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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Votes 2004

Aired November 2, 2004 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WOODRUFF: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KING: And the president did go to Jersey?

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

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

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

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

KING: What about the Senate race there?

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

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

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

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

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

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

GREENFIELD: That's right.

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

KING: You got to be there and online.

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

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

BLITZER: That's right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLITZER: Larry, want to talk to Candy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the NASDAQ and Wolf now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLITZER: We're not ashamed to say that.

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

KING: How many incumbent congressmen will we lose tonight?

BROWN: Congressmen? Six, maybe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KING: Does your father expect a long night?

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

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

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

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

KING: Are the Edwards there yet, Vanessa?

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

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

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

KING: How will we know?

KERRY: I'm sorry?

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

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

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

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

KERRY: Thank you for having me on.

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

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

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

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But also the numbers game here. Nine Senate tossups, South Dakota the most significant because Democrats have high hopes of picking up some Republican seats like Colorado. They've already picked up Illinois with Barak Obama. But if they were to lose the Tom Daschle seat, that would obviously be a real hard blow for the Democrats. They are only two seats down. It's 51 to 49 for the Republicans, a two-seat margin. If Democrats pick up some seats but then lose Tom Daschle's seat, that could prevent them from taking back the majority.

A lot at stake here. Both John Kerry and President Bush paying attention to the Senate battle, because whoever wins the White House, they're going to need their party to be controlling the Senate.

BLITZER: We'll be watching South Dakota with you, Ed Henry, in Washington. Thanks very much.

Jeff Greenfield, what we just heard from Judy Woodruff about what's happening in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state, that's pretty fascinating stuff.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Allegheny County, which is the city of Pittsburgh, went solidly for Al Gore four years ago. It also happens to be the home, or was the home of Teresa Heinz Kerry. It is the headquarters of one of her foundations, which has poured tens of millions of dollars into that community.

So anything that keeps the polls open later in an area of core strength, you would kind of conclude would probably be helpful to the Democrats, that is to John Kerry.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What's the key counties in Florida?

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, when you look at Florida, a lot of people focus on Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach.

But I think the really interesting place to look this year is the Northern part, in Duval County where Jacksonville's located. Last time around the president literally won that by 45,000 votes. But about 27,000 votes was thrown out. Many believe those were Democratic, African-American votes. I would keep my eye on that over the night.

If that's a place where the president is doing well, good news for them. If that's a place that's close, 10,000 or 20,000 separating it, suggests good news for John Kerry.

KING: No reports, no major reports, Wolf, of any problems, right, so far?

BLITZER: We did hear -- we did hear Ed Gillespie complain about what he called...

KING: Well...

BLITZER: Right. Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Party. I suspect there are incidents happening around the country that we don't yet know about, but presumably we'll learn about. GREENFIELD: One of the things we're doing here is some very old- fashioned notion called making telephone calls. We've got all these computers. And there are two pieces of information that may be worthwhile.

In Lehigh -- the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, which Gore won by about one percentage point, it is a swing district in a swing state. According to one of the local newspaper reporters there, the Kerry get out the vote operation is massively outperforming the Bush...

BLITZER: Hold on one second. I'm going to interrupt for a second. We have a important projection to make right now.

Let's go to the projection board. The CNN is now ready to project that North Carolina, North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes will go to President Bush. This had been expected, although it was -- some that thought it was in contention. But CNN can now project that North Carolina, the home state of John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, will go to George W. Bush.

Important enough for us -- in fact, let's look at the map right now, where it stands with North Carolina going to George W. Bush, at least our projection. Right now at this point, 102 electoral votes for George W. Bush. Seventy-seven for John Kerry. Two hundred and seventy needed, just to remind our viewers.

The blue states are Kerry states. The red states are Bush states. This state is Maine. We see a little purple there. Four electoral votes. We can only project that three of those electoral votes will be going to John Kerry. One still we don't have enough information to know where that fourth electoral vote will be going.

North Carolina, I guess, it's not much of a surprise, but the Democrats had hoped that maybe they could have caused a surprise there.

GREENFIELD: This -- this is -- from the time that Larry and I were young, many decades ago, when the solid South meant Democratic.

KING: Yes.

GREENFIELD: The South is now virtually -- virtually solidly Republican except when they run a Southerner. The last Northern Democrat to carry a state -- Hubert Humphrey carried one state, Texas, in 1968. John Kennedy got a few. That's it. They have been shut out, the Northern Democrats, from the South for the better part of 44 years. And this is just another example of what's gone on.

WATSON: Well, you know, one interesting thing we talk about Northern Democrats and Southern Democrats, if John Kerry wins tonight, it will upset a whole lot of conventional wisdom.

You know, for the last several decades, we've heard that the only Democrat who can win the presidency is a Southern Democrat. Right? It's got to be Lyndon Johnson. It's got to be Jimmy Carter. It's got to be Bill Clinton. If John Kerry ultimately succeeds and wins tonight, it will be a big piece of conventional wisdom that's gone, along with jettisoning the old map.

And the reason they would have won is winning without strength in the South, gobbling other areas in the Midwest and Southwest.

KING: Does anyone know where four years ago right at this time it stood?

WATSON: Oh, yes.

KING: Was it still like 102 to 77?

GREENFIELD: We called Florida for Gore.

KING: This early?

GREENFIELD: We called Florida for Gore at ten minutes of 8 Eastern Time. That is burned in my memory, and I will never forget it.

WATSON: 10 minutes of 8?

BLITZER: Probably before all the precincts in the western part of Florida had closed, Pensacola, because that's in the Central Time Zone. And as you remember, Larry, we were hammered, because we made a projection, then all the networks made a projection even before all the polls in one state had closed.

KING: And it was that early.

BLITZER: And the fact of the matter is that we promised, and we will not do that again. We will not make a projection in a state where polls are still open.

GREENFIELD: You know when you drive a car into your neighbor's garage, you don't forget that? That was what it felt like. I just remember thinking this is awfully early to call so important a state. But we don't make a mistake like that.

KING: And you wrote a book about it.

BLITZER: You know, Judy Woodruff, I want to bring Judy Woodruff in. She's at the CNN election analysis center, because Judy Woodruff knows a great deal about North Carolina.

I believe you went to school in North Carolina. So you know the place quite well, Judy. Give us your thoughts, if you can, on what this projection that Bush carrying North Carolina means for George W. Bush now.

WOODRUFF: Well, it means, as I think I heard Jeff just saying, because I was distracted here by something going on here at the election analysis center, it means that the Republicans' solid hold on most of -- on that -- the Southern swath of the United States persists.

North Carolina is a state that for many years had -- did have Democratic governors, governors like Jim Hunt, who were re-elected again and again. But in recent years, the Republicans, by virtue of people like Jesse Helms, who was reelected a number of times to the United States Senate, the Republicans have gotten a very strong foothold in that state.

BLITZER: All right. Judy Woodruff, thanks very much.

I want to go up here and bring in Ken Mehlman, the Bush/Cheney campaign manager, who's joining us from Arlington, Virginia. He's got a smile on his face. Is that because of North Carolina, Ken?

KEN MEHLMAN, BUSH/CHENEY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I was happy about North Carolina.

I was enjoying your discussion of when you called Florida four years ago. I remember that well, Wolf. And one of the reasons you called it was because a county that was called a bellwether county was a place called Orange County. It's Orlando. Four years ago we lost it. We got 48 percent of the vote. Right now we're at 55 percent of the vote.

And one of the interesting things, if you look at actual returns in Florida is all along that I-4 corridor, places where last time we lost this time we're winning.

We're also seeing improvements in places where Democrats did better last time, Alachua County, which is Gainesville. Last time we got 39 percent of the vote; this time we're at 48 percent of the vote. If you look at the actual returns, we're in a stronger position in terms of the returns that have come in Florida today than we were four years ago.

BLITZER: What are you seeing in Ohio, for example?

MEHLMAN: Ohio returns are very early. What's interesting so far, what we're seeing again is consistent with the George W. Bush victory in the state.

In Cuyahoga County, which is Cleveland, which is the Democratic stronghold in the state, if you look at numbers in terms of absentee ballots that came in early this time, the Democrat numbers and the Republican numbers are almost exactly the same as the last time.

You also see a very strong Republican turnout in the southwest part of the state and a lot of the rural parts of the state and a lot of the other counties. When I look at the results of both Florida and of Ohio, I feel very good about what's going to happen tonight.

BLITZER: What about Pennsylvania?

MEHLMAN: Pennsylvania, obviously, is going to be a state that we always said we thought was going to be a close state and a tough state. We have a great organization in that state.

We have Lancaster County. Lancaster County is the No. 1 Republican vote producing place in the state in what's called the T, the central part of the state. And we're blowing off the doors of our numbers. We have an incredible organization there and great turnout, as well.

BLITZER: Were you disappointed -- did you ever expect that New Jersey would go for President Bush?

MEHLMAN: Well, we certainly hoped so. As you know, there were a lot of different polls that came out in New Jersey. Obviously, the other side felt so too since Senator Edwards visited there a number of times.

But look, we've got a great organization in New Jersey. The folks that work there that feel great about the effort they put in. And we're real proud of them.

KING: Since everything is great, Ken, are you forecasting a victory?

MEHLMAN: I am forecasting a victory, absolutely.

BLITZER: You want to tell us how many electoral votes you're going to get?

MEHLMAN: The number I give you is called four more years. I'm not forecasting electoral numbers, but I do think, based on what we have seen so far, we're going to win Ohio.

We're going to win Florida, and then some of those states that Al Gore won last time that -- in fact in the 2000 campaign, the Democrats have won three times in a row, states like Wisconsin, states like Iowa. Those are states I think we're in a strong position. I think we're in a strong position in New Mexico. I think we're in a strong position in a number of the states out west.

So we look forward to what we think is going to be a very good night. But if you look at the results from Florida, what you see is the Democrats' fortress areas are now swing, and some of swing areas were actually winning and doing very well.

KING: So you're not worried about anything now?

MEHLMAN: Well, obviously, we think this is going to be a very close election. We've always felt that. We planned for it. We expected the night to be like this.

My point is that this big grassroots organization that occurred, particularly in places like Florida and Ohio, are now producing. When you look at the fact that we're right now winning Orange County; we're right now winning Pasco County, places that we lost four years ago.

But because of this grassroots organization, because of all these people making the calls and knocking on the doors, we're doing well right now.

BLITZER: All right. Ken Mehlman, joining us from Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., at Bush/Cheney campaign headquarters. He's the campaign manager.

Less than 12 minutes before the top of the hour. We'll be making some more projections at the top of the hour.

Anderson Cooper is joining us. He's following the Senate races. And you've got some projections, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Wolf, we have a number of projections we can make at this point. Let's look at the board here.

In Oklahoma, most notably, Dr. Tom Coburn is the projected winner in the state of Oklahoma. This a very closely watched race against Representative Brad Carson. Tom Coburn had been a representative two terms. He fulfilled his pledge to resign after -- after two terms serving his term limits.

Brad Carson had run against him, run a very tight campaign, very contentious at times, saying that Dr. Tom Coburn was too conservative for the state of Oklahoma, a very conservative state. Voters clearly not buying that line. They have, we can now project, elected Dr. Tom Coburn to the Senate from Oklahoma.

A number of other projections we can give to you now. None of them really big surprises.

Of course, in Missouri, Kit Bond. In New Hampshire, Judd Gregg. We have, of course, George Voinovich in Ohio. Barbara Mikulski in the state of Maryland, a very liberal Democratic Senator in Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln. That is, of course, a Democrat seat.

In Connecticut, powerhouse Democrat, powerhouse Christopher Dodd remains in his seat. And, of course, Richard Shelby remains in Alabama.

None of these really big surprises. These seats really expected to go this way. So it's not a big surprise. We're still watching that balance of power in the Senate very closely, though.

Democrats need to pick up two seats if George Bush is elected president. Need to pick up one seat to regain control of the Senate. At this point we have no change. Barak Obama in Illinois picked up a seat, but Johnny Isakson, a Republican, picked up Zell Miller's old seat. So at this point, there's no change in the balance of power in the Senate.

Also one governor projection we can make here. Mitch Daniels the winner in Indiana. This is a change. Joe Kernan had been the Democratic governor in this state. But Mitch Daniels running a very effective campaign over the last 16 months or so, really going all around to every small town in the state, making it a very long campaign and one that has paid off for him in Indiana -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll be watching all those races with Anderson Cooper. Thanks very much. Only less than ten minutes until 15 states plus the District of Columbia close their balloting. We'll take a quick break. Much more coverage from CNN election headquarters in Times Square when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Just before 9 p.m., actually. We have about seven minutes, less than seven minutes before 9 p.m. 15 states closing at the top of the hour. Plus the District of Columbia. We'll be able to make some projections coming up at the top of the hour.

In the meantime, let's go over to CNN's Paula Zahn. She's over at the Time Warner Center with the "CROSSFIRE" guys -- Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST, "PAULA ZAHN NOW": Thanks, Wolf.

We've been talking an awful lot here about the importance of winning, we think, two of three states, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida to become president. Hundreds of ways I guess you could call it together otherwise.

But I guess I have been struck by what we've just heard of Bush campaign operative Ken Mehlman said when he came out and predicted that the Bush campaign would take Ohio, which is contrary to what you're learning from your contacts in the field.

How does it look in Ohio from those folks?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I think it's an uphill climb in Ohio. It hasn't been lost yet. But I think the Republicans have got to count on possibly losing Ohio.

If they do, of course they have to win Florida. I think they're looking pretty good in Florida.

And then two states that are not on many people's radar screen, Wisconsin and Iowa, become crucial. And they're going to be very, very close, and we're going to be worrying perhaps on who's the next president of the United States on who wins Wisconsin and Iowa. Usually, we think of those as primary -- Democratic primary states.

ZAHN: Sure. Let's -- let's come back to the issue of what it's like at this stage of the night, when you're running a campaign and you've got to face the public. You've got your own internal exit polling going.

How many times did you lie when you were working for the Clinton campaign about a state that you know is not going to go for you? You know, we don't know that about Ohio yet, but...

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": But I have to spin. And my heart went out to Ken Mehlman, who's a decent guy, and an able operative. Because every state that they asked him about he said, "We have a good organization there, and we've got fine people." You know, first off, they do have good people working for them. But more importantly all across the country there are other Republicans still running where the polls are still open who are going to worry if the Bush campaign manager says, "Gee, you know what? Pennsylvania doesn't look like it's going our way," and it doesn't.

But if he were to say that -- you can't commit the sin of full candor. I don't think he lied. But that's what spin is. It's trying to sort of martial your arguments and put them in a light most favorable to your client. And I think Ken did a pretty good job of it. I mean, it's a mixed night for Ken so far. But I think he tried to do his best.

ZAHN: We're still trying to get a better understanding of turnout tonight. And I know the thing that's really ticking Tucker off at this point is because of the incredible lines in Pennsylvania, at least in one polling place, they're going extend the voting hours. And you think that's a disgrace.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": For an hour and a half. Well, I mean, no -- I think, you know, if there's a line out front...

ZAHN: Why is that such a big deal.

CARLSON: ... you ought to let people vote. But you know, I think people can show up at the polls on time. That's, you know, not too much to ask.

I think the outrage, however, is Florida where apparently, the Miami-Dade board of electors has called the Republican National Committee or their lawyers and said, "Look, we may not be able to count the absentee ballots fully until Thursday." That's just -- I mean, that's just third world.

I mean, look, for four years the country has been focused on voting in Florida. You know the election is coming. Kind of important. Not simply for procedural reasons, not simply for us, you know, watching to find out who wins, but also for people's confidence in the process itself, you know, that the votes can be counted on time accurately. And I think it shakes people's confidence in the process.

BEGALA: I called -- the only two words I need to know about Florida are Nick Boldic (ph). Not a guy most people know. He ran Florida for Al Gore. He's running Florida again for John Kerry.

I think he's greatest hits (ph). And I called him a moment ago. He said no, they're going to count the absentee votes tonight, that there is some sense that maybe some people are dragging their feet about releasing them. But they were all counted in 2000 when -- when it was too close to call.

CARLSON: Even if there -- even if there's a question right now on election night itself, I think shakes people's confidence. And that's that you don't want to do. You want people to believe when they cast a ballot, it will be counted.

NOVAK: Paula, can I -- can I raise one surprise or one mild surprise?

ZAHN: Sure.

NOVAK: My sources, my Republican sources tell me they think that Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky is gone, that he is -- he's going to lose. He ran a very bad campaign. He was erratic.

Jim Bunning was a Hall of Fame baseball pitcher for the Phillies. Six months ago he was one of the safest senators in the country. But I am told that there is great pessimism, and that would give the -- the Democrats one more seat up in trying to get the Senate.

But I have to say that Tom Coburn of -- we have called him as winner, Republican, Dr. Tom Coburn in Oklahoma. Talk about mixed emotions. Republicans are glad to have -- keep that seat Republican.

They hate the idea of Tom Coburn in the Senate, because he is a principled conservative. He's against pork barrel spending. He doesn't take orders from the leadership. He is going to give the leadership hell. I just can't wait to see Tom Coburn...

ZAHN: Jim Bunning, though. This shouldn't come as a great surprise when he actually, what, accused his opponent's son of looking like Saddam Hussein.

BEGALA: Looking like Saddam Hussein.

ZAHN: He had to go down with voters out there.

BEGALA: The first thing he did is he ran from a fight. His opponent, Daniel Mongiardo, who is also a medical doctor. So now we're going to have three doctors in the Senate if Bob's sources are right and Bunning loses. And Dan Mongiaro has a great story. And Democrats hope he gets to the Senate, because they believe he can take on Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, a Republican, who is a doctor himself.

ZAHN: James, what is striking you in this stage of the evening?

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Nothing has struck me so far as unusual at this stage of the evening. And I think, look, of course, Kerry has to carry Pennsylvania. And if he doesn't, he's not going to be president.

If he carries Pennsylvania, you know, he needs a split in Ohio and Florida. In all probability, if he wins Ohio, it becomes very difficult for the president.

ZAHN: What are you hearing on the ground from Pennsylvania?

CARVILLE: The people, I could tell by Ken Mehlman that they're very worried about Pennsylvania. You've got to watch. I think they feel better about Florida, less well about Ohio and less well about Pennsylvania. I mean, even through the spin you could hear what the guy was saying.

NOVAK: But, James, Wisconsin and Iowa, if -- if those were blue states, if Bush can take those, that compensates for Ohio.

CARVILLE: They do. And New Hampshire -- yes, New Hampshire and Nevada come into play. Right. But it becomes -- the math becomes harder if the president loses Ohio.

ZAHN: All right, gentlemen. That wraps it up for us here at this hour. Let's go back to Wolf now and see you in the next hour.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Paula.

Only a few seconds to go before the top of the hour, 9 p.m. on the East Coast. Fifteen states closing down at the top of the hour. We'll be able to make several projections coming up in only a few seconds. We're going to be watching very, very carefully and see if we can project any of those key battleground states closing at the top of the hour.

We know that we'll be able to project some of the obvious states for Bush or for Kerry.

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