Tim Russert is NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and host of Meet the Press.  He regularly offers MSNBC.com’s readers his insight and analysis into questions about politics past, present and future.

MSNBC:  Tim, less than 11-days remain until the election and the issues we’re hearing about are “Should Dick Cheney have gotten a flu shot,” and “Has Laura Bush ever been a working mom?”  What’s up?

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Russert:  Everyone is looking for every possible advantage.

All the national polls show President George W. Bush with a slight margin.  Inside the battleground states they are dead even.

People are expecting some movement.  It still may happen one way or the other, with a candidate getting up three or four points.

Every point, as we learned in 2000, does matter… does count.

Bill Clinton’s coming on the campaign trail, trying to rally the African American base.  Al Gore is going back to Florida, trying a redemption tour.

President Clinton can be extremely helpful – particularly in the African American community, where the Democrats get nine out of every ten votes that are cast.

Both campaigns claim they have huge ground games.

We do know there’s been enormous registration drives with new registrants -- new voters – and we just don’t know what their voting pattern is because they haven’t voted before.  If they turn out, it could really skew a lot of the polls and projections made thus far.

Everyone is seeking every advantage, no matter how small.

MSNBC: What does the factor that, this close to the election, something like six-percent of the voters are still undecided do to the election?

Tim Russert:  Normally you would think those undecideds would break against the incumbent, for the challenger.  But this has been an unusual year.

Is their primary concern security or terrorism, which would seem to help President George W. Bush or is it domestic issues like health care and the economy, which might push them towards Sen. John Kerry.

Nobody knows.

We also did surveys of the battle ground states, 12 of them – six blue states that Al Gore won in 2000 and six red states -- and they’re dead even as well.

It’s just an incredible race.

MSNBC:  Is there a distinct possibility that we’ll wake out on November 3rd still not knowing who won the election?

Russert:  Looking at the polls, if the election were held today, the answer would be “yes,” because the margins are just too close.

Both parties have chartered jets that are ready to take off with court staffs to these battleground states.

Generally, when an incumbent runs for reelection – Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Clinton – they either win big or with Carter and former President Bush, lose big.  But we haven’t seen either of these candidates break out yet, but we’re watching it.

If George Bush wins every state he won in 2000 and John Kerry wins every state that Al Gore won, but is able to add, say New Hampshire and West Virginia, the electoral vote count would be 269-269 and the election would go to the Electoral College – the House.

But generally, when incumbents seek reelection, since Woodrow Wilson – that was the last close race we really had – incumbents either lose or win by significant margins.  We have not seen that kind of movement yet, but there’s still over ten days to go.

Slideshow: Today's political battleground

MSNBC:  Four years ago, you called the crux of the race, “Florida, Florida, Florida.”  Is there one this time around?

Russert:  “Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.”

I still continue to believe Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania – whoever wins two of those three is the next president.  But Ohio – a Republican has never been elected president without carrying it. 

We had a poll Thursday night which showed the state dead even.  Last time out, George Bush carried it by about 171,000 votes, but since then they’ve lost about 200,000 jobs.  So, John Kerry, I think, really has an opportunity to win this race, if he can carry Ohio.

MSNBC:  This election night will be our colleague’s, Tom Brokaw, last election.

Russert:  Yes.  And we’re going to be reporting from “Democracy Plaza.”  We’re taking over the Rockefeller Plaza and the skating rink area in New York City for our election set.  We’ll have a big map on the ice and we’re going to project my little erase board up on the big screen.

MSNBC:  Who will we be seeing on Meet the Press Sunday?

Russert:  We’re going to hear from the chairman of the Democratic Party and the chairman of the Republican Party, Terry McAuliffe and Ed Gillespie.  The last stand – the last debate if you will.  And then, in our political roundtable, we'll have David Broder from the Washington Post, John Harwood from the Wall Street Journal, Gwen Ifill of PBS' Washington Week and Byron York of the National Review as we try to make sense of the race as well as what’s going on with the Senate and the House.


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