Return to Transcripts main page

Lou Dobbs Tonight

American Votes 2009

Aired November 03, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you very much.

And as expected, troubling signs tonight for Democrats in key races for governor and for Congress. We'll have complete coverage for you tonight. Also, Democratic candidates are struggling in states that President Obama carried a mere 12 months ago and carried rather handily. This is a clear test of the president's political clout and possible rejection of the administration's agenda in at least three states.

And President Obama's ambitious menu of campaign promises, almost a year in office, what has he delivered on, what promises has he broken? We'll have all of that.

Plus, some of the sharpest political and economic minds in the country, they're joining to us to tell us what all of this means.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Tuesday, November 3rd. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Polls are closing and votes are being counted tonight for the first time since President Obama won the presidency. Voters are turning out in multiple states to decide key races for both governor and Congress.

Much has been made of the national importance of some of these contests and how they may reflect President Obama and his policies on a national referendum. We'll have complete coverage and analysis, all of the latest exit polling numbers and projected winners.

First let's go to Wolf Blitzer in Washington. He has the latest for us on the Virginia governor's race where the polls have just closed -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Lou, let me tell you what we can say right now based on the exit polls that we have been tracking throughout the day. What we can tell you is that Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia he is leading. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate, right now when we are able to project a winner, we'll do certainly so, but at this early stage, only a minute or two into the after the polls have formally closed in Virginia, we can report that the Republican, as expected, is leading, but we're not yet able to project a winner. As soon as we get that number, as soon as we are able to do so, we'll come back and we'll let you know. But in the meantime, it looks like the Republican is certainly leading over the Democrat -- Lou. DOBBS: All right, Wolf. And we will be coming back to you just as soon as we can make a projection here. Let's go now to CNN's Jessica Yellin in Alexandria, Virginia, where Republican Robert McDonnell has been leading Democrat Creigh Deeds throughout despite multiple campaign appearances by both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Jessica, how is it looking?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, as Wolf points out, Bob McDonnell has done a masterful job in this state of getting out the vote and getting especially independents to come out and support him. He has done a much better job at appealing to independents than the Democrat and we say so often, but this race really is about which way they go, those independent voters.

If this turns out to be a success for the Republicans, it would sting for the White House. Not only because President Obama made history by becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Virginia in 50 years but also because the head of the Democratic National Committee, Tim Kaine, is the current Democratic governor of this state. So to what extent would a Republican success really be a referendum on President Obama's agenda?

It really depends, Lou, on who you ask. Republicans say adamantly the folks we've talked to here today say they are casting a vote for the Republican as a repudiation of President Obama. Democrats say the opposite that this is a local election that has nothing to do with the president. The bottom line is you cannot ignore some of the local factors, even Democrats acknowledge Creigh Deeds ran a spotty campaign, failed to reach out to key constituents, and Bob McDonnell ran a very successful campaign as a moderate when he needed to be a moderate, conservative when he needed to be a conservative. No doubt the White House will be studying very closely what made independents vote the way they decided to go today. It will bode -- it will reveal significantly what the White House needs to do to appeal to those folks into the future -- Lou.

DOBBS: And we'll be dividing amidst all of that noise what is of course a rationalization, what is rational reasoning, and what are just plain old political excuses. Jessica thanks very much -- Jessica Yellin from Alexandria.

As Jessica just reported, the latest exit polls from Virginia show independent voters making a key difference in the governor's race there. Soledad O'Brien has been examining those numbers from today's big races and she has the very latest for us on that -- Soledad, the independents playing quite a role here.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. They may actually be the key number. We talked a little bit earlier about polarization. Democrats voting for Democrats, Republicans voting for Republicans, but independents are key here. When you take a look at how they're voting, the independents are actually voting for the Republican, Bob McDonnell, 60 percent, Deeds getting 39 percent of that vote.

This is a really critical graph, it might end up being the most crucial graph of the night actually. You heard Wolf just a moment ago saying that the exit poll suggest that McDonnell is leading and this really would be the reason why, but -- there's a but and it's a big but -- which is and it's really the race -- the reason we're not calling the race at this point it's fair to say, look at young voters, voters under the age of 30, they are going for the Democratic candidate.

Deeds getting 52 percent of the vote there, McDonnell at 46 percent, when you look at senior citizens though over 65, you can see that in fact they are -- they voted for McCain in the presidential election, voting for McDonnell 55 percent to 44 percent, so it's been said before, the race is going to be in the hands of independent voters and you can really see it mapped out right here. That is really true -- Lou.

DOBBS: And Soledad, obviously, it's the opposite direction that they went, those independents, just a year ago in the race for president.

O'BRIEN: Interesting, right. Yes, absolutely true. Those were Obama's voters, and now they're really heading toward to the Republican candidate in this and of course I think there's going to be much analysis at the end of the race depending on how it ends up, where people will be looking at those very figures, Lou, I think you're right.

DOBBS: All right, looking forward to it. Thank you very much, Soledad -- Soledad O'Brien.

Let's go now to the key governor's race in New Jersey where the incumbent Democratic governor, Jon Corzine, is in what is a clearly tight race with Republican challenger Chris Christie, and independent candidate Chris Daggett is also a factor in this contest. How big -- we're going to find out tonight. Mary Snow is in Parsippany, New Jersey. Mary, what is the latest?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, throughout the day, voters have been saying that property taxes are a key issue here, and New Jersey has some of the highest property taxes in the country. And that is why Democrat incumbent Jon Corzine has been so unpopular and really struggling in this race. He spent $25 million at least of his own personal wealth in this campaign.

He's also had help from President Obama who has made three campaign visits here in New Jersey. Republican Chris Christie, a former prosecutor, had been in the lead earlier on in this race. He has based his campaign on cutting taxes and government spending. But he was -- came under criticism for being vague about some of his ideas, and the independent candidate you just mentioned, Chris Daggett, really tried to tap into the discontent with the candidates in this race.

He saw his popularity a couple -- for the past couple of weeks reaching at one point in the double digits, at 20 percent at one point, but it has slid coming into election day. And Republicans are hoping that this will translate into votes for the Republican candidate, but it is too close to call -- Lou. DOBBS: And the turning point, Mary Snow, it looks to be, and I would like to know what your view is, the Republican challenger, Chris Christie, saying to the incumbent governor after a quote/unquote "attack ad" was run, and said man up, Governor, and just call me fat instead of those -- that commercial about throwing your weight around. That seems to have made a difference in his popularity over the last week and a half, hasn't it?

SNOW: The weight issue, at first I have to tell you, Lou, when I first asked Chris Christie about this, he didn't really want to talk about it but then he kind of embraced it. And people somewhat sympathized with him in an ad that he felt where his weight became an issue in a Corzine ad, so perhaps it did help him with his popularity.

DOBBS: All right, Mary Snow, thanks very much. And she, of course, will have the latest for us on that race throughout the evening. The dramatic congressional race in New York's 23rd congressional district has attracted national attention as well.

Now that three-way contest turned into a two-way contest after the Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava dropped out and then unexpectedly endorsed the Democratic candidate Bill Owens. Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman has been leading in the polls, and his numbers keep trending higher and higher. It is the northern most district in New York, and it's been represented by a Republican since the late 1800's.

Our Deborah Feyerick is in Saranac (ph) Lake, New York. And Deborah, just how big of an impact did the, as best we can figure, the Scozzafava endorsement have on this race?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well what is really interesting is that this was a special election to replace the Republican Congressman John McHugh (ph), who was appointed by the Obama administration to become secretary of the Army. It became special in another way because it really emerged as this turf war, Lou, not between the Democrats and the Republicans, but between moderate Republicans and conservative Republicans.

Now political watchers say that when Newt Gingrich and others in the Republican Party backed Dede Scozzafava that they really essentially goofed because even though she's a moderate, she has a liberal record. For example, she supports same sex unions, she's also pro choice. Well in comes this conservative businessman Doug Hoffman. He's a strict conservative.

And the conservatives flocked to him. Sarah Palin was up here campaigning for him, as presidential contender Fred Thompson, also an actor and talk show hosts Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, all of them throwing their weight behind Doug Hoffman. Now, Lou, this really scores a division within the Republican Party.

Political watchers say it's OK to be moderate if you have got a conservative voting record. It is not OK to be moderate if in fact you've got a liberal voting record. That's exactly what happened to Dede Scozzafava. She was relentlessly attacked by the conservatives. Democrats saw an opening, they rallied around her, and she ended up throwing her political backing behind a Democrat, the Democrat, by the way, his name Bill Owens -- Lou.

DOBBS: Let me ask you this. I mean when a moderate votes liberal, why isn't that moderate called a liberal, and if a moderate votes conservative, why isn't that moderate called a conservative?

FEYERICK: Well that's what is really interesting. Again, the conservative party has been accused -- I'm sorry, the Republican Party has been accused of really sort of not being very friendly to moderates, so now what we're seeing is we're seeing conservatives who are tending to represent themselves as more moderates. So that's OK, but if you are a moderate but you're voting liberal, well then you're called liberal, and that's the kiss of death.

DOBBS: And I think as we -- we hear the language conservative and moderate and we're hearing more conservatives talk about and embrace of the moderates, what we're really seeing again I believe is the influence of Independents in this country, now outnumbering either Republicans or Democrats. Thanks very much, Deborah Feyerick. We'll be coming to you throughout.

John King at our magic wall of course for a breakdown of the key races tonight and what they're telling us about where voters after a year of -- after the presidential election. John, what have you got?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, how are you? I want to show you something. We'll go to 09 (ph). I want to show you one of the reasons we're waiting. See the map is white -- coming in the state of Virginia. This will fill in once we get the results. The polls are closed in Virginia but the map is wide open because we haven't gotten any results yet.

So let's use the '08 map to take a peak at what we're looking for and let's come back to the state of Virginia here. When you look at this -- you were just talking about this. What are we going to look for tonight? Well here's a key factor. Barack Obama carried Virginia when 20 percent of the electorate was African-American last year in 2008 and he got more than nine out of every 10 African American votes, so we'll watch as those votes come in tonight.

And I'll show you where to look for in just a minute. Your favorite theme, Lou, this is huge. Independents made up 27 percent of the electorate in Virginia in 2008, more than a quarter of the vote, and they were split. Obama did win 49 percent to McCain's 48 percent. So we're going to watch these two trends tonight.

Could Obama convince African-Americans this isn't just about me. Go out and vote for Democrat for governor and turn out in big numbers. And where did the Independents go -- are they concerned about spending and health care and especially of course about the economy. So let me push these down and just give you a quick primer on what we're looking for.

The Washington suburbs -- you see they were blue last year. That's Democratic -- how well can Creigh Deeds do here and how well can Bob McDonnell, the Republican, do just out here in the excerpts (ph). Our early indications are the Republican is running very well out of the excerpts (ph). Lou, that's the place you find a lot of Independent voters.

Another big key is down here, military bases down here, but also a lot of African-Americans in the Norfolk (ph) Hampton Rhodes (ph) area. You have got the New Port News (ph) naval facilities. That's always a competitive ground there between more conservative military voters and the African-American voters.

We'll watch how that plays out. One other big point -- look out here in rural Virginia. This is Creigh Deeds' home, but you see John McCain did well out here last year even though Obama won the state.

DOBBS: Right.

KING: The energy debate -- cap and trade has played huge out here in Virginia's coal country. That's another place we'll watch in that state, Lou, as we watch the results first come in there. The polls are closed there and of course as you know, we're waiting up here in New Jersey as well.

DOBBS: And we watched Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic Party chairman, take a licking because of that little region you highlighted.

KING: Right. It's been a very tough year for Democrats in that state. You know what's going on tonight, Lou. There are Democrats at the White House saying this is all local races. If the Republicans win, the Republicans will say it is a message to the president. It's a little bit of both.

It depends on what you look at in the state. I'm going to back to Virginia, in the state closest to Washington, obviously, they're closer to the big debates in Washington. We know the health care issue ranks high there, the economy. What the Republicans are saying is this -- that you have 80 percent or 90 percent in both Virginia and New Jersey saying that the economy they believe is in trouble right now. And that does not help the party in power, period.

DOBBS: Absolutely. And our latest polling showing that those people who believe that this economy and they are under some stress hasn't changed a whit in the course of the past year since that election. Thank you very much, John King. We'll be coming back to you often.

Up next, our election coverage continues here on CNN. Polls will be closing soon in both New York and New Jersey. We'll have the very latest results for you. And President Obama's party is in fairly obvious trouble just a year after he won the White House. Why have things gone so badly so fast? We'll tell you here next.


DOBBS: We're starting to get some numbers in from Virginia. Let's go now to Wolf Blitzer for the very latest -- Wolf. BLITZER: It's very early in the actual counting, as we reported earlier, Lou. Based on the exit polls, the Republican Bob McDonnell is leading Creigh Deeds, the Democrat but take a look at this, with one percent of the precincts reporting now McDonnell has 67 percent to 33 percent for Creigh Deeds; 23,600 or so for McDonnell, 11,389 for Creigh Deeds, but it's only one percent of the precincts reporting.

It's going to be a while longer before we will know who will win this race. So we're standing by. As soon as we get some more numbers, we're reviewing the exit polls to see if we can make a projection. But so far, Lou, we cannot make a projection. The only thing we can say based on those exit polls is that McDonnell, the Republican, is leading the Democrat, Creigh Deeds.

DOBBS: And doing well with one percent of the vote, at least. All right, thank you very much, Wolf. We'll be coming back to you quickly.

There's been a lot of speculation about what Democratic losses tonight would say about this country's mood a year after electing Barack Obama. It could be a fairly good indication of what voters might do in next year's important mid-term congressional elections. Dana Bash has our report.



DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vote him out, you work for us. The way House Republican leaders see it, signs like that are a good sign for their prospects in next year's congressional elections.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: There's a political rebellion going on in our country, and it's being led by average Americans who've really not been part of the political process, who are scared to death that Washington is ruining the future for their kids and grandkids.

BASH: House Minority Leader John Boehner compares growing anxiety now to the mood that swept Republicans into power in 1994. Yet the reality is that overturning House Democrats huge 79 seat majority is a tall order, but Democrats are bracing for losses in 2010.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats are going to lose seats. I don't think Democrats are going to lose control.

BASH: Steve Elmendorf (ph) was a top political aide to the Democratic leader in 1994 when Republicans won back the House after 40 years. He argues Democrats can limit their losses by passing health care.

STEVE ELMENDORF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: In '93 and '94, our problem was that we failed. We tried to do health care and we didn't succeed. And people felt that we had not -- that they had given us the baton and we had dropped it.

BASH: But Elmendorf does agree with experts across the spectrum that the biggest problem for Democrats is the economy, including deficit spending and joblessness. A year before the 1994 GOP takeover, unemployment was 5.6 percent. Now it's nearly double that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The economy still is going to drive this next election. They do have to show that they're taking it seriously.

BASH: But the burden isn't just on Democrats. Republicans still carry a stigma from unpopular Bush years and GOP strategists warn voters won't give them another chance until they offer their own ideas.

DAVID WINSTON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There's an opportunity here for Republicans but if they don't present an alternative, what is to vote for? And that's the challenge to the Republican leadership.


BASH: Another challenge for the Republican leadership is recruiting viable candidates who can actually beat incumbent Democrats. Right now, they're doing OK, but Republican strategists say that they are hoping they will have some victories tonight that can prove their party can actually win and that will help them recruit some more top tier candidates who will jump in for 2010 -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, Dana, a lot of machinations on Capital Hill just a day after Joe Lieberman said that he would join a filibuster on the public option, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying that he and Joe Lieberman have got a deal worked out, and at the same time, Harry Reid saying there won't -- there's a very good possibility that we won't see health care legislation until next year. What can you tell us?

BASH: Well apparently, according to both Senator Lieberman on the potential deal, Senator Lieberman and Senator Reid's office, there is no deal. What Senator Lieberman told us last week still stands -- he's still -- if there is a public option in the Senate bill, then he will filibuster it at the end of the day -- that still stands. But on the whole issue of timing, when that could even happen, that is up in the air.

As you well know, the latest deadline that we have heard from the White House Democratic leaders is that they really want to pass health care by the end of the year. Well, Harry Reid was asked point-blank whether that can happen today, and the answer was not yes. And he instead said we're going -- not going to be bound by any timelines. Now there are a few reasons for that Lou.

One is that they're still waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to tell Senator Reid how much his proposal is going to cost, they don't have that yet. But I think the more pressing issue and a more problematic issue is that he still doesn't have the 60 votes he needs. There are still plenty of moderate Democrats, even more moderate Democrats by the day it seems, who are very skeptical of his plan and the votes simply aren't there. So that is I think in part what led him to a little bit of candor today in answering or not answering that question.

DOBBS: It's not candor on whether or not Joe Lieberman and he had a deal or not. All right, thank you very much, Dana -- Dana Bush, thank you very much.

Joining me now four of the best political analysts, Ed Rollins, Republican strategist, CNN contributor -- Ed served as White House political director under President Reagan -- Ed great to have you with us -- Errol Lewis (ph),"New York Daily News" columnist, CNN contributor -- great to have you with us Errol -- and Robert Zimmerman, Democratic strategist, CNN contributor -- Robert great to have you here -- and Mort Zuckerman who is editor-in-chief of "U.S News & World Report", also the publisher of the "New York Daily News" -- Mort, great to have you here.

How big a deal are the -- is the outcome of all of these elections tonight for the Obama administration?

MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: I think they're clearly going to be significant if there are serious Republican gains and Republican gains by large gaps such -- you're going that see in Virginia. We'll see what happens in New Jersey -- there's another gubernatorial issue that is going to be resolved before the end of the evening. But I think the fundamental thing that is driving everything here is unemployment and the weak economy and the perception that the unemployment numbers are going to get worse. And that is still the single most important influence on what is going to happen not only now but frankly at the congressional elections next year.

DOBBS: Given that, why has the Obama administration devoted so much time and energy to cap and trade to health care legislation instead of -- let's go back to it -- let's say indifference to President Bill Clinton, it is the economy stupid.

ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Well sure health care I think was a promise that he had to try and keep. And it has dragged on and this loss of momentum is starting to hurt. They didn't have the votes for cap and trade. They hung a lot of guys out to dry by trying to pass it before they had it really done.

DOBBS: In the Senate?

LOUIS: Sure and if you may remember there was a promise of action this year on comprehensive immigration reform. That just went by the wayside, so...

DOBBS: Why wasn't there the same reticence about breaking that promise?

LOUIS: Well you know on all of these promises, you know what's happening I think is the entire agenda is getting backed up behind this health care. And every day, every week, every month that they allow it to drag on, they're putting their whole administration at risk I think politically speaking. DOBBS: Robert, look at some of these numbers of the money that is being spent. In New York, the race for mayor, Michael Bloomberg spending $86 million for -- to be a third-term mayor; the New Jersey race for governor, Governor Jon Corzine, $28 million; his opponent spending half that. What is going on here with this spending for these jobs?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well think about the impact on the economy when Mike Bloomberg and Jon Corzine close down their campaigns and lay off all those political consultants. I mean talk about the problem with economic, you know economic stimulus and a job's problem, but look...

DOBBS: Will they turn to the Obama administration?

ZIMMERMAN: They may put in for a stimulus request. Look, bottom line is there is no question, money is a corrosive impact in the political process. You championed in your book the issue of public financing of campaigns. And unless you're going to produce real dramatic reform, we're going to have this problem throughout.

DOBBS: Ed, I want to turn to you. We understand you're the subject of a story today out of the "Detroit News" yesterday concerning back taxes. We want to give you the opportunity to clear a bunch of that up.

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well unfortunately, there's no way to clear it up. It's a true story. I'm current on my taxes, but I owed some back taxes. I have been in negotiations with the IRS to get a payment schedule. There's no way to put a spin on it. It's my responsibility. I neglected at different points in my life responsibilities that every citizen has and for that I apologize profusely, but more important I'll make good on it.

DOBBS: All right, Ed, thank you very much. And we're going to be back with our panel in just a little while here on the broadcast. We're going to have the very latest for you from these very important elections around the country. Candidate Barack Obama's promises, how many of those promises has President Obama delivered on? That's next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: We're going to be bringing you, of course, results as they come in here on CNN throughout the evening. But right now, it is early going as they say in the Virginia -- in the Virginia races. And we're going to have that for you. Wolf Blitzer will be here with the latest and any projections as soon as we can bring together enough results to do that.

But we did want to share with you that if you're wondering where is President Obama on this important night, the White House tells us that President Obama has no plans at all to watch the election results tonight. And we're also told that his staff has not prepared any sort of election evening party at all. That is the latest for you. And I suppose those of you who might want to make your plans accordingly. The president is not on the ballot, of course, tonight, and his first nine months in office, however, are very much on the minds of voters -- candidate Obama promised to sweeping agenda of change. How well has President Obama followed through? Candy Crowley has our report.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A day short of a year since his election, President Barack Obama still needs time to turn a myriad of campaign promises into a policy.

OBAMA: I believe in a pathway to citizenship for the 12 million or so who are here.

CROWLEY: To the dismay of activists, the immigration issue has been put on hold until next year, and even that seems iffy. The to-do list is long and topped with other priorities, financial market regulation and the game changing energy bill the president promised. Compounding problems in 2010 is that it's an election year, generally an inefficient time for law making. Still, the president can put down several major campaign promises as in the works.

OBAMA: I will bring this war in Iraq to a close. I will bring our troops home within 16 months. I will finish the fight against al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

CROWLEY: Sixteen months has slipped to 19, but the majority of U.S. troops will be out of Iraq next year, and the president did sent more than 20,000 more to Afghanistan. On the domestic sides, two issues have dominated the first 10 months of the Obama era and the president can claim progress on both, health care and the economy, stoked by a nearly $800 billion Obama stimulus plan.

OBAMA: Our plan will likely save or create 3 million or 4 million jobs. 90 percent of these jobs will be created in the private sector.

CROWLEY: The administration claims the stimulus plan has saved jobs, but the president's promise is unmeasurable.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The administration can claim what they like. We have no way of knowing how many jobs were actually saved as opposed to created.

CROWLEY: The crown jewel of the president's promises, health care reform has gotten further than any effort in several decades, but it's going more slowly than he like.

OBAMA: Governing is even harder than campaigning. CROWLEY: If ten months isn't enough to fulfill hundreds of campaign promises, it's long enough to break some. Contrary to pledges on the campaign trail, there are lobbyists working in the administration, not every bill is put up on the web for five days before the president signs it into law, and the nitty-gritty horse trading and health care negotiations have been held behind closed doors.


CROWLEY: We looked on a website called Political Fact which won a Pulitzer Prize for its work tracking these promises, about 500 promises. They found that 49 had been kept and 7 broken. The vast majority taken no action. I think it gets to what you were talking about earlier, Lou, about this whole health care thing sort of backed everything up to the extent that now he's going into another election year with some really big things and controversial things not done. It's tough to pass things in an election year.

DOBBS: Forty-nine kept, seven broken, and about 650 in the bands.

CROWLEY: They say about 400 or so, stay tuned. He has three years and ten months more.

DOBBS: He does, indeed. And so here we go. We'll watch carefully. Candy, thank you very much. Candy Crowley, as always.

Up next here, the latest on the governors' races in both Virginia and New Jersey. And also that all important 23rd Congressional district race in upstate New York and contest across the country.

Also more on what tonight's results mean for the president and his agenda. And we'll continue our discussion with four of the country's best political analysts here next.


DOBBS: It's a great night to be an independent across the country. Independents are going to have some considerable say in the outcome of elections. We're back now with Ed Rollins, Errol Louis, Robert Zimmerman, and Mortimer Zuckerman. In New Jersey, the polls close at eight o'clock. We've got about a half hour. However, something unusual has happened there. Imagine this in New Jersey. Ed, an unprecedented amount of mail ballots, 184,000 people applied to vote by mail. Back in 2005 just 91,000 applied. There are all sorts of discussions that this is skullduggery. What do you make of this and what would be the likely reason for it and the outcome?

ROLLINS: You know there's an awful lot of them. Absentee ballots have become an important part of the political process. Usually they're cast substantially before the day of the election. It depends on where they're from. It depends if they're people who have traditionally done this. I can't tell you that just by the figures you through out there but New Jersey is a state that has a history of a little skullduggery. I think to a certain extent in a very close election with lots of resources, anything can go.

DOBBS: Robert, what do you make of it?


DOBBS: I'm kind of hurt to think in New Jersey, somebody might be doing something underhanded.

ZIMMERMAN: I don't want to disillusion you, but the reality is let's not try to find facts to justify anyone's conclusions. The polls are open until 8:00. Let's not find facts to justify anyone's cynical conclusions. That's my new phrase.

DOBBS: I haven't offered a conclusion. That's your job.

ZIMMERMAN: My point to you is simply absentee balloting is a standard practice. It's growing all over the country. Obviously Corzine has a very effective get out and vote effort. I'm sure absentee ballots are part of it and I'm sure Chris Christie is doing the same.

DOBBS: Effective?

ZIMMERMAN: It's an effective effort to produce the votes. I'm sure Chris Christie is doing the same. Let's just let the ballots all be counted. That's my concern.

DOBBS: I assure you, Robert, I will do nothing to stop the counting of the votes.

ZIMMERMAN: I know you won't. I hope no one else does, either.

DOBBS: Mort, your thoughts on what is going on in New Jersey?

ZUCKERMAN: Well the word cynicism was used and I would say no matter how cynical you are about New Jersey, it's difficult to keep up. They're really the masters of this kind of political calculations and counting, and we'll just have to see whether each side can cancel out the other.

ZIMMERMAN: Well, Florida can give them a run for their money. Let's not forget that.

ZUCKERMAN: Florida is more the exception than the rule but Jersey sets the national standard, let's face it.

DOBBS: In the Star-Ledger, which is the largest, most respected newspaper in New Jersey, went for Chris Daggett the independent precisely for this reason, declaring straightforwardly that it's an issue of party that in New Jersey where there are now more unaffiliated registrants than there are registered Republicans or Democrats, that these parties are both corrupt and incompetent. Take your pick.

LOUIS: Well that's right. Although to be fair, if I'm not mistaken, this is the first year, the first election in which a new rule has gone into effect with absentee ballots where you can get them for any reason. You don't have to say you're sick or out of state or anything like that. It may be changing the way this particular element of the campaign gets run. Certainly the fact that there are so many unaffiliated and there's only about half a dozen states nationwide where that's true. It's really largely attributable to a lot of the corruption, political corruption in recent years.

DOBBS: And affiliation? I'm sorry, run that by me again.

LOUIS: What you just said about New Jersey where there are more unaffiliated than either Democrats or Republicans, there aren't a lot of states where that's true. New Jersey is surprising in way because Republicans haven't held statewide office in about 16 years in New Jersey. So they sort of swing blue, but there are a lot of people who don't like the corruption, who don't like the scandals, who aren't happy about the property taxes.

DOBBS: Mostly unaffiliated.

LOUIS: I think that there's a powerful engine pushing people toward non-affiliation because the parties really haven't produced.

DOBBS: Just a matter of pride, I suppose. We'll be back with our panel.

And the Obama administration says our economy is in recovery. But where is the stimulus money really going. And where are the jobs it was supposed to create? I'll be talking with three of the country's leading economic thinkers next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Let's go to Wolf Blitzer with an update on the votes coming in the Virginia race for governor.

Wolf, how is it looking?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the polls have been closed for about 45 minutes, Lou. We can only report right now based on the exit polls that the Republican candidate Bob McDonnell is leading the Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds. Let's take a look at the actual numbers that are coming in right now with about 15 percent of the precincts reporting. It looks more lopsided than it is. 65 percent for McDonnell. 35 percent for Creigh Deeds. That's 82,480 advantage, 182,000 to 100,000 but if you take a look at where these votes are coming in from, you can see the red areas, those are largely Republican areas that have started to report. If you look up in Fairfax County in the northern part of Virginia, the Washington, D.C. suburbs, very few votes have come in so far from there. That's why it looks more lopsided than it apparently is going to be. Right now, we can only project that the Republican is leading, is leading right now, but we can't project a winner, not yet, Lou.

DOBBS: All right, thanks very much, Wolf.

We're back with our panel, several ballot measures of significance across the country tonight, same sex marriage in Maine and Washington State. Interestingly both Maine and Washington State have limitations on revenue growth for those state governments as well. What is the importance, do you think?

LOUIS: I think the one to watch is the one in Maine where it would become the first state where people will have allowed same sex marriage to be ratified, a legislative move ratified by popular referendum. In our federal system where those who favor same sex marriage want to see it happen sate by sate without court intervention, if they can do it in Maine, it will give hope to a lot of people around the country.

DOBBS: In Atlanta, six candidates vying there for mayor. If the councilwoman Mary Norwood wins, she would be the first white mayor in a generation. This is sort of a bizarre kind of story in Atlanta, in which Mary Norwood would be celebrated as the first white mayor in a generation.

ZUCKERMAN: I'm not so sure it's that surprising. For a long time, the African-American community was kept out of the voting pattern as a practical matter once they got into the power positions and leadership. It was a huge issue for them and they kept it going. You can understand why. There's a lot more relaxation about that now in their community. Therefore, a white candidate can emerge and do well.

DOBBS: All right. In part, because black mayors in Atlanta have done well for some time. The latest poll in New Jersey, Robert, Christopher Christie, the two percent margin, statistical dead heat with the incumbent governor. What do you expect to happen tonight?

ZIMMERMAN: I'll wait for the polls to close before I give my prediction. I'm cautious that way. The reality here is Governor Corzine is facing the obstacles most incumbent governors are facing this year because of the economy. However, it's an incredibly tight race despite the fact Christie has been outspent 2-1.

ROLLINS: 60 percent of people repeatedly have wanted someone other than Governor Corzine. So my sense at the end of the day, that 2 percent, 3 percent may be the margin of Christie's victory.

DOBBS: And a victory for Christie?


DOBBS: And the 23rd Congressional district?

ROLLINS: Clearly.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. We appreciate it. Thanks for being with us.

Up next, the president's economic policies and these elections. What is the relationship? We'll talk about that and much more with our panel of leading economic thinkers here next.


DOBBS: Well, the economy and jobs, the number one issue for voters, today, it appears. Joining me now, three of the countries leading economic thinkers to tell us about the election, its import and impact as well as what we can expect in this economy. Byron Wien is the senior managing director for the Blackstone Group. It's great to have you with us. Mike Holland, chairman Holland and Company, and David Malpass the president of Encima Global. Good to have you was.

Let's turn to the first issue Byron and that is this economy, we're in recovery, 3.5 percent GDP growth in the third quarter reported. This looks like the time for some celebration, I sense none of that.

BYRON WIEN, BLACKSTONE GROUP: When you look into the numbers, a lot of it was cash for clunkers from autos so it was inventory building which was good and some of it was residential, but that was stimulated by the $8,000 first time homebuyer tax credit. So there was a feeling that there was exogenous forces that were creating the numbers and people don't trust them as natural drivers for the economy.

So now the question is what will the fourth quarter be like and I think the fourth quarter will be better. I think the first quarter will spill into the first quarter. We have only spent about $124 billion out of $124 billion out of the 787 stimulus so we have more to go. So I'm optimistic that the economy is back on a growth path.

DOBBS: How about you, Michael?

MICHAEL HOLLAND, HOLLAND & COMPANY: Byron is a long time friend and he's being very polite right now, the jobs picture stinks. Unemployment is a major factor in the economy, the upcoming holiday season, how much people spend and the stock market there's a lot of sentiment there. So I think right now we have to do a lot of mending of people's job situation before we get to the halcyon days again.

DOBBS: It's clear I should have skipped from Byron straight over to David.

DAVID MALPASS, ENCIMA GLOBAL: I'm gong to mention two separate problems, one is on the tax front, everybody knows that rates are going up and that creates an uncertainty and that adds to the problem small businesses already have. Small businesses are facing this credit crunch so the way the banking system has been regulated, it's discouraging lending that would have happened to small businesses. So one difference between this recovery and most previous ones is it really is -- we're still worsening the situation for small businesses. And that's where the jobs need to be created.

DOBBS: Worsening the situation for small business. One percent of that $787 billion went to small business, actually less than one percent of it. The dollar is being crushed. There's no other way to put it. That is having a significant impact on consumer power in this country. We're watching consumers contract and apparently adjust their circumstances. Small -- MALPASS: And oil is at $78 a barrel because of the weak dollar.

DOBBS: And with those constraints, and as you mentioned, tax cuts, those tax cuts expire in 2010. I'm starting to sound like Michael Holland, for crying out loud. Cheer me up.

WIEN: OK, I'll cheer you up. I may be wrong, but I'll try to cheer you up. Usually when the economy downs 3.8 percent, you have a pretty strong recovery. Right now people are assuming that something's different this time. We all know that those are dangerous words. And what people are assuming is that the combination of the prospect of higher taxes, a health care program that's going to be a burden on consumers, the fact that we have more foreign competition, all these things are going to make job recovery very slow if it exists at all. I think this is a recovery that's going to have more of the character of 1982 than it is of 2001. And so therefore I think it's going to be stronger than the consensus expects.

MALPASS: In '82 you had big tax cuts in the pipeline and you had the dollar strengthening under Reagan. We have got the opposite now. Why is it like '82?

WIEN: First of all, I don't think the dollar weakening is all that bad. The trade deficit has gone from $800 billion down to $400 billion and that's $200 billion to China and $200 billion to oil.

DOBBS: I'm going to have to leave it with this question and hopefully quick answers, are things going to be getting better for the folks listening and watching all across the country?

WIEN: I definitely think they're going to get better.

MALPASS: But it definitely depends on Washington. The details matter. The health care bill that's out there has a big increase in taxes right inside it.

DOBBS: All right. Gentlemen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Our financial report tonight, here's some good news, General Motors reporting a sales increase for October, 4.7 percent, the car maker's first monthly gain in almost two years. And I know, there's reasons for that. Stanley buying Black and Decker for almost $3.5 billion. That deal will create the world's largest tool making company. Gold today surging to $1.085 an ounce, that rise following a purchase of just 220 tons of gold. And factory orders in this country growing by .9 percent in September, that is the fifth increase in six months driven by strong sales in autos, heavy equipment and military aircraft and Mexico has now overtaken China as the leading manufacturer of U.S. goods destined for the United States. You have to scratch your head and think about that one for a while. Proximity and trade benefits under NAFTA as well as higher costs in China driving that shift. Warren Buffet buying Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, a $44 billion deal. Buffet describes it as an all in wager on the economic future of this country.

At the top of the hour, Campbell Brown -- Campbell?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, there, Lou, as you know, the polls are just about to close in New Jersey where voters are choosing a governor. We're also going to have fresh exit polls to see what people are thinking. We're also keeping a very close eye on the vote counting in the governor's race down in Virginia. This could be a very big night all around for the GOP. But does this election also signal a conservative rebellion against moderates. Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is going to give us his take on that and we have the best political team on television, with us geared up for election night in America coming up, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you Campbell.

We'll be right bark.


DOBBS: Time now for a quick e-mail.

David in Ohio: "Thank you for presenting important news issues in an honest manner. I probably don't agree with your view on everything, but I certainly appreciate your candor and the fire in your belly." Thank you very much.

And I understand that we have got some new results in. Let's turn now to Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Lou, we can not predict a winner in the state of Virginia. The Republican candidate Bob McDonnell, the former attorney general of Virginia, we now project he will beat Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate and become the next governor of Virginia right now with 32 percent of the vote in. You see the lopsided nature, 64 percent for Bob McDonnell, 36 percent for Creigh Deeds. But we do project that Republican will become the next governor of Virginia.

Lou, back to you.

DOBBS: That's a healthy margin even this early. Wolf, thank you very much.

And thank you for being with us tonight. For all of us here, good night from New York.

Next, Campbell Brown.