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Awaiting America's Decision

Aired November 4, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the first polls closing in just under one hour.
Our exit poll results, though, they're coming in right now. Stand by. We're about to share some numbers with you.

A long, emotional and historic presidential campaign nears its end at the ballot box. But for either Barack Obama or John McCain, this day marks a new beginning. Americans turning out in what may be record numbers. There are long lines, mechanical breakdowns and in a rainy Virginia, even some damp paper ballots. We're tracking all these voter problems. You're reporting them to us, as well.

And what it means for you -- we've got election day covered from coast to coast, with several special reports and expert analysis. And I'll also speak this hour with former New York City mayor and former presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It's election day in America. And in just an hour, the first polls will be closing in this 2008 presidential election, even as we get the first clues to the outcome of this historic race here in the United States.

The candidates casting their votes early, before heading out for a final flurry of campaigning and then settling in to await America's decision.

From red states to blue states and all those important battleground states, CNN has mobilized its resources across the country. We're waiting for the first exit poll numbers to come in.

But let's go to Jessica Yellin right now. She's in Chicago. She's watching what's going on. There's going to be a huge gathering in Grant Park, where you are in Chicago, tonight -- set the scene, Jessica, for us.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now, 65,000 to (AUDIO GAP) of the general public (AUDIO GAP) opened. There will be (AUDIO GAP) 7,500 (AUDIO GAP) all around the world. Beyond me, in this grassy area (AUDIO GAP) family of Barack Obama's friends, staffers will gather. Of course, we'll be on this stage up here. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice-over): Barack Obama's light schedule today betrayed a measure of confidence -- no crisscrossing the nation to shore up support in must-win states. Instead, he began the day close to home, making voting a family affair.


YELLIN: He later told reporters...

OBAMA: I voted with my daughter. That was a big deal. I noticed Michelle took a long time, though. I had to check to see who she was voting for.

YELLIN: Obama then headed for a quick trip across the border, to neighboring red state, Indiana, which has voted Republican every year since 1968.

OBAMA: I think we can win Indiana. Otherwise, I wouldn't be in Indiana.

YELLIN: Obama aides say more than a million volunteers are reaching voters today -- calling, knocking, driving them to the polls. In Indianapolis, Obama helped out.

OBAMA: I would love to have you. Thank you so much.

YELLIN: Aides tell us they are nervously optimistic. They think high turnout helps them and they're proud so many states are competitive.

DAVID PLOUFFE, OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We have got a lot of states in play for us -- Virginia, Indiana, North Carolina, Florida early in the evening. A lot of states that Democrats traditionally don't compete in, we think we've got a shot to win. So, but we've got a lot of different ways to get to 270 electoral votes.

YELLIN: But many aides were too jittery to spend the day at campaign headquarters, so they headed into the field to get out the vote. They say that's all they have left to do.


YELLIN: Wolf, people have already started gathering outside (AUDIO GAP) anywhere from (AUDIO GAP) could crowd the street (AUDIO GAP) getting (AUDIO GAP).

BLITZER: All right, we're getting the first exit poll numbers coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Let's go to our voter analysis here at the CNN Election Center. Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider are standing by -- Soledad, what's coming up?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this, Wolf, is the voter analysis board. And the exit poll data comes directly into here, into the CNN computers -- real time, raw data, all sorted, constantly updated.

So, as you said, the first information coming in -- Bill Schneider, what are you seeing?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we're seeing what was the top issue on the voters' minds across the whole country.

And here is the answer -- the economy clearly dominated this election. Sixty-two percent of voters said that was the issue on their minds.

Iraq, which, a year ago, you would have thought was going to dominate this election, just like the 2006 mid-term -- only 10 percent said Iraq was their top concern.

Terrorism and health care about the same as Iraq -- 9 percent and 9 percent. The rule in politics -- when the economy is bad, the economy is the issue. And look at this -- the economy is really the issue.

O'BRIEN: So the economy is bad. That's the takeaway.

Now, give us a quick 101 on how the exit polling is going to work tonight.

SCHNEIDER: We have voters all over the country who are interviewing people as they leave the polling place. You have to interview them after they vote. And they're handed a questionnaire.

Now, the voters are selected at random. They have to take every fifth or sixth voter -- no discretion. And they're handed a questionnaire that looks just like this. In fact, this is it. This is a questionnaire. There are several different versions. But it's a form. And they privately look at the form, answer the questions, front and back. It's covered with all kinds of questions like how did you just vote, would you describe yourself as a born-again or Evangelical Christian, issue questions, explaining their vote.

They fill it out. Their name is nowhere on this form. They hand it back. The answers are called in and tabulated in our computer.

O'BRIEN: What do they do for the folks who did early voting or for the folks who live in the State of Oregon, where everybody does mail-in voting?

SCHNEIDER: Well, you can't do an exit poll with those people because they're not exiting any polling place. Those people are telephoned over the weekend, just before election day. They are asked the same set of questions as if they were voting in a polling place, but it's done by telephone -- land line or cell phone, we reach them.

O'BRIEN: Historically, how accurate are these polls?

SCHNEIDER: How accurate?

Usually they're fairly accurate, especially in terms of the motivation of the voters. Sometimes they are, you know, within a couple of points of the actual final vote.

O'BRIEN: So we're going to have, Wolf, real time, raw data, all sorted by computer. We'll be able to dig down very deeply. We're going to really be the place for the why -- why did someone win, why did someone lose, why is it close.

We can answer that for you right here tonight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, guys. We're going to be checking back with you very, very soon. Thank you.

All right. I want to show you some pictures right now. These are long lines. This is coming in from our affiliate in Orlando, Florida -- the affiliate, WKMG. There are three -- we're told there are three hour-long lines voting at the University of Central Florida in Orlando right now.

We're watching these pictures. We're getting incredibly huge numbers of people showing up. And, as a result, many of these polling stations are not ready for them. They've got these long, long lines. But people are waiting patiently, getting ready to vote. We'll continue to watch all of this.

Let's go over to Dana Bash. Right now, she's in Phoenix. That's where John McCain voted today. Set the scene this hour -- Dana. What is the candidate, his family, what are they doing?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're doing something that is quite unusual for John McCain on election day and that is they're actually still campaigning, Wolf. He is actually in some of the neighboring states to Arizona -- the Southwest states of Colorado and New Mexico. And there's a very simple reason for that. Because those two states, plus Nevada, those are three critical states in this area where he is really trailing in the polls.

And I just talked to one of McCain's senior advisers, who was very candid, who said, look, we have to win one of these states -- all of which went for George Bush in 2004 -- if we want to win.

So McCain was in Grand Junction, Colorado earlier today. And he was pleading with his supporters to keep working.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With your help, we're going to take America in a new direction. Get out there and vote. I need your help. Volunteer. Knock on doors. Get your neighbors to the polls. Drag them there if you need to. We're going to bring real change to Washington. And we have to fight for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: And that, obviously, is really the name of the game today, Wolf. It is getting out that vote. The ground game is what is the most critical right now. And McCain aides tell us that they have been doing heavy duty calling and door knocking -- three million on Saturday; about the same on Sunday. Yesterday, a top adviser told me they actually reached about four million people either by door or by phone.

But they also fully admit, Wolf, that they are outspent and they're outnumbered by the Obama campaign on this issue -- on the issue of the ground game. It's not something that Republicans are used to, with regard to this get out the vote operation. But they know that it's going to be very tough on all fronts, particularly on getting out their vote today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And in Senator McCain's speech earlier today, you noticed something unusual, didn't you, Dana?

BASH: That's right. Actually, today and also in the wee hours of last night in Prescott, Arizona. He stopped talking about Barack Obama. You know, yesterday, we heard him all day at stop after stop -- actually for the past several days -- slamming Obama on issue after issue -- on the economy, on national security.

He simply right now is talking about himself, why he should be president. A really different tone from John McCain and, actually, quite an emotional one, Wolf. He actually was certainly trying to be the gritty warrior. But several times that gave way to real emotion and his voice started to crack -- not just because it's hoarse, but because it was emotional -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. People are starting to get sentimental right now all over the country, too, Dana.

BASH: That's right.

BLITZER: Thank you for that.

Let's go back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File."

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: I was touched by Donna Brazile's thoughts on what this meant to her a little earlier.


CAFFERTY: And a lot of people feel that way.

BLITZER: I've been getting a lot of e-mails as a result of that.

CAFFERTY: Oh, yes.

Record turnout expected, voters are lining up in all kinds of weather to pick a president, 35 senators, 435 Congressman and 11 governors.

For some, voting meant waiting in long lines -- sometimes in cold, wet weather. Damp ballots actually to blame for delays in a handful of spots in Virginia and North Carolina.

For others, voting meant delays, dealing with polls that didn't open on time -- what, this day sneak up on those districts? -- or broken or malfunctioning voter machines. Three precincts in Kansas City got the wrong registration books. New ones had to be printed up. That held up things there.

Some got their votes in early, though. Thirty states allow early voting -- casting ballots through the mail or at polling places that open up ahead of election day. One third of all voters estimated took advantage of that. Bgut that process wasn't seamless, either. At least two presidential elections -- the last two -- shrouded in controversy.

In 2000, the Supreme Court, in effect, appointed our president after an agonizing, week-long wait down there in Florida.

In 2004, strong suspicions that some voting machines had been tampered with. And that affected the outcome of that election.

And there are a lot of us that don't trust that these election results tonight are going to be legitimate, either. A lot of suspicions surrounding what is arguably a very badly broken system.

The question this hour is this: How would you change the way we elect our presidents?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

It is ridiculous, the fractured differences that exist state to state, all of the requirements. It's just --

BLITZER: Different rules all over the country.

CAFFERTY: It's nonsense, you know. It needs to be standardized and cleaned up. And we say that every four years and then...

BLITZER: And then they forget about it.

CAFFERTY: And then we have this discussion the next time.



BLITZER: Get ready for the same discussion in 2012.

All right, Jack, thank you.

Sarah Palin anticipating victory.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tomorrow, I hope, I pray, I believe that I'll be able to wake up as vice president-elect and be able to get to work in a transition mode with the president-elect, John McCain. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: She went home to Alaska to vote. And we're going there live to hear what she's saying about history being made.

Also, thousands of voting problems across the country. We've been reporting on them. We go to one state where voting problems include some bad machines and even some soggy ballots.

And the states and the counties to keep your eye on as we start getting voting results right at the top of the hour. John King is standing by with the magic map.


BLITZER: All right. We've got breaking news here in our Political Ticker.

Let's go right back to Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider, their voter analysis here at the CNN Election Center. More numbers are coming in, what voters are thinking and feeling -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes, exactly. All the information coming from our exit poll data that we're getting.

This is the voter analysis board. We're able to get, in real time, all the information. So we've got some new numbers -- Bill, let's talk about some of those key issues.

SCHNEIDER: OK. Let's look at the Iraq issue. I'm going to use this device, which is known as a magic finger. And we're going to go right to the key issues. And Iraq was the second most important issue. Only 10 percent said Iraq was the reason why they voted today -- why they chose their candidate -- 10 percent nationally.

But when I touch Iraq, here it is in all the states we have so far.

O'BRIEN: So explain this funnel shape to me. What are we looking at here?

SCHNEIDER: OK. This funnel shaped like a stack of drawers here tells us they're all blue. You notice that. What that means is in each of these states, this is how voters who were concerned about the war in Iraq voted. And blue means in all of those states, they voted for Barack Obama. But in two states down at the bottom, the people concerned with Iraq voted for John McCain.

Now, we can open these drawers. Let's look at this gold bar, which is the United States as a whole.

How did people who were concerned about the war in Iraq vote in the country as a whole? The answer is 63 percent for Obama, 36 percent for McCain. We now know concern about the Iraq War helped Obama -- gave him a big margin over McCain. And in some states, that margin was even bigger. Let us see Rhode Island. Seventy percent of Iraq voters voted for Barack Obama. But in a couple of these states, like Kentucky, ah, the voters concerned with Iraq gave the edge to John McCain -- 53-44.

O'BRIEN: All right. So we continue to update the information as we get it in real time here. And, of course, as you pointed out, what a difference a year makes. Iraq was polling first just a year ago.


O'BRIEN: Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Soledad and Bill, thank you.

The Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, returned to Alaska, to her town of Wasilla, to cast her ballot today.

Let's go to Alaska. Gary Tuchman is on the scene for us in Anchorage right now. How did it go -- Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, while most of the United States is having a warmer than normal election day, it's actually colder than normal here in Alaska. So it was nine degrees when Sarah Palin arrived 4:45 a.m. Local time, after a flight from Nevada, where she had a rally last night.

She was with her husband Todd. And they came here solely to vote. And like most intrepid Alaskans, she was actually holding a heavier coat. It's amazing how people dress here in the cold weather. They don't dress nearly as warm as people like us do.

But anyway, they got into a car and then they had an hour drive to Wasilla. That's where she grew up. That's where she was mayor. That's where she planned to vote. They got there so early, the polls weren't open yet. So they had some coffee. She then went into the polling place, went behind a curtain and we presume -- a safe presumption -- that she voted for McCain-Palin ticket.

Now, Sarah Palin said to reporters she hopes, prays and believes she will win. But she also left open the possibility that she won't.


PALIN: I do recognize that this is an historical event no matter which ticket, of course, prevails. And there, too, it bodes so well for the progress that our great country is making. And barriers, of course, are being removed and glass ceilings being shattered, again, as the representation on both tickets will show.


TUCHMAN: It was a four hour stay in a snowy Alaska. Then they went back to the airport and boarded the plane. And they're now heading to Phoenix to join John McCain.

Ironically, they flew out of the Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage. Ted Stevens is a senior U.S. Senator from Alaska. He's been there 40 years, also running for re-election today, after being found guilty of seven felony counts last week. Sarah Palin and John McCain both said they wouldn't support him. Sarah Palin was asked today if she voted for Ted Stevens. She said "I don't have to tell anyone who I voted for." -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

He's fighting for his political life, Ted Stevens, in his Senate battle tonight, as well.

Barack Obama's running mate, Senator Joe Biden, voted in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, along with his wife and 90-year-old mom. Biden then made a final campaign stop in the crucial battleground state of Virginia, but says he won't give any predictions.


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's just so -- it's so presumptuous as a candidate, you know, to even let yourself think that you know what the voters are going to do. I know that sounds stupid, but I really mean it.

If you notice, you know, all the things you hear me say, you've never heard me say I believe the American people think or -- I never presume to think or you know what the voters think.


BLITZER: Senator Biden then flew on to Chicago, to watch election results later tonight with Barack Obama.

Former President Bill Clinton waited in line with his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, to vote in Chappaqua, New York. Afterwards, President Clinton talked about what it was like to walk into the booth and not see his wife's name on the ballot.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a little bittersweet. But I'm very -- I'll always look back on this with great pride in what she did and how she did it. And I think the American people saw, both in the campaign and what she did for Senator Obama, which was unprecedented in the annals of modern American politics, what kind of person she is. So I feel great about it.


BLITZER: Senator Clinton was looking ahead.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that the country will be well served. I'm not painting any rosy scenarios. It's going to be very difficult to dig ourselves out of the ditch that the Republicans are going to leave us in. But we'll do it. And I'm very confident about that.


BLITZER: All right. We're getting more exit poll numbers coming in. They're coming in.

Bill Schneider and Soledad O'Brien -- they're crunching the numbers for us. You're going to see them right here. Stand by.

And we'll also get the first official voting returns in less than 40 minutes from now. We should start call -- projecting states once all the polls in a state are closed. That's coming up, as well.

Stay with us. Lots more coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: America's Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, he's here with us in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're going to talk with him shortly.

But I want to go out to Richmond, Virginia right now. Dan Lothian is our man on the scene -- Dan, I understand there have been some problems out in Virginia, a key battleground state.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, a key battleground state. And we did have some problems here, in part because of the weather. We had rain the early part of the day. It continues to rain now in the evening.

And what happened was people were going into some of these polling places and using these optical scan machines. They had wet gear on, umbrellas. Water was getting onto the paper ballots. They were finally able to fix that situation.

In addition, here in Richmond, there was one polling place where five of the seven voting machines were broken. They had to shift over the paper ballots. They were eventually able to bring in some additional machines.

And I can confirm, as well, that a thousand people were in line in Chesapeake, Virginia. We were told that they were simply overwhelmed. They had to bring in additional people to help out there.

But overall, officials are saying that they don't have any major problems here in the state. Now, right now where I am, no long lines behind me. But earlier today, we did have long lines.

And we had a chance to talk to some of the folks who said they're just happy and proud to be taking part in this historic election -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dan Lothian, thanks very much. We'll check back with you. It truly is an historic election day here in the United States. And a former Republican presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani, he's here to talk about it. And he's a major supporter of John McCain, as you know.

We'll also get to our political contributors, James Carville and Bill Bennett. They're standing by live, as well. We'll hear what they think. The best political team on television and more right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's go right back to voter analysis here at the CNN Election Center. Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider are going through more exit poll results. What's coming in -- Soledad?

O'BRIEN: We've got some new exit poll data for you to share at the voter analysis board. The issue of terrorism has always been in the top five, as long as this race has been going on -- so, Bill Schneider, we've got some new information about the terror issue.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. This was Rudy Giuliani's issue, but it wasn't a big issue to voters.

Let's take a look. Across the country, only nine percent of voters told us terrorism was the main issue on their minds. How did they vote?

Look at this. Each of these states is red, which means McCain led Obama in each of these states among voters who said terrorism was their top concern.

Let's look at the country as a whole. Among those voters who said their vote was driven by concern over terrorism, McCain got 86 percent of the vote.

Pennsylvania was a state -- no, it's not up here.

O'BRIEN: Right here?

SCHNEIDER: Oh, there it is -- Pennsylvania. Good. Your finger.

O'BRIEN: There it goes.


Pennsylvania was a state that suffered from the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Those concerned about terrorism voted 88 percent for McCain -- the top issue in '04, but times changed.

O'BRIEN: Will these numbers change?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, they will. During the course of the evening, we're constantly updating this information with new interviews, with new voters. A lot of people are still voting.

O'BRIEN: Early on, early in the night. The polls haven't closed in many places, obviously.

SCHNEIDER: That's right.

O'BRIEN: So we've got a long way to go.

All right, Bill, thanks.


O'BRIEN: Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right guys. Thanks very much.

Joining us now is the former mayor of New York, the former Republican presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani. Terrorism a huge issue, I think we can all agree, thank god it isn't seen as a huge issue right now.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A year ago, year and a half ago, key issue. It reminds me of the wisdom that David Garth taught me when I was running for mayor. He said elections are won by the questions people are asking when they go into the election booth.

BLITZER: The fact that people are not concerned about terrorism indicates to you there hasn't been a major terrorist attack.

GIULIANI: If people were walking into the polling booth thinking terrorism, terrorism, probably no way Barack Obama has a chance of winning. McCain wins. Change the question --

BLITZER: Why is he seen, Barack Obama, as so much better on the economy?

GIULIANI: I think it's generic. Democrat, Republican.


GIULIANI: Almost the same reason why terrorism comes out dramatically or national security the other way. It's just a historical issue.

BLITZER: Republicans have always been so good. Ronald Reagan and others, in saying that Democrats are big spending, tax increases.

GIULIANI: This is probably also the net effect of being in power for all those years, Republican Congresses. Probably the same reason we lost in '06. Republican Party lost some of its credibility on the economy.

BLITZER: Because spending exploded over the eight years of the Bush administration.

GIULIANI: You think economy, you think Republican, you think low taxes, low spending.

BLITZER: Smaller government.

GIULIANI: Smaller government.

BLITZER: Big government is here.

GIULIANI: We've got low taxes but we've got the big government.

BLITZER: Huge government right now. A lot bigger than it was eight years ago. The national debt has doubled over these past eight years.

GIULIANI: Lost part of our branch.

BLITZER: Was that environment, if, in fact, Obama goes on to win, it's still a huge if. We don't know who's going to win right now. If he goes on to win what will you look back at and say was the changing moment?

GIULIANI: If we're going to reestablish the base of the Republican Party, the real base of the Republican Party has to be based on smaller government, less spending, getting control over spending. It doesn't mean no spending. It means disciplined spending. I throughout have thought that the president right now should be talking about a five percent, 10 percent spending decrease in Washington. Just impose it. Mike Bloomberg is doing it in New York to get ready for the deficit he sees coming.

BLITZER: Whoever is elected president tonight is going to have to unite this country and bring this country together. How divided -- you've traveled all over. You've campaigned for John McCain. How divided is the country?


BLITZER: It's an enormous challenge to either Senator McCain or Senator Obama.

GIULIANI: These are patriotic people. They love their country more than they love their party. Sometime tonight after one side or the other is very angry; they're going to realize this is about having a president.

BLITZER: But it's doable to bring this country together?


BLITZER: Give a quick piece of advice to both of these men who they need to do to unite the country.

GIULIANI: I won in a Democratic city twice. I won but 5 to 1 people of the other political party. First thing you do is talk to them and tell them it's not a -- there's no Republican way or Democratic way to govern the country or govern the city. One way to do it. Now I work for all of you. So that's -- I mean, that's all they have to really do. American people love that. That's -- we know how to get over these things. Some of the people in Washington don't know how to get over it. But the people in America know how to get over it.

BLITZER: Do you have any interesting in serving once again in public service if McCain wins or if Obama wins and they said, you know what, he'd be a pretty good attorney general?

GIULIANI: I'm really happen where I am. I'm not looking for a job. I wasn't doing this for John because I was looking for a job.

BLITZER: But it's hard to say no to a president.

GIULIANI: It's almost impossible to say no to a president. I did what I did for the last couple of months because I don't mind saying it, I really love this man. I think John McCain is -- you remember -- I think it was your debate where I said if I wasn't running I'd be supporting John McCain.

BLITZER: I remember that. It was my debate, Yes.

GIULIANI: A couple of my colleagues got very angry at me. What are you supporting him for, why not me? Because I really believe in him. He did something in his life I'm not sure the rest of us are able to do.

BLITZER: No matter what happens tonight, he's very fortunate to have you as a supporter.

GIULIANI: We're very fortunate to have him as a candidate and I hope we have him as a president.

BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani, thanks for coming in.

It's Election Day in America. Our CNN political contributors James Carville and Bill Bennett are standing by live. We're going to talk to them about what's going on.

First, Jeanne Moos has another "Moost Unusual" look at candidate voting.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You think you're alone on your condo balcony and then someone points to the spying press. At least the ballot's secret and finger licking good. But the media took a licking, running this way, running that way, running for the windows, trying to get shots of Senator McCain voting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need you back. We need you back.

MOOS: God bless the wife who knows when not to get out of the candidate's hair.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: All right. Let's go right back to Ali Velshi. He's watching what's going on. Some voting problems. Our voter hotline vote is sort of ringing off the hook isn't it Ali?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As we expected, Wolf. What's happened is people have left work and they are lining up to cast their ballots. We're getting a lot of calls. In fact, the increase in calls now with poll access problems is growing. We have been getting a few calls from Norfolk, Virginia, in Norfolk County, where we're hearing about lines in some precincts in excess of five hours, five to seven hours. I just got off the phone with somebody who said they waited five-plus hours. They saw a lot of people leaving.

I got to tell you again what Donna Brazile said, please if you're in line, do what you've got to do to stick around. Bring a book. Bring a friend. If you're in line before the polls close, you will get to vote in every precinct around the country. They'll block off behind you and then you'll get to vote.

So far, as I've said, we've had 3,000 calls come in the last hour. Please call us if we have problems. We can get on to those. The number is 1-877-GOCNN-'08. We'll get on to those problems and track them down and see if we can solve them for you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Ali. We'll continue to watch this story.

All right. Back to voter analysis. Right now at the CNN Election Center within Soledad O'Brien and Bill Schneider are going through more exit poll numbers. What are we picking up, Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right. Wolf, right to the analysis board. We'll take a look at how new voters are voting. We could also break it down state to state. Break it down by demographics as well. Let's do both right now for new voters, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Let's take a look at the demographic group, new voters. Here are all the groups we can look at the vote by. New voters, here at the bottom, people who have never voted before. Every one of those shelves is blue. That means new voters gave the edge to Barack Obama in each one of these states including this gold bar, this gold shelf. Let's open the shelf. That's the United States as a whole. This says first time voters voted 72 percent for Barack Obama. In all the other states on this list, including Georgia, Louisiana, California, new voters went for Obama.

O'BRIEN: Lots of states missing. Lots of information still to get. Polls are open. People are still voting, obviously.


O'BRIEN: Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Soledad and Bill, thank you. We're going to come back to you as more numbers come in. Let's discuss what's going on with your political contributors, the Democratic strategist James Carville and Bill Bennett, the host of the national radio talk show Morning in America. Thanks very much.

These new voters overwhelmingly, not a surprise, voting for Barack Obama. But is it a surprise?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, it's not a surprise. As you know, October 7th. I think this race has been over for a long time.

BLITZER: You've been predicting that.

CARVILLE: A long time. But it's not -- it's not surprising that they had a very aggressive -- their campaign did a magnificent job. I'm not surprised at this number at all. 72 percent is high.

BLITZER: Is that a surprise to you?

WILLIAM BENNETT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No. I think they did a lot of great grass roots work. The kind of idealism to which they appealed, McCain appeals to a certain idealism, too. The kind of idealism Obama appealed is ready set for young people. It fits with what they learn in schools.

BLITZER: You saw the exit poll numbers in terms of most important issues by far was the economy. Way, way, way down the war in Iraq. The war on terrorism. And everything else. Rudy Giuliani just said, you know what? Democrats are perceived as better on the economy right now than Republicans.

CARVILLE: Yes. Because mainly the Republicans have been in charge and the end party gets blamed for the economy. We generally do better on the economy. Right now we're in pretty serious recession right now. It's not surprising that you would see these numbers. In fact, you would expect them. It's what's causing the Republicans -- going to cause them a ton of grief tonight.

BLITZER: I guess one surprise is maybe McCain might -- given the enormous challenge he faced because of the economy, he's doing better than perhaps some other Republicans might have done.

BENNETT: Given the head winds, I think he's doing very well. I'm holding up for 273 for McCain, by the way.

BLITZER: Still predicting it.

BENNETT: Look to the glass half full for the whole country. The terrorism numbers are low. War in Iraq numbers are low. Part of that is success. We have not been attacked. The main job of the commander in chief is security of citizens. We give a little credit there, a little thanks. It's off the table.

BLITZER: You have to give credit to President Bush and Vice President Cheney, neither of whom has been very visible during the course of the campaign. BENNETT: The rules have to apply. If you're responsible for the economy, which you know obviously in some ways you are, in many ways you're not, how about the defense of the country for which you are actually responsible.

BLITZER: It's true. I think it's fair to say 80 percent or 90 percent of the country thinks the country is moving in the wrong direction right now.

CARVILLE: Again, these were very, very tough head winds. No doubt about it. McCain was sailing into. It's -- it's going to be overcome and indeed this is going to be the big night. A really big night.

BLITZER: You look at these live pictures. Those are aerial shots coming in from Grant Park in Chicago where hundreds of thousands of folks are expected to show up. They're not yet there. But they're expected to show up.

Bill, they're either going to be really, really happy or really, really sad. We don't know what the outcome is going to be. Take a look at this live picture coming in from the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix where John McCain will have his rally tonight, his event after we know who wins and who loses.

BENNETT: That's not a bad place to be no matter what happens. If he gets 273, McCain, I'm up all night.

CARVILLE: I will say this. Grant Park is a great urban area. I think there are going to be a million people there. Going to be pretty remarkable.

BENNETT: It's a great night for democracy.

BLITZER: No matter what happens.

BENNETT: That's right.

BLITZER: And if Obama is elected.

BENNETT: Yes, sir.

BLITZER: You've written brilliant books about American history, several volumes. How significant from your perspective would it be that an African-American will be the president of the United States?

BENNETT: It's hugely significant. I hope it closes a chapter in American history. The great stain. Obviously you don't change American history. The notion that some people say, well, if you're born black in this country there's just things you're limited from doing, this is the biggest job of all. It's a tremendous thing. Think of what you can say to children now. Every child of every race.

BLITZER: You're a son of the south.

CARVILLE: I grew up in the segregated south. I'm 64 years old. Let's be very candid. When I started college there was no African- Americans at LSU. I never thought this would happen in my lifetime. I cannot imagine the emotion on -- on African-Americans, particularly those that are my age that grew up in the segregated south. I think -- I believe this is going to happen. I think this is in many ways a wonderful thing for this country. I thought yesterday when Senator Obama's grandmother died, I thought you were very good on that Mr. Secretary. That tells a lot of children in this country being raised by grandmothers you can achieve a lot. There's a message in Senator Obama's grandmother's death. In everything we look for something. I think that was a real message to kids out there. You were very good on that.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

Don't go away. We're going to spend the next few hours together talking about what's going on. A lot of news.

We're waiting for the first polls to close. They're about to close at the top of the hour in about 14 minutes or so from now. John King is standing by. He's going to show us what to look for on our magic map in some of the key battleground states.


BLITZER: All right. During the course of these final days of the campaign, you've heard a lot about these so-called robocalls, automatic phone calls that are going out. There's a new one that's coming out today warning people about Barack Obama. This put out by the RNC in Florida, especially Cuban Americans are attracted to this one. Listen to this. It is going to be in Spanish, but the England translation is on the screen.

All right. That is as you heard if you speak Spanish not an RNC robocall, but a McCain/Palin robocall and let's go to our man in Florida right now, John Zarrella. John, it's a little late isn't it to start these because that is a powerful robocall if I say so myself.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No question about it, Wolf. That call started to go out within the last hour or so to Cuban- American enclaves in Miami and around Florida. What that will tell you is that Cuban-American voters are staunchly anti-Castro and staunchly Republican and backed them for many years from now, but there are signs of cracks lately and particularly with many of them thinking about starting to vote Democratic this time around. Clearly John McCain needs every one of the Cuban-American voters he can get to get out at the polls at the 11th hour here to get as many of the voters as he can. That is what we are looking at, a last-minute call to get them to the polls.

BLITZER: All right. John, thank you; John Zarrella working the story in Florida.

John King is at the magic map. John, walk us through what will be happening, because in a few moments polls will be closing in a few states. JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, and we're going to try to use our map to give some ideas of places we'll be watching very closely. I showed a few in the last hour and I want to show you two in this hour. I want to start in North Carolina. This is a state where President Bush carried handily four years ago but as you well know, it is in play this time. The key for Republicans there and certainly the key to President Bush in North Carolina and elsewhere was the support of the evangelical voters and we have not talked about as much about them in this election cycle because of all the focus on African-Americans and Latinos but the evangelical vote would be critical to Republicans.

We visited a big evangelical church down here. The pastor down here says he has many congregants who come to him and say they like Obama on the economy and McCain on the social issues. And he says he cannot tell them what to do. But he says listen to the bible.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't start weighing an economic situation versus spiritual or eternal situations. Economics changes, but how god feels about life and marriage never changes, so I tell them, find a candidate whose philosophy lines up most with scripture, pray a lot, and vote your heart.


KING: So evangelical turnout in North Carolina and many other states, Wolf, that is one thing we will be watching tonight. Another thing we will be watching is the impact of race. Barack Obama trying to make history as the first African-American candidate and you remember the congressman Jack Murtha whose district was out here and he felt that many people would vote against Barack Obama because he is black, but in the canvassing areas, the Obama campaign has targeted white working class neighborhoods to try to convince people to vote the economy and don't vote any past prejudices. We talked to the veteran Democratic pollster Keith Hart about this, but he said six months ago it was great, but in the debates, people's prejudices has been reduced simply because of the color of his skin.


REP. JACK MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: It is fascinating. I think that voters have moved to a comfort level and many people who feel they cannot vote for an African-American candidate are looking for the economic situation and looking for hope. They look to Barack Obama and say, that is a potentiality, and that is the future. I cannot vote to reinforce the past. So I think that many of the racial problems have diminished. It has not disappeared, but it is diminished.

KING: The impact of race on the election is one thing and another thing we will look at in the key battleground states is Pennsylvania that we have visited 31 states over the past few years and we will watch many of them as the results come in.

BLITZER: It is getting exciting out there. All right. Thank you, John.

Just ahead, we're going to go back live to the candidates the presidential candidates Barack Obama in Chicago, John McCain in Phoenix. We are awaiting the first poll closings in a few moments and in our political ticker, Jeanne Moos has a most unusual look at the candidate's voting.


MOOS: Joe Biden arrived holding his mom's hands and then voted behind blue curtains while Sarah Palin voted behind red, white and blue curtains. Biden exited and kissed his wife. While Palin exited to snow and the sights of her own breath in 18-degree Wasilla, Alaska, saying she prays and believes --

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will wake up as vice president-elect.

MOOS: She got lots of warm furry hugs.

PALIN: Forever I am going to be Sarah from Alaska.

MOOS: Even Santa was there. Talk about a red state.

Jeanne Moos, New York.


BLITZER: Check back with Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is how would you change the way we elect our president.

BLITZER: Jack, Jack, your microphone is turned off, so maybe you should turn it back on.

CAFFERTY: I will. My apologies.

BLITZER: OK. Can you hear him now?

CAFFERTY: The question is: How should we change the way elect our presidents?

Sarah writes: "There are many things that need fixing, the campaign financing, the useless debates, the length of the campaign, the day we vote, and the Electoral College and the list is on and on. The most important thing to fix is the shambles at the polling stations. Every other major democracy in the world has a uniform system for voting and the capacity to get the voters through the polls, and why the hell can't we?"

Susan from Illinois: "Voting should be on the weekend using an electronic scan for quick counting and a paper receipt for the recounts." Matt in Illinois: "Shorten the campaign period, federally finance the campaign with private or corporate contributions so that everyone has the same war chest and have real debates about the issues rather than fluffy platitudes."

Holly writes: "I can bank online, I can day trade online, file my taxes online, shop on line, all securely, but people have to wait hours in line to cast ballots in a federal election. Give me a break. If we cannot get the act together and set up a secure and functional ballot system four years after the last election fiasco, I have no faith we can turn our economy around."

Jim in my hometown of Reno says: "What bothers me most about our elections negative campaigning, the lies, distortions and just plain filth. I don't know how to purge our elections of this muck and keep the political discourse on the high and dignified plane, but that is the change I would most like to see."

And Paul in South Carolina says: "I want to see a return to dueling and no more recounts."

If you didn't see your email here, you can go to my blog at Look for yours there among hundreds of others.

Dueling - it's a concept.

BLITZER: Yes, not a good one. All right Jack, thanks very much.