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America Votes 2006

Aired November 9, 2006 - 23:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Anderson, very much.
In a few seconds, we'll be able to make some projections out in the West Coast. It's approaching 11:00 p.m. right now. The state of California, Hawaii, among others that are going to be closing their balloting in four seconds. And as they do, we can look at the boards and make these projections.

Diane Feinstein, re-elected we project as the United States Senator from California. And Daniel Akaka, re-elected as a Democratic Senator from the state of Hawaii. Both of them, serving more many, many years in the United States Senate. Neither of those two races a surprise.

We are not yet ready to project the winner of the California gubernatorial race, but we are ready to project the winners of Diane Feinstein and Daniel Akaka.

Let's go to Connecticut, the Fifth Congressional District in Connecticut right now. Another major pickup for the Democrats in Connecticut right now. Take a look at this. In the Fifth District of Connecticut, Nancy Johnson, the Republican incumbent, losing to Chris Murphy, right now with 44 percent of the precincts reporting, 56 percent, 44 percent, but based on all of the information we're getting, Murphy will win, beating the incumbent, Johnson.

And by our account, this would be the tenth Democratic pickup in the House of Representatives. Remember that magic number is 15. They need five more, without losing any of their Democratic-held seats among the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. They've picked up 10 Republican seats, by our projections. They need five more. If they get those five, they will be in the majority and they will presumably pick Nancy Pelosi to be the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Anderson, I guess the Democrats are getting a little bit more -- I guess, anticipating a victory in the House.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Five more -- five more seats are need in the House. And of course, still three more in the Senate.

But as John King said, that fire wall is still holding up very strong. We should also point out that Michael Steel, lieutenant governor in Maryland has not conceded. CNN has projected he has lost, but he is not conceding at this point.

BILL BENNETT, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, just when I said he should move to Virginia, I got a bunch of e-mails and phone calls saying we have not conceded and it looks to us like it's even. So we'll wait and see. I know you all -- we all projected, but let's wait and see.

COOPER: What are you looking for in this next hour? Or what are you seeing so far?

J.C. WATTS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think, you know, Anderson, when you look at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Northup (ph), Johnson in Connecticut, losing those kind of races, I think very good, effective members.

But we felt like that was going to be tough to sustain those seats in this environment. But when you get to start -- when you start losing Charlie Bass, we're keeping an eye on Deborah Pryce up in Ohio. Those type of seats, you're kind of getting into the muscle of that -- of the Republican conference.

And so, I said yesterday, 18 to 20 seats. I don't know what's going to happen, but I do think they're crawling and getting there slowly but surely.

COOPER: Do you think Republicans will hold on to the Senate?

WATTS: I do.

COOPER: You do?

WATTS: I do, yes.

COOPER: Bill Bennett, you agree with that?

BENNETT: Yes, I do.

COOPER: What do you think?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I don't think the Democrats will take the Senate. I've been consistent on that for a while, because of the geography.

Now, it's also because only one-third of the Senate is up. You know, the entire House is up and I think that's why Democrats are doing better. This is just a bad year to be a Republican.

Yes, there are those scandal seats that we talked about. Don Sherwood had this problem with allegedly having domestic violence. But regionally...


COOPER: You slapped an allegedly in front of there. You can say anything.


BEGALA: But I think that there's some of that, right? But maybe even as many as 10 seats my, Republican friends say.

But there's a regional thing that's going on here and it's the president, stupid, right? I mean, Nancy Johnson is a popular, long- term veteran incumbent, successful Congresswoman. You know, come January, she's an ex-Congresswoman. And it's not because all of a sudden she got stupid or untalented. It's because she was hitched to a very unpopular president.


COOPER: Just got some more pickups. I just want to go to Wolf. We'll be right back -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right Anderson, thanks very much. We're getting three more projected Democratic pickups in the House of Representatives.

In Arizona, Jeff Greenfield, Take a look at this, Randy Graf, the Republican incumbent losing in that Arizona, the 8th District in Arizona. This is a major pickup for the Democrats.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is Randy Graf won a primary against the candidate that the establishment Republicans wanted. He ran a very, very strong alien immigration message. He won the primary...

BLITZER: This is the Jim Colby seat?

GREENFIELD: That's right, the retiring Jim Colby, the only openly gay member of the Republicans refused to endorse him. And that was a district that was -- looked to be in trouble for the Republicans and indeed Randy Graf as gone down in defeat.

BLITZER: Here's another pickup in Florida, the 22nd District. Clay Shaw, the longtime Republican incumbent, we project will lose.

GREENFIELD: And that's another case of an incumbent who when this year started would have been on nobody's endangered list. He's, as you say a long-term incumbent, he's a relative moderate, certainly for Florida Republicans, but he has gone down to defeat.

BLITZER: And Ron Klein will be the next United States Congressman from that district, which is part of Ft. Lauderdale and that whole area down in Florida.

Now, take a look at the 9th District in Indiana as well. This is another Democratic pickup.

GREENFIELD: Yes. And it is a flip-flop flip. Baron Hill, who lost two years ago by about 1,500 votes, has now reclaimed his seat by not quite the same margin, but by a very narrow margin. Indiana Nine just keeps going back and forth from Republican to Democrats.

But you now see something interesting. Three different states, three -- two solidly Republican seats in one swing district all going to the Democrats. And here... BLITZER: Here's another Democratic pickup just coming in. New York state, in the 20th district, a longtime Republican John Sweeney, losing right now. This is a major pickup in the northeast for the Democrats.

GREENFIELD: Remember my conversation about domestic issues? John Sweeney was a very popular Republican, but the report of a police visiting the home of Congressman Sweeney, embroiled in a domestic dispute with his wife, turned that race around.

BLITZER: John Sweeney, and Kirsten Gillibrand is going to be elected, the Democratic Congresswoman from New York state in the 20th District. John Sweeney, the longtime Republican incumbent, losing, according to our projection.

Anderson, they're getting, if they're not at 15 yet, they're almost there.

COOPER: Very close indeed.

Amy Walter with the "Cook Political Report," is monitoring this all for us.

What do you make of it?

AMY WALTER, "COOK POILTICAL REPORT": Well, It's going along at quite a clip here in these last couple of minutes.

COOPER: Just like John Sweeney...


WALTER: ... John Sweeney just losing in upstate New York. That was a very close race. That was where sort of the bottom dropped out for Sweeney in these last two weeks with the accusations that had come out in the campaign.

And it looks like now you're going to see Democrats also picking up a seat in New Hampshire -- they've already picked up a seat in New Hampshire. They've already picked up a seat in the other suburban district up there in Connecticut, Nancy Johnson's seat.

So these are these three very swing districts, two of them districts won by John Kerry, where Democrats have been able to knock off in some cases longtime incumbents who have been able to hold onto their seats even as the national party wasn't doing well. This time they're running against such a big head wind, those Republican incumbents just couldn't make it.

COOPER: Also in Florida, Clay Shaw in Florida 22.

WALTER: Clay Shaw, same thing. I mean, these are longtime Republicans. They have won through thick and thin. And this is what Republicans said early on, they said our guys are prepared, they're battle tested. They can win these seats. The problem was -- they did. And some of them ran very good campaigns. But they couldn't beat the environment.

COOPER: Were you surprised, though, of Mark Foley's seat, Joe Negron, he's conceded now, but a very close race.

WALTER: It looks like it's too close to call, so I always expect that maybe he knows something that none of us know. That it may be just one of those races where he's seeing numbers that we can't see from here. He's got somebody on the ground.

COOPER: And let's go back to Wolf Blitzer, who has some new information about the House --Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. I think we are now ready to make a major projection in the House of Representatives based on all the projections we've made so far. It now looks like the Democrats will, in fact, win control of the House of Representatives, capturing those 15 seats they need, without losing their own seats. A net gain of 15. We can now project that the Democrats will be the majority in the next House of Representatives.

That means Nancy Pelosi will be the speaker of the House. That means Democrats will be in charge of all of the various committees in the House of Representatives. It will represent a significant change in the balance of power between the executive and the legislative branches of the U.S. government.

The Democrats had hoped that they would get those 15 seats without losing any of their own. It now appears, based on our projection, that the Democrats have done precisely that and they will be the majority party in the House of Representatives.

Now I can't say that for the Democrats in the Senate. They've picked up a net gain of three so far. They need three more in the Senate. There are still very, very close races out there, so we don't know what's going to happen finally in the Senate. But we can project that the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives.

A lot of happy Democrats out there right now. And presumably, some nervous Republicans, because with the majority status in the House of Representatives, the Democrats will be able to engage in much more robust oversight of the Bush administration, including the subpoena power if they decide to go down the road.

We're going to be hearing from the new leadership in the Democratic Party and the House of Representatives presumably throughout the night. We'll bring you what they have to say, but we can now project that the Democrats will be the majority in the House of Representatives.

Jeff Greenfield?

GREENFIELD: Well, 12 years of Republican rule come to an end. What we do not know is the margin, whether the Democrats are going to be in power with four or five seats or 10 or 15 seats. That could make a huge difference. Nancy Pelosi has already said that in the first not 100 days, I think, but almost 100 hours, they are going to offer a specific series of proposals. Look to me to be very focus group tested for maximum appeal. Raising the minimum wage, implementing the 9/11 commissions, stem cell research, making it possible for the federal government to negotiate for lower prices on prescription controls. And they are saying in no uncertain terms, no, we are not interested in impeachment. We are interested in a middle class agenda.

The interesting question, Wolf, is when you look at the Democrats who will take over committee chairs, these are some of the old liberal lions in the House. And for weeks Republicans have been saying, do you really want Charlie Wrangle of New York running the Ways and Means Committee, which does taxes? Do you really want John Conyers at the Judiciary Committee? Do you want Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco -- which is a code word that I think has a pretty clear meaning of extreme liberal -- do you want her running the Congress? Well, that's what we're going to have.

And one more quick point. When these moderates and conservatives come in...

BLITZER: Hold that thought. I want to go to Dana Bash. She's in Washington over at Democratic Party headquarters.

Dana, they must be very, very excited right now, based on our projection that the Democrats will be the majority in the House of Representatives.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think you can hear them because I can barely hear you with the screaming behind me. Certainly, the people here, Democratic aides, staffers around Washington, here to celebrate and they're definitely celebrating, as you can hear behind me.

But not to rain on their parade, but I can tell you, Wolf, talking to a Democratic leadership source here, they are not ready for the leaders to come down and claim victory yet. Why? Because there are actually two incumbent Democratic House members in the state of Georgia who they are a little bit worried about right now. So, if they don't win, and perhaps two other seats are not taken from Republicans, they don't get to that part. But -- they don't get to that point of 15 seats.

So they're cautious right now. They're going to wait and see what happens in those two seats of Georgia.

BLITZER: We're going to watch that very closely, Dana. The leadership of the Democratic Party, they basically have gathered where you are right now, is that right?

BASH: Well, that's right. We have the Senate leadership, the Senate Leader Harry Reid, as well as the man who was in charge of getting Democrats elected to the Senate, Chuck Schumer. They are upstairs in a suite of this hotel where I am. But the Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as other members of the leadership, are across town, hunkered down at the Democratic headquarters. But we do expect them to come over here.

But again, they are waiting to see what happens in these two seats in Georgia. Remember, President Bush just last week went down to campaign for a Republican challenger. There wasn't a lot of that at all this year. Of course, most of the incumbents were Republicans. But again there are two Democrats. We'll see what happens.

So they're going to wait and see how the math plays out over the next few minutes or so to see whether or not they can come down and celebrate like the people here are behind me.

BLITZER: All right, Dana, we'll be watching together with you.

Once again, CNN now projects that the Democrats will be the majority party in the next House of Representatives. They will have the necessary seats when the dust settles. When all is said and done, the Democrats will have picked up their minimum of 15 seats that they need.

Anderson Cooper, let's get some assessment from our analysts.

COOPER: John King, what do you make of it?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESONDENT: Well, we're going to have to wait for those two Georgia seats. Of if they lose one or two of those, it'll have to be offset elsewhere. As we move to the West and get more results.

But this projection, by all accounts and by the trends we are seeing, will hold up. And it is a fascinating moment for the country.

You will have the Democrats running the House. The Senate is still an open question mark. Nancy Pelosi was vehemently critical, fiercely critical of this president, saying he doesn't listen, he doesn't get it, he's been lying to the American people about the war in Iraq.

President Bush was on the road this last week, saying Nancy Pelosi keeps saying she won't raise your taxes, but she will. A lot of personal rhetoric thrown back and forth between the woman who will be the speaker of the House of Representatives and the man who is still president for two more years.

After this election, they will say nice things tonight, they will promise to work together. The interesting thing -- I would love to listen in to the phone conversation when George W. Bush has to pick up the phone and call Nancy Pelosi and say, congratulations, Madam Speaker.

COOPER: Maybe they'll record that somewhere.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Maybe, but I doubt it. What sort of strikes me is that there was this big Democratic push for change. We're going to change things, we're going to change things. But when it gets right down to it, it's going to be very difficult to change things. You are going to have a divided government even if the Democrats take the Senate because you've got a man with veto power and I suspect he'll find a veto pen in the next couple of years.

And so you have a man with veto power and let's say the Senate does go Democratic, which we have no idea whether it will. You still have a government that is divided. So I think if people think that they voted for change and suddenly there's going to be this new direction will be disappointed come January.

COOPER: Gridlock?

WATTS: Absolutely gridlock. And I want to see what the president's going to do. You know, Cheney has already told us what the White House is going to do when it comes to Iraq, which is change nothing. That's what the vice president of the United States already said.

It's going to be interesting to see because don't forget, this is a president who even when he had a Republican Congress, often went around it or through it. This is a president who signed more signing statements, they're called, which is like an executive order, allowing the executive branch to make a move without consulting with the legislative branch than any president in history.

So it's going to be interesting to see what happens with Democrats because we just go through them too.

COOPER: Let's check in with some of our analysts, see what they think about this.

Bill Bennett, what does this mean to you?

BENNETT: Well, I disagree with the last -- the president is willing to change things, will change things. Won't change his commitment in Iraq, but I think you will see some things.

The presidential sweepstakes begin Wednesday. And what's going to be interesting is to see whether as several of us are saying -- I think Paul as well, he can speak for himself -- whether this is a move toward the center, especially with the election, some of these very centrist, even conservative Democrats. Nevertheless, go through the list of the committee chairmen who will be taking over. That is a liberal group, a very liberal group. So we'll see that.

People will be -- you may have gridlock, but the American people will be looking as we look toward 2008 to see what people are saying and what they mean and what they stand for. And that starts Wednesday.

COOPER: I know we're about to lose you because you're going to, you've got your radio program 6:00 a.m. on...



COOPER: ... Salem Radio Network, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Morning America. What's your headline tomorrow on your radio program? BENNETT: The headline is, it's the six-year itch, it's the second year of the second term. Democrats will take 22 -- that's my guess, 21 maybe -- and the Republicans hold the Senate. Gridlock government, the presidential campaign begins.

COOPER: Does President Bush, J.C., now have to change? Does he have to compromise more if he wants to get things done?

WATTS: Well, I think he'll -- I think he'll have to be open to reaching out. The American people -- the American people have spoken. And the Democrats are going to control the House of Representatives and they're going to control chairmanships and subcommittees and so forth and so on. So he'll have to reach out about and I suspect, you know, if things get too crazy, he'll be forced to use his veto pen. So there's still some options that he has. But he's going to have to be a lot more -- a lot more consolatory.

COOPER: He's used that veto pen once on the embryonic stem cell research, an issue this summer.

Nancy Pelosi as speaker, what does that mean?

BEGALA: Well, it means that there's a race to the center, and which of these two big leaders now -- Nancy Pelosi and the president -- will be able to get there first?

Okay, I'm a Democrat, but I'm betting on Nancy for other reasons, too. She is a practical politician. She grew up in Baltimore. Her father was the mayor. I mean, she understands how to get to a majority. And she understands her majority is being begin to her by moderate and conservative Democrats.

President Bush got along great with Democrats in Austin. He has the capacity to work in a bipartisan fashion. But he changed when he came to Washington and decided to have a base-driven strategy, rigidly ideological, uncompromising, and that has fallen apart tonight.

So which of these -- you know, Ronald Reagan worked quite well with Tip O'Neill and they didn't agree on anything. Bill Clinton worked with Newt Gingrich, even when Newt was impeaching him.

Can President Bush show that largeness in spirit? I'm a doubter. OK? He's a nice man, but I'm a real doubter that he has that greatness in him that Reagan and Clinton had.

COOPER: Very briefly, James Carville?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Always briefly from me...


COOPER: We'll start off with you next time.

CARVILLE: That's all right. I would like to remind everybody that in the six years of President Clinton's term, we had a popular president. He actually picked up seats. We tend to forget...


CARVILLE: I'm sorry. Excuse me for speaking while you interrupted me, Mr. Bennett.

BENNETT: Sorry, sir.

CARVILLE: I haven't interrupted you tonight.


CARVILLE: And I will make up the point that President Clinton had picked up five seats. Just as we have a story, yet it's not a minor story. The House of Representatives is changing in power and the Democrats are going to pick up seats in the United States Senate. I would expect that some people would graciously say, congratulations, we look forward to working with you.

COOPER: Do you think that will happen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, we look forward to working with you.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

COOPER: And we said that Bill Bennett's got to leave because you've got to wake up early, do your radio show at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow.

BENNETT: Yes, sir. Thank you very much.

COOPER: Thank you for being with us.

BENNETT: Thank you very much.


COOPER: We're going to talk to J.C. in just a moment.

Let's go back to Wolf and another projection, I believe.

BLITZER: All right, Anderson. Thank you very much. We projected Maria Cantwell, the incumbent Democrat in Washington state, will be re-elected, beating back a challenge from Mike McGavick. Maria Cantwell stays in the United States Senate from Washington state.

Let's update our viewers, Jeff, on where the balance of power in the United States Senate stands right now based on what we know.

GREENFIELD: Well, we had 33 seats up and there are one, two, three, four, five, six yet uncalled. Democrats need six seats to win.

If we give Connecticut and Vermont's independent Senators to the Democrats, they now have 48, Republicans have 46. If you assume, as most people do, that when Arizona comes in, Jon Kyl will be re-elected -- that's not a certainty, that's just an assumption. And if you assume in Nevada that John Ensign will be re- elected, which virtually everybody assumes, guess what you have? With four seats outstanding we are at 48-48.

And now we -- this is what's deciding it. We look to Tennessee, where Harold Ford, Jr., the Democrat is locked in a tight race, slightly trailing former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker.

We look to Virginia, where incumbent Senator George Alan has the last time I looked an 11,000 vote lead over Jim Webb, with about 97 percent of the vote in.

We look to Montana. We don't know what's going to happen there, where Conrad Burns is battling John Tester.

And we look to Missouri, where Claire McCaskill and Senator Talent are locked in a very close race.

What needs to be said is the Democrats need of the four competitive seats we talked about, they need to win three of those four.

One more point. If they don't do this, if the Republicans keep the Senate, this will be the first time since Senators were popularly elected that a party has taken the House without taking the Senate. There were some among us who believed those two go hand in glove. It may not happen tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Stand by for a moment, Jeff, because I want to go to the Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. He's speaking right now. If in fact he concedes that the Democrats will be the majority in the Senate. We'll listen closely. Let's listen in briefly.

REP. DENNIS HASTERT, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You know, there's a lot of great things we can continue to do. We need to keep this country safe. We have a great obligation to do that, and a great challenge to do that.

We've been honored to be able to work on that since 2005 and get it done. We have a great opportunity to keep our economy rolling. We've been able to do that. We just need to continue to do it. We watched some of the House races, especially in the East, were kind of tough out there. But, you know, we've got some opportunities in the West and maybe some pickups out there. And we're going to continue to watch that the rest of the night.

I'll have a statement for the press tomorrow, as far as the House of Representatives. But again, in this race, I just want to say to everybody, thank you, God bless you, God bless America. Thank you very much.

BLITZER: All right, Dennis Hastert. He's been re-elected in his district in Illinois. The question is, will he be speaker of the House? We have projected the Democrats will be in the majority and Hastert will not be the speaker of the House. Presumably Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader right now, will emerge as the next speaker. She would be the first woman ever in the history of the United States to be the speaker of the House of Representatives after the vice president next in line to the president.

Right now we've projected the Democrats, when all of the votes are tallied, when all of the dust is settled, the Democrats will have enough seats to be in the majority in the United States Senate -- United States House of Representatives.

We're going to be speaking to Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican Party. We're also going to update you on those four key Senate races that right now hold the balance of power. We'll give you the complete update and all of the numbers that are coming in.

We're here at CNN election headquarters in New York, and we'll be right back.


BLITZER: It's approaching 11:30 p.m. on the East Coast. The U.S. House of Representatives, we projected, will be in the Democratic majority when the dust settles later tonight.

The Senate still remains in doubt. The Democrats have picked up three Republican seats so far. If they are going to be the majority in the Senate, though, they must pick up three more, a total of six.

And we've projected, according to Jeff Greenfield, has projected that these four open seats, these four seats in the Senate are still very much in play. The Democrats need to run three of them if they're going to be in majority.

Let's go one by one through them, in Missouri first.

GREENFIELD: Well, Missouri, Senator Talent holds a lead of about 55,000 votes over Claire McCaskill. Less than half of the votes in. As you often point out, and it's critical, we don't know where the votes are coming from. We know in Missouri, St. Louis and Kansas City delivered for the Democrats. Most of the rest of the state delivers for Republicans. That's what that's open.

Montana, we've only got 4 percent of the vote in. John Tester and Conrad Burns. I have to say these numbers are interesting, but essentially meaningless.

BLITZER: With only 4 percent of the vote in, it's still way too early to tell.

GREENFIELD: Here is the nail biter of the night. 98 percent of the votes are in and Allen, George Allen, Senator Allen leads James Webb by about 7,000 votes.

BLITZER: Out of more than 2 million cast.

GREENFIELD: Right. And that margin of Allen has been just shrinking ever so slightly every time they change the numbers.

In Virginia, if somebody wins by 1 percent or less, the loser has the right to demand a recount which must be granted.

BLITZER: And that's one state where it's incredibly close right now.

Tennessee, take a look at this.

GREENFIELD: Well, former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker holds a 3 percentage point lead. I like to do real numbers. That's about 46,000 votes, if I do the arithmetic right. 86 percent of the votes are in.

Once again, we don't know if Memphis, which is Ford country, is outstanding. We don't know whether Knoxville or Nashville is. But what we do know is it's very close. But clearly, of all of these races, Virginia is the one that is the closest. But that may be cold comfort for Democrats, even if they overcome this. They need three of these four states to take the Senate. And choose your cliche, Wolf. Inside straight? Run the table?

BLITZER: Whatever it is, we'll be here, we'll be watching until it's clearly resolved one way or another.

There's another ballot initiative that has received lots of national attention. And that's in South Dakota. Referendum 6, that effectively would ban all abortions in the state of South Dakota. And take a look at this. That referendum has been defeated, we project, by 55 -- right now at 38 percent of the precincts reporting, 55-45 in the actual count, but it looks -- we could project that that referendum will be defeated.

GREENFIELD: The referendum, the ban, was an absolute gauntlet thrown down in the face of Roe vs. Wade because it would have made virtually no exceptions. It would have been the most restrictive anti-abortion policy that any state would have tried to impose. And it was a clear way of saying we want you to overturn Roe vs. Wade, but the voters appear to have stepped in and said, you know what? That's too much.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to watch that as well.

Suzanne Malveaux is our White House Correspondent. She's got some information on what the president is planning on doing tomorrow -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we have just learned that the president is going to have a 1:00 press conference here at the White House.

Also, we've learned how the president found out about the news. It was Karl Rove who told the president, called him from his office to the residence, about 10 or 15 minutes ago to give him the news, to say that in fact the House would now be taken by the Democrats. We are told that the counselor to the president, Dan Bartlett, said that the president was very disappointed in the results. The president is not going to be making any calls this evening. He did make a call to the Republican chair earlier today, Tom Reynolds. But we expect those calls will be made in the morning.

We are also told, as well, that the president continues to watch the results come in and that he is still optimistic that the Republicans will keep the Senate. They have not given up on that, so they are optimistic.

But clearly, Wolf, this is a dramatic change for this White House. This is a dramatic power shift. There are a lot of questions about how this president will move forward and just how much political capital he has to move forward his agenda -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Suzanne. We'll be taking that news conference, 1:00 p.m. tomorrow, from the president, live here on CNN. Thanks very much for that.

Lou, this is a major, major change in what's going on in Washington. With the House of Representatives poised now to be controlled by the majority, the Democrats.

LOU DOBBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. A big change for which apparently the president, nor the leader, or the Republican National Committee were prepared.

But CNN has projected, of course, that the House of Representatives will be led in its new Congress by Nancy Pelosi, the -- who will become the first woman speaker of the House.

I want to turn now to Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Ken, you did not anticipate this. The president obviously saying he's very disappointed. First, what is your reaction?

KEN MEHLMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, my reaction is that there's still a lot of folks out West that are voting. Obviously, the results in the East have been disappointing and challenging and it's possible that Nancy Pelosi will be the speaker. We'll have to wait and see what ultimately comes out with respect to voting in the West.

I want to make sure people, whatever their political party, participate and that's obviously critically important wherever you are.

What I would say though is this, I think we always recognized this was going to be a very challenging year. If you look at the president's typical six-year election and the president's term, you've typically, since World War II, lost more than 30 seats. You also look whenever the nation's been at war, the president's party typically loses seats. What I think we've got to do is to continue to work, recommit ourselves to the principles we believe in and try to work on a bipartisan basis to accomplish those principles.

I also hope that all of us take time -- look, after the '04 election, I took a lot of time and I said, how can we do a better job serving the principles we believe in, the principles of limited government, the principles of peace through strength, the principles of free enterprise, of judicial restraint. These are principles that are critical to our party. We've got to continue to look how we can work, and in many ways work on a bipartisan basis to accomplish them.

DOBBS: To accomplish them and looking at the Senate, as Wolf Blitzer and Jeff Greenfield just went through. The races in Missouri...

MEHLMAN: Very close, yes.

DOBBS: ... Tennessee, Virginia. I mean, these are remarkably close, particularly...

MEHLMAN: They really are.

DOBBS: Particularly in Virginia. We have been waiting about 4- 1/2 hours for the results out of Virginia. That race is about as tight as -- and I will issue as Wolf did -- any suggestion from Jeff Greenfield that I resort to a cliche. But that is an extremely tight race.

The idea that there was a ban on gay marriage, an initiative on the ballot, if it is helping George Allen, it certainly is not helping him much, is it?

MEHLMAN: Well, I think at the end of the day, people voted on the basis of the choice of George Allen and Jim Webb. Obviously, Virginia's a state, as you know, Lou, that's in many ways changing. It's a state where there's a lot of growth. And this is going to be very close.

What was interesting to me, is if you look at where most of the returns have come in from, it strikes me that they've mostly already come in from northern Virginia. So I think while it's incredibly close, I think George Allen's lead looks to be pretty solid.

I'll tell you another state, though, that you didn't mention, that's critical, and that's Maryland. "The Washington Post" has withdrawn it's calling Maryland for Ben Cardin. Maryland is a state that remains incredibly close. There are a number of votes that need to come in. We have the opportunity tonight, and let's see what happens, potentially to make incredible history in Maryland.

Michael Steel, the first statewide African-American elected official, not only would his election to the Senate would be historic for both parties in Maryland, it would be historic for the Republican Party I think as well and for all Americans. And so the notion that that's a done one, I don't agree with. Michael Steel may make unbelievable history tonight in Maryland, which would be incredibly important for that state and for our country.

DOBBS: And this network, obviously CNN, has also made the same projection for Ben Cardin over Michael Steel in that race.

Do you anticipate that these races, whether one includes Maryland, Virginia, certainly, do you anticipate recounts and litigation?

MEHLMAN: Well, there could be. I think, under Virginia law, there may be an automatic recount that the state pays for. Each state is different. We'll have to see where they come down. Having been through the 37 days of purgatory in Florida.

DOBBS: Right.

MEHLMAN: I can tell you that I hope that it's able to be resolved amicably and quickly. I think that's in everybody's best interest. But we'll have to see.

A lot of it depends on what the local laws say. These are obviously all close races. I think Virginia remains incredibly close. And as I said, keep your eye on Maryland. Right now the numbers, Michael Steel is way ahead in the early numbers. And I think Michael Steel may have made unbelievable history, not only in Maryland, but among African-Americans supporting a Republican which I would personally find to be an incredible accomplishment.

DOBBS: I assure you, we'll be keeping our eye on all of these races into the late hours.

Thank you very much, Ken Mehlman...

MEHLMAN: Thanks a log.

DOBBS: ... chairman of the Republican National Committee.

"America Votes 2006" will continue. We're going to be keeping our eyes on those races and updating them right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back to CNN election headquarters in New York. CNN has projected that the House of Representatives will have a new majority, the Democratic Party will be in the majority when the new House convenes. We've projected that based on actual tallies, plus exit polls.

But it's still remains unclear what happens in the United States Senate. We have projected that there are at least three Republican- held seats that will become Democratic-held seats in the United States Senate, but if the Democrats hope to be the majority, they must capture three more.

There are these four states, Jeff Greenfield. I want to go through one by one because this is the real drama that is unfolding right now. These four states hold the potential for the Republicans to remain in the majority in the Senate or for the Democrats to become the majority.

Let's go first to Missouri.

GREENFIELD: In Missouri, Senator Talent holds a 6 percentage point lead over Claire McCaskill. These numbers haven't moved. It's likely less than half the votes are in.

One key question, did that embryonic stem cell initiative bring out moderates or liberals or did they bring out social conservatives to vote against them? We'll find that out when the exit polls tell us.

4 percent of the vote in at Montana, where Conrad Burns, who was pretty much given up for dead about a month ago, is facing State Senator John Tester. This was one of the great Democratic hopes for victory. It's tightened. 4 percent of the vote, we can say nothing about that.

BLITZER: What can you say about Virginia, other than it's incredibly close?

GREENFIELD: You can say that about 2.25 million people have voted and 6,000 votes separate Senator George Allen from Jim Webb.

And as we talked about a few minutes ago, if this race comes in at 1 percent or less, the loser can ask for a recount.

Whether or not there are other issues here about long voter lines, voting machines that didn't work, that will all come out if this race comes down to be this close.

BLITZER: 2 percent of the precincts have not yet reported, 98 percent of the precincts in Virginia have reported. We're going to see what happens. But if there's a recount, the state pays for that recount under state law.

GREENFIELD: Right. And we are trying to find out where the outlying votes are. Because that will make all the difference.

Lastly, Tennessee, Bob Corker with a lead over Harold Ford, Jr., 86 percent of the vote in, that is a 3 percentage point lead, about 58,000 votes. Can't call that race yet.

BLITZER: We're going to be watching these four races, because that's where the drama, as I said, is right now.

Let's bring back Paula and Bill for some exit poll results from Missouri.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're trying to make sense of a lot of numbers that have just come our way. And the one thing we wanted to try to put into perspective is talking about the people who voted yes on stem cell research, which has been an incredibly divisive issue in this campaign.

And here's what they had to say, 76 percent of those voted for Claire McCaskill, 22 percent for Jim Talent.

Now, another thing I think is worth looking at is the percentage of those votes who identified themselves as white evangelicals, 73 percent voting for Talent, 25 percent for McCaskill. What does this tell us?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It tells us that there's a very big divide on religious and value grounds in that Missouri race. Missouri has a -- is a state with a lot of white evangelical voters, a lot of born-again Christians.

The stem cell research has been very important there, very divisive, as you can see. Those who are voting yes on stem cell, 3/4, overwhelmingly for the Democrat and evangelical or born-again white Christians, almost 3/4 of them are voting Republican. That is why this race is so close. It's the values divide.

ZAHN: It is also a race we're talking about in terms of the amount of money spent on it. Show me the money state. What, $9 million pumped into the McCaskill campaign by the Democrats, compared to -- I guess that's 2 million more than the state of Ohio.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. It's one of the most closely contested states in the country. And if I had to pick a state that I would say is most representative, most typical of the country as a whole, it would be Missouri. And Missouri is tonight a very closely divided state.

ZAHN: Wolf?

BLITZER: Paula, thanks very much. Paula and Bill.

We want to continue our special coverage here from CNN election headquarters as we watch what's happening. The drama still unclear in the U.S. Senate. We'll get you an update on all the actual votes coming in in those four undecided battleground states that will determine the majority in the United States Senate right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage. We're at CNN election headquarters in New York.

I want to get back to a race that we projected a winner on already, and that would be in the state of Maryland, between Ben Cardin, the Congressman; Michael Steel, the Republican challenger, the lieutenant governor of Maryland. We projected that Ben Cardin will be elected the next Senator from the state of Maryland, succeeding Paul Sarbanes, who is retiring.

Right now, with 65 percent of the vote projected -- 65 percent of the precincts that are in, 52 percent going for Ben Cardin, 46 percent for Michael Steele.

You heard Ken Mehlman, here on CNN tell our Lou Dobbs only a few moments ago that "The Washington Post" has withdrawn its projected victory for Michael Steele. And we did check. That is true, "The Washington Post" has withdrawn its projection.

But CNN is staying with its projection that Ben Cardin will be elected because as we take a look at the outstanding vote, 66 percent of the precincts reporting, 34 percent still remaining, we've discovered what?

GREENFIELD: Well, we've discovered that, according to our information, the outstanding votes are coming from heavily Democratic areas.

BLITZER: The votes that still remain to be counted?

GREENFIELD: That's right. They come from Baltimore, which is traditionally...

BLITZER: Baltimore City.

GREENFIELD: The city of Baltimore. They come from Prince George's County.

BLITZER: Outside of Washington, D.C.

GREENFIELD: And they come from -- what's the third one?

BLITZER: Montgomery County, which is Bethesda, Chevy Chase Silver Spring, another suburban county of Washington, D.C. All of those areas are heavily Democratic. Now, Prince George's County is the home county of Michael Steele. So there may be some question there. But there's no doubt that Montgomery County and Baltimore City are very, very heavily Democratic.

GREENFIELD: Prince George's County is also the county where Michael Steele got the endorsement of some prominent African-American Democrats, who charged the Democrats of Maryland have taken the African-Americans for granted. So we don't know what that means.

But it is clear that -- at least if history's any guide -- that Baltimore and the outlying suburbs we talked about are Democratic votes.

BLITZER: Yes, they don't get much more Democratic, those three areas, Baltimore City, Prince George's County, as well as Montgomery County in Maryland. That's why we're staying with our projection that Ben Cardin will be elected the next United States Senator from Maryland.

Michael Steele, the lieutenant governor, who has run a very, very strong campaign in Maryland, will go down to defeat. But presumably, his political future remains very, very strong down the road.

This is an explanation we wanted to give in the aftermath of what Ken Mehlman told Lou Dobbs just a little while ago here on CNN.

But the key drama, Jeff, remains those four other, those four other states where the Republicans have -- take a look at this, we're ready to make two more projections in Nevada. The incumbent Republican John Ensign will be re-elected. Not a huge surprise.

Jon Kyl, we project, will be re-elected in Arizona as well. The Democrats had held out hope that they had a shot there. Clearly, Jon Kyl, we project, will remain in the United States Senate.

GREENFIELD: Right. They've poured some resources in, they sent some of their heavy hitters out to Arizona, but in the end Jon Kyl is re-elected.

That board that we played with now is solid and we are now down to those four Senate seats for sure.

BLITZER: And take a look at this. And I want to get a close-up of this. This is the Virginia race. Look at this. With 99 percent of the vote in, Webb has now gone slightly ahead of George Allen, with 1,141,052 votes compared to 1,138,676 votes for George Allen. Webb has gone slightly ahead -- this has flipped in the last few minutes.

GREENFIELD: And the reason is, according to my producer, Bob Ruff (ph), who's one smart guy, that the bulk of the votes that were not yet counted, were coming from Richmond City, an African-American area where you would expect the Democrat to run strong.

If that's the case, you can do the math, we've got about 2.3 million votes, 1 percent of the vote, maybe 25,000 votes left to count. If they are coming from that predominantly Democratic area, Webb may wind up this thing a few thousand votes ahead and it will be George Allen who has a right to demand a recount.

BLITZER: And I'm being told that 2 percent of Arlington County, outside of Washington D.C., in northern Virginia, still remains to be counted. And everyone has always assumed that that would be a heavily Democratic part of the state of Virginia.

GREENFIELD: It does bear repeating that George Allen entered this year assuming that he was going to be a landslide winner and set himself up for a run at the Republican presidential nomination. He is now fighting for his political life.

BLITZER: It doesn't get much closer. If you do the actual count, look at this. What is it, about 2,500 votes difference out of more than 2,200,000 cast in Virginia; 99 percent of the precincts now reporting. A slight, ever so slight, advantage going to Webb over Allen. But remember, remember, that if it's less than 1 percent, the margin of victory, the defeated candidate can ask for an automatic recount. The state has to do that.

Anderson, pick it up. It's incredibly tense in Virginia.

COOPER: It is incredibly tense. And one person who seems very happy right now is James Carville, who's been -- I don't know if, I don't think we caught it on camera, James, but you did basically like a touchdown for football.

CARVILLE: Look, if Webb holds on, and I spoke to the McCaskill people in Missouri, they said they don't feel so confident to tell me that they're going to win, but they feel very confident. If that happens, the Senate comes down to Montana. You're in for one thrilling night.

And one thing in the Virginia race that's interesting is, if it wouldn't be for the Green candidate, Webb would have won easily. But right now we have Webb ahead. I've spoken to the people in Missouri. They're confident, but not assuring me that they're going to win based on where the numbers are coming from. In that happens, Anderson, this entire night and control of the United States Senate will come down to the state of Montana.

COOPER: 3,000 votes right now separating Jim Webb...

CARVILLE: That's right.

COOPER: ... from Allen.

CARVILLE: And as the recount -- we had a recount in the attorney general's race last year where, where a Republican won by I think something like 327 votes. And it held up. Unless there's a big transposition error where somebody made a, from the Republican county, turned it around, the leagues generally hold up in Virginia.

COOPER: And as we're listening to James talking, we're looking at pictures from Democratic Party headquarters, where we're going to go shortly as soon as they start to talk -- Paul Begala.

BEGALA: This is what election night is for. So exciting, not just for Democrats doing well, I'm a Democrat. But I like having this nail-biter down to the end.

I was, while James was talking, I was on the phone with Jessica Vanden Berg, who's Webb's campaign manager. And she said some of the votes are "Newport News," traditionally, a pretty Republican area, but it's a naval area and Webb should do well there as a Marine and as a highly decorated Marine at that.

The rest, Richmond City, as Jeff pointed out, and some absentee votes in Arlington County. Webb's in pretty good shape.

COOPER: And CNN's Dana Bash right now is in Democratic Party headquarters. Let's go to her -- Dana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the last place in America to get the news. Well, let me tell you tonight, the news has arrived.

COOPER: We're having problems hearing what Dana is saying. Let's listen in to some of the speakers.

REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: The American people have sent a resounding and unmistakable message of change and new direction for America!


EMANUEL: We accept your votes, not as a victory for our party, but as an opportunity for our country.


EMANUEL: And we accept, humbly accept, your challenge to clean up a broken budget and broken politics.


EMANUEL: To promote policies that make it easier for hard- working Americans who are struggling with the costs of health care, college, prescription drugs, and retirement security.


EMANUEL: To get serious about breaking our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and enacting the recommendations of the 9/11 commission recommendations.


EMANUEL: And all Americans have recognized to finally acknowledge that what we're doing in Iraq isn't working and we desperately need to change course.


EMANUEL: We can do these things and we can do more if we put the long-term interests of our country ahead of a constant effort to seek political advantage. It's time for the endless campaign to stop and the hard work of governing to begin.


EMANUEL: And this is our pledge to you. You have given us a chance to turn this country around and we'll give you the government that no longer lets you down.


EMANUEL: We will do it by reaching across the partisan divide, setting aside the bitterness of the last few years and leading America in a new direction. That's our commitment. And tonight, we extend the hand of a cooperation to the president, our colleagues across the aisle. We will work with you when we agree. We will challenge you when we don't. But our goal will always be the best interests of our country.


EMANUEL: We welcome the opportunity to usher in a new era of responsibility in Washington. And there's a lesson, I want you to hear this lesson. The American people never lose their zeal for reform and neither can we.


EMANUEL: The old era of irresponsibility is over and the new era of real reform has just begun.

And I want to just thank a few people if I can. I want to thank one person in particular. She has been tireless campaigner, a heroic fundraiser. And she will soon make history as the first female speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi!


BLITZER: While we're watching what's going on, we're going to continue our special coverage. Larry King is standing by as well. Let's just recap where we stand. It's midnight now, here on the East Coast. The House of Representatives, CNN projects, will become Democratic controlled. That's why you hear Rahm Emanuel, who was in charge of trying to get Democrats elected to the House of Representatives, as enthusiastic as he is right now. The House of Representatives, CNN projects will be lead by the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi will become the speaker of the House.


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