updated 11/2/2004 10:29:59 PM ET 2004-11-03T03:29:59

Guest: Howard Dean, Bill Owens, Rick Pildes

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  As promised, it‘s 8:00 Eastern time.  Let‘s take a look at some of these results.  We have some got some calls to make.  Also once again, a state that is too it close to call, Florida.  No surprise.  Ohio is too close to call.  Florida is now too close to call.  That‘s the big news of this hour. 

And we‘re finding a certain pattern here tonight.  It‘s called a close election.  Too close to call.  Florida, with 16 percent of the vote counted a difference of only 133,000 votes between the president and John Kerry.  Too close to call, the state of Florida. 

In Illinois, John Kerry has carried Illinois.  This is really his first big win of the night, not unexpected.  That follows, of course, his victory in Vermont.  Illinois, a big state in the big heart of the country.  John Kerry the projected winner.

In New Jersey, a lot of talk right now, John Kerry, a projected winner in New Jersey.  Boy they were talking about that one for a while.  Republicans hoping to poach that from last time‘s list.  New Jersey, projected to go for John Kerry. 

Tennessee, President Bush.  Projected winner in the Volunteer State.  George Bush, the president of the United States, is projected to carry Tennessee. 

Massachusetts, no surprise here, John Kerry carries the Bay State. 

His home state where he has represented for all these years in the U.S.

Senate. 

In Maryland, another Democratic state going for, as projected here, when all the votes are counted, NBC expects that John Kerry will carry Maryland tonight. 

Connecticut, again, John Kerry the projected winner in the state of Connecticut.  No surprise what ever.  That is a state that has been in the expected blue state column all campaign long. 

In Alabama, again, no surprise.  President Bush has carried, according to our projections, the state of Alabama today.  Projected winner, the president of the United States in Alabama.

In Oklahoma, President Bush projected to win that state after all the votes are counted in Oklahoma, the Sooner State, again, no surprise.  This is the red and the blue of American life we‘re watching here tonight. 

In Maine, again, another blue state for John Kerry, the Democratic challenger.  When all the votes are counted, we project he will win the state of Maine. 

In Delaware, another bellwether state, this is a bellwether state, but usually Democratic.  Last time it went for Al Gore, this time, it‘s going, according to our projections, for John Kerry.  Delaware, making a lot of calls early tonight here.

Let‘s take a look at the District of Columbia.  Absolutely no surprise, heavily Democratic.  The District of Columbia, according to our projections, John Kerry. 

Too close to call.  Again, the big story right now of the hour, Florida, which decided last time‘s election and put President Bush into the White House thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, still too close to call.  And that means something, that means the votes coming in are so close together that NBC can‘t recall. 

Another state too close to call.  And this is significant, Missouri, or in it‘s more rural areas, called Missoura, too close to call.  That is significant.  That‘s a culturally conservative state where John Kerry has a shot. 

And Pennsylvania, this is a surprise, too early to call.  But it doesn‘t mean much, because we don‘t have the numbers yet.  I should say, it‘s not a surprise until we have gotten more numbers.  This simply means we don‘t have enough votes to count yet, not that the two candidates are too close.  Too early means too early in Pennsylvania. 

In New Hampshire, another state too early to call.  That means, again, a small state where we haven‘t got enough of a sample to make a judgment as to who‘s going to win this thing.  It may be a lopsided victory, or defeat for either candidate.  We simply know it‘s too early. 

Another state too early to call, don‘t make any assumptions on this, Mississippi, a long-time and predictively, I should say reliably Republican State. 

Ohio, once again I say it again, too close to call.  That means that the numbers coming in that we‘re looking at in our samples, in our sample precincts are simply too close together to decide who going to project, in fact, who is going to win this thing. 

Too close to call in North Carolina.  A big surprise there, I think.  Most people would have say that the Tarheel State would have been safely Republican.  As they expected, I think, that Virginia would be safely Republican.  Too close to call in North Carolina, too close.

Virginia, too close.  Interesting, along the Eastern seaboard how we have these closer races.  One possibility, tonight, after all the votes are counted, that Kerry does much better in the East, North and South than expected. 

Let‘s go to South Carolina, too early to call.  We don‘t have enough votes there to count.  You have to understand, everyone is being very cautious this year to make sure that when a call is made, it holds. 

We‘re looking at the map right now, 3 for Kerry—actually, it‘s gone up to 77 for Kerry, thanks to that big win in Illinois, et cetera, and across the Eastern seaboard. 

You will notice that Kerry is doing very well along the Atlantic Coast there, with the exception, I should say of Illinois, most his votes so far coming from the Eastern seaboard. 

The president is pulling 66. 

Now let‘s talk about the important races in the U.S. Senate. 

In Illinois, Barack Obama is the projected winner.  There‘s a popular fellow.  What an interesting background.  Raised in Hawaii.  His mother is from Kansas, his father is from Kenya.  What an interesting background he has. 

Barbara Mikulski, a real veteran of Democratic politics, she comes from Baltimore, as it‘s pronounced there, Ballmer.  Barbara Mikulski, the projected winner in Maryland. 

Let‘s look at this one, Kit Bond, Christopher Bond, been around for awhile, former governor of Missouri.  He is the projected winner, according to our tabulations in the United States Senate race in Missouri.

Let‘s go right now, Richard Shelby in Alabama, another expected winner, projected winner now, thanks to our calculations.  Richard Shelby, the projected winner in Alabama.

Connecticut, no surprise, Christopher Dodd, a man who came within a vote of becoming the Democratic leader of the United States Senate.  Christopher Dodd, who often appears on the Don Imus radio show. 

Christopher Dodd, a projected winner in the state of Connecticut. 

Judd Gregg.  What an interesting fellow.  Look at that young fellow.  He served as the sparring partner for President Bush in preparing for his debates with John Kerry.  He has been re-elected up there in New Hampshire, according to our projections.  Looks rather handily winning that reelection there. 

And here is an interesting one, too close to call, this is big news out of Pennsylvania.  Too close.  Apparently Joe Hoeffel is fighting a more considerable challenge to Arlen Spector, the long time veteran in Pennsylvania than expect.  That race is too close to call in my home state of Pennsylvania. 

Another race too close to call.  This is Mel Martinez, the HUD  Secretary the president got the run for the United States Senate to help bolster his strength in the U.S. Senate.  He is having a close race with Betty Castor the Democratic candidate with just 17 percent of the vote reporting. 

Another close race too, rather early to call, I should say, in Oklahoma between Brad Carson, the Democratic and Tom Coburn, the Republican, the doctor, the medical doctor.  Too early to call, that doesn‘t mean much, expect we don‘t have the numbers.  That may well be a landslide in either direction, although who in Oklahoma.  A lot of interesting close to call races developing tonight.

And this one, this may be one of the great close to calls tonight.  In the Tarheel State, Richard Burr, Republican, Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to Bill Clinton.  What an interesting race between two very estimable, impressive candidates.  I think the Senate will win in either case with those fellows. 

We‘ve got a too close to call race in Kentucky.  Again Jim Bunning, Hall of Fame pitcher.  Very popular in the country.  Very well known, I should say, in the country, minding himself.  Look at this, 61 percent of the vote counted and they‘re still running too close to call.  An unknown Mongiardo, the man that was referred to by some in a very unpleasant way on the Republican side.  A very nasty campaign there.

Too close to call U.S. Senate in South Carolina.  Who would have expected this?  Inez Tenenbaum, we‘ve seen her debate on “MEET THE PRESS.”  A Democratic woman in the south.  A tough race anyway you look at it. 

Fight what looks to be a very close race against a favorite, Jim DeMint.

And now let‘s go right now to a man who may, by many people, have lit the fuse of John Kerry, Howard Dean. 

You coulda been a contender?

HOWARD DEAN, FRM. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I was a contender.

MATTHEWS:  You were a contender.  What do you think?  Could you have been here?  Could you have gone this far had you won the nomination with your very strong anti-war position?

DEAN:  Who knows?  Woulda, coulda, shoulda.  I think Kerry is doing great, but the thing I want to emphasize on, is that this is a long—we got a long way to go.  There are still some polls open in places like Oregon and Washington and Hawaii.  We got to have people continue to go to the polls.  These big crowds are great for John Kerry, we want to keep those big crowds coming. 

MATTHEWS:  The other night Tom Brokaw of NBC News asked the president, right face to face, like we are, is this a referendum on the war in Iraq?  And the president said no, it‘s a referendum on leadership.  How do did you   read that dialogue? 

DEAN:  I think it is a referendum on three things.  It‘s the president‘s conduct in general.  It‘s not just the war in Iraq, it‘s also the economy.  250,000 jobs lost in Ohio.  Oregon has got one of the highest unemployment rates in America.  And the deficits.  The deficits are a big issue in places like New Hampshire, in the South where people know the deficits are causing the loss of jobs.  So I think it is referendum on leadership, I just think the president has come up somewhat short. 

MATTHEWS:  You think.  I hate to ask you this, I‘m going to ask you again.  Should the Democrats have run a clear anti-war candidate like you, or a man who has, to some extent, managed to fudge the issue, John Kerry?

DEAN:  Well, you know, Chris, right now, John Kerry is ahead by 11 electoral votes.  I think second guessing is probably the wrong thing to do right now. 

MATTHEWS:  So in other words, he did it the right way?

DEAN:  He looks like he‘s done it the right way.  We have got a long way to go tonight.  We want that turnout to keep cranking out in those tight states where the polls are still open, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Hawaii.  But right now, things are looking reasonably good. 

MATTHEWS:  Not to scare the horses, but would you like to be a member of the cabinet, if John Kerry wins? 

DEAN:  You know, the 1 think I have learn is A, you never answer that question, and B, people who appoint their cabinets before they win, don‘t get to appoint them after they win.  So that one, your not getting me anywhere near that one.

MATTHEWS:  What have you learned watching the general election returns so far tonight?  West Virginia has gone South on the Democrats.  Virginia, North Carolina, too close to call.  What do you make of that?

DEAN:  Virginia, North Carolina, those states are changing a lot. 

There are a lot of people moving in.  They‘ve lost a lot...

MATTHEWS:  A lot of northerners moving in. 

DEAN:  A lot of northerners moving in but a lot of jobs lost in the textile industry has decimated North Carolina and South Carolina.  People resent that.  I think you are going to be a closer race but between John Kerry and George Bush and I think Inez Tannenbaum has a real shot in South Carolina because of the job loss situation.  That‘s hurting the president everywhere in America.

MATTHEWS:  One of the spookiest things to happen in America recently was the re-emergence of the visage of Osama bin Laden just before the weekend.  What impact do you think that had? 

DEAN:  Well, at the time I thought it was going to help the president because I think any time you mention terrorism, according to polls that helped.  But you saw the president‘s collapse in his advantage on terrorism.  I think the reappearance of Osama reminded people that he hadn‘t been caught and it‘s been three years.  A lot of tough talk not much action on the terrorism front. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that the way you read it when you first saw it?

DEAN:  No.  When I first saw it I thought this was going to be helpful for President Bush but I don‘t think it was.

MATTHEWS:  Joe Scarborough, what do you think of that?  Let‘s talk about the visage of this—sort of an apparition in a sense of it.  Just a video, no shots fired, no bombs went off, no suicide attacks, just a video and all of a sudden it may have had some impact, what do you think? 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  When you look at the “Newsweek” poll that dropped about the same time last week there was a 20 percent gap between Americans.  Who do you trust to win the war on terror?  George W. Bush or John Kerry?  A 20 percent gap.  The president of the United States leading by 20 percent and then all of a sudden Osama bin Laden comes back into our lives.  We see this picture of him and I will guarantee you, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, most everybody I spoke with thought because there had been this 20 percent gap.  And the gap had been that way through the whole campaign that it was going to have much more of an impact than apparently it has ended up having.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about young people because I have—I think objectively conservatives, middle of the roaders and any objective observer would say you turned on the kids.  Right?  Now we were looking at this number, Andrea and I, in Ohio, a state that is going to be very important in the final count, it may decided this election.  Among those—you though these kids, 18-29.  58-41 for Kerry.  Did you give him that Thanksgiving turkey, hand it to him?

DEAN:  What it was, Chris, was intensity.  What the young people in this country decided was it was their time and it is their time.  This is a generational election.  This is an election that is going to change generations.  I told college kids all through this campaign after I dropped out of the race, that this is yours to win.  If you show up, John Kerry is going to be the next president of the United States.  We‘ll see what happens in Ohio but it looks like they certainly showed up. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it‘s because of the war they showed up?  What other issues probably..

DEAN:  I think they are very worried about the deficit.  Interestingly the deficits don‘t appear on older people‘s issues, it‘s jobs, it‘s health insurance, it‘s schools...

MATTHEWS:  Did you worry about the deficit when you were 25 years old? 

DEAN:  This is a different generation. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do they worry? 

DEAN:  Because they know they are getting the bill.  They know every time the president charges $87 billion for the war on Iraq and doesn‘t pay for it, it gets charged to the kids‘ credit card and they feel it because it‘s much harder for them to pay for college now.  It‘s three issues for kids are the deficit, the environment and paying for college and they connect the deficit with the difficulty of paying for college.  They know that money goes to president‘s millionaire friends and comes out of middle class people‘s tax cut which is their parents. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s great having you here, governor.  Thanks for being here. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And I‘ll guarantee you.  You ask somebody in college if they think they are going to get Social Security, they will laugh at you. 

DEAN:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go right now to Keith, Keith Olbermann right now who has got a look at what else is happening in the elections right now.  Because there is a lot else happening besides the presidency and the Senate race.

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “COUNTDOWN”:  Particularly, Chris, the swing in the Senate is now a push.  Perhaps if you‘ve been with us throughout tonight, you know that the first call of a change in a Senate seat occurred in Georgia where it becomes now a Republican seat after having been Zell Miller‘s seat, nominally anyway, a Democratic seat.  And now, that push, that one point advantage if you will has been obviated by the results from Illinois that we projected just a few moments ago that Barack Obama would indeed defeat Alan Keyes, the former presidential candidate, twice former -replacement for the original Republican nominee Jack Ryan who left under unfortunate  circumstances.  But earlier, as we projected, the Georgia seat would change hands from the Democrats to the Republicans and the Congressman Johnny Isakson defeating Denise Majette.  So right now the advantage that was originally gained in Georgia has been obviated by an advantage for the Democrats in Illinois taking over a Republican seat.  Let‘s look at the five of the 11 key governor‘s races.  Five of the key of the 11 governors races where it‘s too close to call in Missouri in the race between the Democrat McCaskill, the state auditor and the Republican, the secretary of state Mr. Blunt.

In Delaware, where Governor Ruth Ann Marner is the incumbent is now being challenged by Bill Lee, the Republican.  Also, the repeat of their 2000 competition and that one is too early to call. 

In New Hampshire, still too early to call there between John Lynch, the businessman who is challenging the incumbent governor Republican Craig Benson.  Too early to call in New Hampshire.

Too early to call in Vermont, where the mayor of Burlington Peter Clavelle is challenging the Republican incumbent Jim Douglas and now still too early to call in Indiana where the incumbent Joe Kernan who replaced the late Frank O‘Bannon last year is being challenged by the former OMB director, Mitch Daniels.  So a run of governor‘s races, Chris, that are too early to call, meaning we‘ll have them probably later on.  Back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Keith.  And in Maine where they do divide up the electoral votes by the congressional district, there is one unknown result there.  There‘s three of the four are going to go to John Kerry but one still out there that might well go either way at this point right now.  Let me go to current Governor Bill Owens of Colorado who is out in  Denver right now.  He is a Republican—you are still in office, sir, I didn‘t knock you out.  Give us a sense of the west because my hunch is the pattern of the country is going to be uneven as we count the votes tonight. 

GOV. BILL OWENS ®, COLORADO:  You know, I think you are right, Chris.  Awfully early but still waiting to see what is going to happen in Colorado.  Recent polls have shown the president well ahead in Colorado, four, five, six or 7 percent.  Same in New Mexico by a smaller margin.  Nevada is going to be a battleground state.  So we still have the polls open out here in the west and so we‘re still involved in the campaigning.  But it‘s going to be close across the country.  Very well might be close in parts of west and we‘re obviously stronger for President Bush out here than some parts of the eastern seaboard. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about values, because we have all been watching this election, you, sir are certainly part of this electoral process at the presidential level.  It seems to me that on the plate for the voter is not just terrorism and not just the economy and not just Iraq, but this larger palate of issues from gay marriage, abortion rights, I guess you could throw in stem cell, maybe even gun rights.  How are those going to play tonight, those values questions?

OWENS:  Well, again, I think and this has been reported from four years ago, if you are a regular church attender, if you regularly attend church, you are much more likely to support President Bush.  There is a number of those sorts of social issues which divide these two candidates.  Much of the Midwest, much of the west is pretty conservative socially.  I think that‘s one of the reasons why the president does well out here and why he is going to do well in Colorado this evening. 

MATTHEWS:  Which way do you think the impact of the Latino or Hispanic vote is going to be felt?  Who is going to win that vote in Colorado and New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona? 

OWENS:  You know, Chris, this president won a majority of the Hispanic vote, his second race for governor in Texas.  In Colorado, for example, I won a majority of the Hispanic vote the second time I ran for governor for reelection.  So I think they are very much in play.  I think we‘re going to see the president do well.  But a lot of it depends on if this is first generation, if these people have gotten to know this president.  But his record in Texas was he does very well with the Hispanic electorate once they get to know him.  I think he will do well much of the west tonight.  He won‘t win a majority but I think he is going to be competitive. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to have to be talking about this getting closer to midnight in the East Coast.  Is there a difference culturally between living in your part of the country and living in the east?

OWENS:  You know there is.  We have these wide open spaces.  We are not as crowded.  We don‘t have much social issues in terms of high rates of welfare and even some of the drug dependence that we sometimes see in more populated areas of the country.  I think the west is more optimistic.  We‘re more ready to—and we‘re also more nationalistic.  We‘re often more patriotic in one sense.  So I think that this president is going to do very well out here in the west.  We regard him as a westerner.  Texas is a southwestern state.  And in many respects, he is a neighbor.  So the election is still a long way to go this evening.  President Bush is going to win Colorado.  I think he is going to do well in much of the west. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you thinking of the presidency yourself, Governor? 

OWENS:  You know, I‘m not.  I have been asked that a few times but we‘re going to have some outstanding candidate.  We have one election tonight to get past then we‘re going to let these candidate start to prepare for four years from now. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Great having you back on the show.  You‘re always welcome.  Thank you very much.

OWENS:  Thank you.  

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Governor Bill Owens of Colorado, a man who I believe has great ambitions, what do you think, Joe? 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think he does, too.  You know, one other issue, though, that he didn‘t bring up has to do with the environment.  I found when I was in Congress, because I came—I was always—baffled people, because I was a Republican, I was from the South, but I also had water all around me.  So I was an environmentalist. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Hold that thought, Joe, sorry, we got a big call to make right now.  From NBC, a projection we‘re about to make right now.  In North Carolina, here it comes, President Bush is the projected winner in the Tarheel State in the presidential race tonight.  That was expected.  It took a while.  He has won. 

We still want to know, of course, how that Senate race is going in North Carolina between Richard Burr, the Republican, and Erskine Bowles, the former chief of staff to President Clinton.

Look at these numbers.  Aren‘t these interesting?  Here is the president.  This is going to be an interesting night as we watch this.  So have a cup of coffee, because I think this election is going to look like that throughout the night.  Neck and neck. 

We haven‘t seen one like this before.  This could be like Richard Nixon and John Kennedy back in 1960.  Anyway, that‘s how it looks right now in the electoral map—Andrea. 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, one of those—a small note about North Carolina, the reason it is as close as it perhaps is in North Carolina, even though Bush certainly won it, is that—or that we are projecting that Bush has won it—is that the young voters in North Carolina came out heavily for Kerry.  They came out, and according to the exit polling, at least one in seven voters there were under the age of 30, and Kerry got 60 percent of their vote. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s go, I didn‘t let you finish your thought, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what I was going to say is that I always found it so interesting how angry people in the West were, Colorado especially, on environmental issues.  They felt like there was a war on the West.  And even when there were—I could agree with them on 99 percent of the issues, but if I voted in what was considered to be a pro-environmental issue, they would consider it to be a war on the West.  That‘s one of the reasons why I think George W. Bush is going to end up carrying places like Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, because they are more comfortable with him than they are—and also the same thing with—it‘s what happened with West Virginia four years ago, and now.  They are more comfortable with his  environmental record, as much as the blue staters may hate it, than they are than, say, those in the red states. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that because they want more control over their land? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  It all has to do with land rights. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘re going right now to Keith Olbermann—Keith. 

OK, we‘re not going to Keith right now.  We‘re going to go to Brian Williams right now—Brian. 

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS:  Chris, thank.  And here in the tracking center, we‘re looking specifically at the role the war in Iraq will play in this election.  Such a huge issue in the campaign, and on Election Day, Iraq continues to divide Americans.  Both on the wisdom of the policy and how the war overall is progressing. 

Voters today were split on whether invading Iraq was the right decision, 48 percent approve of the decision to go to war.  And no surprise if you‘ve been following this issue, 48 percent disapprove of the call to go to war. 

As for how the war is being fought, just 12 percent think it‘s going very well.  Another third think it‘s going somewhat well, but more than half of the voters in the election, 55 percent, believe the war in Iraq is going badly. 

One of the most important differences between President Bush and Senator Kerry is the fact that the president has argued that the war in Iraq is part of a war on terrorism.  John Kerry calls Iraq a distraction from the war.  NBC News exit polling finds the public evenly divided on who is right here.  Just over half of the voters today said the invasion of Iraq is part of a larger war on terror, as the president insists.  Almost as many disagree and say it is separate and apart from the war on terror. 

Now, on the broader question of whether the war on Iraq has improved the security of the U.S., more voters than not say it has not.  As you might expect, opinion on all of these questions closely related to which candidate people voted for in the presidential race as we keep looking at the numbers here.  Chris, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Brian Williams.  That‘s a fascinating number.  Let‘s go to Norah O‘Donnell at the White House—Norah. 

NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  And good evening to you, Chris.  The president is currently in the residence.  We‘re told now there are about a dozen—I should say, dozens of people, 25 to 30, family and friends gathered with him.  They are dining on beef tenderloin and smoked salmon while there is a war room set up in the Roosevelt room, where all of his top advisers, including Karl Rove, are pouring over the data. 

Karl Rove shuttling back and forth to give the president updates.  I am also told that the president has been making several phone calls to his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia touching base with Ken Mehlman, his campaign manager.  

One interesting thing—I‘ve been on the phone for the last hour talking to Republicans across the country, who are expressing a great deal of anxiety.  They are talking to people inside the campaign, they are looking at what they think are sort of different exit poll data that may be out there on Internet Web sites. 

They are concerned.  The reaction from the Bush campaign, from those in the White House is hold on, that exit poll data may not be good stuff.  It‘s certainly not what the networks are reporting, and let‘s wait until we get in the real votes from the people, and when those votes are posted.  So we‘re sort of in a wait and see mode is the phrase that I have heard from the campaign. 

One campaign adviser saying it‘s kind of screwy, all those numbers that are floating around out there.  They still feel very confident at this point that they‘re doing well in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go back to some viewers may not have heard this

before.  I watched the president, as did everyone who has a TV set in the

last couple of days.  His expression has changed from his usual cheeriness

·         in fact, if you look back two or three weeks, it was outstanding how upbeat he was, until two days ago.  What happened? 

O‘DONNELL:  The president was enormously upbeat, as was his campaign staff, who on Halloween night donned camouflage jackets and walked off Air Force One to mock and make fun of Senator Kerry.  Then of course the marathon campaigning, 20-hour long days, and then this morning, when the president appeared to vote in Crawford, Texas, he looked very tired and a little bit more tense.  The first lady looked like she was forcing a smile, holding the president‘s hand very tightly.  There are pictures of the president‘s campaign advisers looking on, who looked like they had some concern in their face.  It may also have been they were very tired, it was a very long day.  But clearly, sometimes you can read on someone‘s face the concern, and at this morning of course they know that this was very close, and advisers readily admit they had hoped that at this stage of the game to have pulled somewhat of a lead on Kerry, give them some comfort, if you will. 

They didn‘t have that.  That‘s why it‘s close, that‘s why the Ken

Mehlman, the campaign manager, who has been directing this get out the vote

effort, told me they were going to blow out of doors and why they decided

to run dry runs, mock runs, Chris, in all of the target states, practicing,

like dress rehearsals, knocking on doors and driving the shuttle vans, et

cetera, to try and ensure that they will get their supporters to the polls

·         Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, Norah O‘Donnell at the White House.  Let‘s go right now to Peter Alexander, who is in Columbus, Ohio, scene of one of the closest contests, and perhaps the most important of the contests tonight—Peter.

PETER ALEXANDER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Chris.  There was a lawsuit that has been filed within the last few hours over the long lines in Ohio.  We have learned that about an hour ago, a temporary restraining order was granted.

Let‘s make it clear how this works.  Democratic lawyers brought this suit in federal district court.  It‘s against the boards of election in Knox County and Franklin County, that‘s here where we are in Columbus.  It is significant because they are blaming the counties for failing to have enough voting machines, causing this new burden on the voters, causing lines that right now are still in excess of three and some places four hours. 

Anecdotally, we are hearing about some concerns that there aren‘t enough voting polling places within the polling places themselves.  There are not enough booths.  For example, at the St. Aloysius Church that we visited earlier today, just three booths today as opposed to four years ago, when there were five booths.  In this lawsuit, they are upset that the lines are too long and the burden is now on those voters. 

The suit is asking that the people waiting in line will be given paper ballots to remove that burden from them, the Democratic lawyers view that as a victory at this point.  It‘s significant, because in some of these places, people could be in line for the next four hours, lasting past midnight tonight.  We‘ll keep you up to date on the situation right now, but this should make it possible for everybody who is in line right now to vote, even if there is some concern that some of those people were planning to leave those lines because they were simply so long—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Peter Alexander. 

A couple of thoughts.  I want to get to Ron Reagan.  I was impressed as you may have been by Governor Dean who was just here.  Dean in a way ignited the Democratic campaign against President Bush. 

RON REAGAN, MSNBC ANALYST:  He did.

MATTHEWS:  Before he came along, there wasn‘t a campaign.  Everybody was playing it safe.

REAGAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  What is your assessment as his role in this?

REAGAN:  I was sad that he left so early because I wanted to give him credit for something—we have been talking about the youth vote here.  You know, in 1972, 18-year-olds got the right to vote and immediately began dragging down the national average of voting.  You know, they talk a good game, you can get them registered, but they wouldn‘t go to the polls.  Not this time, I don‘t think, and Howard Dean is partly responsible for that.  He made voting, he made involvement cool again.  Apathy used to be cool, it is not now. 

MATTHEWS:  It is not.  Also, we‘re going to have an announcement to make here.  We have got Arkansas coming up here at the half-hour, at 8:30 Eastern time.  We‘re going to be making an announcement in just a very few seconds now. 

Let‘s take a look.

It‘s going to be an interesting development here, because this is one of the states where, of course, former President Bill Clinton campaigned hard and enthusiastically.  We‘re looking right now, too early to call in Arkansas, unfortunately, the Razorback State.

It‘s interesting because I‘m going to be watching tonight, as everyone is going to be watching to see one of the many small shows tonight we‘re all interested in, those of us who focus on everything, whether Bill Clinton was able to move this campaign in the direction of John Kerry in its closing week. 

We‘re looking now at a very, very close race in the electoral vote. 

And you are looking up our building here at 30 Rock to see it dramatized.  The president is leading.  He may end up leading tonight overall.  But they are both a long way from 270 electoral votes.  And that is the requirement.  This election is not won until a candidate has 270 electoral votes.  And from the way we have been counting the votes tonight, with great confidence, but also with tremendous care, it may take a while. 

MATTHEWS:  Here we have a vote to call...

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, boy.

MATTHEWS:  ... in the United States Senate race in Oklahoma, the Sooner State.  The Republican candidate, Dr. Tom Coburn, is the projected winner for the United States Senate race in Oklahoma.  That was a race that a lot of people were watching.  And the Democratic ran a tough campaign, but didn‘t win. 

Too early to call also—or, rather, too early to call in this case, the Blanche Lincoln reelection in Arkansas.  So that‘s an 8:30 close.  And, once again, we have ourselves with not enough votes to begin to count and make a call. 

Let‘s look right now in the Florida race.  This is Mel Martinez race, as I said, the former HUD secretary, pushed very heavily by the president, President Bush, to make that run for senator from Florida to replace Democrat Bob Graham, too close to call.  These are states that are so interesting.

Too close to call in North Carolina for Erskine Bowles.  Interesting how close these races on the Eastern seaboard are.  Who would have thought this?  Too close to call in Pennsylvania, where you have a veteran, top-notch politician, I mean professional politician like Arlen Specter facing a tough race?

Too close to call in Kentucky.  With 72 percent of the vote in, Jim Bunning has not locked it up.  Too close to call in South Carolina, an extremely conservative state.  Yet Inez Tenenbaum, the Democratic candidate, holds on in this fight, too close to call, and that means something. 

And here we have a new call from NBC to make right now.  In the race for president, in South Carolina, no surprise here, but it took a while.  George Bush, the president, has a projected victory coming his way in the state of South Carolina. 

So here we‘re going to take a look at the map right now and see how it looks.  It‘s getting redder at the bottom there.  And you notice the pattern.  It‘s so interesting how it develops here, red across that Southern midsection on the East Coast, blue across the Upper Northeast up there along the coast.  This is the pattern we‘re probably going to be able to project across the country.  It‘s so interesting.  It‘s how we vote. 

The South is red.  The South is conservative.  The North is Democratic and it is fighting a close race between these two regions.  And what I think was going to happen tonight, we are going to have an election most of us think between North and South that will be decided by the Midwest.  That‘s where a lot of decisions are going to be made.  It‘s going to be fascinating.  The North and South can‘t agree, so let‘s ask the Midwest to help decide this election for us. 

Let‘s go to Carl Quintanilla, who is definitely in the Northeast up in Boston right now with Kerry.

How is that good humor holding up there, Carl? 

CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  It‘s holding up, Chris. 

The South, it really isn‘t surprising too many Democrats we‘re talking to at this hour.  I was talking to one Democrat who said Georgia was—quote—“gone.”  And that must have been an hour or so ago.  A lot of nervous energy on this end, some good energy.  One aid to the campaign described it as being up in the third quarter, up by a field goal, still a long way to go and the margin really not that high, as you mentioned. 

Got to remember, the campaign is staffed with a lot of survivors from 2000 who were there when the early exit polls came in and did look good for Gore, only to see things turn later in the night.  So being extremely cautious. 

The Clinton effect, Chris, that you mentioned, they are watching very closely not only in Arkansas, but also in Florida and in New Mexico, the three big states where the former president campaigned.  As one aide said, Chris, there is no towel-snapping going on quite yet in the locker rooms of the Kerry campaign, Chris.   

MATTHEWS:  I love that phrase. 

Let me ask you about the way they‘re reading the White House.  We just had Norah O‘Donnell on from the White House.  And she said they are inside plotting and planning to try to squeeze a few more votes out.  But they did notice, the correspondents at the White House, including Norah, the rather serious face on the president coming back today and a couple days ago as well.  How are the Kerry people reading the Bush people right now? 

QUINTANILLA:  Well, actually, Bob Shrum, Kerry‘s main strategist, was asked about that yesterday or the day before.  He was asked, what do you make of Karl Rove‘s bravado?  When they come out on the tarmac with camouflage on, making fun of his goose-hunting trip in Ohio?

And he said, that is—Shrum‘s line was, that is how Republicans work it.  They have this philosophy that the appearance of winning leads to winning, which obviously the Democrats are rather negative on.  So I think at this point, they are taking it with a grain of salt.  It almost seems expected on their end.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You know why I think, Carl, they don‘t like it?  Because remember, four years ago, the Bush family all got together in that hotel room and they all acted like they had won.  They showed confidence and they sent a message to the country, hey, we won this thing.  And a lot of people accepted that as a fact for the month ahead to led to—included all that fighting. 

QUINTANILLA:  On the flip side, though, Chris...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I love this psychological war.  I‘ll be back to you again, because, before we get numbers, we‘re going to try to figure out who is winning in other ways.  Anyway, thank you, Carl Quintanilla.

We‘re going to take a short break now for a commercial.  We‘re going to come back. 

And we‘re going to come back with Vanessa Kerry, trying to read her psychology and see what she has learned from the various numbers.  Also, Joe Trippi is going to give us an update.  And this is always a precursor of things to come, the blogs, the Web sites.  What‘s the buzz out there?  What‘s the chatter out there?  Let‘s read them and find out and give it to you right away. 

We‘ll be right back with MSNBC‘s coverage from Democracy Plaza. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at the recap right now.

We have seen that the president has won nine states.  Let‘s count them, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, all NBC—states where NBC has projected the president will carry. 

Let‘s take a look at the states that NBC projects that John Kerry will carry, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  And if you listen to this crowd out here, you might say New York is on the way, based upon the noise outside here. 

Let‘s take a look at the electoral votes.  This is still interesting here, obviously, in the South, all that red for the president, President Bush.  He is doing as expected, winning the states he was expected to win.  Same with John Kerry.  What we haven‘t seen yet tonight is a major or any kind of poach, where somebody reached over and took a red or took a blue from the other side. 

In other words, that‘s going to take some time, because those states, intuition tells us, will be close, right, Andrea?

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico are going to be close races. 

And, in fact...

MATTHEWS:  And Ohio and Florida. 

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  Some of Kerry people think that Nevada...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead, Andrea. 

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  We‘re still waiting on New Hampshire—oh, I‘m sorry.

MITCHELL:  No, I‘m sorry. 

MATTHEWS:  Andrea.

MITCHELL:  No, I‘m sorry. 

Some of the Kerry people think Nevada could be close enough that they are going to try to send General Wes Clark out there tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  Before the closing time? 

MITCHELL:  Before closing time. 

REAGAN:  As Joe was saying...

MATTHEWS:  Maybe they should have put him on the ticket. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Just guessing.

REAGAN:  As Joe was saying, we‘re still waiting on New Hampshire. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

REAGAN:  Now, Kerry should win New Hampshire, but I know they are going to feel a lot better if they get it in their pocket and that whole Northeast is colored in blue. 

Remember, if Gore had won New Hampshire last time, we would be talking about incumbent President Gore running for reelection. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Also, New Hampshire gives George Bush some opportunities even if the he loses Ohio. 

REAGAN:  That‘s right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  To get over—to get over the top.

Obviously, it‘s just a much more difficult climb.  But this is what I‘m fascinated by, is, we have had all this back-and-forth for so long and yet this has played out—you could have predicted how these states were going to fall four years ago. 

MATTHEWS:  You want to predict the last 10?

SCARBOROUGH:  They have played true to form so far. 

MATTHEWS:  How about predicting the last 10?  That‘s going to be the hard one. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Figuring out how Wisconsin goes, how Iowa goes, how Pennsylvania goes, Ohio and Florida.  And they‘re going to be the toughies.

SCARBOROUGH:  I still think it comes down to Florida and Ohio. 

And I think, right now, from what I hear, the lines are still long.  We have heard the lines are long in Ohio.  I just heard the line—there is a line of 500 people in Florida, Northwest Florida, still waiting.  They are driving by with bullhorns, telling them not to go anywhere, singing “God Bless America.”

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It is amazing the intensity on both sides of this election.  Remarkable. 

MATTHEWS:  I wish they could do it like they do at CVS at the drugstore.  When a crowd starts to build, a line builds, they call more people up to the counter and they move faster.  But we don‘t have that system.

Let‘s go to Joe Trippi, who is Mr. state of the art.

What are the bloggers telling you and what are you picking up, Joe?

JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, right now, the blogs are focused on this race for the Senate in Kentucky, Chris, where, just a month ago, Jim Bunning, senator, Republican senator from Kentucky, had a double-digital lead, until he started making a series of gaffes. 

But the national press didn‘t really pay a lot of attention to it, didn‘t get picked up a whole lot in the local media.  But the blogs really ran with it.  And the Mongiardo campaign, the Democratic challenger, recognized this, started running a blog ad campaign across the Internet.  The blogs contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mongiardo.

That made him real.  And the next thing that happened was the Democratic Party, sensing he was real, sent him even more money. 

(CROSSTALK)

TRIPPI:  And that race is too close to call. 

MATTHEWS:  Joe, hold on for a second.  We‘ll get right back to you.

We have got a call to make in a big state on the East Coast.  And now

·         we are now projecting at NBC that President Bush will carry the Old Dominion.  It took a couple hours, but he has won, by our projections, the state of Virginia, home to many correspondents and people on this panel, including Pat Buchanan. 

Joe, let‘s get back to you right now.

See the—it‘s right now 80 for the president -- 102 for the president right now, 77 for John Kerry.  We will see how long it takes tonight, right through the morning. 

Let me go right back to Joe Trippi. 

Joe, this fight you are talking about.  Jim Bunning, we just saw him.

TRIPPI:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  What a man, what a confident-looking fellow he is, the former baseball Major League Hall of Famer.

TRIPPI:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Why is there such interest among the bloggers in that race in Kentucky for the Senate? 

TRIPPI:  Well, he just made a whole series of gaffes.  He compared Mongiardo to Saddam Hussein‘s son. 

He just made a whole series of things that somehow grabbed the blogosphere.  And then what happened was, the Mongiardo campaign smartly—almost like Howard Dean-like—started running these blog ads.  And thousands of people gave Mongiardo money.  The real thing here is, I don‘t know too—it‘s too close to call, but if Mongiardo wins tonight, the Democrats and he owe the blogosphere the victory, because they are the people that rallied around this guy, got him the money and got him in the race and paid attention, when most of us weren‘t. 

Why Mongiardo?  Just because he is a Democrat?  Is that why the bloggers like him? 

TRIPPI:  I think they were really—the first thing was when Bunning accused Mongiardo of looking like Saddam Hussein‘s son.  There was something about that I think that got—of all places in Kentucky, got a bunch of anti-war Democrats all fired up to contribute to this guy around the nation.

It just shows you what can happen, how this national movement that was out there from the Dean campaign and others, can impact a race like Kentucky.  It really funneled a lot of money to Mongiardo.  And, again, it‘s tight.  It‘s close.  But it shouldn‘t have been.  And if Mongiardo wins, it‘s because of the Net. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, very much, Joe Trippi. 

Let‘s get back and talk about Virginia with Pat Buchanan. 

Pat, you live in Virginia, the northern part, which is a bit more northern in more ways than one. 

What did you make of the president‘s victory there tonight? 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think it‘s a good victory, Chris.  And I expected it.  And I was surprised it came a little bit later than I thought. 

But what is really interesting, Chris, is West Virginia.  We have called that very early.  That was a battleground state.  That was one of those states that Kerry might be able to pull out of the president‘s pack, out of Bush 278 electoral votes.  He failed to do that.  Now, what Kerry has got to do tonight is a very simple thing, get 10 electoral votes out of Bush‘s present 278 red states.  He has not yet gotten a single one there.  And, again, the fact that he didn‘t do it in West Virginia puts an increasing that he has got to do it in Ohio. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. 

Those three states right now—we‘re looking at the yellow states, the three on the right there.  And we have Pennsylvania, Ohio next to each other there in the Northeast.  And we have got Florida, and look at the size of the states, how they play a role, if you look at them proportional to their electoral votes.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  They are the big ones.  And Tim Russert has been saying that all along.  And I guess other people have recognized that the fact is, if you win, I guess that‘s a question I‘ve got to put to you.

If you win two out of those three, does that mean you are riding a national tide or does that mean you just have the electoral sock to win? 

BUCHANAN:  It doesn‘t mean—you may not be riding an electoral tide. 

You may lose California by four million votes.

But what it means, Chris, is, you are the next president of the United States.  The man—if Bush wins Pennsylvania and Ohio, I believe he is going to be the next president of the United States, or Pennsylvania and Florida.  What is interesting about West Virginia, too, Chris, I have been up there in that Weirton area.  I was endorsed by those guys at that steel mill. 

You take that West Virginia steel and coal country, God, gays and guns, that is identical to southwestern Ohio, the Mahoning Valley and the Mon Valley of Western Pennsylvania, where my mother comes from.  The movie “Dear Hunter,” those are the type guys living up there.  And in that little substate, they tend to vote the same way. 

So, in a sense, this is good news for the president, not only in holding West Virginia, but in what it may say—may say—about southwestern Pennsylvania and southeastern Ohio. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s guns and gays and God.  I guess God is positive. 

Guns are positive.  Gay is negative, right?

BUCHANAN:  Well, that depends on your point of view, Chris. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘m just talking about how that parcel gets puts together.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, we‘re going to come back, take a break from Pat Buchanan and this cultural discussion. 

We‘re going to come back and talk to Vanessa, Vanessa Kerry.  She is going to be joining us right after this break. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re looking at that (INAUDIBLE) up there.  Look at the red and the blue fighting over the wall of 30 Rock.  It‘s like Batman going up that wall there.

Anyway, it looks to me like the president is doing quite well tonight, but this is very early.  The battle is for 270.  As Winston Churchill said, there‘s two kinds of victory, initial and ultimate.  We‘re going to look about ultimate about 6:00 tomorrow morning, I think. 

Let‘s go right now to Lisa Myers, who is reporting on the Bush camp—

Lisa.

LISA MYERS, NBC CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Chris. 

A potentially significant development here.  The Bush campaign has been laying the actual votes that have been coming in from the states against the exit poll data, and they find that the exit poll data is significantly underrepresenting the Republican vote.  They specifically point to states like Virginia, South Carolina and Florida. 

They say, in each case, the actual vote patterns show a larger Republican vote than is represented in the exit poll data.  The campaign manager, Ken Mehlman, was particularly excited about some the data that they were seeing in Florida, along what Joe Scarborough will tell you was a very important part of the country, the I-4 Corridor in the Orlando area.

You have a lot of swing voters there.  And Ken Mehlman says the vote there that they‘re showing now is larger than they got in 2000 and larger than is showing in the exits polls.  So the Bush campaign I think is showing a little bit better now than they were a couple of hours ago, but they still expect it to be a very long night.  But they have real concerns about the exit polls both state by state and nationally. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, very much, Lisa Myers, with the Bush campaign. 

Let‘s go to Chip Reid with Make Your Vote Count—Chip.

Chip? 

CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to go to Chip Reid.

(CROSSTALK)

REID:  Yes, Chris, we are.  We‘re here in the Making Your Vote Count Center.

And we have an extraordinary piece of litigation coming out of Ohio.  That really has been litigation central today.  And Rick Pildes of NYU Law School has Really grabbed on to this story coming out of Ohio.

Give me an idea of what is happening out there.  There are extraordinary lines, three, four, even six hours I‘ve read in some precincts out there.  And a judge has taken sympathy, basically, on these people and explain what he has done.

RICK PILDES, NYU LAW SCHOOL:  Well, this is really extraordinary, because the turnout is so high in Ohio that we have these enormous lines.  People are getting frustrated.  A complaint was filed in federal court with all these affidavits from individual voters saying, I have been here two hours, three hours.  I can‘t vote. 

And a federal judge ordered the Ohio county boards to let these people have paper ballots and just cast their vote now.  The concern is, people get frustrated.  They leave the polls if the lines are too long.  So a federal stepped in and said give these people ballots.  Let them now vote now. 

REID:  Have you ever heard of anything like this before, this kind of creative judging on Election Day? 

PILDES:  Well, I think judges are very sympathetic to the right to vote.  They sometimes extend poll hours, if necessary.  They do try to protect the right to vote.  I‘m not sure I‘ve seen anything quite like this before, but that‘s partly because these lines are so extraordinary in Ohio. 

REID:  And there are other decisions.  There‘s another case in Ohio pending right now on Bush v. Gore, going back to Florida. 

PILDES:  Yes, this is very interesting. 

We‘re now seeing the return of Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court‘s decision in the last election.  In at least two cases today, courts have invoked Bush v. Gore or been asked to invoke Bush v. Gore to decide issues.  So now we have a lawsuit in Ohio saying, when these provisional ballots are counted that people are counting, the state of Ohio has to come up with uniform, consistent statewide standards about how these ballots are going to be counted. 

REID:  Because that is what the Supreme Court ruled back in 2000. 

(CROSSTALK)

PILDES:  Exactly. 

The Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore last time around said states must have uniform, consistent standards for how they treat votes and how they count votes.  Now that is being invoked this time around to require the same treatment across the state of Ohio for these thousands and thousands of provisional ballots that are being cast today. 

REID:  OK, Rick Pildes, thank you very much, NYU Law School—Chris, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Chip Reid. 

It‘s coming up on 8:53.  Let‘s see where the election stands now. 

Let‘s go to my colleague Keith Olbermann for an update on how the Senate looks right now and who is going to control it after all this is over Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  So far, two changes, Chris, but no net change, because with Barack Obama taking the projections for the Senate from Illinois, that‘s a Republican seat going to the Democrats, and then Johnny Isakson taking for the Republicans Zell Miller‘s old seat in Georgia for the Republicans. 

So coming up at the top of the hour, six minutes hence, we‘re looking forward to the closures in South Dakota and Colorado as prospective calls, where, in South Dakota, $35 million spent on a senatorial race in the nation‘s smallest electorate, where John Thune, who lost in 2000 to Tim Johnson, is trying to unseat the Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle. 

And, in Colorado, what is still a tossup.  The Republicans currently hold this seat with Ben Nighthorse Campbell.  But Pete Coors, who is maybe the second most famous Republican because of the all the beer commercials, running on this night is trying to stave off the Colorado attorney general, the Democrat, Ken Salazar.

So, one change from Republican to Democrat, one from Democrat to Republican.  And we might have two more at the top of the hour—Chris, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Keith. 

Let‘s go right now to Chris Jansing, who is in Cleveland with some big news about how they are counting the absentee ballots in one of the most important states—Chris.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  They have counted the absentee ballots, larger than they were four years ago, 64 percent to 36 percent for John Kerry.  Sounds like a huge number, but this of course a heavily Democratic area. 

If this is reflective of the vote countywide, it‘s less than the Democrats would like.  They think they need a huge plurality here if they are going to win statewide.  Also, I talked to Jo Ann Davidson.  She is running the ground game for the Bush campaign.  She tells me that they are watching very closely these long lines all across the state, where they have people waiting three and four hours still. 

In Cleveland, the nonpartisan Voter Protection Project is sending lawyers to investigate Hispanic voters who were forced to vote provisional ballots.  Now, there are some broken voting machines that they are checking out in east Cleveland that may have delayed some people from voting.  You know, earlier today, people were watching to see if there were charges of voter fraud or there were challenges here in Ohio. 

None of that materialized in any significant way.  I talked to a top

election law expert and I said, are you surprised?  And he said watch

tonight at 7:30.  If this is close, if there are still lines, you are going

to start to see these thousands of lawyers who have been brought in to Ohio

by both of the parties going to work. 

That‘s exactly what we‘re seeing.  Jo Ann Davidson said they are watching very, very closely to make sure all of their voters who were in line at 7:30 get to vote—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, very much, Chris Jansing, in Cleveland. 

Let‘s go right now to Dan Abrams to some of the problems across the country—Dan.

DAN ABRAMS, NBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT:  That seems to be one of the big problems coming up.  You heard Rick Pildes talking about the problems in Ohio and the sort of novel way that they are trying to resolve the problem there. 

In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, they have extended the voting there for an hour and a half to 9:30 from 8:00.  We‘re told that Republicans are appealing that decision by a judge.  Again, any time a judge extends the polling hours, it is very controversial.  Also, three other counties in Pennsylvania, Lackawanna County, Mifflin County, Luzerne County, all of their—in those counties, the voting times were extended by a half-hour, over an hour at one point, 40 minutes, in those cases all due to machine malfunctions or because people arrived at the voting booths late to the start the voting process—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, very much, Dan Abrams. 

We are getting a lot of—I don‘t know if it‘s dispiriting information, but it‘s coming from certain states.  Have you noticed?  The problems are this Ohio.  The problems are in Pennsylvania. 

REAGAN:  Ohio.  Pennsylvania.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What‘s that about, Andrea? 

MITCHELL:  Well, it‘s about the battleground states, and that‘s where the ground game is so intense.  Allegheny County, as Dan Abrams just said...

MATTHEWS:  Pittsburgh.

MITCHELL:  That‘s Pittsburgh.   Lackawanna County, that‘s Scranton. 

That‘s your whole coal county area as well, Democratic area. 

They obviously have got a problem in Ohio.  And we‘re being told that there have been problems in Florida as well.  A decision in Miami-Dade that they are not going to count the absentee ballots until Friday, Thursday or Friday.  Big protest about that as well. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, when we were growing up, we all read “The Making of a President,” Teddy White‘s book about the election of Jack Kennedy. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And he used to say in his book or he said in his book that there are certain states, like Minnesota, where if the vote is one off, it means it.  One less person voted for the guy.  There‘s other states where you can‘t correlate the numbers with voter intentions, because there are a lot of things going on in those states that aren‘t quite regular. 

Joe, are you willing to venture a suggestion that some states don‘t run as clean an election as others do? 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Well, certainly. 

And it‘s amazing that—you talk about Teddy White‘s book.  One of the first political books I ever read was “The Making of a President” in 1960.  Of course, the part that Teddy White didn‘t talk about in 1960 was what happened in Chicago and the fact that many people to this day believe that that election was stolen from Richard Nixon, who didn‘t protest the vote. 

So this isn‘t something new.  I mean, it has been around for some time.  Sam Giancana, the mob, you hear all of these—this has been going on for quite some time.  I agree with the mayor here, though.  We ought to be able to figure out in the 21st century a way to do this more uniformly. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘re going to have to go right now.  We‘re going to very close now to another one of these magic moments, 9:00 on the East Coast, where we‘re going to have a whole flurry of results to announce at 9:00.  Look how far West these closings go.  They will be coming up in just a split-second. 

Stay with us at MSNBC for the results any second now. 

END   

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