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JOHN KING, USA

Wisconsin Votes in Recall Election; Interview With Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley

Aired June 5, 2012 - 18:00   ET

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


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm John King.

Tonight, we're down to the final hours of voting in Wisconsin's recall election and our early exit polls show what today's voters think, not only of the governor's race, but also the race between Mitt Romney and President Obama.

Barely a day after helping President Obama raise millions for his reelection campaign, well, Bill Clinton goes rogue, saying the United States is already in another recession, and he's calling for an extension of the Bush tax cuts.

And this hour, get this, your last chance in your lifetime to watch as the planet Venus crosses the face of the sun. It isn't safe to look directly at that it, but stay right here. We have the best pictures.

We begin this evening in Wisconsin, where voters have three more hours to cast ballots in an effort to recall their Republican governor, Scott Walker, and replace him with the Democratic Milwaukee mayor, Tom Barrett. It's a race dominated by Governor Walker's efforts to curtail union rights and benefits, as he grapples with a state budget crisis.

But both parties also see it as a potential weather vane for November's presidential election.

Let's take a look at some of the exit polls. They are fascinating to begin with, number one. Number two, they show a very close race. They also how just polarized and partisan the electorate is. Look at this out here. We just mentioned Governor Walker's efforts to limit collective bargaining rights.

That's a defining issue. Strongly disapprove of those efforts, 38 percent of those voting today say they strongly disapprove. But let's come to the other end; 37 percent strongly approve. That tells you why we think this is going to be a very close race as we go through, the others in the middle there. That's the defining issue in the race.

Look at the electorate, again today another close divide. It tells us we're going to have a close race; 35 percent of those voting today are Democrats, 33 percent are Republicans. We get that to highlight, 32 percent of the electorate today independents, so a very closely breakdown in the election as well. Let's take a look at some of the results by income. You also see a diverse electorate by income. Here's your classic middle-class voter, $50,000 to $75,000. That's 25 percent of the electorate today. And let's break it out and look, 50 percent for the incumbent, 49 percent for the Democratic challenger among the middle-class voters essentially in the early waves of exit polls, a dead heat, again telling us we're likely to have a very, very close election.

Let's also look at this. This is a recall election. People are clearly fed up with the polarization in their state; 50 percent have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party; 47 percent say favorable. You might think that benefits the Democrats. Not so much; 50 percent, the exact same number, have an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party; 47 percent have a favorable view.

So, now let's get right out to the ground there, as three more hours to vote.

Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, she is at Governor Walker's headquarters.

Dana, a few hours left to vote, what is the mood on the incumbent side in this huge recall?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On the incumbent side, I just got off the phone with an official here in Wisconsin who said that they are cautiously optimistic.

But I can tell you that there are a lot of nerves in that cautious optimism, because we're hearing from the Republican side and the Democratic side and state officials that turnout across the state is incredibly high. And when it comes to Governor Walker, they are happy about the fact that it is high in some of the places that they really need the voter turnout to be up, for example, where I am right now in Waukesha.

I talked to somebody who anecdotally said that it is off the charts in some of the precincts. And also you mentioned the whole money and income issue. In some of the wealthier areas, like Oconomowoc, we're also hearing that turnout is up. So that is making Republicans certainly happy, but they are really not betting anything, because they also know that on the Democratic side, turnout is up in some of their key areas, John.

KING: You can bet that. I talked to a Republican not that long ago who said, we're done biting our fingernails, we're on to our toenails now because of the turnout operation.

I want to talk about the money being spent here, Dana, unprecedented amounts of money, tens and tens of millions of dollars. As I do so, I just want to show our voters this. Was the money well spent? Well, look at this. Only 3 percent of the voters today, Dana, say they decided today. Only 4 percent said they decided today in the last few days, so you have had millions and millions of dollars spent on television ads. Look at this -- 88 percent of the people who voted today say they decided before May. So, Dana, whether or not that money was well spent or not, there's a ton of it, right?

BASH: There is a ton of it.

And I got to tell you that coming into this state talking to people on both sides, they knew from their internal polling especially that it is very small, it was a very small number of undecided voters, but that did not stop them from raising already about total $63.5 million. We could expect at the end of the day $80 million.

But I want to you look at the gulf of money raised between these two candidates, Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, the Democratic candidate, $4 million. Scott Walker outspent him by 7.5 times, $30.5 million, and it's not just that. The money that Walker has gotten, it just gives you an indication of how nationalized this race has become.

And 70 percent of it has come in the last month from outside of this state, John, and I just want to you look at these huge numbers because you have really to see them to believe them. He got enormous checks from people like Bob Perry, who is a well-known Republican fund-raiser, half a million dollars, $250,000 from a couple of others, and the list goes on.

It just -- again, you just have to see it to believe it to know how mind-blowing these dollars are that have come in for this recall state -- election in this state.

KING: And how much Republican donors view it as a big national contest. Dana Bash on the scene for us at Walker headquarters, she will be with us throughout the night. Dana, thank you.

Let's go to CNN's Ted Rowlands now. He's at the Wisconsin Statehouse in Madison.

And, Ted, as I bring you into the conversation, I just want to show some things. This will make the Democratic side happy. Is someone in your household a union member? Thirty-two percent of the voters today say yes. That's up a bit from 2010, when the Republican won.

So this number should make the Democrats a little happy. Here's one to counterbalance a little in voting by age, 63 and older, generally a more reliable Republican constituency, also up a bit. So, Ted, it looks like both sides are getting out their vote. What is the view of Mayor Barrett's team?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I just talked to Jim Dean from Democracy of America, John, and he also is cautiously optimistic, so a lot of people cautiously optimistic.

And the reason is because of those voter turnout numbers that they're getting from their people on the ground here. One thing in particular they're very pleased with, apparently, they claim they're getting reports that more ballots were needed in a North Milwaukee area where they are very strong. They're looking at that as a very positive indication.

But I think everybody's biting both the fingernails and the toenails on both sides with three hours left to go here.

KING: CNN's Ted Rowlands at the Democratic headquarters, we will keep in touch with Ted throughout the evening as well. Again, it's a massive recall. Thanks, Ted.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: The Wisconsin voting is being watched for its potential national implications and by governors of both parties who want to see whether voters reward or punish Governor Walker for the bruising battles of his first two years. Among them, Martin O'Malley. He's Maryland's governor and head of the Democratic Governors' Association.

Governor, thanks for being with us. What is your sense, as you're watching this voting, you were out campaigning for the Democratic candidate, Mayor Barrett. What will the message be?

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: Well, I think that the message that Tom Barrett's been taking across Wisconsin is that, look, we have to stop fighting one another; we have to start fighting for jobs and for opportunities. This sort of ideological effort to roll back workers' rights, roll back women's rights, roll back voting rights, none of those things create jobs.

And as a result, Wisconsin's been 50th out of 50 states in the rate of job creation. So I think that is the main thrust and the main message here, and it will be very interesting to see. You know, if Mayor Barrett pulls this off, this will one of the biggest upsets in modern American history. He's been outspent 7-1, and yet the race is coming down to the wire.

KING: And if he doesn't pull it off, what's the message then, and will labor unions and other governors quake at that?

O'MALLEY: I don't know that they'll be any quaking. I do think that there is a recognition that this is an important race. He has been outspent 7-1, notwithstanding the fact that the Democratic governors have been there, notwithstanding a tremendous grassroots organization on the ground. It is still -- it is still a colossal force that our candidate has been going up against.

So it'll be very interesting to see how you all handicap this as we roll out of here. But every race is important to us. We'd love to see Wisconsin join the ranks of those states that have effective leadership instead of ideological leadership and that has Wisconsin creating jobs and expanding opportunity again.

KING: And you make the case for how important it is, and yet the leader of your party, the President of the United States, has been , in the view of many Democrats I've spoken to out in Wisconsin, MIA. Yes, he did send out a tweet. Yes, he did send out an e-mail this morning to his list in Wisconsin. But the president didn't go to Wisconsin and campaign. If you talk to some Democrats out there, Governor, they say he's risk averse. Some say that he's selfish.

O'MALLEY: Oh, I don't -- I wouldn't agree with that. Look, what -- it's a tricky thing here. Governors in -- I mean, the people of every state select their own governor. And I think the appearance of the president as the potential to nationalize a race that, quite frankly, should be about whether or not the people of Wisconsin are creating jobs and expanding opportunity again.

So the chair of the DNC was there. The grassroots organization is certainly on the ground. The president and all of his people are supportive of that.

KING: Whether the president goes out there or not, whether the president nationalizes it, only the voters of Wisconsin can vote in the election. What's the fear of nationalizing it, if that's the term you want to use, if the president's going out there? Are you afraid if he went out there that it would, what, motivate Republicans and it might hurt your chances?

O'MALLEY: No, I don't determine the schedule and I don't determine that sort of strategy. I can tell you this, that the grassroots effort that's going on in Wisconsin is no doubt every person that's working for Mayor Barrett knows that President Obama would like to see Wisconsin effectively led by an effective Democratic governor.

KING: The state hasn't voted Republican for president since Ronald Reagan's 49-1 sweep. Do you think it will matter in that regard?

O'MALLEY: Yes, I'm not sure. You know, every race is different. I believe that President Obama will carry Wisconsin in the fall. You see auto manufacturing being turned around. You see that our nation, instead of losing jobs every month has had 27 months of positive job creation. So there's ups and downs ahead of us.

But overall, I believe that the president's going to carry Wisconsin. What this means in terms of a bellwether for the presidential, I'm not sure. I do know that a lot of people will be watching this in terms of his new rules that allow unlimited out-of- state, big-time billionaire money to come in and put points and commercials underneath facts that, in the last week, are sometimes made up false and dubious.

KING: Governor O'Malley, I appreciate your time tonight. We'll watch the results and we'll touch base in the days ahead.

O'MALLEY: John, thanks a lot.

KING: Thank you, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: Next: Bill Clinton goes off-message, way off-message. Stay with us -- his latest comments sure to raise hackles at the Obama reelection campaign.

Plus, the little dot on the face of the sun, that is the Earth- sized planet Venus. And you're looking right now at fascinating live pictures. Stand by. We have got even more spectacular views.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Covering Bill Clinton is a bit like riding a roller coaster. Remember, just the other day, he said Mitt Romney had a sterling business career. That didn't sit well with the Obama campaign.

Then, last night, though, he said electing Romney would be a calamity for the U.S. economy. Well, team Obama liked that. But here we go again and here he goes again.

President Obama makes the case as he travels things are tough, but the economy is in recovery. Not so, says former President Clinton.

He told CNBC today, among other things, the United States is in another recession. That's his word, a recession. And, get this, also-off message, he's calling for a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And what I think we need to do is to find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, to be clear, the former president went on to say, "I don't have any problem with extending all of it now," that's refers to the Bush tax cuts, "including the current spending levels."

But he said: "The real issue is not whether they should be extended for another few months. The real issue is whether the price the Republican House will put on that extension is the permanent extension of the tax cuts, which I think is an error."

Still, it's a bit off-message from what the Obama campaign is saying right now.

Our senior political analyst and former adviser to four different U.S. presidents, David Gergen, with me now.

I covered him for a long time. It is like a roller coaster. Obama says we're in a recovery, tough recovery, but a recovery. Bill Clinton says, we're in a recession. Helpful?

(LAUGHTER) DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Helpful to the press. He is a bit like covering Teddy Roosevelt after he left office.

Listen, he rattled the cages today, but give him credit. He told the truth. And people in Washington are not often doing that right now. Most Americans...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: But the people in Chicago probably don't appreciate that.

GERGEN: Well, that's probably right, but most Americans think we're in a recession. But very, very importantly, Bill Clinton, even as he took on the Republicans -- and you pointed out he did say the Republicans were wrong about trying to make permanent tax cuts and they're wrong about going to austerity, but we should look at and he would favor extending all the tax cuts, all of the Bush tax cuts and the Obama tax cuts for a few months into next year to help the recovery.

There are a lot of Americans who believe that, and more importantly, John, too many people in Washington have refused to face what's going to come after this election. And he's helping to get -- ignite a debate, which we need...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: To ignite a very important debate for the country, which does have, as he says, the potential of a fiscal cliff.

However, there's one very important person, the incumbent president of the United States, who says the Bush tax cuts should expire, wealthy Americans should pay more, whether it's the Buffett rule or some other way. What Bill Clinton says we should do, as long as you can get the right price from the House Republicans, is directly contrary to that.

GERGEN: Absolutely. He's saying, we don't decouple now. It's the wrong thing to do.

This -- remember, though, this is what President Obama himself did a year ago. He extended all the tax cuts for a full year.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: And his base didn't like it.

GERGEN: His base didn't like it, but this could give the president some cover.

I have to tell you this. Bill Clinton tells the truth, but he's also the best spokesman for Obama on many issues. Last night, he gave a very, very strong endorsement of the president. I have talked to people who were there at that fund-raiser. They said he -- Bill Clinton did a better job of framing the choice for Obama in the fall than did Obama himself.

KING: Well, obviously, how he made himself in national politics, on this economic argument in 1992, but you mention he could be giving the president some cover.

GERGEN: Right.

KING: The president from a policy perspective may feel no choice. If the economy stays so sluggish, if the contagion from Europe stays where it is right now, he may feel no choice, but stimulate, don't raise taxes.

However, can he do that? Can the president in the United States in a 50/50 presidential election, where turnout of the base will be critical in the big battlegrounds, go back to his liberal base now and say, never mind again? Twice, twice he's angered them by extending the Bush tax cuts. Can he do it again?

GERGEN: Well, I think what he can do is, I think he can go back to his base and say, look, it's too early to make these calls, and we will decide this after the election.

KING: It's their deciding issue in the election. How can he say that?

GERGEN: But -- well, he can be very, very clear, as Bill Clinton was, he does not want to extend all the tax cuts permanently and he does not want to have an austerity program next year. It will shrink the economy and it could throw us into a recession.

But I think Bill Clinton has given him a way out to deal with this period, and it can start this debate. I mean, one of the things that's happening, John, if you talk to business guys here in New York, you will find that they will tell you, the fact that nobody what is going to happen at the end of the year is now dampening investment and it's dampening job creation.

If the Congress and the president would get going and say let's extend these tax cuts for three months, that would help the climate, if they were to pass that right now.

KING: Yes. But if the president -- to pass that right now would require the president to completely rewrite what he's telling the American people is the defining economic challenge in the election.

GERGEN: But what his most important responsibility? It's as president and to govern well, not...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Well, you just framed the choice, governing or politics.

GERGEN: Yes. Right.

KING: We will see how that one goes.

David, appreciate your time tonight.

Michelle Obama has a new convert to her fight to help people eat better. Next, the Walt Disney company swears off junk food ads that target children. We will see how that one plays out.

Plus, Queen Elizabeth's heartfelt thank-you after four days of spectacular celebration of her diamond jubilee.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

(NEWS BREAK)

KING: Still ahead: more on today's exit poll results in the Wisconsin recall and what the voters' mood in that state means for President Obama and Mitt Romney.

And we're getting more pictures as the planet Venus -- this is fascinating -- makes its way across the sun's face.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: This half-hour, the nation's eyes are on Wisconsin tonight. Two pivotal questions: Can Republican Governor Scott Walker survive a recall attempt and, if he does, what does it mean for Mitt Romney come November?

And, today, Venus passes between Earth and the sun. Not safe to stare straight at it. Please don't do that. But stay tuned. We have got the fascinating pictures right here, and it won't happen again for more than 100 years.

Plus, hear Queen Elizabeth's heartfelt message to the British people, capping off a stunning celebration to mark her 60-year reign.

We're two-and-a-half-hours now from the poll closings in Wisconsin. Democrats want Republican Governor Scott Walker out, and put his Democratic challenger, the Milwaukee mayor, Tom Barrett, in. But this is bigger than just one state and this recall election.

It's a fight rooted in collective bargaining and tight budgets. It could also be a preview of the presidential race.

We want to show you some of the early exit polls. We need to be careful here, but we do know they tell us we're going to have a very close race tonight. And if you try to look at the election today and what people think about November, what you see is a very polarized electorate.

People are grumpy with politics. Look at this -- 50 percent of Wisconsin voters today have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party, only 47 percent favorable. Right? So you think, OK, they're more mad at the Republicans. Well, not really. They're mad at everybody. Look at this -- 50 percent, the same exact numbers, unfavorable opinion of the Democratic Party, 47 percent favorable. So you have a grumpy electorate here. The question is, will they still be grumpy come November?

Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

And, Jess, as the Obama team watches this, the president did tweet this: "I'm standing by Tom Barrett. He'd make an excellent governor," but he didn't go there -- "an outstanding governor." I'm sorry.

He didn't go there, Jess, keeping his distance. Why?

YELLIN: Well, look, John, a visit by the president nationalizes the race more than it is, and they are downsides on both ends.

For Barrett, a visit by the president right now has the potential to turn off voters who might have sided with him but might not like the president.

For the president at this point, if Barrett is not going to win, why show up and back the guy who is not going to win? Bottom line.

Look, in the end the president's campaign says the Democrats have backed Barrett with $1.4 million, going into the state. They've sent supporters. They've shown up and shown support in other ways.

And Barrett himself has said he doesn't feel upset or ignored by the president, but this is a very clear case of distance being the smarter choice politically for both men.

KING: The smarter choice they think. Anyway, we'll see. It was a blowout four years ago. The president easily won, then Senator Obama easily won Wisconsin. What do they think this environment will mean if Walker keeps his job?

YELLIN: Well, look, the president won that state handily. And the last time a Republican won in a presidential year was 1984 with Ronald Reagan.

And the issues there, Republicans insists, make it a much friendlier environment for Republican politics in November, because debt and the rule of government are the major issues. Those are also national issues.

But I point out that -- and this is what the Democrats are saying, the president's team. Governors are doing better there in terms of Republicans. Republicans have a better track record running for the state house than they do for president.

And it's the spending, the spending they point to, that Walker outspent in the end Barrett over seven times. And they believe that there will be a more even playing field come November in terms of Democrat and Republican spending in Wisconsin, so the Democrats have a better shot at winning there in November. And Democrats sure plan to compete hard and try to win in Wisconsin, John. They have to, to get the presidency.

KING: One of the big Midwest battlegrounds hasn't voted Republican for president since 1948. Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin. Jess, thanks. Jessica will be with us throughout the night, as well, as we watch Wisconsin. Two and a half hours until the polls close.

Let's shift. This is fascinating. Look at this. No, this isn't politics, but this is a picture you won't see again for 105 years. What you're looking at there, that's Venus, the second planet in the solar system coming between the Earth and the Sun.

Astronomers and space enthusiasts are gathered with their telescopes to get a glimpse, the last opportunity to see the planet Venus transit across the sun in our lifetime.

Dr. Charles Liu was with us before. He's a professor of astrophysics at the City University of New York. He's with me live now.

OK, I love looking at these pictures.

DR. CHARLES LIU, PROFESSOR OF ASTROPHYSICS: Me, too.

KING: Fascinating to watch. What's the significance?

LIU: Well, there are a couple of significant things going on here. First of all, it was this kind of transit that allowed humans to figure out the distance between the Earth and the sun more than a century ago. It also helped us figure out that there's an atmosphere around Venus, which is something we're using to study global warming here on Earth today.

And we can translate it out to the 21st Century. These transits are precisely the kind of techniques that astronomers are using in order to find planets orbiting other solar systems, other stars. So far, this transit method is being used by the Kepler satellite to stare at more than 100,000 stars in the sky, hour after hour, week after week. And we found, we think, up to 2,000 planets outside our solar system using this method.

KING: Two thousand planets outside our solar system. Explain the safety issues.

LIU: Well, here's the basic point. If you stare at the sun right now, you will hurt your eyes, just like any other time you stare at the sun.

But if you have something like this, which is welder's glass, this gives you the opportunity. You just hold it up to your face like this and stare at the sun. You won't be able to see anything else, but you will be able to see the sun. You'll be able to see Venus going across kind of like a chocolate chip across a cookie. There are also other kinds of techniques that you can protect your eyes with. For example, if you have a filter or there are these eclipse glasses of aluminized Mylar. Again, little paper things that you can carry across your eyes.

KING: Now, welding supply stores across America getting phone calls right now; hardware stores are getting flooded with requests.

In terms of our technology here on Earth, this doesn't happen again, won't happen again for 100 years.

LIU: That's right.

KING: How now as, we watch it now, what more can we learn than from the last time we watched this happen, which was eight years ago?

LIU: That's right. Eight years ago this week in 2004, around sunrise is when it was happening here in this area of the world. And now of course, it's happening around sunset.

But what we can learn are really trying to use the techniques to see how we can translate them to study galaxies. Well, not galaxies specifically but say planets around other solar systems or other stars, as I mentioned earlier.

Every time we have one of these in our solar system to compare, we know a little bit better how to use it when we translate it elsewhere in our studies.

KING: How do you do this personally between, well, I need to learn, I need to take notes, and just saying, "Wow, this is cool"?

LIU: It's not hard. I mean, we love what we do, we astronomers, or everybody else. My colleagues at my home campus at the College of Staten Island, they're by the observatory right. There's a line of people hoping that the sun will come out for a moment. My kids, my family, they're out there looking, as well.

There's nothing that says that we can't love it and study it at the same time. In fact, it makes the loving it even better when we can study it, understand it just a little bit more.

KING: I'm sorry to take you away from it for a few minutes. I'll let you get back to viewing and appreciate your help and your insights. I'm sure everybody watching knows Dr. Liu. Thanks so much.

LIU: My pleasure.

KING: I'll have you back in 105 years when it happens again.

LIU: It's a date.

KING: When we come back the "Truth" about the Wisconsin recall election. What are we learning about the grumpy mood of the voters, the fate of the governor and what it might mean come November?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A little less than two and a half hours before the polls close in Wisconsin. It's a recall election, voters deciding whether to keep their Republican governor, Scott Walker, or to replace him in midstream with the Democratic mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett. It's a rematch of the race in 2010. Governor Walker won that election, obviously.

As the recall plays out we can tell you this: we're already brewing the coffee. We've looked at our early exit polls. They tell us we have a very close race on the ground, and we'll be counting the votes, we think, late into the night. That's the one "Truth" we do know.

Let's explore some of those data now in the exit polls. Erick Erickson is with us. He's the editor-in-chief, of course, of the conservative blog RedState.com and a CNN contributor; Cornell Belcher, the Democratic pollster for the Obama 2012 campaign. And Ron Brownstein, our senior political analyst and editorial director for "The National Journal."

Gentlemen, I want to start with this one. This all started because Democrats got mad, labor unions got mad at Governor Walker's efforts to restrict collective bargaining rights. So you watch, who is voting today and what do they think on the issue? Well, let's look at this.

Thirty-seven percent strongly approve of limiting collective bargaining rights, 37 percent of the electorate. Let's come over to the other extreme -- excuse me, my friend -- 38 percent.

So Mr. Belcher, let me start with you, as someone who analyzes data. That tells me we're in for a long night. Does it tell you anything different?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER/CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, that's absolutely right. It's tight. I mean, it looks like both sides. And you always say it comes down to turnout. But this is one where it's such a toss-up race that -- that turnout on the ground efforts really will make the decision.

If labor and the progressives get their vote out, especially -- especially in the cities, we're in for a long night. But we could see this, you know, one point, less than one point, given the early exits.

KING: And Erick, this has been a polarizing debate in Wisconsin but has spilled out across the country. Other governors perhaps not as confrontational, but other governors have to deal with the issues when you see this electorate that has lived this issue for the past two years so evenly divided on this question: 13 percent somewhat, 10 percent somewhat disapprove. You see the small middle there. What does it tell you?

ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR, REDSTATE.COM/CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think it tells me that governors do have to be careful how they proceed but also that maybe I think a whole lot of governors, Democrat and Republican alike, are going to thinking about some of these recall laws. Wisconsin has some of the looser recall laws in the country.

But, you know, take John Kasich, for example, in Ohio the way he tried to do it didn't go over as well with voters in Ohio for the Republicans as what Scott Walker has already done.

Remember, there have been a number of recalls so far in Wisconsin, and they haven't turned out very well for the side wanting the recalls. In Ohio, though, John Kasich's kind of blew up in his face.

KING: And Ron Brownstein, it's the oldest cliche in politics: it all depends on turnout on election day. Well, guess what? That cliche happens to be true when you get a close election.

So let's look at some of this: 65 and older, older voters, they tend to be more Republican. Twenty-three percent of the electorate today, 65 and older, that is up from the 2010 gubernatorial election. Walker won then. So you would think that bodes well for his side now.

But I just want to flip over to one more. "Are you or anyone in your household a union member?" Of course, that's a defining issue, labor rights. Yes at 32 percent. That's also up from 2010.

So if you look at these numbers, and I can't dig deeper because we don't want to give away anything in the early waves of the exit polls. But it seems like both sides have done what they promised to do, which was turn out their vote.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It sounds like it. The union vote last time was 26 percent, and Barrett won 63 percent of those voters. If that is going to go all the way up to 32, presumably that 63, I think, will be a little higher this time. You know, that moves him much more in range.

But the bottom line here is you have a state that has been divided almost exactly in half, that has faced the political equivalent of civil war for two years. And I still think the core question here is did all this have to be? Was there a path not taken?

There were other states that got significant concessions from public employees without precipitating the kind of full-scale political conflict, all-consuming political conflict that we've seen in Wisconsin for the past two years.

KING: Cornell Belcher, you've been on this question. I've talked to a lot of Democrats out there in private. Mayor Barrett has been a good soldier. He has said it would be a distraction if President Obama came out, that it would nationalize the election. Only people in Wisconsin can vote in this election, so I'm not sure what the difference would be if you nationalized it.

Why not go? If this is the defining challenge for your party right now, if this is the biggest election between now and November, why doesn't the leader of the party, the president of the United States, especially if turnout matters so much, African-American voters in Milwaukee and Madison, for example, why not? BELCHER: Well, a couple things. One full disclosure. Mayor Mahlon Mitchell, who's running for lieutenant governor, is actually a client of mine, so full disclosure, I do have a horse in that race.

The -- one thing, it's not the biggest thing. The president's fairly busy going around the country to battleground states, you know, making -- making his hard pitch right now.

Wisconsin is -- Wisconsin is a battleground state, but quite frankly, I mean, we won Wisconsin by 13, 14 points last time around. I know a lot of people are trying to make this a bellwether of what's going to happen in November, but let me be clear: that's nonsense. What happens in a special recall election, where the incumbent can outspend the challenger by 8:1 right now has absolutely no bearing on what's going to happen in November with a presidential style election. I think that spin is just completely wrong.

KING: Erick, you agree with that?

ERICKSON: You know what? I do. The funny thing is, I always hear when the elections are going the way of the Democrats in these specials that, oh, it has great meaning or the same with the Republicans. I don't think special elections ever really have meaning. If so, the Democrats would have won in 2010, given how all the special elections and Republican seats went for the Democrats.

The issue here, though, John, is this is a testing ground for Republican technology that they didn't have in 2010. They've got a live test this time to be able to tweak their turnout models for November, which helps them. But I don't think it's necessarily crucial to this election.

BROWNSTEIN: There is a "but," though, right? John, I think, as we talked about it, I mean, I think people will be watching to see if the key voting blocs in Wisconsin that moved away from the Democrats from '08 to 2010, stay away.

And you mentioned older voters. There's also a really calamitous decline among blue-collar, non-college white voters in Democrats' experience in Wisconsin, from Obama's, I think, 52 percent in '08 to only 40 percent for Barrett in '10. If that number stays down in that range for Barrett, even with all this union strength, I think that is a warning sign, especially given how poorly Obama is showing in both national and swing-state polls among those voters today.

BELCHER: Well, let me jump in. It's OK. Pivot off one thing Erick said. What is the testing ground is not necessarily Republican technology but the money.

I mean, you've got big money. You've got really rich people writing really huge checks. A lot of this money is coming from outside groups having absolutely nothing to do with the voters and the voice of Wisconsin voters. What this is, a testing ground, is to see how influential really rich people can have in our system.

ERICKSON: Oh, the rich people are giving to the Democratic cause a lot, as well.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: It's seven -- 7:1 right now Republican advantage, based on what we know so far. We'll watch and see if the late reports come in. We'll see if that advantage changes.

Here's my question. You brought up the big money. Here's my -- whether you're a Democrat, whether you're a Republican, whether you're somebody who felt like writing a big check. Are you going to write another one after you see exit poll data like this?

Remember, $70 million, maybe it will be $80 million in the end, a lot of that money coming in, in the final few weeks. Three percent of the voters said they decided today. Four percent said they decided in the last few days. Five percent said they decided in May. So there's your 12 percent. OK? Twelve percent.

Eighty-eight percent, nearly nine in ten voters, said they decided before May.

Erick, to you first. Does anybody who wrote a big check now, later on, going to send a big check here, send a big check there? Are they going to think, "Wait a minute"?

ERICKSON: Yes, I think they will largely, because look at what's happening. Eighty-eight percent of people made up their mind a long time ago. But it's going to be a neck-and-neck race. It's come down to turnout models and getting people out.

And frankly, I think the Republicans might have overplayed their hand a little bit by saying in the past week, "Oh, it's in the bag. Don't worry about it. Walker is going to win. The polls have him over 50 percent." That breeds a lot of overconfidence. Democrats fall prey to this, as well, sometimes, and it may hurt the Republicans a little bit tonight.

KING: Ron, are those big donors going to say -- you know, are all these ads worth it? Are people being swayed? Or is this such a polarized electorate, a polarized issue that it's not really a good test case of whether you can move people?

BROWNSTEIN: No, I think -- I think, look, it's the paradox of our modern polarized era. You do have somewhere between 88 percent and 92 percent of the electorate, both in many states and certainly nationally, that is locked down long before they see a single ad.

But even though you have a small percentage that's left, if the country and the state is divided almost 50/50, that marginal voter matters enormously. So in a strange way, it creates more demand for more effort, even though usually those last few percentage points of voters are the ones that are hardest to reach, that are paying the least attention.

So the paradox is the more polarized we are, the more voters that are locked in, the more valuable moving those last few percentage points could be if you've got a closely divided country, as all signs are that we are heading toward in November.

KING: Switch maps. I want to show people just the map. And I want to bring up the 2010 governor's race. If you look at it right here, 52 percent for Walker, 47 percent for Tom Barrett.

Again, this recall election is a rematch. And if you look at the state -- let me bring it up to the center, as you see, you see a lot of red mostly over the state. Well, we went through this a lot in the Republican primaries, where you'd see Rick Santorum winning a lot in the rural areas. Mitt Romney would win where the people are. That's how this state plays out in the general election environment.

You have here Dane County. This is huge for Democrats. They have a huge population there. You see Mayor Barrett last time got nearly 70 percent. He was below 70, though. A lot of Democrats think he needs to be above 70 here.

Dane County, that's Madison. And I want to come over here real quick. Milwaukee suburbs, you have Waukesha County here. Again, it's not 7 percent of the state population. Governor Walker wins that last time above 70 percent.

Those are the two big counties we're watching for turnout. Cornell, is there anything else? Let's assume both sides do their job. And if I'm looking at Waukesha later, it's about 70 percent for the Republicans. I'm looking at Dane. It's about 70 percent for the Democrats. Where will it be settled?

BELCHER: Well, a little bit of reporting news here. You know, Democrats are saying that in Milwaukee it's like -- turnout is up like 114 percent. So they're actually outpacing what their expectations were.

I think this is won in the margins. You know, the big sort of Democrat places and the big Republican places are going to do. But it is really about those -- those winning two or three more percentages in that red, you know, three or four percentages in those red areas. If a Democrat can do that, it bodes very well for Tom Barrett.

He doesn't have to win those areas, but he has to do one or two points better in those red areas.

KING: Erick, what are you looking for?

ERICKSON: You know, I definitely would look for the counties you cited. I would look to see in Milwaukee and in Madison, how late the polls stay open after they close. There are already Democrats and Republicans yelling, "Vote for all arguments," after each other.

How late are things going to go tonight, and will it descend into chaos? I mean, we've got the lawyers ready. And I think for the Republicans, please tell me that Scott Walker hired someone other than Norm Coleman's recall team.

KING: Ron Brownstein, that brings up the dreaded question. Could we have a recall recount? BROWNSTEIN: I mean, look, Wisconsin has been living with basically a two-year campaign, you know, starting with protests. This is the second round of recalls, we should remind voters. And the governor isn't the only recall. Walker could win, and Republicans could lose control of the state senate. So how are we going to interpret tomorrow?

KING: We've got an interesting night ahead. Erick, Ron, Cornell, thanks for coming in tonight. I might have you guys strapped into the chairs. I'll have them bring you coffee, I promise. We're going to count this one late into the night.

And with us will be Erin Burnett. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is up at the top of the hour.

Erin, you have a story tonight, though, about another important issue. A minister whose conviction could cost him his church. How so?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, his conviction. And John, this is a pretty amazing story.

In Minnesota, a pastor came out and said he supports gay marriage, and he is now losing many in his congregation. It's a pretty powerful story of conviction and also the bias that is still very prevalent in certain places in this country. We have a special report on that, an "OUTFRONT" investigation.

And also an interview with Senator Rand Paul, talking about aid and also talking about this -- what's going on in Wisconsin tonight, what he thinks will happen. And if a Walker victory would really mean, John, a mandate to go ahead and tackle Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security in Washington.

So we have all that coming up, top of the hour. Plus, he weighs in on the former president, Bill Clinton, coming out and saying, "Well, let those tax cuts be extended for everyone." They're even talking about that, but that's going to be -- be a big issue. It's a drum beat of former presidents and obviously does not coincide with President Obama's point of view.

KING: Well, off-message is a simple term and fascinating. But the former president, you know, he usually thinks about what he's doing. So he's doing this for a reason.

BURNETT: That's right. He didn't just stumble into it.

KING: No, he didn't. No, he didn't. See you in a few minutes. Thank you.

Still ahead here, Queen Elizabeth says thank you to the British people after a stunning four-day jubilee honoring her reign. Why she calls the experience humbling.

Minivans and SUVs, make room. There's a new family car on the road. Look at that. I want one. It's a Ferrari. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The people of Britain got a special request from Queen Elizabeth today. In a rare address, she thanked them for their support during the Diamond Jubilee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUEEN ELIZABETH, UNITED KINGDOM: The events that I have attended to mark my Diamond Jubilee have been a humbling experience. It has touched me deeply to see so many thousands of families, neighbors and friends celebrating together in such a happy atmosphere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Those words capped off a whirlwind four-day celebration honoring the queen's 60-year reign.

Someone, though, missing from today's festivities. The queen's husband, Prince Philip, had to watch from a hospital bed while he battles an infection.

Here's CNN royal correspondent Max Foster.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the day started with a rather solemn tone, with a church service, a thanksgiving for the queen on her Diamond Jubilee. but notable in his absence was Prince Philip. He spent the night in hospital with an infection and continues to stay in hospital, although his younger son has said that he's doing better and he watched today's events unfold on television from his hospital bed.

And what a spectacular day of events he must have seen. Because once the carriage procession started and it went into the palace, the crowd simply went wild. And the Mall was opened up to tens of thousands, if not a million people, some people suggesting, as they walked slowly down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace for a chance to see the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

When they came out, there was a huge response, of course, from those crowds. And it was interesting to see a slimmed-down version of the royal family. You have the queen without Prince Philip. And then you have Charles and Camilla, Kate, William and Harry. Normally, there'd be many more. I think this is a sign of things to come. In the future, the monarchy will be slimmed down. These are times of austerity. But looking to the future, I don't think this can really afford such a large royal family on public money.

But when the fly pass came over, the inevitable fly pass, there was a huge response, and the queen looked thrilled with not just that moment, but actually the whole day. She doesn't always smile a lot, but when she does smile, she really means it. I think going into this, she was popular. Now she's even more popular, John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Max Foster there reporting.

Now Kate Bolduan is back with us. I love all those pictures. I don't know what you think of it. Kate now has news you need to know right now.

Hey, there.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, John. Thank you.

This is just in to CNN. Mitt Romney's campaign is confirming to our own Jim Acosta that his -- that Mitt Romney's personal e-mail account has been hacked. Romney's communication director, Gail Gitcho, says, quote, "The proper authorities are investigating this crime, and we will have no further comment on it," end quote.

And late this afternoon Senator McCain complained someone within the Obama administration is trying to make the president look good by leaking classified information. He pointed to recent stories about picking targets for U.S. drones -- drone strikes and about the efforts to sabotage Iran's nuclear program using computer viruses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I call on the president to take immediate and decisive action, including the appointment of a special council to aggressively investigate the leak of any classified information on which the recent stories were based, and where appropriate, to prosecute those responsible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Now White House officials have denied that these were any authorized leaks.

States' economies aren't growing as fast as they were in 2010, but business in booming in, say, North Dakota. Its economy grew by 7.6 percent last year, getting a big lift from oil drilling.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis says Oregon and West Virginia are also going strong, rounding out the top three. On the flip side, unfortunately, Wyoming has the fastest shrinking economy, followed by Mississippi and Alabama.

And finally, on the off chance you've been holding out on buying a Ferrari because it's not family friendly -- I'm sure that's why we, the only reason we've all been holding off on buying a Ferrari -- well, your ride has arrived.

Behold the new Ferrari Four, a four-seater that will comfortably fit your passengers and your cargo. The base price is a mere $300,000.

All right. I think we all have to hold off a little more on that. John will be up with Erin Burnett top of the hour. And with that that's all from us tonight. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.