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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Last Campaign Stops; Legal Challenges Mounted in Ohio; Floridians Waiting Hours to Cast Ballots; Lawyers Ready To Go in PA; Tight Congressional Races
Aired November 1, 2004 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the choice. This is the moment of accountability for America.
ANNOUNCER: The finish line is in sight in the race for the White House.
GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to assure you I've got the energy and the optimism and the enthusiasm to cross the line.
ANNOUNCER: We'll follow Bush and Kerry all over the map.
The state of the vote. We'll have the latest on early balloting and early problems in the biggest battlegrounds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our vote counts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our vote counts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our vote counts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our vote counts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our vote counts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our vote counts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't hear you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our vote counts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our vote counts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our vote counts.
ANNOUNCER: The march to the polls. The final push to get out the vote is under way. Will it produce a record turnout?
The battle for the Senate. The presidential contest won't be the only nail-biter on Election Day.
Now, live from CNN's election analysis center in New York, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thanks for joining us. We are located at the nerve center of CNN's election coverage. This is the place where the all-important results will begin coming in just about 28 hours from now.
This is where we will first learn who wins the White House, presumably sometime tomorrow night. But then again, no one can say for sure.
After a long, hard slog through the primary season and the showdown states, there is just one more day of campaigning for the presidential candidates, and it is a busy one.
At this hour the president is stumping in Des Moines, Iowa, one of many stops, as he zips across the country through Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico, and finally his home state of Texas.
Our White House correspondent, Dana Bash, is traveling with him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States and Mrs. Laura Bush.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A dramatic arrival in the familiar trappings of the presidency, staged to set the incumbent apart from his challenger. Staged to show confidence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounds like we've got a few Red Sox fans out here, too. And it sounds like we have a few George Bush fans out here, too.
BASH: then an introduction by Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, hero of John Kerry's hometown.
BUSH: There's nothing like an early morning rally in the great state of Ohio.
BASH: Ohio is the first in a seven-stop Bush sprint. He won here in 2000, but it's in jeopardy because of job loss, which he acknowledges.
BUSH: I know the economy of this state has been through a lot. But we are moving in the right direction.
BASH: The president's top aide boasts they'll win Ohio and then some.
KARL ROVE, WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: We're ahead. We're going to win. We're going to win. We will win Florida and Ohio. We will take at least two or three or four states that were won by Gore in the last election.
BASH: after Ohio four of those Gore blue states are on the itinerary: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Mexico, before going home to Texas.
Along the way the president uncharacteristically seeks out reporters.
BUSH: I just want to assure you I've got the energy and the optimism and the enthusiasm to cross the line.
BASH: Public bravado, but some nervousness behind the scenes. Bush aides concede historically, undecideds usually don't break for the incumbent. Mr. Bush doesn't hold a majority in many states he needs to win.
But the president is running on anti-terrorism credentials he thinks can help defy trends.
BUSH: I want to continue telling the people what I intend to do to protect them.
BASH: That, aides hope, will make undecideds think twice before switching horses.
But the reality is at this point the president's already made his policy arguments, already torn into his opponent. All that's left for him is the final sales pitch.
BUSH: I ask you to come stand with me.
BASH (on camera): Now it's about the ground game, where Democrats traditionally have the upper hand. But Bush aides say they have 1.4 million volunteers. That's three times what they had four years ago. But they also concede the Democrats' turnout operation is well funded and therefore could be hard to match.
Dana Bash, CNN, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
WOODRUFF: Dana, thanks very much.
Well, John Kerry also is trying to cover a lot of ground on this Election Eve. On his agenda, rallies in Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. CNN's Frank Buckley is along for the ride.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy.
We are in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a very popular place for presidential candidates. As you just heard from Dana, President Bush was here. He was in fact here about an hour before Senator Kerry was here in downtown Milwaukee.
In fact, as Senator Kerry's motorcade was coming into downtown Milwaukee, Air Force One with President Bush aboard was going wheels up and apparently flew parallel to the motorcade for at least a brief period. No word from the full report yet if either candidate waved to each other. It is doubtful.
Senator Kerry just wrapped up his rally here in downtown Milwaukee, outside, in the rain. The senator wearing his baseball cap, a Boston Red Sox cap, as he talked to his supporters here in the rain.
The senator doing his best to try to make his case that he will be the man for the middle class and try to convince his supporters to express their support through a vote on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: Here we are 24 hours from the great moment that the world and America is waiting for. I need you in these hours to go out and do the hard work. Knock on those doors, make those phone calls, talk to friends, take people to the polls, help us change the direction of this great nation for the better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCKLEY: And as you mentioned, Judy, the senator beginning his day in Florida today. He began with -- his last event on the ground in Florida was an airport rally in Orlando. He also went to church there today in honor of All saints day.
Here in Wisconsin a great deal of attention from both campaigns. This was a state that went to al Gore in 2000 by less than one point. The most recent CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll indicating that right now, president Bush has the edge here in this most recent poll. That poll indicating President Bush has an eight-point lead. Other polls showing that it's much more of a dead heat here in Wisconsin.
And as Dana was just talking about, the ground game for the Republicans, the Democrats feel they've got a great ground game: a million volunteers nationwide; 250,000 volunteers just in the voter contact area.
And here in Wisconsin, they say they've tripled the number of paid staffers on the ground from 100 to 300. They've got 23 district offices here. That's double what they had in 2000. They're even down at the dormitory level: 675 dorm captains at the colleges and universities here in Wisconsin.
So as Dana was saying, I would echo that, Judy, the ground game very important in a turnout situation like this -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Dorm captains. It's maybe the first time we've heard about that. All right, Frank. Thank you. We're going to let you run catch-up with the candidate. We appreciate it. Well, this presidential race as you've been hearing, is about as close as it could be, coming down to the wire. Our new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows President Bush leading Senator Kerry by just two points among likely voters nationwide. Three percent are undecided, they say.
Now, traditionally undecided voters swing in the end toward the challenger. So taking that into consideration, the Gallup organization estimates the race is actually a dead heat.
The final Marist national poll of likely voters also points to a squeaker, with Kerry ahead of Bush by just one point. When we average together the eight most recent national surveys, Bush getting 48 percent to Kerry's 46 percent.
The poll of polls has been showing a tight race throughout the final stretch of this campaign.
While the national numbers are telling, the presidential campaigns believe this contest will be decided in those crucial showdown states. We have correspondents on the ground in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
First up, let's go to Adaora Udoji in Ohio.
ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy.
Indeed, the polls showing that President Bush and Senator Kerry in a dead heat here in Ohio.
But the Republicans and Democrats on the eve of the election are still, Judy, battling it out in court. Today the Democrats say they gained a victory after a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction, barring challengers from the polling places tomorrow.
Now, challengers under Ohio law are individuals that have the ability to challenge any voter at the polls, challenge any voter's eligibility. The Democrats had argued that essentially the Republicans were only thinking of trying to intimidate voters. Republicans denied that. And they intend to appeal. They say they're just concerned about voter fraud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK WEAVER, OHIO GOP LEGAL COUNSEL: The Judge Dlott case. She's the federal district judge in Cincinnati. She ruled that there cannot be observers anywhere in the polling places in Ohio.
That is directly contrary to Ohio election law that's been on the book for decades. She is substituting her own personal opinion for that of the elected Ohio lawmakers. We think that's not only erroneous, but she has overstepped her authority as a federal judge to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UDOJI: Also in Ohio, they have experienced unprecedented get out the vote efforts, both sides claiming they have tens of thousands of volunteers calling, knocking on doors.
Also, they have more voters to contact this year because of record-breaking voter registration drives. There are 800,000 more votes on the rolls in Ohio this year.
And both sides definitely agree on one thing, which is tomorrow is all going to depend on who can get their people out to the polls, and whoever can do that is going to win the state's treasured 20 electoral votes.
Now we're going to go to my colleague, Gary Tuchman, in West Palm Beach, Florida.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Adaora, because of what happened in this state in the year 2000, the word "Florida" has kind of become synonymous with political turmoil. And that's one of the reasons there's so much paranoia now in 2004 and so much attention being paid to the presidential race.
We want to give you a look right now. Just showing up, to give you an idea of how high-profile what's happening in Palm Beach County is, there's the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who just showed up to do a little talking to Kerry/Edwards supporters and perhaps the Bush/Cheney supporters who are also over there right now yelling at him.
Behind me where we're standing right now this is early voting. About two million Floridians have already gone to the polls. They are standing out there today in the heat, the sunshine, the humidity, and now the pouring rain. That gives you an idea of how dedicated these people are.
The conditions right now as we speak, thundershowers moving over Florida, very inclement. Most of the people have umbrellas but not all of them. They are waiting up to four hours to cast a ballot.
Now, we all remember four years ago here in Palm Beach County, Florida, when the canvassing board, the three-member board here held up those punch card ballots with dimpled chads and pregnant chads, holding them to the light, trying to determine if actual votes were cast for Gore and Bush.
Well, a juxtaposition today. That same canvassing board, except two different members on it but Theresa LePore remains on it. She's the election supervisor who designed that controversial butterfly ballot here.
Well, they're meeting again today, also closely looking over something. They're looking over signatures of absentee ballots to make sure they're the same signatures when those voters originally registered to vote here in the state of Florida.
If they don't look similar, they then take a vote to determine if that absentee ballot will be allowed in this very close presidential election.
Now, we move 1,100 miles up the road to my colleague, Jason Carroll, who's in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania -- Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I'm standing in front of a polling place. It was busy during the last presidential election. It's expected to be just as busy this go-around.
The difference is Pennsylvania voters are going to be facing a lot of problems that they didn't have to face last go-around.
First, the record number of registered voters in the state of Pennsylvania, some 8.6 million registered voters. That's up half a million from 2000.
The problem is the computer system that's supposed to process all of those registered voters is faulty, according to election workers. They say it's very slow, and they're not confident in how effective it is.
Also, the issue of provisional ballots. Those ballots will be handed out to anyone who shows up at a polling place, for instance, whose name does not appear in some sort of an official record. They'll be handed a provisional ballot.
But there seems to be some confusion in terms of who gets a provisional ballot, under what circumstances. There are 67 counties in the state of Pennsylvania. They'll be handed out of all of those counties.
I spoke to the governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, about the situation. He says he can expect some confusion when it comes to the provisional ballots. We caught up with him as he was out on a get out the vote sweep. And he talked about what we can expect here in the state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I think we've done everything we can to be ready for this. Will there be glitches? You can absolutely count on it. Will they be minor? I hope so. And I think we're ready to deal with them as they occur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: You also have partisan accusations thrown into the mix, Republicans accusing Democrats of padding registration rolls. Then you've got Democrats accusing Republicans of intimidation tactics.
One thing is for sure, Judy. You're going to have attorneys out here watching everything that's going on -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Yes. We're hearing about that all over the country. All right, Jason Carroll, thank you very much. Thank you to all three of you, to Gary and Adaora, as well. Well, CNN's Election Night coverage comes to you live from the NASDAQ market site in Times Square in New York. From real time election results on 96 TV screens to a live town hall meeting to dozens of reporters on the front lines, like the ones you just heard from, and in-depth information from right here at the election analysis center, CNN will be tracking the votes, the exit polls, the swing states, and more.
Our primetime coverage begins at 7 p.m. Eastern.
We'll be tracking more than the presidential race tomorrow night. Up next, the battle for the hill. We'll get an 11th hour read on Senate races and whether it's likely to change hands.
Also ahead, I'll be joined by the party chairmen, duking it out till the bitter end.
Plus, how will CNN's decision desk figure out who wins? Or for that matter if we have a winner tomorrow night? I'll have the inside story.
With just one day until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: While the presidential race is the marquee match-up tomorrow, a great deal of attention will also be focused on some important Senate races. With control of the Senate barely in the hands of Republicans, Democrats are hoping to win enough seats to shift the balance of power.
Here's CNN congressional correspondent Ed Henry.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-ND), MINORITY LEADER: Thank you both for coming.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Down to the wire. Nine states too close to call. Sounds like the presidential race. But this is the battle for the Senate. Also a nail-biter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think we're going to have a very, very tense Election Night as we see the returns come in.
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R-VA), NATIONAL REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL COMMITTEE: I go to sleep every night, OK, how is this one going?
HENRY: Republicans currently control the chamber with 51 seats. So Democrats need to pick up two seats to take the majority.
Democrats have been buoyed by strong poll numbers in red states like Colorado, where Ken Salazar is tied with Republican Pete Coors; and Kentucky, where miscues have landed Republican Jim Bunting in a tight race with upstart Daniel Mongiardo. But Democratic gains could be wiped out in places like South Dakota, where Democratic leader Tom Daschle is in a dead heat. The Senate battlegrounds are mostly in states President Bush will carry by double digits. So Bush coattails, especially in the South, could be the Republican firewall.
CHUCK TODD, EDITOR, "THE HOTLINE": The Senate is at least within the grasp of the Democrats, but they would need to win pretty much every close race, and that doesn't seem likely at this point.
HENRY: Democrats will have a harder time taking back the House. Republicans crafted a redistricting map in Texas that may help them net five or more seats to offset Democratic gains elsewhere.
Thus, the focus on the Senate, where the stakes are high. If John Kerry wins, a Republican Senate would be a hindrance, a Democratic Senate a boon.
SEN. JON CORZINE (D-NJ), SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: When he sends up legislation to Congress, we can get it shaped up.
HENRY: If President Bush wins, a Democratic Senate could put on the brakes, but a Republican Senate would pass more tax cuts and approve conservative judges.
ALLEN: This is what excites me.
HENRY: Just like the presidential race, the battle for the control of the Senate may not be decided on Tuesday night.
One of the tossups is in Louisiana. That's likely headed for a runoff in December. So we'll have to wait a month for those results.
And of course, if John Kerry wins the White House, he'll have to resign his Senate seat. We'll have to wait for a special election. And, of course, that seat will be in limbo for some time.
The bottom line is we could wake up Wednesday morning and not know who's in charge -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Well, if we're going to stay up all night Tuesday night, we might as well stay up all night some other nights.
All right, Ed. Thanks very much.
HENRY: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: So these congressional races are something we are going to keep an eye on. Coming up, Stu Rothenberg and Amy Walter join me with their thoughts on how the fight for control of the Senate and House will turn out.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: As we've said, the balance of power in the Senate could be at stake in tomorrow's elections. We're also watching some close House races.
With me now Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report and Amy Walter with the Cook Political Report.
Amy, Stu, let's talk first about the presidential race, the effect it may have on some of these Senate races and vice versa, the effect some of these races may have on the Senate. What do you think?
AMY WALTER, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Well, first it's really interesting because we don't know much about turnout, and that's what -- really what we're very concerned about, especially in a place like Florida, where we know that it's very tight going into the presidential contest. Its impact in terms of new voters coming out on the Florida Senate race will be something that we're going to very much be watching.
WOODRUFF: But there are -- And there are -- so there are a couple of states where the Senate race could help the president or John Kerry?
STU ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: Well, I have a hard time imagining the down ballot race is really going to affect the presidential contest.
I think there may be a relationship in a couple of races where if the president does well, the Republican will win or Kerry -- I think Florida is the classic case. I mean, the polls in Florida have been so even, both in the presidential but certain even more so in the Senate race.
So I think that if John Kerry wins I have a hard time believing that Betty Castor won't win. If George Bush wins Florida, I have a hard time believing Mel Martinez won't win. That's one state.
But in most of the other states, South Dakota, for example, Tom Daschle has demonstrated his ability to run against a Republican trend. So I wouldn't expect the presidential race to have an impact there.
WOODRUFF: All right. Let's talk about some specific Senate races. Florida. You just heard Stu weigh in a little bit there. What is Florida looking like you to?
WALTER: Well, it's look just like the presidential, right? Where it really is coming down to one or two percentage points here.
Look, they've been distracted partly by the presidential contest but also by the hurricanes and the fact that you had a race that was sort of frozen in time for a while. These candidates did not have the chance to introduce themselves like they would in a normal election year.
So I do think they're impacted very much so by what's happening on the ground now, much more than they have been able to do themselves.
WOODRUFF: Let's quickly run through these others. There are five others I want to -- Kentucky, what do you think? Who's looking...
ROTHENBERG: Well, everything I hear the Republican poll numbers suggest that Jim Bunting is ahead, has moved ahead six, seven, maybe even as many as nine points. I think he's got a tough race. I think when an incumbent is not at 50 percent, it's tough. I think he's likely to win, but it's going to be close.
WOODRUFF: Anything different you're hearing?
WALTER: I'm not hearing anything different.
WOODRUFF: OK. Oklahoma, Brad Carson, Tom Coburn.
ROTHENBERG: In the margin of error. Coburn appears to be ahead by two or three points. Carson's a terrific candidate, been running a great campaign. Tossup.
WALTER: You know, this is also a place where we talked about the presidential impact, but in a state like Oklahoma this is where you just may see that give somewhat of a little bit of an edge to Coburn, who already has something of an advantage among conservative Democrats because of where he's from and what his profile looks like.
WOODRUFF: Amy, what about Colorado? Coors, Salazar.
WALTER: Well, that's a race that actually seems to be finally breaking, as opposed to all these other tossups, where Ken Salazar does look like -- Ken Salazar, Democratic attorney general, looks like he's gotten a little bit of a lead here over Pete Coors.
ROTHENBERG: I'd agree. Tracking both parties, suggesting that Salazar has the clear edge. I'd be surprised if Pete Coors wins. I'd be surprised.
WOODRUFF: OK. Only a little bit of time left. South Dakota. You want to call it?
ROTHENBERG: I can't. You know, for the last two or three days I was convinced John Thune had pulled ahead. Now the most recent numbers that I hear still has Tom Daschle up by one or two.
WALTER: How about this crazy prediction, someone will win by a thousand votes or less?
WOODRUFF: Wow. We'll let you go with that. Alaska.
ROTHENBERG: Looks like Murkowski is up by a couple but not enough to put this one in the bank.
WALTER: Yes. Same thing. Too close. We're going to have to be up late, late, late.
WOODRUFF: And finally, Senate going to stay in Republican hands, Stu?
ROTHENBERG: If I had to put a nickel on it, I would put it. I'd say the Republicans will hold or pick up a seat. But I'd only bet maybe as much as a quarter; that's about it.
WALTER: As much as a quarter that they'd hold or that they pick up?
ROTHENBERG: That they...
WALTER: All right, that they hold. Yes, I still see them holding. I'd be surprised if the numbers end up looking very similar to where they are today, that you literally just switch seats. You know, you switch a Colorado and switch a South Carolina, and we sort of end up right where we are today.
WOODRUFF: All right. We give the House short shrift. We're not going to talk about it. You're saying it's going to stay in Republican hands.
ROTHENBERG: Safe Republican.
WOODRUFF: OK. Stu Rothenberg, Amy Walter. We're going to see a lot of the two of you tomorrow night. Thanks very much.
WALTER: Thanks, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Well, the key to victory, everybody keeps saying right now it's voter turnout. Just ahead, a look at the Election Day forecast.
Plus, a rare campaign swing through Hawaii. The vice presidential candidates are moving fast and furious. We'll tell you where they are.
And we'll take a look at what Ralph Nader's up to on this last day before America votes.
WOODRUFF: The race to the finish line. President Bush stops in six states as the campaign clock ticks down.
Senator Kerry matches his opponent with stops in six cities. It is crunch time out on the trail. Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff, live this Monday from CNN's Election Analysis Center in New York City.
On this election eve the final polls from the biggest battlegrounds still point to an unpredictable finish starting with the center of attention in Florida. The latest CNN/"USA" Today/Gallup poll shows Kerry leading Bush by three points among likely voters, 49 percent to 46 percent. The Quinnipiac poll tells a different story, though. Bush has an eight-point lead, 41 (sic) percent to 43 percent. And when "Insider Advantage" polled Floridians, they found a dead heat. 48 for Bush, 48 for Kerry, 1 percent for Ralph Nader.
Turning to Ohio, the latest CNN survey gives Kerry a four-point edge, 50 percent to 46 percent. The University of Cincinnati poll of Ohio voters finds the race even closer. Bush with 50 percent, Kerry with 49 percent. And in Pennsylvania the CNN survey gives Bush a four-point edge among likely voters, 50 percent to 46 percent.
Quinnipiac, though, finds Pennsylvania a dead heat, 47 percent for both Bush and Kerry.
Well, as those polls tell you, this White House race could be decided on the strength of voter turnout and the old-fashioned door- to-door strategy of winning votes one person at a time. Here's a snapshot now of how both parties are deploying their ground troops in Florida.
(voice-over): In Miami Beach a party at the polls. Several hundred African-Americans march to city hall, spinning tunes...into turnout.
WOODRUFF: This is the final push. At Miami-Dade Republican headquarters the RNC's 72-hour program well under way.
The GOP's three-day goal: 9 million calls across the country in English and Spanish.
Especially here in Miami, where the GOP is targeting Cuban- Americans and logging 8,000 to 10,000 calls a day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a Texas team that's come in with the Texas Strike Force to help all the areas that need it the most.
WOODRUFF: Across the country volunteers on both sides have parachuted into the battlegrounds. New York City Councilwoman Diana Reyna (ph), a Democrat, flew into Miami on the red eye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't come alone, I brought my staff as volunteers. And we're working anywhere we can fill a gap.
WOODRUFF: And that means going door to door in the Alapata (ph) neighborhood, Miami's Puerto Rican and Dominican community.
The Democrats have thousands of foot soldiers on knocking duty, preparing a 4 million door nationwide canvass. Add to that efforts of left-leaning independent groups like ACT, America Coming Together, which plans to dispatch 70,000 volunteers to doorways across 12 showdown states on election day, and Kerry-leaning unions like the AFL-CIO.
But for the promise of victory, all the pavement pounding can be pretty thankless. Katie Hally (ph), who took a semester off to work for the president, spent four hours in the hot Miami sun, one of 150,000 Republican volunteers on the streets across the country. At times she logged more one on ones with intercoms...
Than face-to-face chats with voters. But this is the way it's done. Door to door, citizen to citizen. Their enthusiasm stripping some cynicism from a very bitter campaign.
WOODRUFF: Well, bad weather, we are told, on election day could offset some of that hard work by campaign volunteers. All across the nation, checking the forecast for tomorrow, in some of the battleground states it is expected to be dry in Florida, New Hampshire, and West Virginia. But rain is expected to move into western Pennsylvania. Steady rain also expected across Ohio and Michigan, with showers in Iowa and Missouri. Nevada and Colorado are expected to be dry, and there could be morning snow in eastern New Mexico.
Well, millions of new voters have registered since the last presidential election. Florida officials alone report a 17 percent jump in registered voters since 2000. Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota all report single-digit increases. Nevada reporting a jump of almost 22 percent. Ohio and Pennsylvania also reporting increases in new voters. And what about the non-battleground states? What's happening there and the rest of the country? With me now from Washington to talk more about the effect of all these new voters is Curtis Gans. He is the director of the Committee For The Study of the American Electorate. Curtis Gans, thank you for talking with me. 106 million Americans voted four years ago. What is your expectation of how many people are going to vote tomorrow?
CURTIS GANS, CMTE. FOR STUDY OF AMERICAN ELECTORATE: I think between 118 and 121 million will vote. We're going to probably see the highest turnout since 1968 and the most passionate election since the spring of 1968 and probably in my lifetime, which is a long lifetime.
WOODRUFF: Some people disagree with you. They say there aren't going to be 118 million or more voters. What makes you confident there will be that many?
GANS: Well, because voter interest in the polls is running about parallel to 1992, and that's when we had 58 percent voting. Viewership of the debates was almost as high as 1992, and this is a profoundly more passionate, divided, lightning rod election than 1992. So I think the benchmark is the 58 percent in '92 and likely to be higher.
WOODRUFF: Why are people so passionate?
GANS: Well, you know, I think everything about the Bush administration has been controversial. Iraq, the tax cuts, the deficit and debt, values, candor, terrorism. We have in this election -- you know, and all the things affecting, you know, the poorer parts of America. We have in this election a whole series of large and controversial issues. Nobody has a weak opinion. Everybody -- I mean, you see it today in the beginning segment of your program. People standing in four-hour lines in the rain in Florida to early vote. We're going to have the same thing all over the country. The only thing that's going to stop people is if there's a blizzard.
WOODRUFF: What is your sense, Curtis Gans, of the non- battleground states? We've put so much focus -- we've talked so much about these states that have seen a lot of the candidates, that have seen all of these paid ads on television. What about those states, California, Texas, New York -- where I am? What about the turnout in those states -- Georgia?
GANS: I believe turnout will be up every place, but it will be substantially more up in the battleground states where all these ground operations are going.
WOODRUFF: And which party -- can you tell -- is there any way to tell which party benefits from this heightened interest and enthusiasm?
GANS: The likelihood is that the higher the turnout in this election, the more John Kerry will benefit, which is to say we're going to have increased turnout of existing voters and we're going to have increased turnout of new voters. But the new voters that the Republican party can count on are things like the evangelical fundamentalists that Karl Rove has targeted, some military voters, and the rural voters -- you know, the small towns that George Bush has been going to.
I don't see that adding up to more than five million additional Republican votes from 2000. If we're talking about 12 to 15 million more voters, I think, you know, at the top end of that, particularly amongst young people and minorities, Kerry will get the benefit.
WOODRUFF: Curtis Gans -- he's been studying voter turnout for a a long time with the Committee for the Study of the Electorate. Thank you very much. You're talking about something that everybody's interested in -- today, tomorrow, and in the days to come. Thank you very much.
And now, checking the headlines in our Monday "Campaign News Daily." Like Bush and Kerry, the two presidential running mates are making their final sprints through the nation's battlegrounds. Vice President Dick Cheney held a rally in Colorado earlier. He has stops planned later in Nevada before heading home to Wyoming.
Late last night, Cheney put on an orange lei and rallied Republicans in Honolulu, Hawaii. As we've reported, the usually safe Democratic state looked like a dead heat in recent polls, prompting the first visit by a major party candidate in 44 years.
Democrat John Edwards, meantime, already has made stops today in Minnesota and Iowa. He has two rallies scheduled in Florida later.
Independent Ralph Nader is wrapping up his campaign right here in New York City. Nader held a rally outside the New York Stock Exchange around noon. He has another event scheduled here in New York tonight.
Former President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, has wrapped up his campaigning on behalf of John Kerry. Clinton held a rally in his home state of Arkansas yesterday in an effort to move the state and its six electoral votes into the Kerry column. The Kerry team had all but given up on Arkansas, but late polls showed a close race, prompting new advertising by both campaigns.
Just ahead, "Making the Call." A preview of CNN's Election Night coverage, and we'll explain how we will make the decision to project a winner in each state.
WOODRUFF: The disputed presidential election four years ago taught both the Republicans and the Democrats some valuable lessons. And we in the news media ate some humble pie and learned a lot, as well.
Here is how CNN plans to handle the election results tomorrow night.
(voice-over): The bywords for Election Night: more information and more caution. There will be the traditional exit polls, interviews of voters after they cast their ballots.
If the exit polls show a clear victory for one candidate or another in a particular state, CNN will project a winner there.
CNN announces that we call Florida in the Al Gore column.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN declares that George Walker Bush has won Florida's 25 electoral votes.
WOODRUFF: But only after voting ends in that state. If it's closer than expected, our experts on the decision desk rely on other data.
CLYDE TUCKER, CNN CONSULTANT: We would wait for actual returns to come in from sample precincts throughout the state. And if it's still close, we'd be waiting for the actual votes to come in from the county returns.
WOODRUFF: Our team of pollsters and analysts will be crunching numbers throughout the night, until they are confident they can make a projection.
DAVID BOHRMAN, CNN ELECTIONS EXEC. PRODUCER: There's a new system for calling that we trust, but then there's a layer on top that says examine everything that they're doing and try to disprove it. And then we add in the dynamics of lawyers, sort of like what Ronald Reagan used to say, "Trust, but verify."
WOODRUFF: If we can't verify, we won't call the race. And with the possibility of a close vote and with the possibility of ballot challenges, that could happen.
In that case, we'll just keep waiting, along with you, until the last votes are counted -- however long that may take -- until we're sure and America can be sure of the winner.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This time around, we're not taking any chances.
WOODRUFF (on camera): That's right. And as we head to Election Day, we're looking at all these polls that have been taken, and they still can't give us a clear picture of who will win the race for the White House. We're all in suspense.
When we return, CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein joins me to talk about the final hours of the campaign and what the polls are showing.
WOODRUFF: Now just hours to go before the first polls start opening, and with me to talk more about the presidential race as it draws to a close and what the final polls are showing, someone who's been with us throughout this election, CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein with "The Los Angeles Times."
Ron, you're in Cleveland. All right, what's your gut telling you and all that reporting you've been doing?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Boy, I'll tell you, Judy, I really feel that we are beyond the ability of polling to tell us who is going to win this. Or maybe polling is telling us something else, that it's within the reach of either man to win depending on who delivers tomorrow on the ground in the different states.
I have a hard time seeing how John Kerry gets to 270 without winning Wisconsin in the end myself. I sort of feel like out of all the states, Ohio's critical, Florida's critical -- assuming that Kerry can take one of those two and hold Pennsylvania, I sort of see it coming down to Wisconsin in my own mind.
WOODRUFF: What do you make of these state polls, Ron? I mean, pick a state -- but almost every one of these closely fought battleground states, the numbers are coming in. One set of numbers seems to contradict the last set of numbers.
BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely, especially with the likely voter screens. And one of the things that I think the political world is going to wonder a lot about after this election -- and maybe even viewers who have been subjected to it over the last four months or so -- is what exactly are these likely voter screens?
There's more volatility on those measures than there are when you are looking at registered voters. And if Curtis Gans is right, as he just told you, somewhere around 120 million people are going to vote, an increase of 15 million in one election cycle, which may be the most ever, that may make it very difficult for any pollster to accurately predict who is going to vote. And that's the hardest thing in general for pollsters to measure.
WOODRUFF: Ron, you write today about President Bush and the base that he has cultivated so well, about how that's both a blessing and a curse for him.
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. As in most things in life, your weaknesses and your strengths are often flip sides of the same thing. The fact is that President Bush has governed in a way that has allowed him to develop enormously strong bonds to his base. And that has sustained him through a year of pretty tough news, especially in Iraq, left him in a position where he is stride for stride in this race with John Kerry down the finish.
But the decisions I think he's made on the key questions, the same things that has strengthened those ties to the base have made it tougher for him to reach out beyond that. And I think he ends the four years very close to where he started.
Of course, we'll see tomorrow how the electorate actually breaks. But in all of the late polls, Judy, his coalition looks remarkably similar as it did in 2000, and in that way I think he did not succeed at what he originally set out to do in that 2000 race when he called himself a different kind of Republican or a compassionate conservative. I think he's more hardened and realigned the divisions in American politics.
WOODRUFF: Ron, you're talking to both of these campaigns and more. What's the feeling you're getting from the campaigns?
BROWNSTEIN: They both feel that it's within reach. I mean, I think the Republicans clearly feel optimistic. They see President Bush's numbers improving here in Ohio. They believe he's strong in Wisconsin, as well.
The Democrats, though, I think think it's within reach for them, Judy. And in fact, if you believe these polls, this can be won by either side, depending on who exactly fills in that possibly as many as 120 million people who come out and vote. Both sides expect it to be very close, though.
WOODRUFF: So, the weather could have an effect?
BROWNSTEIN: Almost anything can have an effect at this level.
You know, it's interesting. I mean, when you look at the late trends, we see two things in these national polls. By and large, President Bush is still slightly ahead of John Kerry, but President Bush is still slightly short of where he would need to be in terms of his own share of the vote to be fully comfortable, 49 and 50 in most polls.
So, I mean, you can look at it either way. Neither man really I think can have a great deal of confidence going into this. They both know -- it's sort of in a way beyond their hands, in the hands of the thousands of volunteers and paid people who are going to be out there, rustling the leaves trying to drive out that vote tomorrow.
WOODRUFF: We're sitting on the edge of that knife right along with them. All right.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Ron Brownstein in Cleveland, we'll be talking to you in the hours and hours to come. Thanks a lot. He's been with us from the very start of watching this campaign.
Well, time is short, the race is tight. Coming up, Bill Schneider's take on the Bush/Kerry race on this Election Eve. And the party chairmen tell us what they think of the 11th-hour polls and more.
Plus, last-minute problems with early voting? We'll get an update on the glitches and whether they're being solved when INSIDE POLITICS continues.
WOODRUFF: It's just about 4:00 p.m on the east coast, and as the markets get set to close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Kitty Pilgrim for another installment of "The Dobbs Report."
KITTY PILGRIM, THE DOBBS REPORT": Hi, Judy. Let's start with oil. Now, oil prices tumbled briefly below the $50 a barrel. That's the first time in a month. One trader tells us that Iraqi oil production is at its highest level since the war ended, and the situation in the oil fields has stabilized. So we have crude oil settling at $50.13 a barrel. That's down $1.63. But the falling oil prices were not enough to spark a rally on Wall Street today. Now stocks ending slightly higher. However the major averages are stuck in a fairly tight trading range amid the uncertainty about tomorrow's election. So as the final trades are being counted we have the Dow Industrials up about 27 points. That by the way is the fifth straight gain for the Dow. And the Nasdaq Composite is just a few points higher.
Now the historical performance of the Dow has been uncanny in its accuracy as an indicator in presidential elections. According to the Stock Trader's Almanac without exception when the Dow loses more than half a percent in October, the incumbent president loses. And this year the Dow fell 5.2 percent in October. So like most other indicators in this hotly-contested election the Dow indicator is a squeaker with Kerry coming out on top. A separate study shows that contrary to popular belief, stocks have fared better under Democrats between 1900 and 2004 and the total return under Democratic presidents was 502 percent. That is compared to 416 percent under Republicans.
No matter who wins, if there's a quick, clear winner tomorrow, analyst say stocks will likely stage a relief rally but if there's no clear winner and the election drags on like it did four years ago, investors could be in for a bumpy ride.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ART HOGAN, JEFFERIES & CO.: It's probably the worst case scenario. I think that the market would certainly not celebrate any indecision come Wednesday morning. I think that the market's in tenuous enough grounds already with the other fears that we have. I would make the argument that one of the reasons the market hasn't ramped up over the last six weeks, through the month of September and October, is because this election is clearly too close to call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: Coming up at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" the major networks are working to avoid a repeat of election 2000 when broadcasters prematurely declared a winner in the race for president. We'll have a report on the safeguards in place this year.
Plus, voter registration is up. Especially in key battleground states. We take a look at the reasons behind this burst of political enthusiasm. And among our guests tonight, former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan and former Clinton campaign manager James Carville will join Lou Dobbs with their take on tomorrow's election.
WOODRUFF: We'll look forward to all of it. We appreciate it. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With your help, we will carry this great state and win tomorrow.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I ask you to join me to change the direction of this country.
ANNOUNCER: The candidates are confident as the campaign clock ticks down. Which side will win the all-important ground war? We'll speak with the party chairmen.
The polls are tightening up. Do either Bush or Kerry have an advantage? We'll sift through all of the new numbers.
A touchdown for the challenger? Will a Redskins defeat decide the race?
Now live from CNN's Election Analysis Center in New York, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back to our final election countdown. It is a marathon of a day for George Bush and John Kerry. Both of them racing through showdown states right now and into the night. In Wisconsin, Kerry urged voters to hold the president accountable for what the Democrats call his failed policies and to take the country in a new direction. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: If you believe as I do that America's best days are ahead of us, then join me tomorrow and change the direction of America. Thank you. Let's go make it happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Kerry is barnstorming through four battleground states today in some cases following in Bush's footsteps. Footsteps. The president is winging through six stems including Iowa. Bush has been repeating his charge that Kerry would be too soft on security while urging voters to stay the course by standing with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The American president must lead with clarity and purpose. The rule of the president is not to follow the path of the latest polls. The role of a president is to lead based on principle and conviction and conscience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: On this day before the vote, our final poll shows Bush two points ahead of Kerry among likely voters nationwide. According to a Gallup Organization estimate of the way undecided voters will go, the race is actually dead even. An average of all of the latest national polls shows Bush with 48 percent to Kerry's 46 percent. Any way you cut it, this contest is up in the air until the bitter end. Let's put all of the late polls in context with the help of our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): It is the day before the election. Do you know where your polls are? Eight national polls were conducted in the last week. Five show Bush leading by single digits. Two show Kerry ahead by one or two points. One shows a tie. It looks like a slight advantage to Bush. But four polls show a trend in Kerry's favor. None show a trend to Bush. Bottom line, pay no attention to the national polls. The outcome will be determined state by state.
So what is going on in the nine swing states? The late polls as of Monday afternoon show three states tilting to Kerry: Michigan, New Hampshire, and Minnesota. Iowa and Ohio are tilting to Bush. In four swing states, the latest polls are all over the place. Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and New Mexico. Almost all of the polls are within the margin of error. Bottom line, we just don't know. We'll have to count the votes.
The CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll suggests the controversy over the missing explosives in Iraq may have damaged the president's standing. A week ago likely voters gave Bush a 14-point edge on handling Iraq, 56 percent to 42 percent. Bush's edge is now just four points. There was speculation that Osama bin Laden's videotape might heighten fear and help Bush. But the evidence indicates just the opposite. A week ago Bush led Kerry by 22 points when voters were asked who would do a better job handling terrorism? Bush's lead has been cut in half to 11 points. The tape may have reminded voters that bin Laden is still at large taunting President Bush. Strategists are talking about a big unknown in this race.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: The other big thing I think is going to be a real surprise on Tuesday night are the young voters.
SCHNEIDER: Voters under 30 heavily favor Kerry. Voters between 30 and 65 favor Bush. Kerry regains a small lead among seniors. But no age group is as strong for Kerry as the young.
(on camera): If young voters materialize in unexpected numbers at the polls on Tuesday, we may end up concluding that the key figure in this campaign was Bruce Springsteen. Maybe he can get the play of the week.
WOODRUFF: The Boss. Wouldn't that be something. I have to ask you. Please explain why the state polls -- in fact the national polls but particularly some of these state polls are contradicting one another or seem to contradict one another.
SCHNEIDER: Well, a statistician would say no, they're not because they're all within the margin of error. So if you take a poll in Florida that shows Kerry three points ahead with a margin of error of three and a poll that shows Bush two points ahead with a margin of error of three, both of those polls are within the margin of error and they both say it is too close to call.
WOODRUFF: So we shouldn't be working ourselves into some sort of fever over this.
SCHNEIDER: We should not. Those kinds of margins are all consistent with one another and they are basically saying the race is very close.
WOODRUFF: Good. I'll just relax now. Bill, thank you very much.
In the final hours of this presidential campaign the winner is still anyone's guess. And of course both sides are projecting optimism. That's what we're going to hear now from Washington, I expect. Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and from Manchester, New Hampshire, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe.
Let me begin with you, Ed. The polls do show this is a very, very close race. But the undecided we know historically goes to the challenger. Does that have you worried?
ED GILLESPIE, RNC CHAIRMAN: It doesn't. Because actually if you look at the national voter analysis over the last three cycles, go back to 1984. Ronald Reagan got the lion's share of undecided voters at the end of the day. And then again in 1992 and 1996, the difference between the challenger and the incumbent president was negligible. They split virtually identically. So this is actually kind of an old wives' tale the notion that in presidential contest undecided voters break against the incumbent. That's not the case over the past three cycles in which an incumbent has been on the ticket in the White House race.
WOODRUFF: Terry McAuliffe, same question. But let me add to that. Virtually every one of these national polls does have George Bush a couple of points ahead of John Kerry and our poll of polls has him two points ahead of Kerry.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: First of all, Judy, forget about the head to heads. We could care less. This is about 270 electoral votes. And if you go through the battleground states, John Kerry is now showing leads. You saw your own poll today. We were up in Florida. We were up in Ohio. It's exciting.
And forget about any historical trends; this is a unique election. You have a president running for reelection that can't break 50 percent. First president in 72 years not to create a single new job. Underfunded education. Forty-five million Americans with no health insurance. This is a very unique election.
And I promise you, tomorrow, you are going to be shocked by the number of people that come out, the first-time voters. Ten percent of the five people who voted in early vote are first-time voters. The numbers are extraordinary. Young people...
ED GILLESPIE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Judy, if those -- those voters who...
WOODRUFF: Ed Gillespie...
MCAULIFFE: I think young people are going to come out in record numbers tomorrow...
GILLESPIE: Judy, of those voters...
WOODRUFF: All right, Ed Gillespie, what about those young voters?
GILLESPIE: Oh, we're contesting vigorously for the young voters, and they appreciate the president's strong and principled leadership in winning the war on terror. They appreciate the fact that we're actually creating jobs in our economy today -- nearly two million jobs in the past year, and that's a result of the president's pro-growth policies.
I think they understand that when you raise taxes and have more regulation and more litigation that Senator Kerry proposes that that results in job loss, which is not what young people coming into the work force want.
But let me just go to a point that Terry made about the voters that have already voted. According to a poll out today, 20 percent of voters have already voted, and the president leads amongst those who have cast their early vote by eight percentage points. You look at the battleground states, in Florida "The Sun-Sentinel" has the president up. In Ohio, "The Plain Dealer" has the president up. In Minnesota, "The St. Paul Pioneer Press" has the president up. In New Mexico, "The Albuquerque Journal" has the president up.
WOODRUFF: All right. Let me...
GILLESPIE: In Pennsylvania, "The Philadelphia Inquirer" has the president up. The battlefield is deciding -- decisively going the president's way.
WOODRUFF: All right, Terry McAuliffe, a quick answer, because I have another question for both of you.
MCAULIFFE: Yes, right. Well, forget -- Ed is talking about his polls. I could care less about Ed's polls or anyone else's polls.
GILLESPIE: Well, those are the media polls, Terry. They're not mine.
MCAULIFFE: ... five million people who have gone to vote against our own new data file. And I can tell you exact folks who have gone to these polls and have gone and voted for John Kerry.
The Republicans are nervous. They know what's going to happen tomorrow. We're going to have a record vote turnout. But when you talk to young people, only three of out 10 college graduates got a job last year. And they're nervous about what George Bush has done to this country.
WOODRUFF: Ed Gillespie...
MCAULIFFE: And the huge budget deficits that George Bush has brought on this country.
GILLESPIE: Yeah, Judy...
WOODRUFF: I've got limited time, so I need to get in this -- Ed Gillespie, we just heard Bill Schneider say this notion that the bin Laden videotape might help the president has not materialized, that the president's numbers in terms of handling terrorism and handling Iraq have been cut into just in the past few days.
How do you account for that? This has to be a concern.
GILLESPIE: Judy, the fact is the president enjoys a strong lead in the attributes of who is going to wage a more effective war on terror and for good reason. The president has been clear in principled in his leadership here. He understands that we need to fight the terrorists now and over there and not risk having to fight them here later.
Senator Kerry is the one who believes that we need to go back to treating terrorists acts as more like a law enforcement matter. He said he'd like to go back to when they were a nuisance... WOODRUFF: But his numbers have dropped in the last poll from what...
GILLESPIE: He enjoys a double-digit advantage on both the Iraq war and winning the war on terror. Anybody who goes in and casts a vote based on who's going to make this country safer and who's going to win in Iraq and not retreat without victory, is going cast a vote based on that -- they're going to vote for President Bush.
WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. We'd love to talk to both of you for hours and hours right...
MCAULIFFE: Yeah, i bet you would, Judy.
WOODRUFF: ... polls open. But I know you've got other things to do, so we're going to let you go.
MCAULIFFE: Hey, have fun in Washington.
GILLESPIE: Thanks, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We hope so see a lot of you tomorrow and the next day. Thank you very much, Terry and Ed.
CNN's Election Night coverage is going to come to you live from the Nasdaq MarketSite here in New York City's Times Square. From real-time election results on 96 TV screens to a live town hall meeting and in-depth information. From right here at the Election Analysis Center, CNN will track the votes, the exit polls, the swing states and more. Our primetime coverage begins tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
This is the final day of early voting before Election Day. Coming up, how has the balloting been going, and how does it bode for voting tomorrow?
And attention sports fans, find out why you really do need a scorecard to keep up with the campaign these days.
WOODRUFF: With new laws, new voting technologies and, in some cases, a threat of litigation if things go wrong, the nation's election officials are under a lot of pressure tomorrow.
For more, I'm joined from Washington by Doug Chapin of electionline.org, and organization and a Web site that tracks election reforms.
Doug Chapin, I asked you on Friday when we spoke whether these 143 million registered Americans, 10 million more than the last time we had an election, whether all the election officials around the country can handle this load. You said in some places it's putting stress on the system. What's your sense today?
DOUG CHAPIN, ELECTIONLINE.ORG: I think we're seeing more of the same. I think we're seeing long lines in some polling places in Florida. We're certainly seeing the toll that the litigation is taking in the State of Ohio about whether or not challengers will be allowed at the polls.
I think it goes without saying that the men and women who run the nation's election are going to work hard to make the result the best it can be, but they may be challenged by some of the events on the ground in the next 24 hours or so.
WOODRUFF: Doug, bring us up to date on Ohio. You do have -- you had two federal judges ruling that there could not be these so-called challenger people going into polling places to challenge voters. Now, the Republican party in the courts trying to turn those decisions. Where does that stand?
CHAPIN: Well, right now, exactly as you describe it. We had two federal district court judges in Ohio rule, essentially this morning, that the state law allowing for challengers in the polls would work to hinder the rights, not just of the voters challenged, but all voters in line. So, with the result that they would not allow those challengers to be at the polls tomorrow morning.
The Republican party has filed an appeal in the Sixth Circuit. We're waiting to find out what's going on there. So, we may not know if challengers will be allowed in the polls in Ohio until literally tomorrow morning.
WOODRUFF: Now, in Florida there are a couple things. We heard again about absentee ballots not reaching the people that were supposed to receive them. What are you hearing across the State of Florida?
CHAPIN: Well, we're hearing that the interest in the election is amazingly high. My colleague, Dan Selitson (ph), is actually on the ground in Florida today, and he was at several early voting sites where the lines were so long they were literally handing out numbers like you would at a deli to see whose turn it was to vote.
So, the number of voters is definitely putting a strain on the system in terms of voters being able to cast their ballots.
WOODRUFF: What happens, Doug, if you do have so many people who want to vote and -- I mean, the lines just get -- we have heard, too, of these people waiting in line for hours. What happens in those situations?
CHAPIN: On election day the rule generally is that everyone who is in line when the poll closes gets to vote. If we're in a situation where that line is several blocks long, that poses several challenges for poll workers to actually police that line and make sure that the people who are in line get to vote and only the people who are in line get to vote. But if interest in election day voting is as high as early voting has been, there could be some real challenges for poll workers and election officials on election day.
WOODRUFF: Another state we're hearing about -- in fact, we're hearing about a lot of states but Pennsylvania, of course, the dispute over these absentee ballots from military members overseas. Republicans going to the court to try to extend the deadline for that. We're also hearing in Pennsylvania -- I believe it Lehigh County about problems with computers?
CHAPIN: Again, any state especially one like Pennsylvania where both sides believe the tiniest number of votes could have a huge impact on the outcome, they are going to focus like a laser on any problems. The problem of overseas ballots is one that people are watching in many states. But it is especially important in a place like Pennsylvania that is believed to be close on election day.
WOODRUFF: Quickly, what are you going to be doing tomorrow?
CHAPIN: We'll be working the phones, working the web. I've got colleagues in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Missouri who will be calling in to report if there are problems. We'll be doing our bit to spread the word on Electionline.org.
WOODRUFF: And across the country, not just in the battleground states.
WOODRUFF: All right. Doug Chapin of Electionline.org. Thank you very much.
We know there are plenty of sports metaphors to choose from to describe the current race for the White House but is this contest taking the ESPN mentality to a new level? Play by play just ahead.
WOODRUFF: Coming to you from our election analysis center at Time Warner Center here in New York City. All right, bear with me. It is the fourth quarter, the game is tied, the championship is at stake. OK, you get the idea. Presidential politics is a lot like sports. Maybe even more than you think. As we have seen, Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was campaigning for George Bush today. Trying to parlay his World Series championship into votes for the president. That's after longtime Red Sox fan John Kerry got the backing of the team's management.
But wait, there's more. When Kerry wasn't tossing a pigskin himself, he was sort of celebrating the Washington Redskins' loss to the Green Bay Packers yesterday because historically the Skins' loss foretells a loss by the incumbent in the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: Well, as I said, I thought the Red Sox curse erased everything but I'll take anything we can get. Sounds good to me. Go Packers. I think it is a good tradition to follow. I think the country should stay with tradition, don't you?
(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: What did we think he would say? The line between sports and politics gets even blurrier tonight when ESPN airs interviews with Bush and Kerry. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: That's it for this day before the election edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Be sure and tune in tomorrow as we countdown to the first official poll closing. CNN's election night coverage kicks off at 7:00 p.m. Eastern live from here in New York. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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