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Look Ahead to Presidential Election

Aired November 6, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: This one has been circled on a lot of calendars for a while. It`s Tuesday, November 6h, election day, and we`re taking a look at how the day and the math could play out. I`m Carl Azuz. Let`s go.

First up, we want to talk a bit about how this day is going to go. For starters, it`s already going. In a unique election day tradition, two New Hampshire towns started voting at midnight. For the rest of the country, polls started opening up as early as 5:00 Eastern time this morning. By noon Eastern, voters will be casting ballots in all 50 states. Polls start closing at 6:00 p.m Eastern. And then the closings kind of move their way across the country. Now, voters are deciding on the presidency, of course, but also U.S. Senate and House races, some governors races, state and local elections, and proposed state laws. We`re going to have more on that coming up.

The presidency is expected to be a close race. In fact, a new CNN poll showed president Obama and former Governor Romney in a dead heat. Governor Romney is scheduled to visit Ohio and Pennsylvania today. President Obama is planning to spend the day in Chicago. Now, as the votes are counted and the election results start coming in, both candidates are going to be keeping a close eye on the electoral college count. That is the big prize today. Tom Foreman explains why and how this works.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The electoral college in its essence is basically a compromise, a compromise between having Congress select all of our presidents, which Congress once did, and letting us by popular vote select our presidents.

The electoral college is what actually elects a president. We all think we do, we don`t really. What we do is we vote for these people. These people are the ones who actually have the vote that actuate everything, that make it happen. Each state selects its electors from a bunch of the good citizenry of that state, and they are proportional by the size of the congressional delegation from the states. For example, all of your Congress members and your senators combined produce the number of electoral votes you get in your state. So California gets a whole lot, Texas gets a lot, Montana, North Dakota, not so much.

The behavior of the electors is one of the great acts of trust in this country, because only in a few places are they actually bound to what the people and the population say. They can change their minds, and there have been rare occasions in which electors have gone to the actual process of electing the president and said, I disagree with my state, and they have cast another vote.

One of the big reasons you always hear for the electoral college is that it evens out power a little bit. If you just had a popular vote, then the most populous state would really consolidate all the power, and if you lived in a state like North Dakota, you would have very, very little influence or ability to create any influence, unless you banded together with a bunch of other states. And beyond that, all the campaigning would only happen in giant population centers.

The biggest con you hear is that it can override the popular vote. People can triangulate the electoral votes, and actually win the presidency when most of the people in the country do not want that person in the Oval Office.


AZUZ: So 435 congressional seats, plus 100 seats in the U.S. Senate and three electors for the District of Columbia. That all adds up to 538 electoral college votes. It takes a majority of these votes, at least 270, to win the presidency. John King looks at the math for both of the candidates to see how those votes could add up to history.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Look at this. If the president can take Iowa, can take Wisconsin and can take Ohio, it`s game over. If nothing else changed on the map, that would get the president to 271, and it would be game over. That`s why the president is ending his campaign right here in the heartland, places where he can talk about the auto bailout. He thinks that`s a big plus for him. So that`s one way. That is the president`s quickest way. I won`t say it`s the easiest, but it`s his easiest, not an easy way to 270. So what does that mean? It means for starters, Governor Romney has to take the state of Ohio.

Let`s take these back and make them tossups and show you. That was the president`s fastest way. How does Governor Romney get there? He has to win the state of Florida. Not negotiable. Governor Romney needs Florida, he needs those 29 electoral votes. He has to take North Carolina. We already have it leaning that way, and he has to take Virginia as well. That`s 13 more. That would get Governor Romney there. Then, the governor`s most reasonable scenario is to take Ohio. No Republican has ever won without it. If Governor Romney can get those electoral votes, plus Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, what does that do? That would get him to 266. Over here in the east, he would need just one more, any one of the remaining states. If Governor Romney can do Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, any one of the remaining states would put him over the top. That`s what makes this one so, so, so important.


AZUZ: So who do you want to win? We`ve seen so many polls in this race for so many weeks now, we`re taking our own informal poll at Tell us whether you`re hoping for the incumbent president, the former governor or someone else to lead the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today`s shoutout goes out to Mrs. McKay`s and Mrs. Miller`s language arts classes at Glenview Middle School in East Moline, Illinois. In a blank, voters decide on a proposed government law or policy. Is it a rebuttal, a filibuster, referendum, or oligarchy? You got 3 seconds, go.

A referendum is a vote on a proposed law or policy. That`s your answer and that is your shoutout.

AZUZ: There is at least one referendum on the ballot in 38 states today. All in all, voters will decide on almost 180 proposed laws or policies, and that includes some pretty controversial issues. For example, President Obama`s health care reform law. Four states are voting on whether people and businesses can avoid the part of the law that requires that they purchase health care for themselves or their employees. Voters in other states will be looking at proposals that involve same-sex marriage, abortion, the death penalty and legalizing medical marijuana. And two states, Washington and Georgia, have referendums on creation of charter schools.

Watching the results come in on election night is kind of like watching history as it happens. I mean, these are the names that wind up in your textbooks. So as we wrap up our coverage of election day, we are going to take a look back at these historic announcements.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, Jimmy Carter is preparing to get into the presidential limousine. He will be making his concession speech.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Carter told by his pollster Pat Caddell that it is all over reportedly is preparing to concede defeat to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 presidential election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cable News Network`s election watch, presents election night, 1984.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:: So we have Mr. Mondale with 41 percent of the vote, and Mr. Reagan with 58 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN election night `88. From CNN Center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Bush easily crushed Michael Dukakis`s campaign, in the popular vote, as you can see, 54 to 46 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN election night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president-elect Bill Clinton, Vice President- elect Al Gore still relishing the smell of success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: William Jefferson Clinton has a job for four more years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:: He becomes the first Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt to win reelection to the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 18 minutes past two o`clock Eastern time, CNN declares that George Walker Bush has won Florida`s 25 electoral votes, and this should put him over the top.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by, stand by. CNN right now is moving our earlier declaration of Florida back to the too close to call column.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: With 270 electoral college votes needed to be elected president, right now, we`ve projected President Bush will carry 246 electoral votes, John Kerry 188.

And CNN can now project that Barack Obama, 47 years old, will become the president-elect of the United States.


AZUZ: All right, that was a look back at the past eight presidential elections. Tomorrow, we`re going to add a ninth to that list, and we hope you`ll elect to join us for that. I`m Carl Azuz. Have a great day, everyone.