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The Situation Room

Election '06

Aired November 07, 2006 - 21:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: We have projected that New Jersey remains in the Democratic column.
Let's take a look. It's 9:00 p.m. on the East Coast. We have some projections to make right now.

And, CNN can project as we take a look at these races, let's go over here. First of all, in Pennsylvania another pickup for the Democrats, Bob Casey, Jr. Bob Casey, Jr. beats Rick Santorum, the incumbent Republican. That's two. That's the second pickup that we project for the Democrats.

They still will need four more assuming they don't lose any of their Democratic seats right now. A big win in Pennsylvania, Bob Casey, Jr., the son of an earlier governor winning in Pennsylvania.

In Texas, we project that Kay Bailey Hutchison will be reelected, not a surprise.

In New York State, Hillary Rodham Clinton reelected, not much of a surprise.

In Michigan, Debbie Stabenow reelected, a little bit less of a surprise, although all of the polls suggested she was way ahead.

Let's continue down and take a look at our other projections. In Wyoming, Craig Thomas, we project reelected, not much of a surprise.

In Minnesota, an important seat the Democrats needed to hold, Amy Klobuchar is elected, the next United States Senator from Minnesota, important win for them.

Ken Conrad projected our winner. We project he will be the winner in North Dakota.

Jeff Bingaman, projected winner in New Mexico.

Ben Nelson, the Democrat in Nebraska, projected winner in Nebraska, no surprise there.

Herb Kohl reelected once again in the state of Wisconsin, no surprise there.

And in the state of Delaware, Harper we project will be reelected as well. All of these no great surprises but it's important to note, once again, Pennsylvania, a pickup for the Democrats, Bob Casey, Jr. Bob Casey, Jr. beating Rick Santorum we project in Pennsylvania.

That's, Anderson, the second pickup for the Democrats. They still need four, by no means easy to do but they haven't lost any of their own seats and they've picked up two.

COOPER: And Bob Casey, Jr., the son of the former governor, two- term governor of that state. What did Rick Santorum do wrong?

KING: What did Rick Santorum do wrong? He's a member of the Republican leadership. He is probably more conservative, has become more conservative, used to be in the House from the Pittsburgh area, represented a district where organized labor was big.

When he got into the Senate, he became (AUDIO GAP) as a state again as James noted a few moments ago where the war is a big issue and you also have a Democratic (AUDIO GAP) as well, so you have a little bit of a tide there as well.

COOPER: You also had Rick Santorum talking a lot about national issues, about Iran, about Iraq, and not running away from President Bush, as we've seen other Republicans do.

CROWLEY: Well, I mean it's who he came to the dance with. It would have been hard for Santorum to move away from George Bush. I'll tell you the other thing that really (AUDIO GAP) up in Pennsylvania and there was a meeting of the Republican wing of the Republican Party.

And what they were mad about with Rick Santorum was all the money that Republicans were spending down in Washington, so he had also (AUDIO GAP).

BEGALA: Also I think coming to the (INAUDIBLE) in the cover story in this week's magazine in Newsweek, we actually have a whole cover story about the progressive evangelical social issues, what J.C. Watts was talking about. It's poverty issues. It's world health (AUDIO GAP).

KING: The suburban voters made the Republicans the majority. You have the caller districts around Pennsylvania, around Philadelphia. You have the Tammy Duckworth seat in Illinois, the suburbs just north of Chicago. You have the suburbs west of St. Louis, which will decide the Senate race there.

It is the suburbs that made the Republicans the majority party in Congress. If they turn tonight and the Democrats making roads in the rural areas, there's the math they need to get a majority.

COOPER: I want to talk to some of our analysts about what you're seeing -- Bill Bennett.

BENNETT: Before the body is laid into the ground here on Rick Santorum, you bet very tough partisan slashing. He was targeted by the Democrats who wanted to take him out.

COOPER: Huge money raised, a lot of money.

BENNETT: Huge money raised to take him out. What will also be said, as David Brooks wrote in "The New York Times" a couple weeks ago, what you were just talking about in terms of compassion, if you were a victim of AIDS or autism, suffering from autism, if you were in Darfur the issue is partial birth abortion, lots of linking across the parties from Rick Santorum to senators on the Democrat side.

He was the champion, really a champion of the poor, the dispossessed, the helpless, the unborn, whether it be here in the United States or abroad and they have lost a champion in losing Rick Santorum.

COOPER: Rick Santorum though was running, hammering Bob Casey, Jr. saying he was weak on national security that he couldn't keep the country safe. Does that message no longer resonate as much as it did in past elections for Republicans?

BENNETT: Well, Rick never backed off that message but I think, Anderson, you have to look again at the type of candidate that the Democrats chose, you know.

WATTS: Senator Casey he's pro-life, you know, pro-family. I mean he took on a lot of issues that Rick took on. And, I agree with Bill, I think those issues I was talking to you about earlier, poverty issues, historical black colleges and universities, AIDS in Africa, the things that I was concerned about as a person of faith, Rick Santorum took those issues on. So, he was not the type of conservative that I thought didn't get it. So, we've lost a real champion in Rick Santorum.

BENNETT: But he's not finished, can I just say that. His political life is not over.

COOPER: Where does he go from here?

BENNETT: You will see a movement to draft Rick Santorum to run. You will see that.

COOPER: Run for?

BENNETT: President of the United States, you will see that.

COOPER: Really?


COOPER: That's still alive because I mean that's been talked about in the past.

BENNETT: Well, we'll see. I mean you have to look at, I mean if you want to get to '08 you have to look at the frontrunners, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. These are not social conservatives. The conservatives are strong in this party. They will want a champion. He's very articulate, very experienced, so you haven't seen the last of him.

WATTS: And, Rick is a kind of conservative that in terms of poverty issues, economic issues for the underserved community, small businesses, minority businesses, Rick Santorum is the type of guy that, you know, I could hang my hat on.

COOPER: Very strong social conservative?

BEGALA: Absolutely and, again, I'm going to disclose it. I worked for Bob Casey in his campaign. He's not just a friend. He's a client. I worked for his father 20 years ago. I'm very close to that family. He's the only candidate I worked for in this election cycle because that's how much I believe in him.

I won't speak ill of the political dead and re-litigate the Santorum campaign but he's the kind of guy who was the number three Republican in the United States Senate, just lost in a landslide and that takes an enormous amount of talent for Bob Casey, Jr. Santorum spent $25 million, outspent Casey overwhelmingly and yet lost in a landslide. Casey came to voters and he said, "I want a change."

COOPER: What did Casey spent like $14 million or something?

BEGALA: Yes, but roughly half, roughly half.

COOPER: That's a lot of money.

BEGALA: An awful lot of money, sure, but it was not the money that determined this. It was the message. The message was, "I'm going to take up on President Bush." Almost every single ad we ran had the statistic, Santorum votes 98 percent of the time with President Bush.

So, President Bush was like an anchor on Rick Santorum as was the war, as were a whole host of middle class economic issues. Santorum may have been good on poverty in Africa but he wasn't seen as being very good on poverty in Altoona or Aliquippa where he voted against the minimum wage. He voted kids off of Head Start. And so, Casey used those issues, the international issues about the war and the home issues about the economy.

WATTS: Kicked people off Head Start?

BEGALA: Oh, yes.

WATTS: Where was that vote at?

BEGALA: It was this summer. They cut $39 billion from the budget including cuts in Head Start. In fact, when he voted to cut childcare, he said in the hearing, Senator Lincoln of Arkansas said, "Well, you're going to kick moms off of childcare. They're really going to be struggling." He said, "I don't think having to struggle is the worst thing in the world."

WATTS: What that means is...

BEGALA: We used that in the campaign and it hut him.

WATTS: Well but $39 billion what that means, Anderson, is there was a 70, probably a $70 billion increase proposed and they only probably got $31 billion, so he voted against a $39 billion increase. That's a little disingenuous.

COOPER: We're following a number of very close Senate races. We're going to talk more about this race, also a little bit later on.

Let's check in with Wolf.

BLITZER: Anderson, guys, thanks very much.

I just want to update our viewers on what's happening in some of the key Senate battlegrounds right now. We'll start with Tennessee. Take a look at this, 11 percent of the precincts now reporting. The Republican Bob Corker with 53 percent, Harold Ford, Jr. 46 percent, still very, very early. These numbers presumably could change. And I want to remind our viewers we don't know what part of the state these 12 percent of the precincts are reporting but it's very close as expected.

GREENFIELD: So close that when I made a joke on a radio show this morning about all we have to talk about this afternoon is rain in Memphis, Harold Ford, Jr. called in to say, "You know, it's not raining in Memphis," which is his strong place.

BLITZER: And, if you take a look at the bottom of your screen, you'll always see these and other results as they're coming in all night long. In Missouri, this is a very, very important battle that's underway projected to be very close, only one percent of the precincts now reporting but Jim Talent with 49 percent, Claire McCaskill, the Democratic challenger 48 percent. They said it would be close. With one percent of the precincts reporting it's close.

GREENFIELD: This is right.

BLITZER: Take a look at Virginia though, 68 percent of the precincts have now reported in Virginia, George Allen with 50 percent, Jim Webb with 49 percent. It's been going back and forth but that's about as close as it was projected.

GREENFIELD: What you have on this board, at least these three races may well tell you whether the Democrats take the Senate. These are three races that were supposed to be close, all held by Republicans, all of them close, a million and a half votes cast so far in Virginia. They are 4,700 votes apart.

BLITZER: The Democrats already have picked up two Republican seats. They need four more, four more, if they're going to be the majority and they can't lose any of their own.

In Connecticut, only two percent of the precincts reporting, Joe Lieberman with 49 percent, Ned Lamont 40 percent, the Republican getting ten percent, Alan Schlessinger. Lieberman says he's an Independent but he'll caucus with the Democrats. GREENFIELD: Two quick things, Alan Schlessinger's low total will be the reason, if it happens, that Joe Lieberman is going to be reelected because Democrats are going to vote for Lamont but Republicans are probably going to choose Lieberman because he's more centrist.

The second thing is because the anger of the more liberal bloggers, the so-called net roots, aimed at Lieberman is so intense that even if it's a great night for Democrats, if Lieberman wins, it's going to leave a sour taste in the mouth of some of them.

Those bloggers were the reason in large measure that and a family fortune why Ned Lamont was able to upset Lieberman in the Democratic primary. They want Lieberman to lose almost as much as they want the Democrats to take over the Senate.

BLITZER: But all the polls going into tonight suggested Lieberman was significantly ahead of Ned Lamont. He was bringing Republicans into support him, Democrats. Obviously, Joe Lieberman a very well known figure in Connecticut.

In fact let's take a look. We're about -- let's back up a little bit over here. Come over here. Joe Lieberman, we can now project -- come over here.

GREENFIELD: All right.

BLITZER: Joe Lieberman, we can project will be reelected the United States Senator from Connecticut. We can now project that Lieberman, as an Independent, stays in the United States Senate beating Ned Lamont and Alan Schlessinger literally.

As we were speaking about the Connecticut race all of the exit polls, all of the hard votes that we're getting indicates to us that Joe Lieberman is now projected to be reelected a United States Senator.

And he says, he promises he will be a Democrat in all but name. He'll caucus with the Democrats, he told the people of Connecticut he would even if the Republicans were to dangle out some important committee chairmanships for him.

GREENFIELD: Such big news I forgot the choreography. But you have to wonder whether there's a certain temptation on Joe Lieberman's part to go back into that Democratic caucus when they reconvene in January and look at the Democrats, including his fellow Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd, who campaigned against him and just for a moment just have that sweet feeling of "I'm here."

Because, as you know, Wolf, revenge is a dish best served cold and I just have a feeling there may be an order of revenge on the ticket, even if he doesn't gloat. Maybe it's just my personality. I'd have to think he would like a word or two with the Democrats who he worked with for 18 years and came into the state to try to beat him. BLITZER: I suspect Joe Lieberman is pretty happy right now that he's going to be reelected to the United States Senate from Connecticut. We project that Joe Lieberman holds onto that seat, not as a Democrat but as an Independent.

Paula and Bill are looking at some exit polls in Connecticut.

ZAHN: And a lot of what Jeff was saying about suspicions of how the Republican vote would go is borne out by some numbers. Bill and I have just had a chance to analyze and these tell us exactly of the Lieberman voters how they broke down by party.

Thirty-five percent were Republican. Now look at the Democratic line, just 26 percent, so he actually got more of the Republican vote than he did of the Democratic vote with 38 percent of the Independents voting for him.

SCHNEIDER: What this says is Republicans elected Joe Lieberman. He says he's going to caucus with the Democrats but it was Republicans who voted for him, 35 percent. He got more Republican votes than Democrats, although he did best among Independents.

But, you know, when he goes back to the Senate, as Jeff was saying, there are going to be a lot of people who say to him, "Joe, what do you owe the Democrats? They threw you out. They fired you. They didn't campaign for you. And, they didn't vote for you. Republicans voted for you."

ZAHN: And he has said repeatedly over the last couple of days "I will not be beholding to the Republicans," although they handed him his victory tonight.

SCHNEIDER: They did indeed.

ZAHN: Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Paula, Bill.

We're going to go now to Lieberman headquarters and Dan Lothian. Dan, as we look behind you there, it doesn't look like a lot of excitement for the CNN projection for Senator Lieberman.

LOTHIAN: Well there have been some bursts of excitement as they've been watching the projections on the screen. Just had a chance a while ago to talk to the communications director. He told me that they're very encouraged by this projection but they're not yet ready to say victory, so they're still waiting for all their numbers to come in before they're ready to say, "OK, this is a victory for us."

But you know what's interesting is in the last few minutes they were actually quite concerned saying that this race was probably much closer than a lot of people thought because they felt there might be some issues about the placement, his name placement on the ballot. Obviously, as the projection shows, that may not have been an issue at all. We'll wait to see what they have to say. DOBBS: Dan Lothian thank you very much. We appreciate it, Dan Lothian reporting from (INAUDIBLE) headquarters and CNN has just projected Joe Lieberman to return to the U.S. Senate this time as an Independent.

America Votes 2006 continues in just a moment, a lot more to come, 13 seats undecided for control of the U.S. Senate.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

We're watching all these races and what you're seeing right how here on our wall, these are winners that we've projected for various Senate seats, House seats, gubernatorial seats. If you take a close look, you'll see the projected winners at this hour. It's almost 9:20 p.m. on the East Coast. Take a look.

And, if you didn't know the red are clearly Republican wins. The blue are Democratic wins. You saw the green in the state of Vermont, for example, is Independent. And Joe Lieberman in Connecticut an Independent as well. So those are the winners that we've projected so far.

But right now we have a major projection, a major projection to make in the state of Maryland, Congressman Ben Cardon, the Democrat, we project will be elected the next United States Senator from the state of Maryland, succeeding Paul Sarbanes, the long-time incumbent Democrat.

Michael Steele, Maryland's lieutenant governor, who ran a very, very strong campaign, not strong enough. Michael Steele goes down. According to our projection, Ben Cardon will the next United States Senator from the state of Maryland.

Jeff Greenfield, this is one the Democrats desperately needed to hold. It was one so many Republicans could almost taste. They were feeling that Michael Steele, an African American Republican, would be a strong candidate. He certainly was but not strong enough.

GREENFIELD: They thought, hey, Ben Cardon beat an African American in a close primary (INAUDIBLE). Michael Steele had gotten the endorsements of some Prince George Democrats, who said that the Maryland Democrats have taken them for granted.

I talked to a couple of Democrats this weekend who were more nervous about Maryland than almost -- well, certainly than any other Democratic seat. What this means is that the two Democratic seats the Republicans wanted to take away, New Jersey and Maryland, are both in Democratic hands.

BLITZER: Hold on one second. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, speaking right now. If the Democrats have the majority, she would be the speaker. Let's listen in briefly to see what she says. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: ...masterminding our strategy, which is bearing fruit tonight. The polls are still open in at least half the country so while we have -- you have done your work and you've come here, I want to remind the people in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain West and in the West Coast, the Pacific West to get out there and vote. It's important. Get out there and vote.

It's very important. We can -- we don't know what the results are of this election. What we do know is we want as many new Democrats in Congress as possible.

And, to my own state of California, I appeal to the Democrats there, Independents and fair-minded Republicans to get out and vote for Phil Angelides for governor of California and for our Democratic candidates from Washington State, Darcy Burnham and Charlie Brown and Jerry McInerney and Patsy Madrid and, oh there are so many candidates in the west and in the Pacific West.

So, we have to go back to work to man the phones to the Midwest, Rocky Mountain West, and West Coast. But as the evening progresses our three 30-somethings, our voices for their generation will be giving you the good news about the future.

In the meantime, I thank all of you for taking us to where we are tonight. Let's give a big cheer to the American people who across the country...

BLITZER: All right, Nancy Pelosi, the would-be Speaker of the House, if the Democrats capture 15 seats, don't lose any of their own.

And we're ready to make another major projection right now. In the state of Kentucky, John Yarmuth, the Democratic challenger, will be elected we project in the 3rd district in Kentucky beating the incumbent Republican Ann Northup.

Take a look at this with 100 percent of the vote right now in, 51 percent for Yarmuth, 48 percent for Northup. We project though that he will win obviously with 100 percent of the precincts in right now.

This is the second, the second major pickup for the Democrats right now. They still need 13 more if they're going to be in the majority in the House of Representatives.

But, Lou Dobbs, this is one the Democrats wanted badly and they clearly got this one in Kentucky.

DOBBS: Absolutely and Ann Northrup an absolutely stalwart for the Republican Party. Another stalwart of the Republican leadership, of course, is Ken Mehlman. He is the chairman of the Republican National Committee coming to us tonight from Republican Headquarters.

First, thanks for being here.


DOBBS: We're looking at some very tight races across the country. Give us your best sense of direction as to where we're headed this evening.

MEHLMAN: Well I think, Lou, that you've hit the nail on the head. There are a number of very close races. It's interesting that the Kentucky number you just mentioned, another race in Kentucky that everyone expected to be much closer than it ended up being was the Jeff Davis race against Ken Lucas who used to represent the seat.

We always said that we thought Indiana and Kentucky would be two of our tougher states. I'm sorry that Ann appears to be where she is. We'll see what the numbers finally are.

Indiana appears to be very close. Around the country though there's a lot of very interesting data. The Virginia numbers are tight as they can be and a significant amount of northern Virginia appears to have voted.

There is some early evidence that in Maryland, Michael Steele could be making some incredible history doing very well with African American voters.

Missouri appears as we thought it would incredibly close.

What it says to me all over the country is if you haven't voted yet, we're going to have about 30 races that are going to be decided by potentially the turnout tonight and so it's critical that everybody participate and vote and get out there.

DOBBS: Of course, we have just projected here that Ben Cardon will prevail over Michael Steele. The inroads that you talked about with the African American voters this race in Virginia looks like it's going to be tight all the way through.

You've suggested that you have information about where that vote is coming from. We just heard from Senator Charles Schumer that he was being advised at Democratic Party Headquarters that the north had already -- was about to move into this vote. You've heard just the opposite.

MEHLMAN: Well, I've heard that a significant part of northern Virginia, Fairfax County, of Arlington County, had already been in, a significant amount of Loudon County, which is kind of an ex-urban county was still out. We'll all see where that data comes from. We know one thing it's an incredibly close race in Virginia as a lot of us expected it would be.

DOBBS: Well there are 11 undecided seats right now in the U.S. Senate, Republicans holding an edge, 44 to 43 right now. Are you confident about the remainder of the races? Give us a sense as to whether or not you really believe right now you're going to be able to hold control of the Senate.

MEHLMAN: I do. I think we will hold control of the Senate. Obviously, a lot of these races are going to be very close, could potentially go into overtime, but obviously we think the Missouri race remains incredibly close. We've yet to see some numbers back from Montana. Virginia appears incredibly close. I understand what you say about Maryland. I haven't seen data to indicate that and we'll see what the exit polls and then ultimately, more importantly, the actual numbers actually show there.

But I think we're going to see -- it's going to be a fairly late night in both the Senate and the House because a lot of these races are really different. The fact that the Northup race and then the Davis race appear to go in different directions really indicates how race specific a lot of this information is.

DOBBS: Ken Mehlman, Chairman of the Republican Party, thanks for being here.

MEHLMAN: Thanks a lot.

DOBBS: Wolf, over to you.

BLITZER: Well, thank you very much. We're now ready to make another major projection in the state of Rhode Island. Take a look at this. The Democrat, the Democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse we project will be elected the United States Senator from Rhode Island beating the moderate Republican incumbent Lincoln Chaffee.

We have very little of the actual vote coming in but based on the exit polls and other information we're getting, this will be the third, the third pickup for the Democrats in the U.S. Senate. They need six if they're going to be the majority and they can't lose any of their own seats.

We've projected that they will retain the Democratic seats in both New Jersey and Maryland, the two more vulnerable Democratic seats, so they need three more if they're going to be the majority. But we are ready to project that Sheldon Whitehouse will defeat Lincoln Chaffee in the state of Rhode Island.

Let's bring in Jeff Greenfield, three pickups already for the Democrats.

GREENFIELD: They're halfway home because they need six. And I think this one -- they need six net to get control of the Senate. They've kept New Jersey and Maryland. They have picked up Pennsylvania, Ohio, and now Rhode Island.

And what this means is that the hope of the Republicans that Lincoln Chaffee, very popular, his father was a senator before him, what's happened here is that the party label I believe will be shown to have been decisive.

Chafee, as I've mentioned, didn't even vote for George W. Bush for reelection. He didn't support the war. He didn't support the tax cuts. He did a very powerful ad saying "You want an independent voice to talk back to the president, I'm him."

But, Rhode Island, which gave John Kerry one of the biggest, if not the biggest margins in '04, said, "You know what, your party loyalty is a bridge too far for us" and Sheldon Whitehouse goes into the Senate.

BLITZER: So let's talk about where the Democrats need to win if they're going to reach that magic number of six. They're at three right now. They need to pick up three more Republican-held seats to get to 51 in the United States Senate.

GREENFIELD: Just to make it clear, the blues are Democrats, the reds are Republicans.

BLITZER: These are the 33 seats that were at play tonight.

GREENFIELD: Correct. And I have colored Vermont and Connecticut blue because both Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman say they will vote Democratic, which puts my number at 45.

What we have left to see is Virginia, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, four Republican-held seats. We already see how close Virginia is. We already see how close Tennessee is. Missouri is also close. And the polls in Montana haven't closed.

But this is the ballgame. Three out of six are in Democratic hands. New Jersey and Maryland have stayed in Democratic hands. Three of these four seats, these are the contested ones, the Democrats still need three of these four to make up the six they need for the majority.

BLITZER: And some prominent Democrats, as you know, including the former president of the United States Bill Clinton, were holding out hope that Arizona, Jon Kyl, the incumbent Republican, that that seat could be vulnerable as well.

GREENFIELD: Speaking of President Clinton, James Carville mentioned I think that last night at 9:30 at night he was campaigning in Rhode Island for Sheldon Whitehouse. That's how nervous Democrats were about that.

And you have to say that the states they've been most nervous about -- Rhode Island, Maryland, New Jersey -- have all come in for Democrats. And we're waiting to see these four -- Montana, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia -- is going to decide whether Republican or Democrats control the Senate.

BLITZER: And that race in Virginia specifically between George Allen and Jim Webb, that's been going back and forth as the actual votes are being counted, the precincts are coming in. We're going to try to update our viewers on where it stands precisely right now. We have not been able to make a projection in the Commonwealth of Virginia

GREENFIELD: I have to admit to you that I really like watching races where all of the computers and all of the projections and all the modeling are thrown out the window and people sit there and actually count votes.

BLITZER: The good, old-fashioned way of actually counting the ballots. It's encouraging. And this race in Virginia looks like it's going to be the case if you believe what Chuck Schumer said earlier, the senator from New York who's in charge of getting Democrats elected in the Senate, he was saying that a lot of the votes from Northern Virginia had not yet been counted. Presumably, that would be good for Webb because that's more of a Democratic stronghold than in the southern part of the state.

GREENFIELD: If we didn't -- if we hadn't banned smoking in this room, I would have had an old-fashioned politician with a cigar in his mouth, a pencil and some crumpled paper chucking the numbers for us.

BLITZER: I want to go over to the board over here and take a look, because there's another pick-up we're ready to make, ready to project in the House of Representatives. Take a look at this.

Indiana -- Indiana, here it is right over here. Indiana two, the second district in Indiana, Joe Donnelly, the Democratic challenger to Chris Chocola, we project he will now be the next United States Congressman from Indiana. This is one of those vulnerable Republican seats in Indiana.

Chris Chocola, he was one that was considered vulnerable and now Joe Donnelly, his Democratic challenger, we project will be the next United States Congressman from Indiana in that district. I believe that's the third Democratic pick-up in the House of Representatives.

They need 15 in order to be the majority in the House, so it's a struggle for the Democrats in the House but slowly, slowly they might be moving in that direction -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And at the beginning of this evening we talked about Indiana, we talked about Kentucky as being two very important states to watch in these congressional elections to see how the Democrats would be doing. Let's talk to Amy Walter with the "Cook Political Report."

What do you make about this new Democratic pick-up?

AMY WALTER, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": Well, as Wolf pointed out now, Democrats have picked up a grand total three seats, they need 15. The Kentucky three race was the most surprising.

And I think what this may foreshadow for Republicans are those Republicans who sit in Democratic-leaning seats like Anne Northup does, who were in very tight races, they broke at the end to the Democrat.

So I'm looking at other places like Clay Shaw in Florida, those results are starting to come in. Looking at some other congressional districts in the Northeast, especially where there are districts that were won by a Democrat for president but Republicans hold those seats.

ANDERSON: The Kentucky three race you're talking about, John Yarmuth winning over Representative Anne Northup, she distancing herself from President Bush as much is possible, calling finally in the last week for Secretary Rumsfeld to resign. WALTER: You know what? She has been one of the strongest campaigners in the entire country and she has been able to beat very strong Democrats even in not particularly great years. What she was -- but what she was unable to do was avoid just getting pulled down by this political environment. Yarmuth not necessarily her strongest opponent ever, but he's running in the best environment ever seen.

ANDERSON: Some of your sources are calling you on your phone.

WALTER: That's probably true.

ANDERSON: I'm going to let you go and get that. We're going to talk a little bit more with that.

Bill Bennett, what do you make about some of these latest developments?

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the Northup is one that we were hoping we would win. The other two that Amy was talking about we expected to lose. So this suggests that they are, as Wolf said, making some slow progress. In those other races, I'm heartbroken if it's true about Michael Steele.

ANDERSON: I saw your reaction. You look like you had been punched in the gut.

BENNETT: You know, he...

J.C. WATTS (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: We want a recount.

BENNETT: We want a recount. Well, here it is. He was born in D.C. You know, his mom was a domestic. In D.C., you know, people can move to Virginia, they can move to Maryland. I'm going to recommend he move to Virginia and run the next time because he's a heck of a great guy.

Lieberman, I'll go with my thesis again. This was one that the hard left was targeting. They really wanted Joe out. They put a lot of resources in it, Soros...

ANDERSON: A lot of bloggers of that.

BENNETT: ...crowd, the Daily Kos, whatever he is, and they didn't get it. And actually Lieberman got a fair number -- yes -- of Republican votes, he got a fair number of Democrat votes. And you know what he's for, don't you? He's for the war in Iraq.

ANDERSON: J.C., what do you think?

WATTS: You know, Anne Northup, I campaigned with Anne in her district several times over the last six, eight years. Tough campaigner, great constituent services. I'm disappointed that she lost because she's a friend. But it's a tough -- as Amy said, it's a tough political climate and that was considered a Democrat district. So I kind of felt like at the end of the night we might lose that.

ANDERSON: In Maryland, did you think that Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele would pull it out?

WATTS: I did. And I'm going to be curious to break down those numbers and see what he did in the different demographics. Again, a disappointment because Michael's a personal friend and I thought he gave Republicans a chance to do a lot of the things that I think we hadn't done over the last 10, 12 years, reaching out, growing the base of the party.

He did that, you know, but again, you know, they're in Washington right next to the district trying to bring along all the goop that he had to deal in. In the end, obviously, it was overwhelming.

ANDERSON: A lot of government workers working, living in Maryland.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, and a lot of them or a lot of somebodies in African-American precincts was getting this sample ballot which you see it says "Democratic Sample Ballot" on here, from the Michael Steele campaign, and it lists as a Democratic sample ballot, Bob Ehrlich, the Republican governor. It lists Michael Steele, the Republican candidate for Senate. That's kind of deceptive advertising.

Mr. Steele ran an energetic campaign. He's a really gifted campaigner. He has, I think, some of the most creative ads and performances in his ads were extraordinary, but some of his advertising was a little false. He had bumper stickers that said Steele Democrat. So if the only way you can even be competitive is to pretend you're not even Republican, that doesn't bode very well for the Republican Party.

ANDERSON: He did try to paint Cardin as an insider, as a Washington insider and sort of hoping that there would be an anti- incumbent drive as much as an anti-Bush drive.

BEGALA: That's right, and that's what we're learning tonight, is that this is an anti-Bush and anti-Republican drive. Again, I hearken back to my nightmare election night of 1994. Not a single Republican incumbent lost their seat that year.

Well, we're not seeing a whole lot of Democratic incumbents goes down. Ben Cardin is a Washington insider. He has been in the Congress for over a decade. He has been a leader in the Congress and that did not hurt him in this election because people were looking for a way to take out their wrath on President Bush and this god awful war in Iraq.

ANDERSON: And Iraq, again, coming up in this race.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, it's what's driving the races, you know, around the country. But it definitely was hardly a surprise that a Democrat won in Maryland, to be honest about that. Republicans, I think, got a little overexcited.

We're still in for, you know, the long night here in the Senate. We've got a lot of close races to be looking at -- Virginia, very, very tight. And we've got Tennessee and Missouri left to look at and Montana.

ANDERSON: OK, three more seats are needed for the Democrats to get up in the Senate.

WATTS: Well, you know, Anderson, the Republicans and Democrats both, we all sit around and kind of take out the pencil and paper and look at where we might be able to pick up.

And Maryland, although it is a Democrat -- it is a blue state, that was one that we were hopeful. We knew the odds were going to be long and they were going to be difficult, but we thought we had the right candidate with the right message and we thought if anybody could do it, it would be Michael Steele.

BEGALA: It's just the wrong year. The same candidate and the same message in a different year, he might have won.

ANDERSON: We're going to take a quick break. Our election coverage continues. Stay tuned.


ZAHN: And welcome back. We have been talking a lot tonight about what a critical issue the war in Iraq has been in this election. And Bill Schneider and I are just finding out how critical it was in handing incumbent Lincoln Chafee his defeat tonight.

Now, to put this into perspective for all of you, here is a man who voted against the president in 2004 as a Republican, voted against the war, voted against his tax cuts and yet, was handed this job approval rating in his state.

When we asked respondents coming out of the voting booths today how does he handle his job, 62 percent said they approve, 36 said they disapprove. Now, of those voters who strongly disapprove of the war in Iraq, just 27 percent voted for the Republican, some 72 percent for Sheldon Whitehouse, the newly elected senator from Rhode Island.

SCHNEIDER: An amazing result. Look at that, 62 percent approve of Lincoln Chafee. They like him. They really like him, but they didn't vote for him.

When I interviewed Sheldon Whitehouse, who has won that Senate seat, he said, I'm not going to attack Lincoln Chafee personally. He voted OK against the war and I agree with him on a lot of issue, but he's in the wrong party, and when he votes for a majority leader in the Senate, he empowers the wrong people.

Fifty-two percent of Rhode Island voters told us they not just disapprove of the war in Iraq, they strongly disapprove of the war in Iraq. And they voted three to one for Whitehouse, even though Lincoln Chafee voted against the war in Iraq. This has got to be a very frustrating night for Lincoln Chafee.

ZAHN: So this is all about a mandate for change? SCHNEIDER: A mandate for change and very strong message on Iraq in Rhode Island. Lincoln Chafee was liked, but he was in the wrong party for Rhode Island voters.

ZAHN: So don't take it personally tonight, Lincoln, they really, really like you but...

SCHNEIDER: Wrong position on -- party on the war.

ZAHN: All right. Let's go back to Wolf now.

BLITZER: Thank you, Paula, for that.

And CNN is now projecting -- this hour in Rhode Island, CNN projects the Democratic challenger, Sheldon Whitehouse, has defeated the Republican incumbent, Senator Lincoln Chafee, as we've been reporting.

In Pennsylvania, CNN projecting that the Democratic challenger, Bob Casey, Jr. has defeated the Republican incumbent, Senator Rick Santorum.

CNN also projecting that Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, now running as an independent in Connecticut, no longer a Democrat, has defeated his opponents to be re-elected the United States Senator from Connecticut.

Joe Lieberman will serve now as an independent, although he has promised everyone in Connecticut he will caucus with the Democrats, will effectively be a Democrat even though he will serve as an independent.

Significant races under way still. Lots of uncertainty. We're just beginning our coverage, Anderson. And we've got a lot more to work on.

COOPER: We certainly do. Three more seats, that's, of course, what they need in the Senate to pick up for the Democrats to take over control of the Senate.

The big races right now: Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, at this point too close.

KING: Add Montana to the mix, that's the Republican firewall, especially Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri. They call it the firewall because they want to hold their majority. They're obviously going to have a small majority, if they hold it. And I think the defeat of Lincoln Chafee is -- could well be a big dynamic tomorrow.

Assuming the Republicans do hold that majority, by one or two seats, what you have lost -- and this was an issue late in the campaign -- is another moderate Republican, someone who is on the environmental committee. He's pro-choice, he's pro-gay rights, and he's pro-environment, like the Sierra Club would like him to be, the National Research Defense Council would like him to be. If the Republicans keep their majority, and a senator like Lincoln Chafee is gone, a more conservative Republican will replace him on those committees. And it will change the balance of power within the Republican caucus. So if the Republicans do hold on, it could be quite significant. They'll still be the majority party, but their own balance will be out of kilter a little bit.

COOPER: Interesting.


CROWLEY: Well, you know, it's going to -- I mean, look at these races. This is going to be a long night, I think, because you have seen all of these go back and forth.

One of the things about the firewall was that early on, Republicans looked at Montana, which is Conrad Burns and Jon Tester, Conrad Burns being the Republican sitting senator for 18 years. And they looked at that and thought the polls were so bad that they thought, OK, the firewall is, you know, Tennessee, Virginia and Missouri.

And within the past week, Burns has come within the margin of error.

COOPER: Has he been able to come back? I mean, because early on, when he was being painted with -- you know, the association with Jack Abramoff -- $150,000 he had to give back that he had been given by Abramoff and his supporters.

What changed?

CROWLEY: I'll tell you what Democrats say when they watch the Tester race. They will tell you that Tester just wasn't mean enough, that he need to really go after Conrad Burns.

He had commercials and all of that, but they had to bring in the governor of Montana to say mean stuff because Tester had a hard time doing it on the campaign trail. They feel he just wasn't strong enough.

Now look, he may still win this race and will prove out that you don't have to be mean. But Conrad Burns has been there for a long time. I mean, Montana doesn't have that big of a population. He knows a lot of those people there. And you can pull in some chips if you've been there a long time.

COOPER: There were also some verbal miscues, some gaffes made during this race by Conrad Burns, in particular.

KING: He made one reference, I think, to a Guatemala gentleman who did some work around his house that was viewed as a slur. He's not the best communicator in the world.

But I think we may see this, and we're beginning to see in it some of these races. New Jersey's a Democratic state, Maryland's a Democrat state. Well, Montana's a Republican state. It is hard to knock off an incumbent in a state that is so deeply rooted in a partisan tradition.

And you know, you saw that happen with Michael Steele. I don't think we've seen the end of him. I think he will be back.

I remember a race a long time ago, a guy named Mitt Romney ran as a Republican against Teddy Kennedy. Everyone wanted him to go slash and burn negative. He refused. He lost to Ted Kennedy. He lost to Ted Kennedy. He happens to be the governor of Massachusetts now, the outgoing governor, one of those considered a front-runner for president.

So I think Michael Steele will be back.

In a state like Montana, though, it's a Republican state. It is hard, even in a year like this out in the mountain west, to beat a Republican.

COOPER: The other race that has -- a lot of people been focusing on the television commercials of is of course Tennessee, Harold Ford, Jr. against Bob Corker. At this point it seems very close.

CROWLEY: It does seem very close. And while that ad got a lot of attention down there, the "Call me, Harold" ad and references to his going to a Playboy mansion to watch a football game, et cetera. A lot of people feel that the day that Harold Ford went to a parking lot where Corker was having a news conference and challenged him on a number of things, that it looks sophomoric, because Harold Ford has won -- has run a heck of a race.

I mean, it's been a really, really good race. Now, the ad has been seen as playing the race card. We'll have to sort of look at those exit polls. Unfortunately, when it comes to race, people sort of lie to pollsters, so it's hard to tell why they voted against or for someone.

KING: It's a Republican state, again, though. Tennessee is a Republican state. Since Al Gore left the Senate, you've had the seat in the Republican hands. So when you get down to the margins in very close races -- unless we see a giant wave, and we're seeing Democratic momentum but not a wave just yet -- your gut tells you that in the end that's where the states come home. But we'll be watching.

COOPER: Harold Ford, Jr. of course representing west -- from Memphis in the western part of the state, eastern part of the state, far more conservative.

Our coverage continues when we come back. We're going to take you to a blogging event at a place called Trist, a bar in Washington, D.C. A number of bloggers, liberal and conservative, have joined together. We'll take you there live when our coverage continues.


DOBBS: CNN is hosting some of the most important bloggers in the blogosphere tonight at Tryst in Washington, D.C. We go to our Internet reporter Jacki Schechner to bring us up to date on what is going on. Jacki?

SCHECHNER: Hi, Lou. I'm sitting here right now with Christy Hardin Smith, who blogs at It's one of the top liberal blogs that backed Ned Lamont. What are your thoughts right now after hearing that Lieberman is edged out over Lamont?

CHRISTY HARDIN SMITH, BLOGGER: Well obviously it's disappointing. But at the same time, you know, I think all of the Democratic candidates that won this evening owe Ned Lamont a thank you. He changed his conversation with his win in the primary to the failures and lack of accountability in Iraq. He changed the conversation to the fact that there needed to be less rubber-stamping in the U.S. Congress and more oversight and more checks and balances and I think that's something that meshes voted on this evening.

SCHECHNER: We want to go over to Abbi Tatton, who is with Mike Krempasky from to get a little bit of conservative reaction to the Ned Lamont/Joe Lieberman race -- Abbi?

TATTON: Yes Jacki, it's not just the liberal, the net roots that are reacting to this. Mike Krempasky here from the conservative group blog redstate, where last week already we saw a pre-mordem about this race, a kind of "I told you so" post. What's your reaction to the news?

MIKE KREMPASKY, BLOGGER: Well I mean it's delightful to see that voters of Connecticut displaying remarkable common sense. But I think the more disappointing thing for the left is that despite all the resources and energy they poured into this race, sort of proved their immaturity that they pinned all their hopes on picking off an 18-year incumbent in their own party and failed. And so what that says for their efficacy moving forward? I think it's a tough road ahead.

TATTON: The liberal blogs also supporting other candidates around the country, Ned Lamont was at the top of the slate. But lots of other candidates out there being supported. You don't see any luck for them there either?

KREMPASKY: No, I mean, look, anybody can support candidates. It's clear that of all the candidates in the country, that they most put their energy in and actually did make a difference in the primary. Ned Lamont was clearly top of the list. They certainly put all their chips in Lamont's camp and had more of an impact there and largely credited with his win in the primary, which of course now has proven woefully unsuccessful.

TATTON: Woefully unsuccessful.

KREMPASKY: Millions and millions of dollars written out of Lamont's pocket.

TATTON: Strong feelings here from the left and the right as we hear the news of these results coming in. Lou, we're watching all of them with some of the country's top bloggers here at Tryst in Washington, D.C. and I'll send it back to you.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Abbi. And we'll be, of course, also watching what they have to say about the night's developments.

One of those developments we can tell you about right now. The state of Arizona with a number of very important state initiatives has, we can now project, passed the initiative requiring English to be the official language of the state of Arizona. All of that, we still have a very important Senate race to figure out. But we will do so shortly. Wolf, over to you.

BLITZER: All right Lou, thanks very much. I want to update our viewers on what exactly is going on in the United States Senate right now. Jeff Greenfield has got this, what we call our smart board. The Democrats have now taken, according to our projection, three Republican-held seats in the Senate. They still need three more. Where are the opportunities for them?

GREENFIELD: OK, now with Vermont and Connecticut independents caucusing with the Democrats, we are now down to four Republican-held seats of which the Democrats need three.

Let's go over them. In the state of Virginia, we've been looking at this all night. A very close race between Senator Allen and former Navy secretary James Webb.

In Tennessee, former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker, the Republican, narrowing leads Congressman Harold Ford Jr.

In Missouri, this race is extremely close. Senator Jim Talent, I believe is just a bit ahead with not that much of the vote in of Claire McCaskill, the state auditor. And the polls are still open. That's Missouri again. I'm sorry. The polls are still open in Montana, where Senator Conrad Burns is being challenged by the State Senate president John Tester.

It's very simple, Wolf. There are four Republican-held Senate seats out there. We're assuming that the other seats that are not called or projected go as everyone assumes. Democrats have three in the bag. They need three of those four for the six to get control of the Senate. That's what we'll be watching for the rest of the night.

BLITZER: And in three minutes, they're going to be closing the voting in Montana. So maybe we'll get a little bit better indication of what's going on. Let's take a look at the House of Representatives right now. All 435 seats in the House are up for election this time around as the case every two years.

GREENFIELD: Right. Of the seats that have been decided, 107 to the Democrats, 88 to the Republicans, 218 is the majority, a 15-seat gain net for the Democrats is what they need. And as of now, we have -- as of now, to show you by contrast, this is the old House, 232-202- 1 independent.

And if we flip it, this is where we are. So we have, you know, a couple hundred seats left. The one thing we should mention so far, not a single Democratic incumbent House member has been defeated. And the Republicans really are hoping for no more than four or five. This is the story of the night.

BLITZER: And we're counting down to the closing 10:00 p.m. on the East Coast. There will be a few states that will be closing their polls at that time. And we're going to take a closer look at several of them. It's only about two minutes from now. In that House of Representatives, the Democrats have made a modest amount of inroads so far. It's almost 10:00 p.m. on the East Coast. Are you surprised that we haven't been able to project a greater number of Democratic takeovers in the House so far?

GREENFIELD: Well there were no exit polls in the House races. We haven't heard about what's happened in Ohio, we haven't heard from Pennsylvania, we haven't heard from New York state with a ton of endangered Republicans.

BLITZER: Connecticut, too.

GREENFIELD: And Connecticut, where there are three or four. So I think that may be a matter of vote counting. Polls, as you say, are closing in about a minute and a half. We have some questions that we may or may not get to. Here they are. Is the West turning blue or purple? A lot of endangered Republicans in what were once safe seats. Did the Rove machine sizzle or fizzle? The 72-hour turnout, we should be getting this picture from across the country. The shape of the Senate. We just talked about that. And how blue a house? If we think the Democrats are going to take this House, we haven't projected that yet, will it be with a tiny margin, will the moderates and conservatives hold power, or will a bigger margin?

We hope that these questions will be able to be answered in the hour, if not hours ahead. Wolf?

BLITZER: Did the Rove machine sizzle or fizzle? Who wrote that question?

GREENFIELD: Well, you know, what can I tell you? I'll cop to that.

BLITZER: All right, let me just update our viewers on what is going on right now and we wait about 45 seconds or so from now, the closing of some polls out in the West, including in Montana. Right now, the Democrats have picked up three seats in the Senate, three seats. They need six in order to be the majority. If they pick up five, there's a 50-50 split in the Senate. The vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney, is the president of the Senate. He breaks the tie, so nominally the Republicans would be the majority in the United States Senate.

The Democrats have picked up, as we know, at least three Republican held seats in the House. They need 15. We're watching all of this very, very carefully. In short, the night is still young. Lots of close races. Four specifically Senate races that we're watching right now.