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CNN IN THE MONEY

A Look At Presidential Election Polls; Interview with George Ratliff; Interview with Harvey Mackey

Aired October 31, 2004 - 15:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: From New York City, America's financing capital; this is IN THE MONEY.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JACK CAFFERTY, HOST: Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY:

The hand that takes the pulse: We'll check the polls as the White House race hits the homestretch. We'll get a pollsters take on the process of what it tells us or doesn't.

And, the biggest little thing you'll do this year: Even if you're not in a swing state, your vote still counts. See why the Electoral College isn't the only game in town.

And, scared sinless: Some fundamentalist Christians are using a Halloween tradition to deliver a lesson. We'll look at the rise of something called the "Hell House."

Joining me today, some of our IN THE MONEY veterans, "Lou Dobbs" correspondent, Christine Romans, "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large, Andy Serwer.

So, if you take a look at the stock market for the year-to-date, it's just about flat. It has gone a great rush to almost nowhere.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Right.

CAFFERTY: The great unknown is: Where does it go November 3 and beyond toward the end of the year after this election's over?

ROMANS: The question is, when we have a president on November 3 and how much indecision is there, how much voting -- or counting of these provisional ballots? And what I'm hearing is that if there is uncertainty, the markets will fall and they're going to fall sharply. I'm also hear that you got to be concerned about foreign investors souring on U.S. assets like stocks, bonds, and the dollar if we don't have a quick decision on November 3.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE": Well I think there are a couple of things going on, I mean, first of all as Christine said, that deadlock issue is obviously critical. I think also the economy could be a little bit weaker than people think. I think people are not taking into account how serious the problem with high oil prices is. Now, the price has been coming a little bit. That is a great unknown. However, if we get through the election and we get a president, I don't care if it's Kerry or Bush, and there's not a big terrorists innocent, things sort of settle down, I think we could have a rally. So, there is this uncertainty out there, and so much unknown. That's the oldest song in the book, but it's true, uncertainty bad for the market, and there's lot of it.

CAFFERTY: It's interesting, though, you said you don't think it matters to the market whether it's Kerry or Bush...

SERWER: I don't.

CAFFERTY: ...and yet the economic proposals and programs and ideologies, for want of a better way to describe it, couldn't be more different in some ways.

ROMANS: But, it matters who's in Congress. It matters how much resistance from the president has from Congress. You know, Wall Street loves to have a president of one party and a Congress dominated by another one because gridlock lets Wall Street do whatever it wants...

CAFFERTY: No.

ROMANS: And the electorate...

(CROSSTALK)

SERWER: Because this country is definitely mixed at this point and I don't think that anyone's going to have a clear mandate in the next administration.

CAFFERTY: And almost all polls indicate the republicans probably will maintain control of at least the Senate at least.

SERWER: Right.

ROMANS: Right.

CAFFERTY: All right. Thanks fellows and Ms. Romans.

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: The polls have been almost as big a deal in the presidential race as the candidates themselves. Polls, polls, and more polls. Some people think they are on the money, others think they are off the mark. But, even the doubters are checking the latest numbers like some sort of political weathervane. We wanted to take one last look at the polls ourselves before Election Day and talk about how they're affecting the process of choosing our leader. We are delighted to have John Zogby back with us. He joins us from Washington, D.C.. He's president of the polling service, Zogby International.

Mr. Zogby, welcome back to IN THE MONEY, it's a pleasure. JOHN ZOGBY, ZOGBY INTERNATIONAL: Thank you Jack, it's my pleasure, too.

CAFFERTY: Well, a few weeks ago you were on the program and I asked who was going to win the election and you told me it was John Kerry's to lose. Are you still in that frame of mind here as we are on the eve of the actual voting?

ZOGBY: I most certainly am. The president has improved his numbers, but he still is not polling good numbers on his barometric reading for an incumbent. There's only about four percent undecided left, and traditionally they have their minds made up about the incumbent and so it is John Kerry's to persuade those undecided voters that he's the real alternative. If they vote, I think that they vote for Kerry, if they vote.

SERWER: John, we're literally hours, I think we can say, getting to be hours away from the election. What are the key, key swing states? The swing states within the swing states? I mean where is it really boiling down to?

ZOGBY: Boy, there's number of them, but all of the big three: Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida are as close as close can be. Michigan got close again and it wasn't and then you have the little three: Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa that are all razor thin, in fact, dead heats. And so let's just play around with that a little bit. Somebody wins all three of the big three, they win. If they win all of -- two of those big three, they're in good shape. However, if somebody loses, say, a couple of those big three and win all of the little three, they can still win. You know, we're just fooling around with numbers right now.

ROMANS: Speaking of fooling around with numbers, there are some who say that the electoral has changed a lot in the last four with cell phones, with different kinds of technology to make it harder to be polling and getting an accurate point of view. How concerned are you that maybe the polls aren't as accurate they could be because of the cell phone issue, in particular?

ZOGBY: I think down the road they'll create a real problem for us, all of these technologies. But, for now they're a nuisance or a problem, but not a crisis. For cell phones, you know, you're look at six percent of all adults who have cell phone only, 12 percent of adults under 35 who have cell phone only. We don't have any reason to believe that cell phone only young people, for example, are any different, ideologically, or demographically, from landline only voters, and so I think we're in pretty good shape.

CAFFERTY: It's expected, Mr. Zogby, that we might have a higher voter turnout than we've in had in a good long while. Hundreds of thousands upon millions of new registered voters that haven't shown up on the rolls before. What impact might they have? How would you expect them, if you can make an expectation, how would you expect them to perhaps cast their votes?

ZOGBY: They ought to be huge and in fact if there is a higher voter turnout, bad news for the incumbent. That's tradition, but it's also in our polls right now. When we look at those who tell us that they've registered to vote for the first time in the past six months, John Kerry has double digit lead. So, if they come out to vote for real, then Kerry ought to be in good shape.

CAFFERTY: Wow.

SERWER: Hey John, let me ask you a question. What is your life like now? I mean, are you working 24 hours a day? And after the election do you go to Bermuda and chill out? I mean, what are you doing?

ZOGBY: Oh, it is absolutely insane. It really is -- it's seven and 24 right now. The numbers come in at night and they're so confounding. You know, last night it became an not a virtual tie, but an actual tie: 47 to 47.

SERWER: Wow.

ZOGBY: And in the ten battleground states, of course, Bush leads in four, Kerry leads in four, two are tied, and even those leads are so, so small right now.

ROMANS: How closely do you think the candidates are watching all of these polls? I mean, it just must be maddening inside those campaigns, a real nail biter.

ZOGBY: Oh, they're watching the polls, all right. They're watching ours, they're watching CNN's, and their watching their own.

ROMANS: Are you seeing...

And they're all basic...

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: ...their message, based on what the polls are saying? You know, I mean, is Kerry starting to really kind of -- you know, you know, raise the -- raise the level of enthusiasm here, or the criticism, example of -- you know, the weapons that are missing in Iraq?

ZOGBY: So far we haven't asked the question, but so far it looks like it is working for Kerry. But, wow, it's close.

CAFFERTY: What do you hear from the campaigns when you put out the new polls that come out on almost a daily basis? I mean, do these guys call you up and yell you if they don't like the numbers and praise you if they do? Or, I mean, what do you hear from them?

ZOGBY: Of course, whoever is down, it's bad poll. Whose ever is up the next day, it's a great poll.

(LAUGHTER)

SERWER: Yeah John, let me ask you about a couple smaller states that I thought were in play that you didn't mention anymore, like New Hampshire, like Hawaii, like Nevada. Are those things now locked?

ZOGBY: Well, Nevada and New Mexico are looking pretty good for President Bush, right now, but we'll wait and see tonight. New Hampshire has been tilting Kerry for a while. I'm not a believer. I'm not polling New Jersey and I'm not polling Hawaii, but it is hard for me to believe that you don't take out your navy blue Crayon and color those blue.

CAFFERTY: There was a time when the network exit polls would have these -- all the answers by noon on Election Day. I can rember working across the street at NBC when they could sit privately and tell you the outcomes of virtually every race by 1:00 in the afternoon, they didn't real release the information, obviously, until much later. Are they as accurate as they used to be and if not, why not?

ZOGBY: No, they're as accurate as they used to be. The problem is the electorate is not only deadlocked nationwide, but in so many of these states. An exit poll, as good as it can be, is still only a sample and a sample can't make a call on a one percent or two percent race. And so, you know, they're great to tell us who voted, how they voted, why they voted the way they did. I honestly don't believe that they ought to be used for projections at all.

CAFFERTY: All right, John Zogby, president of Zogby International. Thank you for taking the time. I know you're incredibly busy and I do appreciate you giving us a few minutes. Hope you enjoy your time off after the election when it is over.

ZOGBY: Thanks so much. Good to talk to you.

CAFFERTY: And may all of your polls have been the right ones.

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: John Zogby. Thanks again.

When we come back on IN THE MONEY, step up and speak out. Find out why your vote counts even in states where the outcome is no big secret.

Plus, opportunity knocks (UNINTELLIGIBLE): We'll hear from an author who says getting fired can actually work in your favor.

Plus, faith based fear: They call it a "hell house" and it's designed to scare you into the Christian way of life. Find out if it is working, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAFFERTY: The campaigns don't write, they don't call, they haven't disrupted dinner or caused a traffic jam in town. Your state is the furthest thing from swing and its electoral votes are spoken for. So, why even bother to go to the polls on Tuesday? Well, here to talk about that is Alex Keyssar, professor of history and social policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Welcome to IN THE MONEY, it's nice to have you with us.

ALEX KEYSSAR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, it's a pleasure to be on the show.

CAFFERTY: So if -- so if I live in Texas or if I live in California (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Well, there are several conventional reasons of why bother, and I thing they're probably pretty good. For one thing, there are other races going on other elections besides the presidential one and you get to vote for other candidates. A second is that people do pay attention to the popular vote. And as we know from election 2000, when there was a gap between the popular vote and electoral vote, I think that registering in in the popular vote may matter if the election is conflicted, it matter in terms of reforms later, although if you live in Texas, it won't affect exactly how Texas's electoral votes are going to be cast.

SERWER: Alex, let me ask you a question, is the Electoral College an anachronism or does it reflect that timeless debate or tension in our country between state's rights and federalism?

KEYSSAR: My own view is that the Electoral College is an anachronism, I don't think it never worked the way the founding fathers imagined it might work and I think that it's negative affects now are greater than any positive benefit. It simply doesn't conform to what they think of as democratic principles and as you mentioned at the top of the show, it creates extremely bizarre presidential campaigns that are not national.

ROMANS: But, is it ever really going change?

KEYSSAR: I think there's a chance that it might change. It's hard to tell. We tend to forget that in 1969, 70 it came very close to changing. The House passed a constitutional amendment, President Nixon was prepared to sign one. It was killed by five votes in a filibuster in the Senate, so we came very close just 35 years ago.

CAFFERTY: What are the arguments against abolishing the Electoral College by the resistance?

KEYSSAR: The argument against it is what you referred to earlier on. States rights and federalism, although to my knowledge, the defenders of the Electoral College have rarely been able to point to any concrete advantage to a state that results from this federalist system. But, that's the basic argument. There is also an argument that they do put forward, I should give them credit, they make an argument that the Electoral College helps to contain or quarantine fraud. I also don't find that convincing, but that is an argument.

SERWER: Well, Alex, I mean, let's get it on the table, here. Is the Electoral College something that the GOP. would favor? I mean, would they be the people blocking the abolishment of it?

KEYSSAR: At the moment they might be, although, what I think happens in most situations is that in any state a party that feels as though it has a secure majority and thus that the minority votes in that state will not count, is going to, in a short-sighted way, lean toward the Electoral College. Whether -- the GOP, certainly, based on the 2000 election looks like it might favor the Electoral College, but it seems to me not out of the question that we could see the reverse happen on Tuesday, that President Bush could possibly win the popular vote and lose the electoral vote and then the GOP position might change.

CAFFERTY: Yeah, immediately.

ROMANS: Yeah. Handicap it for us, I mean, what do you think is the most likely outcome for the popular vote and at this point, so many of these swing states are absolutely deadlocked.

KEYSSAR: I think that this is all too close to call. I think that our polls are not very good. They're not -- from what everything that I can tell, I'm not the only person saying this, I think the election's going to be determined by exactly who turns out and in what numbers and that's a wild card.

CAFFERTY: In addition to the Electoral College and whether we do away with it or not, what other reforms ought to be made to the system? The 2000 election was a national embarrassment. The fact that it took as long as it did for us to come up with something that wound up in the Supreme Court, I don't think reflect very well on the system or the way it's supposed to work. How would you change it? You teach this stuff. What needs to be done so that we don't have these kinds of potential difficulties?

KEYSSAR: A very, very good question. I think that there are several things that I would mention. One, that I think that we do need a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to vote in presidential elections. Second, I think that we need to create a national system of nonpartisan administration of elections. What we have now, almost everywhere, is partisan or at best bipartisan warfare over election administration. We should do what most other countries do which is to have a nonpartisan civil service bureaucracy that runs elections. I think what that also means is that we have to have clear cut national standards for things like, not only like machinery, but things like provisional ballots, absentee ballots, ballot design, so that we don't deal -- have this chaos of 50 different systems which will then be contested by lawyers every time around.

SERWER: Alex, quick last question, back to the Electoral College. If we did do away with it, would it diminish living in a place like Rhode Island? For example...

KEYSSAR: I don't think...

(LAUGHTER)

KEYSSAR: We certainly would not want that to happen. I don't think it would at all. I think that part of what would happen if we got rid of the Electoral College is that candidates and parties would be looking for votes wherever they were. Whether they were in the small state or in the large state and I think that people more -- that far more people would feel empowered than disempowered by having a popular vote.

ROMANS: Alex Keysser, professor of history and social policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Thanks for joining us, Alex.

KEYSSAR: Thank you.

ROMANS: Coming up right after the break, making a spectacle: Find out if investors are putting money on DreamWorks after its market debut this week.

And later on, when hear the worst turns out for the best: See why some big names think getting fired actually helped them.

And forget the polls, try watching Wall Street: We'll tell you about a theory that says one number could predict who will win the White House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Now, let's look at the week's top stories in our "Money Minute." The insurance big rigging scandal is coming with a price tag. The legal experts believe Marsh & McLennan could have so shell out about a billions to settle several criminal and civil suits. Prosecutors say the company steered clients to certain insurance policies with costlier premiums in return for kickbacks. Marsh & McLennan's CEO Jeffrey Greenburg, forced out earlier this week.

High oil prices and the weak dollar encouraging many investors to sink their cash into gold. Gold prices hovering near 16-year highs at $430 an ounce. But, prices could head back down once the uncertainty about the presidential election is over.

And a short prison stint won't keep Martha Stewart out of the spotlight. Martha Stewart Living says Martha will return to the company that she founded this coming spring and a new daily syndicated TV series featuring Martha is slated for next fall, and that doesn't include the reality show that "Survivor" and "Apprentice" creator, Mark Burnett, is developed of the Stewarts.

SERWER: All right, thanks to the huge success of its animated movies "Shrek" and "Shark Tale," DreamWorks SKG spun off its animation film unit this week, and it had a great opening. Shares soared about 40 percent on opening day. Next week the DVD of the summer hit "Shrek, Part 2" comes out, and that's expected to be a big money maker for the company. But, can the short-term success everyone expects for DreamWorks Animation translate into long-term success for shareholders. That makes DreamWorks Animation our "Stock of the Week." There is a lot hanging on ""shark tale".

And there was an interesting thing that happened this fall when that "Shark Tale" movie came out, I mean, it debuted and it did well, but they was a lot hanging on that because if that was a flop DreamWorks IPO might have tanked and, of course, it did well and that thing just took off.

ROMANS: Some analysts, this week, telling me that DreamWorks made its mistakes when it was a private company and that's probably a good thing. They sort of worked the kinks out of it and people are a little optimistic that -- that this could be -- you know, a going concern. However, don't chase these big rallies on the first or second day. A lot of professions on the street are looking at Google and Shopping.com...

SERWER: Google...

ROMANS: Build a Bear Workshop for the under seven set, you know.

CAFFERTY: Sure.

ROMANS: And they're saying be -- you know, be a little careful about chasing these things because the IPO market is starting to look a little like 1999 again.

SERWER: Yeah.

CAFFERTY: Based on the opening day activity with the IPO, DreamWorks has a market cap of bout $3 billion, which has made Paul Allen, who put $500 million in to get it started, very happy, because his shares are worth about a billion. But for the first six months of the year, DreamWorks only had revenues of about $340 million.

SERWER: Yeah.

CAFFERTY: You do the math there, it is overpriced, not as much as Google, probably, at this point...

SERWER: Right.

CAFFERTY: But it's still up there.

SERWER: Will I think that's right, and you know, they're going against Pixar and these standalone, sort of, mini-movie studios. I mean, you have to really ask yourself, what kind of business model is it? And more importantly, I think Jack, is this is going to get -- maybe it already is, a very saturated market. I mean, you still have Disney trying to figure out these kiddy movies, as well, by the way.

CAFFERTY: Right.

SERWER: So you got three companies really charging in here, plus you've got other studios trying to do this too. And basically, what's happening is that every month now one of these movies comes out. Pixar's never had a flop. I mean, at some point something's got to fall off the table, here, I think.

CAFFERTY: That's like betting on the Patriots to lose, right Andy?

SERWER: Yeah, well at some point I think that's right.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) an IPO that everybody can understand. You know, we show pictures, we know what "Shrek" is. I mean, everybody knows what "Shrek" is. They had -- they had the "Shrek" ears on the floor of the New York Stock exchange for the debut.

SERWER: Right.

CAFFERTY: That may have improved the looks of some of those guys.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: I think you're right.

CAFFERTY: Just kidding.

SERWER: The ogres have come to Wall Street. I think that's right.

ROMANS: Were they all ready there?

SERWER: Yeah.

ROMANS: I won't go there

SERWER: No. Don't -- don't even think about it. All right. Coming up, on IN THE MONEY, when Trump got trumped: Find out why the high-profile billionaire couldn't have made it big without the tough times.

Plus, fear of frying: See how some evangelical Christians are using their visions of hell to win converts.

And we're talking strange. Our "Fun Site of the Week" lets you put voices where they don't belong. No. No.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Pink slips, given the ax, getting the boot, however you want to say it, the fact remains, you got fired. But don't worry. You're in pretty good company. Michael Bloomberg, Joe Tory (ph), Robert Redford, Billie Jean King, they have all lost jobs at some point in their careers and they say they are better for it today.

In his new book, "We Got Fired and It's the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Us," Harvey Mackay tells how these men and women bounced back. He's with us now. It is cold comfort when you get a pink slip to say, you know what, this is going to make you a better person.

HARVEY MACKAY, AUTHOR, "WE GOT FIRED": Nice to be with you Christine, Jack, Andy. Thank you for having me.

ROMANS: Absolutely. So what do you do? You get fired. You got to look at the bright side right away? It is tough when you lose a job. How do you find the silver lining? MACKAY: Well, you can't gloss over it. It's a very serious occasion. Of course, you've had an identity. You've had some security. You've been in the comfort zone. Now unexpectedly, you're out on the street. However, if you practice the right concepts, you will bounce back and land on your feet. Number one, it you're going to burn your bridges, Christine, you better be a darn good swimmer. Lou Holtz (ph) got fired, Arkansas, all of a sudden, he's going to get his job back. He's going to sue. Well, the person that fired him got him the Notre Dame job, his dream job. Number two, don't take it personally. Easy to say that but that has to be the source of your strategy.

Number three, you can't saw sawdust. In other words, get on with your life. You can't cry over spilled milk, very important. Number four, the given reason is not necessarily the real reason. If you can find out the real reason why you were fired, then you can become a success a lot faster. Jesse "The Body" Ventura, our governor from Minnesota, I'm from Minnesota and he said hey, the day that you get hired, you must be able to be prepared OK, to be fired and now here's the real key. He went on to say, Jesse, "The Body," that if you are fired, OK, you're not a failure. You're only a failure if you fail to learn from that firing.

SERWER: Harvey, before we get into number five, six and seven, let me ask you a question.

MACKAY: I'm sorry.

SERWER: That's OK. Tell us about your firings. When were you fired Harvey and what did you do and what was it like?

MACKAY: Well, in high school I was kind of cocky, probably very cocky. I wanted to start at the top and work up after I was going to get out of college. My father headed the Associated Press for 35 years, St. Paul/Minneapolis. He had some contacts. So he got me the plush summer job at the men's haberdashery selling ties and socks and underwear. I took advantage of that because he knew the owner. I asked to get off early. I asked to play in golf tournaments. I thought the people would be very, very proud to have me in the newspapers running some golf tournaments. Well, I wound up on the street. I shamed the Mackay name and I did learn from it because the next summer I worked at a competitor's place and onwards and upwards. I learned from that lesson.

CAFFERTY: Your dad probably didn't get you that job, did he?

MACKAY: No, he didn't, but I'll tell you, I can still remember to this day how unhappy he was that I took advantage of his name.

CAFFERTY: As well he should have been. How can you tell if you're going to get fired and what about the cases where the company is right?

MACKAY: Well, as far as how can you tell whether you're going to get fired. I call it the chill is on. In other words you have to have your antenna up. All of a sudden, you're not going to as many meetings as you used to go to. Your reporting relationship might be to a different person than you previously had who is not necessarily senior to the person that you were reporting to.

All of a sudden your subordinate is invited to meetings and you didn't do the inviting. All of a sudden, your job performance and review, OK, comes up a lot sooner. They're looking into your Rolodex. They're looking into your computer. All of a sudden, your office might be moved just a little bit down the row. So there's a myriad of things that you can be looking for, keeping your antenna up to see if that show is on.

If they are right, back to the second part of your question, if they happen to be right, then as Corn Ferry (ph) said, one of the finer recruiting firms in the country, they said you have to learn from that mistake that every employer wants to know especially at the executive level, CEO, president, HR, sales managers, they want to know what did you learn from that firing?

ROMANS: And Harvey, you say there are some tips, some coping mechanisms, learn from the mistake. You point that out. Look for open doors. Try to figure out why you were fired and then move on. There's that saying that the Chinese character for crisis is the same as opportunity. So you lose your job. You've got to find a way to make (INAUDIBLE) making lemonade out of lemons.

MACKAY: I like Mayor Bloomberg, I like Mayor Bloomberg's comment when he looked at me and said how bad a day can it be if you're looking at the right side of the grass? In 1981 he's fired from Solomon Brothers, says I'll get those guys. They fired the wrong guy. Goldman Sachs will hire me tomorrow morning when everybody reads it in the "New York Times." Goldman Sachs never called. I said what did you learn from it? He said I learned that people remember two things in life, who kicked you when you were down and who helped you on the way up which is very, very interesting. So Bloomberg since that firing has been helping his friends with the following advice. He calls them up immediately. I just heard about you, whatever your problem was. It can be DWI, fired, whatever. I want you to know I'm thinking about you and if I can do anything to help, let me know. I think that's an admirable trait.

ROMANS: Well, Harvey, I'm not a billionaire but I landed at CNN because of mass layoffs at my previous employer, so I guess I might be living proof of what you say although I would prefer to be a billionaire like Michael Bloomberg.

MACKAY: Thank you very much Christine.

ROMANS: Thanks so much for joining us. "We Got Fired and It's the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us." That's the name of the book, thanks.

MACKAY: (INAUDIBLE) guys, appreciate it.

ROMANS: There's a lot more to come here on IN THE MONEY up next, surreal estate, some Halloween spook houses aren't just out to scare you. They're out to change your mind. Find out how evangelical Christians are putting their spin on an old tradition.

And mouthing off. Just in time for Halloween, a Web site that can make anybody sound possessed. Stick around for our fun site of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SERWER: The haunted house is a long-standing Halloween tradition designed to well, scare the hell out of little kids. But now some groups are putting a Christian spin on things. So-called hell houses have begun appearing around the country. These sites are designed to scare teens into religion as they're led past graphic scenes of abortions, gang shootings, drunken driving accidents and teenage suicides. George Ratliff directed a documentary film on one particular hell house in Cedar Hill, Texas and he joins us now with a look inside. Welcome George. I don't know whether if I'm living in the right part of the country or the wrong part of the country. I didn't know anything about these hell houses. Can you just start and give us the one-on-one on these?

GEORGE RATLIFF, DIRECTOR, HELL HOUSE: Sure, these have been around for quite a while. The first one that I know of was in 1990 with Cedar Hills, Texas (INAUDIBLE), the church that put on the documentary, that put on the show that we documented. And since then it has really spread like wildfire. There's a church in Colorado that trained at Cedar Hills that has sold 500 franchise kits for hell houses. So we know that there's at least 500 of them going on around the country.

ROMANS: And this is some form of evangelism for these churches?

RATLIFF: Yeah, it sure is. They use fear as a weapon to scare kids into Christianity and basically what happens is a group will go through the haunted house or the hell house and they'll see a scene say where a girl dies while having an abortion and demons will drag her off to hell and then the next scene, there will be a Columbine- like shooting where the kids who shoot up other kids shoot themselves and they're dragged off to hell.

ROMANS: SO it's not exactly that old song they know we are Christians by our love?

RATLIFF: That's right. That's right.

CAFFERTY: It is interesting too that we were doing a story on AMERICAN MORNING which is another show here on CNN, about the cancellation of Halloween celebrations in a lot of the nation's public schools being fueled by conservative Christian fundamentalism. I find it ironic that it's not OK for a 6-year-old to dress up as Peter Pan and go do a little trick-or-treating at school but it is OK to take teenagers and put them through the kind of place that you're describing and expose them to the kind of brutality and violence that are indicated in some of these places. How does that equation work?

RATLIFF: They really feel like they're doing the right thing. They feel like they're doing God's work. They feel like they are bringing people into heaven. They feel like they're saving souls. But you know, by doing that they're using fear and this is a -- they totally justify and rationalize the use of fear. They say that fear comes first and the love comes later. You know, there's a long history of doing this. This is very medieval. This has been around for ages. It is just kind of a new thing that's cropped up in America and now the world.

SERWER: Hey, George, let me ask you, is there a backlash amongst say more mainstream Christian groups? I mean are regular churches looking at this and saying hey, this just doesn't make any sense?

RATLIFF: Yeah. There is a backlash. They do not approve of it, a lot of churches don't. But this is the fastest growing element in Christianity and it is not just -- the church we did was Assembly of God which is a type of Pentecostal church. But there are - the Baptists are doing it. Presbyterians do it. There's hell houses cropping up in all sorts of churches. This is not out of the mainstream of America at all. It's a lot more people than you think.

ROMANS: But is it Bible belt south? Is it the northeast? Certainly, I've never heard of it here in New York.

RATLIFF: Well, there is one in New York City. They are in New Jersey. Sure, look around. Type in hell house on the Internet and you'll be surprised how many churches are putting these on.

CAFFERTY: Obviously they must be popular and kids must go to them or they wouldn't exist. What is the attraction in terms of the kids? Do they just want to find something that gets a little adrenalin rush going for whatever reason? Why would they want to go to something like this?

RATLIFF: Kids are different now.

CAFFERTY: Thank you for pointing that out. It's been a long time since I was one.

RATLIFF: If you step back and sort of look at the time we're living in right now, we're in the midst of a revival and it not just in the United States; it's worldwide. And it's not just in Christianity. There is a religious revival going on. To me it is frightening. You know, for them it is very exciting. This is an exciting time for them.

CAFFERTY: Do you know what our director just to me. He said when you were a kid Cafferty, they didn't have Halloween. (CROSSTALK) That's cruel.

RATLIFF: It's pre-middle ages Jack.

ROMANS: Yeah, they were just translating the Bible I think back then. All right. George Ratliff, thank you so much for joining us.

RATLIFF: Thank you.

ROMANS: There's more to come here on IN THE MONEY. Up next, the easy way to tell who's going to be president. Some say it's all down to just one number on Wall Street. We'll tell you about it.

And yelling at the TV just makes the neighbors think you're crazy. Pop us a line instead. The address is inthemoney@cnn.com. Before the break, here's this week's edition of "money and family".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Feel like you're draining your bank account every time you fill up your grocery cart? Here are some tips to get you through the checkout. Promise yourself you'll buy only items that are on your shopping list. If you see something that you want that isn't on that list, write it down and wait until your next trip to decide if you really want it.

Don't buy items that you don't use just because they're on sale. There may be a great sale on cereal but if you don't eat it, you're throwing your money away. Be on the lookout for coupons. You can find them in newspapers and store displays. Also look for stores that double or triple coupons. Using them can save you money on your total bill and shop at warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam's Club. They usually charge a membership fee, but most of them will let you walk around to check out prices and products without one.

Compare prices of items that you normally buy and if there's a significant difference, you might be better off paying the fee and saving money in the long run. I'm Susan Lisovicz for money and family.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAFFERTY: The most important numbers to look at before Election Day may not come from the pollsters, but the traders on Wall Street. Joining us now with that and the fun site of the week is the webmaster, Allen Wastler. So what is this old saw about Wall Street and the elections?

ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: I love flipping through the "Stock Traders Almanac." Let me throw a few numbers at you, OK. If you take the date of the convention, which was the Republican convention in early (INAUDIBLE) to right up to Election Day, all right, do that and take a look at all the elections from 1900. Of the 16 times the incumbent party has won, 14 times the market advanced in that period. That's pretty good. Now, of the 10 times they lost, the market retreated seven of those times.

CAFFERTY: So what is it doing this time?

WASTLER: ... numbers. I did a little checking and we're at about 2.5 percent right now down during that period.

ROMANS: So that does not bode well for the incumbent President Bush.

WASTLER: Doesn't bode well. Now a lot of people say nah, nah, nah. You don't look at that period. You look at October, that's what you got to look at, OK and if the market advances then, good for the incumbent, declines (INAUDIBLE) incumbent. So you need 10,080. That's the magic number and we're finishing right near that right now. So now we're back to dead heat again.

CAFFERTY So the market is not unlike all the polls saying this thing is much too close to call.

WASTLER: Going back and forth and back and forth and then they say, well, you got the fundamentals here and you look at these numbers are pulling for the president. These numbers are pulling for John Kerry. I like to go to the offshore betting sites. That's where I go. I was checking around there, all for work, all for work. Now, one of my favorite ones has Bush ahead by about 51 percent, Kerry at about 48 and change. However they showed the latest contracts trading are showing Kerry coming up on that.

CAFFERTY: There's a winner take all cash pool out I think in Iowa Christine, where you're from.

ROMANS: You're right.

CAFFERTY: ... that accurately has predicted the outcome of this thing as well. The last time I looked at it was a week or so ago, Bush had a small lead.

SERWER: Yeah, but everyone knows the real thing is going to be decided by the Redskins Packer game. If the Redskins win on Sunday, that's going to be good for the incumbent.

WASTLER: I'm a big redskins fan from way back but I don't know, against the Packers. I don't know.

SERWER: Well, it will be interesting to watch. Probably a lot more people are going to be watching that game tomorrow.

WASTLER: I found this site for you, OK. I found this place, you can send an email. I know you love e-mail Jack.

CAFFERTY: I do. It's my favorite (INAUDIBLE)

WASTLER: This is one where you can go and they'll give you pictures and sound files that you can put together to send a message to your friends. We'll show you one of their standard ones. We'll show you right now.

(CROSSTALK)

WASTLER: If you're tricky like me, you can upload your own. It is very easy to do, like Christine. Let's take look.

ROMANS: That's scary.

SERWER: Christine as Hannibal Lecter (ph).

ROMANS: That's creepy. WASTLER: Jack. Yes, yes, yes. We got you, too Jack.

What's going on here? Say something.

CAFFERTY: That's (INAUDIBLE isn't it?

(CROSSTALK)

CAFFERTY: Excellent. That's fun. That's fun and it's not hard to do, even though technologically...

WASTLER: It's not hard to do. Basically, you load up the picture and they'll step you through it. You just aim a few things.

SERWER: I think we have to do the webmaster this week. Nobody did him.

WASTLER: I said it was simple but I don't know about you.

CAFFERTY: Thanks Allen. Coming up next on IN THE MONEY, it's time to hear from you as we read some of your emails from the past week. You can send us an e-mail right now if you're so inclined. We're inthemoney@cnn.com. Back in a flash.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAFFERTY: Time now to read your answers to our question about whether you think this election will be decided at the polls or in the courts. Shirley in Idaho wrote this: we won't know who will be the next president on November 2nd and the courts, not the people, will decide the election. Isn't it sad that as we send our young people to establish democracy in foreign lands, our own country moves further and further away from democracy.

Yuri in New Jersey wrote: The 2000 election fiasco will look a walk in the park, compared to what we'll see on November 3rd and when it's finally over, we'll get lots of promises about election reform and nothing will be done about it in the end.

David in Slidell, Louisiana is a little more optimistic. He wrote this: The people indeed will decide this election and they will prove all the polls wrong. John Kerry will win by a landslide.

Time now for next week's e-mail question of the week which is this: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Send your answers to inthemoney@cnn.com. You should also visit our show page at money.com/inthemoney which is where you'll find the address of our fun site of the week.

Thank you for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY. My thanks to Lou Dobbs correspondent, Christine Romans, Fortune Magazine editor-at-large Andy Serwer and Money.com managing editor Allen Waslter.

Join us next week Saturday at 1:00 Eastern, Sunday at 3:00. Or you can catch Andy and me all week long on American Morning which begins at 7:00 Eastern time. And here's hoping the next time we talk to eachother, we'll know who the president of the United States is. Thanks for being with us.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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