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THE SITUATION ROOM
Final Surge of Campaigning; President Obama Makes His Closing Argument; Death Toll Climbs One Week Since Sandy
Aired November 5, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, long lines and legal challenges -- it's election eve in America and the lawyers are already very busy.
For the presidential candidates, an urgent final round of rallies as they try to reach the magic number of 270 electoral votes. We're going to show you how they can get there.
And a week after super storm Sandy slammed into the Northeast, residents of New York's Staten Island are focused on food and shelter.
Will they be able to vote tomorrow?
We want to welcome our viewers In the United States and around the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Election Day in America, it's only just hours away and the candidates are going all out In a final surge of campaign rallies.
President Obama began today in Wisconsin, moving on to Ohio and makes his final stop tonight in Iowa. He'll then head home to Chicago.
Mitt Romney started out in Florida. Then he hit Virginia. He'll be in Ohio in the next hour, before closing out the day In New Hampshire.
Our correspondents are deployed in all the battleground states. They're spread out across the country to try to bring you the kind of coverage that only CNN can deliver.
There are long lines of early voters today in Florida, one of the critical battleground states in this election. And there already have been a number of skirmishes over the early balloting.
Let's go live to CNN's John Zarrella in Miami, who's watching what's going on.
I'm hearing lawsuits, John, already have been filed. What's going on in Florida, again?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, again. Let -- let me set the stage, Wolf.
Early voting in Florida was reduced by the legislature from 14 days, four years ago, down to eight days. That resulted, the Democratic Party said, in these enormously long lines -- four, five, six-hour waits.
Early voting ended on Saturday. The Democratic Party, late Saturday night, filing a lawsuit In federal court saying, listen, people were deprived of a meaningful opportunity to cast votes in Miami, Dade, Broward And Palm Beach Counties. Those three counties, today, have opened all three of them for people to come and pick up absentee ballots. It's not early voting, technically, anymore. They're absentee ballots.
And the lines that you see behind me here are for people who have been waiting here for four and five hours to pick up absentee ballots that they can then fill out and get in another line, on the other side, if they so choose, and then return that absentee ballot. As long as it's in by 7:00 tomorrow night, they're fine.
And, Wolf, take a look down here. Another 200 yards, the line stretches, back in that direction, down the side of the building. And it is now after 5:00, so the office is closed here now. So no one else is supposed to be able to get into the line to pick up absentee ballots. That's what's going on here.
One of the problems, Wolf, it's taking so many people, and they're afraid will happen tomorrow, look at the length of this ballot. It is the longest ballot in state history. There are 11 -- 11, Wolf, constitutional amendments on the ballot in Florida, along with every other race. So they're afraid that there will be long lines tomorrow if people haven't studied the ballot, people that are just trying to figure out how to go on all of these constitutional amendments.
So we could still have a mess tomorrow, during regular voting hours -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It looks like the battle in Florida is going to come down to the last vote. A lot of us remember, 537 votes out of millions cast in 2000, that was the difference. ZARRELLA: Yes, exactly. And it is very, very close. You know, the latest polls, Mitt Romney, 50 percent; President Obama, 49 percent. The president's wife was here in Orlando today stumping. Mitt Romney started in Sanford, Florida this morning, stumping. And that, of course, Sanford is up in that I-4 Corridor area. So there are -- there is a last minute, as you say in basketball, that full court press to try and get as many of their voters out as they possibly can tomorrow, because it is likely to be very, very close -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Every vote will certainly count. Thanks very much, John Zarrella. He's going to be a very busy guy tomorrow, as well.
The campaigns have mobilized armies of lawyers already to keep an eye on the polling places. And they're trying to take legal action wherever they see fit.
Let's bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin -- Jeffrey, the early voting legal battles that we're seeing right now, could that foreshadow a bigger problem?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sure could, because the real legal fights, as in Florida in 2000, generally take place after the polls have closed. And two things to keep in mind about those -- those battles, if -- if they happen.
One is, the candidate who's ahead on election night almost always wins. Going in with a lead, no matter how small, as George W. Bush did in Florida...
BLITZER: Why that?
TOOBIN: Because there is a psychological component, the -- the court system, the politicians, if you're ahead, it is hard to get it changed. It's not impossible, but being ahead matters.
The second point is, the party that controls the political process in the state matters a great deal. Every -- everybody may remember Katherine Harris, who was the Republican secretary of state in Florida in 2000. Florida and Ohio are both run by Republicans now. If it comes to a fight in those two states, which are probably the most likely states, the Republicans will have a huge advantage, because they control the state government in both places.
BLITZER: Because in Ohio, for example, if they have these provisional ballots, if it's really close and there's 100,000, let's say, provisional ballots, they don't even start looking at those ballots until November 17th.
TOOBIN: You know, we're -- we're probably going to be talking a lot about provisional ballots over the next few days, so maybe it's worth talk -- just defining what a provisional ballot is.
A provisional ballot is cast when -- when a voter shows up at the polling place and there's some problem -- their ID isn't effective, their name isn't -- their -- their name isn't on the list. So they say, OK, we're going to let you cast a ballot provisionally and we're going to put it aside.
In Ohio, four years ago, there were 262,000 provisional ballots. We're expecting even more of that. That's a huge difference for -- that -- that -- that could decide the outcome. And, as you point out, they're not even going to start counting those for 10 days.
So if there's a small difference between the candidates and there are 200,000, 300,000 ballots that haven't yet been counted, we may not know who won Ohio tomorrow. BLITZER: And if we don't Ohio, we might not know who's got 270 electoral votes. This could go on and on and on.
BLITZER: Let me ask you this question, because it reminds me of what happened in 2000.
Is it at all possible, in your expert opinion -- and you're the author of books on the United States Supreme Court -- we might see another case where David Boies and Ted Olsen show up before the United States Supreme Court to -- to adjudi -- adjudicate this election?
TOOBIN: If this election goes to recounts, it is a certainty, a certainty that we'll be in court, federal district court for starters, then circuit court, then maybe supreme court. So it is far from out of the question -- in fact, if we get into recount territory, I would be -- bet it's a certainty that something will be appealed to the Supreme Court. Whether they actually take the case and we hear arguments again, I don't know. But if we go to court, nobody is going to give up before the Supreme court.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, we could all be busy. And remember, in 2000, we spent 33 days trying to determine who was going to be president after that...
TOOBIN: It was unforgettable.
BLITZER: -- election and those hanging chads and the butterfly ballots in Florida.
TOOBIN: That's correct. At least Florida has better voting machines now.
BLITZER: Let's hope.
TOOBIN: Different ones.
BLITZER: Although that ballot looked pretty big and complicated.
TOOBIN: But there are no -- there are no more butterfly ballots.
BLITZER: It's hard to believe, you know, that this kind of stuff goes on.
Thanks very much.
Let's go out on the campaign trail right now.
Before heading home to Chicago for Election Day, President Obama's last stop will be in Des Moines, Iowa. Six electoral votes are at Stake.
CNN's Poppy Harlow is joining us now from Des Moines -- Poppy, the president is bringing in some star power there, as well. POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He certainly is. He's bringing The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, who has been on the road with the president today. They're making three stops here in Des Moines. This will be the final stop. The first lady also coming with the president.
Look, Wolf, this is very symbolic. President Obama is ending this campaign where he kicked off his first. This stage he will be on tonight with Bruce Springsteen directly In front, the Obama campaign tells me, of the headquarters for the Obama campaign during those 2008 Iowa Caucuses, which really catapulted his campaign when he won there. So that's huge.
Of course, I asked the campaign, how are you feeling about Iowa? They said, what else, Wolf, we're feeling great.
When asked about the new CNN poll of polls out today on Iowa, which gives the president just a 3 point lead here, they told me, we'll take it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The Republicans aren't giving up in Iowa either, are they?
HARLOW: No. I mean just look behind me. And we are at a -- a Paul Ryan rally. They're gearing up for him to come here in the next half hour. They are certainly not giving up. A number of them I talked to in the crowd have already voted early here. This is going to be the final stop for Paul Ryan on this campaign here in Iowa, showing you just how important these six electoral votes are.
But, you know, it's interesting, you talk about a state like Iowa,
Where the economic numbers actually tell a pretty good story for the president, relatively speaking, compared to other states.
So I caught up this morning with Iowa's Republican governor, Terry Branstad, and asked him, look, you know, what do you do when you've got a state that economically is doing pretty well?
It's harder for Romney to make his case here.
Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Does the president deserve any credit for the Iowa economy being better than most right now?
GOV. TERRY BRANSTAD (R), IOWA: Well, in fact, the economy in Iowa was in a mess and we were in a financial mess when I came in as governor. We cut spending, we cut taxes and we grew the economy. We deserve credit, just like the people that run their own businesses deserve credit...
HARLOW: Not the president. BRANSTAD: -- not the government. The president doesn't deserve credit...
BRANSTAD: -- for what people do to build their own business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: You can guess who he cast his vote for, a big Romney supporter there.
Early voting critical here, Wolf. Forty percent of the people that vote here vote early. Democrats have about a 65,000 vote lead here on that right now. Traditionally, they're better at getting out the early vote.
Republicans, though, the ground game here, I've got to tell you, much stronger than it was in 2008 for McCain -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Iowa is an important state, as well.
Poppy will be covering that state for us.
CNN will cover Election Night in America like no one else can. Join me, join our own Anderson Cooper, our entire CNN team, starting tomorrow, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, for special Election Night in America live coverage.
As Democrats fight to hold onto the White House, I'll talk about their chances with the son of the vice president, Delaware's attorney general, Beau Biden. He's standing by to join us live.
And the race to 270 electoral votes -- on the eve of the election, what do we know about each candidate's chances?
BLITZER: So how much change will this election really bring?
Jack Cafferty is following that.
He's joining us with The Cafferty File -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN: Wolf, when we get up Wednesday morning or whenever this thing is finally decided, it may not even matter all that much where the Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is the next president and here's why. It's expected the Congress will remain divided in the next session with Democrats in control of the Senate and Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives.
And we all know how productive our federal government has been the last two years with a divided Congress. Critical issues have been ignored, including but not limited to, our soaring national deficits, a $16 trillion national debt, and the looming fiscal cliff. Our lawmakers do really nothing about the important issues, and instead, focus most of their time on things like symbolic votes, meaningless hearings, and calling each other names.
It's all very grown-up. And it's highly likely we can expect more of the same for the next two years. Experts are calling 2012 a status quo election, with most incumbents expected to win new terms. That's really a shame. What have they done to deserve another term? In the House, Republicans now hold a majority 242-193. Democrats aren't going to win nearly enough seats to take control of the House.
Over in the Senate, some Democrats say the worst case scenario there is they'll maintain their current 53-47 margin. But if Americans are frustrated with the dysfunction that they'll likely see under Obama or Romney come January, we really have no one to blame but ourselves for the re-electing of the same people over and over again.
Here's the question this hour, how much does it matter who the president is if Congress remains divided? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Great question, Jack. Thanks very much.
We have less than 24 hours to go. President Obama's has been hitting the airwaves outlining what he considers to be some of the biggest accomplishments of his presidency. Watch this little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over five million new jobs, exports up 41 percent, home values, rising, our auto industry, back, and our heroes are coming home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: One major issue, though, missing from that ad is sort of closing argument ad, his signature health care reform legislation, what's called Obamacare. Joining us now to talk about what's going on, the Delaware attorney general, Beau Biden. He's the son of the vice president, Joe Biden.
Every time I hear that ad, I hear it on TV all the time, I keep saying to myself, why doesn't the president, why isn't he proud of the fact that he got health care reform passed? He doesn't mention that in that closing argument ad at all.
BEAU BIDEN, (D) DELAWARE ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, you know, I was watching it last night. And I think it was on your show that the clip you played of the president's speech yesterday. He was featuring the fact of being proud of having passed Obamacare and the Affordable Health Care Act.
It's something he's proud of, and I think you've heard him speak about it in his rally yesterday in Virginia. I'm losing track of where everybody was. But I've been fairly confident I saw him talk directly to it -- about it on CNN last night.
BLITZER: You're right. He does speak about it in all of his stump speeches, and we've been hearing a lot of them, but he didn't mention it in that one ad which sort of tried to summarize what he thinks are his major accomplishments and then what he wants to do in the next four years. And I'm sort of surprised by that.
That was just me. But I wonder if you're not surprised that he doesn't tout that in that one critically important ad.
BIDEN: No, no, I'm not. Look, there's a lot to be proud of. And I'm glad, in fact, in that ad that he features the fact that he's brought the troops home from Iraq and wants to begin to do some nation-building here at home and build infrastructure and build roads and put the savings from these wars, Afghanistan being -- will be the longest war this nation's fought, do some nation building here at home.
So, you know, there's a lot to be proud of and there's only so many seconds in a 30-second or 60-second ad. But you hear the president and all his surrogates, the vice president, my father, talk about whole range of issues that have made life, you know, better for this nation and put us on the course to take this country forward, building it from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down like Governor Romney would take us.
BLITZER: You know, I've known your dad for a long time. I've covered him. He worked closely with a lot of Republicans when he was in the Senate. I remember in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, worked with Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, very closely from Nebraska. How frustrating has it been for him over these past four years that there's been very little bipartisan cooperation on Capitol Hill?
BIDEN: Oh, I think it's been frustrating for a lot of Democrats, for my father and others. You know, not only did he work with Chuck Hagel who's a close friend, but he work with Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who's one of the most conservative senators of his generation. And they got things done that you covered and well know, Wolf, like the Chemical Test Ban Treaty.
I mean, you know, he worked with Strom Thurmond of the judiciary committee to pass the crime bill on 1994. These are people that went to Congress with fundamentally (ph) different philosophies but spent their careers working across --
BLITZER: Why couldn't they do that over the past four years recreate that kind of cooperation?
BIDEN: Because you had 83 or 89, I get the number mixed up, Tea Party Republicans who went to the United States Congress saying that not only would they not compromise, but they wouldn't talk to Democrats. My way or the highway. Strom Thurmond who ran as dixiecrat in 1948 never took that tact in the 1980s and 1990s and through the latter half of his career.
Jesse Helms who went to the United States Senate the same year my father did, very different fundamental philosophies. They knew to do the business of the American people. They need to establish a relationship and get things done. And sometimes, that dirty word (ph) make compromises.
And look, I think that's going to change, though, because not only is the president going to win, but the Tea Party darlings that are running to the United States Congress, United States Senate are not going to win. You're going to see Claire McCaskill win against Congressman Akin, a Tea Party favorite.
You're going to see Congressman Joe -- in Indiana, I mean, Joe Donnelly in Indiana beat the Republican Tea Party candidate there. I think it's going to send a strong signal to the moderate and even conservative Republicans of the United States Senate that they can't operate the way the Tea Party has insisted that they operate.
And they're going to -- and I think you'll see as my father said last night, you're going to see the fever break, I hope.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Pennsylvania for a moment while I have you. Your dad was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The latest Muhlenberg College Morning Poll, likely voters, Pennsylvania, 49 percent for Obama, 46 percent for Romney, plus or minus five-point sampling. Romney's going to Pittsburgh tomorrow.
President -- former President Clinton was there in Philadelphia today. How worried are you that Pennsylvania being a pretty blue state could be at play?
BIDEN: We're confident we'll win the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, not taking anything for granted. I've been in and out of Pennsylvania. My mother was in Pennsylvania earlier this week -- or this weekend. But we feel confident in Pennsylvania. Not something we're taking for granted. That's why we've had field offices in Pennsylvania for not just months but for years.
Governor Romney, you know, hasn't even plan playing there in any way, shape or form. We have offices all over the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We've worked everyday for the last many months to earn the votes of the citizens of Pennsylvania. And I think it's going to pay off in the end. And I'm confident the president is going to win Pennsylvania.
BLITZER: Beau Biden is the attorney general of Delaware. Thanks very much for coming in.
BIDEN: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Hundreds of thousands still without power. So, what will it mean for voters tomorrow? We're going live to part of the destruction from superstorm Sandy. We're going to try to get answers.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: One week since superstorm Sandy pummeled much of the northeast, the death toll has now soared to at least 110 people here in the United States, almost 50 in New York State. The National Guard is hard at work there where temperatures are plummeting right now, and hundreds of thousands still have no power or have lost their homes.
Governor Andrew Cuomo warns the state is facing, in his words, "a massive housing problem." CNN's national correspondent, Deborah Feyerick, is in the middle of it all on New York Staten Island. Deb, the marines needed to send in reinforcements to help. What's going on?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's exactly right. They sent in about two dozen over the weekend, but when they realize -- discover the devastation, they sent in 50 more. We want to tell you, we're right here in a distribution center. You can see they're handing out some food. Over here, folks taking what's available to them.
On this side over here, they've got blankets, they've got coats. All of these people in desperate need of these kinds of things. What they're also in desperate need of, Wolf, and what arrived today actually cleaning supplies because a lot of them have not had the right cleaning supplies to take care of their home.
The marines arrived. They brought axes, chainsaws, water pumps, all of this with the sole purpose of helping these people dig out of their homes. We walked in several of the homes. They're completely gutted right down to the studs because the salt water destroy the entire first floor. So, what you find is you find wood flooring all that's been ripped up.
You see walls, those walls have been destroyed, carpeting, couches, all different things that are simply in massive piles on the street. We spoke to Captain Flanagan. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. ERIC FLANAGAN, U.S. MARINE CORPS: It's been an amazing amount of damage. I've seen homes burned down to the foundation, homes knocked off the foundation. I just can't believe that a storm could bring this much damage to an area like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: You know, and they arrived in these massive helicopters called Sea Stallions. And you could just see, really, the gravity of the situation here in Staten Island. We spoke to a number of people who said, what's your priority? Are you focused on the election? And we were actually quite surprised because there were a couple of people who actually said, yes, they definitely want to vote.
Others are still really almost shell-shocked, Wolf. They still can't get over the entire devastation that's hit. One poor woman and you could hear the tension and to see emotion in her voice. You know, she said she's spent 32 years of her life here in her home, and 32 years of her life were sitting basically on the front lawn basically ready to be discarded.
Huge boats, about 80 of them, Wolf, had washed up on shore from the harbor, and they were so tall, they're actually touching the wires from electrical poles. Those are going to have to be moved. What we are seeing is we're seeing a lot of sanitation workers, they're picking up their debris. So bit by bit, with volunteers that are helping get these people fed, it's coming together -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's hope it does and hope it does quickly. Deborah Feyerick on Staten Island, thank you.
Meanwhile, last-minute travel changes on the campaign trail. Will it work? Our "Strategy Session" is next.
BLITZER: Let's get right to our "Strategy Session." And joining us are two CNN political contributors. The Democratic strategist, Hilary Rosen, the former Bush White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer.
The travel today for both of these candidates, and we'll show it to our viewers where they've been going. The president of the United States, Wisconsin to Ohio. And you see he'll wrap it up in Iowa before he spends the night in his home state of Chicago, Illinois.
Romney started Florida, Virginia, Ohio. He's wrapping it up in New Hampshire. But tomorrow they announced he's going to Pennsylvania and Ohio again on election day.
Do these last-minute kind of trips make a difference?
ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, Wolf, that reminds me a lot of Air Force One. I miss that plane.
FLEISCHER: Yes, it does make a difference. I mean this is where you go for your close. And this is where you -- the race is down to enthusiasm and turnout, you don't leave any stone unturned and go into where you think you need the most turnout and the most enthusiasm. And they're predictable states. There's really no surprises there.
BLITZER: As my father used to say, it might not help but can't hurt, right?
HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It can't hurt. Can't hurt. Although I -- you know, this fantasy about Pennsylvania, we could talk about it all day. But you know with almost a million voter registration difference in favor of Democrats, I think Pennsylvania is still a fantasy for Romney. In this math --
BLITZER: So why did the president send Bill Clinton there today to campaign in Pennsylvania?
ROSEN: Because you want to make sure that everybody in Pennsylvania knows that you love them and that their vote matters. But whether or not -- that's different than whether you think they're actually going to vote for the other guy.
You know this firewall has been very consistent of Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, and Nevada, this kind of firewall that the Obama campaign has been looking at. And it's been so consistent actually for the last three or four months of a significant enough Obama campaign lead that they feel confident that those are the states that are going to --
BLITZER: This is the firewall of Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio, and the president is slightly ahead of Romney --
ROSEN: And I'd add Nevada to that.
BLITZER: -- in all the polls in those states.
FLEISCHER: Yes. And let's take a look at all those polls. But the problem still remains just as it has for a couple of months now. This is what tomorrow will test. Almost all those polls still oversample Democrats. It's a prediction that looks like the turnout model will be just like or just under 2008. And this is the core issue of this election. Are these state-by-state polls going to be correct or is there really something going on where the pollsters are not counting Republicans? And in many of these places, particularly in the Midwest, Mitt Romney keeps winning independents.
I think tomorrow the two surprised stories are going to be the shift of independence toward Mitt Romney and seniors, Wolf. Keep your eye on seniors. John McCain beat Mitt Romney by -- Barack Obama by eight points among seniors. And Mitt Romney is leading by double digits among seniors in many of these places. Big issue.
BLITZER: What do you think --
FLEISCHER: If Democrats don't get the turnout, that drives through this.
ROSEN: Well he is leading seniors. But I think that women in particular, we're getting -- we're seeing married women shift. Unmarried women are very strong for President Obama. We're seeing some shift in married women particularly in states where that gender gap matters like Iowa and Wisconsin, big gender gaps there. I think that that's going to end up pulling the president.
BLITZER: You think Pennsylvania is just wishful thinking for Romney?
FLEISCHER: No, I think it was a smart move. I think he had everything he could get out of Ohio and Wisconsin, than spend another $1 million, $2 million, $4 million there. They're really wasn't going to move any needles. They're going to go the way they're going to go and they're both toss-ups.
Pennsylvania, though, it's a reasonable stretch. First of all, it's the second oldest state in the union. Only Florida has more seniors and again with a double-digit lead there, it's very helpful. And if the Democrat enthusiasm is down, if he doesn't get the record turnout that he got in 2008 outside Philadelphia, which I think is a legitimate issue, it puts it in play.
ROSEN: You know, again, the volatility in this race has really been on the Romney side. You know, where we saw Romney sinking low, moving up after the debate, getting some momentum, seems to have stopped after the second debate, you know, people said it was after the hurricane. But it really wasn't. It stopped by the time of the last debate.
And -- but the president's strong numbers have really been fairly steady in these states. And that's not going to change. And that's why I think he's going to eke it out tomorrow in several of these states that people are not expecting.
FLEISCHER: Though he's still under 50 in most of these states. And there are polls in every one of the states that will give you a poll of --
ROSEN: It's not still under 50.
FLEISCHER: With the Romney lead. So you can also find the poll that you want to find. The fact of the matter is, we'll all know tomorrow. This is down to that wire.
BLITZER: Twenty-four hours from now, the real results will start coming in. And then we'll get some projections. We'll see what happens.
Thanks very much.
The balance of power in Washington may lie with the U.S. Senate as well. Can Democrats keep control? Stand by.
BLITZER: Balance of power may lie with the Senate. Both parties hold vulnerable seats. CNN's senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is joining us now with more.
Dana, what does it look like?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is what it looks like currently. The United States Senate, you have 47 Republicans, you have 51 Democrats, two independents. That 47 is the key one to keep in mind because it means that Republicans need a net gain of four seats.
Let's look, though, at what's at stake tomorrow. All of these seats, 33, they're all represented in white here. It's a third of the Senate which of course is typical. That's what happens every two years. But the reality is that not all of these are competitive. Not even close. So we'll turn over those that we think are going to go either Democrat or Republican.
But that still, Wolf, leaves a lot of competitive seats in here, nearly a dozen that we're going to be watching tomorrow night.
BLITZER: So let's take a look at some of the races you find most interesting, Dana, where Democrats appear to be defending their position.
BASH: Well, I think the most interesting at this point is the state of Virginia, which of course we've been watching because it's local. You have Tim Kaine, who is the former governor, who is fighting to keep the seat in Democratic hands. Jim Webb, the current Democratic senator, is retiring. And then you have George Allen who was defeated from this seat six years ago. He is fighting very hard to get back.
Wolf, this is the most expensive Senate race so far this year, $82 million, neck and neck.
And then the other one that I'm going to be watching very closely tomorrow night is the state of Montana. There we go. Tester, Jon tester, the incumbent Democratic senator, he of course is sitting there in a very, very red state, from the very beginning when he was elected, he knew he would have to defend this in a robust way. And he has.
He's running against the Republican challenger Danny Rehberg. This is a state where you've seen about $50 million spent. And it hasn't moved the dial at all. They went into this race with about a 1 percent differential and that's where they are right now the day before election day.
BLITZER: All right, Dana. Thanks very much. Later you'll tell us what about the Republicans, where they're playing defense as well.
So what happens tomorrow will likely come down to some critical battleground states. Up next, we're going live to Ohio and then Virginia.
BLITZER: This just coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM. There you see him, the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo. Taking special action right now to make it easier for people displaced in New York state by the super storm Sandy to vote.
Our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, has learned all the details. What is he announcing?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, New York voters who are in the disaster area, the five boroughs and the suburbs who have been affected by so much, they can vote in any polling place in any part of the state for president and for senator. They can't vote in local races except where they live. But what he's doing is he's using his power as governor -- and, remember, states, not the federal government, run our elections.
He's saying in New York state, if you are in that disaster area, you can vote in any polling place for senator or for president.
BLITZER: What about House of Representatives?
TOOBIN: You can't, unless you are in that district.
BLITZER: So you have to be in the district -- you have to be in your congressional district to vote.
BLITZER: For your member of the House. But you could vote any place for the Senate?
TOOBIN: Statewide races. Exactly.
BLITZER: And you can't vote obviously for the mayors. What about the ballot initiatives? Any of that stuff, the referendum --
TOOBIN: I think you can vote on this -- you know what, I actually - I didn't see that in the announcement. And I'm trying to remember. I don't think there are any ballot initiatives this year in New York state. That wasn't in the part of the announcement that I saw. What he was referring to specifically was senator and president to --
BLITZER: You're a resident of New York state.
TOOBIN: I am.
BLITZER: It makes it easier for --
TOOBIN: But my absentee ballot got stuck in Sandy.
BLITZER: It did?
TOOBIN: And I have not been able to vote.
BLITZER: How is that possible?
TOOBIN: It's very disappointing. Well, because of the storm, the mail was late. It's very -- it's very upsetting to me. I like to vote.
BLITZER: I know you do. So you're not going to be back in New York state --
TOOBIN: No, I'm working here.
BLITZER: You're here. All right.
TOOBIN: So it was going to have to go on without me. BLITZER: You might be working for a while, too.
TOOBIN: That's true.
BLITZER: If those lawyers have their way. Thanks very much, Jeffrey.
Our correspondents are deployed in all the key battleground states. Gary Tuchman is in Virginia. We'll go to him in a moment. But Don Lemon is in Ohio. Its 18 electoral votes could be critical as all of us know.
Don, set the scene for us.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Look, Wolf, 2:00 this polling place closed. And what is it? Almost 6:00 Eastern Time. The last person went in just a short time ago, a handful of people in here voting. So long lines here. This is Hamilton County, we're in Cincinnati. Long lines here, long lines in Montgomery County, long lines in Franklin County. We saw that for early voting but early voting officially closed.
They think they got close to the 2008 numbers, Wolf, for early voting but they don't they're going to reach them or surpass those numbers. So we're going to see what happens. They did have some great turnout here.
This is -- this pesky provisional ballot, that could also offer a problem here in Ohio. And just to tell you what the provisional ballot is, a voter who requested an absentee ballot by mail, if they don't return that ballot and then they go in to the polling place to vote early or vote on election day, then they're going to have to file a provisional ballot.
Two hundred thousand provisional ballots were issued here or were submitted here in 2008. Almost 40,000 of them were tossed out. And now there's concern that more could be tossed out because of a directive just issued by the secretary of state saying that now for this information, the Social Security number, any identification, the voter is responsible for that information and not the poll worker.
And so a voters rights group has now filed a lawsuit saying, you know what, that can cause potentially more of these to be tossed out. It's supposed to be worked out in court on Wednesday. But Wolf, if it comes really close and it comes down to that, this could be the deciding factor. And we won't know who the president of the United States is until 10 days after the election.
LEMON: Because that's when these can be counted so --
BLITZER: Can you imagine?
LEMON: Stay tuned.
BLITZER: We'll stay tuned with you, Don. Thank you.
Let's go to Richmond, Virginia. Gary Tuchman is on the scene there. It's another critical battleground state -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, unless Joe Biden runs for president of the United States or another office some day, tonight will be the last time in his career he campaigns for himself. He's been doing it for 42 years since he ran for county commission in 1970. And tonight behind me about 15 minutes from now he will be making this final argument about why Barack Obama and he deserve another term in the White House.
Virginia, a crucial state. In 2008, it was the first time the Democrats won the presidential election here in the state. For 44 years, the last time, 1964, when LBJ won, so it's crucial, very crucial for Mitt Romney to win here. It will bode very well, though, if Barack Obama could win Virginia for the second time in a row. About five minutes from now rocker John Mellencamp will singing. If his practice session is any indication, he'll be singing "Small Town" and that's appropriate because the Democrats need a lot of those small town voters here in Virginia to win the state. They know they'll do well in the big cities -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Virginia is going to be close. We're going to watch it together with you, Gary. Thank you.
So who would be to blame if Mitt Romney loses? We're going to have that coming up in our next hour.
BLITZER: Last-minute maneuvering by the candidates certainly aimed at reaching the magic number in the electoral college votes. That will mean victory for one of them.
Our chief national correspondent John King is taking a closer look at how they get to that magic number of 270.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a little after this time tomorrow night we'll be starting to fill this in with real results. Now we're basing it on projections from the campaigns. What we learn from our reporting. But here's where we are. If you see the gold states on the map, they're the toss-up states. The true battleground states. That's where you'll find the candidates. You might add Pennsylvania for Mitt Romney. But we still lean that one the president's way.
Wolf, we head in to the election, 237, strong or leaning the president's way, 206, strong or leaning Governor Romney's way. It takes 270 to win the game.
Just got off the call with the senior Obama campaign officials, they are enormously confident about this. They think Nevada is in their fold. Next they say they're most confident about this. Now the Romney campaign would dispute this. They think they can take Iowa but let me, for the hypothetical, say let's give it to them. The Obama campaign also very confident about Wisconsin. Let's give them that. That would get the president to 259. If you ask them, what's next on their list of confidence, they actually say Ohio.
They say that. If the president does that, he's over the top. Game over. But let's take this back just for the sake of argument. Leave that one a tossup. If you, and many Republicans don't dispute this, inside the campaign they say no, we're going to win Iowa, we're going to Wisconsin, a lot of other Republicans say, we'll probably not going to win Iowa. We'll probably not going to win Wisconsin. The Latino vote. probably the key for the president on Nevada.
So let's assume the president gets those three. Democrats say they're in play in Florida but some Democrats in the state say they would not be surprised if Romney took that one. These Obama campaign officials we just talked to moments ago, they say we're going to win Virginia again but Democrats in the state say they would not be shocked if Governor Romney took that one. So we'll do that. Then you get to this, 259-248.
You come out here. Again, the Obama campaign says their coalition is intact from 2008. The Romney campaign says they're going to have a swarm, especially in the western part of the state. Let's, for the sake of argument, do this. Now the Obama campaign would object. Other Democrats say they wouldn't be shocked if Romney carried Colorado. Look where we would be then. And we would be over here with Ohio and tiny New Hampshire. Tiny New Hampshire.
Now in this scenario, they both need Ohio. And in this scenario, when you get them at 259-257. they both need this one. Governor Romney gets it, he's over the top just with that. If the president gets it, he's over the top with Ohio. Again, if this one swings, if Iowa goes Romney's way, then the map gets a little more complicated. But it comes down, this is why they spent so much time here in the end. Some of this else could change. But if this is roughly how it played out tomorrow night, they'd all be right. The winner of Ohio, gets the White House.
BLITZER: And Romney's going to Pennsylvania tomorrow. Bill Clinton was campaigning for Obama in Pennsylvania. We have it light blue, leaning Obama right now. What if there's a shock and Pennsylvania were to go for the Republicans?
KING: You know, the polls did narrow in the final weeks and the Romney campaign looks at that. George W. Bush looks at that. It has among the most reliably blue DNA in presidential politics so my gut says it is unlikely. But why is he going there? In part he's going there because of the worry that this one turns blue. If that on turns blue, if Ohio is for the president, even if Governor Romney does well in Colorado, in Florida, in North Carolina, and Virginia, the president wins re-election unless Governor Romney can take that one away.
If he takes Pennsylvania away, he knocks the president back below and if somehow Romney could win Pennsylvania, then he's the next president of the United States. Again, it is unlikely given the state's presidential history, Wolf. It has voted Democratic forever in presidential politics.
However, the Romney campaign says the polls have softened a little bit. So it's for them an insurance plan if they can't win Ohio. And let's also be honest on the final day Governor Romney was in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia area the other day, on the final day, he'll be in Pittsburgh. When you're campaigning in Pittsburgh, you're also on television in eastern Ohio.
BLITZER: Good point. John, it's going to be busy with all of us tomorrow night and beyond. I suspect.
Let's go to Jack right now. He's got the "Cafferty File." Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, the question this hour is how much does it matter who the president is if the Congress remains divided? And it likely will remain so.
Bob in Florida writes, "Makes a world of difference. The business community and job creators have seen the threat of higher taxes and more regulation go unchallenged by the press for the last four years. A Romney win would at least tell the business community there's no reason to be shy about expansion and growth and that it's safe to begin hiring again."
Lucy writes, "It won't matter a bit. Neither candidate can really make any change without Congress then neither candidate will make any changes right away anyway. I still think the American public is looking for instant gratification and it ain't going to happen."
Peg in New York, "It matters to me from a social agenda perspective. No way I can support anyone who doesn't support women's rights.
Emmett, Mobile, Alabama, "Jack, it matters a lot where national security is concerned. Do you remember what happened in Iran when Jimmy Carter was president? Also, what about the fiascos in Mexico and Benghazi on Obama's watch? Only in a perfect world can we afford another Democrat in the White House."
Ruth in Indianapolis says, "If the House remains Republican, and the Senate remains in need of 60 votes to pass anything, then we'll still be in gridlock. And if god help us Romney wins and the House is Republicans then we have a disaster."
And Rich in Texas writes this, "The president sets the agenda but Congress holds the purse strings. The president can do very little without the support of Congress. That being said, if you gave the whole Sahara Desert to our wasteful Congress in a year's time there'd no sand left."
If you want to read more about this, you can find it on the blog, CNN.com/caffertyfile, or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
Happening now, the race for the White House going down to the wire. A final day of whirlwind campaigning for President Obama.