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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Supreme Court Allows Ohio Voter Challengers; Big Turnout in Pennsylvania; Florida Voters Confused by Crank Calls; Bush Casts Vote, Makes Ohio Campaign Stop; Kerry Votes, Visits Wisconsin; Voter Turnout Strong Nationwide
Aired November 2, 2004 - 15:01 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This election is in the hands of the people, and I feel very comfortable about that.
ANNOUNCER: Election day 2004. The candidates have had their say. Now the people decide.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's that magic moment when the greatest democracy on the face of the planet gets to show the world how we work.
ANNOUNCER: We're with Kerry and Bush as the waiting begins.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I tried to early vote and got -- I missed out, because of lines, so I didn't want to miss out this time.
ANNOUNCER: The place to be, with voters jamming the polls. We'll have live reports on the turnout and any trouble in the top battlegrounds.
The countdown to the counting, and the quest to declare a winner. What will we know and when will we know it?
Now, live from the CNN Election Analysis Center in New York, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us, and welcome to our viewers around the world.
For those of us who follow politics, every election day gets the blood pumping. But this one truly stands out for the emotion and the enthusiasm it is generating among voters and the sheer suspense of it all.
I'm in the midst of the CNN Decision Desk in New York City, where our analysts are beginning what could be a very long process. Their goal, to resolve the question no one can answer right now: who will be the next president of the United States?
On this day with balloting underway, the candidates take a back seat to the voters. So we're going to begin at the polling places.
Our correspondents are standing by in the three biggest battlegrounds. Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.
First up, let's go to Adaora Udoji. She is in Canton, Ohio.
Adaora, what are you seeing?
ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Judy.
The worst that we have heard so far are there have been lots of long lines from Cleveland to Columbus. And we'll get to that in a second.
First, we are in Canton, which is in Stark County. And we're across the street from a polling station. We've watched a steady flow of voters go into today. And in fact, county officials say the turnout has been extremely high.
And inside those polls, this one, like this poll station, there are those controversial challengers. There was some high drama all night, from midnight all the way until this morning, about whether or not they were going to be allowed, those challengers being individuals who are allowed to challenge the legitimacy of any voter.
High drama, I say, because the -- we were waiting for a U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court, to weigh into the matter. Turns out they refused to intervene in the case. They let a lower court's ruling stand, upholding the law.
Democrats had argued that it was the Republicans' intention really to just intimidate voters. Republicans said their concern is voter fraud.
But there are challenges of both Democrats and Republicans inside. Not clear how many in the state's 88 counties.
So far, though the secretary of state's office says there are no reports of any fraud or other problems at this point.
In fact, we have talked to get out the vote folks, the AFL-CIO. We've talked to America Coming Together and other groups, and they're all reporting incredible turnouts. And that's a quote. In quotes, "incredible turnouts," despite rain, which some thought would keep some folks at home.
There are lines of folks from Cleveland to Columbus, as I mentioned at the top, waiting patiently, we are told, to vote. The -- Governor Taft predicting record turnouts this year around. And it's certainly looking that way. And there's only four and a half hours to go, Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Adaora, thank you very much.
And we are going to have live reports from polling places in other states coming up. Now? Let's see. Or do we now want to go to Lehigh, Pennsylvania to Jason Carroll.
Jason, let's go to you. Jason, tell us what you're seeing and hearing there.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy -- Well, we've heard from a few people who came out here, Judy, who tried to cast their vote but were turned away for various reasons.
But election workers here say the point is people are showing up. They are coming out to vote. And they're coming out, they say, in very huge numbers.
Here in Lehigh County, we've seen long lines of people ever since early this morning who came out to cast their vote and make their voices known.
We've also seen a lot of partisan bickering going on between the various parties, the Republicans claiming and vowing to challenge ineligible voters at the polls. You also have Democrats claiming that Republicans are taking part in voter suppression.
The election workers are telling us they're not going to pay attention to any of that. They're just going to focus on the job at hand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE ERWIN, LEHIGH COUNTY, PA, EXECUTIVE: As far as the partisan, you know, talk about voter suppression and that kind of thing, we're doing everything we can to give every single voter, who's legally registered, the chance to vote and make absolutely certain their vote is counted. And that's our job, and that's what we're going to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: We saw huge numbers of people out here this morning. We are expecting even more people out here tonight as they get off work. Election workers say they are ready for whoever ends up showing up.
I'm sure the same can be said for the election workers down in Tallahassee -- or West Palm Beach, Florida, and that's where Gary Tuchman joins us now live. I was thinking of the last time around, Tallahassee.
Gary, take it away.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jason, thank you very much.
You know, Florida's been known as the Sunshine State for generations. But the last few years, it's been known as the hanging chad state. But no more. Punch card ballots no longer allowed in the state of Florida. Behind us, touch screen machines here in West Palm Beach in Palm Beach County, which was the center of the controversy in the year 2000.
You could see -- if you thought there'd be eternal lines the entire time the polls were open here in the hotbed of controversy, that is not the case. Five touch screen machines, only one man voting right now. Another woman just coming up to the polls.
There's been a steady stream. They've gotten about 33 percent of their registered voters in this precinct, Firehouse 33, throughout the day. The polls are still open for another four hours.
But it has not been a case where you've had to wait in line for a long time, except for this morning. It will get busier, though, as we get close to 7 p.m. Eastern Time when the polls close.
The biggest problem here in Palm Beach County is the problem they've also experienced in other parts of Florida.
Many people in this county this morning received phone calls from people who told them, "Your precinct has changed. Don't go to the one you're supposed to go to." They ended up going to new precincts, found out they were crank calls. They called the election supervisor's office. The election supervisor's office got tied up with all these phone calls.
So the people here, the election workers here, weren't able to reach the election supervisor's office to discuss problems, because so many people were calling the election supervisor's office to complain.
An issue here, provisional ballots. Two people have come in today asking for the provisional ballots. Those are the ballots you get when your name is not on the list. You fill out the provisional ballot. That's the result of the changes from the year 2000, because of the problems.
You fill out the provisional ballots. If they eventually find out you're allowed to vote, they'll count the provisional ballots. But when they hand out the provisional ballots here, they have to call the election supervisor first to make sure this person hasn't filled out an absentee ballot. And they couldn't reach the election supervisor's office because of all the outraged callers.
Now everything's been straightened out and provisional ballots are being handed out. OK.
Now remember in the year 2000, the three members of the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board (ph) -- and we're in a firehouse. That's why you hear bells going off right now.
But you remember the year 2000, the three members of that board looking at the punch card ballots, holding them to the light to see if the chads were punched out.
One of those people on the canvassing board was Judge Charles Burton. He's not on the board anymore. But we talked to him today and asked him if the changes he's seen are good for the state of Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE CHARLES BURTON, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: People still are skeptical. You know, I stood in line this morning to vote. And as they were handing out the little plastic cards that you insert, some lady said to me, "Judge, are you sure this isn't preprogrammed?" You know?
So people still have their doubts. But I think over time that more people who actually go to vote will have their votes counted than ever before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: The election might be close again in the state of Florida, but there will be no hanging, dimpled, or pregnant chads to count.
Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: Gary, a very quick question. Those people who were sent to the wrong precinct, did they ultimately get to vote or not?
TUCHMAN: What they did, they went to the wrong precinct. They were told, "No, go back to your original precinct." They went back to their original precinct, and in most cases those people have ended up casting good ballots.
WOODRUFF: In most cases. All right. We're going to be watching that one. All right, Gary Tuchman, thank you. Adaora and Jason, we appreciate it.
And we are going to have live reports from other polling places during the program a little later.
Now, we turn to the men whose political futures hang in the balance.
President Bush is in Washington this hour after traveling from Texas with a detour through Ohio. This day caps his much longer journey, aimed at remaining in the White House another four years.
Here's CNN Elaine Quijano.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the crucial state of Ohio, with its 20 electoral votes at stake, President Bush made one last campaign stop and one final pitch for support.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the president. How are you? I promise you it's me. QUIJANO: The president worked the phones briefly on a visit to the state headquarters of the Bush/Cheney campaign, where he thanked workers for their efforts.
BUSH: I've seen enthusiasm, a willingness for people to put in extra hours of work, and we'll find out how it goes tonight.
QUIJANO: Before that stop, Mr. Bush began his day casting his ballot at a firehouse near his ranch in Crawford, Texas. He was joined by the first lady and daughters Jenna and Barbara.
BUSH: I know I've given it my all. I feel calm. I feel -- I am confident that the people, in the judgment of the people. I am one of these candidates, I feed off the enthusiasm of the people.
QUIJANO: Mr. Bush returned to the White House for the first time since heading out on the campaign trail last Friday. Now, the waiting begins.
QUIJANO: And officials say that en route to Washington, the president, along with some staff members on board Air Force One watched a slide show of campaign pictures put together by the White House photographer.
We heard yesterday a Bush aide saying that the president was already starting to feel nostalgic about his last campaign coming to an end.
As for what happens tonight, a White House spokesman says that the president will be watching the election results coming in from the residence here at the White House. We're told he'll be joined by family members as well as senior staff members -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Nostalgia all the way around. Elaine, thank you very much.
Well, after starting his day in Wisconsin, John Kerry is back in his home turf of Boston to cast his ballot and find out if voters have cast their lot with him and his call for change in the Oval Office.
Here now, CNN's Frank Buckley.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Senator John Kerry is hoping he'll be delivering a victory speech at this location later tonight. We're in Copley Square.
The senator is saying that he's leaving no stones unturned and continuing to work through the day, right up until 8 p.m. tonight trying to get as many votes as possible in his column on this election day.
(voice-over) The senator cast his own ballot here in Boston at the state house a little bit earlier. He was accompanied there by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. His daughters also voted at that location here in Boston.
Right after he cast his ballot, Senator Kerry made some brief remarks and took some questions. Here's part what he had to say.
KERRY: What's really important is that both the president and I love this country. It's really important that people go out and vote and express their love for our country. No matter who they vote for.
BUCKLEY: After Senator Kerry voted, he continued an election day tradition for him. He went to the Ye Olde Union Oyster House here in Boston, where Jim Malloon (ph), the general manager tells me that instead of oysters he usually has littleneck clams and a cup of chowder. If he's very hungry, he apparently adds some Atlantic white fish or some scrod.
Senator Kerry started his day in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Wisconsin one of the states where you can register and vote on the same day. Senator Kerry there to encourage his supporters in that very tight race to get out and vote today.
Here's part of what Senator Kerry said to his supporters this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: We're going to change the direction of this country. We're going to put common sense and truth back into the decisions of this nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCKLEY (on camera): The rest of the afternoon, Senator Kerry will be in the chair, as his advisers put it, sitting in a chair, looking into a camera and talking to various local TV news operations in key battleground states.
As the senator said, he's not going to leave any stones unturned, continuing to work for those votes. And then after that, he will retire to the Westin Copley Plaza here in downtown Boston and wait to see how it all turned out.
Frank Buckley, CNN, Boston.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Frank.
I think it's fair to say both of these gentlemen gave it their all.
Well, you can watch the returns with CNN tonight. Our special primetime election coverage begins at 7 Eastern, live from the NASDAQ market site here in New York. You can trust CNN to track the votes, the exit polls, the swing states, any voting irregularities or legal challenges.
Our international viewers are leaving us for now, but for those of you in the United States, there's plenty more ahead.
Up next, turnout, turnout, turnout. We'll discuss that all- important factor on election day and some problems cropping up at the polls.
Plus, Americans in Paris. How are they marking election day back home?
And later, how decisions will be made here at CNN's Decision Desk, particularly if the contest proves to be a cliffhanger.
On election day, 2004, the day we've been waiting for, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: Checking our election day edition of "Campaign News Daily," Dick Cheney and John Edwards have made their final campaign stops, and they are preparing to join George W. Bush and John Kerry to watch election returns.
Cheney voted this morning in his home state of Wyoming. From there, he headed to Wisconsin to visit with campaign volunteers before traveling back to Washington.
Edwards began the day in Florida, are where he made stops in Tampa and Orlando. He plans to join Senator Kerry in Boston later tonight. Edwards took part in early voting in his home state of North Carolina.
Independent candidate Ralph Nader is in Washington on this election day after an appearance last night here in New York. He's scheduled a news conference in D.C. at this hour to talk about issues affecting the district. In addition to D.C., Nader's name appears today on 34 state ballots.
As we have reported, turnout appears to be strong around the nation. But there are places where weather could be a factor. It is rainy in Michigan, Ohio and western Pennsylvania. But Florida is clear and dry. Also, Southeast New Mexico is under a winter storm warning.
With the polls deadlocked, the Bush/Kerry battle is likely to be decided by who can turn out the vote.
Dan Baltz of the "Washington Post" is with me now as he has been on a number of occasions through this campaign to talk about turnout and everything else.
All right, Dan. Let's start with turnout. What are you hearing?
DAN BALZ, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, we are hearing, as everyone is, that the lines are very long in a lot of places and that the turnout looks like it is going to be very, very strong.
We've heard estimates all through the past couple of weeks that this could top the -- the percentages that we saw in 1992, which would push it up in the range of 118, 120 million voters. We may be on track do that.
I know the Democrats feel encouraged by what they're seeing in terms of the turnout. They think that a big turnout benefits them. The Republicans that I've been in contact with today still say they believe they have plan that gets them to victory even with a big turnout.
WOODRUFF: What are some specifics that you're hearing, Dan, in terms of where the turnout is strong?
BALZ: Well, we're hearing that in some of the minority precincts in Ohio, for example, that the turnout for the Democrats, they believe that they are at or above their targets from what they had been looking at.
Similarly in Florida, they think that the early vote numbers look particularly good. In Iowa, the Democrats have been encouraged by the strength of their early vote.
But the Republicans -- one Republican in particular that I've been in contact with the last few days believes that their look at Florida tells them that the Democrats are not doing as well overall as the Democrats are claiming. These are numbers that we're going to sort out later when we get the actual ballots cast.
But we're seeing it in places that you would expect in terms of where the Democrats think they need to expand their vote if they hope to win this.
WOODRUFF: What about, Dan, further on the Republicans, where they think they are better organized or where they're going to be able to get out their vote. Are they giving you any specifics about where they think they are, where that's materializing?
BALZ: Not very many specifics at this point. I know that they have had a very precise plan in terms of their voter projections and their voter targets and that they believe they have the mobilization force in place to get all of those voters out.
I think they are counting on that in the way that it worked in 2002 for them, when they had a very successful effort in turning out the vote. So they believe they know what they have to get, and they believe they know how to go out and get it.
WOODRUFF: Are you hearing anything at this point, Dan, that surprises you? And what are you looking for tonight, other than, obviously, who's the winner?
BALZ: Well, I think we're all looking at the same things, Judy. Obviously, we're looking at what those margins look like early on coming out of Florida and Ohio and Pennsylvania. And also, Michigan. If for example, Michigan turns out to be very tight tonight, that would suggest President Bush is having a good day. On the other hand, if Pennsylvania looks like Senator Kerry has a pretty healthy lead in the early numbers, that would suggest that the Bush campaign is falling short of where they thought they would be.
Ohio and Florida have been so even through the last several weeks of polling that if one person looks like they are developing a lead there, that will be significant.
WOODRUFF: OK. Dan Balz, we thank you for talking to us on this, the day that's finally here.
BALZ: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Dan Balz at the "Washington Post."
Once again, voters in two small New Hampshire hamlets have taken part in a time-honored tradition. Just ahead, we'll tell you how the voters in Dixville Notch and Hart's Location weighed in on this year's presidential race. Their votes the first to be reported to the nation.
CNN is the place for you to be on election night. And click onto CNN.com to track all the races, including the ones that are close to you. You can enter your zip code and see the latest local and national results. It is the results on your races when you want them.
WOODRUFF: As you've no doubt noticed, we are running a poll closing countdown clock right down there in the lower left portion of the screen. We're going to keep it up until we reach the first statewide poll closings at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Now, in parts of the country, some polls will are going to close earlier than that. For example, in Indiana, some precincts shut down at 6:30 p.m. Eastern, but most of them remain open for another half hour. Therefore, CNN considers Indiana to be a 7 p.m. poll closing state.
In keeping with tradition, voters in two tiny hamlets in New Hampshire stayed up past midnight last night to cast their ballots. And the results were the first in the nation to be reported.
President Bush got 19 votes and Senator Kerry seven in Dixville Notch. And in the town of Hart's Location, it was tighter, with Bush receiving 16 votes, Kerry 14 and Ralph Nader one. Compared to four years ago, Bush did a little worse with three fewer votes, while Kerry got three more than Al Gore did in 2000.
Well, we checked here in the east, but how is the voting going in the west? Next up, live reports from polling stations in two more showdown states, Colorado and Nevada.
And later, how will we call those hard-to-call states? We're going to check in at our Decision Desk.
WOODRUFF: Election Day 2004, no more polls, we hope. No more speeches. No more campaign ads. It is now up to the voters across this country.
President Bush casts his ballot deep in the heart of Texas. He's now back in Washington, D.C., getting ready to watch tonight's results.
Senator Kerry is back home in Massachusetts. He voted this afternoon in Boston and stays in his hometown to monitor tonight's returns.
Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff, live at the CNN Election Analysis Center in New York City.
Well, we've already checked in with our reporters in the three largest showdown states. For more on how Election Day is progressing in two western battlegrounds, I'm joined by CNN's Thelma Gutierrez in Aurora, Colorado. And CNN's Miguel Marquez, he's in Henderson, Nevada.
Thelma, let's start with you.
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy.
Well, it has been a very busy day here in Aurora, Colorado. Voter turnout is expected to be high, between 70 and 75 percent here in the Abu Bakar (ph) mosque. Already, four precincts are reporting here.
756 people have cast their votes. As many as 1,000 registered voters have yet to cast theirs. But election officials say that, while the lines were longer earlier today, that may simply be because so many people have already voted. Some 800,000 voted either absentee or early.
Now, Republicans had expressed some concern over the felons who were coming out to vote in Colorado. They are allowed to do so, just as long as they're not parolees.
There was also some concern about people voting in multiple counties. But the state secretary has sent out monitors from both of the parties to make sure that things go smoothly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will make sure that we are able to have our representation, you know, ready to file any sort of challenge if need be. We don't want to have this election decided in the courts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hope that the folks that we do have set up all around the state will bring a book, and they'll never have to take their eyes off that book the entire day. We do anticipate a very smooth election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ: Now, the other race and the dead heat in Colorado is the race for the U.S. Senate. Republican Coors chairman, Pete Coors, a multimillionaire, is up against Democrat Ken Salazar, who's the attorney general of the state.
There is also Prop 36 to keep an eye on, which is the amendment to Colorado's electoral vote system which would replace the winner takes all. So the all nine electoral votes would then be split up proportionately.
And now, we go to my colleague Miguel Marquez, who is in Henderson, Nevada -- Miguel.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very much, Thelma.
Things have been steady here, not so much busy in Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas. About 70 percent of the votes that are cast in Nevada will come out of this county, Clark County, that has Las Vegas and Henderson in it.
Nevada is interesting and unique in a couple of ways. One, they have electronic voting across the entire state. And more importantly, they have the ability to have reporters see their vote on some of their newer machines.
This is the newer machine. This is a printer right here. So once the voter finishes their ballot, they can actually see their vote that they've cast come up, sort of a receipt style right here. You can't take it with you, though, because it's under plastic.
The older machine that they have here in Clark County, and only in Clark County, are also electronic. They also record their votes on a printer, but in back so the voter can't see them.
These guys have even thought about everything here. This is very cool. Check these out, these magnifying glasses.
If you can't see the -- what's going on there, you can -- they actually have this magnifying glass. And then you can come over and you can cast your vote right down here. Lots of people coming in here today.
You know, back in 2000, talking to the secretary of state yesterday, neither presidential candidates visited Nevada. This year, they've all but set up shop here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN HELLER, NEVADA SECRETARY OF STATE: This time, both have been here at least a half a dozen times. Now I'm getting complaints they're here too often. You know? So you can't make all the voters happy all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: But there seems to be lots of happy voters today, I guess, if there can be such a thing. Everybody seems to be getting through the line quite quickly today.
They have six, six and a half hours more voting time to go here in Nevada. They will keep the polls open for anybody in line at that time. And then once those lines have dwindled down to zero, they will begin releasing numbers. And we expect, because there's been so many absentee and early voters, about 50 percent of the total pool, that they will know very quickly once those polls close and those lines dwindle down who the winner of Nevada is -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Miguel Marquez reporting from Nevada. Thelma reporting -- Gutierrez reporting from Aurora, Colorado. Interesting how many voters voted early or voted absentee. Thanks to you both.
With me now to talk more about the big three battlegrounds of Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, are three veteran political journalists. Tom Fiedler is the executive editor of "The Miami Herald" Dick Polman covers politics for "The Philadelphia Inquirer." And Alan Johnson has covered this campaign for Ohio's "Columbus Dispatch."
Alan Johnson, let me start with you. What are you hearing about turnout in Ohio?
ALAN JOHNSON, "COLUMBUS DISPATCH:" Judy, it's huge turnout all over the state. There are long lines. And it's a gray, rainy day in Ohio, and people are still out.
They're waiting 45 minutes, an hour, sometimes two hours or more. It's definitely the biggest turn turnout I've ever seen in my lifetime.
WOODRUFF: Tom Fiedler, what about in Florida? What are you hearing about turnout around the state?
TOM FIEDLER, "MIAMI HERALD": It's a tremendous turnout. Of course, we did have early voting here for the previous 14 days, during which we figure about 25 percent of the electorate had already cast its ballot. But when the polls opened this morning, there were long lines there.
And what's -- obviously these things can change throughout the day. But what's been interesting is that in those precincts, typically where -- where blue collar workers would not come until late in the day, those precincts were crowded early in the morning. So we are expecting, like in Ohio, a record or very close to a record turnout by the end of today.
WOODRUFF: Dick Polman, you're in Philadelphia. But what are you hearing from around the state of Pennsylvania?
DICK POLMAN, "PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER": Well, Judy, I think the forecast here they're talking about is potentially five million Pennsylvanians coming out. And that would, if that happens, that would match or pretty much rival the record turnout which was in 1960, the Kennedy-Nixon election.
And so one example to show how high it is in Philadelphia, in west Philadelphia, there's a bunch of precincts there that in -- by noon today, they had cast more votes than all day long and all evening long in 2000. They'd already been cast by noon.
Let me come back to you in Ohio, Alan Johnson. We know that the Supreme Court weighed in by not overturning the federal appeals court, ruling that those challenges will be allowed to work the polling places. What's the status of that?
JOHNSON: Well, there are challengers. They were allowed in by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, decided that they could be in.
We've heard that they are active, but we haven't heard of any real incidents involving that so far. Actually, considering the size of the turnout and everything that's going on, it's going reasonably smoothly, except for those very long lines.
WOODRUFF: And Tom Fiedler, what about in Florida? We've heard bits and pieces here and there. There certainly were some complaints going into Election Day. What are you hearing today?
FIEDLER: A lot -- right, a lot of early dust-ups. And we had one settled last night in Broward County, where the Republican Party had asked to the advanced -- the lists of the advanced -- the early voters so that they could check to see that people didn't vote twice.
The judge pushed that aside and said he didn't want to micromanage the elections here. But other than that, things have been quiet. I say this with my fingers crossed, because we've got a lot of lawyers locked and loaded and ready to go.
But there haven't been any challenges. And all we've heard are maybe the typical Election Day snafus of a broken machine here and there. Things look like they're certainly not going to be a repeat of 2000 for Florida.
WOODRUFF: Boy, that's a relief.
FIEDLER: I hope.
WOODRUFF: Dick Polman -- if it bears out. Dick Polman, quickly, Pennsylvania, problems?
POLMAN: Well, it's been pretty scattered and nothing serious. I mean, there was one report that landed on the "Drudge Report" that some poll workers in Pennsylvania thought they'd seen some machines that apparently, when they called the "Drudge Report," they said that 2,000 votes had been planted on those machines before the polls opened.
And it turned out, though, that the city has said that the poll workers misread the back. These were tabulations for previous elections. And that was sort of a -- you know, a dust-up that of course got into cyberspace, and I'm getting calls from radio stations everywhere. But apparently it's baseless.
WOODRUFF: Well, it sounds like, at least so far, no mega mistakes going on. But it's still -- we've still got hours to go before these polls close.
Dick Polman in Philadelphia, Tom Fiedler in Miami, Alan Johnson in Columbus, it's great to talk to all of you on this Election Day. Thanks very much. We appreciate it.
FIEDLER: You're welcome, Judy.
POLMAN: Thank you, Judy.
JOHNSON: Thanks, Judy.
WOODRUFF: The head-to-head match-up between Bush and Kerry has, of course, dominated the debate. But voters in various states are also going to be deciding ballot initiatives on a range of controversial issues. CNN's Bob Franken has an overview of those.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Of all the state initiatives, there is one that could theoretically change the results of the presidential election. A proposed amendment to Colorado's constitution would allocate the state's nine electoral college votes based on the proportion of the popular vote, as opposed to winner take all. Colorado is leaning Republican, so the GOP is dead set against this change, arguing it violates the U.S. Constitution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I now pronounce you spouses for life.
FRANKEN: Controversial, though that may be, the intense feelings probably don't compare to the emotions over gay marriage. No fewer than 11 states have proposals that would ban it, including battleground states like Ohio and Michigan and Oregon, where Republicans are hoping the issue will generate a big turnout of conservatives.
It's fair to say that not all Republicans are towing the line with the president on all issues. Takes stem cell research, for instance. And take Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I'm very much interested in stem cell research and support it 100 percent.
FRANKEN: He's supporting a proposition that would provide state funds for new stem cell research. President Bush has banned federal funds. Of course California can always be counted on to proposition the voters with controversy. If stem cells isn't enough, how about the three strikes law? In many states, a third felony conviction brings with it a long prison sentence. In California, Prop 66 would make a change to require that only a major or violent crime could be that third strike.
Meanwhile, efforts to decriminalize marijuana provide the drama in three states -- Oregon, where some might expect an effort to expand its use for medical purposes. But Montana, too? And Alaska, where the measure would forbid prosecution for possession?
FRANKEN: Well, when the haze of the election finally subsides, the choice of a president is just one of the matters that will be decided. The way he's selected could be effected. But also at issue, the questions about the fundamental matter of life, as well as choices people make about the way they live their lives -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Some pretty fundamental questions. You put it exactly the right way. Bob Franken, thank you very much.
Supporters of both Bush and Kerry celebrating together. Up next, we head overseas to Paris to see how Americans abroad are observing this Election Day in the United States.
WOODRUFF: We've been talking about how many states have a close, close, close race. And we want to talk now about how CNN plans to make the call in those close contests.
I'm joined by Clyde Tucker. He is part of the team of analysts working here on the CNN decision desk.
First of all, Clyde, the easy ones, the ones that -- where there's a wide margin, we're going to be able to call those early, right?
CLYDE TUCKER, CNN DECISION DESK: We believe that in the races that there's a wide margin, that we'll probably be able to call -- to project at poll closing time winners based on our exit polls. However, there will be a number of races which may have a margin that we still will not be able to call at poll closing time, in which case we wait to get sample precinct data from the states where we have people stationed to actually give us the results from the precincts, the actual votes, in a sample of precincts throughout the states.
WOODRUFF: So just because in some instances we're not able to call a race right at poll closing time, it doesn't necessarily mean there's going to be a surprise in that state. But it may mean it's closer, perhaps, than expected?
TUCKER: Well, it probably means we don't have enough information at that point. And it depends then on waiting for that information, seeing what the margins between the candidates are, and hopefully, at some point, being able to project a winner.
WOODRUFF: Clyde Tucker, what about those states that are the nail-biters, the ones that we now think are really close and are going to go down to the wire? How do we -- how do we decide that we have enough information to make those calls?
TUCKER: Besides having exit polls and the sample precinct data that comes in second, the third set of data that we'll be receiving will be data through The Associated Press, which will be the data from the actual precinct returns from all the counties throughout the state. And we have to wait in many cases for that data to come in, which comes in later in the evening, before we're able to make a determination.
Sometimes we have to wait for a very, very large percentage of the precincts to report from the state before we're able to make a projection. In some cases, it may be for us even at that point too difficult to make the projection. Because even with like 98 or 99 percent in, we can't say for sure who we think is going to win the race.
WOODRUFF: In a word, caution?
TUCKER: A lot of caution.
WOODRUFF: Clyde Tucker, who is one of the people running our election analysis team, and who is going to be making those very, very, in some stances, decisions that aren't so tough, but in other instances, the tougher it is, the longer we're going to wait. OK.
Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
TUCKER: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Well, this year's battle for the White House is, of course, drawing intense interest from Americans overseas. And on this Election Day, Republicans and Democrats around the world have gathered to watch the results come in.
CNN's senior international correspondent, Walter Rodgers, is with us now from one of those gathering spots, none other than Planet Hollywood on the famed Champs-Elysees in Paris.
WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bonsoir, Judy.
We are just off the Champs-Elysees. And in about an hour and a half, or two hours, Republicans and Democrats abroad are going to bury the hatchet to watch the returns come in. More interestingly here, however, is the attitude of the French toward this American election.
The French and all of Europe see this election as, at least what they think it should be, a global election, a planetary election. They wish they could vote, and overwhelmingly they would vote for John Kerry, particularly the French, for a number of reasons, of course.
Kerry does speak fluent French. His tone is softer and less punch-you-in-the-chin-style democracy than that of George W. Bush. And despite the French bashing which we've seen in the United States throughout this election campaign, although the French, overwhelmingly, probably 65 to 70 percent are opposed to the re- election of George Bush, they maintain a very high favorable attitude towards the United States.
"Le Monde" had a poll that showed 72 percent of the French still think very highly of the Americans and the American people. That's high.
Look at the British. Only 27 percent of the British have a favorable attitude toward the United States.
So again, this is an election which all of Europe is watching, particularly the French. They'd love to sweep George W. Bush out of office, merely because of the hostility which has been aimed at them.
And if I can make just one more point. The French have always and with some smugness said they were right about Iraq. And this election, at least in Europe, is all about Iraq. The French say that Saddam was less a threat than the destabilization of the Middle East, which they see as happening as a result of this war. And that destabilization could lead to greater terrorism -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Walter Rodgers in Paris. My guess is that many -- many French citizens are watching this election about as closely as the Americans are. Walter, thank you very much.
Well, if you see politicians as players on a stage, you'll appreciate Bruce Morton's take on the end of the campaign season, inspired by William Shakespeare ahead when INSIDE POLITICS returns.
WOODRUFF: Presidential campaigns can be long, drawn-out affairs, as we've learned. To get through it all, it might help to take a line from an Englishman, Will Shakespeare. Have patience and endure. Bruce Morton offers his thoughts on the end of the campaign with more advice from the Bard.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's over. If we're lucky it's over. And all the spinners, the wizards, the spell-makers can say with Shakespeare's Prospero, "Our rebels now are ended. These are actors, as I foretold you, we're all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air."
Well, they were only ads anyway, weren't they? Nobody could have said they had to be real.
We are, the spinners could say with Prospero, "Such stuff as dreams are made of." Of course. The spinners dream of victory, humiliation for the enemy. The candidates dream, too, of victory surely. But also, more often than you might think, of doing good, of leading the party or the country or even the planet better than they found it. Those dreams get all mixed up with the other kinds, sticking it to the opposition and all that.
But a lot of the politicians hope not just for success, but to make life better for the rest of us. Doesn't always work, of course. Most of us have some dreams tucked away in our heads that didn't work. But they're not the candidates, all simply liars and thieves, though an astonishing number of Americans think they are.
(on camera): A friend of mine who teaches about politics says the hardest part of his job is convincing his students that many politicians want to do good, along, of course, with wanting power and success, goals that are sometimes in conflict. But then most of us know something about that.
(voice-over): Anyway, it's over, the players, the dreams, the spells. Now it's up to the voters, if we are lucky. And to the lawyers, if we are not.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: We can certainly wish.
Well, just over three hours from now, six states will be trying to wrap up voting at their polling places. Coming up, we'll get another check of voting, the turnout, the glitches, if there are any, and the legal wrangling, if there is any.
And my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, will be along to preview CNN's election night coverage live from Nasdaq. Stay with CNN for the latest results beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
WOODRUFF: It is just about 4:00 on the East Coast. And as the markets get set to close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Kitty Pilgrim for "The Dobbs Report."
KITTY PILGRIM, "THE DOBBS REPORT" : Hi, Judy. Thanks.
Well, a late-day sell-off on Wall Street wipes out early games as election jitter creep back into the market. Now, as the final trades are being counted, the Dow industrials down about 20 points right now, ending a five-session winning streak. The Nasdaq composite is just slightly higher.
And another drop in oil prices, that helped limit the losses. Crude oil fell 51 cents to settle below $50 a barrel at $49.62. That's the lowest level in more than a month. Oil prices have fallen more than $5 in the last week.
The big question on Wall Street is what happens if we wake up tomorrow morning and there's no clear winner? Traders worry a prolonged court challenge could drag out the uncertainty and hurt the market. That is exactly what happened back in 2000 when the contested vote in Florida ended up in court. The stock market declined until Gore bowed out in December. However, if there is a winner, analyst say the market is poised to rally no matter who comes out on top.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MAGUIRE, RAYMOND & FORBES: If we do have a clear winner tomorrow, there has been a lot of money on the sidelines waiting to come into the market. We keep hearing that. The hope is that we might see the market pick up a little -- gain a little traction here and pick up some steam going into year end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: Wall Street is busy calculating which individual stock sectors could gain depending on who wins. The thinking goes like this. A victory for Senator Kerry may help alternative energy stocks and biotech firms. Kerry wants lower the nation's dependence on fossil fuels and is an advocate of stem cell research. But some think his plan to lower prescription costs may hurt drug stocks. And if President Bush wins, conventional wisdom says that could be a boost for defense stocks. It could also help financial services and many think a Bush victory may send oil prices higher.
Be sure to join "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" at a special time. That's 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Lou will kick off CNN special election coverage "AMERICA VOTES 2004" with reports from around the country. Among his guests this evening former White House adviser David Gergen gives us his perspective on the election. Plus we'll take a look at some of the congressional races that hinge on the controversial topics of immigration and trade. And an unprecedented 20 percent of American voters decide today whether to amend their state constitutions and ban gay marriage. We take a look at the legislation on the ballot. Back to you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: A lot up in the air today. Kitty Pilgrim, thank you very much. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.
ANNOUNCER: Two confident candidates.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe I'm going win.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to take America to a better place.
ANNOUNCER: Now it is up to the voters and maybe the lawyers.
Smooth sailing? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very smoothly. Everyone is orderly. It's wonderful.
ANNOUNCER: Or problems at the polls?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was frustrating to me is they're having a hard time getting through to the offices to verify who I am and where I live.
ANNOUNCER: We're keeping watch at voting stations across the country.
Now live from the CNN Election Analysis in New York JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Experts say turnout on this election day is on track to be significantly higher than four years ago. Possibly rivaling a modern benchmark that was set four decades ago. But along with the crowds, there have been complaints from Pennsylvania to Florida and even across the country. Lawyers and poll watchers are on extra high alert in Florida, the scene of the 2000 presidential standoff knowing that this year's contest could be just as contentious and maybe just as close.
Ohio's secretary of state is predicting a whopping 73 percent of the state's registered voters will cast ballots today. CNN's Joe Johns reports from Cleveland on turnout and the legal wrangling in that important showdown state.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ohio voters faced a morning rain on the way to the polls which generally dampens turnout. but at the polling places we visited in the Cleveland area, turnout was brisk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like there's -- some of the lines are real long right now. Some of the older people are having a hard time. They almost need to sit down a bit. It looks like everybody is coming out today and they're going to do what they got to do.
JOHNS: One polling place was so crowded they had to bring in extra voting machines which they did around noon. Anecdotally, elections officials, volunteers, and people we talked to from both parties reported smooth sailing in the morning with glitches here and there. This woman was having trouble finding her voting precinct and had to leave before getting it straight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been here trying to see which line do I get in. They know nothing. They are not asking me anything. I'm standing in these lines and I'm just totally frustrated. I'm late for work. I'm trying to go to work.
JOHNS: Lawyer Elizabeth Wuda with the Voter Protection Coalition was trying to help.
ELIZABETH WUDA, VOTER PROTECTION COALITION: She's at the wrong table inside that polling place. She's not going to be able to vote. That's what happened. She's gone to work. Hopefully she'll come back at lunchtime. I'm pretty sure the lines will be longer at lunchtime.
JOHNS: Ohio Republicans want a victory on election day even before polls went to the polls. A federal appeals court ruled overnight that Republican party workers would be allowed inside polling places to challenge the eligibility of some voters. Democratic workers allowed in, as well, to monitor it. But the Republican governor told CNN challengers from his party would not try to stop people from casting ballots.
GOV. BOB TAFT (R), OHIO: My understanding is that the challengers, at least the Republican challengers will only be witnessing. They will not be directly asking the elections officials to challenge voters.
JOHNS: The number of early challenges to voters if any was difficult for either side to determine. Democrats claimed there had been a few attempts but did not provide specifics. Heather Brack is a Democratic challenger working at one polling place without a Republican counterpart. She said voters were prepared for the worst.
HEATHER BRACK, DEMOCRATIC POLL CHALLENGER: But they're armed. They are ready for somebody to confront them. But that hasn't happened yet. It has just been the usual administrative problems, bureaucratic things. No big deal really.
JOHNS: Legal battles continue but the controversies apparently have not deterred the voters. An elections official here predicted final turnout figures could reach as high as 70 percent. Joe Johns, CNN, Cleveland.
WOODRUFF: Many voters leaving their polling places across the country today have been interviewed by our exit polling group. CNN does not report final results from any state until after all the polls close in that state. But there is some information that we can report from the early numbers. For that let's go to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: We do have partial exit poll results based on interviews with early voters. These results could change a bit as we continue interviewing voters around the country today. But they give us some insights into what the voters today are thinking.
Now talk about a divided country. Bush and Kerry voters have totally different agendas. Here is what Kerry voters said today when we asked them to pick the issues that were most important to them. The top issue to Kerry voters, the economy and jobs followed by Iraq and health care. Bush voters had a very different issue agenda. Moral values and terrorism topped the Bush voters list. You know only 5 percent of Kerry voters cited terrorism as their top concern.
Now one issue divided today's voters more than any other and that was Iraq. More than 80 percent of Kerry's voters are telling us they disapprove of the decision of the United States to go to war in Iraq. Almost 90 percent of Bush voters approve of going to war in Iraq. The Iraq issue defines who is voting for whom in this election more than any other.
Now we're hearing some isolated voting problems in the country. More than 80 percent of the voters said they're confident that their vote will be counted accurately. But, Kerry voters are noticeably more skeptical than Bush voters. Only 5 percent of Bush voters are not confident that their vote will be counted accurately. But 13 percent of Kerry voters feel that way. Democrats lost Florida last time and a lot of them are concerned it could happen again in more states.
Finally, it looks like those predictions of high turnout were on target. One in seven voters today say they did not vote in the last presidential election.
WOODRUFF: That would be pretty remarkable if that holds up until the polls close. Bill, one other thing. You mentioned the economy being an important issue for those voting for Kerry. What else do you see about the economy in these exit polls?
SCHNEIDER: What we're seeing on the economy is that Kerry and Bush voters had a different experience economically. 41 percent of Kerry voters say someone in their household lost a job in the last four years. That's true of only about 20 percent of Bush voters. So very different economic experiences.
WOODRUFF: ...great effect on four out of 10 of those Kerry voters so far. Again, these exit polls, the first wave coming in. This does not reflect voting yet right up until polls closing but it is -- it may well be indicative.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. These are early voters.
WOODRUFF: Thank you very much. We'll be seeing a lot of you tonight.
Well, after months of laying into one another, George W. Bush and John Kerry are in the same boat right now waiting to find out which one of them is the winner. Kerry continued his election day tradition of having lunch in Boston at a particular restaurant. That's the city where he also cast his ballot. Kerry will stay in Boston to watch the results come in ending what he calls an amazing journey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: Whatever the outcome tonight, I know one thing that is already an outcome. Our country will be stronger. Our country will be united. We will move forward no matter what. Because that's who we are as Americans and that's what we need to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the president is back in Washington, D.C. to monitor election results after voting in Texas this morning and then making a final campaign stop in Ohio. Before leaving Ohio, Bush said he's confident that he will come out on top tonight and said he's comfortable that the decision is in the hands of voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I have seen enthusiasm, a willingness for people to put in extra hours of work. And we'll find out how it goes tonight. This election is in the best of hands. It is in the hands of the voters of Ohio and voters all around the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: No doubt the Bush and Kerry camps will be glued to their TV screens tonight, as many of you will be, waiting for the returns to come in.
Up next, a preview of CNN's Election Night coverage live from Nasdaq here in New York City.
Also ahead, what to expect when the polls close. We'll set the stage state by state.
Plus, final thoughts on an unforgettable campaign.
WOODRUFF: Well, election reporting literally like you've never seen before. You'll want to stay with CNN throughout this evening. Our special coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. eastern.
Let's check in now with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who's going to be leading our coverage. He's at the Nasdaq MarketSite, also here in New York City. Wolf, give us an idea of what we can expect tonight.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Judy, right here in the heart of Times Square, and we've rented the Nasdaq MarketSite to show our viewers statistics, numbers -- precisely what's going on tonight throughout the night, all the hours of this coverage.
Let me take you and show you. We'll begin doing all these video screens that are behind me. At any one time, we can take a look at the governors' races -- several out there that we'll be watching tonight.
The race for the White House, the all important 270 electoral votes that will be needed, we'll have projections there throughout the night, beginning 7:00 p.m. Eastern when six states close their polling.
At any one time, you'll see blue states, red states. You may even see a green state out there tonight. That's a state that's simply too close to call. And we'll tell you when we can't project a winner in a state. The popular vote, the precincts, the percentage reporting, see how Ralph Nader is doing.
We're also going to focus on the Senate races, the balance of power in the Senate and the balance of power in the House of Representatives, as well.
Throughout this night, Judy, at any one time when I want to or when our producers want us to or when anyone wants us to, we can put all 50 states plus the District of Columbia up behind us on these screens, and we can focus in on individual states, battleground states, and see this array of everything that is going on. Let's say, for example, 8:00 p.m. when Missouri closes, we'll be able to show our viewers all of what's going on at any one moment.
It's going to be a technological feat, but we're going to roll with the punches and show our viewers all the information they need to know at any one time -- Judy?
WOODRUFF: Wolf, a technological feat. And we're going to be able to see those numbers changing just as soon as the new numbers come in.
BLITZER: We will. And you know, the good thing about it is the information that we have when we get it, our viewers will get it simultaneously. So, there will be no great lag in the time we get information and the time the viewers can see it.
WOODRUFF: All right. Wolf Blitzer -- he's going to be at the CNN Election Night Central at the Nasdaq MarketSite leading off our coverage. Wolf, thanks very much. And we will, of course, be seeing you tonight starting at 7:00 Eastern.
Well, the wait is almost over. In less than three hours, the first election returns will start trickling in. Coming up, "The Hotline's" Chuck Todd joins me to talk about what's to watch for as this night wears on.
WOODRUFF: I'm here at the Election Analysis Center, Time Warner Center in the middle of New York City. As you probably notice, we are running a poll right down there in the lower left-hand corner of your screen. That's is closing down -- that's the countdown clock right up to the time that the polls close at 7:00 Eastern.
It's going to stay up until we reach the first statewide poll closings at 7:00. In a few states, now some precinct are going to close earlier than that. For example, in Indiana, some polls will shut down at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. But most of them remain open for another half an hour. Thus, CNN considers Indiana to be a 7:00 p.m. poll closing state.
Joining me now from Washington, Chuck Todd. He's the editor-in- chief of "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing produced every day by "The National Journal."
Chuck, you and I have been together throughout this long election. We know we're in for a long night. But let's talk about hour by hour tonight. What should we keep an eye out for?
CHUCK TODD, EDITOR, "THE HOTLINE": Well, I think -- and this is what's helpful. I know viewers out there don't have -- or they only see the stuff that's being thrown around the Web, but there's sort of some real ways to watch election returns.
At 7:00, for instance, we'll talk about Indiana, Kentucky, and we have Virginia are among the polls closing at 7:00. Well, there's something in every battle. The battle for presidency -- keep an eye on Virginia. If Virginia is a state that CNN can't call right away or other networks can't call right away, then that means Kerry might be doing better than expected. Might be a harbinger for things to come about other states.
As for the battle for the Senate, Kentucky -- we have that Kentucky Senate race with Jim Bunning, a surprisingly close race according to some polls in the last week or two. If that can't get called quickly, then maybe Senate Democrats can feel good about their chances. However, if it gets called quickly, then Senate Republicans can start feeling, breathing a little bit easier about their chances.
And finally in the battle for the House, in Indiana, the Ninth District is going to tell us a lot. Baron Hill, a Democrat, representing a district that will be carried by President Bush. If he's somehow going down, it could be a sign that we are seeing red states get redder, blue states get bluer, and straight-ticket voting was a little stronger than anticipated. And that actually could end up being a bad thing for some Republicans running in tough races. In Connecticut, for instance, a guy like Chris Shays, which is a -- very much a blue state.
So, 7:00 can tell us a lot about maybe the entire night.
WOODRUFF: All right. What about half an hour later at 7:30 Eastern. Polls are going to close in one of the big three showdown states. Talk about that.
TODD: Right. Well, I mean, Ohio. And I think what will be interesting there is: Do the polls close at 7:30? If polls are closing right away, maybe it means turnout isn't as high as people thought. But if for some reason we get reports that say there are a bunch of people standing in line, and they can't really start the vote count yet because there are still people standing in line in Cleveland, for instance, rather than in Cincinnati, well then, Democrats can start feeling good.
So, I think whether the polls have actually closed at 7:30 is going to be a question mark, at least for Ohio.
And then, finally, North Carolina's closes at 7:30, as well. That's another state in the battle for the Senate. If that is called quickly for Republicans, that's going to be a bad sign for Democrats, possibly because this could lead to problems throughout the entire south. If it's not called quickly, well then maybe this battle in the south that Senate Democrats have been putting up will be a little bit closer.
WOODRUFF: All right, 8:00, Chuck, a lot of states' polls close then. What are you looking for?
TODD: Two that I'm going to look at very closely are New Jersey and Missouri. They are sort of bubble states. There's a pattern here, if you've noticed. I am always very curious more about the bubble states and how quickly do they get called.
If New Jersey cannot get called quickly in the presidential race, well that means the president is doing better than expected in the state. He's made it more competitive, and that could be a harbinger for things to come in the other closely contested states.
The flip side of that is Missouri. Missouri is state that John Kerry pulled out of. Democrats didn't think they had a good shot there. If that state is called quickly or not called quickly will depend on whether things are looking better for Bush or not so good for Bush.
So, I think -- keep an eye on these bubble states, New Jersey and Missouri.
WOODRUFF: All right. That's just the first part of the evening, but we're going to have to leave it there. But Chuck, I know you're going to be watching the whole night along with all of us.
TODD: Until 1:00 a.m. and those Alaska poll closings.
WOODRUFF: And keep on going. Chuck Todd...
TODD: You got it.
WOODRUFF: ... thank you very much.
"The Hotline," an insider's political briefing, is produced daily by "The National Journal." You can go online to nationaljournal.com for subscription information.
When we return, some final thoughts on a memorable campaign: the incumbent, his challenger, and the long road to this Election Day.
WOODRUFF: We have been keeping a close eye out on this Election Day for any problems voters are encountering at the polling places. One of the problems we have been hearing about is voters in Ohio who asked for an absentee ballot but did not get it in time for Election Day.
And this is a directive that is now being put out by the Ohio Elections Office, telling citizens across the State of Ohio that if they were not able to vote earlier today because they did not receive their absentee ballot on time, they should now return to their polling places, the regular polling places, and cast a provisional ballot.
Again, this is one of the stories we've been keeping an eye on. And now the state is formally notifying -- they are asking radio and television broadcasters throughout the State of Ohio to get this word out to everyone in the state who might have asked for an absentee ballot and not received it.
Well, looking back, few people could have predicted the extraordinary events since the last presidential Election Day. From the Florida recount to issues of war and peace, it has been a long and, some would say, unforgettable road.
AL GORE (D), FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): It began with an end, a loss to avenge, a win to confirm.
BUSH: The presidency is more than an honor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is so terrible.
WOODRUFF: ... a nation rocked, and the political deck reshuffled.
BUSH: I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you.
WOODRUFF: America united -- plunging into one war, and then another. Mission accomplished? Not yet.
Unity cracks, descent crystallizes...
HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have the power on Tuesday...
WOODRUFF: ... and then implodes.
DEAN (screaming): Yes!
WOODRUFF: A Phoenix rises...
KERRY: ... the comeback Kerry.
WOODRUFF: ... on unsteady wings.
KERRY: I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.
WOODRUFF: As a president guided by faith...
BUSH: Freedom is on the march.
WOODRUFF: ... faces the challenger tested in battle.
KERRY: I'm reporting for duty.
WOODRUFF: Both battered in a vicious political dogfight, as Americans try to reconcile their own lives with a conflict oceans away, as fear lurks ever present.
And as we saw in 2000, just a handful of votes could make the difference.
(on camera): What an election.
For this Election Day, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. I'll see you in a few hours.
"CROSSFIRE" starts right now. Stay with CNN.
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