updated 11/2/2004 11:08:29 AM ET 2004-11-02T16:08:29

Guest: Patrick Buchanan, Frank Luntz, Howard Fineman, Dee Dee Myers, Mike Barnicle

JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST:  Welcome to a special edition of AFTER HOURS.  We are live from NBC election headquarters, Democracy Plaza—just one hour away from Election Day, when Americans begin the process of going out and picking their next president.

RON REAGAN, CO-HOST:  The candidates didn‘t rest in the final stretch, delivering their last pitches to the American people, in crucial battleground states.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH ®, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Do you believe America should fight the war on terror with all her might and lead with unwavering confidence in our ideals?  I ask you to come stand with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you what, all signs out there tonight point to a tight race.  Is it going to come up to voter turnout, the youth vote in Ohio, Florida, security, or will it be a landslide?

I‘m Joe Scarborough.

REAGAN:  And I‘m Ron Reagan.

It‘s a high-stakes election for the country, which is divided, and we are following it all for you the next two hours on AFTER HOURS: DECISION 2004.

NBC‘s Tom Brokaw interviewed both candidates.  Let‘s listen to their takes on the battleground states.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR:  The conventional wisdom in both parties at the moment is you got to have two trifectas.  You got to win two of the big three—Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Florida—and you have got to win two of the smaller three—Iowa, Minnesota, or Wisconsin.

You buy that?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Tom, I leave all of that to other people—I really do.  I am campaigning on what makes a difference to the lives of Americans all over the country.  And it will sort out Tuesday night.

What‘s important is that I think America can do better than we are doing today.  That‘s what‘s important.

BROKAW:  What‘s also important to the American people is the integrity of the election system. And there are lots of anticipations...

KERRY:  Yes.

BROKAW:  ... of things going wrong—votes not getting counted right, people being rejected from the polls—in both parties.  Are you confident that this can be solved on Tuesday, or do you think it will have to be settled in the courts?

KERRY:  Oh, I don‘t think it‘s going to be settled in the courts.  I have got 10,000 lawyers who are going to be out there in America on Election Day, working to protect people‘s Constitutional rights.  We are not trying to stop anybody from voting.  We want to make sure people vote.

BROKAW:  We all know about the battleground states.  Do you think there‘s a surprise in there somewhere for you?

BUSH:  You are trying to make me a prognosticator?

BROKAW:  Yes.

BUSH:  A pundit?

BROKAW:  Right—we‘ll put it right below.  We‘ll just super...

BUSH:  Thank you.

Well, I don‘t know.  Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin—these are all states I did not win last time.  I believe I am going to carry this time.  Yesterday in Minnesota, in a huge rally in Minneapolis, the governor whispered in my ear, “We are going to win.”  So, I feel confident.  I feel comfortable that we are making good progress in states where I did not win last time.

BROKAW:  Do you think we will know Tuesday night, given all these disputes across the country?

BUSH:  I certainly hope so.  I think it is vital that whichever one of us wins, wins that night.  It‘s really important.  People are watching this election closely from around the world.

But I do think it‘s important for us to get the election over with and get on with the people‘s business.  And we will see how it goes Tuesday night.  I really think it‘s important not to have a world of lawsuits.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, with just one hour left before the arrival of Election Day 2004, it‘s time for some 11th hour of analysis, and we are joined now by—I will tell you what, this is just such an incredible group—of veteran political experts.  I mean, they are all stars.

We have got pollster Frank Luntz; we‘ve got “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman, who is an MSNBC political analyst here with us; also, we got Dee Dee Myers, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton; and, of course, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, author of “Where the Right Went Wrong,” and the man Republicans will blame if George Bush does not win tomorrow, because of the book he wrote.

I‘m with you there, Pat.

PATRICK BUCHANAN, AUTHOR, “WHERE THE RIGHT WENT WRONG”:  Rome wasn‘t burnt in a day—you are responsible.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s not fair.

REAGAN:  I feel so out of it.  I haven‘t written the book.

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to start by going to Frank Luntz because, Frank, I‘ve got to tell you, you‘ve got vertigo if you look at some of the final polls in the campaign.  Almost all of the national polls have this thing as a statistical dead heat.  We begin with our own NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll.  It has it as a virtual tie with President Bush at 48 percent; John Kerry, 47 percent.

Of course, the CBS “New York Times” poll scores the race 47 percent for Bush; and that says 46 percent for Kerry.  I thought that was a three-point lead.  Meanwhile, CNN/”USA Today”/Gallup poll shows George Bush with a two-point edge, 49 percent to 47 percent.  And finally, FOX News shows Senator Kerry with a two-point lead, 48 to 46 percent.

But Frank Luntz, I want to do something.  We know that everybody talks about these national polls not meaning so much.  Let‘s look at some of these state polls, because it‘s just incredible.  You were talking about this before:  They are bouncing all over the place.

Let‘s check out some of the battleground polls that are out there right now, where there appears to be mass confusion in several states.  For example, starting with where we left off in 2000, my home state, Florida.  If you look at three polls in the Sunshine State, you get three very different results: FOX has Kerry up by two; Quinnipiac has Bush up by eight; and Rasmussen has Bush up by three.

Frank, which one is right?

FRANK LUNTZ, FMR. REPUBLICAN POLLSTER:  The truth is, what you probably have is a narrow Bush lead in Florida.  It‘s one of the few states where you can show people who voted for Gore in 2000, that have now switched and voted for Bush.  The Jewish vote, which in Florida is in play, has clearly moved towards the president.  I think that will enough to counterbalance the higher turnout that I would expect from the African-American communities.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s go to another state because, in the Buckeye State, look at this:  According to FOX—now, this time, FOX actually has the president leading Senator Kerry by three, while SurveyUSA Has Bush by two.  But CNN/”USA Today” Gallup puts Kerry in front by four. 

Howard, you have been through this a long time.  Have you ever seen so many divergent polls in so many different states telling Americans so many different things?

HOWARD FINEMAN, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK”:  No.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you.

Seriously, you do get, it‘s almost—Dee Dee, it‘s almost like, you had your chance.

FINEMAN:  I yield back the balance of my time.

SCARBOROUGH:  But it seems to me we hear these stories:  1980, Ronald Reagan knew the day before; Jimmy Carter knew the day before; Bill Clinton knew the day before things were breaking his way.  My gosh, this thing is splitting in 1,000 different directions.

What‘s going on here—Pat Buchanan?

BUCHANAN:  All right, look, if Frank Luntz is right and the president is going to win Florida, I think Kerry can win Ohio and still easily lose the election.  If the president carries Florida and Ohio, it is all over, Joe.  I don‘t care if they talk about intangibles, intensifies.  Those two votes end it.

SCARBOROUGH:  I am going to let you continue, but let‘s just start it right there.

Does anybody disagree with that—that if the president wins Florida and Ohio, it‘s over?

DEE DEE MYERS, FMR. CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY:  Oh, yes.  And if Kerry wins Florida and Ohio, it‘s over.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I will take it one step further:  If Kerry wins Florida, it‘s all over.

MYERS:  I agree with that completely.

SCARBOROUGH:  Anybody disagree with that?

BUCHANAN:  The president would have to sweep the entire upper Middle West.

MYERS:  Impossible.  The watermark will be so high.

SCARBOROUGH:  So, let‘s break it down, Howard.  I think most of us agree, if George Bush wins Florida and Ohio, he is the president.  If John Kerry wins Florida, George Bush is not going to sweep the north.

FINEMAN:  I seriously doubt it.  I talked to people in both camps today, and the sense I get is that the president‘s strident effort to win those upper Midwest states could well fall short.  I think the Bush camp thinks they have got the best chance of the three in Iowa—of those three.  Not Minnesota, not Wisconsin, interestingly, but Iowa—of those three, Iowa.  So, they are not going to win two of the three up there, which was Karl Rove‘s plan and hope, to compensate for possible loss of one of the states.

SCARBOROUGH:  Of Ohio.

FINEMAN:  Of Ohio.

BUCHANAN:  They could win if they lose Ohio, if they get Iowa and New Mexico and hold New Hampshire.

In other words, they can lose Minnesota and Wisconsin.

MYERS:  They are not going to hold New Hampshire.

BUCHANAN:  If they lose Florida, Joe...

REAGAN:  Is that the one—the first wave of polls closings—is it Florida we are really looking at here?

BUCHANAN:  It is 27 electoral votes.

LUNTZ:  In Florida, it doesn‘t close until 8:00.

MYERS:  It has two time zones.

SCARBOROUGH:  Until 8:00?

MYERS:  Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Listen, George Stephanopoulos—I can tell you, I can tell you, as somebody from the Redneck Riviera and Central Time Zone.  When George Stephanopoulos called in at 6:00 our time and laughed, he said, Florida is in the Eastern Time Zone.  I said, “No, we ain‘t.”

REAGAN:  Not in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

FINEMAN:  It‘s in the Southern Time Zone.

SCARBOROUGH:  If I have a surprise for tomorrow night, though.

REAGAN:  Yes—a dark horse state.

SCARBOROUGH:  A dark horse state for Bush.

REAGAN:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  Because right now, it‘s so close, I don‘t think...

REAGAN:  New Jersey?

SCARBOROUGH:  I was going to say Pennsylvania, actually.

BUCHANAN:  I would say Michigan.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s look at Pennsylvania, right now—again, where we see big disparity, depending on the polls.

Quinnipiac has the race tied at 47 apiece, while SurveyUSA puts Kerry ahead by four.  CNN/”USA Today” has Bush up by four.

Howard Fineman, you said now, the only reason why I said that is Pennsylvania is a socially conservative state when you get outside of Philadelphia.  George Bush is focused on Pennsylvania the way Bill Clinton focused on California from ‘92 to ‘96.

Why do you disagree with me there?

FINEMAN:  Well, first of all, the late Lee Atwater stressed—theory was, pick a state and break their heart; the other guy‘s camp.  George Bush has gone to Pennsylvania 44 times as president, 22 before the campaign really started and 22 since then.  But the thing I sense in Pennsylvania, having spent a lot of time there, is that they are not quite going to get over the hump.  I don‘t think because, as much as they have pushed social conservative issues, especially with the Catholic vote in Pennsylvania, I am not quite sure that it‘s going to be enough to get them there.

SCARBOROUGH:  Economics or Iraq?

FINEMAN:  I think it‘s a combination of both.  It‘s economics in southwestern Pennsylvania, and it‘s Iraq in the collar, in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, why do you say Michigan was a dark horse for George Bush?

BUCHANAN:  I think—I mean, Kerry wins every poll, but it‘s only by a couple of points.  There have been a number of Detroit news polls.  One of them had Bush up by 4 -- something like that.  And what I think is there‘s a possibility.

Secondly, when you see these guys going into Detroit, watch where Kerry and Edwards go.  They have not gone into Nevada or New Mexico or Colorado in the last four days of the campaign.  They have written those off.  What they are doing is trying to nail down the base.  And Michigan, I think, is part of that.

SCARBOROUGH:  Dee Dee, let me ask you this question, because you know, I sort of, I sense this feeling among the chattering classes that there is a break for John Kerry right now.  But if that is the case, then why has this campaign over the past four, five, six days seemed to be waged in states that Al Gore won in 2000?

MYERS:  It‘s not.  If you look at where Kerry has been, he has been in Florida and Ohio.  Yes he has had...

SCARBOROUGH:  Briefly.

MYERS:  No.  He spent all day in Florida yesterday, and he‘s spending all day in Ohio tomorrow. And he is there today.  So, I think...

BUCHANAN:  Other than that...

MYERS:  No, I‘m not.  I mean, I‘ve talked—that‘s the places I‘ve been focusing.

(CROSSTALK)

Wait a second, Pat.  My turn.  My turn.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, you are a uniter, not a divider.  We have at least one more day of that.

Go ahead, Dee Dee.

MYERS:  They are clearly focused on Ohio and Florida, because they think they can pick off one or both of those.  And if you talk to the people on the ground, the Democrats, they are ecstatic.  They think things are breaking their way.  They think the turnout is really high; the energy among the electorate and among their volunteers is extraordinary.  People are turning out—not just turning out, but standing in lines for three hours to cast their vote.  Those people don‘t look to me like Republicans.

BUCHANAN:  Look, OK, there‘s no doubt about it—look, Kerry and Edwards are going after Ohio and Florida and New Hampshire.  However, there‘s the other six or seven states at risk; take a look at them all the way from Hawaii to New Mexico to Iowa to Minnesota to Wisconsin to Pennsylvania to Michigan.  They are all Gore states.  This is why I think Bush has got a shot.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s look at Wisconsin.  Let‘s look at Wisconsin.  Up in Wisconsin, where they are still celebrating the Packers win over the Redskins...

MYERS:  It‘s an omen.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... CNN/”USA Today” puts Mr. Bush up by a full eight points.  Zogby, however—here goes that vertigo—gives Kerry a seven-point edge.  And FOX puts Bush up by three.

Now, again, I want to ask everybody on the panel this question:

REAGAN:  Even me?

SCARBOROUGH:  Even you, Ron.

REAGAN:  I have kept quiet until now.

SCARBOROUGH:  You have.  You have.  But I don‘t want to sound cynical, but Zogby is weighting all of these polls as if every 18 to 30-year-old is going to vote.

Pat Buchanan, you have been through campaigns...

BUCHANAN:  Enough of me.

SCARBOROUGH:  Dee Dee, you have been through campaigns.  Ron, you have—we‘ve all been through campaigns, except Howard, who has been reporting.  Every time, every single time a political candidate depends on young voters to win it for them, they always leave them standing at the altar.

REAGAN:  Maybe not this time, though.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s happened every single time.

MYERS:  Not in 1992.

BUCHANAN:  It is the urban myth—I agree.  It may be true this time.  You hear about intensity, young voters, cell phone people and all the rest of it, but why have not—Ron, let me ask you:  Why have not all the pollsters, whose credibility depends on this, not found a way to include these folks in there, so that the pollsters can get the final analysis?

REAGAN:  Well, Frank would be the one to answer that.

LUNTZ:  You cannot.  If you poll someone with a cell phone—you call that cell phone—you are fined by the FCC, because the person who answered it has to pay for the question.

BUCHANAN:  What happens if they are all wrong?  In all respect, what Dee Dee is talking about comes through, and Kerry sweeps every state in the north.

MYERS:  Well, I didn‘t say that but...

LUNTZ:  Then, if they are all wrong and the pollsters look awful, then I will be doing this full time come Wednesday.

SCARBOROUGH:  Frank Luntz—thanks for your insight.  We will talk to you again later tonight.

And more AFTER HOURS, live from Democracy Plaza, in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to AFTER HOURS from Democracy Plaza in New York.  We are here with a great panel on the eve of the election.  Joining us now is Mike Barnicle, columnist for “The Boston Herald,” and returning are Howard Fineman of “Newsweek,” MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, and Dee Dee Myers, former press secretary under President Bill Clinton—Ron.

REAGAN:  Yes, sir.

SCARBOROUGH:  Why don‘t you ask Barnicle a question?

Well, he‘s looking lonely up there, and quite frankly, I stepped on you for the first 30 minutes of this thing..

REAGAN:  Quite all right—I don‘t mind at all.  Excruciating pain you are in with your back.  I make allowances for that.

Well, how do you feel about those Red Sox?

You‘ve already done that to death.  And of course...

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  So, what do you think about—you know, it strikes me with these polls—Tom Oliphant, when we were together in Tempe, Arizona, I think it was, he made a very important point.  We had been talking about all the polls—one-point, two-point, three-point, four—if it‘s within the margin of error, it is a statistical tie, period.  It‘s not 47, 46; it‘s a tie.

So, how many ways can we think of to say “dead heat” in this election, and what does it really mean?

MIKE BARNICLE, COLUMNIST, “THE BOSTON HERALD”:  I don‘t know.  I think, at this stage of the year, this stage of the campaign, the talk of the polls is enough to make me want to light my hair on fire, what little is left of it.

What‘s interesting is just viscerally, intuitively, you can almost sense a break for John Kerry in the past two days.  Watching TV earlier this evening, just the lines of voters in Florida:  A, tremendously exciting, all those people standing in line, standing room voters just eager to vote this year; and B, just the sense that this was a Kerry vote standing in line.

And I think anyone who registered to vote in either Ohio or Florida or Wisconsin or wherever in the last five, six weeks, they are doing so for a purpose to counter-vote.

You were talking earlier in the last session about young people voting or not voting.  I think they are going to vote in overwhelming numbers because of the driving factor in this election, which other than in Ohio and western Pennsylvania, to be Iraq. That‘s why they are going to vote.  This is the first time the people in this country have had a chance to vote on this war.  And they are going to take it tomorrow.

REAGAN:  You know, I tend to agree with you.  Of course, I might.

BARNICLE:  Well, thank you, Ron.  Thank you very much.

REAGAN:  Well, but you know what tipped me—if you will allow me, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Please—I yield 30 seconds.

REAGAN:  What tipped me was that the eagerness of some people on the Bush-Cheney team and on the right to seize on the bin Laden tape as the October surprise that‘s going to throw it to Bush.  It‘s like, suddenly, bin Laden is their friend.  And I thought, well this is ironic.  You know, if you are counting on Osama bin Laden to, like, endorse you in an odd backwards way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I fell for that hyping.

REAGAN:  You know, but come on, Republicans are a little smarter than that, I think.  I think they looked at that and they went, Yes, we have seen that. 

BUCHANAN:  Speaking of someone on the right...

REAGAN:  Yes.

BUCHANAN:  It wasn‘t that, it wasn‘t that, it was that bin Laden was declaring himself Bush‘s enemy, not his friend.  And I agreed with Mike.  I thought it would be beneficial to Bush.  It was, in a sense, in that it blew out the whole 380 tons of explosives.

REAGAN:  The Halliburton investigation.

BUCHANAN:  It blew out Halliburton; it blew out, frankly, the Boss, who did a phenomenal job in Madison; it refocused on the war on terror.  But there is no doubt that we thought it would have more impact than it appears to have had.

REAGAN:  Also reminded people that bin Laden is alive.

BUCHANAN:  Is alive and well.

MYERS:  And he looks healthy.  He looks like he is holding up in Holiday Inn somewhere and have him eating well.

REAGAN:  We‘re talking Club Med.  This guy had a tan, there was this magnificent beard—was full and the turban was clean.

SCARBOROUGH:  I was going to say, in a lot less pain than myself.

The thing is, though again, here we are tonight sitting here trying to figure out what happened on Friday, how it‘s going to impact voters tomorrow.  Again, anybody that has run for office, anybody that has been involved with people running for office, knows that it‘s not a smart thing to start trying to guess what‘s happening tomorrow in voting.

Again, Howard Fineman, is there any evidence out there, other than anecdotal evidence, that this thing is breaking for John Kerry or George W. Bush?

FINEMAN:  Well, breaking is far too big a word to use in this election.  Things don‘t break; they creep in this election, because this electorate is so divided.  It‘s been that way for a long time.  Somebody was saying earlier tonight that in one poll, people said that only four percent of the people would be satisfied if the other guy won the election.  I mean, that‘s how divided it is.  So things don‘t break big-time.

What you look at are for small puffs and breezes of movement there.  I think, since Friday night, there has been a slight change in the national polls, overall, slightly in the direction of John Kerry, or at least, a slight decline for George Bush, since Friday.

SCARBOROUGH:  Howard, I want to bring up something, because it‘s important.  Anybody that‘s been in politics and done polling has known that pollsters, if you ask them two, three weeks out to go into the field and do a poll on a weekend, they will say they won‘t do it because Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday always breaks Democratic.

REAGAN:  Why is that?  Do you know why?

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I have absolutely no idea why.

FINEMAN:  The old theory was that more Democrats were at home.  They don‘t have disposable income to go out over the weekend.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.

FINEMAN:  That was the old theory.

SCARBOROUGH:  But you know, it‘s very interesting, if you look at the polls that stopped on Thursday—“Newsweek‘s” poll was one of them—you see a big lead by George Bush.

FINEMAN:  I‘m explaining the way that poll...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Tell us about the Howard Fineman poll.

FINEMAN:  Zogby versus Fineman.

SCARBOROUGH:  There was a six-point poll, there was an ABC/”Washington Post” tracking poll.  Nut again, you look at the polls over the weekend.

MYERS:  They were a point or two apart.

SCARBOROUGH:  They were three points—ABC, “Washington Post.”  They always, and I told my -I remember after the “Newsweek” poll came out, I remember calling people and say, “You watch over the weekend,  these polls are going to start breaking a point or two for John Kerry because they always do.”

MYERS:  No, they don‘t...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, they do.

MYERS:  No, they don‘t.  In 1992, the same thing happened.  What happens a lot of times is the race tightens up, and Bill Clinton started losing ground to George H. W. Bush over the last weekend in 1992, and yet, he won.  So, you could argue that one either way.

FINEMAN:  Here‘s what I worry about—go ahead, I‘m sorry.

BUCHANAN:  Let me ask you, Joe—and you know Florida—and, quite clearly, I think we all agree, if the president can pull out Ohio and Florida, I don‘t see how it‘s over.  Now, Florida is much more important than Ohio.  What is your take on what is happening down there in the one critical state for George Bush, which if he loses, he loses the presidency?

SCARBOROUGH:  What I have seen the past couple of days has been—and again, I am middle America, Joe, I‘m sorry, that‘s my shtick, that‘s what I do.  I have seen a lot of reporters coming from blue states, going down, looking at people standing in line, running around like, quite frankly, some people at MSNBC did four years ago, saying that the Canadian, that the Jews that lived in Canada that vote in—I am not kidding you, I have got the tape that the absentee ballot votes in south Florida were going to come in and counteract the military vote. You have got people that are guessing too much. 

Let me tell you what‘s happening in Florida.  No, no, hold on one second.  I have built this up for a reason to say this:  If George Bush, after four hurricanes, after having a brother as a governor who has 70 percent approval rating—back in 2000 was a very unpopular figure.  If George Bush cannot win Florida in 2004, it‘s going to be an ugly night for him tomorrow night.  I still think it comes down to Ohio.

REAGAN:  Anticlimax.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m sorry.

REAGAN:  Yes, really.

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait until I show you the tape of the MSNBC women saying that there are a lot of immigrants that—Ron.

REAGAN:  We‘ll see if we can come up with that tape.  Next, also...

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re getting very excited.

BUCHANAN:  I‘m not one of the Jewish guys from Canada that did it.  That‘s the first time I heard that theory, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll give you the MSNBC tape from four years ago with an unnamed person that used to wear glasses that no longer works with the network.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I thought you were going to make a prediction on Florida.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I did.  George Bush is going to carry Florida.

REAGAN:  Coming up next:  The Jews in Canada, and we‘ll be talking about the importance of the youth vote, with everyone‘s favorite Baldwin—Stephen.  That‘s when AFTER HOURS returns live in Democracy Plaza, in the heart of New York City.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, you are watching MSNBC‘s coverage of Election Eve, AFTER HOURS.  We are going to be talking to actor Stephen Baldwin in a minute, if Pat Buchanan will stop talking to Howard Fineman, in the middle of our tease.  But first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL FITZGERALD, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hello, I‘m Bill Fitzgerald with the headlines.

The prosecution has finished presenting its closing argument in Scott Peterson‘s murder trial. Prosecutors say, Peterson‘s own admission that he was fishing in San Francisco Bay, near where his pregnant wife‘s body later turned up, is proof enough to convict him.  The defense presents its closing argument tomorrow.  And deliberations could begin Wednesday.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist says he is delaying his return to the Supreme Court while undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for thyroid cancer.  He had planned to return to work today, but instead, issued a statement saying his doctors advised him to continue recuperating at home after surgery last week.

And authorities say, three Israelis were killed when a 16-year-old Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in crowded outdoor market in Tel Aviv.  More than 30 others were injured.  From hospital bed in France, where he is receiving medical treatment, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat condemned that attack.

Now back to AFTER HOURS with Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did he deserve to be removed?  You bet.  Was it the right action to remove him from power?  No way.  Was he in possession of weapons of mass destruction?  Absolutely.   Did he possess these weapons?  No, he did not.

And that has always been my position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REAGAN:  We are live from Democracy Plaza, in the very heart of Manhattan.  It is MSNBC‘s AFTER HOURS.

One of our usual suspects joins us now, Joe Trippi, MSNBC‘s Blogger-in-Chief.  One of the actual usual suspects—actor Steve Baldwin.  We are talking about the youth vote.  We were just discussing that upstairs there.

JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC BLOGGER-IN-CHIEF:  Right.

REAGAN:  A lot of young people are registered to vote, of course, now.  But are they actually going to go to the polls?  Do you have a sense of that?

TRIPPI:  Yes, I think people think people who think they are not coming are crazy.  I mean, you look at all the numbers, all the things that we saw even during the debates, those huge online votes that gave Kerry the win in debates—all the energy, there‘s a lot of energy with young folks.  And another thing,  Zogby did a poll among cell phone users, finally.  Someone finally did it.  John Zogby did it yesterday, and 55 percent Kerry; 40 percent Bush.  No undecideds, which is usually a big sign among any group that they are interested in the race and are going to vote.

I think they are coming out.  I think they are going to be the big surprise.

REAGAN:  Frank Luntz was telling us that you get fined by the FCC for polling on cell phones.  What, did Zogby just bite the bullet and decide to pay the fines?

TRIPPI:  He must have because he conducted it.  But it was a text messaging poll.  So, maybe that gets around it.

REAGAN:  There was a loophole.

TRIPPI:  But he did it, and I think, what‘s clear out there—look, if there are people out there standing for three hours tomorrow in, line young folks are going to do that.  Guys our age may walk away. So, I think there‘s advantage for the youth vote out there that‘s going to make a difference.

REAGAN:  Now, Stephen, you are youngish.

STEPHEN BALDWIN, ACTOR:  No, I just act young.  Go ahead.

REAGAN:  What do you think?  Do you think, a lot of young people are going to the polls?

BALDWIN:  I think the young lady sitting up there said something very interesting before.  She said, people waiting on line for three hours, those people didn‘t look Republican.  I didn‘t understand exactly what that meant.  What exactly does a Republican look like?

REAGAN:  What do you think—what does a Democrat look like?

BALDWIN:  Well, it doesn‘t really matter, in my opinion.  I am here just to, once again—I think the youth is definitely going to get out there.  I think that, hopefully, a lot of the Christian youth is going to get out there and do the right thing that‘s in the best interest of America.

REAGAN:  Karl Rove is certainly counting on that.

BALDWIN:  I‘ve got a message for you, brother.

REAGAN:  Yes.

BALDWIN:  I have been praying for you, and the Lord told me that he is going to give you a healing for your past.  How wonderful is that?

REAGAN:  Well, that‘s great.

BALDWIN:  God, bless you.

REAGAN:  I‘ll say a Ghatta (ph) to the Buddha for you, too.

BALDWIN:  Praise the Lord.

REAGAN:  There have been vote suppression efforts, too.  Is that real; is it going to happen?

TRIPPI:  It‘s real.  Look, one thing I can tell you from managing campaigns is, what is going to happen on robo-call (ph) phones tomorrow is going to be ugly.  We are already getting reports from South Dakota, Republicans complaining about it.  In Michigan and Wisconsin and Ohio, Democratic campaigns complaining about, Democratic voters complaining about these ugly robo-calls (ph), smearing both candidates.  It happens.  It‘s untraceable.  It‘s one of the last bastions of real dirty politics in the country because you can‘t—there‘s no paid-for.  They don‘t call and say this call is paid for by the campaign.

I think, in the end, what is amazing is you sew the Internet right now and how people—we saw this in the Dean campaign early on.  Young people, something about 9/11 really turned them on to deciding they had something to do with the future of this country.  I think tomorrow‘s election is going to be decided by the future of the country.  It‘s going to be by these young voters who I think are going to get there.  I think that‘s what people need to be looking for tomorrow.

REAGAN:  Is there a Christian perspective on voter suppression?

BALDWIN:  No, I don‘t think so.  I just think that...

REAGAN:  Would Jesus be for or against suppressing the vote?

BALDWIN:  Jesus would most definitely be against suppressing the vote, you know.  Jesus actually is running the big picture here.

TRIPPI:  Could he talk to Karl Rove before tomorrow, then?

BALDWIN:  I am not sure.  That‘s up to Jesus, not me.  I am just an ambassador for Jesus.

But again, I think it‘s going to be very interesting to see, because in my perspective, whatever happens tomorrow, if the other guy wins, then I think it‘s just going to be just an indication of what‘s going on sociologically in the country.  That‘s just my two cents.

But I think George W. Bush is going to be in for four more years, and I look forward to a lot of kids going out there.  I look forward to a lot of kids out there supporting President Bush.  I think it‘s going to be great.

REAGAN:  Well, Stephen, you say your prayers, and I will pray for the enlightenment of all censured beings.

Right now, we are going to take a look at both candidates talking about how they are the best guy to be president of the United States—go figure.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REAGAN:  Welcome back to AFTER HOURS, live from Democracy Plaza.  Our friend, Joe, has had to take a little sabbatical here, because his back is really bothering him.  But now, we are going to head to NBC News Brian Williams.  He explains that there are more than two dozen scenarios that could produce, get this, a complete deadlock.

What would happen then?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  We almost hate to say it, but among those so-called battleground states, there are no fewer than 33 mathematical formulas by which the Electoral College winds up in a 269-269 tie.

(voice-over):  With most polls at or near dead even, most experts agree it‘s worth at least preparing for the possibility of a dead even electoral vote in the battleground states.

ANDREW KOHUT, PEW RESEARCH CENTER:  These states could split between these two men.  They could all go to Bush, or they could all go to Kerry.  It‘s a who-knows situation in most of these, many of these, swing states.

WILLIAMS:  Here‘s the way the map looks today, with the nine toss-up battleground states in white. Under any number of combinations, with Bush winning one cluster and Kerry another, both men end up at 269.  That is short of the 270 needed.

The first question is, what happens then?  The election goes to the House of Representatives, where each state would get one vote.  While Bush would likely win, there is a wild scenario under which a newly elected Democratic controlled Senate would hand President Bush John Edwards as his vice president.

Constitutional law expert Rick Pildes explains.

(on camera):  How would we end with a combination of a split ticket, Bush-Edwards?

RICK PILDES, CONSTITUTION LAW EXPERT:  Now that the new Senate could possibly be Democratic, the Senate chooses the vice president, in the case of a tie.  Presumably, they would choose John Edwards.  That‘s how you end up with President Bush, Vice President John Edwards.

WILLIAMS (voice-over):  And there may be an even bigger problem if the electoral vote ends up tied.  Many experts feel, it‘s bad for all of us.

KOHUT:  This is going to be a real challenge to this country, in a situation where the public has such strong feelings about these two candidates, if someone doesn‘t come away as the decisive legitimate winner in the minds of the American public.

STEPHEN HESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE:  It‘s complicated, and it‘s interesting, but it‘s all there in the Constitution.

WILLIAMS (on camera):  And we have to mention, there‘s an even wilder scenario here.  In the event of a tie in the Electoral vote and then a tie in the House of Representatives, John Edwards, who could be de facto president for two years until a new House of Representatives election.

But first things first.  We have to get through tomorrow night first.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REAGAN:  Boy, a Bush-Edwards administration.  It doesn‘t get any weirder than that, does it?

Now what happens, though, if there is this scenario actually comes through -- 269-269.  And yet, one or the other—let‘s just imagine for the sake of argument that Kerry wins the popular vote by two million—and yet 269 tied goes into the House of Representatives.

What do the Republicans do with that?  Do they do the right thing, Pat Buchanan, and give it to Kerry?

BUCHANAN:  The right thing and give it to Bush.

REAGAN:  You think they would, even if there was a two million spread in the popular vote?

BUCHANAN:  That‘s a very good question.  I think there might be some individuals who say, Look, in this case, he got the popular vote, and we ought to give it to him.  My guess would be, in the end and last analysis, look, it‘s like the Supreme Court, every Democrat votes against a Republican nominee.  You‘re liable to get something like that, I would think.

REAGAN:  Are you admitting that the Supreme Court was a partisan exercise last time?

BUCHANAN:  No, I am talking about the Democrats opposing all the president‘s nominees -- 100 percent. Realistically.

MYERS:  I do think that in the end, politics wins out.  And even though, in your scenario, Kerry wins the popular vote by substantial margin, each of the state delegations is controlled by politicians who are going to vote their political interests.

REAGAN:  What does that do to the will of the people?  What does that do—how does that play in the public, I should say?

BARNICLE:  Well, first of all, play in the public—I mean, before you even get to the concept of a tie in the electoral college, both candidates on TV, within the last two or three days, or their spokespeople, indicating the numbers of lawyers they were going to have on hand.  I heard John Kerry say, We have 10,000 lawyers ready to go in Florida.  I mean, that‘s enough to turn anyone off.

FINEMAN:  Here‘s another thing I want to mention, which is that I think both campaigns, and certainly the Kerry campaign has been very vocal about saying, as soon as they can get out there and plausibly claim victory, they are going to.

REAGAN:  Yes.

FINEMAN:  They are not going to let what happened, they are not going to let the anchor persons control this time.  So, there are going to be all kinds of assertions of victory, early on in the night.  So, the spinning comes even before the lawyering, and that is going to create a whole other problem, because I think one of the things the Democrats thought looking back on it, was that Al Gore, while he didn‘t concede, didn‘t attempt to claim victory.

And so, Kerry is going to be very aggressive about doing that, if he is anywhere close to being able to do it, and that‘s going to make the Republicans mad if they are behind.

REAGAN:  Here‘s another question then:  How wide a margin of victory for either guy does there have to be before lawyers go home?  If it‘s close, you know, both lawyers are going to go at each other...

FINEMAN:  That‘s an answer in the Electoral College.  The thing in 2000 was that Florida made it a situation where nobody had a claim to a majority.  Here, even if there are contests and arguments and provisional ballots waiting to be adjudicated in states, if somebody has what looks like a reasonable lead in the Electoral College, that‘s going to put a lot of pressure on those guys to stop.

BUCHANAN:  Back in 1960, now, even if Nixon had won Illinois, which was contested—a lot was stolen, obviously there—he would not have won the election.  He had to contest both Illinois and Texas.  Maybe he could have, but that‘s the situation.  If you get somebody who has a clear electoral vote majority based on solid states, and the rest are in dispute, I think you are OK.  But it‘s unlikely we‘re going to get there.

MYERS:  There‘s another threshold, which is, let‘s say one of the candidates wins Ohio by 50,000 votes, and there are only 25,000 provisional ballots.  You know, it doesn‘t matter, you can test the provisional ballots all day, it won‘t change the outcome.  On the other hand, if the margin is 25,000 votes and there are 50,000 provisional ballots, there‘s a completely different situation.

FINEMAN:  Here‘s a scary thing:  In Ohio...

REAGAN:  Another scary thing?

FINEMAN:  Yes, another scary thing, in Ohio...

MYERS:  The Halloween season.

FINEMAN:  By state law in Ohio, they don‘t count the provisional ballots for 11 days after the election.  So, if it‘s that close in Ohio, which conceivably could be—the “Columbus Dispatch” poll had it 50-50 -- we won‘t know what those provisional ballots say for almost two weeks.

MYERS:  It takes two weeks to certify them.

FINEMAN:  What are odds of Red Sox coming back from 3-nothing in the 12th inning?

BARNICLE:  Look what happened.

MYERS:  Everyone knew that was going to happen—yes.

REAGAN:  Any predictions as to how long this is going to take?  President Bush is on the air with Tom Brokaw saying, it has to be over Tuesday night for the good of the country.  Well, who thinks it‘s really going to be over Tuesday night?

BUCHANAN:  Look, if the president takes Florida and Ohio, more than the absentee ballots and the rest of it, I think it‘s clear.  But I tell you, if he loses or holds Florida and loses Ohio, then you got some disputes out there in Iowa and Minnesota.  It could go...

REAGAN:  Weeks, weeks.

BUCHANAN:  I mean, sure.  They will dispute it.  They will...

REAGAN:  All right, I know it‘s late, but the party is still going strong here at AFTER HOURS.  So, don‘t go away.  We have got much more ahead.  Stick around.

First, let‘s check in with our unscientific MSNBC poll.  We asked you, regardless of who you have or will vote for, who do you think will be the next president of the United States?  Sixty-nine percent of you feel it will be John Kerry; 31 percent of you feel it will be President Bush.  Log onto joe.msnbc.com, and cast your vote now.  AFTER HOURS continues live from Democracy Plaza in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REAGAN:  Oh, you are not going home.

All right, we are back with AFTER HOURS, from Democracy Plaza.  We have just enough time for a few final thoughts from our panel.  We were talking about how long this thing might drag on.  Do we want to have, like, a betting pool going here?  What do you think?  What date will this actually be decided on—this election?

BARNICLE:  Well, I think, we have gone from voter depression to potential voter suppression.  I say, it is going to be over by Wednesday noon.

REAGAN:  Wednesday noon?

BARNICLE:  Yes.

REAGAN:  OK, we have Mike down for Wednesday noon.

MYERS:  I say, Wednesday before the “Today Show” is off the air.

REAGAN:  Wednesday before the “Today”—Wednesday morning.

MYERS:  When NBC announces it.

REAGAN:  OK, Noon Wednesday; morning Wednesday.

MYERS:  It doesn‘t mean—there are going to be contests and ballots and fights to be had.

BUCHANAN:  I think midnight Tuesday, 12:00 a.m. Wednesday.

REAGAN:  Really, midnight Tuesday—that early, wow.

BUCHANAN:  Yes, I do.

REAGAN:  Ok.  Right now, we got to go to a live shot of the president.  I think he is in Dallas, Texas. This would be a final campaign rally.  There he is, leading Laura down amongst the people.  He will, no doubt, say a few words.

Let‘s just talk over this, because this isn‘t terribly exciting.

BUCHANAN:  It‘s been one hell of a campaign—I will say that.  This is interesting campaign and the battle, back and forth...

FINEMAN:  Let‘s not forget what this is about.  George Bush went to war after 9/11 in the name of freedom and Democracy, which are concepts we all really believe in.  And as complicated as this is, as fractious as it can be, even before all the votes are counted, I think we can all be proud that the whole world is watching this.  And the whole world is vicariously participating...

REAGAN:  They are watching.

FINEMAN:  ... and they are vicariously participating in it, and I am glad they are.

REAGAN:  All right.

Well, Mike, Howard, Pat, and Dee Dee, a sincere thanks to all of you for joining us down here, at Democracy Plaza.

Don‘t you go away.  We have got more AFTER HOURS ahead as we welcome in Election Day, right after this short break.  See you on the other side.

END

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