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Presidential Race Too Close to Call: Political Science Students Discuss Election

Aired November 8, 2000 - 1:34 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: From our CNN TODAY notebook, we'll take a quick check of some of the major newspaper headlines today.

Like the rest of us, they were caught off guard by this drama overnight. The "Atlanta Constitution" proclaimed George W. Bush the winner in one of its editions. The "New York Post" said the same thing.

This reminds us of the famous "Dewey Beats Truman" headline in the "Chicago Daily Tribune" back in 1948. Remember that one? That had Harry Truman laughing all the way to the White House.

For all the talk about voter apathy, a majority of Americans still took time out to go to the polls. Some folks waited in line for hours to do so.

Yesterday's turnout is estimated at least at 51 percent. That's two percent higher than in 1996, but it's not enough to signal that the falloff in voting that began in 1964 has been reversed.

Some folks in New Mexico cast their ballots by candlelight. A snowstorm knocked out power to two polling places. These very dedicated voters trekked through at least a half-foot of snow.

Not everyone made it, though. We hear the deep snow kept some election workers from getting to their jobs.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's hear it for those precinct workers as well, working by candlelight.

It is the afternoon after, and with nothing decided yet, many people are kind of in a post-election daze. For more, let's check up with our Jeff Flock. He's out checking the polls in Chicago.

Hi there, Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You said it, Natalie. All over Chicago today, talking to people. And we've got a group of largely political science majors at this hour, from Loyola University.

Did anybody vote yesterday, by the way?

OK, everybody voted. And everybody stayed up late? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

FLOCK: Sarah (ph), what do you make of what you have been watching? It's been a lesson. It's been a history lesson, hasn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really memorable. It's my first election that I've voted in, and I have to say that it's so intense. I'm so on edge. And I just don't see it ending right after we decide who is going to be president. I see this is going to be a big issue.

FLOCK: How do we think it's coming down? Anybody?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Al Gore.

FLOCK: You think so?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I hope so.

FLOCK: He's way behind, and -- well, actually, not way behind, but he's significantly behind before this recount. What makes you say that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The recount in Florida. The shaking of the ballot box and then finding ballots. I think it's going to pull out.

FLOCK: Now, what about this concept, if it doesn't go that way, of the popular vote winner being different from the electoral college winner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think -- the idea of the popular vote- electoral college, that conflict makes me a bit uneasy, because I think our whole vote is to let the people get to say who their representative will be.

But at the same time, I think that it's good that we're sticking to the electoral, since it's there, it's in place. We're following something that we've instituted -- that's been instituted in our country. So ...

FLOCK: What do you think? Should we change it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't agree. I think there should be a (INAUDIBLE) change. I think the purpose of democracy is to have the people vote, to have the people decide who they want to run the country.

FLOCK: You all seem very excited about this election. Why? What's the reason for this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I think it was the big Latino turnout. It was the big turnout in general. Most experts are saying that it was estimated that six million Latinos nationwide were going to vote, and seven million turned out to vote.

So that really excited me. Everyone was really excited about this election, and really enthused. FLOCK: And Ruby (ph), you said you were surprised that Florida was so close. Why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. To tell you the truth, it was because of the large Latino population that they have. However, like Sherry (ph) said, you also have Governor Bush there.

And I was just amazed. I was thinking, actually, they were going to be Gore.

FLOCK: The last question before we get away -- whoever wins, it's going to be so close. Does anyone have a mandate to govern, in your view? What do you think, Sarah (ph)? Is anyone going to have the strength to govern that's necessary?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I'm not sure. This has, I think, drawn so much out of people, you know, everyone's going to be -- I feel -- I can't say.

FLOCK: Anybody? What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's going to be close, and it's going to be hard, especially if it is Gore, with the president and the House staying Republican. It's going to be tough ...

FLOCK: Guys, thank you so much. Appreciate it. We've got to go back.

Thanks for Chicago. Back to you.

ALLEN: All right. Thank you, Jeff.

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