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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
America Votes 2004
Aired November 2, 2004 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: 10:00 p.m. on the East Coast and we can project, as expected, no great surprise, Utah and its five electoral votes going for the president of the United States. This has been widely expected.
It doesn't look like we can make any other projections right now in Nevada and Montana and Iowa. We don't have enough information yet to make a projection but let's move on and get a sense of where this stands right now.
Jeff Greenfield, come on up here. We're going to tell our viewers what we know, what we don't know as this dramatic night continues. Let's see if we have a new updated tally on the race for the White House, if we have it. We'll put it up right there. Actually, Jeff, come over here and let's go coast to coast, border to border.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Coast to coast and border to border.
BLITZER: Wall to wall as we say here at the CNN election headquarters and review where it stands right now. Go ahead and let's start with Maine.
GREENFIELD: Maine, we know Kerry has three electoral votes at least. We have not yet figured out whether Maine, which splits its congressional district is going to give one vote to George W. Bush. The way it's going tonight that could be significant.
New Hampshire, a close Bush state four years ago it's very close right now. Whether Ralph Nader will be a figure there, a spoiler there again as he was in 2000 we don't know, the rest of New England looking very good for John Kerry.
BLITZER: All of these blue states, we should remind our viewers the blue states are states that we projected going for John Kerry. The red states, as you'll see, are states we've projected going for George W. Bush.
GREENFIELD: But here are the ones -- one of the ones we're most looking at Pennsylvania. You can look at this margin of 63 to 37 percent and, if you're a Democrat, take heart from it but it doesn't tell you anything about how that state's going to go because, as I said before, we don't know where the votes are coming from.
Virginia has gone for Bush, no surprise, North Carolina. New Jersey, as we mentioned earlier, the Bush people had some hopes there. That went handily for John Kerry.
BLITZER: With 68 percent of the vote in, in New Jersey.
GREENFIELD: Let's come over here, Wolf, to a state that we've talked some about already, Florida. Seventy-seven percent of the vote in and you'll notice that the president has a lead of more than a quarter of a million votes but because we don't know whether south Florida, Broward, Palm Beach, Miami Dade has weighed in, we can't tell how significant that is.
BLITZER: How significant with 77 percent of the precincts reporting is that one percent for Ralph Nader?
GREENFIELD: Well, Ralph Nader is performing sufficiently badly so that he's nowhere near the spread in this. He doesn't look like he -- unless this thing closes up dramatically the way it did in 2000, we can't say whether Ralph Nader's margin would make the difference or not at this point.
BLITZER: Florida, we can't project a winner yet because we don't have enough information but all these other states, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana we have called for the president.
GREENFIELD: But let's come back here. I just have a feeling there may be a -- there may be a bit of drama developing here in the bellwether state that has only missed the presidency once in the last 100 years. As I said, the Kerry campaign said, "No, we don't think we can compete in that state." Now there's only 19 percent of the vote in but that is an awfully tight margin.
BLITZER: Fifty-one, 49 percent, 19 percent of the precincts, almost 20 percent of the precincts reporting. Michigan also very important, so far only five percent of the vote in 55 percent for Bush, 44 percent for Kerry. That could be totally misleading when 100 percent of the precincts have reported.
GREENFIELD: Well, with five -- well, that's right and the same thing is true of Ohio. The same thing is true of many of these states, Wisconsin, same thing, nine percent of the vote in. These states divide depending on where the geographic location so dramatically that that's why we can't say much. If Milwaukee isn't reporting, big Democratic area in Wisconsin then these returns really don't tell you much.
BLITZER: I want to take a quick break from this wall to wall analysis.
Joe Lockhart, a senior adviser to the Kerry campaign, is briefing reporters over at the Kerry-Edwards headquarters. Let's listen in.
JOE LOCKHART, SR. KERRY ADVISER: It's been a long day for him. He's now having dinner with his wife. John Edwards arrived in Boston about 9:30 and I believe he is at the Westin Hotel now having been reunited with his family. That's what I have on what's going on with the candidates. Let me talk a little bit about where we think things are. We are I think in a remarkably strong position as we stand here tonight. We think -- let me try to do this in some semblance of order.
The first state that will flip we believe is New Hampshire. We've had a very aggressive campaign up there, very aggressive ground game and we expect to win that state.
Ohio was a state that stayed close throughout the campaign but we have -- we are very bullish based on the turnout in the state. We have a very positive turnout within, as I was saying earlier, the Democratic precincts, particularly in African American communities.
We had our precincts, the Democratic precincts performing at 115 percent of our expectations and we have the Republican precincts reporting in at 94.3 percent of expectations.
A similar spread exists in the so-called Gore precincts and the Bush precincts from the year 2000. We had African American precincts reporting in very high at about 115 percent of what we expected and Hispanic precincts reporting in at about 150 percent of what we expected.
I think as you look at -- if you look at the vote that's coming in, what you have to keep in mind is there's a series of Democratic counties that we only have very limited reporting in now and let me give you those counties and with that the margin that Gore had in 2000.
Cuyahoga, obviously Cleveland a strong Democratic area Gore won by 160,000; Lucas County, the Toledo area, Gore won by 35,000; Montgomery County, the Dayton area Gore won by 5,000; Summit, which is Warren, which is where we had the rally over the weekend Gore won by 25,000; and Mahoning County, which Gore won by 30,000. If you look at the numbers now these are very underreported and these are the ones that are coming in late. On Florida we think, as I said earlier today, we started with...
BLITZER: All right, so Joe Lockhart briefing reporters in Washington, D.C. trying to project a very upbeat assessment where this election is going. Don't be misled necessarily. The Republicans are saying they're very upbeat as well. The Democrats are saying they're upbeat.
In the end, we'll see what the real numbers, the raw tally is and then we'll know who the next president of the United States is. We may know tonight. Then again we may not know.
We're also standing by, I want to alert our viewers, Barack Obama is about to speak to his supporters in Illinois. He's the Democratic candidate in Illinois. We're projected he will be the next Senator from Illinois replacing Peter Fitzgerald, the Republican who is retiring.
Jeff Greenfield, Barack Obama will become the third African American to serve in the United States Senate. GREENFIELD: Ed Brooke, a Republican from Massachusetts and Carol Moseley Braun, a one term Senator from Illinois. He was also, of course, the keynoter at the Democratic National Convention where he probably gave the most electrifying speech of anyone.
This is a fellow, as he calls himself, a skinny kid with a funny name who people are looking very seriously at already, even though he's not even gotten into the Senate as a possible future national candidate. He has a remarkable ability to connect with people very different from his own background.
Rural whites in southern Illinois are more like southerners than they are like northerners and he has had -- the stories that came out of Illinois from the time he entered that primary were this is some exceptional political figure.
BLITZER: He also had the fortune of having a Republican challenger, a Republican opponent Alan Keyes from the state of Maryland who was brought in by the Illinois Republican Party to challenge him. I don't know what the Republican leadership in Illinois was thinking.
GREENFIELD: They were thinking that nobody else wanted the job. The likely Senate nominee had to retire after a rather embarrassing private matter. They could not recruit anyone. You'd think in the state of Illinois, the land of Lincoln they could find a Republican. So, Alan Keyes came from Maryland and may get 30 percent of the vote and may not.
BLITZER: While we're waiting for Barack Obama to speak to his supporters, Judy Woodruff is at the CNN election analysis center. Let's bring her in. You've been crunching those numbers looking at some information -- Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, Wolf, focusing on absentee ballots. It's sort of a tale, two tales of absentee ballots. In Florida, Miami Dade County we are hearing that there is a backlog of something like 90,000 absentee ballots and these are some pictures coming in from the Miami Dade election office there, 90,000 ballots that have not been counted yet -- or, I'm sorry, about a third of them have been counted. The secretary of state of Florida, Glenda Hood is saying that it will take until Thursday at noon to get those ballots counted.
Now skip across the country to the state of Iowa where we are told something like 450,000 absentee ballots were submitted, a number in that range but the Iowa election officials are saying those ballots will get counted tonight even if they have to work at it all night.
So, Wolf, two different perspectives on counting for whatever reason, we don't know whether it's because of staff or whatever. The Democrats have done a little complaining in south Florida. They're saying maybe the Republican secretary of state dragging her feet but we have no evidence of that.
BLITZER: So, Judy, it's possible we may not have a final result from the state of Florida tonight or even tomorrow.
WOODRUFF: It's possible, Wolf, if Florida turns out to be very close those 90,000 ballots, however they may turn and Miami Dade is a community with Cuban Americans, other Hispanics. It's a mixture of Democrats and Republicans presumably a Kerry vote and Bush vote there. Those votes could be very important. If it's a wider spread, they might not make any difference.
Same thing in Iowa, if Iowa turned, which and those are both states, as you know, we have not called either one of them yet. If Iowa were close, those absentee ballots would be important but, again, the secretary of state in Iowa is saying they will get counted tonight.
BLITZER: Judy Woodruff thanks very much.
I want to back up over here and show our viewers this picture that we're seeing here from Illinois, Barack Obama expected to walk out into this crowd, speak momentarily. We have projected he will be elected the next United States Senator from Illinois. Barack Obama a very popular figure in Illinois, a very popular Democrat now around the country.
We see members of the family, his supporters, his friends walking in there. This is going to be a very exciting moment for Barack Obama and his supporters in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois, indeed Democrats across the country have been watching this race.
There's no doubt there was ever -- I guess never much doubt that he would be elected but we see I think this is his wife who's about to speak right now, Mrs. Obama in Illinois.
Carlos Watson, help me a little bit, set the stage. You spent some quality time with Barack Obama recently. Give us a little flavor who this man is.
CARLOS WATSON: He's a guy who has a biracial family, grew up in Hawaii and in Indonesia, didn't seem to be on his way to the Senate as a young man but after getting into Harvard Law School did very well, moved to Chicago, became a professor and civil rights attorney.
But when he ran, Wolf, what was interesting is that no one thought he was going to win the primary earlier this year. He was running against three millionaires but ultimately prevailed there and then, as we said in the general election things worked out really well.
BLITZER: All right, hold on one second. I'm going to walk over and make a CNN projection now, CNN can now project at 10:12 p.m. on the East Coast, CNN can project the state of Arkansas will be carried by George W. Bush and its six electoral votes.
Democrats in the last few weeks, last few days especially thought they had a slight chance to go there, George W. Bush carrying Arkansas. As we know the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, had gone to Little Rock only this past Sunday to make a last minute push. George W. Bush we project will carry Arkansas giving him an additional six electoral votes.
So at this moment we now have this tally 182 electoral votes for the president, 112 for John Kerry, 270 needed to win. The blue states for Kerry, the red states for Bush, those white states that you see are states that have closed but we have not, we don't have enough information yet to project who will win those states.
Jeff Greenfield, Arkansas, I guess we shouldn't really be surprised by this at all.
GREENFIELD: No. I think the notion that a former president of the United States who after all has moved to New York and whose wife now represents New York in the Senate is going to hold the emotions of Arkansans in his hand may have been a little overstated. I think it was one of those long shots, one of those very long shots and it didn't pay off like most long shots.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, not one state has shifted.
BLITZER: That's correct, Larry. All the states that Gore carried four years ago we're projecting among the states we projected will remain in the Democratic column. The states that Bush carried four years ago at this point among the states we've projected will remain in the Bush column.
Bill Schneider you're looking at the exit polls and you got some new numbers for us.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I do. This election is close nationally. It's close in a lot of the big states, why? The election is a referendum on George Bush and voters are of two minds about George Bush.
Let's take a look at voters in Michigan and what they told us about President Bush today. We asked them, "Do you trust President Bush to handle the economy?" And the answer is a majority said no, 56 to 44 negative ratings on the economy.
Then we asked them, "Do you trust President Bush to handle terrorism?" And the answer was, yes, 52 to 43. Terrorism, Bush looks good, the economy not so good. It is a referendum on Bush, much more than on Kerry because you know, Wolf, when we asked voters in Michigan, "Do you trust Kerry to handle the economy" they were split. "Do you trust Kerry to handle terrorism" they were split. They're not so sure about Kerry but on Bush they are of two very different minds.
BLITZER: All right, Bill Schneider thanks very much.
We're ready to make another projection right now. CNN can project at 10:14 p.m. on the East Coast Missouri and its eleven electoral votes will be won by the president of the United States, George W. Bush. Missouri had been in play supposedly.
The Democrats sort of gave up on Missouri a few weeks ago. They came back and thought that maybe they had a shot but right now Missouri and its eleven electoral votes will go for the president.
Here's the new tally that we have in the race for the White House. Right now the president has according to our projections 193 electoral votes, John Kerry with 112 but remember this is the number, 270, not 269 but 270 that you need to be elected president of the United States.
Missouri not a great surprise, it's a state that went to the Republicans four years ago as well -- Jeff.
GREENFIELD: It is. It went narrowly. I still want to see when all the numbers are in, thanks to our wall of numbers, how close did the Democrats come? Is this going to wind up a substantial lead or is it going to wind up where Democrats are going to look at those eleven electoral votes and say missed opportunity? So, yes, we've called it for Missouri. That's done but let's just see whether that turns out to be one of those storylines that we'll be looking at a few days from now.
WATSON: Wolf, two interesting things to think about in Missouri. Missouri has chosen the winner in presidential elections 24 of the last 25 times, so if you're President Bush sitting in Washington this sounds like good news and you hope that they're as right as they've been with the exception of 1956.
The second thing that's interesting, Missouri is one of the few cases in the country that has a really interesting gubernatorial race. We've talked about the presidential race. We've talked about the Senate races. But they actually have a really interesting gubernatorial fight there.
BLITZER: And we'll be covering that as well -- Larry.
KING: And while we're waiting for the apparent Senator-elect to speak in Illinois this could be the longest wife introduction in the history of elections.
WATSON: She's a lawyer too.
BLITZER: Maybe that explains it. She's...
WATSON: She's still at it.
BLITZER: We'll dip in and listen to Barack Obama once he eventually gets to that stage.
BLITZER: Barack Obama, a lot of Democrats have a lot of hope in this young man.
GREENFIELD: Well, I must say that, you know, in an era when conventions are scripted to the nines and you go to conventions because you sort of have to go, every once in a while somebody gets up and does something that absolutely blows the place apart.
And I think when Obama began to speak the sign for me of a really great speaker, as a retired speech writer, is not when people jump up and yell. They always do that. They'll jump up and yell for the phone book. When he quieted the crowd down as he told his story and the story of America this guy is a compelling figure.
BLITZER: Was he the first president of the Harvard Law Review?
WATSON: First African American president of the Harvard Law Review.
BLITZER: That's what I meant.
KING: He's made it. I think he's coming.
WATSON: He's coming up.
BLITZER: We can take a look. Maybe he will and maybe he won't but she looks like she's about to introduce him. Let's listen in.
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: My baby's daddy Barack Obama. Yeah!
BARACK OBAMA, SENATOR-ELECT, ILLINOIS: Thank you, Illinois. Thank you. Thank you, Illinois. I don't know about you but I'm still fired up. I am fired up. Look at this crowd. Thank you, Illinois.
Let me begin by thanking all the people who have been involved in this effort from down state to upstate, city, suburb, from every community throughout the state. Let me say how grateful I am to all of you for the extraordinary privilege of standing here this evening.
Let me thank, because I will forget later on, it's a thankless task, let me thank right now the best political staff that has been put together in this state. They are wonderful. You know who you are. You guys have been outstanding. I appreciate all of you.
Let me thank my pastor, Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. (ph) of Trinity United Church of Christ, fellow Trinitarians out there. Let me thank all the elected officials who have stood by me through thick and through thin but most of all let me thank my family.
I am so grateful to my nephew Aber (ph), my niece Leslie (ph), my mother-in-law Marian (ph), my brother-in-law Craig Robinson, his wonderful girlfriend Kelly (ph), my sister Maya (ph), my new niece Zuhayla (ph) right there, my brother-in-law Conrad and most of all, most of all, my two precious daughters Malia (ph) Obama and Sasha (ph) Obama and the biggest star in the Obama family until the two girls grow up the love of my life Michelle Obama, give it up for Michelle. Give it up.
BLITZER: Barack Obama, a very happy man. He's going to be the next United States Senator from Illinois, the first African American Democrat to be elected to the United States Senate, the second African American to be elected from the state of Illinois. Anderson Cooper, you've got some other Senate races you're looking at.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, Wolf.
We have two projections we can make in the state of Nevada and also in South Carolina. Let's take a look at what's going on, on the board. In Nevada, Senator -- oh, actually South Carolina first, Jim DeMint we can now project as the winner.
Inez Tenenbaum, the state superintendent of education, had run a tough race against Jim DeMint. Democrats had poured in millions of dollars hoping Inez Tenenbaum might be able to make a move on Jim DeMint, this of course for the seat held for 38 years now by Fritz Hollings, a Democrat, so this is a pick up by the Republicans in the Senate. It's not a complete surprise, however.
This is a very conservative area for Hollings holding onto the seat for 38 years as a Democrat but it was very much expected that this seat would go to the Republicans. Jim DeMint, a proponent of a national sales tax. Inez Tenenbaum had tried to use that against him.
Some voters had a hard time understanding what Jim DeMint was talking about, national sales tax to replace the federal income tax but in the end his conservative values won him this election in South Carolina.
Also in Nevada, we can call the race for Harry Reid, the Senate Minority Whip already, a Democrat, so he holds onto his seat, that not really a big surprise. It wasn't a close race at all.
And we are closely following the race in Kentucky between Senator Jim Bunting and Senator Dan Bunning and Senator Dan Mongiardo, State Senator Dan Mongiardo a very close race there we are watching closely. We hope to have some results on that one soon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Anderson, thank you very much.
Let's talk a little bit about what we're seeing in the United States Senate. So far, I don't think we've seen any major surprises except that Kentucky race is surprisingly close.
GREENFIELD: The Kentucky race is close. The Democratic problem is five southern states, four of whom are red states with Democratic incumbents who chose not to run again. I mean Zell Miller is barely a Democrat but at least he voted to organize with them.
And what we're seeing is a couple of pick ups there that make the Democratic effort to retake the Senate, particularly with Oklahoma remaining Republican just very tough.
I mean this is the pattern we've seen throughout the south. It began to defect from Democrats at the presidential level and over the last ten years more and more in the House and the Senate and the governorships. People who used to call themselves Reagan Democrats now have a different name for themselves. They call themselves Republicans.
KING: And also with 35 percent in, the national election is getting close to the total votes. It's 52 to 48. It was 54 to 46 (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
GREENFIELD: No, California hasn't closed. We just don't know. I think Ralph Nader is...
BLITZER: Let's listen in to Ralph Nader. He's speaking to his supporters. Let's see what he has to say. He's got 150,000 votes so far nationally, 151,000 with 36 percent of the precincts reporting. All right, we'll get some sound from Ralph Nader. Once we fix that maybe we'll listen to hear what he has to say at this moment, almost 10:30 on the East Coast. Ralph Nader doesn't seem to be doing as well this time as he did four years ago.
GREENFIELD: There were a number of people who backed Ralph Nader four years ago in 2000 who have kind of formed committees to persuade other one-time Nader voters not to do this.
Michael Moore, the controversial filmmaker who backed Nader in 2000 has done everything but, you know, send him a one-way ticket to the Azores to get him to stop running. He literally got on his hands and knees on a television show because a lot of people on the left feel Nader cost Al Gore the White House and they really don't like the president's policies and they don't want to see Nader do it again.
WATSON: You got to watch though Nader in a couple of Midwestern states. Remember Wisconsin just short of four percent last time and that's one of the places the president has targeted.
And in Minnesota, 5.2 percent in 2000 Ralph Nader did, so you got to watch the potential impact. They sent out an e-mail today saying of the three states they thought they would do best in, Alaska was one but Minnesota was another.
KING: He's down everywhere. He's down in New Hampshire so it appears that might hold true.
BLITZER: He's down from where he was four years ago.
KING: Yes, very disappointing.
BLITZER: You interviewed him several times, Larry.
KING: Many times.
BLITZER: And you've known him for many, many years going back to the '60s and seat belts and all that stuff. What makes him tick?
KING: I don't know. I know he had a stroke. He had a mild stroke some years back and that might have affected him because he never wanted to run for office the Ralph Nader I knew in the '60s.
I'll tell you a quick Ralph Nader story. We're driving over, I just interviewed him in Miami, Channel 4, we're driving over a causeway and I stopped and put, it was a dime, for the car to go through. I hit the window of the car. The window goes down, dropped the dime in. We pull out.
He says, "Pull over." I pull over. He says, "Why did that window go down so fast?" I said, "I don't know." He says, "Don't you think going up and down that fast could hurt somebody, kid put his arm out?" I said, "I guess."
He sends me reams of material, letters to car companies, medical examiners, how many kids' arms were hurt, deaths that might have been caused by a kid, little kid sticking his head out the window and all windows now go up slowly, another Nader measure.
WATSON: Clean water, right, been involved in...
BLITZER: Ralph Nader did a lot of things. Democrats are still very angry at him no matter how many good things he did.
All right, stand by. I want to show our viewers. People are still voting all over the country. The polls are still open in California. This man is voting. It doesn't look like he's got a lot of colleagues voting over there.
In Washington State they're voting. It looks like there are some empty polling booths over there, some machines are still waiting.
And, in Alaska, 1:00 a.m. on the East Coast, that's when they'll close in Alaska. We'll continue to watch.
To our viewers here's a recommendation. If the polls are still open where you are, this would be a good time to still go out and vote. It's important.
We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: You're looking live at Times Square. That was Times Square. We're in Times Square at the NASDAQ market site. We're covering this election night 2004.
Take a look at this, Dan Mongiardo, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, we have not projected who's going to win this race. We're getting one report that he may be prepared to concede. We'll actually listen to hear what he has to say but this has been a surprisingly close race. Dan Mongiardo, the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate running against Jim Bunning, the Hall of Fame pitcher.
Let's take a look at the actual vote in Kentucky. Here it is. Jim Bunning with 51 percent of the vote, 49 percent of the vote for Dan Mongiardo with 99 percent of the vote now in, Jim Bunning the incumbent and there's not much of a spread there, Jeff Greenfield, but we'll continue to watch and see what happens.
GREENFIELD: It's an 18,000 vote spread for Bunning, 2 percent of the vote. But if you look below, you see that 99 percent of the vote is in, and that must be what persuaded state Senator Mongiardo to go and concede.
It is a disappointment to the Democrats, because once the stories began to be publicized about Senator Bunning's conduct, they really thought this was one of those surprise things. Nobody had it on anybody's radar and suddenly the race tightened. They thought maybe they're on march to 50 or 51 seats in the Senate. This will be one that we didn't expect to win and they did. They haven't.
BLITZER: This was a Senate race that was very close, Carlos, in a state like Kentucky where the presidential contest I don't think, was very close.
WATSON: And we're seeing that in a lot of different places. This is also, by the way, the second time in a row where Jim Bunning's had a race that if he does win, he wins by 1 percent, maybe 2 percent. Contrast that by the way with Nevada, which we just called for Harry Reid, six years ago he also had a 1 percent election. Now we're calling it this early that he's won. So, very different stories.
KING: Pretty safe to say the Republicans will keep control of the Senate.
GREENFIELD: Well you know, after -- how about -- about after 2000 we just wait?
We haven't seen what's going to happen in Colorado. We haven't seen Alaska. We haven't called South or North Carolina yet, I believe.
WATSON: We did called South Carolina.
BLITZER: Inez Tenenbaum. No doubt to Jim DeMint.
GREENFIELD: What we can say, is that it makes it very, very unlikely.
WATSON: You know, two other...
KING: OK, that's good.
GREENFIELD: How about that?
GREENFIELD: Let me put it -- Let me put it in a way that you'd...
KING: There some just asking.
GREENFIELD: You would understand in your old days. You're all in and you're hoping for the river card to give you a flush. WATSON: You know, two other interesting things though about the Senate races that are worth remembering. We talked about Barak Obama, but he may not be the only minority member to join the Senate this year. You might also see one or maybe two Hispanics, Mel Martinez in Florida, Ken Salazar is running in Colorado. We don't know what's going to happen. But if either or both wins, it would be the first time in almost 30 years you've had a Hispanic member of the U.S. Senate.
BLITZER: A lot of drama still unfolding. I want to walk over. Our Deborah Feyerick is joining us now. She's in Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg. There's been concern about what's going on there, Debra. I know, you've been speaking with elections officials, the secretary of state. Update our viewers what's going on.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can tell you, Wolf, that people in Pennsylvania are still waiting to vote. We re told that in Berks County 8 to 10 precincts still experiencing about two hours -- two hour delays. The board of elections there sent out a number of people to help facilitate. They're sorting people out in alphabetical order right now. We are told there was a huge registration drive there, a large, burgeoning Latino population. So, right now, they're still waiting to vote in Berks County. In Chester County also, one precinct, we're being told, there are 300 people remaining on line waiting to cast a ballot.
Now, in at least several counties, judges did have to step in, both in Allegheny County and Lackawanna County. In Allegheny County, they simply ran out of provisional ballots, so a judge extended voting by up to an hour and a half at one polling site, saying that anybody who still wanted to vote could do so. And as long as they were on line by 9:30 they could cast a provisional ballot. In Lackawanna, we're told a judge extended voting at two different precincts. And one reason, because the polling site simply opened late, by an hour and seven minutes. So the judge extended voting for an hour and seven minutes in one case.
In another case, a machine broke so the voting was extended there. Now, there where are an estimated 300 provisional ballots. Those ballots will be verified over the next three days. Counting will begin Friday. So those ballots could make a difference. There is one outstanding court challenge in Philadelphia, absentee ballots will not be counted tonight. A judge stepped in and said that the ballots would not be counted. The reason, the Republicans are in court fighting to look at the absentee lists and challenge any voters who they think may have registered as an absentee improperly.
So right now, voting still going on in Pennsylvania even though the -- the polls officially closed at 8:00 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Deborah Feyerick, thanks very much.
And let me just show our viewers the numbers that we have in Pennsylvania, with slightly more than half of the vote now in, the precincts reporting 54 percent, Kerry seems to have a pretty good lead there, 59 percent to 40 percent for George W. Bush. Once again, let's bring in CNN's Aaron Brown, who's looking at this, analyzing it, assessing it and got some thoughts.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're thinking a bit about civility. It's something we've talked about a lot on the program. We've long lamented the coming of the day when nobody but nobody would even listen to let alone entertain an idea different from their own. We're more than halfway there already, it seems. Part of the passion animating this campaign derived from the idea of taking the country back. Back from them. Or by the same token, keeping it out of their hands, whoever "they" and "them" might be. A viewer of ours in a frequent e-mailer wrote tonight, that if the Democrats win, it will only be because they committed massive voter fraud. It just never occurred to her that in the field of ideas, they might just have won.
With that in mind a blogger, Jeff Jarvis posted this pledge at his Web site. "After the election results are in," it goes, "I promise to support the president. Even if I didn't vote for him. Criticize the president, even if I did vote for him. Uphold standards of civil discourse in blogs and in the media, while pushing both to be better. Unite as a nation, putting country over party, even as we work together to make America better."
Given how little we agree on as a country these days, maybe it's too much to ask. But ask yourself this tonight, isn't anything better than what we call political discourse these days?
BLITZER: Aaron, you know, it's fascinating that what three and a half hours after the first polls closed, this is as -- as close as we thought it was going to be in the days and weeks leading up to this election. Some people are saying you're hyping it, you're going too far. You know what, it's as dramatic as we thought it would be.
BROWN: Well, we looked at polls Sunday night, we came in to do a special on Sunday night, and our CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll had the thing at 49/49. That's about where we are.
BLITZER: It's amazing, Larry, that it's shaping up the way we actually thought it would shape up.
KING: They read it. It looks like, they read it right.
BROWN: But as -- and by the same token, we don't yet know, there are these three big -- four big puzzle pieces still out there.
What's going to happen in Florida?
What's going to happen in Ohio?
What's going to happen in Pennsylvania?
How is Michigan going to play out?
Those are a lot of electoral votes that are going to change the map pretty quickly if and when they come in.
BLITZER: As important as that general vote, that popular vote is, it's the electoral vote that's all important.
KING: Aren't we discouraged, though, that we may have to wait until Thursday on absentee ballots in two states?
BLITZER: We'll wait. Aaron and I and everybody will wait until it's over, because that's the nature of the business.
BROWN: Not as discouraged as we'll be if we have to wait for a month from Thursday. We've been there and done that too.
BLITZER: Thirty-five, 36 days the last time. Aaron, thanks very much.
Joe Lockhart, a senior adviser to the Kerry campaign, is joining us now from Washington. Give us your read on what's going on in some specific states for example, let's take a look at Florida.
What do you see happening in Florida, Joe?
JOE LOCKHART, KERRY CAMPAIGN: A very close race. We knew it would be close. But I think the huge turnout in southern Florida, where the Democrats are the strongest -- Broward, Palm Beach, Miami- Dade -- that turnout will bring us to victory.
I think those are the last ones reporting in. You know, I've heard reports that there are people still voting, based on the length of the lines.
So I think this unprecedented turnout in Florida, the unprecedented effort to get people registered and then out to the polls, 30 percent of the state voting early, with a big lead for John Kerry, I think that will take us over the line.
KING: Joe, the votes not yet counted are Dade and Broward?
LOCKHART: Yes, we know that in Broward County, where we have, I think, somewhere in the range of a 200,000-vote lead, you still a quarter of the votes yet to be counted. Palm Beach County has just started to vote. Miami we're waiting to hear from.
So these are big vote areas for Democrats in the state. They're not yet factored in. You know, I think once they are, we'll be very strong in Florida.
KING: What about Ohio?
LOCKHART: Listen, Ohio, I think, looks, again, very strong for us. You know, the story of Ohio this time is not what people expected, the legal challenges everyplace. It's the massive turnout.
We have a report of one polling station in Columbus, Ohio, that's now projected to stay open until midnight. There are so many people that were on line when the polls closed.
I think everyone agreed, going into this election, that the larger the turnout, the better it would be for John Kerry. There's no other place that I think that's going to be as significant as Ohio.
All of our numbers tell us in heavily Democratic precincts, we're exceeding our expectations by 10 percent to 15 percent. Ohio will be in our column tonight.
BLITZER: Three Midwestern states that potentially could be pivotal: Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. What do you see happening there?
LOCKHART: Well, listen, I think President Bush put a lot of effort into those three states. I think about three or four weeks ago, he decided that Ohio was difficult for him. He didn't go to Ohio for three weeks. He spent all of his time in those three states.
But I think we are going to win all three. I think Minnesota, it will be a comfortable victory. Wisconsin we fought hard for. I think we're well on our way there, based on our projections and our turnout.
And Iowa was the toughest one for us. We were behind a week ago. But we started to surge late last week. I think we took the lead this weekend, according to our numbers and the Des Moines Register poll. And we have an incredible ground game there, and I think that's going to give us a couple points.
So I think we'll sweep the three.
KING: Are you therefore saying, Joe, you're going to win tonight?
LOCKHART: I think we've been saying for the last week we were going to win. We expect that to be confirmed tonight.
BLITZER: Why haven't we heard from Senator Kerry yet? We heard briefly, as you saw, from President Bush. Will he make some sort of statement in advance of any final outcome?
LOCKHART: Well we'll see. I mean, the night is young. I think you all can stay up for a while longer. You've had practice at that.
I don't know what the president was doing all afternoon, but John Kerry was working. He did 4 hours' worth of interviews, 38 different interviews with local TV stations in battleground states. You know, that's 38 interviews without a break.
He went home, took a little rest. Now he's having dinner with his wife and family members. And he'll come out when we've got something to say.
KING: Do the question of these absentee ballots in Florida and Pennsylvania concern you that we might have to wait till Thursday to find the results in both of those states?
LOCKHART: I don't think so. Certainly not in Pennsylvania. I don't think the state is going to be that close. I think if you look at the numbers now, John Kerry's got a very healthy lead. We had an overwhelming majority, a great turnout in Philadelphia, did well in Pittsburgh and other parts of the state. So I don't think the absentee ballots will be a problem there.
My understanding of the absentee ballots in Florida is the area that they're talking about is the heavily Democratic area. So I don't think they're going to be an issue there either.
BLITZER: Joe Lockhart, thanks very much for spending a few moments with us. Joe Lockhart a senior adviser to the Kerry campaign.
Bill Hemmer is watching all of this. He's got an interesting analysis from our spatial logic machine that's looking at these two battle ground states of Ohio and Florida. And what do you see? Explain to our viewers what's going on, Bill.
BILL HEMMER, CN CORRESPONDENT: We have excellent technology, Wolf, that literally allows us to watch as the votes come in, how it breaks down according to counties in favor of George Bush or in favor of John Kerry.
We've zeroed in on about 18 different states across the country. But as you mentioned, Ohio and Florida, still outstanding and still so critical and so crucial for the fight for the White House. Back to Stu Rothenberg with me here, our CNN political analyst.
And good evening again, Stu. We want to show our viewers through the telestrator what we're picking up in Ohio and essentially why we can't call the state at this point.
STU ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if you look at map, Bill, you can see a lot of red in the central part of the state, northwestern part of the state. But we want to hone in on three areas. Hamilton County, that's Cincinnati. Down here in Montgomery County, this little island of blue in a sea of red. That's Dayton, Montgomery County. And then up here in the northeast, that would be Stark, Canton, often described as a bellwether county.
And what we see is John Kerry doing better in these three counties at this point with some limited results in. He's doing better than Al Gore did 4 years ago.
The president is still doing fine in many of these rural areas. But it's the smaller cities. And in this case, Hamilton County, which is Cincinnati, and the suburbs, a significant percentage of the population in the state, that the Democrat is doing better.
HEMMER: We have also talked about the job loss in Ohio for many, many months. And Lorain County, west of Cleveland. We have used this as an example, too, with job losses there, how they would respond. What are you finding in that suburban area west of Cleveland?
ROTHENBERG: Well, if we go to the map and look at Lorain, this is west of Cuyahoga County, west of Cleveland. Al Gore won this county with 53 percent. With partial results in now in Lorain, John Kerry is winning with 57 percent of the vote. It's only at the margins, but if Senator Kerry increases his margins in a number of these communities, he can certainly carry this state.
HEMMER: But again, just simply too close to call. And with 20 electoral votes in the balance there in the Buckeye State.
ROTHENBERG: There are more votes to come in.
HEMMER: Indeed, you're right.
In Florida now, there's about two and a half hours ago, when we first reported, a trend we saw in the I-4 corridor. This is named, because it's the interstate runs from Tampa up through Orlando, up to the Daytona Beach area. We saw heavy gains for the president as compared to the year 2000 from 4 years ago. And we can show that now.
ROTHENBERG: We did. And let's go to the map again. And I think we were right in this I-4 corridor. Oceola Lake, Orange County. Some blue, but a good deal of red, particularly in here.
And as you pointed out, we have not projected this state, because of this area down here that Joe Lockhart has talked about. This blue in the southeastern corner of the state, we're talking about Miami- Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, areas that deliver some pretty good Democratic majorities, particularly Broward. We're waiting for more votes to come in there. There's also the issue of absentees. But it's interesting, if you look here in the panhandle in North Florida, Bush country.
HEMMER: 27 electoral votes this time around in Florida. Up from 25, two added on from 4 years ago.
ROTHENBERG: An important state.
HEMMER: These are the trends. And again, at this point we can't say in the end what's going to go for Florida, what's going to go for Ohio, but fascinating stuff. We'll have to watch the votes come in. And we can literally tabulate them here through our spatial logic technology. And see how the counties are leaning at this point. And try and glean some sort of direction as we go throughout the night. Back to you.
BLITZER: All right. That was very fascinating. Bill Hemmer, Stu Rothenberg, thanks very much.
Bill Schneider, look at those exit polls. I believe you have some new numbers on what we're seeing in Florida?
SCHNEIDER: Florida, what do you think of when you hear Florida? You think of seniors. It has the oldest population in the country. And you think of a large population of Latino voters. But they're moving in opposite directions.
In 2000, Bush carried the senior vote in Florida. How are they going now? Very narrowly for John Kerry. 51 Kerry, 49 Bush. Seniors in Florida have been moving to Kerry. Possibly the prescription drug issue.
Now, Latino voters, they're a big group. They split evenly Cubans and non-Cubans, in Florida together. Split evenly in 2000. How are they voting now? A majority, 54 percent, are voting for George Bush. They have moved in the Republican direction in the last 4 years.
Seniors more Democratic. Latinos, more Republican, including a lot of Cuban-American voters in Florida who have remained heavily Republican and even more so this year than before.
So the cross-currents in Florida are moving in opposition directions. That's why the state is still very close -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Bill Schneider thanks very much.
Tom Daschle, the Senate Democratic leader, the minority leader has been watching what's going on. This is videotape of what was he was seeing, his mood. He seems to be smiling. He's facing the political challenge of his life from John Thune, the Republican candidate in South Dakota.
He's sitting there, he's watching, he's waiting for all the results to come in. We'll see what happens to the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, through the course of this night.
In the meantime, much more coverage coming up here on CNN. We'll take another quick break. South Dakota, 50/50 right now, at least according to these numbers. These are Associated Press numbers, real numbers coming in. It's about as close as we possibly could have imagined. Only 4 votes different.
We'll talk about that and much more when we come back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN election headquarters at the NASDAQ market site right in the heart of Times Square. Jeff Greenfield, let's recap for our viewers now those states that CNN has been able to project as winning states for the 2 candidates.
First, the states going for the president of the United States. And we'll just show our viewers, let's go through the top. Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, West Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma. I think it's fair to say, Jeff, as we walk down and let our viewers take a look at these states, that we've projected will go for the president, the so- called red states, there are no surprises here yet.
GREENFIELD: That's correct, unless you thought Bill Clinton would pluck Arkansas away from Bush for Kerry,, all the states for George Bush, 21 if I've done my bad arithmetic, all voted for Bush last time, all of them for Bush this time.
BLITZER: And let's move on and take a look at the states for John Kerry. No huge surprises here, either, Vermont, for example, Massachusetts, Delaware, all of these states went for Al Gore the last time and guess what?
GREENFIELD: They've gone for John Kerry. Vermont, a state as liberal as you can get. It has the only self-professed Socialist congressman, Bernie Sanders, in the House of Representatives. The home of Ben and Jerry's, the politically correct ice cream. So there isn't a single surprise. And it really feels, I hate to quote Yogi Berra, but it really feels like deja vu all over again.
BLITZER: Let's point out to our viewers what's happening in Maine. Four electoral votes. We've projected three of them will go for John Kerry, we're still waiting to find out what happens in that fourth electoral vote.
GREENFIELD: It's not impossible, if that one electoral vote, if it goes to George Bush, it could tip the balance. It's not impossible, we're waiting to see what the four electoral votes in Hawaii do. Votes that are normally reliably Democratic. We still don't know about Nevada, Colorado. Polls are still open out there. And Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, all sitting out there waiting to be decided.
BLITZER: One electoral vote could make the difference. And four at stake in Maine. Three we project will go to John Kerry, one still remaining at large. We'll see what happens. We don't have enough information yet on that fourth electoral vote.
Let's -- we can now project a major win for John Kerry. Pennsylvania. CNN can now project -- CNN is projecting Pennsylvania will go for John Kerry. Right now, with 63 percent of the vote, in 57 percent for Kerry, 43 percent for Bush. This is a state that Al Gore carried the last time, but it's still a huge win for John Kerry.
GREENFIELD: This is the first real disappointment for either campaign. George W. Bush made, I believe, since last March, 41 visits to the state of Pennsylvania. The only state he visited more was Texas, where he happens to live. They thought these 21 electoral votes, if they could pick them up, with the votes of socially conservative, gun-owning, pro-life Democrats, a lot of them in Pennsylvania, this could insulate them against a loss of Ohio or Florida. It has not happened.
And if I may be corny, the tension mounts.
BLITZER: The tension mounts. Let's recap the race for the White House. Right now, with 193 electoral votes for Bush, 133 we've added Pennsylvania to that category for Kerry; 270, though, needed to be elected to the White House. So it's still a contest. Everyone had been assuming that Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, whoever got two of those three would be in good shape.
We now know that John Kerry, at least according to our projection, will carry Pennsylvania.
GREENFIELD: Let me be the first to point out that the last time the United States had two razor-thin close elections was 1884 and 1888. It looks like we're back there again with the slightly advanced technology.
BLITZER: All right. Candy Crowley is in Boston. She's covering the Kerry campaign. Any instant reaction from what we've just projected, Candy?
CROWLEY: No, but I think what will surprise them about this is what appears to be the size of the margin now. I suspect it will come down just a little, rural areas, generally, are the last to report. I can also tell you that the Bush campaign, as early as two or three days ago, said they didn't actually expect that they'd win Pennsylvania. So this was the most predictable of what they call the trifecta, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida.
So they kind of knew, both sides, where that one was going. The other two obviously are the ones that everybody was more iffy about.
BLITZER: Candy Crowley in Boston. We'll be coming back to you. Paula Zahn is with our CROSSFIRE colleagues, they're watching all of this as we are.
Paula, let's hear what they have to say.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Wolf, just to give you a sense of how close this election is and how unpredictable it is, let's go back and revisit some of the predictions the CROSSFIRE gang made several hours ago when I guess it was you, Tucker, who had John Kerry winning by two. You were going to make that call at 10:31.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: Didn't happen.
ZAHN: I don't think that's quite right. James, you made a call at 9:37, Kerry up by 5.
JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: Didn't happen. Didn't happen.
ZAHN: Paul, you still have until 11:30 to have Kerry up by five.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: We're not going to know by 11:30 either.
ZAHN: Bob, you predicted Bush by 11:03. Where are we right now, Tucker?
BOB NOVAK, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: We're deep in the woods, Paula, because this is going to be a long, hard fight. The word I get is that Ohio, which a lot of the Republicans have given up to Kerry, is coming back to Bush. And it's very, very close. And you've got punch-card ballots in Ohio. You've got -- they haven't even finished voting in Ohio. That's going to be a long sucker, and so is Florida.
ZAHN: And you have evidence now of some, what did you say, underreporting going on in Ohio?
BEGALA: Well, in Ohio, usually, you know, in most states, and we just heard a moment ago, the rural areas come in late, urban areas come in early because of the technology. In Ohio, the opposite is happening, because the lines are so long in some of these urban counties that the vote is not coming in yet. So we're getting a disproportionately rural vote early in Ohio. That favors the president early, but we just have to wait. It looks like Ohio will actually count all the votes. It's sort of a quaint, old fashioned, Midwestern notion. Florida doesn't seem to have gained that sort of expertise yet.
CARLSON: You know, I have to say, the feeling, I've probably talked to 20 people in the last hour, all of a sudden is changing. I mean, there was this kind of consensus, certainly in the press, which is obviously overwhelmingly for Kerry on a personal level, but just even among observers.
ZAHN: Wait, wait, wait a minute. You're saying...
CARLSON: The press is overwhelmingly for Kerry on a personal level, most reporters.
NOVAK: Wait a minute...
CARLSON: No, that's true. But let me say...
ZAHN: Do you buy that, James?
CARLSON: People thought Kerry was going to win. And everyone knows this -- people thought Kerry was going to win, now I feel that there's this feeling Bush is going to win.
I will say, somebody needs to reassess exit polling, because...
NOVAK: It stinks.
CARLSON: It does stink. It doesn't predict, at least tonight -- tomorrow morning, we're going to put the exit polls, when we can make them public, against the actual results, and you will see that it doesn't -- it's useless.
ZAHN: Are you putting any stock in the exit polling tonight?
CARVILLE: As the night goes by, less.
ZAHN: Has your mantra...
CARVILLE: I think that, look, I don't know what difference does it make what an exit poll says, because the only votes that count are the votes that they count. Let's wait and see. We've got Ohio left to go. We've got a lot of key states out there left to go. So before we jump to conclusions, but...
ZAHN: Has your mantra changed at all in the last 45 minutes?
CARVILLE: My what?
ZAHN: Your mantra. Ohio, Florida, Ohio, Florida.
CARVILLE: No. It has to. And if the president carries both Ohio and Florida, it is extremely difficult, almost impossible.
NOVAK: Which looks like it may happen now.
CARVILLE: Could happen.
CARVILLE: Very possible that it could happen. If it does, I'd be the first to tell you the math becomes very difficult.
NOVAK: I enjoy political funerals, and I want to recite the death of a couple of famous politicians. The senior Republican in the House of Representatives, Phil Crane, of Illinois, 75 years old, he has been -- he replaced Don Rumsfeld in a special election in 1969. Looks like he's been defeated today.
And two middle-of-the-road Texas Democrats, Charlie Stenholm and Martin Frost, have been defeated. The day of the Texas -- of the white Texas Democrat, Begala, is gone!
BEGALA: ... I'm still white, I'm still a Texan, and I'm still a Democrat.
NOVAK: But you ain't in Congress.
BEGALA: Let's talk about your state of Illinois, though, Bob, in that race, the senior Republican, Phil Crane, is apparently going down to defeat to Melissa Bean. This was a bit of a proxy war. House Speaker Denny Hastert, being from Illinois, swooped in these last few weeks to try to prop up Phil Crane, practically ran his campaign, my sources tell me, while my friend, former Clinton White House aide, Rahm Emanuel, who's a congressman, a young turk freshman Democrat from Illinois, swooped in to kind of help Melissa Bean. It looks like this is one that is going for the young turk and the Democrat against the old guard of the Republicans.
ZAHN: I want you to walk through the time zones now. Let's move beyond James's mantra of Ohio and Florida. What do we look for next?
CARVILLE: Eastern time zone, Ohio, Florida. President carries both, it becomes almost impossible for Senator Kerry to win. If it splits, Senator Kerry carries Ohio, then Bush has got to take Iowa and Wisconsin. Then you go out to the Mountain Time Zone, where New Mexico and ...
CARLSON: And Nevada.
CARVILLE: ... and Nevada is in the actually Pacific.
CARVILLE: Yeah, Colorado. Most people think that Colorado will...
BEGALA: So far, everybody is holding their serve, if this were a tennis match. Ohio and Florida were two states that went for Bush. We'll see if he can hold both of them. If he does, it's very good for him.
Then Iowa and Wisconsin, two states that went very narrowly for Al Gore, John Kerry has to hold them or he's through. And then Nevada and New Mexico split the last time. We'll see who picks them up.
NOVAK: Let me say one thing. This has been a very vicious campaign, a negative campaign, a divisive campaign. And a lot of trouble in this country, you know. Terrorism, the economy has not been good. We have got a war in Iraq. And after all of this, to look at the election, it's the same as it was four years ago.
BEGALA: That's exactly right.
NOVAK: There's no change.
BEGALA: Same as it ever was.
NOVAK: There's no change.
BEGALA: Right? David Byrne, same as it ever was.
ZAHN: Well, there is one change. In spite of the skepticism about this process and the negativity of both campaigns, people seem to have voted in record numbers.
CARLSON: As Paul points out, despite the negativity, but because of it they vote.
BEGALA: ... feed that negativity somewhat. We're very proud of that. ZAHN: All right, gentlemen, we'll back in the next hour. Wolf, see you then.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Paula. It's almost 11:00 on the East Coast, only a few seconds to go. Five states are going to be closing polling at 11:00, for a total of some 81 electoral votes at stake. We're going to be able to make some projections, but we'll wait another 10 seconds or so until it hits exactly 11:00 on the East Coast, and then we'll be able to project some winners. Let's take a look right now at 11:00 p.m. on the East Coast.
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