CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
AMERICA VOTES 2002: Live Coverage of Election Returns
Aired November 5, 2002 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: AMERICA VOTES 2002 from CNN election headquarters with Paula Zahn, Judy Woodruff, Aaron Brown and Jeff Greenfield.
PAULA ZAHN, ANCHOR: And welcome back to our team coverage here, 7:00 p.m. in the East. And the polls have now closed in six states: Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Vermont.
We want to quickly recap you on a development that has changed how we're going to bring you the results tonight. The Voter News Service has said it will not release the results of state or national exit polls because it's not satisfied with their reliability. We here at CNN have a system called "real vote" that we'll be using to bring you projections when, and only when, we are confident in them.
And we're going to start out with some projections we are confident in. In the state of Kentucky, CNN projects that Mitch McConnell has won a fourth term. He happens to be the husband of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. He has made his mark in the U.S. Senate as the leading opponent of campaign finance reform.
As you can see, with 17 percent of the precincts reporting, Senator McConnell, with 123,000 plus votes. We should make it clear that 75 percent of the voting public lived in the zone where the polls actually closed about a half-hour ago. The rest living in the zones that closed just about two minutes ago.
And moving on to Virginia, John Warner, CNN projecting that he is the winner. We are not going out on some great limb there. The Democrats couldn't even field a candidate to take him on. You might remember him as the man who was previously married to Elizabeth Taylor -- Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF, ANCHOR: And Paula, we have some other races to show you, but no projections, because we just don't have enough information yet. In Georgia, the Senate race, this is a tight one. The incumbent Democrat Max Cleland being challenged by Congressman Saxby Chambliss. And we're going to be watching this one into the night.
Also in Georgia, we've got a governor's race. The incumbent Democratic governor, one of the few Democratic governors in the south, Mr. Barnes, Roy Barnes, is being challenged by Sonny Purdue. And we're going to be looking for numbers on that.
Moving to South Carolina Senate campaign there, this is the open seat. Strom Thurmond retiring. We see Congressman Lindsey Graham, the Republican, in a race with Alex Sanders, former college president, the Democrat.
Also in South Carolina, the governor's contest, the incumbent Democrat Jim Hodges being challenged by a former Congressman, Mark Sanford. Another close race that we're going to be watching.
And finally, in the state of Vermont, governors race. This is an open seat. Howard Dean retiring. And we have -- in fact, there are four people running. We're showing you three. The Democrat, Doug Racine, the Republican Jim Douglas and the Independent candidate, Mr. Hogan. And there is also a progressive party candidate. So we're going to be watching all of those.
So Aaron, these are races we're watching, but we can't tell you yet because we don't have a lot of information. What's happened?
AARON BROWN, HOST: And here's the rub on Vermont. If no candidate gets 50 percent and it goes to state legislature -- that's happened 20 times I think over the years -- more or less, state legislature goes with who got the most votes. But they don't have to. So we may not know Vermont at all tonight. And not until the Vermont legislature convenes.
Back to this story about the Voter News Service. At some level, is may seem like inside baseball a little bit, but it in fact has enormous impact on when, A, we can call races, and, B, what we can say about why they ended the way they ended. Jeff, you want to run through this one more time? I think both the problem, what happened, and what the limitations are and how we're dealing with it.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The problem is that Voter News Service, which is this consortium, this joint effort of the five networks and Associated Press, they gather exit poll data. They talk to thousands of people and they check it out.
Well, they got the numbers in, put them through the computer and something happened that caused Voter News Service to say, we can't guarantee, we don't have confidence in the accuracy of exit poll projections. We will not be giving you -- meaning the networks -- either state race projections or national trends. How young people voted, women, blacks, labor union members or whatever.
So we are going to call races off real votes, either our real vote system or votes collected. Now there's one little detail. In a blowout race, where pre-election polls have shown like a 30 or 40- point lead, if the exit polls come back with a 40-point lead, we don't think the margin of error can be 40 points. There may be some projections there. But caution is the watchword here.
BROWN: What it comes down to is for all of you who have over the years said -- and many of you have -- why don't you just count the vote, count the vote tonight. That's how we're going to find out what happened.
A moment ago we were in Kentucky. We had about 10 percent, I guess almost 20 percent of the vote had already been counted in Kentucky. And that enables us then to make the projection. But, by and large, as Jeff said, unless there is a blowout somewhere, we will not rely on the exit polling. We will just wait until they have counted enough votes in enough representative precincts that matters in this equation to tell you who won.
WOODRUFF: Kentucky being one of those states with a time zone change right in the middle, smack in the middle of it. Most people, as Paula said, live in the part of the state where the polls closed at 6:00 Eastern, but some we had to wait until 7:00.
GREENFIELD: And quickly, that's another change. We used to say we will project when the great preponderance of polls in a state have closed. After Florida last year, where the panhandle closed late, we will call races only when all the polls are closed. No matter what -- or votes or whatever. And that's a good thing to do.
BROWN: We offer anyone who thought maybe this would be over quickly, and get to bed by 10:00, that's not going to happen. OK? And that's the short, sweet and simple way to say what's going on.
WOODRUFF: How much fun is election night if you go to bed early? I mean, come one, we want to all stay up until 6:00.
ZAHN: Some of us are staying up until 6:00.
WOODRUFF: Some of us are staying up until 6:00. Well, we've been telling you and you know if you watch CNN at all, we've got some incredible reporting that our own correspondents have been doing the last weeks, months, in fact, of 2002. We're going to check in right now with four of our intrepid reporters.
Let's start in Minnesota with Anderson Cooper. Anderson, what are you looking for there?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Judy, polls close here in a little bit less than an hour. And as we've been saying all day long, and for several days now, this thing is just too close to call. I have talked to a lot of campaign workers, state officials, and they all say the same thing. That voter turnout has been very high.
And this, in a state where they are used to a high turnout; in the 60s, 70 percentile. They're saying it is -- some people even said unprecedented levels in some stations. Again, that's all anecdotal. But both candidates were working hard up until the last minute. Taking a little bit of a break now.
Tonight, they will be looking to pull out a victory. Should also point out that the man appointed as the interim senator by Governor Jesse Ventura yesterday was sworn in today. He also received a call from President George W. Bush congratulating him.
So little bit of a sideshow, but the main event tonight, the race between Norm Coleman and Walter Mondale. And it is a very tight race indeed -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Anderson, thanks.
And we know Dean Barkley, that man you mentioned, is being wooed mightly by both parties in the United States Senate.
All right. Let's quickly go to South Carolina to our Jonathan Karl. Jon, the polls have just closed there. But I imagine you're not learning much more than we are, but tell us if I'm wrong.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's South Dakota actually, and you're right, Judy, we're not learning much more on this because -- yes, South Dakota, much colder here. But campaign officials in both parties are looking at the fact that there will be no exit polls tonight and saying that's going to mean a much longer night for them here in South Dakota.
But speaking to people on the Republican side, at the John Thune campaign, they're saying, well, hey, look, this is a situation where we knew it was going to be a late night. A race this close, it's probably best to wait and count the actual votes before going out and trying to predict a winner in this race.
And on the Democratic side, they're echoing something Trent Lott said today, which is, we'd rather have no results than have the wrong results. So it looks like we'll be waiting a while here in South Dakota, Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, John. I have got egg all over my face. Thanks. South Dakota.
Well they don't get any closer than South Dakota and Minnesota, unless we're talking about Missouri, where Carol Lin just happens to be -- hello, Carol.
CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy. Yes, we're getting reaction now also from the Jim Talent campaign, as well as the Jean Carnahan campaign. to the fact that the Voter News Service is not going to be making projections tonight. Both campaigns are actually happy about it and even relieved. Very similar to what Jonathan Karl is hearing in South Dakota.
They would rather have the actual numbers coming out of the state and county election offices than to actually have projections that could be wrong. You might recall that back in the 2000 race here, there were several voter irregularities. A lot of problems with people voting. And so they want to make sure they're getting the direct election results from the county offices.
So they are actually relieved to hear that they're not going to have those projections. In the meantime, we are hearing projections of voter turnout being exceptionally high, especially in some key Democratic districts. That would bode well for Democratic incumbent Jean Carnahan.
The secretary of state had projected a 45 percent turnout. We're hearing in some jurisdictions that turnout is as high as 60 percent or higher, and that the word is that their motivated by this extremely tight Senate race. This is a chance for Missouri voters to make a difference as to who actually will dominate the Senate next time around.
But if you're looking for bags under my eyes, you're going to be finding them. Because Judy, we're going to be here for a long, long time tonight. Nobody is expecting election results confirmed in this race any time tonight. It may be early in the morning.
WOODRUFF: All right, Carol Lin. We're all in this together. Carol at Carnahan quarters.
And we're touching only on the closest races tonight. Next we want to go to our own Arthel Neville, who's in new Orleans. And Arthel, this is one where not only do we think it's going to be close, the question is a little more complicated than that. It's how well can the incumbent Democrat, Mary Landrieu, do?
ARTHEL NEVILLE, CNN HOST: That's right. And the reason being, Judy, because there is a unique law here in Louisiana that says a candidate must garner at least 50 percent of the vote in order to win outright tonight, otherwise there would be a runoff come December 7. And, of course, political analysts are saying that that will indeed happen.
Now, according to the secretary of state, preliminary turnout -- voter turnout here, is at about 35 to 40 percent, which is actually higher than expected. But again, the key question will be will it be enough to get a victory for Mary Landrieu tonight, who is the incumbent and who is trying to maintain a hold of her seat.
And the polls close here at about 8:00 Central, which is 9:00 Eastern. And again, the end of this night could be a new beginning to this race.
WOODRUFF: All right. Arthel Neville in new Orleans, thanks to you. To Jon Karl, Carol Lin, Anderson Cooper, you know we will be coming back to you early and often throughout this night.
Our coverage continues, election night 2002. The team will be right back.
BROWN: These midterm elections aren't necessarily a referendum on the president in the White House at any given time, but over the last five days or so, the president has done his part for Republican candidates in a dozen states, all of the critical states. It is the power of the White House and it can be effective.
Our Senior White House Correspondent John King joins us from the White House tonight. John, good evening to you.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Aaron.
The president's prestige certainly on the ballot, his name is not. But the president and the entire Republican leadership believe they have done as well as they could have done in this campaign cycle. To accentuate that point, Mr. Bush having dinner in the White House tonight with the speaker of the house, Dennis Hastert. Mr. Bush is fully confident Mr. Hastert will still be the speaker come January.
Also at the dinner table, the Senate Republican Leader, Trent Lott. White House officials and Senator Lott believe there's an outside possibility, some say an even possibility that Mr. Lott will once again be the Senate majority leader come January.
Also at the table tonight, the two men who head the Congressional Campaign Committee, Senator Bill Frist, helps raise money for Senate Republicans, Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia, runs the House Campaign Committee. They are watching the early results tonight.
All this, the president back at the White House after doing his part in democracy this morning in Crawford, Texas.
KING (voice-over): Count one vote for the Texas Republican ticket, but no national predictions from the President.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope people vote. I encourage all people across this country to vote.
KING: Back at the White House to await the results. The balance of power in Congress and the fate of the Bush agenda hanging in the balance.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R), TENNESSEE: For him to accomplish increasing safety and prosperity and homeland security and cutting taxes, it is going to take leadership in the United States Senate that is Republican and not Democrat.
KING: Fifteen states in the final few days, 40 states in all this year.
BUSH: The best thing that can happen to Arkansas and the best thing that can happen to America is to put Tim Hutchinson back in the U.S. Senate.
KING: Not to mention raising a record $140 million for Republican candidates. And it was hardly a solo effort.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... reelect John Sullivan to Congress on November 5.
KING: Vice President Cheney was a constant campaigner. And in the final month, 12 members of the Bush cabinet traveled to 33 states as part of an unprecedented White House effort.
JOHN PODESTA. FMR. CLINTON WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think he's done something that President Clinton, I think, didn't do in the midterm races or even in his re-election, which is to use all of the authorities and powers of the White House to try to get some kind of electoral advantage. That's something that is within the bounds of what laws and regulations there are, but still it's really, I think, a first in American politics.
KING: But if Republicans defy the traditional midterm jinx, the reasons extend beyond the President's aggressive campaigning.
BUSH: ... tax cuts permanent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's be honest. If it's between the Iraq debate and the focus on terrorism, the Democrats never got a typical off-year election. We focus just on domestic issues. There's this whole enormous international component that's made it very difficult for them to nationalize the election around the economy.
KING: Now, Mr. Bush is a man who likes to be in bed usually sometime around 10:00. Tonight, aides say he will push that a little bit. He is, of course, most interested in whether the Republicans can get the Senate. He won't know the answer to that tonight. Most aides believe and, of course, his highest interest, will his brother Jeb win re-election in the state of Florida. You can be certain the president will stay up late enough to know the results of that one -- Aaron.
BROWN: It's not just the legislative agenda. It is also, and I'll be the first to say it today, the prospects of a run in 2004. These elections are important to the White House.
KING: Of course they're important to the White House. When it comes to 2004, it might be more important, or at least more damaging in the short term, what happens in the governor races, because the Democrats are expected to have a good night when it comes to governors races. And that does make it harder when you pick up the phone, and you want, as President Bush does, he lost Pennsylvania last time. He would very much like to win it.
He lost Michigan narrowly last time. He would very much like to win it. It is easier when you can pick up the phone and call a governor and ask them for a campaign staff. But his aides also make the case, yes, the Democrats will gain in that regard when it comes to 2004, but Republicans ran Michigan and Pennsylvania last time and Bush lost them. They say it hurts, but it is not a terrible wound, in their view.
BROWN: John thank you. Our Senior White House Correspondent, John King, who will be back with us this evening -- Paula.
ZAHN: And I'm over in "CROSSFIRE" territory, Aaron, along with some new friends here, as they react to a little bit of what John King just reported about, a little bit about what you just said, about this midterm election not necessarily being a test of the President's agenda, but certainly a test of his endurance and his standing.
My question to all of you, and then I'll get out of here, is can the president really move a number tonight simply by going to these 15 states or 15 different stops in five days? PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: I don't think he did in North Carolina. Elizabeth Dole was running against Erskine Bowles there. President Bush went there five times. She had a 20-point lead, and now it's gone down to a dead heat. Now is that because of President Bush? No. But if Elizabeth Dole loses, as I suspect she might, a lot of people are going to blame the White House or at least say that maybe they should have done more.
Maybe they should have stayed out. The truth is, when I worked for President Clinton, we kept him out of everywhere whether it was popular or unpopular in 1998, because we found out that it doesn't do any good for the president. It raises money, but otherwise it distracts the campaign.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Well it does raise money. I mean that is one thing the president...
ZAHN: I'm going to let you talk amongst yourselves.
CARLSON: I can understand, you know, that if a candidate has certain deficits -- and Mrs. Dole, for instance, is not a great campaigner, quite a tense campaigner as anybody has ever covered her can tell you at some length. But the White House can't hurt. It can't hurt in a state that voted overwhelmingly for Bush, for Bush himself to show up on behalf of the candidate.
And I'd argue the White House doesn't do these things by accident. There's a reason. They wouldn't send the president out to all these different states if they didn't think it was helping. I think it is helping.
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: This is a little bit of history, Paul. Eight years ago, when we had the first midterm election in the Clinton administration, we said on the air that every place that Bill Clinton went, it hurt the Democratic candidates. That's why they didn't want them to go there.
Every place that George W. Bush goes he probably helps a little bit. Now North Carolina is an interesting situation. All Senate races in North Carolina are very close. Jesse Helms just barely won his last two elections in the state. As Tucker said, Mrs. Dole is not that great a candidate. Everybody knew she was going to fall down.
But Erskine Bowles, one thing he didn't want anything of was his old boss Bill Clinton coming through there. In fact, he used Trent Lott in his commercials. When they were together he showed that, boy, he is a bipartisan guy. In all of these southern states, and James will admit that you have to run as a moderate even if when you get to Washington you vote as a liberal.
JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Look, the truth of the matter is, is that the polls are going to close in ten minutes. I said if the Democrats lost Georgia that I'd puke. I guarantee you that if the Republicans lose North Carolina these guys are going to puke. We can say anything we want. Georgia is a must win state for Democrats and North Carolina is a must win state for the Republicans. If by some reason they split, then it wouldn't be that bad.
CARLSON: James, I agree with you. Back to the original point, the question of does the president's presence hurt or help, virtually every Democrat in a tight race around the United States has run ads, either on television or the radio, tying him or herself to President Bush. Now, Democrats who tie themselves to President Bush aren't doing it because they think it's going to hurt them. They're doing it, of course, because they think it's going to help them.
NOVAK: Every place that the president has come in, the Democrat in that area has used President Bush in his commercial.
BEGALA: Well again, point of fact, he hasn't done any good for Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina. Her mighty lead evaporated. He doesn't do very much good for anybody. No president does.
I mean I actually had to study this. I was paid to study this. We looked at popular presidents like Reagan, unpopular presidents like Nixon. It doesn't make a difference.
It does help to raise money, but at best it gives you -- it's like my friend Doug Sozek (ph), who worked for President Clinton used to say, it's like Chinese dinner. You know, it fills you up for a little while, but five minutes later you're still hungry. It doesn't ultimately win a state for anybody. This is Elizabeth Dole's and Erskine Bowles' race to win in North Carolina.
CARLSON: Well then, James, why was the former President Clinton out in Maryland the other day campaigning for Townsend?
CARVILLE: Again, I don't think -- I think Townsend's problems run deeper than former President Clinton being there. My point is this, the Republican -- if the Democrats win Georgia, the Republicans have to win North Carolina. If the Democrats lose Georgia, the Democrats have to win North Carolina. I mean it really doesn't matter.
The things are going to close here in five minutes. The consequences of this race are going to be enormous if Elizabeth Dole loses it. It is just the way that you do the math on election night.
I don't know that she will. I don't have any -- I know it's going to be close.
NOVAK: I'd like you two practitioners, though, on the Democratic side, to make a concession that someone like Erskine Bowles, who is a good guy, a smart guy, has to run as a sort of non-party centrist in these southern states. He can't run as a Democrat.
BEGALA: In fact, when I worked with Erskine Bowles, he was to the right of where he is today as a candidate. I'm sorry, he was. He was a big supporter of free trade. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), so he actually ran to the left in North Carolina because it's more of a populous state, I think. CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) run on Social Security also...
CARLSON: Which is evidence that not everyone evolves. Some default.
Now back to Paula Zahn.
ZAHN: Tucker, can you help me with something? I'm still not sure of the consensus that you arrived at. Paul was just saying what, it fills you up, it helps for two days, and then the presidential effect is all but gone?
CARLSON: Yes, we're settling on Italian food. That's the consensus.
NOVAK: That's what Paul said. But it doesn't happen to be the truth.
CARVILLE: This is their own corner. This is not the consensus corner. This is the unconsensus corner.
BEGALA: The food fight here in the CNN cafeteria is in this corner here, Paula.
ZAHN: That's why we'll be coming back to you early and often, gentlemen. Thanks so much. America votes 2002 continues right after this short break.
WOODRUFF: Isn't that a beautiful shot of the United States Capitol. That's in Washington. We're here in Atlanta.
And whenever you say election 2000, the word that first comes to your lips is Florida. We all know what happened there two years ago. And everybody's waiting to see if any of that is gonna happen again at this election. Our Bill Hemmer is down there keeping a very close eye on it -- Bill.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Judy, good evening again. A bit loud here at Bush headquarters.
We are getting word right now from the highest levels in Tallahassee, Jim Smith, who is the current secretary of state, he's calling (ph) Florida's votes today. And quoting now an unqualified success. Florida has been a major embarrassment across the country for the past two years.
The $32 million of election reform money trying to shore up the system here apparently has led to very good results today. We've been watching various precincts throughout the state today. No major snafus to report. In fact, some of the election officials at midday looked downright relieved that they did not have any major problems again as voters came out today.
In addition to that, an interesting note to pick up on here at Bush headquarters regarding how they will gauge and tabulate the votes. We talked about VNS not doing their early exiting polls. The Bush campaign, after 8:00, tells us that the counties, all 67 across Florida, will start reporting their results up in Tallahassee. They do it electronically by way of compute.
That Web site is where the Bush folks will be logged on tonight to see the results as they come in. For example, from Orlando, Florida, they know how many registered Republicans and how registered Democrats vote in that part of the state. They'll gauge the returns and, at that point, they can say whether or not they're doing well, whether or not they're behind.
Early indications right now is that that's how they will get their information right now with regard to VNS being absent in the short term tonight. Also, one other note. The governor has arrived a short time ago. Jeb Bush is here, so too is the former President Bush (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
WOODRUFF: Bill, I was having a little trouble hearing you because it is such a loud party atmosphere there behind you. Maybe you can slide the microphone a little bit closer. I just want to ask you to clarify. Can you hear me?
HEMMER: I can hear you, Judy. Go ahead.
WOODRUFF: Clarify just briefly, if you would, what you said about what they're going to do at 8:00 when the polls close.
HEMMER: Officially, there's a Web site here in the state of Florida. And after 8:00, the counties at that point can start reporting their results up in Tallahassee. The campaigns will be logged on to that Web site. They'll be ganging the returns based on the number of registered Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
At that point, they'll be able to tell whether or not they're ahead or behind in how well they're doing, at least in the early turn tonight here in Florida. Judy, a bit better there?
HEMMER: That was better. That was better. Bill, thanks very much. I think we got a slightly better sense of what's going on. Maybe we can find a quieter place for you to stand the next time we come to you, Bill.
BROWN: Somebody said, you know, you don't work with children, animals and a band. It's just hard to do television with a band.
Coming up on 7:30 in the East. Polls will now close in a number of other states. And in those states, we are looking at a number of critical races, a couple of senatorial races and a gubernatorial race as well, beginning in North Carolina. This is one of the races that has gotten very close. Erskine Bowles, the former chief of staff to President Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, former head of the Red Cross, as you know. She started out with a huge lead. It seems to have dwindled some. And there is a sense that this one is very much in play.
In West Virginia tonight, Senator Jay Rockefeller against Jay Wolf (ph), an insurance agent, former member of the state Senate in the state of West Virginia. Jay Rockefeller the Democratic incumbent.
And one other race to keep track of in this wave. Bob Taft, the governor of Ohio, and Tim Hagen, there has been -- talking about going into the family business, Jeff, there have been Tafts I guess in Ohio for a century at least.
GREENFIELD: Just think of his record. His great-grandfather, William Howard, was president of the United States and chief justice of the Supreme Court. His grandfather, Robert A. Taft was a Senate minority leader, Mr. Republican. The conservative hero before Barry Goldwater. His father, Bob Taft was a senator, Robert Taft. And he's Bob Taft. The keep getting more informal. I guess when the son goes into the Senate he will be "Ba." That's what they do. That's the family business.
BROWN: That is the family business. You're trained in the family business. You go in the family business.
WOODRUFF: Yes, Jeff had a good line about if the son of this Taft wanted to go into the music business, the family would say no way.
GREENFIELD: This is the calling. This is the business they have chosen, if I may quote a very popular movie of sometime ago.
WOODRUFF: And I think you'll have a family theme to talk about all evening long. There are a lot of instances of this.
GREENFIELD: Very quickly. Erskine Bowles, his father ran for governor North Carolina 30 years ago.
GREENFIELD: Liddy Dole, her husband ran for president.
ZAHN: She even ran for president.
BROWN: Just quickly want to go back to something on West Virginia. Jay Rockefeller, the Democrat incumbent there. This is the first moment like this we've had tonight. VNS, the Voter News Service, has now called Jay Rockefeller -- is projecting that Jay Rockefeller will be the winner in West Virginia. Holding on to that seat for the Democrats.
Having said that, I will now tell you we are not ready to say the same thing. We are working our -- we're working through the material, through our precincts to make sure that we are comfort with the projection that VNS has given. The VNS at this point has projected Jay Rockefeller to hold on to his Senate seat in the state of West Virginia.
We talked a moment ago about concerns about voting problems at polling stations in the state of Florida. In fact our concerns -- these concerns come up in every election. But we are all much more aware of them because of the events in Florida two years ago.
Wolf Blitzer in Washington is tracking the reports that are coming in. They're coming in from a variety of places, of problems big and small. Small problems will happen. Wolf, are you aware of any big ones?
BLITZER: Well, nothing huge yet, but there are some significant problems that we can talk about specifically in the Fort Worth area of Texas, Tarran County. Some of those optical scan machines that they've been using did not work the proper way when people were voting along strict party lines. Those votes are now going to have to be counted by hand and that could postpone the results for some time.
Fact the Reuters News Agency is reporting that around 300,000 ballots will have to be hand counted. We might not know for hours who's going to win some of those hotly contested contests, especially for governor as well as Senate in the state of Texas. It's certainly not going to cause a huge problem only a problem in delaying the outcome.
In Indiana, there was a minor problem. The Democratic Congresswoman, Julia Carson, couldn't even vote for herself. The lever on the machine she was using was able to work for every candidate except herself. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JULIA CARSON (D), INDIANA: I went in there and pulled the Democratic lever. I wanted to elect my friends. And so I was -- the lever came down for my friends but it didn't come down for me. This is my precinct, been my precinct for 35 years. And of all machines in all places, the machine does not vote for Julia Carson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, poll workers did manage to fix the problem shortly after Carson left. They tracked her down and had her come back to vote again. Of course she did, she voted for herself.
One critical voting station went up in flames, literally. A fire forced the evacuation of a country club in a southern suburb of Chicago. That precinct has more than 800 registered voters. There were no injuries, no damage to election equipment, but the equipment had to be moved to another polling place. Polls in that precinct will stay open for a couple of extra hours.
Finally, thousands of Democratic and Republican lawyers, they've been trained by the respective parties. They're ready to move right now. Doesn't look like they're moving necessarily all that quickly. But we're watching. We're in touch with precincts all over the country -- Aaron. BROWN: Wolf, thank you. So there are problems but they don't seem to be -- yet the kind that are going to keep us up all night. We shall see. There are other reason we may stay up all night, though.
WOODRUFF: Indeed we might.
One of the big stories of this election has been turnout. Both parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, rolling out money, people, volunteers, paid people to get their loyal stalwarts to the polls.
Bill Schneider our senior political analyst is with us. Bill, turnout, in a way it's a cliche. We talk about it every election. But it really can make a difference.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's right. And if you want to hear a shocking number, this number may shock you. Typically in congressional elections like this one, only about one-third of the voting age population even bothers to vote. And that's down from about half in the early 1960s.
In 1994, turnout jumped a little bit to 37 percent. And that had enormous consequences. That's that middle figure there. Congress became Republican for the first time in 40 years. That shows 9 million unexpected voters showed up in 1994. Mostly gun owners, religious conservatives, Southern conservatives. People who had not voted in midterms before. They were angry at Clinton and they took it out on the Democrats.
In presidential elections, the typical turnout is actually closer to 50 percent, as we see here. Which means a lot of people vote only once every four years. And two years later, like now, they just disappear in the midterm election. That's why both parties put so much emphasis on rallying their base. Because in a midterm election like this one, turnout is the name of the game -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: It's a lesson you think we would have learned after Florida and several other states in 2000. But Jeff Greenfield is dying to get a word in edgewise.
GREENFIELD: Just very quickly, one of the reasons why the Bush campaign was so shocked in 2000 was their polls in state after state were showing they were going to win by three or four points. They put a lot of money into (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Karl Rove has said this, the White House political director. They were out hustled. They were outgunned by the Democrats who got their vote out enough to almost win the thing for the Democrats.
ZAHN: It's interesting to note what percentages have increased and decreased over the last 20 years. Forty percent, some 40 percent less 18 to 20-year-olds are voting today than they were. And yet, 75 and older folks are voting 20 percent more of the time. And Bill Schneider's told me there's a very good reason why. And why is that, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: You know why? Because, thank goodness, people are living longer. There are more seniors. They're healthier. They're voting. And they make up a bigger and bigger share of the electorate. And the problem is no one has figured out how to mobilize the youth folk. They've been trying to do that for 30 years. But seniors are a reliable constituency and they're getting bigger and bigger.
GREENFIELD: It's amazing how little young people care about prescription drug benefits.
BROWN: Or Social Security.
GREENFIELD: Or Social Security.
BROWN: But it is -- I mean we're not in the lecture business but it is a shame of the American democracy that we vote as badly as we do. Or don't vote as often as people do. It's just a shame. That's all. That's all I have to say on that. I have nothing else on that subject. I won't lecture anyone again ever.
WOODRUFF: I am told that we have a projection to make in one of the House races, in the state of Kentucky. This is polls that closed at 7:00 Eastern. This is a Republican, Anne Northup, who was considered in danger by her Democratic challenger Jack Conway, young man there. But look. We are ready to project that Anne Northup is the winner. And it was not without a little help from her friend president George W. Bush -- Jeff.
GREENFIELD: When the Democrats early on entertained notions that they might take back the House, this was one of the races they most zeroed in on. And the fact that we can say this early that she has taken this tetra House seat, I think if we were over at Democratic National Headquarters there would be kind of, Not maybe going to happen for us. It's early, I know. This was so much in their crosshairs.
WOODRUFF: Well in early in the evening, there are these bell weathers, for lack of a better word, that both parties are going to be looking at in these early states. We've been saying all night there aren't many competitive races. But among those races that are competitive, both parties are looking, each hour as those polls close, as those numbers start to come in. This is one the Republicans are going to be very happy about.
BROWN: I think it's an interesting point. You maybe have a dozen races in play that are competitive. You lose one that you thought you had a chance in. Breaks your heart a little bit.
We -- among the races that we are most focused on today is the Senate race in the state of North Carolina. Elizabeth Dole, the Republican, Erskine Bowles the Democrat. You know their histories by now. And you're going to hear a lot of them as we go.
CNN's Jeanne Meserve has been covering that race and she joins us from North Carolina tonight.
Jeanne, good to see you again.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Aaron, the polls in North Carolina closed only about five or six minutes ago. We're waiting for the very first results. State Board of Elections officials say we should have a pretty good picture of this race perhaps as early as 9:30. Probably as early as 11:00.
It has been a very competitive race in these final days but both candidates expressing optimism.
MESERVE (voice-over): No mystery about how this North Carolinan voted. But what about the rest?
ELIZABETH DOLE (R), N.C. SENATE CANDIDATE: Feeling real good about the election.
MESERVE: Elizabeth Dole's Democratic opponent Erskine Bowles is feeling good, too. After having closed what was a yawning gap in the polls.
ERSKINE BOWLES (D), N.C. SENATE CANDIDATE: Nobody in their right mind would have gotten in this thing for logic. I was 48 points down. Today we have a dead even race.
MESERVE: This is the most expensive Senate race in the nation this year. The candidates have spent almost $21 million, and if anyone expected these respected centrist candidates to be high toned, forget it.
JIM MORRILL, "CHARLOTTE OBSERVER": We have some pretty high standards for negative campaigns, as you know. But this has lived up to those, or lived down to those, yes. It's gotten really nasty on both sides.
MESERVE: The central issue, jobs. There have been skirmishes over Social Security, education and the president's authority to negotiate trade agreements. She has tried to enhance her already gold-plated Republican resume with visits from President Bush and other tip top Republicans.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Elizabeth Dole will support President Bush, and we know that her opponent will not.
MESERVE: He has not brought in his old boss, President Clinton, who might have done more harm than good, but has recruited black actresses to help win over the African-American community, which is key to his success.
MESERVE: The state Democratic Party says it has launched its biggest get out the vote effort ever, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not a million.
The Republicans have been trying to match that, sending out volunteers and also some paid people to knock on Republican doors, but it's a rainy and cold day here in North Carolina, and the state board of elections says the turnout is moderate -- back to you.
BROWN: And have they given you any sense of where the vote is running light, where the vote is running heavy? In cities like Charlotte, for example, any feel at all for where the vote is coming from?
MESERVE: Well, the state board of elections is not making those sorts of comments. We have heard some things from the state parties. This is anecdotal information. It is not official.
The Democrats tell us that the African-American vote is running very strong all across the state. They say it's at presidential levels. The Republicans say the voting has been quite good in Republican precincts across the state. Everybody spinning this to their heart's desire. Hard to tell where the center of gravity is -- Aaron.
BROWN: I was going to say, with all this spin, we'll all get dizzy. Jeanne, thank you very much. Imagine a U.S. Senate without Jesse Helms, who will be gone in January, without Strom Thurmond, who will be gone -- Strom Thurmond turns 100 a month from today.
Neither will be in the Senate when it reconvenes in January. Our coverage of this election continues in a moment.
ZAHN: And welcome back to AMERICA VOTES 2002. We're going to concentrate on the state of Louisiana right now where the polls will close in just about an hour and 15 minutes. And to give you an idea of what the incumbent senator is up against, let's look at the field here. Senator Mary Landrieu up against three other candidates. Suzanne Haik Terrell, John Cooksey and shortly you'll see Tony Perkins' name up there. Now what is unique about this state is if she does not end up with 50 percent of the vote, she will end up in a post-November 5 runoff.
Let's go to Arthel Neville who's standing by in New Orleans to walk us through what that drill will be like. Good morning -- or good evening. I always see you in the morning. That's out normal drill. Good evening.
NEVILLE: I have a feeling, Paula, we'll be here until morning.
ZAHN: You and I will be.
NEVILLE: Absolutely. But you know what? The good news here in Louisiana, they're expecting rules about two hours after the polls close which you've already said close at 8:00 Central, 9:00 Eastern. And the secretary of state's office is not anticipating any problems here. They're using centralized ballots that are printed by the state and all parishes are using an electronic voting system.
And again, they're not expecting any problems because of that. Of course there were problems in the past but right now everything is under control and voter turnout is at about 35 percent to 40 percent which is higher than expected. And Mary Landrieu's camp, they're feeling pretty encouraged at about now because they're saying that many of their voters tend to vote late anyway, historically. So we will find out what happens if Mary Landrieu can garner those 50-plus percent votes needed -- Paula.
ZAHN: Are they sounding so confident at this hour that they think they can avoid a runoff?
NEVILLE: Well, they haven't gotten that sort of comfort level going here. But I have to tell you this, Paula. They are happy to hear that VNS is not going to report exit polls, because according to early VNS numbers, apparently Mary Landrieu's predictions were a little bit lower, about 45 percent than they were hoping. Of course, those numbers are encouraging to Suzie Terrell, who is the this point is Landrieu's most valid and biggest rival here.
ZAHN: Jeff, you want to jump in here?
GREENFIELD: Very quickly. If it goes to a runoff, six years ago, Mary Landrieu won her Senate race by only 6,000 votes.
NEVILLE: That's correct.
GREENFIELD: And so while people might think she's a favorite, if she runs 48 percent. We've seen where the first place finisher does not win in the runoff. That's got some Democrats a little nervous.
NEVILLE: Yes, and another concern for the Landrieu camp is the African-American vote here. Apparently they are turning out higher, at higher numbers than expected.
But again here in Louisiana, there is only one other Democrat on the ballot, he is a black minister here in town. An in fact, he is there particularly to split the vote to force a runoff. And in fact, Mary Landrieu had some defections among some of the leading Democratic black officials here in town who did not support her and they have supported her in the past.
SO again, a lot can happen here. It will be quite exciting. We'll keep you posted of course.
ZAHN: Arthel, before I let you go, you just brought up the issue of race. We should all bring up the issue of racial profiling and how it played in this campaign. Tell us a little bit about Representative Cooksey and how he got himself into so much trouble.
NEVILLE: Right. Well apparently he made that remark after 9/11 that they should indeed profile men of Middle Eastern dissent who wear, quote, "diapers on their heads." Of course, that did not go over well here. And of course that did not go over well nationally as well. Cooksey has since apologized but I think those comments definitely stuck in voters' minds.
ZAHN: Thanks for that update. Great to see you in the evening for a change, Arthel. We are locked into our 4:00 a.m. wakeup calls. That's when we're usually working together. WOODRUFF: You know, she said earlier there were tornadoes that were threatening to come through that area. We talk about how weather does or doesn't affect polling.
We just got a e-mail, our political editor did from his father who votes in Maryland 8 which is a race we're all keeping an eye on. Connie Morella, the Republican running for reelection against young Democrat Chris Van Hollen. Apparently it's raining so hard that the lights went out in polling places all across Maryland 8 for about an hour. They're back on now, we're told. But this is one instance where the polling machines kept going but the lights were out. So People were holding, we're told, flashlights and candles to vote.
BROWN: So they get to vote.
GREENFIELD: The romance of politics.
ZAHN: That might be an endeucement for people to vote next time around.
WOODRUFF: A romantic way to vote.
BROWN: Bring a glass of wine and candle and vote.
WOODRUFF: As we are every hour, at about 10 minutes before the hour, before the polls close in more states we are going to turn to our colleague Larry King because he always has some interesting people to talk to.
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