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Election Day 2012; A Tie In Dixville Notch; Polls Now Open In Virginia; Battleground: Virginia; Sandy's Impact On Vote; Voting Begins In Virginia; Nor'Easter Targets Sandy Impact Zone; Seven Syrian Generals Defect To Turkey

Aired November 6, 2012 - 06:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Welcome, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien, and you're watching a special Election Day edition of EARLY START. It is here, the battle for every last vote continues this morning. Eight states are opening their polls right now and the best political team on TV has it covered wire to wire today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. An indication that it could be a close one. The first election results, they are in from the tiny towns of Dixville Notch and Harts location in New Hampshire. And in one of those towns, it's a result we've never seen before.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Campaign trail extended. I'm Christine Romans. Governor Romney adding a couple of key stops today, but President Obama is standing pat and shooting some hoops on the last day of his final campaign ever.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin, the immense damage from Hurricane Sandy forcing an Election Day scramble. People voting by e-mail and at different polling stations, and in some cases, literally moving the Earth to have their voices heard.

O'BRIEN: Joining us throughout the morning for our special Election Day coverage: Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia; Delaware governor Jack Markell will be our guest. South Carolina Congressman, Jim Clyburn is joining us. Obama campaign senior adviser, David Axelrod; Virginia governor Bob McDonnell; former Ohio governor, Ted Strickland; Texas Congressman, Jeb Hensarling will be talking with us. And Bob Shrum, a Democratic consultant who worked on the Kerry and Gore campaign.

Special election coverage here on CNN begins right now.

Maybe it felt like five years to you, but it's been 17 months of campaigning and campaign promises, and today the American people get their say.

Good morning, welcome to a special edition of EARLY START and our live coverage of Election Day 2012. Now the polls are opening right now in eight states, in Connecticut, in Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, in New Hampshire, in New Jersey, New York and in the state of Virginia.

Close to a year and a half, we've watched the two candidates spend $3 billion and duel it out in three dramatic debates, all for a chance for your vote. Mitt Romney not letting up today, he has added two final campaign stops, one is in Cleveland, Ohio, the other in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

President Obama is in Chicago today, and aides say he is likely to continue his election-day tradition of playing basketball with his friends before he sits down to watch the returns.

As we just mentioned the polls open now in eight states, including the key battleground state. John Berman's got more on that. Good morning.

BERMAN: Good morning, Soledad. So, you know, I'd say the 10 votes is not a trend, but the first results of the presidential election could indicate just how close this race will be.

President Obama and Mitt Romney tied with five votes apiece in tiny Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. They made history in the process. Never been a tie there. The midnight vote in another small New Hampshire town, Harts Location, was a bit more decisive, Obama won there with 23 votes, Mitt Romney had just 9 votes.

I'm joined now by David Mattingly who is live in Bedford, New Hampshire this morning. Dave, the polls are now open in the granite state.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And there is no early voting in New Hampshire, unlike in other states, so today is the day. They have over 800,000 registered voters in this state, and there's something about New Hampshire.

They allow people to sign up to vote the very day that they go to vote. So today, in addition to here in Bedford when you see all these polling places ready to go, also we're going to be keeping an eye on this desk right here.

This is where people will come to register to vote today, the secretary of state predicts that in addition to the 800,000 already signed up to vote, we could see another 100,000 signing up to vote today, as they come into the polling places. So, we're looking for a very busy day here in New Hampshire -- John.

BERMAN: New Hampshire, they take their voting very, very seriously. David Mattingly live in Bedford, New Hampshire.

Virginia also one of the states to watch tonight, the polls now there open as well in that key battleground state. Randi Kaye is live in Woodbridge, Virginia, where it's still dark. Good morning, Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Yes, the polls are open. We can see a few people here behind me just starting to file in. They expect about 1,000 people to vote here. They're not just voting for president, of course, they're also voting for the Senate.

And here is one of the really the marquee races for the Senate taking place here in Virginia. Two former governors battling it out, you have Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen. They've really been riding the coattails of President Obama and Mitt Romney appearing on stage with them, and many, many times.

Now the issue here, though, John, is the fiscal cliff, because George Allen, the Republican has been hammering his opponent, Democrat Tim Kaine and the Democrats are failing to reach a debt deal. And he's warning that if the automatic cuts, of course, go into effect, then that will really hit the defense industry here in Virginia quite hard.

We'll see how that plays out today. But what's interesting is that folks here really believe that Virginia is the new Ohio. And they think they have a really big role here. So we'll see how it plays out through the rest of Election Day -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Randi Kaye live in Virginia. It could be a long day there.

Polls just opening in New York, as well, New York not a swing state, but the New York metro area still reeling from superstorm Sandy and now everyone bracing for a new nor'easter coming their way. So voting has become a pretty big hurdle for people displaced from their homes.

New York's Governor Andrew cuomo trying to remedy that, he signed an order allowing them to vote at any polling place. CNN's Alina Cho is at a makeshift polling station this morning in Brooklyn, New York. Good morning, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, good morning to you. I'm at the only school in New York City that is serving as both an emergency shelter and a polling station today. The polls are open here in New York.

A line has formed around the corner, about a dozen people on line. These are people who are not displaced, but they are very excited to vote including one woman who even brought a chair. She said she's very serious about it.

But you're absolutely right. Late yesterday, just hours before the polls opened, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that essentially says, if you live in a federal disaster zone in New York, you can cast your ballot today, not just in your district, but in any polling site in the state.

Now, all you have to do is go into that site, sign an affidavit, and you can vote. This is unprecedented and it will mean that up to 143,000 voters in New York City alone will be able to cast their ballots today.

These are people who might otherwise have problems getting to a voting site. This is not a perfect solution. The governor admits it might complicate some local races, because ballots will be different in different districts. But it will allow people to vote and that's the bottom line. John, back to you.

BERMAN: And it's a big opportunity for voters in that state and they need something on their side right now. Alina Cho, thank you so much in Brooklyn, New York.

Later this hour, we're going to check in live with reporters in Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, so much to talk about. But right now back to the battleground state of Virginia, where the fight could not be more fierce.

The latest poll has President Obama and Mitt Romney in a dead heat there. Back to Soledad for a key interview.

O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Randy Forbes. He is a Republican congressman from the state of Virginia. He's also a Mitt Romney supporter. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us this morning.

REP. RANDY FORBES, (R) VIRGINIA: Thanks, Soledad. It's always great to be with you.

O'BRIEN: Appreciate that. All right two events have been added now to the governor's calendar. State of Ohio, he's going to be campaigning there. Then he's going to go into the state of Pennsylvania.

How shall we read that? Is that an indication that he's worried and feels like he needs every last second to get out there to campaign?

FORBERS: I don't think so. I think if you look at these huge crowds you know in Virginia alone he just had a crowd that they had to turn down several thousand people.

They couldn't get them into the venue because it was just too many people showing up. I think the governor's excited. I think he sees this momentum and wants to take advantage of all of it and all these states are coming into play.

O'BRIEN: If you look at what Nate Silver from "The New York Times" has been really crunching the data, and tweeting out some of his results, he tweeted out last night that the president had a 91 percent chance of winning the Electoral College.

And he notes, quote, "pretty clear shift to Obama in the national polls." I know lots of Republicans who said these polls could be way off. Where do you stand on that? Are you seeing the -- are you crunching the same data that he's crunching?

FORBES: Well, Soledad, as you know "The New York Times" is not exactly a bastion of conservative thought. But if you look at a lot of other experts who make their living on this, whether it's Michael Barone or Karl Rove or Bill Kristol or even Rush Limbaugh, they've come out, they've done the same thing --

O'BRIEN: Not bastions --

FORBES: -- Governor Romney's going to have a big day today, and I think that's what we're going to see. You know, some of these polls, Soledad, as you know, they measure a few hundred people. We've been measuring thousands of people across Virginia. And if the excitement across the country is anything like it is in Virginia I think it's going to be a enthusiast day in the country tomorrow.

O'BRIEN: Just to point out, that Nate Silver is very careful about focusing on the numbers. And he doesn't have a liberal bias in his calculations, which I think is why a lot of people follow what he has to say.

I'm not sure how I feel about what he's been reporting that 91 percent. We've been discussing it all morning. Hurricane Sandy the impact it closed down I know in person absentee voting in Maryland on Monday.

Delayed the opening of some polling places I believe as well today. What do you what do you think would happen from that? Do you foresee it doesn't end tonight there could be some legal battles down the road in your state?

FORBES: Soledad, I think we could always see that, but I really believe Virginia has a pretty good voting history. I think we're going to have a pretty clear decision by the end of this evening. That's certainly what we're hoping for. I don't think Sandy is going to have a major impact on that decision.

O'BRIEN: Randy Forbes is a Republican congressman from the state of Virginia joining us this morning. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for your time. We appreciate it.

FORBES: Thanks, Soledad. Have a great day.

O'BRIEN: Thank you likewise. CNN has complete coverage and analysis as the polls close this evening. Here's Wolf with a look at how it's going to go.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": We're really excited, Soledad, about our coverage tonight because we've got a lot going on. John King, of course, will be at the CNN magic wall over there. He's looking at all the various permutations, lot of possible -- we have 16 reporters, 16 reporters in all the key battleground states.

We'll touch base with them. Tom Foreman is in the virtual set, as you saw what he has in store. He's got some more surprises coming up. We've got the best analysts in the business. They're standing by. We'll dissect everything step by step.

The great thing about coverage these elections, you never know what's going to happen. There could be some huge surprises there tonight and we will be watching it together with all of our viewers.

Speaking of surprises, we've got some other, shall we say, technical surprises, in the works, as well. And I think our viewers, Soledad, will be very, very happy.

O'BRIEN: All right, looking forward to that. Let's get right to Zoraida now. She's got a look at some of the other stories that are making news today. Good morning.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, Soledad. Coastal communities in New York and New Jersey are sitting in the path of a nor'easter. Can you believe it?

This is 1.2 million people in that region are still without power one week after superstorm Sandy slammed into the coastal northeast. I n fact, that new storm has some communities telling its residents to evacuate again.

Brick, New Jersey, has a mandatory evacuation order in place for residents in all the low-lying areas and it's also encouraging others to leave if their home could be affected again.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano is tracking this new storm for us and also has a look at the Election Day forecast for the nation. We've got you nice and busy this morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Indeed. Good morning again, Zoraida. That storm you were talking about, the nor'easter, is right now across Georgia and Florida. It already has some pretty potent energy with it.

And the storms that will be rolling through Florida will have some punch to them, as well especially through Tampa, Orlando. This will come in the next couple of hours so get out there early or wait until it passes.

It could last for two or three hours so significant rainfall event with certainly some lightning. As far as what that storm will turn into over the next couple of days, the timing of it is Wednesday afternoon, in through Thursday night.

Here are the winds potentially across the northeast into the storm zone. Maybe 40 to 50-mile-per-hour winds up through Cape Cod and also eastern Long Island. There's your wind threat. High wind watches have been posted for gusts potentially damaging, of course a lot of trees and limbs already weakened from Sandy.

So this will bring down likely more power lines. And the potential for snow, actually, exists. I don't know how much will actually stick still warm here. But it's going to be a cold storm again adding insult to injury. Zoraida, back up to you.

SAMBOLIN: All right, that's just a mess. Thanks for that, Rob.

We have a developing story in Syria. Seven generals in the Syrian army defected to Turkey today. This is the latest crack in the regime of President Bashar Al Assad since civil war broke out a year and a half ago.

A Turkish news agency reports that the general's crossed the Turkish border and demanded refuge. They have been taken to a camp, possibly a refugee camp, under tight security measures.

And progress being made in battle against the Cajon Pass fire, this is Southern California. Crews have knocked down enough of the 350 acre brushfire to reopen part of the 15 freeway. That fire prompted mandatory evacuations in that region -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Zoraida. Thank you for watching that. As recent history tells us, not everything is going to run smoothly on Election Day. There have already been some issues. We'll take a closer look at those issues coming up.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back to special Election Day coverage from our nation's capital.

Michelle Obama was taking an interesting tone last night as she defended her husband in Orlando. Let's play it and we'll talk about it on the other side.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: The auto industry was in crisis. This economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month. And a lot of folks were wondering whether we were headed for another Great Depression. Do you hear me? That's what people were worried about.

And that is what Barack faced on day one as President of the United States.


O'BRIEN: And the president, was he crying? Was he crying in his final campaign event in Iowa? Take a look at this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those of you haven't done this just for me, but for each other -- for a laid-off family member, for a sick child, for a fallen friend -- to all of you who've lived and breathed the hard work of change, I want to thank you. You took this campaign and you made it your own and you organized yourselves, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, county by county, starting a movement that spread across the country.


O'BRIEN: You could see a little tear, kind of, sort of.

Back with CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro, and CNN political analyst Roland Martin.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You've got to remember the night before the election 2008, he teared up due to the death of his grandmother. And so, I wouldn't be surprised if you're talking about the night before, that being an emotional remembrance, because he pretty much was talking about the exact same thing four years ago when he was in North Carolina. O'BRIEN: Also, I think for both of them, on both sides, right, for Ann and Mitt Romney, and for President Obama and Michelle Obama, it's exhausting. It's almost over, it's like the Boston marathon and you see the ribbon at the end, and you're like, look, we're almost done.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Listen, and also remember for President Obama, this is his last campaign in his life. This is an end of a political career in that sense. So, it's got to have some sort of nostalgia.

But the emotion, the charged up, the scrutiny they've been under, the schedule they've been under. Both of them, it's a day full of emotion.

O'BRIEN: Michelle Obama, much tougher than I've heard her.

SAMBOLIN: You saw her defend her husband.

MARTIN: Let me tell you something, personally wasn't happy when I said it, but I said, seriously, your wife blows you away on campaigning. She -- I've seen her speak without notes, without teleprompter and she really goes all in, and she's a phenomenal campaigner.

ROMANS: But Iowa is the place that's really important for this president, because the people he was talking to there are the people who gave him the legs politically that allowed him to become President of the United States. You think about when Hillary Clinton was in there for the caucuses, remember, and how it was Clinton -- it was Clinton, it was Edwards, it was Barack Obama maybe. And then suddenly he blew to the top of the list in that process.

And so he was talking to the people there who actually gave him the legs --

MARTIN: He was closing the circle.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

NAVARRO: Iowa was the game changer for the Democrat primary four years ago.

SAMBOLIN: There was an article that talked about how far he's come from 2008 till now. He talked about having a room without any -- any electricity and no heat. And folks came in and brought all of the campaigners stuff to wear in order to keep them warm. So, there's --

O'BRIEN: He's got a long way to go, still, as we start Election Day today. We're going o come back with a look at some of the problems at the polls right after this.

Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. As the polls open up in states across the country, we're tracking any potential voting problems. Already, there's a fight over early voting in the state of Florida.

Ali Velshi is following those developments from the CNN Center in Atlanta -- Ali.


They still continue those lineups. Remember things have changed. Yesterday, early voting ended anywhere. Now, it's the actual voting.

In Florida, look, they're kind of used to the long lineup that was there in 2008. It was there in 2010. But these are bigger because there were supposed to be 14 days of advanced voting, and they were reduced to eight days.

Floridians want to vote. Some people have been -- not turned away -- they've walked away because they've had to spend up to seven hours in those lines. Democrats are prepared to try and fight this. As you know they're lawyered up in Florida and many other states.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about Ohio.


O'BRIEN: Provisional ballots could become a big problem if, in fact, Ohio is as close as some people are predicting it could be, right?

VELSHI: Right. And so provisional ballots are ballots that you use if you were mailed a ballot but want to use a different ballot or you didn't have sufficient ID, or you weren't on the rolls. You have to fill out this form you're looking at now.

That's new. It used to be that the person to whom you went to vote saying you had this kind of ID. And this is your Social Security number.

Now, it's on the voter to do it. Democrats have complained this is disenfranchising because it's complicated. Those provisional ballots get counted 10 days after the election and again won't matter if it's not close. But it will matter if it is close.

By the way, last election, 200,000 provisional ballots were cast. So, it could actually make a difference. That's also before a judge.

O'BRIEN: All right. Ali Velshi for us. Thanks, Ali, for watching that.

You can share your voting experience with us by sending us a tweet or an e-mail or a text. Twitter #CNNVotewatch. E-mail us at Or text us at CNN 55333.

Now, dozens of polls are opening across the country. Take a look at Miami-Dade County where voters are already lining up. Plus, you can check in with team Obama and team Romney. Special election coverage live from Washington, D.C. We're back right after this.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching a special edition of EARLY START. CNN's live coverage of Election Day 2012.

We have the very first results in from Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. They've spoken and for the first time in their history, it's a tie. Five votes for President Obama, five votes for Mitt Romney.

Voting is under way now in 12 states total. Opening right now North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia.

And after a 17-month-long marathon, costing a combined $3 billion, the candidates have made their closing arguments.


B. OBAMA: Our fight goes on because America always does best when everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same rules. That's what we believe. That's why you elected me in 2008. And that's why I'm running for a second term.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is much more than our moment. It's America's moment of renewal, and purpose and optimism. And we've journeyed far and wide through this great campaign for America's future. And now, we're almost home.


O'BRIEN: There are already legal issues plaguing two key battleground states. In Florida, long lines continuing, including where you're looking right now, this is Miami-Dade County where the polls won't even open for another 30 minutes. Democrats sued to extend early voting hours even though those early voting hours legally ended on Saturday.

And then, in the state of Ohio, a hearing is set for Wednesday morning to hear arguments about the rules for counting provisional ballots. The final tally from the Buckeye State could take weeks.

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey is allowing voting by e-mail and voting by fax. New York is permitting voters to cast ballots at any polling place in the state.

Joining us throughout the morning for our Election Day coverage, the Delaware Governor Jack Markell, South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn will be our guest. Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod will join us. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling and Bob Shrum, Democratic consultant who worked with Kerry and Gore campaigns, all of them joining us live this morning. First, though, we want to get right to John Berman. He's taken a closer look at those states. Our correspondents are now on the ground. Good morning.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. Good morning to you.

You might say that high, the Buckeye State, is the mother of all battlegrounds in this presidential election. And nearly 2 million people have voted there already.

Many are at the polls just now, as they open this morning.

Carol Costello is in Blue Ash, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the polls are just about to open in Hamilton County, Ohio, and people seem to be excited because cars have been pulling in one after the other since about 6:00 Eastern this morning. Hamilton County is very important for the Republicans. In 2008, this county swung Democrat for the first time in forever, so Mitt Romney really needs to turn out the vote here in traditionally Republican country to win the election, because as you know, no Republican has won the presidency without winning the state of Ohio.

Of course, the big controversy here is those provisional ballots. If there's a problem in your registration form, if you filed for an absentee ballot and you decided to show up and vote in person, you're going to be issued a provisional ballot. It's up to you to fill it out properly. If there's any mistake on that ballot, it could be thrown out and that would mean your vote does not count.

Already, one lawsuit has been filed against the way they're going to do those provisional ballots this year, so that could be a sticking point. And as you know, provisional ballots aren't counted until 10 days after the election. So if it's a tight race we could be waiting a long time to find out who wins the presidency of the United States.

Back to you, John.


BERMAN: Thank you, Carol Costello. Perish the thought.

Meanwhile, wrapping up the campaign trail with a final emotional rally in Iowa last night, President Obama will spend Election Day in Chicago. At the top of his agenda -- playing basketball, and later watching the election returns come in.

CNN's Dan Lothian is live in Chicago this morning.

Dan, that basketball tradition, it sticks, huh?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. They're pretty superstitious this campaign, and so the president, as you pointed out, will be playing basketball today. He arrived here in Chicago early this morning. We're told by campaign officials that the president is feeling very optimistic about the outcome of the election.

No plans by the campaign for the president to alter his plans, and match what Governor Mitt Romney is doing with his campaigning in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Instead, the president will be doing media interviews from here and Chicago and again playing basketball. He'll be reflecting over the last four years. And as we saw last night at his final campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, he got emotional.


OBAMA: I want to take this opportunity to say one thing to all the young people and not so young people who have given so much to this campaign over the years. Those of you who haven't done this just for me but for each other -- for a laid off family member, for a sick child, for a fallen friend -- to all of you who've lived and breathed the hard work of change, I want to thank you.


LOTHIAN: Even though this is Election Day, the ground game continues pushing very hard in those key battleground states. Volunteers will be out knocking on doors, working the phones. Surrogates will be on television and radio encouraging voters to head out to the polls -- John.

BERMAN: It is a long day. Dan Lothian in Chicago right now.

You know, you heard Dan mention it before. Mitt Romney, he will be in Boston, where he will cost his vote in a couple of hours. But then he heads back out on the campaign trail for two final stops. One in Pennsylvania, the other in Ohio.

I'm joined now by CNN political reporter Peter Hamby who is in Boston.

Those two stops kind of a late addition, Peter.

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: It's a bit of a tell, John. You know, if you talk to Republicans in and around the Romney campaign, some of them are bracing for a loss. They have Romney topping out at probably 257 electoral votes. Maybe less depending on which way Iowa or New Hampshire goes.

But look, a lot of people know that -- in the campaign know that this is a tight, tight race. I was just in Ohio for the last week. People there are confident. Even if you're not a Romney supporter and you're a Republican, you think you can still pull out a win there. And they're projecting confidence right now.

I mean, listen to what Mitt Romney had to say at a campaign stop last night in New Hampshire, John.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: We have known many long days and short nights and now we're close. The door to a brighter future is there. It's open. It's waiting for us.

I need your vote. I need your help. Walk with me. Walk together. Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow.


HAMBY: John, you mention Pennsylvania and Ohio. The most telling way a campaign thinks about states is where they travel. What do these two stops tell you? They need to win Pennsylvania as a last gasp. And they are -- really need to win Ohio here to pull out a win tonight, John.

So that's why they're hitting these states today. They want to leave nothing on the table, John.

BERMAN: All right, Peter Hamby live in Boston this morning. The Mitt Romney team making the case whatever happens, they are fighting until the end. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right, John, thank you.

In the next 30 minutes, the majority of polls will be opening in the Eastern Time zone. Our CNN national poll makes it clear that anything could happen today.

Jack Markell is the Democratic governor of the state of Delaware. He is also an Obama surrogate.

It's nice to talk to you again. Thanks for being with us.

Let's begin with how you're feeling --


O'BRIEN: -- as the polls are now opening and the lines have already started a couple hours ago. How are you feeling going into today?

MARKELL: I feel good. I'm on the ballot myself, and I'm excited for that. But I think like a lot of people ready for it to all be over. But I certainly feel good for the president. You know, once you get past all the speeches and all the ads, it gets to who do you turn out to vote and I've been really, really impressed by the president's ground game in key states.

O'BRIEN: The president, some people say, looked like he was crying when he was doing his last speech of the night. Other people say it's just cold that would make your eyes water and tears come. That's when he was campaigning last night. He's not campaigning today. And we know Governor Romney is making two stops today as he continues his campaign. What would you read into that?

MARKELL: Oh, I don't think I read anything into it. I mean, at this point, he's built an organization literally over years in these key states. I've been in Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania over the last, you know, six or eight weeks. In each of those states, just a really impressive ground game. Not just in terms of numbers but the enthusiasm on the part of the volunteers, and the work that they're doing.

And he believes that if he has now put -- he's done everything he can do and now his future is in the hands of the voters and of the people who were volunteering for him and working for him in all these states. And I think he feels good about that.

O'BRIEN: Nate Silver of "The New York Times" -- I was talking to Congressman Forbes about this a little while ago, has put it at 91 percent likelihood that Obama will take the Electoral College. And I'm curious because, of course, there are plenty of Republicans who say those polls are just way off. They're just not accurate.

So I guess I'm curious to know what you think. Polls, you know, Nate Silver right or everybody else right on the GOP side?

MARKELL: Well, we'll know soon enough. I mean, I think -- you know, I've been reading his piece, as well. All the polls seem to be essentially the same thing in these battleground states. So either all the polls are wrong or, you know, or the president should certainly win.

But I think in the end, I'm not much of a pundit. I think the great thing about getting to Election Day is what people like me think aren't really that important compared to what all the voters think. In the end, we all put our faith, we all put our future in their hands. That's as it should be.

O'BRIEN: It would be kind of nice not to have to read polls anymore. It's what I think, and then we could just actually go read the numbers.

MARKELL: I think you're right.

O'BRIEN: But 2004, right, Roland? 2004 exit polling that showed that John Kerry had a huge -- a huge lead --

MARTIN: Yes, 2004.

O'BRIEN: And those exit polls were way off. I mean, so you know, there had been well, counted cases where polling was just completely wrong.

MARKELL: Well, I think there's a difference between the polls and the exit surveys. But that being said, the only poll that matters is the one that happens after everything is closed. So, we'll know soon enough. It's been a hard-fought campaign.

The important thing is what happens when we wake up tomorrow. And again, it's one reason I feel, you know, good for the president because I think when people wake up tomorrow, they're going to know who it is who's going to be focused on educating their kids, creating jobs and the like. And I think that will go into what they decide to do today.

O'BRIEN: I hope you're right. I hope we'll know when everybody wakes up tomorrow.

MARKELL: Me, too.

O'BRIEN: Good luck to you.

MARKELL: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: Jack Markell is the governor of the state of Delaware joining us this morning.

Let's go right get to Zoraida. She's got some of the other stories making news this morning.

Good morning.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, Soledad.

People living in coastal communities in New York and New Jersey are bracing for another powerful storm. It's just one week after the devastation from Sandy.

Rob Marciano is monitoring the situation, the track of the storm at the weather center in Atlanta.

Rob, what can you tell us?

MARCIANO: Well, right now, it's impacting Georgia, the Carolinas, southern Tennessee and also Florida.

Some heavy rain and some thunderstorms with this, as well, pressing through Orlando and Tampa here in the next couple of hours. And then off to the East Coast towards Melbourne and Cocoa Beach. It should last maybe two or three hours. So kind of work your voting around there.

Other swing states may be impacted by bad weather. Rain mixed with snow across parts of Wisconsin. Other than that we're looking pretty good. So Cal still warm. The Northeast clear but cool. But it should be dry for the most part there.

All right. This storm will cruise through Florida over the next day or two, and then head up the Eastern Seaboard. Wednesday afternoon, it will start to impact the Northeast. I think D.C. is not going to have much of an impact, but certainly Jersey up through the coastline of Staten Island in through Long Island. This is obviously the storm zone. You might see a little bit of wet snow mixed in, as well. Certainly gusty winds.

Hopefully, some of our models are trending for this to go a little bit further to the east. If that's the case, then we'll see less of an impact. Right now we'll prepare for the worst and they're doing that across parts of Long Island and New Jersey right now -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much, Rob.

We're also watching the streets of Greece this morning. A two-day nationwide strike is under way to protest the latest round of government budget cuts. Transit workers and journalists kicked off the strike yesterday in Athens. You're looking at those big crowds there. They'll be joined by thousands of other union workers today.

Greece's parliament is said to vote on the austerity measures this week. They include cuts in salaries and pensions for public servants.

Japanese automaker Suzuki is leaving the U.S. car market and plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in California. The company is not offering a timetable but says all warranties will be honored, and parts and service could continue without interruption. Suzuki says low sales and unfavorable exchange rates made it too challenging to remain in the United States.

Monday night football in New Orleans. Saints quarterback Drew Brees tossing two touchdown passes in a 28-13 victory over the Eagles. Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick sacked seven times as the Eagles stumbled to their fourth straight loss. Boy, he's hurting this morning.

All right. Stay with us for continuing live coverage of Election Day 2012. That's Roland Martin you're listening to in the background.

And ahead the enthusiasm gap, you hear a lot about it but are Republican or Democratic voters more motivated to head to the polls today? We'll be right back.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're looking at Bedford, New Hampshire. That's a live look at a polling place. A little activity this morning. It's Election Day, and we are obviously in our nation's capital where we are following this story for you with our special election coverage.

Back with us this morning, CNN contributor and Republican strategist, Ana Navarro, CNN political analyst, Roland Martin.


O'BRIEN: I like Kumbayah, no matter who wins tonight.

NAVARRO: I don't know why they call it Kumbayah.


O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit about the complications of the storm that have really affected people who are trying to vote. Chris Christie said, going to be able to vote --



O'BRIEN: Listen to governor Christie, please. Stop it, you all.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: If you have been displaced from your home, out of your town, by the storm, you can also vote by e-mail or by fax. But, I want to be clear on this now. You had to have been displaced from your home due to the storm. Not just kicked out because you didn't pay your rent.

Displaced from your home because of the storm, OK? And then you can also vote by e-mail and fax. So, we're trying to make it as easy and simple as possible for people to vote tomorrow. I think they'll be able to do that.


O'BRIEN: So, what he was describing and what's a couple of people have been e-mailed me to say just how complicated and difficult it has been for them partly because, of course, the storm has affected their pay.

MARTIN: Right.

O'BRIEN: It's affected their bus route. It's affected if they have Internet. It's affected where they live. All of those things have made it very complicated. Are you seeing problems with this?

MARTIN: I get (INAUDIBLE) it may be complicated, but I would rather have an option to be able to vote than not to be able to vote. To me, I think it's even worse when you have some of these places where you have senior citizens who are used to simply voting in their buildings and then they can't get out.

Hopefully, we have folks in New York who are saying look, use our fax machines, use our free Wi-Fi to be able to aid folks in voting because it's a fundamental part of our democracy.

NAVARRO: It's not going to be a perfect circumstance in New Jersey or New York. It's going to be difficult. It's going to have its challenges. But I think they are making an extraordinary effort to try to give people the right to vote, the opportunity to vote. So, I think they need to be commended for that.

I think it doesn't affect the outcome of the presidential race. It might affect the number, and it should affect the number, it could, of popular votes because of, you know, the amount of people affected in New Jersey and New York. But it can affect down ballots.

MARTIN: That's right.


O'BRIEN: -- the presidential race is not all that we're watching. So, if you're down ballot in New York or you're down ballot in New Jersey, that could be really complicated.

NAVARRO: Those local races, you know, for things like school board, commissioner, you know, Congress.

ROMANS: If you're waiting in line for gas, and you're not going to wait in line, some people are not going to be waiting in line if they've been waiting in line for gas for the past week and don't have power, can't get to a fax machine, haven't checked their e-mail in a week. I mean, that's a real serious issue for tens of thousands of people, not just a few people.

O'BRIEN: You sound like a woman who didn't have gas for a really long time or a power.


ROMANS: -- make that choice, Roland and prioritize, because you're in the middle of a crisis. I wonder --


O'BRIEN: The e-mails that I've been getting really are exactly like that. It's like there's a lot going on. It's not that easy to do it. We're going to take a look at where the candidates have been spending most of their time leading up to this Election Day. Christine is going to be back breaking that down for us straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We've got some live pictures this morning from Miami-Dade County, Florida. People there have been waiting in line. Their polls will open just about seven minutes. And of course, Florida's had a lot of problems. It's a key battleground state. But they've also had a lot of long lines at polls there opening in a majority of other states at 7:00 a.m. Eastern, as well.

Everybody can vote the way the electoral system works that some states get lots of attention and swing states, of course, are in that category. Other states, pretty much ignored. Christine Romans has a look at where the president -- President Obama and Mitt Romney have been spending a lot of their time campaigning. And I would guess, also, putting all their ads, and spending as well.

ROMANS: Absolutely, because they're trying to influence your vote. And over the past year, you have seen these guys on TV and you've seen ads from these guys over and over again. These are candidate visits, Soledad. And when you look here, you can see how those visits are concentrated right here in these swing states.

I want to show you Colorado really quickly, because if you look just at Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan spent a lot of time in Colorado. When you look at all of the candidates, they certainly did. And look here right in this Denver area. I'm going to show you why they spent so much time, all four of them in this area.

Look at 2004. Look at these two red counties. The president was able to turn two of these counties blue last time around. They're trying to defend that territory. The Republicans trying to take it back. The president and his team trying to keep it. Let me show you now Ohio because all roads lead to Ohio.

How many times have we heard that? There's a reason. There's a big reason here. Look right up here. Look around Columbus and then we're going to take a look at Cincinnati, OK. So, let's start up here. Lake County, this is the suburbs of Cleveland. The president has spent a lot of time here. Only two percent of the population.

Why does he care so much? Because he's trying to keep that from turning red again. This is 2004, it was red. 2008, the president won here. But look at the margin. If you look over here on the top left, you can see the margin that -- that candidate was only a barely squeaker. So, he'd like to keep that there overall.

Obviously, Columbus for obvious reasons, big population there. This is an important part for the president. And then, Hamilton County, seven percent of the population. Both candidates spending an awful lot of time here. This has been a county that in recent elections has been a bellwether for how the overall election is going to go, not just for Ohio but for the general election, the whole country. And so, Hamilton County very important for the candidates there.

O'BRIEN: All right. We're watching all of them. Thank you, Christine. Appreciate it.

CNN, of course, the place to be for the best political coverage on TV. Polls in 12 states are open right now. Fifteen more states will start voting. In just a few minutes, right at the top of the hour, we're live in every critical swing state today and talking to some of the country's top political advisers. "Starting Point" is up next.


O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien and you are watching a special election Day edition of "STARTING POINT". And we're coming to you live from our nation's capital. It is decision day. Right now, it's 7:00 a.m. on the East Coast. The polls are open in a total of 26 states and in Washington, D.C.

Today, millions of Americans will vote and choose the next President of the United States. Will President Obama get four more years? Will Mitt Romney be the next leader of the free world? The best political TV -- team on TV has it covered.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Let the counting begin. Yes, the first election results, they are in from the tiny towns of Dixville Notch and Harts location in New Hampshire. And there is an indication it could be a long night.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. 270, the magic number for clinching the White House. We're going to look at the paths to victory for each candidate and whether the road to the White House must go through Ohio. SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. The immense damage from Hurricane Sandy forcing an Election Day scramble, and now, another nor'easter could add to the misery and all the confusion. We are tracking the storm.

O'BRIEN: Joining us throughout the morning for our special coverage: South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn; Obama campaign senior adviser, David Axelrod; Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell; former Ohio governor, Ted Strickland; Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling; and Bob Shrum, a Democratic consultant who worked on the Kerry and Gore campaigns.

It is Tuesday, November 6th, Election Day, and "STARTING POINT" is coming to you live from Washington, D.C., and we begin right now.