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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

President Obama's Math; CNN Poll Of Polls: Romney 48, Obama 47 Nationwide; Swing States Buried In Political Ads

Aired October 25, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next. So we get a call from the Obama campaign. They want to talk about our segment. So we did and we're going to tell you about it, next.

Plus, new polls just released from two battleground states, who is in the lead, and what it means for the crucial 270 electoral votes.

And big news from the world of apple, which involves the iPad, the maxi or the mini. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the president's math. It still doesn't seem to add up. Again today on the campaign trail, the president brought along his fancy new glossy booklet, here it is, outlining his economic plan for the next four years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This is the plan we need, Virginia. This is how you build a strong, sustainable economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: I've got it here too, but we didn't want to take his word for it. Because as we told you told, the plan doesn't exactly add up. Inside the glossy, it says President Obama's plan reduces the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade.

How he's going to do it, well, that's still a bit of a mystery. Of course, the Obama campaign did not exactly like our analysis, but they also didn't exactly disagree with us. And we give them credit for taking the time to talk to us on the phone and for sending us this 30-page document.

All right, back to the glossy, though, for a moment. Because one of the claims that we took issue with is this line right here. President Obama would commit half of the money saved from responsibly ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to reducing the deficit and the other half to putting Americans back to work, rebuilding roads, bridges, runways and schools here in the United States.

Now, as the president noted earlier on that page, the wars have been purchased on a credit card, borrowed. As we told you, the money that's borrowed to begin with and also money they hadn't planned to spend in the first place. The wars had been scheduled to end.

So savings that can be applied to building bridges as the president's plan proposes, no. The campaign recognized our point and said this was a matter to debate, but they didn't directly dispute it.

But now, we also took issue with the fact that the president's plan says it will close loopholes, but doesn't tell us exactly which ones. Kind of like they've accused Mitt Romney of doing. Now when we made that assertion, we've looked hard including through the entire campaign web site like any voter would do to try to find the information. We couldn't find it.

Now, the campaign took issue with our comment, saying our equating their lack of detail on loopholes to Mitt Romney's was a false equivalency, so they sent us details this afternoon. More accurately, they sent us the president's 2013 budget tables.

And they say -- I guess, if this one year is a reflection of everything the president would do for the next four years then it's absolutely fair. They gave us the loopholes. The tables of their 2013 budget submitted in February are right here, starting on page 15 of 30, after devoting 14 pages to taking aim at the GOP plan.

But does it add up to the president's plan of cutting $4 trillion from the debt? Well, no. The nonpartisan, CBO, analyzed this budget and concluded, and I'll quote them, over the 2013 to 2022 period, the cumulative deficit that would result from enacting the president's budget, $6.4 trillion, or more than 3 percent of GDP, would be $3.5 trillion larger than the cumulative deficit projected under current law.

So that's $3.5 trillion in new borrowing they have to pay for before they start the $4 trillion in cuts. Congressman Chris Van Hollen is a Democrat of Maryland and we really appreciate you taking the time, sir.

I want to talk about these loopholes. I know everyone wants to close them. It's part of any fair and balanced tax overhaul in this country. Then, of course, you realize the special interests that will try to kill you when you try to close the loopholes.

So when we looked at the loopholes and I added them up, every single line item, we got $1 trillion and then of course, you got it netted against the ones the president wants to extend. He wants to extend about $400 million.

It doesn't add up to that much. I mean, doesn't the president need to go after popular deductions like mortgage interest and health care, just like Mitt Romney does, to make his math work?

REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: No, he doesn't. Because unlike Mitt Romney, the president doesn't call for a $5 trillion tax cut coming out of the box. That's what sets Mitt Romney back.

He has the $5 trillion in tax cuts and then he calls for $2 trillion that the Defense Department doesn't even ask for. So he builds another $7 trillion whole before you even get started.

Erin, you covered a lot of territory in the lead-in. I would just say, budgets are always compared to what? And the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget, which is the leading to fix the debt campaign, did analysis back in February of the president's budget plan and the Romney budget plan.

And they found that the Romney budget plan would explode the deficit much more than the president's plan, which brings the deficits under control, under 3 percent of GDP, by the tenth year, stabilizes the debt to GDP ratio and gets this under control.

Whereas the Romney plan according to the folks who are leading the fix the debt campaign, explodes the debt in comparison.

BURNETT: But what about the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, nonpartisan, their job is to score things. They scored the president's plan over that ten-year period, this year, through 2022.

And they say the budget would be $6.4 trillion, $3.5 trillion larger than if he let all the Bush tax cuts expire. I mean, by not letting them expire for people making under $250,000, he's, according to Third Way spending $2.4 trillion in tax cuts right there.

HOLLEN: All these budgets, the Ryan budget in Congress, the president's budget, the Romney budget in a big way, all of them do require additional borrowing. The issue is whether you get the trend line in the right direction.

And the president gets it much better in the right direction, stabilizing the debt than does the Romney budget, according to the one organization that has compared both of them, the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget --

BURNETT: But what about just on this pure math on the president's plan? You know, Third Way saying extending the Bush tax cuts for those making under $250,000 is $2.4 trillion. Getting rid of them for those over 250,000 it is only raises you $869 billion.

I mean, don't we at some point have to be honest with people and say, look, I know we want to say that the wealthy could carry the whole burden and solve this whole problem, but the math doesn't work.

HOLLEN: Well, actually -- I mean, the president's math does work. In the -- so he does -- it's about $1 trillion -- little under $1 trillion when you return to the Clinton era rates for folks at the top.

The president has also said we are going to reduce the value of people's deductions for high-end income earners. And actually, generates hundreds of billions of dollars that way.

Then he does get rid of a lot of unnecessary programs, consolidates programs. He cuts direct payments and agriculture subsidies. So he has about $2.50 in cuts to every dollar in revenue, which is the kind of balanced approach that we want. BURNETT: Let me ask you this because you brought up $2.50 in cuts for every dollar in revenue. Obviously, Simpson/Bowles had suggested $3 for every dollar in revenue. The president did not support Simpson/Bowles.

And I wanted to read the " "Washington Post" comment in light of that when they endorsed the president today. It was a rather troubling endorsement. Here's their quote.

"We come to judgment with eyes open to the disappointments of Mr. Obama's first term. He did not end as he promised he would of a chronic avoidance of tough decisions on fiscal matters.

We were disappointed that Mr. Obama allowed the bipartisan recommendations of his fiscal commission, Simpson/Bowles, to wither and die, and he and Speaker John Boehner failed to seal a fiscal deal in the summer of 2011.

How is Obama going to change that pattern in the second term, is the question I put to you, sir? He had the chance to do a big deal with tough choices, with things like mortgage interest deduction. He didn't do it.

HOLLEN: Well, Erin, as you know, Simpson/Bowles have both said this, the president takes the balanced approach that they recommend. In other words, every credible bipartisan group, including Simpson- Bowles has said if we're going to tackle this deficit and debt, we've got to make some tough cuts.

And we did $1 trillion in cuts just last year, a 100 percent cut, but we also need to deal with revenue. So the president's plan actually gets a lot closer to the Simpson/Bowles ratios than anything that Mitt Romney has put on the table.

Because he has refused to -- he says he wouldn't even take $10 in cuts to $1 in revenue. He wants to protect those tax breaks for very high-income individuals, like himself. That's his plan. But it -- it totally busts the deficit and the debts, according to the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget.

BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much, Congressman. As always, I appreciate your time.

HOLLEN: Thank you. Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, a big story out west just released polls that could decide the next president. We are seeing a move that could change the election tonight.

And the speaker of the House calls out President Obama over Libya. Was it just for political gain, though?

Plus, an October surprise from Mother Nature. A storm dubbed Frankenstorm barreling towards the east coast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, we have some brand new polls just out now. And according to the polls, Mitt Romney has a razor-thin lead. OK, let's just go through this.

We've got the latest CNN poll of polls just updated tonight. I'm actually looking at it here on my Blackberry as it comes in from our poll master, Paul.

Tonight shows Mitt Romney leading the president by one point among likely voters nationwide. Now obviously that's within the standard -- the margin of error. So that's a dead heat.

It's a different story though at the state level, which is really, everybody, what's going to matter in terms of who wins. Brand-new polls tonight from NBC News and the "Wall Street Journal" show the president leading Mitt Romney by three points in Nevada, 50- 47 and a dead heat in Colorado, literally, 48-48.

Now for Mitt Romney, those two states are especially crucial, and let's just hold this map up and I'll explain to you why. The current CNN electoral map counts those states as toss-ups. So the president has 237 electoral votes on this map.

Mitt Romney, 206, now remember, you need 270 to win. So even if Mitt Romney wins most of the toss-ups and in that I'm going to give him Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Iowa, all of those. He still needs Colorado, Nevada or Ohio to win.

Right now, he is trailing in Nevada and Ohio and tied in Colorado. Republicans strategist Hogan Gidley is OUTFRONT, along with Doug Hattaway, former senior adviser for Hillary Clinton.

And I appreciate both of you taking the time. Hogan, let me ask you about this issue here for Mitt Romney because nationally on the polls, obviously, there's been significant improvement and he's ahead in some of the polls.

But that isn't how we elect a president in this country. We elect based on what a few states decide to do and he has to pick up swing states to do it. He's lagging in some of those. What's his game plan?

HOGAN GIDLEY, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, FOR RICK SANTORUM: Right. Well, first of all, I want to give you credit and tell John King he better watch his back because that was a really good job with that map, by the way.

BURNETT: I watch John King and I try to soak it up.

GIDLEY: That's right. He's a tough act to follow, for sure. Listen, it's pretty clear right now, the big story tonight and after these debates have been the fact that Mitt Romney has chipped away at the huge lead the president had.

But for those debates, we might be talking about Obama going away with this thing at this point. However, it looks like the numbers amongst women and independents has shrunk considerably, because Governor Romney did a very good job in those debates.

I think the ads helped a little bit, too. Showing him that he wasn't the monster that the Obama people said he was. So now he's come out with this five-point plan. I think people are gravitating toward that.

And it looks like the trajectory is such that he could actually pull this thing out here in the waning days of this campaign. It looks pretty good for Mitt Romney right now.

BURNETT: Doug, let me pick up on something that Hogan just mentioned, which is the women vote and talk about Colorado specifically where we're in a dead heat, 48-48.

It was the case that suburban women in Colorado last month the president was ahead by 18 points. He's now only ahead by three. Is the Obama campaign worried, seriously, about that or not?

DOUG HATTAWAY, FORMER SPOKESMAN, AL GORE'S 2000 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, they're certainly making an investment of time and money and effort on the women vote, for sure. But essentially we're talking about people who are undecided.

And you would expect more of the undecided vote to break toward a challenger and not toward the candidate who they already know. And I know the campaign expected this sort of tightening.

And the -- these states, as you said, are more crucial to the candidate who loses Ohio, if the president keeps his lead there, does well in Ohio, Romney really has to bring these states home.

And I think one thing that this points to, the tightening in these two states and other battle grounds, we're really talking about the ground game now. Which side is really going to do a better job getting out their voters to the polls?

This momentum that Romney has had doesn't add up to a whole lot unless they can get out their voters. And the president, I think, is tightening the polls may have helped, shakes the Democrats out of complacency after the president's lead over the summer.

BURNETT: Hogan, Doug has a good point. Plus the fact from all of the reporting on the ground, our John Avlon is on the election bus and he's been seeing this around the country. The Obama administration has more people on the ground in these swing states, more offices, more people, going door to door.

GIDLEY: Right. And the Republicans have been saying and championing the fact that they've got more out on the ground than they did in 2008. Well, that's great, but that's not the standard.

The standard is 2012, and they've got to have more people out on the ground in 2012 this cycle than worry about boasting -- they have a better ground game than in 2008. I sure hope so.

They got clocked in 2008 so they've got to do better on the ground, and as -- as he mentioned just now, the ads are so saturated at this point. It is a get out the vote effort from here on out. No doubt.

BURNETT: Doug, let me ask you about the tone, quickly. There was an article in "Rolling Stone," you know, got tweeted around this morning on Twitter, caught my attention. The president appeared to call his opponent a BS err.

The article quoted him as saying, I'll quote him, "You know, kids have good instincts, they look at the other guy and they say well that's a bull -- er, I can tell."

That's very hard to say without saying it, but you know what I'm saying. You know, and the president also, during the last debate, he was -- you know, he was definitely saying some nasty things, you know, the horses and bayonets. I mean, is the tone going to work for him from here? Is this a smart strategy?

HATTAWAY: Well, I don't know how strategic it was. This is perfectly fine for that particular forum, "Rolling Stone," I got to say it. It's inelegant, but it's accurate.

And it's really pointed to one of Romney's biggest vulnerabilities, which is it's hard to trust him because of his reputation as a flip-flopper and telling you what you want to hear and turning around and saying something different.

So it's inelegant, but I think put that back on the map for conversation. That's what he was talking about. And I don't think it's -- people are worried too much about the language, but about what he was pointing at, which is this problem people have with Romney.

I think it's what's kept him back for much of the year, is this well deserved reputation for being a chameleon and changing his tune all the time.

BURNETT: Thanks very much, Doug, Hogan, we appreciate it.

Ahead, a last-minute spending spree. The campaigns unloading tens of millions of dollars in swing states. Are they targeting the right areas, though, to actually win?

And the next big thing in television is here. And as we all know, it is not campaign ads, because they are the most awful thing to actually have to watch, although they keep us in business. Are we witnessing the end of TV sets as we know them?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: The latest innovation in television is here. It's the first ultra HD television and it finally went on sale today. It's an 84-inch LED television from LG Electronics. It has four times the resolution of a current HD TV.

It includes 10 speakers, 3D picture quality and glasses. I'm assuming they'll throw them in free. I'll tell you one in a second and a virtually frameless cinema screen design. It's not cheap. The price tag on the ultra HD TV, $19,999.99.

I mean, do they think this is kind of like when you price something at $1.99 that gets people who won't buy it at $2? I think if it's $19,999.99, you could have called it $20. Anyway, OK, even with the $3,000 discount, this is an insane price for a television.

But apparently it is relatively cheap. The Sony version of the ultra HD, which is going on sale in December is going to sell for about $25,000. The very high-end retailers stocking the sets hope to capitalize on holiday shopping.

I don't know anyone who spends that amount of money on holiday shopping, but this brings they to tonight's number, which is 3 percent. During the first quarter of this year, 3 percent fewer televisions were sold in the same period of the year before.

You might say, that's only 3 percent. That's a lot, everybody. It's the first time in history that television sales dropped from the previous year, the first time in history.

As smartphones and minis and maxis continue to improve picture quality, more and more people are abandoning the traditional TV. And right now, anyway, manufacturers and retailers are trying to stem that by introducing bigger and more cinematic experiences, like the ultra HD.

Hopefully, for their sake some people will choose to buy a television for $20,000, instead of a car. I would pick the car. But anyway, if other people will do it, television market could be on the verge of fading to black.

And now our third story OUTFRONT. Mitt Romney cashes in. The campaign says it's raised $112 million in the first half of October. By comparison, the Romney effort collected $170 million for the entire month of September when the president beat him by $11 million.

OUTFRONT tonight, John Avlon who is traveling to key battlegrounds states aboard CNN's Election Express. Tonight, he is in Jacksonville Beach, Florida -- John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Erin. I'll tell you, Erin. It's unbelievable what the campaigns are spending the money on right now. You can't turn on a television here in Florida. If you're trying to watch the World Series in between innings, it's nothing but negative campaign ads.

It is just wall to wall. And I'll tell you what's amazing. It's not just "Super PACs," it's campaigns, and if you think it's worse than ever before, guess what? It is. Compare this year in Florida, brand-new numbers from the Wesleyan Media Center, Florida 2008 looks light on this screen.

Not that many ads, not that much money. This year, the whole state is dark. That's a measure of just how much money is being spent. See that I-4 Corridor last night, dark. Over $10 million, Erin, has been spent in TV ads in the last month alone in both Tampa and Orlando. Up in Jacksonville, where I am tonight, $2 million in the last month alone. That's how hard they're fighting and how expensive this race has become.

BURNETT: And how miserable it's become to watch television, especially if you have an ultra HD, where it's right in your face. When you look at the rest of the country, though, John, where do you see the biggest concentration of ad spending outside where you are tonight?

AVLON: You know, Erin, the old adage is true. Follow the money. If you want to find out what's really going on in campaign, follow the money and take a look at this map.

It shows where the campaigns and the "Super PACs" are spending their money and it's all those key battlegrounds, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado. That's where their campaigns are betting the election will be decided. We know that's true in terms of electoral math and this is just how tight it's gone.

BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to John Avlon who will continue at the CNN Election bus and you'll see him tomorrow night.

Still to come, House Speaker John Boehner demanded answers from the president about the terrorist attack in Libya. Specifically, he wanted to know whether the ball was dropped concerning the military response, but is he just playing politics?

And the election is 12 days away, but it could be weeks before we find out who actually won seriously.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our own reporting from the front lines.

And we begin with hurricane sandy getting a new name, "Frankenstorm". Well, it's the time of year for that, isn't it? Sandy is on track to merge with a winter storm over the weekend and hit the East Coast. CNN's severe weather team tells us that scenario could be disastrous with widespread damage, power outages, heavy rain and snow for the Northeast.

The most recent tracks have "Frankenstorm" hitting the New York City area on Tuesday morning.

And now to Mali where there are reports that men dressed in military uniforms killed several Tuareg civilians. A source inside the Malian government tells OUTFRONT tonight that at least six people have been killed, and adds that the circumstances of their death is under investigation.

It's acts like these that might finally bring military intervention to Mali. Today, the U.N. deputy secretary general said there is a unique sense of purpose among U.N. Security Council. As they prepare for potential military operations in Mali.

Apple reported quarterly numbers after the markets closed. They were disappointing. The company earned $8.2 billion, sales over $36 billion -- $36 billion in iPads is amazing.

Anyway, these profits weren't as much as analysts were looking for. Apple sold 27 million iPhones. That was more than expected. But the iPad is actually where Apple missed the mark, 14 million were sold. Analysts thinking the number would be well over 15 million.

Well, it's been 448 days since the United States lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, first time claims for unemployment benefits fell by 23,000 last week to 369,000. Claims have been volatile over the past few weeks, but economists we spoke to say good news, the trend is showing improvement.

Our fourth story OUTFRONT: a letter to the president. House Speaker John Boehner sent the president a letter about Libya today, calling the, quote, "New information in the public domain deeply troubling." He is referring in part to the e-mails that CNN and other news agencies obtained yesterday showing that an al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for the attacks almost two hours after they began.

Boehner asked the president to publicly address who knew what and when. He also asks the president to explain why, and I'll quote him, "it appears military assets were not prepositioned and utilized in the immediate aftermath of the attack."

Now, on that specific point, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stood up today and defended the administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The basic principle is that you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on, without having some real-time information about what's taking place. And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground, or in that area, General Ham, General Dempsey and I felt strongly we could not put forces at risk in that situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Well, for weeks, the White House than criticized for its response to the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Senator Bob Corker of the Foreign Relations Committee has been one of those demanding answers and he's OUTFRONT tonight.

Senator, good to see you again. You heard Leon Panetta giving a nuanced answer as to why he made the decisions that he made, and General Ham made. Does that answer satisfy you?

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Well, there was some confusion. I know the folks we had in Tripoli had to actually charter a civilian flight to get up to Benghazi. They had to be led with a militia and a very circuitous route to get around militias that were anti-American to finally get to the Benghazi consulate.

So I actually am somewhat sympathetic to the military action. I'm totally unsympathetic to what the White House knew at that time. I know the White House knew in real-time this was a terrorist attack. And I just am very disappointed at the continual misleading and the fact that the administration has used this as a -- they have turned it into a political issue by doing what they did.

BURNETT: Now, let me ask you, because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as you know, has said it's a fluid situation. And you know what's interesting is the former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, actually came to her defense and said Americans should wait, wait until we have the investigations, we have all of the information, and then pass judgment.

Do you fear sometimes that you're passing judgment too quickly?

CORKER: So I agree with Secretary Rice. Condoleezza Rice, OK, that, in fact, you need to look at the whole body of information. I agree with that.

But the fact is, Erin, I was there on the ground. I've talked directly to the people who are sending this information, and have known for some time that they knew in real-time this was not the result of a protest. The ambassador walked outside of the consulate, shook hands with the Turkish ambassador as he was leaving from dinner, and then about 45 minutes later, this all began. And they knew at the time it was a terrorist attack.

So I just don't think there is any confusion around that.

BURNETT: Right.

CORKER: And if that's the case, then if that's the case, why would the ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, why would she get out and say the things so demonstrably that she said? And it's my sense that, again, they don't want the American people to understand that terrorism has not been vanquished, but certainly is on the rise in many of these countries, especially as a result of the Arab spring.

BURNETT: One thing about that, theory, though -- I understand what you're saying. But it seems like a cover-up or misleading would be so hard to do in the U.S. government. Pulling off a cover-up is so much more difficult than anyone could imagine.

So in one sense, I sort of would be amazed if they had the ability to do that.

CORKER: Well, I've never used the word "cover-up." I've used the word misleading. As a matter of fact --

BURNETT: OK.

CORKER: -- I've had conversations this morning, Erin --

BURNETT: Yes.

CORKER: Very high levels of government. I absolutely believe that this was a purposely misleading event, and I'm disappointed in that.

BURNETT: And one final question. You know, you talked about -- you're saying the Democrats made this political. John Kerry called this a political football earlier in the week, referring to what members of your party have done regarding it.

And I'm curious about what Mitt Romney has done, what you think. Because obviously, when that moment came up in the debate a couple weeks ago about Libya, he hasn't really talked about it since. He didn't get into it in the foreign policy debate. He hasn't commented on the e-mails that have leaked out.

Do you think he's making a mistake, or -- is it possible in the intelligence briefings he's now getting he's learning enough information that makes him think he should be quiet?

CORKER: I don't think there's any way he could have higher level intelligence briefings than I've been receiving. I mean, we've been -- you know, I don't think that could be happening. So I don't think that's -- I do think he may have missed an opportunity to be more clear in the second debate.

I don't think in the third debate it was the time to bring this up. I think that the window had passed. I think in the interim, the White House had been able to cloud the issue in such a way that a second debate was really the time to bring this up.

BURNETT: All right. Always good to see you and we appreciate your time, Senator.

CORKER: Thank you.

BURNETT: Well, the election is 12 days away. But wait a minute, it could be more than a month until we have a winner. It's what an election official in Ohio calls a nightmare scenario and it could become a reality.

Here's why: voters who request an absentee ballot but decide to vote in person on Election Day have to cast a provisional ballot to make sure they don't vote twice in Ohio. And by law, who knows why, this is just the way it is, everybody, provisional ballots don't get counted until at least November 17th. So they sit around not getting counted. And the final tally isn't due until three weeks after Election Day.

Now, you say, OK, could this really happen?

Well, here's a number for you. As of tonight, 800,000 people have requested absentee ballots but have not returned them. So there is a potential for 800,000 provisional ballots in Ohio. Now, we know a lot of people have early voted but this could get scary. This is the state where 200,000 votes separated President Obama and John McCain in 2008. So you can see how this could make all the difference in the world.

OUTFRONT tonight, CNN contributors Reihan Salam and Roland Martin. All right. I know this could sound farfetched, Roland, I mean, when you lay it out. But when you look at the numbers, I mean, it could actually happen, right?

There is a mathematical way for both to get to 270. It's much more difficult for Mitt Romney to do it than Barack Obama.

So if we can't call Ohio on Election Day, that's really what it could come down to, we may not have a winner. How likely do you think it is?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, obviously, we can't even guess that. There are other scenarios that get Romney to 270, that get President Obama to 270. Also keep in mind, 2004, President George W. Bush won Ohio by 110,000 votes.

I think that part of the problem is that the folks in Ohio are screwed around too long, frankly when it came to other issues when it came to voting. When it came to back and forth over extending the early voting hours, you know, passing these ridiculous voter suppression laws. So they should have been paying attention to this, knowing full well there was going to be a significant intensity for this election.

BURNETT: You know, let me ask a question about this, Reihan, in terms of something the state of Ohio did to Roland's point, different this year. For the first time, they sent every single person in the state of Ohio an absentee ballot request form. So it came to you at home, you could send it in.

How is that going to influence things? Some people might have thought, OK, that's definitely a good thing. That way everybody has a chance to vote but maybe not.

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, if you look at states like Oregon, for example, voting by mail has become incredibly common. And it's a really interesting conceptual question.

I think the ideas is to make voting more accessible, but it also introduces all of these different calculations for, you know, candidates as well as for the officials who run these electrics.

One thing I really want people to understand is this: America is an affluent, modern country. But when you look at our elections, they're very decentralized. It's a very rickety system.

BURNETT: Futile?

SALAM: And when you have really close elections, this rickety system can get to the breaking point. We saw that in Florida. We tried to fix it with various bits of legislation here and there. The thing is that fundamentally it's an incredibly complex enterprise, and if this election is as close as we think it will be, it's not just Ohio, where you might see the electoral system, the creaking electoral system hit the breaking point. You might see it happen in other jurisdiction jurisdictions, as well.

BURNETT: Roland, I love -- yes, go ahead.

MARTIN: And again, to Reihan's point, several years ago, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was actually introducing a piece of legislation that dealt with having a federal standard when it comes to elections. Because part of the problem here, you have 50 states. And then you have these different county rules so you have one county where they may actually be using one form of balloting, whether it's electronic, another might be using the punch ballot, some might be using the bubble.

So it's crazy. And you have all of these different standards. There's no consistency. And that's part of the reason why we have all these different rules. You said, why would you have an election on November 6th and you're waiting 11 days to count the ballot?

I mean, that makes no sense.

BURNETT: It really doesn't. And it opens up, you know -- there's the possibility then of fraud. What about the fact we know early voting statistically favors Democrats, Roland. So the Republicans get upset about it.

But -- and, you know, the president went out today, the first president ever to cast his vote early. But -- which he did in Chicago. But a lot of people say this doesn't distort at all. People who vote early would have voted on Election Day, no matter what. So there is no distortion.

MARTIN: OK. If you're a Republican, you're stuck on stupid if you've got a problem with early voting. Who cares? Your job is to get your people out. Not only that, your -- Republicans can also vote early.

I don't understand what this whole deal is. And in fact, I think it's idiotic in this country where we somehow want to continue a system where we only are voting on one day, a Tuesday in November.

BURNETT: I agree with you. It's the constitutional amendment I want. Change it.

MARTIN: Stop whining about it, get your people out to vote.

BURNETT: Reihan, do you agree with us? Constitutional amendment and this Tuesday business?

SALAM: There are a lot of folks who think, hey, why do we have Saturday voting, for example.

BURNETT: Yes. SALAM: I think that's it's not a terrible idea. I think it would be -- look, the thing is, these elections, they're coordinating devices. So it's the same reason why we have summer vacations across the country, because you want actually to have a lot of different people coordinate around a common day. And when you move away from that, it does introduce complications. But on the other hand, you make the electoral system more accessible.

One thing I want to throw out for you guys is this. Imagine if we didn't have the Electoral College, and if you had to have, for example, recounts and other things happening on a national scale.

This is something that people have to understand. In any election, and we saw this in Florida, there are going to be spoiled ballots. There are going to be lots of issues that arise, even if you have a great, pristine, high-tech, wonderful electoral system. That's just what happens when you're dealing with tens of millions of votes.

So I think that to some degree, we have to accept that chaos is going to be part of the process.

BURNETT: Right. Even as we send election monitors to everyone else's election, because we say ours are so perfect. We look in the mirror and we see not to pretty.

OK. Still to come, a man who understands polls more than anyone else, Nate Silver, we're very excited, is here to tell us who has the best chance of winning and why some of the predictions are just bunk.

And this guy could have had $100 million. But he got fired. His story is still OUTFRONT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: Mitt's momentum? Romney rode a wave of momentum after the Denver debate. He's moving up in the polls. But after the president fought back in debates two and three, has the momentum shifted?

OUTFRONT, a man who knows more than anyone about what the numbers are in this race, Nate Silver. He's the founder of "The New York Times" FiveThirtyEight.com blog and also author of "The Signal and The Noise: Why So Many predictions Fail But Some Don't."

Nate, I'm happy you're here.

You're saying Mitt Romney has lost the momentum he had after the first debate. How come?

NATE SILVER, AUTHOR, "THE SIGNAL AND THE NOISE": Well, he hasn't lost all the gains he made after Denver where he had maybe a four- point bounce in the polls. But the question is, is he still moving forward? And we don't think so, so much. In the tracking polls, you may have had on average a slight shift back toward Obama.

Looking at the states, Electoral College picture, it seems to be solidifying with the states most decisive, like Ohio still showing the president with a small, maybe two-point lead.

BURNETT: And let me talk about the new polls that we did get out tonight, we shared them you earlier. I'll put them back again. Nevada now showing the president leading by three points. Colorado literally neck and neck, 48-48.

Now, your latest analysis, what are the chances, when you take everything together and say what are the chances Barack Obama wins, what are the chances Mitt Romney wins, what's your verdict?

SILVER: So we have about a Obama with a 70 percent chance of winning and those polls tonight from NBC are kind of indicative of why, where Nevada is a state Romney has to win unless he wins Ohio, where he's also losing. Whereas Colorado is more an extra state for Obama, it could complicate Romney's math, if Obama takes a loss, for example, in Ohio.

But otherwise, a state that Romney would need for his maps a must-win for Romney, than for Obama. In fact, the states that are closest right now, like Colorado and Virginia are states that Romney needs more than Obama, is problematic for Mitt Romney right now.

BURNETT: And talking about polls, you went after Gallup last week after one of their daily tracking polls showed Mitt Romney seven points ahead. And you said, look, when Gallup is an outlier, its results are usually wrong. How come?

SILVER: Well, you know, I don't really mean to go after Gallup or a pollster. It's more about the way that frankly the news media covers polls. When you take the polls that are the biggest outliers not addictive of the overall trend and they get way more hype than they should, whether it's Gallup or another poll that's more Democratic leaning than the consensus of polls says, you get 20 or 30 polls now every day. So looking at the consensus or the average of data is really the way to go instead of focusing on the erratic results any pollster will have from time to time.

BURNETT: Right. I have to note, just for CNN's sake, we did predict it perfectly in 2008, so I'm hoping we'll get it right again.

But, you know, you just mentioned 30 polls a day and I was on Conan O'Brien's show earlier. And in his, you know, numerous way, he brought that up. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: How many more polls do we need? And do you think we're polling too much? Do you think it's time to -- you know what I mean? It seems like there's 35 different companies that take polls and they released their polls like 15 times a day. So I don't know about the rest of you, I get so inundated. I don't know what's happening.

BURNETT: Are there really 35 companies?

O'BRIEN: I'm making this up. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: You just said 30 polls. I know you don't need to make it up. How many reputable poll companies are there out there that you track?

SILVER: Well, there are about 120 companies that have released at least one poll, state or national this year. How many of those are any good? Maybe 40 or 50 are pretty decent. The others you might take with a grain of salt.

But even then -- even among the best pollsters, you still have disagreements on how large Obama's lead or deficit is nationally which is again why we think there's more data at the state level and there's more consistency, for example, in some ways in the Ohio polls or the Nevada polls, the Wisconsin polls, where you have a few Romney ties but most show Obama ahead.

BURNETT: Right.

SILVER: Virginia, Colorado, there you're all over the map.

BURNETT: Let me ask you a question, why people see these names out there, Rasmussen I believe, you know, sort of tends to lean to the right, Public Policy Polling leans the other way.

I mean, how much do polls influence how voters vote? A lot of people watching here see them and say I want to know sort of which name leans which way so I can make a decision.

SILVER: I hope we don't influence people all that much. In some countries, you're not allowed to do polling in a few days before the election for that reason.

BURNETT: Right.

SILVER: Look, people are deciding based on the economy, based on the direction of the country, based on what they think of the candidates.

You know, I think it's interesting to predict how the election will go but I think in some ways, the press doesn't give the voters enough credit for making rational decisions based on how they see the country headed, about their personal economic circumstances and that tends to predict the election pretty well.

The fact that we have a really close election what is you would expect given the economy, we're not in recession but are growing awful slow. That's about what you'd expect given the economic circumstances we have, that you would have a real fight to the finish.

BURNETT: All right. Nate, good to see you. Thanks so much.

And OUTFRONT next, he would have had $100 million on Monday, no joke. Except for he got fired at the very worst time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: On Monday, Facebook employees are going to have the chance to do something the rest of us could only dream of, a chance to turn $5 billion in shares into cold hard cash. Pretty great considering the stock actually jumped this week for the first time. Its fortune seems to turnaround. It's a long awaited payday -- but tonight's "I.D.E.A" guest will never see it.

Noah Kagan was the 30th employee at Facebook. His take of the pie, $100 million. That is, if he hadn't been fired by Mark Zuckerberg. I asked him about his initial idea to risk it all for Facebook and the brutal moment that he realized he'd lost everything.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NOAH KAGAN, FOUNDER, APPSUMO: I'll tell you my grandma was like, they don't have health insurance? This place is crazy. You're going to leave Intel? You got -- I can't believe you're going to do this.

You know, it's just something that I truly love using every day so there wasn't really much risk. I actually got a pay raise leaving Intel going from 100,000 people down to 30.

BURNETT: When you went to Facebook.

KAGAN: Yes.

BURNETT: OK. Then how long did you stay at Facebook?

KAGAN: I was there about nine months.

BURNETT: Nine months. Then you said forget this place? This place isn't going anywhere?

KAGAN: No, no. It's funny, we had a Chinese guy in the office, he's like what is this Facebook thing, what are you kids doing all day. Eventually he moved out and we took over his space.

I just knew it was going to be big. It was something like I was using obsessively. Everyone else (INAUDIBLE) use obsessively. I just knew it was going to get a lot larger.

BURNETT: So why did you leave?

KAGAN: I got let go. It took many years to accept that and be comfortable talking about that in public.

BURNETT: Especially if you're a high achiever. They're going to tell you got this job.

KAGAN: Yes.

BURNETT: All right. You say, this is -- how would Donald Trump say it, you got fired, right?

KAGAN: I did. Let go. BURNETT: See, no one wants to say it that way. But why?

KAGAN: So I think at the time, now that I've hired a lot of people and I fired people, I was really good when Facebook went from 30 to 150, like I walked over to Mark's desk, hey, Mark, let's do this. OK, go get it done. As you go to 150, you need different --

BURNETT: Number of people working there.

KAGAN: Yes. Exactly. You need a different person in the company that can go from 150 to 1,000 employees. At that age, I was 25. I wasn't going to be the person to do that.

BURNETT: They let you go and you're okay with it until obviously --

KAGAN: No, I was massively depressed.

BURNETT: You're massively depressed just on getting fired? Forget the money for now.

KAGAN: The money I knew was going to be painful. Secondly, it got big. Mark was on Oprah. And I see it everywhere. My mom originally when I got the job was like, no, MySpace is kicking your ass, you better go save Facebook.

BURNETT: MySpace, I'm trying to remember.

KAGAN: It's everywhere. This is right when they're opening up, everyone is talking about it.

And I'm like one, it makes me feel embarrassed, why would you leave the best company that's really growing and popular, your friends, everything like my social network was all Facebook employees. So six months of just being alone and kind of sad about it.

BURNETT: The money was what, $100 million?

KAGAN: Yes.

BURNETT: That's how much richer you would be now.

KAGAN: Yes.

BURNETT: I feel like I'm putting salt on a wound.

KAGAN: No, no, no. I met a CEO of a public company, so he introduced me to a life coach.

BURNETT: Really.

KAGAN: Yes. It's really one on a public company, and what I did with her which was really interesting is she said, write out everything you buy with all that money, like what is everything you would buy? This is before they went public. We didn't know if there would be $100 billion or $50 billion or whatever amount of money. I wrote out everything I ever wanted bought and I was like, there's really not much more I would change in my life. And that actually helped me understand, like, OK, I'm actually pretty content with my life. If there's anything else I want, I'll go earn that money and buy it.

BURNETT: A lot of people are saying you're smiling now, but there's a reason for that, which is you did move on. Tell me about the thing you found that was the thing for you, the thing where you spread your wings and say I don't care that I left that money on the table, I'm over being fired, I found the thing right for me.

KAGAN: Yes. So eventually I started a company called AppSumo.com that helps entrepreneurs succeed. We just help people are starting or growing businesses with tools and courses to help them get better.

And it's finally, I look through patterns of what I really enjoyed and I really enjoyed doing that. Now I get to work with people I like and get to promote great products.

BURNETT: And you're the boss.

KAGAN: I'm the boss. I'm the chief sumo.

BURNETT: The chief sumo.

KAGAN: About sumo. So it works out pretty well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: It's nice to end on a happy ending. Thanks as always for watching. See you back here tomorrow.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.