasing instead of politicizing our investment in technology.
This president actually cut manufacturing assistance during a time when we were losing 2.7 million jobs and brought less trade enforcement measures than President Clinton did, significantly so.
So there is a very strong difference in their focus on jobs and competitiveness. Senator Kerry is putting that front and center.
SPERLING: President Bush has put... (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DOBBS: I think Ron wants to get a word in edgewise here, Gene, if I can interrupt.
SPERLING: ... as their top priority.
CHRISTIE: Hey, you know, Gene, it's almost like you didn't hear a word I said. As I was just saying to Lou a few moments ago, the tax cuts have really helped to stimulate the American economy.
The president has made sure through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, for one thing, that those workers who were displaced by foreign competitiveness -- that those workers who have been displaced that they have the opportunity to be retrained and to get different skill sets to make their selves as competitive in the market as possible.
But to go back to what Gene just said a second ago, Lou, that I just absolutely disagree with -- this president presided over 9/11. Whether Gene likes to admit it or not, 9/11 had a dramatic impact on our economy here, a dramatic impact on our products and our services, and, given that, given that we inherited a recession from the previous administration, I think the president's measures have stimulated the economy and have helped bring it back to a stronger recovery.
DOBBS: Gene, your thoughts on that?
SPERLING: Well, this is the excuse presidency. It's "The-dog- ate-my-homework" presidency. I will grant...
SPERLING: ... that those would be legitimate things. I would grant that those would be legitimate things to talk about if it was January 2002, but they're in their fourth year. They've had an all- Republican Congress.
Lou, the president's own Council of Economic Advisers projected that we'd be seven million jobs ahead of where we are now. We have a seven million job deficit even if you don't count anything negative that happened in 2001.
This president missed opportunities to take on health-care costs, technology. He missed the chance to do more to get tax cuts that create jobs here, new jobs tax credits, and not protecting tax incentives that moved jobs overseas, which he stood by and even expanded in the most recent corporate tax bill.
DOBBS: Ron, you get the last word on it.
CHRISTIE: Lou, excuses, excuses, excuses. I would say that the president had a very pro-growth economic package, and it's just disappointing that rather than running on a strong economic record and rather than having an agenda, the Kerry campaign continues to attack as opposed to focusing on what the Bush administration has accomplished for the American people, both reducing health-care costs and reducing the tax burden on American society.
DOBBS: Ron Christie, Gene Sperling, we thank you both, and good luck to both your candidates.
Still ahead here tonight, the first statewide polls close in just about 40 minutes. CNN will have, of course, the very latest results for you just as they come in. We'll have a live report from Wolf Blitzer on what we can all expect and what this coverage at the world's greatest news network will look like throughout the evening.
Election 2004 has already made its way into the courts in a few of the key swing states across the country. We'll report on that. There's a great deal more still ahead.
And right now, right this very moment, you're looking at live pictures of voters in Henderson, Nevada.
CNN special election night coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern live from New York City. Trust CNN to track your votes, the exit polls, the swing states, any voting irregularities -- we hope there will be few -- and legal challenges -- we know there will be some.
Stay with us as we continue.
DOBBS: Well, you'll be pleased to know that dozens of foreign observers are in this country monitoring our election in the world's biggest and best democracy. But some key states have turned them away.
Kitty Pilgrim joins me now with the story.
Kitty, who's turning them away?
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Lou, international monitors were invited in by the State Department, but that was not an entrance ticket into every state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You punch holes.
PILGRIM (voice-over): America's polling places are under international watch. The OSCE, a Vienna-based election monitoring group, has sent 87 observers to 10 states, plus Washington, D.C. The largest teams are in Ohio, Florida and Maryland.
The National Association of Secretaries of State have not endorsed the monitors. It's a state-by-state decision whether or not they can observe. Some states, such as Colorado, refused to have them. International observers say they are particularly focused on the touch-screen voting systems and are scrutinizing the election for any irregularities.
KONRAD OLSZEWSKI, OSCE ELECTION OBSERVER: I suppose the key issue will be whether the parties of election administration is able to conduct an election in a nonpartisan way.
PILGRIM: Some voters take the "it-can't-hurt" approach to the observers. Election officials in Miami-Dade County, Florida, have let them in.
SETH KAPLAN, MIAMI-DADE ELECTIONS: If you're doing the right thing, you really don't mind who's watching, and that's the way we feel. We're very proud of the process that we have here.
PILGRIM: Others find it a troubling sign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's kind of disturbing because it kind of shows how bad it went the last time here in Florida.
PILGRIM: Now the OSCE says they will have preliminary results in a week and will come out with a full report in a month, but some feel that is tantamount to passing judgment on one of the best electoral systems and one of the oldest democracies in the modern world -- Lou.
DOBBS: Let's show them. What do you think?
PILGRIM: I think we could show them.
DOBBS: Kitty, thanks. It looks like we're off to a very good start.
As part of our election coverage tonight, there's a clock, as you may have noticed, in the lower left corner of your screen. It's counting down to the time that polls close in the first six states.
Some polls in those states may close a little earlier. In fact, some certainly do. But CNN will not begin to report the results until all of the polls in any given state have closed.
As of 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time -- that about 35 minutes from now -- all of the polls will be closed in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. At that time, CNN will begin to bring you the very first results from this 2004 presidential election.
Throughout the night, we'll be counting you down to the time the next polls close until all of the votes are in, and, therefore, I have explained, I hope adequately, that little clock in the left-hand corner.
Wolf Blitzer will be leading our coverage -- our extensive election night coverage from the NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square right here in New York City, and he joins me now with more of what's ahead -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: One of the reasons, Lou, why some of the people in certain states, like Florida, for example, or Indiana, might be confused about when we will start projecting results is we're going to wait in those states that have -- that are -- span two time zones.
Florida, for example, has part of it in the Eastern Time Zone, but out in the West, Florida Panhandle, Pensacola, for example, they're in the Central Time Zone.
We're going to wait until all of the polling booths in Florida or Indiana or any other state that spans different time zones are closed before we go ahead and project results. We don't want people on the western part of the state to be forlorn, if you will, if their candidate is not shown to be winning.
We made that mistake, remember, four years ago, and, this time around, we have made the decision that we'll wait for every single precinct to shut down in a state before we go ahead and project any winners.
DOBBS: Well, Wolf, I do recall dimly 2000, and I also know that, with your guidance, we will be absolutely perfect tonight, avoiding any -- even a suggestion of 2000. We're all about 2004 here at CNN right, partner?
BLITZER: We're so cautious this time. I don't think just CNN, but I think all of the major television news organizations, the Associated Press. We're going to err on the side of caution. There's no rush to judgment.
And, if necessary, what we're going to do, Lou, is we're going to wait and do it the old-fashioned way, wait until all the precincts, 100 percent of them, have reported in, and then we'll be able to presumably report a winner.
But even then, there might be absentee ballots, military ballots, these provisional ballots that are now out there. So this could take a while.
DOBBS: It could take a while, and that's why we're glad we've got you in the lead anchor chair. Wolf, we look forward to it. Thank you. We'll be talking here again soon.
DOBBS: I'm joined now once again by a former adviser to four presidents, David Gergen.
David, all of the buildup to this with the caveat again that it is early, it appears this election, despite extraordinarily heavy turnout, is going very smoothly.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Very encouraging, isn't it? DOBBS: It is.
GERGEN: And I might say, you know, on your conversation with Wolf, you know, if voters can stand in line for two or three hours to vote, we can wait 20 or 30 minutes to report the results.
DOBBS: Absolutely. You know, this mad rush that all of us in television news got into -- it blew up in our faces in 2000. It could have blown up much sooner than that, as you well know.
GERGEN: I do agree, and I have to tell you, you know, we also had a fear about this locust of lawyers going out into the states, they're going to be checking up everything.
It may be that we'll look back in retrospect and say the prospect of all those lawyers forced a lot of communities to say let's make sure this runs well, let's make sure this doesn't run with a lot of hitches, no more Floridas.
No one wanted to be the Florida this time around, and that's a good thing. I...
DOBBS: Including Florida.
GERGEN: Including Florida!
DOBBS: Most especially Florida.
GERGEN: You know, I was thinking -- but, you know, there's a lot in Lou Gerstner's book about, you know, who says elephants can't dance.
GERGEN: He was talking about leadership, and he said...
DOBBS: Lou Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM.
GERGEN: Right. And when he was at IBM at the turnaround of IBM, he made the argument that he found that in turning a company around, the word "inspect" often made more sense than the word "respect."
And the notion that people are going to be there often encourages people, you know, we're going to bring this up to snuff, we're going to bring it up to standards. Really encouraging about this voting.
DOBBS: Our national pride may be offended by the folks from the OSCE coming in to watch our ballots or whatever, but it's like the fellow in Florida said. It's real simple. If you haven't got a problem and you're not doing anything wrong, who cares who's watching?
GERGEN: You want to be the shining city on the hill that Reagan used to talk about it? Let your light shine.
DOBBS: David, thanks a lot.
GERGEN: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: We're going to be talking about a host of other issues coming up.
Kitty Pilgrim, thank you again.
Still ahead here, they're lined up by the thousands, attorneys from both sides. They're battling -- or at least prepared to battle -- over this election. It looks like we all may just disappoint them a bit.
We'll take a closer look at the lawsuits, however, that have been filed and are underway and just who they will effect. And later, the presidential candidates have returned home.
We'll check in with the Bush and Kerry campaigns as they await the results of this presidential election 2004.
And you're watching live pictures now right there of voters at the polls -- it doesn't look too busy, but I'll bet they soon will be. It's early in the day in Seattle, Washington.
CNN special election night coverage begins 7:00 p.m. Eastern live from New York, coming up in just about a half-hour. And, remember, trust CNN to track all of the votes, the exit polls, the swing states, any voting irregularities or legal challenges, and everything else as well.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Well, in 2000, the presidential election came to an end With a five-to-four Supreme Court ruling. This presidential race could also end up before the high court. We desperately hope not. And it doesn't look like it will. But we do raise the possibility.
Lisa Sylvester is here now with more on the litigation that has shown up in this election. Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, in the last couple of hours, we've seen a flurry of 11th-hour court decisions. Republicans were challenging some 30,000 registered voters on the grounds that their current address did not match the address on their registration cards.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): The courts considered whether challengers could be at the polling places in Ohio and also whether Republicans could use their list of disputed voters. U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, hours before the polls opened, rule that the GOP challengers could be at the precincts, but a separate ruling has kept the Republicans from using their list.
A lawsuit in Pennsylvania would force the state to accept absentee ballots up until 30 days after the election. In Iowa, Republicans are fighting a decision by the secretary of state that allows provisional ballots to be accepted even if voters are at the wrong precincts.
Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court could play another decisive role.
PROF. ROY SCHOTLAND, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Let's say, as in 2000, that the electoral vote turns on a dispute in one very close case -- state. Then, we're back at the races.
SYLVESTER: And Democrats have filed a lawsuit in South Dakota accusing the GOP of intimidating Native American voters. Meanwhile, Republicans in Pennsylvania are talking about possibly filing a lawsuit to impound four to seven voting machines that they say were not calibrated correctly.
So a number of these isolated, scattered cases throughout the country.
DOBBS: Isolated, scattered, and again, that's a Senator Daschle lawsuit in South Dakota where he's locked up in that very tight race with the Republican, Thune. Lisa, thank you very much.
SYLVESTER: Thank you.
DOBBS: We appreciate it. Lisa Sylvester.
The first polls closing in just about a little under a half-hour from now.
Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is already taking a look at some of the interesting responses from early exit polls and joins us now from the Nasdaq Market Site in Times Square, where he will be posted throughout this exciting evening. Bill?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Lou, we have partial exit poll results based on interviews with some of those early voters. These results could change a bit as we continue interviewing, but they give us some insights into what the voters are thinking.
For one thing, Bush and Kerry voters turn out to have totally different agendas. Here's what Kerry voters said today when we asked them to pick the issues that were most important to them. The top issue was the economy and jobs to Kerry voters, followed by Iraq and health care.
Bush voters, however, had a totally different issue agenda. Moral values and terrorism topped the list for Bush voters. Only 5 percent of the Kerry voters even cited terrorism as one of their major concerns.
Now, Bush and Kerry voters were sharply split over the state of the nation's economy. Over 80 percent of Bush voters tell us the nation's economy, in their view, is in pretty good shape. Nearly 90 percent of Kerry voters think the economy is not good.
Now, here's one reason why. Forty-five percent of Kerry voters report that somebody in their household has lost a job in the last four years. That's almost half of them. Among Bush voters, the figure is just 22 percent.
But one issue divided the voters even more than the economy did, and that was Iraq. More than 80 percent of Kerry voters are telling us that they disapprove of the decision for the United States to go to war. Almost 90 percent of Bush voters approve of going to war in Iraq.
And, Lou, finally, it looks like those predictions of high voter turnout may be on target. One in seven voters today said they did not vote in the 2000 presidential election. And that suggests a lot of new voters, Lou.
DOBBS: And a lot of interest, a lot of participation, Bill.
David Gergen is here with me. And I want you to join me in here (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with your thoughts on this. But I want to ask both you, Bill, and you, David, the fact that that split -- I find that fascinating -- that split on those in a household who have lost a job breaking that decisively for Senator Kerry versus President Bush. What do you make of that, David?
GERGEN: Well, I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what Bill's report overall is that we came on the brink of this election. We thought terrorism, then Iraq, then the economy were the most important issues in the public's mind. And now, we find a lot of voters are voting -- Bill Schneider is telling us -- based on economic concerns.
A, that's a reversal where we thought it means, and it also, that's good news for Kerry. Two things are good news for Kerry in the report, people voting on the economy, not on the terrorism, because that's where his strength is, and secondly, it's so many new voters, because new voters tend to vote for the challenger.
DOBBS: And Bill, this idea, we're basically seeing the polling talking about the issues of most importance to voters sort of turned on its head in these results, at least the early results that you have there.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, the issues of concern to the voters weren't always the issues stressed by the press. One of the striking results is that in 2000, 85 percent of the voters thought the economy was in good shape. You know what the figure is now? Forty-four. That's really having an impact.
DOBBS: Wow. OK, Bill Schneider, thank you very much for that analysis. Bill will be here on CNN throughout the evening, and he, Wolf and the entire CNN election team. And David Gergen, we thank you, as always, for your insight and analysis. I'm going to turn now to two other very important talents, the co-hosts of "CROSSFIRE." On the left, of course, James Carville, also known as the Ragin' Cajun, and on the right, Bob Novak, who's known by a number of names, but we'll just call him associate, colleague, and friend. Good to have you both with us.
JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Thank you.
DOBBS: Bob, what do you make of those early results, exit polls that Bill Schneider was just talking about, the way it's breaking in terms of employment, and that heavy turnout?
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I don't think that's very surprising. I think that the people who are hurting, who don't think the economy is doing well, are turning to Senator Kerry, and the people who really do think we are in a war against terrorism are sticking with President Bush. I think we're really -- we're really waiting for two big states, Ohio and Florida...
DOBBS: Oh, yes.
NOVAK: ... where both of them, maybe the economy is a little more important in Ohio, terrorism more important in Florida. And I think those states, how they come out, may well determine who the next president of the United States is.
DOBBS: And James Carville, the same question. You're not in any way surprised by those early exit polls and what they're suggesting about the turnout, the heavy turnout, and the way in which it's breaking, and, of course, the importance of economic issues?
CARVILLE: Yes, well, I mean, I'm, no, I'm not surprised at the turnout. I mean, it was widely predicted, almost, I would say, widely assumed that there would be a heavy turnout. Going to be interested to see what the figure is, if this translates into 115 or 120 million voters. I think people are looking at the top number.
CARVILLE: I'm not surprised either that people who've lost their jobs are more inclined to vote for Kerry. I mean, they tend to be a little more downscale. The Bush voters are probably a little bit up the economic ladder, so probably less affected by what happens in the economy.
And Bush has made terrorism such an issue that if you're voting for him, I think you want to identify with him on that issue.
But I don't -- I've always viewed the job of president of the United States as being able to do both. I mean, they got a lot of staff and a lot of airplanes and should be able to do the economy and fight terrorism at the same time.
DOBBS: Well, let me ask you, I mean, actually, it was the inverse, a lot of assumptions, certainly, leading up to this point had been that Bush had picked up a lot of support among the lesser- educated voter, voters, and Senator Kerry had picked up a lot of support among the higher-educated voters and the more affluent voters who were precisely the ones that he said he's going to tax. What do you all make of that?
NOVAK: I think that's an illusion. I think the Kerry support among the higher-educated voters is a small fringe of people in the academic world, in the arts...
NOVAK: ... in communications. But most of the people making a lot of money are going to vote for Bush, while, on the other hand, I think that the lower-income voters are going to vote for Senator Kerry. I just -- I don't think there's any doubt on that. And that is -- really gets down to, Lou...
DOBBS: You're (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
NOVAK: ... the question of people who think that they really need the government to help them through, and people who think that the government should get out of the way. That's been a debate going on in America for a couple hundred years, I would say.
DOBBS: I want to give James Carville the last word here, Bob. Thank you, because he's always so reticent. James, you have the last word.
CARVILLE: Well, you know, I think we could, you know what? Not much can be said now. We're going to know what this thing is going to be in a couple or three hours, or we'll know if it's going to be so close all night. I'm not surprised. You have people, there are a lot of people out there who look to Social Security, look to Medicare, look to student loans, look to these types of things as things that protect them and things that give them opportunity.
And I think it's perfectly legitimate issue, and I think a lot of these people are voting for Senator Kerry. But I think they -- I think we'll know here pretty soon, and spin's done.
DOBBS: You got it. Thank you very much, James Carville. And I know that hurts when you can't spin.
CARVILLE: That's it, man.
DOBBS: Bob Novak, thank you both so much.
NOVAK: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: We'll be looking forward to your thoughts throughout the evening here on CNN and our 2004 election coverage.
Still ahead, President Bush making a final campaign stop in what could be the most important state in this election, while Senator Kerry spent the final morning of this campaign in battleground Wisconsin. We'll have live reports from both campaigns. Three of the country's top political journalists join me next. And stay with us throughout the evening here. Our special election night coverage begins in just a few moments, Wolf Blitzer leading the way.
DOBBS: President Bush and his family tonight awaiting the results of this election at the White House. Senior White House correspondent John King is there and has the latest for us.
John, what can you tell us about the mood at the Bush-Cheney campaign?
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, a mood of anticipation, Lou, I wouldn't say nervousness. These are veterans, of course, of the 2000 campaign. They say, Let's wait, let's not discuss anecdotes about turnout, let's not even discuss the early exit poll information out there. Let's let them count the votes.
I just spoke to Karl Rove, this president's top political adviser. He is well aware that the Kerry campaign is saying turnup is up and that benefits them. Karl Rove saying, Not so fast, let's count the votes in the hours ahead. He says they have the most ambitious 72-hour volunteer effort to turn out the vote in history, and Karl Rove telling me just moments ago they surpassed every single goal in the past 72 hours, including voter contact.
As for the president, he is here in the White House, he worked out earlier today. Aides say he's content with the campaign he ran, win or lose. But he expects to win.
A little bit of irony, Lou, 16 years ago on election night, George W. Bush, the son, comforting his father. They knew then that George Herbert Walker Bush was going to lose that election. The former President Bush and Barbara Bush among those here at the White House tonight to have some time with now-President Bush as he awaits the results, Lou.
DOBBS: John, thank you very much. John King from the White House.
John Kerry is back at home in Boston. In the event of a win, the Kerry team is planning a victory party in Copley Square in downtown Boston.
Candy Crowley is there and has the latest for us. Candy, what's the mood in Boston?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, if busy can be a mood, that's kind of where they are right now. The candidate spent most of the time today after he left Wisconsin sitting doing satellite interviews. I mean, they're still in this game. And what they're doing is, when their ground game coordinator thinks that maybe in precincts where they might not be getting as many voters in that are their voters, they'll say, Well, let's call up station so- and-so and do an interview. And so the candidate's been doing interviews, in Michigan, in Ohio, among others. So he's been doing that. He's now actually back at his residence, having some dinner.
Having said that, they say they remain encouraged. Mostly, they believe that what has been widely reported as high turnout is going to favor John Kerry.
They also say that they are looking at Nevada and Colorado again, at precincts where they believe a heavy vote will help them win the states, and they're beginning to shift resources to those two states, saying, you know, We think, in fact, that we can make a good play there. They, in fact, have sent Wesley Clark, who was in New Mexico. He's gone over to Nevada to see what he can do.
So they're still kind of busy and remaining, as they say, optimistic. But they're still waiting to see the actual tangible votes, Lou.
DOBBS: Candy, thank you very much. Candy Crowley from Boston.
Candy Crowley, and, of course, John King, two of our premier team members on this election 2004 CNN news team that will be bringing the results throughout the evening.
Coming up next, leading political journalists join me. We are minutes away from the closing of the first statewide polls. Wolf Blitzer will join me live at 7:00 p.m. with our special election night coverage. He'll have the projections of the first election results. That coming up next.
DOBBS: Joining me now here in New York, Mark Warren of "Esquire" magazine, Marcus (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Mabry Of "Newsweek" magazine, and, in Boston, Roger Simon of "U.S. News and World Report." Good to have you all with us.
Let me start -- we just heard from the correspondents with the candidates tonight. They seem to be holding up pretty well. Anything you can divine from all of that?
MARK WARREN, "ESQUIRE" MAGAZINE: Their respective behaviors?
WARREN: Well, I mean, I think that the campaigns are putting the best face on the outcome here tonight. We heard earlier, I think, on this network that there's cautious optimism from both sides. I don't know what to make of that. So, no.
DOBBS: How about a close election? Think we can -- do you agree, Marcus?
MARCUS MABRY, "NEWSWEEK" MAGAZINE: I do agree. The problem at this point is, we just don't know, you know, what is spin and what is real. All of us in the press, I think, all day and all night have been divining, kind of, what did Kerry look like in his last appearance, what did the president look like? You know, who looked more dour? But no, we really don't know.
DOBBS: And Roger Simon, in Boston, we've just heard our senior White House correspondent John King report that the Bush-Cheney people are saying that it would be a mistake to assume that this large turnout favored Senator Kerry. What are your thoughts?
SIMON: I don't know what else they could possibly say, Lou. I mean, it is true that certain segments of the population that favor George Bush, evangelical Christians, for instance, a very important component of his electoral base, could be turning out in record numbers, and that could be helping to boost those figures.
But I have to say, with the caveats that you just heard from my two colleagues on the show, there is a quiet confidence here in -- among the Kerry staff. They're not hysterical, but there's a quiet confidence that he is going to pull this thing out.
DOBBS: In what -- in the sense that this is going to be determined by one or two particular influences, Mark, what do you think is most beneficial to the Kerry campaign in this election?
WARREN: Well, Senator Kerry, I think, had -- after he secured the nomination, a fairly -- was running a fairly lackluster campaign until the last month. He's had a spectacular last month, I would say, aided by a cascade of regular bad news for the White House on Iraq. He identified the issue, finally settled on his issue -- his position on the issue and has been delineating it very regularly for the voters.
DOBBS: And President Bush?
MABRY: I think the president's greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. He's been incredibly clear about who he is, about what he wants to do. This is a guy where no one has a doubt about what he stands for. But at the same time, that really does solidify his base in a way that's phenomenal, and probably has not been seen since Ronald Reagan.
But at the same time, he has really angered lots of Americans with the feeling that he's too stubborn, too doctrinaire, and too ideological. And that may be a problem.
DOBBS: And Roger Simon, your best judgment as to the most powerful determinant in this from the standpoint of both candidates?
SIMON: The desire for change, Lou, versus people who are happy and satisfied with the way things are going and want to stay the course with President Bush, versus those who aren't so happy, for economic reasons, for reasons of dislike of the war, and want a change, and are willing to take a risk on someone they may not even know very well, like John Kerry, but are willing to say, We know George Bush well enough, we're going to vote for John Kerry. The thing in George Bush's favor is, he is a incumbent wartime president, and the United States has no record of turning such presidents out of office.
DOBBS: Well, we're going to find out how many Americans are thinking very soon now. Roger Simon, Mark Warren, and Marcus Mabry, we thank you all for being here.
As the first projections of some of the first election results occur, if we choose to make projections, those results are expected in just a few moments. Wolf Blitzer will be joining us in just a moment to lead off CNN's special election night coverage. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The first statewide polls will be closing in just a matter of a few moments. We hand over now to Wolf Blitzer, our leader on this CNN special election night coverage. He's at the Nasdaq Market Site in Times Square, and he will have projections for the first election results in just a few moments.
I'm Lou Dobbs. Thanks for being with us.
Wolf Blitzer, take it away.
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