Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Election Day Arrives; Discussion of Probable Results in Various States; Interview with Ed Gillespie; Long Lines for Florida Voters
Aired November 6, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The end of a grueling presidential campaign and an historic day for the nation. Voters are deciding right now who will be the next president of the United States. It's Election Day in America.
NARRATOR: Right now, it's up to the voters and America is waiting for the verdict. Will it be Barack Obama?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know what we want to do works. We know what they want to do doesn't work.
NARRATOR: Or Mitt Romney?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's offering excuses. I have got a plan.
NARRATOR: This presidential contest could be a squeaker until the end.
ROMNEY: We're going to win with your help.
OBAMA: We will win this election.
NARRATOR: We're live across the country in the swing states where this fight has been playing out for months.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hope and change has become anger, frustration, divide and conquer.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks, they're not sketchy. They're Etch A Sketchy.
NARRATOR: This is CNN's coverage of Election Day in America, the fight for the presidency, the battle for Congress, and the issues dividing the nation.
OBAMA: I still believe in you. And if you still believe in me, I'm asking for your vote.
ROMNEY: I need you to go out there and find me voters that will come join our cause.
NARRATOR: It's your vote, your future, your country, your choice. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're counting down to the first poll closings in just two hours. Our correspondents are stationed across the country and in all the key battleground states following the candidates and the voters, some of whom are waiting hours right now to cast their ballots.
We're standing by also for the first exit polls giving us a glimpse on -- what's on voters' minds and which way this race may go. Stand by for that.
We also begin right now with Mitt Romney, who is breaking with tradition by campaigning on this Election Day. He made brief appearances in Cleveland just a short while ago, as well as in Pittsburgh.
Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is on the scene in Pittsburgh.
Jim, tell us what's going on right now.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I can tell you just a few minutes ago, the GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, climbed up those stairs and entered his plane, and he's now headed off to Boston in just a few moments.
But it's been a very busy day for Mitt Romney. He started the day earlier this morning voting near his home in Belmont, Massachusetts, along with his wife, Ann Romney. Then it was off to Cleveland for what was undoubtedly one of the more memorable images of this final day of campaign 2012.
Take a look at this video, Wolf. You see on the tarmac in Cleveland, Ohio, Mitt Romney's campaign plane, Paul Ryan's campaign plane, we knew all that was going to happen. We knew they were going to visit Cleveland. But the big surprise of the day, Vice President Joe Biden landed on Air Force Two and parked his plane almost in between, if you look at the shot that was obtained by photographers earlier in the afternoon. Sort of an aircraft bracketing of the vice president's plane by the Romney and Ryan plane.
While those planes were sitting on the tarmac, Romney went off to a local volunteer center in the Cleveland suburbs where he thanked many of his campaign staff workers and volunteers for all their hard work. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are innumerable people across the country who are doing the same thing you're doing. You know the victory centers here in Ohio, they're victory centers all over the country. People are making calls to get folks out to vote because they know if we get folks out to vote, we will have the real change we really need in this country.
I'm so excited about the prospects. I got to tell you I'm buoyed by the spirit of the people across the nation. The enthusiasm, the support, the energy is just amazing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you, Mitt.
ROMNEY: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: We have an early readout on what Mitt Romney will be doing later on this evening. Obviously, he's on his plane now. He is heading back to Boston. We understand he will be watching the returns with his family at a location near the Convention Center in downtown Boston. That is where his election watch party will be held later on this evening.
I talked to a senior adviser about how they view the turnout so far to their campaign, Wolf. And what I got back from that Romney adviser is that turnout is up where it needs to be up. They view that as good news, but obviously there is still some time left on this Election Day -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim, are they pretty confident about winning Ohio right now, the Romney folks?
ACOSTA: They are predicting a victory in Ohio.
But I did talk to a Republican source who is close to the Romney campaign operation in Ohio who told me, Wolf, this will be close, "very close" in the state of Ohio. One reason why they're in Pennsylvania is because demographically speaking, it's very similar to the situation in Ohio in that you have a lot a rural working-class voters. That is a voting bloc that Romney has targeted throughout the campaign, but it does not have the baggage of that automotive bailout issue that's troubled the Romney campaign over in Ohio.
That's why they're making that late play here in Pennsylvania here, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta on the scene for us, as he has been every single day. Thank you.
Let's go to Chicago right now, President Obama's adopted hometown, where he and his family and top aides they are hunkered down, they're awaiting tonight's results. The president did make a surprise public appearance, even squeezed in a little bit of basketball while in Chicago.
Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is on the scene for us there.
Jessica, what are you hearing from the Obama campaign?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Senior Obama aides tell me that so far they are seeing no surprises in the data. Specifically, they say they see no surge for Governor Romney. What this means is Governor Romney would need a significant edge in the turnout on Election Day to overcome President Obama's early vote advantage in so many of these battleground states and what these senior Obama aides are telling me is that they are not seeing Governor Romney get that turnout edge today.
Of course, it is still early and far, far, far too soon to know. What they're also telling me is they are seeing high turnout across the nation on both sides. But they particularly point to Pennsylvania and Virginia and tell me they're seeing an increased African-American vote in both those states.
Obviously, that would be very good news for President Obama if the African-American vote there is higher than their margins, which they say it is. This could be a very, very good night for the president. I'm told they are feeling calm and confident. But as I say again, obviously they're giving me only the good news and it is way too early in the day to know how this will play out.
BLITZER: Tell us, Jessica, what the president did today.
YELLIN: The president woke up here in Chicago where he spent the night at home. He went to a campaign headquarters, not his own headquarters, but a work office, thanking people for all their hard work.
And he struck a bipartisan note reaching out to Governor Romney and his supporters on Election Day. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also want to say to Governor Romney, congratulations on a spirited campaign. I know that his supporters are just as engaged and just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today.
We feel confident we have got the votes to win, but it's going to depend ultimately on whether those votes turn out. So I want to encourage everybody on all sides just to make sure that you exercise this precious right we have and people fought so hard for us to have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: From there, Wolf, he went on to play basketball, and, as you know, it is his ritual to play basketball on every Election Day. The one time he skipped a basketball day was the day, that primary against Hillary Clinton and he lost in New Hampshire. So they said never again.
It was organized by his former aide Reggie Love. I pinged Reggie beforehand and I said, come on, are you going to win let the president win for this on Election Day? Reggie said, "I never give up a win" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We will be in constant touch with you out there in Chicago, Jessica. Thanks.
We have much more election coverage coming up. In the next hour, we're going to get the first exit poll results. This will be the first indication of where this night could go. Stand by for that.
And immediately following THE SITUATION ROOM, CNN's special live coverage of election night in America, all of that coming up 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
But next, we're less than two hours away from the first poll closings. So what will the Romney campaign be looking for? I will ask the senior adviser Ed Gillespie.
And, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and Iowa, we're live in the key battleground states this hour.
BLITZER: With every national poll putting the two candidates in a statistical tie, anything could happen tonight. The memory of the contest 2000 election has haunted every presidential race since. And both the Obama and Romney campaigns have their lawyers standing by just in case.
Let's talk about that and a whole lot more with Ed Gillespie, the senior adviser to the Romney campaign. He's joining us from Boston.
Ed, thanks very much for coming in.
ED GILLESPIE, FORMER REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thanks for having me on, Wolf. Good to be with you today.
BLITZER: So, if it's really, really close, at what point do either the Romney or Obama campaign, at what point do you start contesting, having the lawyers intervene? How close does it have to be?
GILLESPIE: Wolf, I don't anticipate it being close, actually.
I think when you look at the turnout in Republican precinct around the country in Republican areas, it is up so far and so much stronger than it was in 2008. We're not seeing the same thing on the Democratic side.
Independents in the latest series of polls have been breaking strongly for Governor Romney. I believe that he's looking at a decisive win tonight. I don't think there's going to be a lot of lawyering is my sense of how this day is going.
BLITZER: You know, a decisive win is impressive. How many Electoral College votes do you think you might wind up with?
GILLESPIE: Oh, I think 300 certainly is very, very doable.
We feel very good about Pennsylvania. Obviously Governor Romney feels so good about it, he was in Pittsburgh today. It's an important part of the state out west where President Obama's war on coal has had a devastating impact and has hurt jobs there, obviously Ohio very important, in Cleveland today as well.
We feel very good about the intensity and feel good about our ground game, but mostly we feel good about the closing message that Governor Romney has put out there, a very positive vision for the country, turn this country around, get our economy moving again, create 12 million jobs, very much in sharp contrast to what we heard from President Obama over the past couple weeks.
And we sense that that's resonating with the voters.
BLITZER: I know you will be looking at some early results. I will be looking, for example, at Loudoun County in Northern Virginia right outside of Washington, D.C., or Hamilton County in Cincinnati, in Ohio, Hillsborough County in Florida around Tampa, the crucial I-4 Corridor.
What are you -- what are you going to be specifically looking for?
GILLESPIE: Well, there are key counties, as you know, that people lock in on. You know, we're hearing, in terms of Florida, hearing great results, for example, in the panhandle, where turnout is through the roof. And Virginia, southwest Virginia, also coal country, where turnout is through the roof, as well as Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, which are very heavily Republican areas, they're bringing in additional poll workers to accommodate the turnout in those areas.
So, as you know, there are certain bellwethers that you watch for, and all of those bellwethers, what we're seeing is very positive for Governor Romney today.
BLITZER: You've heard the Obama folks say that you decided to contest -- try to contest Pennsylvania because you were losing in Ohio and this was, in their words, an act of desperation. What do you say to that?
GILLESPIE: I say that the map has expanded very much to Governor Romney's favor. We were fully funded in Ohio and we were looking at other areas where we could go into because of the success we've had, because of the support, not only from, you know, millions of volunteers who have been working the phones and knocking on doors but donors who have been very generous in their level of commitment to Governor Romney.
And when we saw what was going on in Pennsylvania, we thought here's a real opening in a pretty big state that favors Governor Romney. That's like we saw them in Philadelphia collar counties the other night, and in Pittsburgh today. So we feel very, very good about Pennsylvania. I think he's going to win Pennsylvania tonight.
BLITZER: You told me you're not bracing for a contested election. We have that little banner on the screen. But others -- others are, and there are a lot of lawyers out there. Obviously, we're going to have to wait and see what's going on.
We know the president has a little ritual on Election Day of playing basketball. Does Governor Romney have some sort of a similar ritual that he does on election days?
GILLESPIE: Not that I'm aware of. He spends time with his family, as you know, a very devoted family man and suspect he'll be, now that he's finished with some of these stops, he's spending some time with Ann and the boys and the grandchildren. And the -- so I think he's looking forward to a little bit of that before the results start to come in.
BLITZER: Is it normal -- having never been involved, but do the speechwriters sort of have two speeches prepared, a victory speech, a concession speech? Take us a little bit behind the scene.
GILLESPIE: Well, we feel very good obviously, so the governor I think one of the things he'll do is think about his remarks for tonight. But I'm feeling very confident here as I talk to you, Wolf, that we only need one speech. So we're looking forward to this evening and to the celebration here in Boston.
BLITZER: And you think you have Ohio, is that right?
GILLESPIE: Feel very good about Ohio. I believe we are going to win Ohio. And from what I've seen in terms of the counties where our turnout is high, our turnout is higher in counties that Senator McCain carried in 2008, sometimes, you know, 30 percent, 35 percent higher than in 2008. And we're not seeing that kind of turnout on the Democratic side.
So we're feeling very good about it. You know, we shaved the margin on early votes where Democrats initially do very well. But shifted about 263,000 early votes, took that advantage away from the Democrats. So, between the early votes, the Republican intensity and independents breaking our way, Ohio looks very, very strong for Governor Romney. I think we're going to carry it tonight.
And not only do I think that, the Republican Governor John Kasich believes that, the speaker of the House from Ohio believes that as well, and Senator Rob Portman who's been such a great asset to the Romney campaign believes it as well.
BLITZER: We're out of time, but one quick question. If you win Ohio, let's say you win Florida and you win Virginia as well. By our count, you would still need one more state to get over 270. What would that be?
GILLESPIE: Oh, there's a number of them. There's a lot of paths to 270. Obviously, I mentioned Pennsylvania, New Hampshire also on the eastern side. Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, I'm afraid I'm going to leave something out.
We have a lot of different paths that we can get to 270 with, Wolf. And we feel good about how things are trending today.
BLITZER: Ed Gillespie in Boston with the Romney campaign -- Ed, thanks very much for coming in.
GILLESPIE: Thanks for having me on. BLITZER: Thank you.
In the next hour, we're going to be speaking with David Plouffe from the Obama White House. He's got obviously a very, very different perspective. We'll hear from him as well.
We're less than two hours away, basically almost an hour and a half away from the first polls closing, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. We're going live to the battleground states where some voters are waiting four or more hours to cast their ballots. What's going on?
BLITZER: The race for the White House will come down to just a few battleground states. The biggest prize, Florida, with 29 electoral votes. The state turned blue for President Obama in 2008 after going for George W. Bush in 2004.
But the lines have been hours long in certain parts of the day, in certain areas in Florida.
Our own Ashleigh Banfield has been with the voters in a polling place in Miami.
Ashleigh, how long are the lines right now?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, they're starting to pick up a little bit. Take a look down the street a little bit, past the Romney campaign workers here, and the Manny Machado campaign workers here. And they're starting to pick up again, because people are getting out of work early and coming down here.
But, really, it hasn't been any less than two hours from start to finish, to line up, snake your way down the street, all the way back up the street.
Come with me. I'm going to show how much further it goes.
In the meantime, I'll tell you a couple of things going on today. Some of it disappointing, some of it not disappointing, but for starters, you should know that 40 percent of the registered 12 million voters here in Florida actually voted early. They are absentee and voted early. That's the good news.
The bad news is 700 of the ballots at least in one of the counties was thrown out, Broward County. They weren't signed, which is unfortunate.
How long have you been waiting?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About an hour.
BANFIELD: You're about an hour?
So, that's not bad. They'll probably end up being about two hours before they're finished, start to finish. We should tell you that a lot of people have been telling me that they tried to get an absentee ballot, that they called, they mailed in, and they just couldn't get it. I've heard that story over and over -- people unable to get an absentee ballot. So they've shown up today and some waited upwards of four hours.
Another thing I want to tell you is that some of the lines that we've been showing you today caught the attention of the Romney campaign. I met one attorney for the Romney campaign that was dispatched to take a look, and a poll watcher for the Romney campaign, same mission, make sure everything is working out.
Come with me so you can see inside. They reported to me they thought everything was fine. But here is a strange little nugget. One of them said there's a problem with pens. People are walking out with the pens. So they have a pen shortage.
One other thing I want to let you know. Inside, there are optical scanners. And of the others has been acting up to the tune of once every 10 minutes or so. But clearly, we have some good enthusiasm here.
And I just want to tell you something else about the voting. Earlier, I did get some numbers backwards and I want to correct that. Of those early voters, 1.74 million of them are Republican and 1.91 million of them are Democrat. This is a heavily represented Republican district.
And so a lot of these in-person voters are expected to be voting Republican, which might explain, Wolf, why we had the two Romney representatives to watch the voting and make sure it was going smoothly.
BLITZER: Ashleigh, thanks very much.
All eyes tonight on Ohio, another key battleground state with 18 electoral votes. In 2008, President Obama won the state by just a few percentage points. Four years earlier, George W. Bush won with a smaller margin of victory.
Our Carol Costello is in a polling station in Blue Ash, Ohio. She's got some information on provisional ballots that are being distributed as well.
First of all, where is Blue Ash?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Blue Ash is a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Hamilton County, Ohio, in the southwest portion of the state, traditionally Republican territory. But as you know, Wolf, in 2008, this went Obama. This year Republicans are hoping it swings back to the way it normally goes, for the Republicans and Mitt Romney.
Voter turnout here has been heavy across the county. No problems like you're seeing in Florida, at least in Hamilton County. And believe me, the poll watchers here, they were watching your show, Wolf, and saying if the folks in Florida would like to come down here to see how it's done, come on down.
Let's talk about these provisional ballots because this is the big controversy in Ohio. I know many of the viewers are saying what the heck is a provisional ballot? Well, let's say your address doesn't match the address here at the precinct.
Let's say that you applied for an absentee ballot and you decided, oh, I'm not going to fill it out. I'm just going to show up and vote in person. You would be -- you would have to fill out a provisional ballot and they would be set aside until the board of elections decided it was a good vote. There is nothing funky about it.
Now, here's the problem -- in elections past, poll workers filled out all of this information for the voters. This year, the secretary of state said, hey, I think the individual voters should fill out this personal information, like the last four digits of your Social Security number and your form of voter ID.
Now, you know when there's a little tiny change in how you vote anywhere, people get confused. So there's a good chance, some say, that these provisional ballots will not be counted and be thrown out and those voters' vote won't count.
The other thing, as you know, Wolf, these are not counted until ten days after the election. Two hundred thousand provisional ballots are expected to be cast. If the margin of victory is razor thin here in Ohio, just like it was in 2008, President Obama only won by 262,000 votes, you can see what a difference provisional ballots will make. And there you have it, I hope in a nutshell.
BLITZER: Yes, then we'd have to wait to start seeing those provisional ballot results on November 17th, if it's really close in Ohio, which it certainly could be.
Carol, thanks very much for being there.
We're only about 90 minutes away from the first poll closing, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. So how will this night go? We have predictions from our all-star panel. That's coming up next.
BLITZER: It's Election Day in America. In about 90 minutes from now, we'll start getting our first look at the actual results. The candidates have made their final push. They're calling on volunteers to keep up the good work. After a long campaign, it's all come down to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "STARTING POINT": The battle for every last vote is on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most expensive election in American history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down to the wire. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: All of you who lived and breathed the hard work of change, I want to thank you. You took this campaign and you made it your own.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: With the right leadership, America is going to come roaring back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's get straight to our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. She's got an excellent panel to discuss.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, I can't believe it's here. I think we've heard every election cliche over the last couple of years. So let's talk a little bit about today, since we don't know what's going to happen.
But let's talk about the vice president's surprise trip to Ohio. I mean, we heard yesterday that Mitt Romney was going there, that Paul Ryan was going there.
Now lo and behold, the vice president shows up on the tarmac with Air Force Two. What do you think about that, Governor Schweitzer?
GOVERNOR BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: I don't think anybody is changing their vote today. I think it's been baked at least for the last 72 hours.
BORGER: So why put Biden out there then --
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Because he doesn't play basketball.
BORGER: Do you think there's a little bit of sort anxiety maybe they were taking up the airwaves or --
ROSS DOUTHAT, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, the only thing that we've seen is we do have some numbers that are obviously very hard to read on how much turnout you have in different precincts and cities and so on in Ohio.
And there were some people saying on the internet, so take it with a grain of salt, that the Obama campaign was underperforming. The Romney campaign was overperforming.
So you can imagine somebody where somebody in the Obama war room said get Biden to Ohio, we need -- because I agree with the governor, right. Who people are going to vote for is baked in, but we need an election cliche here. It all comes down to turnout.
BORGER: I was on a conference call with Obama people yesterday where we asked this very question and the answer was, we would rather be getting our people out to the polls rather than diverting them with rallying.
NAVARRO: But you know what? It gives you some earned media, which is not completely dominated in Ohio by Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney being there at the same time. But if you looked at the shot at the airport today, you have the Ryan plane, the Romney plane, and then in the back, every shot had the Biden plane --
DOUTHAT: I feel like that's an onion, you know -- "Saturday Night Live" sketch or something.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL OBAMA ADVISOR: I mean, those of us who have done this stuff on the ground, you know, morale is very fragile. People have strained every nerve. They push very hard. They are in those rooms and they caught on TV and all they are seeing is the Romney-Ryan.
And then all of a sudden, you see Biden's plane pull up between the two in the shot, it boosts morale. I think a lot of what's going on here is that there is I think more progressive enthusiasm for this race than has been reported on.
You are talking about Ohio. The word is that the union vote is up 5 percent over the last time, because of the big fights over labor rights in Ohio so the union votes are going to come out strong. I think there's a lot of stuff going on out there. I thought seeing the Biden plane kind of pull up between the other two --
NAVARRO: And it's not just any old plane, it is Air Force Two.
BORGER: It would have been better if it were the president's plane, but that's a --
SCHWEITZER: Here is my concern with this election. There is a lot of enthusiasm, but it's negative enthusiasm. Unfortunately, neither side is saying we want to win because we have an extraordinary candidate. They say we want to win because we're scared of the other guys and --
BORGER: Well, is that the candidates, is that the negative campaign on the airwaves, is that the mood of the --
DOUTHAT: The nice thing about 2008 was that it was all potential, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. It was a restart. But now even if you think Obama has been a really good president, there are obviously been compromises and disappointments along the way. So you're having an argument about a record and inevitably there's going to be more negativity.
BORGER: Do you think that has to do with where the economy is? That people respect feeling the recovery or some people are and some people aren't?
JONES: One thing that we can all be proud of, though, is people's determination to vote. Across the board, that is something we've got to be proud of. I think we can be ashamed of how long it's taken people to vote.
Somebody on Twitter said, they had to leave the voting line to go back to work and said these long lines are like a poll tax. You have to have an economic consequence to try to vote. You shouldn't have to choose between participating in our democracy and participating in our economy. You should be able to go to work and vote the same day. I think we can all agree on that.
BORGER: OK, so I'm going to ask some of you who want to do it, not about who is going to win or lose tonight, because actually we can wait. Maybe it will be another 12 hours we might know but --
DOUTHAT: Or 12 days, you know.
BORGER: Twelve days, right, if the provisional ballots in Ohio need to be counted. But what are you predicting in terms of turnout, in terms of enthusiasm, in terms of what we're going to learn from this election? You're the eager student. Go right ahead.
JONES: I am -- I think that this myth of the progressive enthusiasm having fallen off the cliff is going to be disproved. You have young people in Colorado coming out. They're saying it might be because of the marijuana legalization issue.
BORGER: I'm going to give you that. Do you have one?
DOUTHAT: I'm just looking for something really unexpected tonight. Two unexpected possibilities, one is that Ohio and Virginia flip-flop everybody's expectations. Romney wins Ohio and it all comes down to Virginia somehow, which nobody has really expected.
BORGER: Or Florida.
DOUTHAT: Don't go there. And then the other thing I would love to see something important happen in Maine's extra congressional district. That has that one electoral vote. I think just from the point of view of entertainment value, it all came down to eastern Maine.
BORGER: OK, and that's one electoral vote.
SCHWEITZER: All right, here's my prediction, there will be some extraordinary political careers launched tonight by losers. Let's not forget that Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, all lost their first election.
It's what you say on that election night when you lose, when you say to your family and your supporters, thank you for being there, and then getting back on the phone the next day for the next week, for the next month and thanking everybody who supported you. There will be people who lose tonight that will be presidents in the future.
BORGER: Very quickly, Anna. We don't have much time.
NAVARRO: Two things. One, Romney wins Florida. That I feel very confident about. Number two, regardless of who wins today if it's Obama, you're going to see Republicans lining up immediately for 2016. If it's Romney, you're going to see Democrats will lining up immediately. We're in an endless campaign cycle.
BORGER: OK, well, let's wait like maybe 12 hours. We'll see what's going to happen. Back to you -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Gloria, thanks very much. So whoever wins the presidency tonight will certainly have work to do with Congress to try to get things done.
But who will be in control of the Senate, who will be in control of the House when all the votes are cast? We have a closer look at some of the tightest races.
BLITZER: It's not just about the race for the White House. At the end of the day, what will the balance of power look like on Capitol Hill? Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is monitoring that.
Let's start with that Senate race in Indiana. It's a close one, isn't it?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I think we want to start broadly just because we're going to set the table of what we're going to watch for tonight.
First, where things stand right now, 47 Republican seats in the Senate, keep that in mind because again, remember, they need a net gain of four seats in order to take control, that's the Republicans.
At stake tonight, what we're going to be watching, all of these white seats, 33 seats are all up for re-election. People in the polls and all of these states are going to vote for their senators right now.
But the reality is, many of these are not competitive, so we're going to stick with these white states. You mentioned Indiana. This is something that we're going to be watching very closely tonight, Wolf.
And I'll press this right here to show our viewers, Republican Richard Murdoch, he made headlines because he a couple of weeks ago said in a debate that a pregnancy resulting from a rape could be a gift from God. He plummeted in the polls.
So it is now a neck in neck race between him and the Democrat Joe Donnelly if and this is an open Republican seat. This was left by Richard Lugar who Murdoch actually beat in a primary. If Murdoch loses this seat, it is a tale-tale early sign that it will be really hard for Republicans to win.
We are going to know early because polls close early at 7:00. So this is one we're going to be watching for, kind of a bell weather. Then of course, the Marquis race, Massachusetts.
Incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown is up against the challenger Democrat Elizabeth Warren, who of course, was the president's consumer advocate. This has been a very, very tight, very hard fought and very expensive race going into today.
The polls show Brown down, but we'll see he's pulled off surprises before.
BLITZER: Now these races both could be tight and if they are, we'll see what happens. It could take a while before we could make a projection. Let's talk about the House of Representatives as well because there's been a lot of speculation on which direction that might be going.
BASH: That's right. This really shows our viewers the state at play right now. Republicans have a very big majority, 242-193. On the Democratic side, Democrats going into today need a net gain of 25 seats. Guess what? Not only -- talking about Democratic sources, not only do Democratic sources at this point not think they're going to get that, they think it's possible that Republicans will increase the majority at the end of the night.
So that is a possibility. There are a lot of hurt feelings among Democrats I talked to about these seats in the House because they feel that the president hasn't helped them enough.
Do you know how many robocalls he did for House races? One, he did one. Tammy Duckworth outside of Chicago and so there are some, you know, some tough feelings there and you know, we'll see. It's going to be even more --
BLITZER: Nancy Pelosi, she thought they were going to be in the majority, but you're hearing she could be wrong?
BASH: That's right and we're going to see what happens at the end of the night with her whether she sticks it out.
BLITZER: And Dana is going to be with us every step of the way watching what's happening in the Senate and the House.
Battleground Virginia, we're going to hear from voters there about what's on their mind as they cast their ballots for president of the United States.
BLITZER: All right, check out these pictures over here. Live pictures from Chicago that is President Obama's campaign headquarter headquarters. He'll be speaking at some point later tonight.
In Boston, the Boston Convention Center, Mitt Romney at some point will be speaking there. Eventually there will be huge crowds in both of those convention centers.
A little more than two hours from now, the polls will close in the battleground state of Virginia. Thirteen electoral votes are up for grabs. President Obama carried the state in 2008, but it went for President Bush in 2004.
Our Randi Kaye is joining us now from Woodbridge, in Virginia. Randi, what have you learned about turnout so far?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. I just got off with the State Electoral Board in a conference call and here's what they told us. They called turnout robust. They said it's likely bigger than it was in 2008.
They said it's been a huge turnout so far. In fact, in some precincts they had to bring in extra voting machines. Here in Prince William County was the longest wait to vote, which was about four hours.
The voter ID law they said didn't cause any major problems, just a few provisional ballots had to be handed out, but there were a couple of problems, Wolf. One is a couple people came in to vote and they were told that they already had voted.
So they were given provisional ballots. They were able to vote, but now those votes will be investigated to see if they can be counted.
But the biggest problem, Wolf, was in the city of Covington, where the electoral board said that President Obama was actually listed as the Republican on the electoral ballot, along with Mitt Romney.
So if you're voting along party lines, you may not know more than that that could be a real problem. So it's unclear how many people voted with the ballot that way. But then officials changed the ballot from the electronic ballot to the paper ballot and listed the president as a Democrat -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Hard to believe, this is the United States of America and there are problems like that. That's just one of many problems around the country. It's pretty shocking when you think about it.
Let's check in, in Iowa right now, six electoral votes at stake. President Obama took them in 2008, but Iowa was a red state in 2004 voted for George W. Bush.
CNN's Poppy Harlow is joining us from Urbandale in Iowa right now. What are you getting about early voters right now, Poppy? What are you seeing? What are you hearing?
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we can tell you, Wolf, is that it's a record. Iowa had set a record in terms of early votes. About 40 percent of all the people who will have voted here by the end of tonight will have voted early.
I want to pull up the numbers for you because they're giving Democrats a lead by about 66,000 votes, 282,000 nearly Democratic early votes. Republicans coming in at about 215,000 and no party affiliated votes early votes coming in about 174,000.
Those independent votes are very critical for both campaigns trying to get those votes here. Traditionally, though, Wolf, Democrats in Iowa do have a lead. They are better at getting out the early vote than Republicans.
What I am told is that this year that lead is much more narrow than it has been in the past so keep that in mind. I think that's important. I talked to both camp this afternoon. The Romney camp telling me in terms of Iowa, they're feeling great, feeling confident. The Obama camp telling me turnout is solid where we need it to be. Polls don't close here for five more hours still a long way to go -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Certainly is. All right, Poppy, we'll stay in touch. We're watching for voting problems on this Election Day in America. Up next, details of one machine that turned a vote for President Obama into a vote for Mitt Romney.
BLITZER: We're just learning that online voting is being extended in New Jersey. CNN's Ali Velshi is monitoring that and some of the other voting issues that are going on. Ali, New Jersey, of course, still struggling to recover from the superstorm disaster. Tell our viewers what you know.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: We've been hearing from New Jersey voters, those who were displaced or first responders for a couple of days now that they're having problems with this online fax voting system that New Jersey instituted after the storm.
So what New Jersey is doing is they're saying that anybody who qualifies for being displaced can vote until Friday. They have until Friday to download and return their ballot either by e-mail or fax. Here's the rub.
You have about a minute to apply. So you would have had to have applied by 5:00 p.m. Eastern today, get approve. It takes about an hour to 90 minutes to get approved because you have to prove that if you're not approved, which you have to state that you were displaced or somehow unable to vote and you have until Friday to cast that ballot.
It is a highly unusual move, but we have seen some action late this afternoon from voter groups to say they are prepared to file suit or take action against the government of New Jersey if they don't make it easier for people to vote.
BLITZER: Ali, there's one voting machine in Pennsylvania that's gaining national, if not worldwide attention. Explain to our viewers what is going on.
VELSHI: Very unusual, in fact, in the last hour, we have confirmed a second machine in Pennsylvania where the voters have taken video of them trying to vote for Barack Obama, you see very clearly in one case, a finger there, in another case the tip of a pencil, pressing Barack Obama and look what happens.
Mitt Romney comes up, over and over and over again. We have spoken to one of the voters who experienced this. We do know that the machine that you're looking at here was taken out of commission, recalibrated and put back into commission.
As of now, we have two reports of voters who complained their vote for Barack Obama in a Pennsylvania voting machine was changed to a vote for Mitt Romney. In both cases, the matter was remedied.
In one case, we know the machine was fixed and put back. We still are finding out what's happening to the second machine. One was in Perry County near Harrisburg. The other was in Union County in Pennsylvania so we're going to continue to follow that.
We ask our viewers to please tweet us @cnnvote -- hashtag cnnvotewatch and we will vote watch and we will follow up on all of these complaints.
BLITZER: Thanks for doing -- hard to believe these things are going on right here, as I said before, in ther United States of America.