updated 11/3/2004 2:18:01 PM ET 2004-11-03T19:18:01

Guest: Willie Brown, John Fund, Ben Ginsberg, David Boies

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  We‘re here at the Democracy Plaza, MSNBC‘s election night headquarters in New York city.  Welcome to MSNBC‘s coverage of the 2004 election count and hopefully by the end of the night we‘ll have announced the winner of this presidential election.

This election matters to people.  Not in 40 years has there been such excitement in this country about a presidential choice.  Young people especially are engaged as never before, whether they show up and wait in line and withstand the pressures, the tedium, and the ultimate satisfaction of real-life democracy.  Well, our pollsters tell us, decide whether John Kerry or George W. Bush leads us into the future.

This election also divided people.  Some see this balloting as their first and perhaps only opportunity to vote on whether it was a smart decisions to take this country to war in Iraq.  Others see this vote as an up or down opportunity to register themselves on such state of the art social issues as gay marriage and stem cell research.

America voted today with exuberance and passion.  Men and women, every age group, every background, went to the polls to choose the leader of the country and also, let‘s be honest, the kind of country they want to live in.

The one thing we all agree on is we care.  It was therefore a day to remember, a moment Americans voted with pride and confidence despite the stresses of war, cultural conflict and economic change.  It was a day the American people voted with the full throttle of democracy, the form of government we taught to world.

As I speak to you now, people across the country are participating in what experts believe could be a record turnout.  Voters casting ballots in about 200,000 voting precincts, from the East Coast to the west Coast, for Alabama to Hawaii, the polls closing at eight different times on through the night.

Every vote in every state counts, of course, as voters deliver the ultimate poll and decide who will be elected president.  Also, who will win the popular national vote.  And we‘ll be making the calls from the east Coast to the West, with the polls closing in Alabama not until 1 a.m. East Coast time.

In the next seven hours and beyond, we‘ll tell this story of this wave of democratic action.  The pride and passion of this election on both sides has been obvious to everyone watching.  Today voters from the oldest to the youngest filed to the polls, to the brim, with their presence and their emotions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  President Bush had somewhat lost my confidence in his ability to go ahead and lead us for the next four years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for George Bush because I believe he has high moral values and I‘d like him to finish what he has started in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I‘m pretty angry after four years and I just don‘t want something like this to happen again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I voted for Bush.  Don‘t want to change horses in the middle of the war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This, my man, I think is Bush hatred.  I think it‘s hatred for Bush or fear and paranoia that we‘ll get attacked by terrorists if Kerry is voted into office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I put my vote in for George W. Bush.  I‘m tired of the fictitious racial wedge and the class warfare that‘s being given by the Kerry camp.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There are no words to describe how horrendous the Bush agenda and the Bush administration is, and anything I can do to get them out of office.    

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, Bush all the way, no doubt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I just think he‘s this isolationist and we‘re this imperial country.  So I don‘t like the way it is going.  So I hope Kerry wins.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s a nice mix in those pictures because they reflect the nice mix in the people voting today, young as well as old.  See that older woman with the tee-shirt on?  A lot of younger people had those tee-shirts on again today.

We‘re also going to have a lot of hot legal issues, of course, tonight, from the high passion of partisan politics to the cold facts of it law.  Even before one vote was cast today, legions of voters and lawyers were put in place to handle claims of voter irregularities.

But what else do you expect in an election this close.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is ridiculous.  Now, whoever is behind this conspiracy needs to get out here and fix it boss it ain‘t right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Chaos and confusion and maybe even corruption seem to be reigning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I was hysterical because I thought my vote counted and when my vote came up someone else, I was extremely upset.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I asked one of the persons that work here which side am I supposed to vote on.  They told me the wrong side.  I stood in line an hour and a half.  Now they tell me I got to go to another one and spend another hour and a half?  That‘s not fair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We don‘t want dead people to be able to vote and we don‘t want people who have been registered 59 times to be able to vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A lot of people have been here for four hours, talking about I‘m not voting.  And a lot of people have left here very angry and up set.

UNIDENTIFIED MAIL:  Without voting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Without voting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My blood is boiling right now as far as the fraud, the other issues.  People are trying to destroy the process that we‘re doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was just wondering how we are ever going to pull off the vote in Iraq if we can‘t do it right in our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  NBC News has assembled a team of powerfully equipped experts and reporters to expose the underlying forces driving the voter today.

Let‘s begin with Brian Williams for the NBC News tracking center.

Brian, is it about young people?  What are the other big stories tonight?

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it‘s probably too early to tell that definitively, Chris.  We are getting the first real exit poling numbers, and here in the tracking center we are taking a close look at the economy, that is usually one of the cues to determining whether or not voters return an incumbent president to office, after all.

The overall economic picture, as you know, as been mixed for President Bush.  Our NBC News exit poll asked voters how well they thought the nation‘s economy was doing these days.  Just over half think economic conditions are not good.  Less, 45 percent, think conditions are good.

Compare that to 2000.  More than 8 in 10 voters were positive about what was then the post-Clinton economy.

On the issue of jobs, lackluster job growth since the 2001 recession has made an impression on voters.  Asked to rate the job situation where they live, compared to four years ago, 46 percent see change for the worst.  21 percent think it is better this time around.

Our last point on the economy, last month the Consumer Confidence Index dropped just under 4 points to 92.9.  It goes over a hundred, but since that data has been kept back in 1967, Ronald Reagan is the only incumbent president to be reelected, to beat that number, when his index fell below 100.

We‘re also tracking another issue here that dominated the campaign, of course, the first presidential race since the September 11 attacks, terrorism.  According to the exit poll figures, voters are worried about terrorism.  22 percent say they are very worried about another major terrorist attack in the United States.  Another 53 percent are somewhat worried.

And voters in this year‘s election are divided about whether the nation is any safer from terrorism than it was four years ago.  A bear majority of them, 52 percent, say they are safer.  43 percent feel less safe.

An interesting side-note here.  Voters in states directly effected boy 9/11, that means particularly New York, New Jersey, Virginia, are not more worried than voters elsewhere around the country.

We will keep asking the questions and bringing you the answers tonight

·         Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Brian Williams.  We‘ll be back to you throughout the evening.

The United States Senate is so evenly divided we could see a switch in the balance of power there.

Joining us right now is my colleague Keith Olbermann—Keith.

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, throughout the night we‘ll be looking at that balance of power, particularly in the Senate, but in other locations as well.  But as you said, the Senate is the key to it with that 51-48 Republican majority at this point, which they‘d like to stretch out a little bit further, and the Democrats would like to narrow, because if there is a President Kerry, he would only need 50-48 or 50-49 to maintain the possibility of the breaking of a tie by a Democratic vice president presiding over the Senate.

This is the way it looks right now, 51-48 and Jeffords, as the Independent, at one, although he caucuses with the Democrats.

Today we have 34 Senate votes—actually 33.  There will be 34 senators elected tonight.  One of them is unopposed.  There are perhaps nine key races which we will follow up, including perhaps the biggest race of the night, second to that of Bush verses Kerry, the Senate race in South Dakota, where $35 million has been spent between the supporters of the incumbent Democrat Tom Daschle and John Thune, making his second run in two years for that seat, or a seat from South Dakota.  The Republicans want the minority leader, Mr. Daschle, out, and have spent all the money they could to make that happen.  We‘ll be following this one closely.

Why is the Senate so important if the real majority is not going to swing, if neither side is going to have 60 votes?  Well, consider this.  If the Democrats were to take over the Senate right now, the judiciary leadership would change between these two men; Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah has it now.  It would devolve to the Democrat, Patrick Leahy, the senior member on that committee, from Vermont.

What is the judiciary important for, in a tightly contested Senate or a tightly balanced Senate?  Well, judiciary is in charge of, say, the Supreme Court, or the possibility of special investigations of bad behavior on the part of the president, the vice president or anybody else in the cabinet.  Very, very key things, even if the numbers don‘t suggest that right off the top.

As we said, we‘re going to look at the House too.  Obviously, with all the 435 positions up for grabs tonight, it‘s not going to be possible for us to recite them to you nor give you the scoreboard, but here with a 22 point Republican lead and an extraordinary set of circumstances, particularly in Texas, where due to the redistricting we have incumbents versus incumbents.  Men who have been in the House heretofore will actually be facing off, one Republican, one Democrat, in two key districts.

The governors‘ houses.  11 of them up for grabs tonight.  We‘ll be following that too in the states as indicated, red and blue telling you what you would expect, and all the others, the gold or yellow depending on how good your TV is, suggesting the ones that are perhaps up for grabs tonight.

And there are key propositions as well on state ballots.  In no fewer than 11 states, marriage would be defined by a constitutional amendment or another special proposition.  We‘ll be following how that goes as it is, of course, perhaps a precursor to the big debate that is expected in the next couple of months and perhaps years over the possibility of a national constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage.

Chris, that‘s the look at this Senate and the House and the props and the governors.  We‘ll keep track of it for you all night here.  Back to you.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Keith, that‘s a lot to keep an eye on.  We‘ll be back to you throughout the night.

The blogs, that world of Internet chatter, have been crackling all day with upwards of half a million people so far responding to MSNBC‘s online poll.  MSNBC political analyst Joe Trippi is our political Internet guru, and we also call him our blogger-in-chief.  He joins us now.

Joe, from what you‘ve seen on the Internet, can you tell us anything about turnout so far?

JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, well, across the Internet and the blogs that‘s all they‘re talking about is turnout, turnout, turnout.

Generation E, the empowerment generation, looks to be doing that at the poles today.

We have 3,000 citizen journalists that have filed reports from across the country talking about turnout.  One of them, from Carnegie Mellon University, where there is report of a voter shuttle from campus to the poll just over flowing.  Every 5 minutes that shuttle has been moving and just bringing more and more young folks to that poll.

But we‘re hearing these reports from all across our 3,000 citizen journalists and we‘re here about it all across the Internet.  It looks like these folks are really going to the polls.  It‘s going to translate from the online community into offline voting today.

MATTHEWS:  How can you tell scientifically at this point, Joe, whether it is—people tell me in the polling business you can‘t tell in the beginning of the evening how many people are going to end up voting by the end of the evening.  What are you looking at?

TRIPPI:  Well, certainly you can have an energized group go early because they are so energized, but we‘re seeing this sustain so far throughout the day.  And the other thing that‘s happening on the Internet, which is just absolutely amazing, is some of the biggest blogging sites, political blogging sites out there, like InstaPundit, are crashing.  They‘ve never seen this kind of traffic and so much interest in one day in the history of the blogs that I know of.  We‘re seeing this over and over again on blog after blog, crashing because of insane high traffic numbers, and we‘re seeing some of those on our own Hardblogger.

MATTHEWS:  Is this the same crowd of young people who were active in the anti-war movement last year with the Dean campaign that you were head of?

TRIPPI:  Well, it certainly I think did start with 432 people in the Dean campaign and somehow caught fire across the Internet, and you just saw it continue to be energized throughout this campaign.

We saw it in most online polls after the debates, where, you know, Kerry was creaming Bush in some of the online polls.  I don‘t think the numbers were right, but I think the energy clearly was what those online polls were reflecting, and I think we‘re seeing that today and we‘re certainly seeing it in the activity on the Internet and with these pictures that we‘re getting and these stories that we‘re getting from our citizen journalists, it‘s clear these folks are voting.  The young people are out there today.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘re getting a good look at a whole new front on the electoral process from Joe Trippi.

Final polls tell us that many voters worry, though, if there vote is actually going to be counted, so we have sent our own Natalie Morales to the National Voter Alert Center in Philadelphia to tell us who is having trouble voting today and where geographically we‘re seeing voter difficulties happening.

Natalie, what‘s up.

NATALIE MORALES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening to you, Chris.

Well, I guess the big story of the day, and a good news story, is that we‘re not seeing any pervasive so-called butterfly ballot issues as we saw and remember oh so well from that 2000 election.  What we are seeing is a system that is being taxed by high volume, high caller volume.  Largely people looking for their poling location or people who have registration questions or concerns.

Now, you can see on our MSNBC.com map, they‘ve revived—since the system has been up and running, since October 23rd, some 44,864 calls of people that have actually left messages, recording some kind of concern or complaint.  Now, we can break it down even further.  Within the last three hours this system has recorded some 16,000 phone calls.  Half of those, though, again, people wanting to know largely where their polling location was, and some 4,000 of those also had actual voter concerns or problems where they left messages which will then be analyzed and processed in a further nationwide data base, which is what this system is all about.

Now, we have been paying especially close attention to the battleground states, and this is where you are seeing the high volume calls again.  Florida, Florida, Florida.  The absentee ballot issue the most predominant.  Registration issues as well.  Pennsylvania, another area of concern.  South Carolina, some of the other areas.  And here is a sample of some of the calls in these battleground states.  Michigan, Florida, and Pennsylvania on some of the key issues of the day.

(BEGIN AUDIO TAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My daughter it away at college.  We received her absentee ballot yesterday.  What is she supposed to do?  This is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They told me when I got up there vote that I wasn‘t in the archives or listed anywhere in the files to vote at that location.  I‘ve been voting there for as long as I have been voting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They are missing all G last names from the rolls.  They have no G last names.  They are missing the sheet.

(END AUDIO TAPE)

MORALES:  That last call was a voter in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, in fact, who said she was in effect given a paper ballot but that was a problem at one of the polling centers that we saw here firsthand.

Now, what we can also tell you is another piece of good news is that all the concerns going into the election about the E-voting machines, the electronic voting not having a paper trail, we‘re not really recording any problems, or significant problems, in that area, so that‘s a piece of good news.

And I think what‘s most important to stress here is that this system, the 1-866-MY-VOTE-1 hotline, what it allowed people and what it provided people was with the most important information they needed all day, which was they needed to find out exactly where they needed to go to vote, and they got that if they called this number—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Natalie Morales.

We‘ve brought together two of the countries best election attorneys to help us explain any legal issues arising from voting problems today, Republican election attorney Ben Ginsberg and Democratic attorney David Boies.

Ben, I want to start with you.  As a Republican, what are you worried about happening tonight that would hurt the Republican vote?

BEN GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION ATTORNEY:  Well, I think that there are—there have been a number of incidents around the country about intimidation of Republican poll workers by various Democratic entities as well as an effort to litigate, to sort of try and change the rules of the game in the 11th hour.  That‘s been true for things like trying to keep polls open longer, trying to keep Republican challengers from exercising their rights under state statute.

MATTHEWS:  To be blunt, what is the Democratic game, as you see it?  If you are watching it, you‘re looking at it like a football coach watching the other team, what are they up to?

GINSBERG:  Litigation and intimidation, Chris.

It would appear that the massive number of registrants that didn‘t live at real addresses, that appeared to be fraudulent, where jammed through the polling places amid a fury of lawyers and observers in uniforms, basically trying to get voters through who maybe shouldn‘t have been, what the proper safeguards of challenging being able to be exercised.

It was especially true...

MATTHEWS:  You mean the Democrats are hauling carloads of people around from precinct to precinct, voting them over and over again?  Is that what is going on?

GINSBERG:  Well, the point is that the procedures in state laws that allow challenges of what appear to be inaccurate registrations—there was an attempt to intimidate Republican poll watchers in a number of key jurisdictions to do that.  Notably Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to David Boies.  What is your response to that charge which we just heard, that Democrats are out there over-voting people?

DAVID BOIES, DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEY:  I don‘t think there‘s any evident of that at all.

The Republicans have 5,000 to 6,000 lawyers around the country.  If all are any instances of intimidation or voter fraud, they will come forward with actual names and dates and places.

I think it is frankly unfortunate to try to discourage people from voting, which is I think what is going on with the Republicans.  I also think it is very unfortunate to imply that there is something wrong with this election.  I think one of the things that is happening today is a record number of people are going to the polls to vote, and I think they should be encouraged for that, not discouraged for that.

As far as the number of lawsuits filed, I think it is the Republicans, not the Democrats, that are filing lawsuits.  Republicans have filed four separate lawsuits in the last 24 hours in the state of Florida alone.

MATTHEWS:  Well, is it the Republicans who want less people to vote, the Democrats who want more people to vote?  What is the pattern here, gentlemen?

David, can you referee it from one point of view?  Are you guys trying to vote more people and the Republicans are trying to vote less people, or what?

BOIES:  I think that both sides are interested in two propositions.  One is that people who are not qualified to vote should not vote.  And second, that people who are qualified to vote should have an opportunity to vote without being intimidated.

Now, I think in general, although it is on over-simplification, I think the Republicans are probably more focused on keeping people from voting who they believe are not qualified and the Democrats are more focused on getting people who are qualified to vote.

Now, that‘s a legitimate difference of opinion, different emphasis, but I don‘t think that if advantages anybody to go throwing around wild, unsupported accusations of fraud.  It just isn‘t happening.

MATTHEWS:  What is so complicated here?  Let me get back to you, Ben, on a simple point, because a lot of people don‘t get this.  They go down and they vote, they either know the people from the neighborhood and they vote every time, they vote every two years or in primaries as well.  Everybody knows everybody.  You vote.  It is very calm, it is very civilized.  What‘s this problem?  Why do people get challenged?  Why are people coming into the wrong voting booths?  Why isn‘t it as simple as show your driver‘s license, show where you live, and vote and get it over with?  What is so complicated about this—Ben.

GINSBERG:  That‘s a great question, and the answer to that is that in the process of trying to get a whole bunch of new registrants in the process, the Democrats basically outsourced that to some of their 527 special interest groups.

Now, unfortunately, those groups paid bounties for registrations so that in effect in the laudable number of new registrants in the system, we have also uncovered a large number of false registrations.  It‘s important to deal with...

MATTHEWS:  Who are they?  Who are these bodies, Ben, coming into a voting booth and claiming to live in the precinct that don‘t?  Where are they coming from?  Who are they?

GINSBERG:  Well, I mean that‘s what you don‘t know.  But the point is, if you don‘t have the ability to challenge under state law, that can‘t happen.

Now, Chris, there is an example, a captured tape, of the Democratic National Committee general counsel calling Republican poll watchers and attempting to intimidate them from exercising their duty under Florida law.  Now, fortunately there was an injunction issued by a court in Seminole County, Florida, to stop that sort of actions.  But, Chris, that‘s the general counsel of the Democratic National Committee, who also happens to be the counsel for MoveOn.org, one of the 527s.  That sort of behavior should not take place.

And while David is right about the greatness of a lot of new people in the process, you can‘t merely say that there aren‘t problems attendant with what the Democrats are doing today.

MATTHEWS:  Are they voting the graveyard—Ben.

GINSBERG:  Chris, that‘s what we‘re going to see at the end of the day.  We certainly hope not, but the examples of trying to intimidate our poll watchers from trying to perform the functions they‘re allowed to do under state law is very troubling, especially when you have the general counsel of the Democratic National Committee performing those duties.

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘re going to have to be back later on with Ben Ginsberg and David Boies.

MSNBC has correspondents, by the way, all over the country tonight, including the key battleground states.

We begin with NBC‘s Norah O‘Donnell, who is at the White House with the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Norah, give us a sense of the mood there, of the president and the vice president.

NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, this is a White House that is publicly trying to project a sense of calm, but there is certainly a level of anxiety inside the White House.

The president is currently in the residence gathered with his family, watching the returns come in, talking to top advisors and going to have a dinner tonight with the family.  His top advisors have created a war room inside the Roosevelt Room where they are pouring over the last minute data.  Carl Rove is shuttling between the residence, where the president is, and this war room that they have set up in the Roosevelt Room.

This has been some marathon campaigning by the president in these final days, you know, and they‘re projecting a sense of sort of giddiness, elation, projecting victory, but that changed a little bit today.  We saw the president vote in Crawford early this morning, clearly tired because they had a really late night last night, but also a little bit fidgety and Mrs. Bush looked as though she were sort of forcing a smile.  Whether that was tired or whether that was normal anxiety on an election day, people can look at those pictures and decide.

But the president said, after coming out, that he feels good.  He feels calm.  He feels confident.  He feels that he did everything he can.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: I‘m very comfortable that I got my message out.  The people know where I stand.  The people know I know how to lead.  The people know I have a vision for the future of this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Now, it is interesting, the president‘s top advisors, his campaign manager, Ken Mehlman, is addressing some of the Internet Web sites out there that say that the exit polls aren‘t going in their way.  The campaign is talking to reporters and saying that those are early results, that they are heavily favored toward women.  They are still looking over this data, still projecting a sense of calm outwardly—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK, Norah, we‘ll be back to you again at the White House.

NBC‘s Carl Quintanilla is with the Kerry campaign.  He is, of course, up there in Boston.

Let me ask you, Carl, I love to read faces and, like Norah, I saw the president show a different face yesterday.  Deep concern.  What is the mood and the face of John Kerry look like these days?

CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, I mean, Chris, you know John Kerry is a cautious candidate, and even if he were to be described as giddy, as some have called him in the past couple of days, he is doing everything he can not to let that show.

Actually, he spent the last couple of hours locked up in a room doing one locate news interview after the other and the list of cities is pretty telling:  Mason City; Ottumwa; Madison, Wisconsin; Miami; West Palm;

Pittsburgh, cities where they obviously need to get the vote out, the turnout, where they need to give it a little push.

He arrived in Boston this afternoon, made a bee-line for the State House where he voted along with his wife and his daughters.  Was asked, well, first of all he said it was an amazing feeling to see his name on the ballot for president, but he also was asked for his evaluation of the campaign he‘s run over the past two years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m very confident that we made the case for change, the case for trust in new leadership, a new direction, a fresh start.  But what‘s really important is that both the president and I love this country.  It‘s really important that people go out and vote, and express their love for our country, no matter who they vote for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUINTANILLA:  If you‘re John Kerry, there is no such thing as an election day without some clams, some sole, mash potatoes and coleslaw.  That‘s what he got today for lunch at the Union Oyster House, a restaurant that he goes to every election day.  He went today with his wife, Teresa, and Chris Greeley (ph), a long-time aide. 

This from a candidate who is so superstitious, Chris, he is still carrying around the guitar pick that Bruce Springsteen gave to him in Cleveland last night for good luck. 

As for all those turnout numbers, the campaign being very optimistic, says that African American turnout is huge, Hispanic turnout is huge, but they are still trying to keep a damper on their enthusiasm, especially since it is still this early in the night—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK. Thank you very much, Carl Quintanilla, with the Kerry forces, up in Boston.

Let‘s go right now to Cleveland, Ohio and Chris Jansing.  Boy, there couldn‘t be a more important state tonight.

Chris, that‘s the state to watch, isn‘t it.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  It is, and this is the county to watch as well, especially if you are a Democrat, and I have been talking to Democrats and Republicans all day. 

Even though they were predicting record turnout, I think they‘re really stunned by the lines they are seeing, two and three hours long, even more people are waiting in the rain in many cases to get to vote.  In fact, just in the last couple of hours here in Cuyahoga County they actually moved in some additional voting machines into some precincts because the lines were so long.

Now, it‘s about another hour and five minutes before the polls close, but if you‘re in line at 7:30 Eastern time you get to vote, so it may be 8:30, 9:30, even 10:00 before some of these people get to vote.  Then the precinct workers have to pack everything up, bring it over here.

One election official here in Cuyahoga County said it may be 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning before they have final results.

Now, why is this so important for the Democrats?  They have what is essentially a statewide organization here.  They‘re looking at the margins.  They need a huge win here to offset some of the strengths of President Bush elsewhere.  Conventional wisdom has been they need to win by 160,000 votes, but Al Gore did that four years ago and he didn‘t win Ohio.  They‘re looking at 180,000, maybe 200,000 votes if they‘re going to win here.

There is also the question, of course, that‘s been hanging over Ohio:

litigation.  Thousands of lawyers brought in from other states.  So far, virtually no serious problems, but state law says that they would kick in a recount if this race is closer than ¼ of 1 percent, and people are sort of just throwing up their hands, people who have worked in Ohio politics for 20 and 30 years, they don‘t know what to make of all these voters.

You know, we hear a lot about likely voters.  They‘re saying what we‘re seeing today is just thousands and thousands of unlikely voters.  What will they do?  In fact, there‘s been a little joke going around.  There actually is another Ohio law that if there is an election that is tied and after litigation and after recounts it is still tied, they decide it by the flip of a coin. 

Now, no one is saying the presidential race here is going to be decided by the flip of a coin.  And in fact, the secretary of state spokesman said it would be the most litigated coin in history.  But people just don‘t know what to make of these huge numbers of voters who are turning out in Cuyahoga County and all across Ohio—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Chris Jansing.

I have a feeling that the Buckeye State is going to be the Bull‘s-eye State for most of this evening.  What a tight race that everybody has been expecting out there. 

Let‘s go right now to David Schuster.  He‘s down in Florida, another very close, important state.  We‘ve been hearing for weeks now it‘s going to be close.  What‘s it look like tonight—David.

DAVID SCHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, everybody here in South Florida is breathing a sigh of relief. It appears that this election is going off without much of a hitch.  Both campaigns are describing the voting as very smooth.  There were only a few glitches with some of the touchscreens, there were also a few problems with people showing up at the wrong precinct.  They then had to go to the right precinct.  But just to give you an indication of how well things have gone here in south Florida today, despite the fact that there are more than 3,000 lawyers from out of state watching all the various precincts, there were apparently only about 20 challenges to voters, in other words somebody stepping in and saying, wait a second, I don‘t think this person deserves to be voting and there were apparently only about 1,000 people who had to file provisional ballots meaning that their name didn‘t show up in a registration list.  They had to sign an affidavit and submit a provisional ballot.  Officials were worried that that number would be much higher. 

As a result, everyone is pretty confident that this election in Florida which was mass chaos four years ago has gone across pretty well.  There‘s still two major challenges left tonight and that is at the hour we‘re told that the heaviest voting is happening in some precincts and if people are still in line when the precincts close they can stay there, then the next big challenge for Florida is actually counting the ballots. 

That‘s where Florida could get really interesting.  Most of the state, including the north which President Bush will likely carry pretty strongly, those results will be known fairly quickly.  You‘re talking about a lot of very small counties, counties that are traditionally pretty well organized as far as counting the votes.  The counties that are not so well organized even with the touchscreens are the three biggest counties.  They‘re all in south Florida. 

So you‘re looking at a situation where most of the state may know the results perhaps by 9:00 or 10:00 and then the results will start (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the southern part of the state and the reason it‘s so significant is because the south is where John Kerry needs to get a pretty sizable advantage if he‘s going to win this race because both campaigns expect that when you count the rest of the state, outside of south Florida the president will have a fairly sizable lead.  And then the question will be whether John Kerry can make it up here in Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach and also in Broward County, the three largest counties in the state. 

But again the headline from here is that the election has gone off pretty well.  The Miami-Dade Elections Chair Barbara Carey said today that at the end of this day I don‘t think you‘ll be seeing us, Florida, as the laughing stock of the nation—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s good news.  In just 28 minutes, by the way, we‘re going to be giving you the first results of the evening hopefully.  Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and Vermont.  We‘re going to have an amazing panel.  Sitting with me right now, Joe Scarborough of MSNBC‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY,” former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown is to my immediate left and to my right, not necessarily politically is Ron Reagan, who is a friend of ours here, an analyst who works with us all the time, and Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News.  We‘re going to come back and tell you what—everybody here is going to tell what to look for at 7:00 because it‘s going to be a leading indicator of what‘s to come.  We‘re here at Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center in New York, MSNBC‘s election night headquarters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s the politically equivalent to me and the others watching this election, about 260 million people, of Christmas Eve.  This is a crackling night.  There‘s going to be some victory tonight perhaps and there‘s going to be some defeat tonight, maybe some concessions tonight, maybe early tomorrow morning but it‘s all going to happen right here tonight at Democracy Plaza, Rockefeller Center.  MSNBC‘s covering from right here.  What an exciting location. 

I‘m joined by an old friend and a supreme pro Andrea Mitchell by Ron Reagan, a new friend relatively by an old pro—I‘m sorry, a youthful, wonderful guy, Willie Brown, who knows California politics and has never been beaten and Joe Scarborough, a man who understands one of the more interesting states better than anybody here. 

Let‘s start with Andrea.  It‘s going to be a long evening everybody indicates, everybody thinks about, there‘s been exit polls and all that  we can‘t even talk about but they give some indication.  But looking at everything for the last couple of weeks what‘s going to tell you tonight who‘s going to win? 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Voter turnout.  I think by everyone‘s admission if there is a big voter turnout and if young people vote then it would benefit John Kerry over George Bush.  If the voter turnout goes upwards of 112 to 115 million, over 115 million both sides I think would tell you that‘s pretty much the break point.  Because it was 105 million four years ago.  Then you have to add normal population growth, 110 million would be the equivalent rate. 

So if it‘s upwards of 150 million.  But then you look at the battleground states.  And in those states we‘ve got some states that have been so close all along.  We don‘t know how those will turn out.  We don‘t know how many people are voting after 5:00, which tend to be Democratic voters, workers (UNINTELLIGIBLE) shift, so you don‘t know what the breakdown is between men, women, young and old.  But if the young people vote and if the cities turn out, if the African-American vote and the other minority votes turn out for John Kerry, we‘re going to be looking at Kentucky, for instance, some of those 7:00 closing states.  What happens at 7:00 is we‘ll see some very big Bush states, should be very strong Bush states which are closing, which are South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia...

MATTHEWS:  Kentucky. 

MITCHELL:  Kentucky.  And when you look at those states how is Bush doing in those states?  Is he holding his own?  Is he doing well in Virginia?  If he‘s not doing well in Virginia, if John Kerry is beginning to edge in to what should be a Bush vote, if he‘s doing well in the suburbs, Kerry, then you begin to think that maybe this is a Kerry kind of night.  In Kentucky as we referred to earlier there is that Senate race.  You heard Keith Olbermann talking about that.  That Senate race, the incumbent Jim Bunning and Dan Mongiardo the challenger, if Jim Bunning who lost a big lead in the early polling a couple weeks ago, if he‘s doing well then that‘s pretty good for the Senate, for the Republicans. 

MATTHEWS:  Ron Reagan, do you agree with the young voter being the critical factor here?

RON REAGAN, MSNBC ANALYST:  Yes.  Many young voters are newly registered.  Their (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is being challenged in some polling places.  But Andrea is exactly right.  It‘s turnout.  And now these first states, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, in particular, we know how they‘re going to go.  We know that Bush will almost certainly win those states but what‘s the margin in those states?  In Virginia, for instance, is it close?  Is Kerry closing in?  Vermont of course is going to go to Kerry.  He‘s a neighbor boy there.  He‘ll take that.  But again, what are the margins?  It‘s not until a little later in the evening that we will hit those really critical states like Ohio, Florida, and of course Pennsylvania is in that mix too I guess.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s get a different view with Joe Scarborough. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Well, in a subset, some of those conservative states, Georgia, like you were talking about with evangelicals.  I‘m just as interested to see how some of the more conservative rock-rib Republican areas turn out.  This election could turn out like 1992, it could turn out like 1994 where you had a lot of right-wing conservatives come out electing right-wing people like me.  I just got a note passed to me.  Pensacola Christian College, precinct 110 in Escambia County, Florida, 3 ½ to four-hour waits.  They just ran out of ballots down there.  Now what does that tell you?  That tells you there is a level of intensity on both sides.  The question is though—again this goes back to what Karl Rove wanted to figure out day one, how do you get four or five or six million evangelicals to the polls. 

So let‘s look at Virginia.  Let‘s see how George Bush does there.  If George Bush wins by a couple points in Virginia and he doesn‘t carry these conservative areas as well as he should have, it could be a long night for him.  They‘ve got to get people excited, not just in the states like Florida that they carry.  We‘re going to learn a lot at 7:00. 

MATTHEWS:  So this is a battle between the culturally conservative people in the country, that don‘t always vote, and the young who are against the war in Iraq, who don‘t always vote and never voted before.  That‘s the battle.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I think it‘s blue state versus red state, as we‘ve always said.  I talk about fly over space.  But they‘re cultural values.  It‘s just like—you know Pennsylvania is such a wonderful state, because it‘s about 3 or 4 different states.  You look at Pennsylvania, it‘s really a blue state when you are in Philadelphia, but as you start moving west it starts turning into a red state. 

MATTHEWS:  Right, I know. 

You know how you can tell that growing up?  The jukeboxes would change.  They‘d go from pop music in Philly to country-western in Reading.  And it was amazing at a kid to discover that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So we try to over simplify, but that really is where this all breaks down.  Are the red states, like they did in 1994 going to rise up and say hey we‘re going to support the guy.  The NBC Poll, again, says 97 percent of Republicans support George W. Bush.  Tonight, that maybe his best chance. 

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Mayor.

WILLIE BROWN, FORMER MAYOR, SAN FRANCISCO:  Well, if 97 percent support him I think he‘d better re-evaluate whether or not you can win with just Republican votes.  There may not be enough in that 97 percent.  I think we have to look for additional keys that we haven‘t focused on, and that‘s what will happen to the libertarians?  How do they operate?  Will they be the Nader factor with reference to George Bush that Nader was to Al Gore? 

And I think there‘s a distinct possibility.  In some of the states, in fact in Nevada, in New Mexico, in Wisconsin, in Arizona, they put a ton of money into television in the last 10 days and there have been a few stories about it, but nobody has checked it out.  You go back and compare it to 4 years ago you‘ll notice where in the states in which, like New Mexico, in which Mr. Gore won, the libertarian got more votes than Mr. Gore won by which means the libertarian had an effective on George Bush‘s effort. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this the old Perot vote waiting to find a home? 

BROWN:  Well, I think you could call it that, I think you could call it that, but not with Perot money.  But with a sufficient amount to pay attention, because after all, Nader is already history. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go right now to Pat Buchanan.  He‘s part of our opinion panel.  He‘s also joining us here at the Democracy Plaza.  And Dee Dee Myers, I see her joining us too. 

Dee Dee, you first.  You are watching, you‘re looking at the tea leaves tonight at 7:00.  We‘ve got 6 states to call.  And then, the big one, Ohio at 7:30.  What are you looking for? 

DEE DEE MYERS, FRM. CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY:  Well, at 7:00, I think, a couple of things, again, to repeat some of things other people have said, the margin, particularly in Virginia, which will be the closest of the states that President Bush is expected to win.  If it‘s too close, if it‘s too close to call in the early hours, that may portend very well for Senator Kerry. 

I also think the Senate race in Kentucky is interesting, not just in and of itself, but I‘m wondering if maybe there is a little bit of an anti-incumbent thing working out in the country tonight.  There seems to be a lot of energy for change, we‘ll how that pans out, be we‘ll be looking at the Bunning as perhaps an indicator of that. 

In Ohio, not only will we be looking at Cuyahoga County, which is a traditional Democratic area, but there‘s a couple of swing counties, Stark County, Montgomery County, which tend to be bellwethers.  President Clinton won them both in 1996, President Bush won Stark County 2000.  How will those go?  That‘ll be very interesting.

And, of course, in Florida, we‘re looking at the I-4 corridor, which goes up the middle of the state where there‘s a lot of new voters there.  It may cut into the president‘s lead in the northern part of the state.  So, I‘ll be looking closely for numbers there as well as the rest of that state. 

MATTHEWS:  OK Patrick, what are you looking at?  What do you see in your big eye, bit history bringing into this campaign? 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC ANALYST:  Well, I‘ll tell you Chris.  I took a nap after I did Imus this morning, and when I initially got up the Dow Jones was in very healthy shape, about 80 points up, and the NASDAQ was rising.  A couple hours later after a sandwich the whole thing had gone wobbly. 

I think some of the nervousness maybe that folks see at the White House, obviously the investor community saw.  I agree with the folks who say take a look at the margins in those southern states which are going to go for Bush at 7:00.  If the voters are coming out of Northern Virginia, that means one thing.  If they‘re coming out of Central, Southern Virginia another. 

Of course, Northern Virginia, where I live is more evenly Democratic.  But Chris, it all comes down, I don‘t care talk about turnout, minority vote, women voters, how long the lines are, if Bush holds Ohio and Florida, which are dead even on all the pre-election polls, if he holds those two, it is hard to see how Kerry gets uphill and wins.  I don‘t care if he wins the popular vote. 

If Bush loses both of those, he‘s gone.  If he loses one, then we are in the Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico, then if you will, and the president will have to make up about 10 electoral votes there.

So I think Ohio, and Florida and Pennsylvania, which we‘ll know at 8:00.  And we may be out of here earlier than you think. 

MATTHEWS:  Why did you suggest in your commentary there that there‘s a possible that John Kerry would win the popular, but lose the electoral?  What made you say that?

BUCHANAN:  Because the long lines, the energy, the talk of good turnouts in California and New York, heavy Kerry states, as I mentioned the other night, Chris.  If you take Illinois, New York and California, three of the four, I believe three of the five largest states, they‘re going to go overwhelmingly for Kerry, but they‘re blue states.  And so you can win huge popular votes there and it doesn‘t help you win the election. 

Whereas I think in some of the other states if the president wins these two other big states, Ohio and Florida, very narrowly.  In the five big ones he might have lost hugely in the popular vote, but he might still be the next president of the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe about 2:00 this morning we‘re all going to be wrangling about the same sets of numbers your so far ahead of us on.  But look, I‘m going to come back with Andrea and everyone else after this break.  Our big thought tonight in the moments ahead is looking at that first real sample of the election tonight, a real piece of actual voting at 7:00.  Let‘s go back and talk about it.  And let‘s get those results at 7:00 here on MSNBC at Democracy Plaza.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back at Democracy Plaza.  I‘ve been thinking about this night for a long time.  And of course thinking about as the news comes in what we can report to you and how we can give you a picture of what looks like the direction the country is taking. 

You know, Andrea we‘re looking right now at the results we‘re going to get in just a few minutes from these states.  Indiana, reliably Republican, right?  We all agree.  It‘s starkly the most Republican state in the Midwest.  Kentucky: Jim Bunning, I grew up root for this guy.  He won 100 games in the National League, a 100 games in the American League.  He was a Philly, he was an all-American—rather a Hall of Famer... 

MITCHELL:  A no-hitter in 1964. 

MATTHEWS:  An amazing guy who‘s been saying some strange things lately such as—these aren‘t partisan comments, they‘re odd comments, I haven‘t read a newspaper in 6 weeks, I have been watching Fox News, but I have no idea of what you‘re talking about when this news item came up of American reservists resisting orders.  That race will be interesting to tell, because if he wins it shows the power of the Republican Party in Kentucky, and probably the president‘s power.

Georgia, that‘s the state the president will probably get.  Inez Tanenbaum.  She looks so good in those national debates, I mean, on Tim Russert‘s show.  Does she have a prayer down there, do you think? 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I think it‘s such a Republican state I think DeMint wins that. 

MATTHEWS:  You know DeMint, don‘t you?

SCARBOROUGH:  I know DeMint, I served with him.  I also served with Bunning.  Bunning was just a grouchy old guy even back when I served with him.  I loved him but—he was just sort of a grouch.  And I‘ll tell you...

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  I think that the sports writers got him so angry years ago, he just hates the press.  Hated the press...

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.

MITCHELL:  ... from the minute he walked into the House of Representatives. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I think so, but I‘ll tell you the race that I‘m looking at is the Indiana governor‘s race, where you have Mitch Daniels, who actually worked for George Bush, running for governor.  I want to see how he does in a conservative state. 

BROWN:  I think you‘ve got to go back to Inez Tenenbaum, though.  In spite of the fact that that‘s a Republican state, she has consistently won as the commissioner of education for that state.  She is perceived as not really being a Democrat.  She said I will represent and organize with the Democrats, but only for the benefit of my sate.  Otherwise, most of my action‘s with George Bush.  She sounded like she was the Bush candidate. 

MITCHELL:  She ran away from John Kerry. 

BROWN:  Absolutely.  So this woman may very well upset the apple cart. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, we‘ll see.  We‘ll see.  I mean, it‘s so hard for her, and it‘s really unfair to judge here—her ability as a candidate, as a female losing in South Carolina in the Senate race.  It‘s certainly has always been, as we all know, a firewall for the Republican establishment in primaries.  And I think we‘ll probably see the same thing tonight.

MITCHELL:  You know, one thing you could be able to determine, though, from Georgia, South Carolina, is the level of enthusiasm for John Kerry of the African-American vote.  Are the urban areas turning out?  So that will be the key thing that we ought to be looking for. 

MATTHEWS:  I love the Virginia discussion, by the way, because we, all of us who work in Washington, who spend time there, know that Northern Virginia is not really a Southern state.  It‘s very much a sort of Mid-Atlantic state, Northern Virginia.  Highly educated, a lot of government employees, a lot of military people. 

But you do wonder when the Democrats are going to crack that in a presidential campaign.  And some people thought a few months ago—you know, just like they were talking about the Republicans were going to crack New Jersey—they talked about the Democrats—you‘re smiling—because neither are probably going to happen, but it is interesting which states are about to change.

SCARBOROUGH:  But you certainly would think, would you not, that Democrats would have a better chance of cracking Virginia than Republicans New Jersey, again, just because of northern—because of Northern Virginia.  I mean, you have...

REAGAN:  It won‘t happen this time, though.

SCARBOROUGH:  It probably won‘t happen this time, but you have a fairly moderate to conservative Democratic governor in Virginia, who positioned himself wonderfully in the last campaign. 

REAGAN:  I think the margins of 10 percent in some of these states, I think Bush should win by more than 10 percent in Georgia and in Indiana.  If it‘s much below that, then I think you could say advantage Kerry. 

MITCHELL:  Mark Warner, the governor of Virginia, pleaded with John Kerry not to pull money out of Virginia, the Democratic money, and they did pull down there their advertising budget.  Otherwise, maybe it would have been closer. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re trying to read (UNINTELLIGIBLE), because it‘s early in the evening.  It‘s sort of like the Academy Awards, when you‘re waiting to do supporting actor, supporting actors.  Let‘s go—I‘ve got to go to Pat Buchanan.  He feels he‘s off stage now, and Dee Dee Myers.  Your own thoughts—again, your second shot at the early returns.  What do you make of them?  What should we see here?  First to Dee Dee.

MYERS:  Well, I think the high turnout rate is fascinating, and we‘ll continue to watch that, obviously.  One in seven voters appears to be a new voter.  We‘ll look at how those people vote throughout the night.  I also think it‘s an interesting way to compare the strategies of the two campaigns.  The Kerry campaign set out to reach into the middle a little bit, to drive up turnout in the base, and also among independents. 

And obviously Karl Rove‘s strategy was to drive it up among the evangelicals, so we‘ll be watching to see if there is an increased turnout among the evangelicals.  But one of the great sort of areas that‘s going to be examined over the coming days is how well the 527s did in achieving their objectives.  They set out to register voters and turn them out, they spent a lot of money, they built big organizations on the ground in places like Ohio and Florida.  I think it‘s going to be fascinating to see how that all plays itself out. 

Also, in Ohio, we haven‘t mentioned yet tonight, there is that ballot initiative which would ban gay marriage, state initiative 1, and we‘ll be watching to see what the margins are in that initiative.  And how well—clearly voters who turn out and vote for that will help President Bush almost certainly. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go right now to Mark Potter.  Pat, we‘ll get back to you in just a minute.  He is in central Florida with some big news about turnout—Mark.

MARK POTTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, in the important political swing counties in central Florida, they have been reporting a large turnout.  Even though the polls are about to close in a few minutes, they are saying that at many of the precincts there are long lines and that it could take several more hours to get everyone to the machines before they officially close down those offices.

Here in Hillsborough County, the prediction is for an 80 percent turnout, and it may take another two hours, as I said, to get all those people inside.  Here at the election tabulation site, you can see they are just getting ready to start the count in a few minutes.  This area that you‘re looking at right now is where they are going to be processing the absentee ballots and the early voting totals. 

Officials say that they could have 25 percent of the entire county vote tabulated within this hour.  And that‘s because so many people here voted early.  One in four voters went to the polls before the official Election Day, 160,000 people in this county alone.  So we think we‘re going to start seeing numbers here. 

And despite those numbers, they say that there were very few problems out there, and the problems that they saw were minor.  Back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  Any sense, Mark, of the Mel Martinez vote down there and how it‘s going, Mark? 

POTTER:  There is no sense of it.  Everybody has been saying it‘s too close to call.  Of course in this area, he‘s in Orlando, Betty Castor, his opponent, is here in Tampa.  They are watching it very closely.  Again, another important race along this famed I-4 corridor, but no one can say with any certainty at all, it‘s a pure guess as to what is going to happen there. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Mark Potter.  Let‘s get back to Pat Buchanan as we approach the 7:00, first big crunch of returns we‘re going to be able to give you.  Pat, what to look for in your home state, the Old Dominion? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, in Virginia, as I say, Chris, it‘s going to be diluted by Northern Virginia.  We won‘t know where those votes came from.  But I‘ll tell you this, you have a pure red state in South Carolina.  You‘ve got a red-hot Senate race, you got a Republican candidate who‘s come out for the sales tax, and also is a free trader, but that is a pure Bush state.  Bush should wipe up the floor with Kerry in South Carolina.  If you see Kerry in the 40s in South Carolina, I think it will be a difficult omen, especially if it‘s in the mid-40s for Kerry, a difficult omen for the president going into that critical state of Ohio, quite frankly.  I would look to South Carolina.  It‘s about as pure as they come. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back right now to our panel, to Andrea.  We‘re getting close here now.  I thought it was interesting as we went to Florida, the Mel Martinez race.  There‘s a fellow, a Cuban-American who the president said please leave my cabinet and go run for the Senate in Florida, I want that seat.  So in a way he‘s kind of a viceroy, he is a representative of President Bush, right? 

MITCHELL:  He is.  And the calculus was, of course, that having a Cuban-American candidate for the U.S. Senate seat would bring not only Cuban-American votes, which are traditionally Republican votes, but also other Hispanic votes, Puerto Rican votes, Dominican Republican votes out, and bring that vote over to the presidential race, and they wouldn‘t ticket-split, and they could have a big turnout for George Bush. 

Now, the irony is that there might be some division among Cuban-American voters because there was a July crackdown on the embargo preventing Cuban-Americans from going back to Havana with money and seeing families.  

MATTHEWS:  And that is another generational issue, isn‘t it?

MITCHELL:  Another generational issue, and it could have backfired. 

MATTHEWS:  Younger Cuban-Americans who may be two or three generations in this country want to have relationships with the people on the island. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There is also a demographic split also in the Hispanic community in Florida.  It used to be that Orange County, where Orlando was, always went Republican.  A lot of Puerto Ricans have began moving into central Florida, especially around that area, working in service community type jobs.  Mel Martinez, of course, is a Cuban-American, supposed to help in South Florida, but also, I suspect, the Bush White House was hoping that since he‘s from Orlando, he would also help out with Hispanics in central Florida as well. 

We‘ll just have to wait and see if that happens, but they elbowed a lot of people out of the way to get Mel Martinez, a trial lawyer, which has an irony, get Mel Martinez as their candidate at the top of that ticket to help George Bush out in Florida. 

MITCHELL:  It‘s a very close race. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It is.  It‘s so tight.

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  ... much more complicated in Florida than it used to be. 

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) Cubans, and that was... 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, way more.  And as Chris said, also, it‘s so interesting, it‘s generational.  Even 10 years ago, if you went to Cuba you were the enemy.  Now you have got a lot of young Cuban-Americans who want to go to Cuba, who want to reconnect.  You‘ve got older Cuban-Americans that still consider it a war against a communist regime. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘re on the edge of Niagara Falls right now, the falls are about to come hurtling over, and we‘re in a barrel waiting to see what‘s going to happen tonight, because it is one of those great presidential elections where looks like more than ever, more people participating. 

We‘re looking at the states we‘re about to call here.  Hopefully, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.  I am going to come up as our coverage continues right now, from Democracy Plaza.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘re about to make some calls right and I think we were right about Virginia, talking the closeness of the vote there.  And of course the closeness for Jim Bunning, my old pitching hero is obviously finding himself in a race that‘s not quite clear what the results are going to be.  And we‘re not quite ready to make these calls but of course we do know already Virginia is closer than expected and we do know that Bunning‘s race is closer than we expected.  Too early to call that one.  And so we‘re about to make a call right now. 

In Georgia, George Bush, the president of the United States, the projected winner in Georgia.  No surprise there but a win, the first in the column tonight.  In Indiana, President Bush, projected winner with a strong early vote there of 58 percent to 42 percent.  We‘ve got George Bush now in Georgia and Indiana.  In Kentucky, President Bush the winner in the third state tonight to be called by NBC, the projected winner in the state of Kentucky.  So we‘ve got South Carolina and Georgia and Indiana and now Vermont.  John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts winning in neighboring Vermont.  His first win, first projected win I should say of the night.  We‘re projecting, by the way, to make this formal.  When all the votes are counted we‘ll know, we will be telling you which state has decided.

In Virginia of course we have a state that is too close to call and

that means something.  It means that the numbers that have come in so far -

·         it‘s not that it‘s just too early, it means that the numbers are too close which makes a statement.  We were looking for a close race and we‘ve found one.  The Old Dominion, Virginia, usually a safe Republican state, having a little bit of time making up its mind tonight.

In South Carolina too hard to call.  Too hard to call right down in South Carolina.  That means that we don‘t have enough numbers actually to make that call down there.  So we‘re looking now at the electoral map, and we‘re toting up what we can tell you right now.  These are projected wins.  Kerry in Vermont, 34 electoral votes for the president, three electoral votes for John Kerry.  None of this dramatically unexpected except those close races starting with Virginia. 

Now let‘s look at the United States Senate races.  Johnny Isakson is the projected winner.  No surprise there.  His Democratic opponent was very underfunded in the race.  That‘s Johnny Isakson winning—a projected winner in Georgia.

In Indiana, Evan Bayh, right now we haven‘t made a call—we are making a calling.  Evan Bayh is the projected—he is the Democrat, of course, winning re-election.  A very popular guy there, a moderate Democrat in the state of Indiana. 

And now Pat Leahy, a man who‘s had a very sharp attitude towards the incumbent president and of course we know the vice president.  We know about that little duel at the vice president‘s s desk in the Senate where bad words were used.  Well, Pat Leahy has been, according to our projections, re-elected today in the little state of Vermont where also the president did very well today.

As I said before, too close to call.  This is very interesting.  Jim Bunning, who I said was a star pitcher and Hall of Famer, in both major baseball leagues, won a very close race last time.  Here he is with 19 percent of the vote in and finding himself in a race too close to call.  That‘s a very big issue right now.  Very significant. 

In South Carolina, boy, this is powerful.  Too close to call.  Inez Tenenbaum is apparently doing well enough to keep this race a bit up in the air early in the evening tonight against Jim DeMint, the U.S. congressman.  That was the last of our announcements to make. 

Right now to Keith Olbermann for other calls—Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s look at that change in the balance of power as you saw.  The races that we‘ve called in the Senate so far, only one involves the change from one party to the other.  Georgia doing that and there‘s good news and bad news in that with Republicans who gain the seat with Representative Isakson‘s election to make it right now pending the rest of tonight‘s results, 37-31-1, if you want to look at it from the point of view of where was the Senate when we started tonight, it is now 52-47-1 but again there are many, many still outstanding with 34 seats up for grabs tonight.

But in Georgia, where the Republican Representative Isakson has beaten or will beat the Democrat Representative Majette according to our NBC News projections, that‘s Zell Miller‘s seat.  So that was a Democratic seat that acted like a Republican seat the last couple years anyway.  So a one-swing balance of power change in the Senate thus far but nothing so dramatic as a bona fide Democratic leader going out as we might see in South Dakota.  We are going to a further look on that later on.

Here are some early projections on the governor‘s races.  It‘s too close to call and too early to call in Indiana with just 4 percent of the vote in between as Joe Scarborough mentioned earlier, the incumbent Joe Kernan and the former OMB director Mitch Daniels.  Also too early to call in Vermont.  We do have one caveat on that between the mayor of Burlington, the Democrat Clavelle and the incumbent, Republican Governor Jim Douglas.  There is a 50 percent rule there.  That is why that one is being adjudicated as too early to call.

One of those 11 definition of marriage propositions is already pretty much in.  This is—verdict though is yes, it is now projected that there will be a definition of marriage amendment one rule in Kentucky defining marriage not surprisingly as only between a man and a woman.  But it was also—in Kentucky would ban civil unions.  In Kentucky that already projected as the first of the 11 to be decided and in favor of the amendment that would in essence ban gay marriage or civil unions in the state of Kentucky.  And whether or not Senator Bunning knows anything about that we‘ll find that one out later on.  Chris, let‘s go back to you in Democracy Plaza. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Keith.  Let me talk about—let‘s go right now by the way to David Gregory.  He‘s at the White House.  NBC‘s David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, let me give some sense of what‘s happening here at the White House.  The president is inside the residence with family members.  His parents, his daughters, some close friends and his top political strategist, Karl Rove, inside the residence.  Meanwhile in the Roosevelt room just off the Oval Office all his advisers have their own campaign war room aside from the campaign headquarter.

This political operation tonight is in overdrive.  Right now there is some level of discouragement among top advisers about a recent narrowing of polls in recent days.  And that‘s why they‘re kicking things into overdrive tonight.  Surrogates are going on talk radio in the battleground states, calls going out to volunteers in the battleground states to keep the vote out.  That is what is most important right now as they start to watch the voting actually come in.  The votes actually come in.  They want to try to drive up their vote and pay extra special close attention to the margins of victory for Kerry in those areas where they know he‘s going to do well in states like Florida and Ohio.  The president has personally been in touch with his top campaign strategists in campaign headquarters in northern Virginia.  There is a sense of agreement that there is a tightness in the race that they‘ve seen before, back in 2000, they have seen it throughout the final days of this campaign.  So it‘s tense but this fight is on, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, when did the concern begin to emerge as you‘ve been observing at the White House? 

GREGORY:  Well, over the weekend they initially got some internal polling that showed the race tightening in Ohio in a way that disturbed them.  There were others who are on the ground there tracking it in Ohio who have grown a little bit more pessimistic in recent days.  They got some disappointing internal polling out of Iowa and Wisconsin, two critical Gore states from 2000 where they were running very well, thought they‘d have a good chance for victory, a potential buffer if they lost Ohio, those two states started to narrow in their polling.  At the same time they‘ve been pretty upbeat about Florida all along the way.  So if they look at that and they just see a tightening race going into election day and now election night, it has made them nervous indeed. 

MATTHEWS:  What do they think at the White House about the reemergence of Osama bin Laden?  That struck a lot of Americans as sort of an odd moment in our history.  How do they think it affected the voting? 

GREGORY:  Well, they don‘t really have a sense of that.  I think in the last couple of days they realized as our polls showed that people really weren‘t paying that much attention to it in terms of having it affect their votes.  That most people, in fact a majority, 69 percent our poll showed had made up their minds even after the conventions so there wasn‘t a lot of vote to move there but nevertheless they thought to whatever extent the campaign debate got joined on the issue of the war on terror it was good for the president.  You saw that initially, and then you saw the Kerry campaign back away from that.  The president backed away from going overboard about the tape as well.  So I think they saw it sort of settle down a little bit but they certainly wanted to talk about the war on terror down the stretch. 

MATTHEWS:  That story that the “New York Times” broke a week or so before the election, is that going to be seen as a major factor?  Should the president come up short tonight?  The fact that for a week then a media-driven story, driven by CBS and the “New York Times” hitting at the heart of the president‘s management of the war, will the White House take that as a media attack on them? 

GREGORY:  They certainly took it as a media attack by the “New York Times” and they made no bones about saying that it was an overreach, that the piece was argumentative.  They fought back hard.  The mere fact that they had that as a distraction in the final week or so of the campaign was not something that they wanted.  They recognized that those voters who are anxious about Iraq might see it as a metaphor for the problems in the country.  Nevertheless they felt in the final days like they were able to sort of hold it off.  To the extent that Iraq will be a problem to this president among voters.  They think it was bigger than just that story.  It was a sense of chaos there. 

MATTHEWS:  Sorry to interrupt you, David, last point.  I‘m trying to figure out the president‘s plan for this election day.  He voted, obviously he had to in Crawford and that‘s a very ceremonial thing for a president to vote in his hometown but were they planning from the beginning to come back to the White House?  Was this always the plan?

GREGORY:  Yes, it‘s always been the plan is my understanding.  I think what you saw though were late ads in terms of a visit to Columbus, Ohio, to thank volunteers, get the vote out, they even wanted to do satellite interviews with four Florida markets to get that vote out.  They were going to do them on Air Force One in the rain in Ohio.  We were on board waiting.  I was traveling with him today.  They had to scrub the whole plan because in the rain they couldn‘t hit the satellite and they had to cancel. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you David Gregory at the White House. 

Let‘s go right now to Lisa Myers of NBC.  She‘s at Bush-Cheney headquarters trying to figure out—or they‘re trying to figure out, and she‘s reporting on it, what‘s going on with the absentee ballots—Lisa.

LISA MYERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Chris.  Well, so far they‘re very concerned about the timing of the counting of the absentee ballots in Florida.  The Bush campaign believes it has an advantage of 150,000 to 200,000 votes over the Democrats among those who cast absentee ballots in Florida.  They had heard from the supervisor in Miami-Dade County that they may not cast the Republican absentee votes there, which are at least about 98,000 votes, that they may not count them until Thursday.  So the campaign is quite concerned, talked so the secretary of state and is trying to get that problem fixed.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  let‘s go right now—thank you, Lisa Myers of NBC news—let‘s go right now to Dan Abrams who is also looking at the legal problems regarding this campaign election count—Dan. 

DAN ABRAMS, ABRAMS REPORT:  Well Chris, earlier a lot of the legal wrangling was was focused on how the voting would take place.  That‘s now taking a back seat to how the votes will be counted.  And there are a number of issues that have come up in the last hour. 

In Pennsylvania, considered certainly a swing state here, the secretary of state, a Democrat there, has ordered that 2 polling places in Lackawanna City, Pennsylvania, be kept open an extra 40 minutes and 67 minutes.  That certainly will cause some controversy.  We don‘t know exactly why that order is in place, but it is.  We‘ll certainly continue to follow that. 

Also the issue of absentee ballots in Philadelphia.  A judge has  essentially ordered that no one start counting the tens of thousands of absentee ballots in the Philadelphia area.  The GOP is concerned that there were some irregularities and the judge is going to hold a hearing at 9:30 tomorrow morning.  So those votes will not be counted for now. 

Also, in the state of Ohio, another very important swing state, a citizen has filed a lawsuit in federal court saying that they need to accomplish a standard for the provisional ballots.  Remember, those are the ballots where someone comes in, they say, look, I‘m supposed to be on the voter roll.  I don‘t know why I‘m not there.

This voter is saying, look Bush v. Gore mandated that you have to have a consistent standard in place.  How are we going to decide which votes are counted and which aren‘t?  This person going to court and saying the secretary of state should be forced to have a consistent standard—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, Dan Abrams. 

Let‘s go back, right now, to the panel here.  A very large panel and talk.  John Fund has joined us across the street.  John, this problem in Cuyahoga County, we talked about it before.  The problems in Philadelphia are historic.  They go on.  Do you think that this is the kind of thing that‘s going to hector our political process for cycles to come?  We can‘t get an election because there‘s too many states that have too many problems?

JOHN FUND, POLITICAL JOURNALIST:  Well, I think Florida 2000 was a rubicon, Chris.  I think we crossed the line between just having the election end on election night and possibly it going on for election week or election month.  If the margin of victory of the winning candidate is not within the margin of litigation, that‘s the issue.

And as long as it‘s close, you have 10,000 lawyers for Kerry, 4,000 lawyers for Bush.  Lawyers litgate, that‘s what they‘re trained to do.  And I think we have a danger, if for the second election in a row, if the election is taken away from the voters and put partially in the courts, I think cynicism and I think despair about whether elections are meaningful will only increase dramatically. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go right now to Mayor Brown.  This problem of voter morale I think is serious.  And if you go out and wait 3 hours, and you are told at midnight, you stay up like you are watching, again, the Academy Awards, and it‘s getting a little tiring, and you go to bed and read in the papers and watch “The Today Show” or whatever, and you say, darn it, I voted, how come we don‘t have a president?  Is this going to demoralize the people? 

BROWN:  I don‘t think so.  I think, for the first time great numbers of people are participating.  And I think they will, however, ask questions.  How is it that the standard, let‘s say in California seems to be different than the standard in Ohio or Florida.  Why can‘t we get one consistent process.

I have an ATM card.  I can use my ATM card in New York, Hong Kong, I can use my ATM card all over the world.  It‘s clear that the voting process ought to at least match the ATM.  And people are going to demand that from those of us who are the politicians making those decisions. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘re going to come right back and talk more about it. 

We got big result coming in from Ohio.  We hope we get a clear result there.  We‘ll wait and see.  Ohio, the first big battle ground state to report tonight, coming up in 15 minutes.

Back with our panel and everyone else at NBC, working with MSNBC tonight at Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re watching something rather dramatic now.  Look at building, that‘s 30 Rockefeller Center here in New York.  The head of NBC News, and all of NBC, I should say, overlooking a skating rink.  And we‘re watching the electoral vote tally as it climbs up the wall there.  And don‘t be fooled, it‘s going apparently going to be a much closer election than these numbers suggest, but we‘ve got three votes for Vermont John Kerry and the other votes, of course, for the president. 

We‘re also, if you look down on the ice there, where everybody likes to come and watch the beautiful skaters, because they are pros, some of these people, you are watching the emergence of our electoral map.  You‘re seeing it being colored in.  The red states, there of course, for the president and the blue state up there, Vermont, of course, little old Vermont, for John Kerry.  But stay tuned, this is going to be a very close election.

By the way, let‘s take a look at something that‘s kind of a novelty.  Let‘s take a look at the headquarters, now, of the Bush-Cheney war room, so-called.  And we‘re taking a look at it there.  There‘s a shot. 

Boy, they‘re quiet, intent.  Look at these people.  It looks like a vote count.  They‘re all watching to see how their campaign effort is going out there.  Giving advice to people, of course, in terms of continuous efforts to try to get the Republican vote out tonight—Andrea. 

MITCHELL:  One of the things that David Gregory was pointing out is what they are doing is calling people from the Roosevelt Room of the White House and trying to get people to report in, to get to the polls.  They‘re trying to produce their vote right now.

Also, on the other side of the coin, we‘ve got a report from Tom Lamas (ph) from MSNBC who is with the Edwards campaign, and John Edwards has held on his airplane in Orlando rather than flying up to Boston to rejoin John Kerry.  He is in Orlando, on the phone, making calls to radio stations in North Carolina, trying to rally the vote for Erskine Bowles, their Senate candidate there, because that race is apparently so tight. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s Amazing.  It reminds me of 2000.  The governor of Florida at 6:00 called the local radio station in Pensacola, it‘s called the Luke McCoy Show. And the governor told people to get out and start voting, that Florida was going to be closer than they could ever imagine and people literally, again, started going out there. 

A lot of people learned from 2000, those last-second pitches made all the difference in the world in Florida.  And now we‘re seeing it repeated in state after state after state. 

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re going to tell me, Joe, there were actually people, and Andrea, who were sitting home all day during the most important election of their lifetime, and they get goosed about, what 10 minutes before closing time and they say, OK, I guess I will vote?

I mean, who are these people?

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you who these people are.  These people are a single mother who woke up in the morning, their kid may have been sick and they took him—had to take him to day care.  And then they had to come home early, he threw up all over them, saying I can‘t do so.

You know what?  There are a lot of people out there that don‘t think, live and breathe politics 24 hours a day, who really care. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do they go when they‘re called, then? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Because again, it‘s just that final push.  Sometimes you learn, especially if they‘re called by somebody they know, that final push, and they say maybe my next door neighbor can take care of my baby girl and I‘ll go down and I‘ll cast a vote that is going to make a difference in our lives.  Those people are out there.

MATTHEWS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) operations?

BROWN:  Yeah, Chris, and I‘ll recall—you will recall this.  In 1980, when Jimmy Carter was going down to defeat, out in California the word came forth about 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon.  We ended up losing a couple of congressional seats because Democrats proceeded to stay home when they were not (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

MATTHEWS:  Jim Torme (ph).

BROWN:  You still—you got it—you still need to go.  And so now, no party, neither of our parties will take the chance.  They literally put their big guns on the horn for the very last minute no matter what the circumstances are. 

REAGAN:  Think about how slim these margins are.  You‘ve got 10.3 or so registered voters in Florida, and the margin last time was 537 votes.  If you can goose just a fraction of 1 percent, that could be the difference. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s when all of a sudden having a guy who may be the next vice president of the United States picking up the phone and making a phone call in North Carolina, could make a real difference. 

MITCHELL:  We should also point out that when you‘re talking about a long night, some of the smart people at NBC checked back.  Last time around four years ago at 6:00 in the morning they still had not counted 3 percent of the raw vote in Ohio.  If Ohio is close, that‘s why it is going to be a long night.  It takes that long to count the vote. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s amazing, with all the money spent on television advertising, I mean, millions and millions of dollars, tens, hundreds of millions, and at the end it becomes a retail campaign, it‘s like calling, will you buy my fuller brush, please?  I‘d really like you to come over to my gas station and buy some gas.  It‘s pretty...

REAGAN:  What‘s old is new again.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s pretty (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  Let‘s go, let‘s get Dee Dee in, and Pat, join us.  This kind of polling operation at the last minute, it‘s kind of stirring in a way.  It shows that individual votes matter. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think it does, Chris.  It certainly does.  I think the story Joe told just now is critical after Florida, I think.  Everyone, but especially in those swing states, and of course I think by now they all know this.  I mean, we‘ve covered this wall to wall for close to a year.  I think this country, especially in the battleground states, is really attuned to the importance of it. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk about the election right now.  We have got an intense set of reports coming out right now, at 23 after the hour.  Brian Williams is going to come.  We‘ve got to—we‘ll be having him in a moment, we‘re going to be hearing from Brian Williams. 

Now, one thing people are learning over these election cycles is in addition to the actual polling, the networks do a lot of interviewing of people as they vote during the day, to try to find out so that the next day they can report in the newspapers—this is the primary purpose of it, and on the networks --  what were people thinking?  What were the messages they were trying to stand? 

For example, where do people stand on the importance of terrorism, where they stand on the issue whether we should have gone to war in Iraq?   Where do people stand on abortion rights?  How are women voting compared to men?  Is there still a gender gap?  And those are the kinds of things that Brian Williams of NBC News has his hands on right now.  Let‘s go to Brian.  Brian, what are you learning so far from the exit polls tonight?

WILLIAMS:  And Chris, don‘t forget the history books that you and I love.  They will be filled with all this data when they are printed. 

Here in our tracking center, we are right now looking at the very basic question, what‘s the mood of the electorate this year?  It‘s been as close as an election can get all alone, we know that, and some of the first numbers we are getting now from our NBC News exit poll are bearing that out, in terms of how President Bush is handling his job and about the direction of the nation in general. 

On the crucial is the nation headed in the right direction or on the wrong track question, 50 percent of the voters think the nation is on the wrong track, while 47 percent think we are headed in the right direction.  Now, four years ago, we hasten to add, the mood was much brighter, with two-thirds saying they were pleased with the direction of the nation.  Given the Clinton economy and the pre-9/11.

As for President Bush‘s job approval, voters are still very closely divided on this.  The president does may get above the halfway mark, and not all surveys lately put him there.  He just barely makes it, 51; 47 disapproving of the president‘s job performance overall.

One last note, on the big red state-blue state partisan divide, on the president‘s job performance.  It‘s about as wide as it could possibly be.  One pollster said it was as sharply divided as it has been since the start of modern day polling.  Ninety-two percent of Republicans give the president approval, a thumbs up, while 84 percent of Democrats give him a thumbs down. 

That‘s why they are red, that‘s why they‘re blue, and Chris, we‘ll keep going through the numbers here tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Brian Williams.  We‘ll be back with you throughout the evening. 

Let‘s go right now to David Shuster who is in all-important Miami, Florida—David. 

SHUSTER:  Well, Chris, while the polls in most of Florida have closed, of course they‘re still open in the panhandle.  But both parties at this moment now saying that in South Florida, where there was so much chaos four years ago, the election today has been clean, and they have now begun the process of tabulating the votes.  There is a center here at the Miami-Dade election office where they actually are waiting for the cartridges from the e-voting machines to be called in.  There you can see some of the officials moving into the office where they will start the process of counting the votes.  Again, a clean election here in South Florida—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, David Shuster. 

We are about to have here at MSNBC headquarters about the biggest news to announce this early in the evening, and that is the results coming out of Ohio.  There‘s three possibilities.  We can call it too close to call, too early to call, or we could give you an NBC projection as to who is going to win the state of Ohio.  It‘s a very hot announcement.  Stay with us.  We‘re going to come right back with Ohio. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back, and we‘re about to make an announcement in just a few minutes about Ohio, the Buckeye State, which is playing such an enormous role in this campaign.  It‘s sort of the Florida of the year 2004 election so far.  Let‘s go to Pat Buchanan.  Pat, give me a short estimate of the importance of Ohio in this election. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, let‘s do this, Chris.  If the president loses Ohio, he goes from 278 electoral votes back to 258.  He will need 12 votes to get up to 270.  He can do it with Iowa and New Mexico.  But it means he can‘t lose New Hampshire, and if he does he has got to win Hawaii.  So this is critical.  However, if the president is still in fighting shape in Minnesota and Wisconsin, he‘s go what Karl Rove would call an insurance policy.  But Ohio, he can lose and win.  I think it‘s much tougher to see how he could lose Florida and win, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, Pat.  We‘re going to have the Ohio results right now. 

It‘s 7:30 in the East. 

Let‘s go right now to the states in which the polls have just closed, Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia.  We‘re going to be getting the results in just a minute.

Ohio is—is now, unfortunately, too close to call.  And that is a big moment in this election process, Ron Reagan. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

That‘s absolutely right.  I think Bush critically needs Ohio, but, of course, so does Kerry.  They both need Ohio.  And one thing to remember, too, when these poll numbers start to come in, most states are not simply red or blue.  They‘re both, and it depends on what counties, what precincts are reporting first, which numbers are coming in first.  So you have to be a little bit careful when you see 1 percent of the vote in. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go with the other calls right now.  That was Ohio, too close to call in the presidential race.

In North Carolina, too close to call in the presidential race.  Now, that is an interesting bit of information.  The North Carolina vote had been expected to be a strong and early win for the president.  It‘s not that case at all.  North Carolina is too close to call, the Tarheel State. 

West Virginia, Well, this one is too early to call.  That‘s a function of how many votes we have now, votes we have to count right now, no reason to conclude it‘s going to be close at the end of the evening, but not enough votes to count, zero percent of the vote in there in West Virginia. 

In Virginia, to go back to that state, too close to call.  That is significant with 1 percent of the vote in.  But we have other indications that suggest that‘s going to be a close vote, the Old Dominion, surprisingly.  This election has a lot of close calls right now.  Virginia, too close to call, according to NBC. 

South Carolina, too early to call.  There again, we don‘t have the numbers to tell you anything, really, as to who‘s leading or who is falling behind.  Too early to call in South Carolina.  And we‘re looking right now at the Electoral College.  No change.  You can see the red there for the president and little Vermont up there at the top.  Georgia, of course, was solid for the president.  And we have Indiana solid for the president and West Virginia. 

Anyway, we‘re going to come back and talk about that, but the big—but the best—let‘s take a look right now at the close races in the United States right now. 

In Ohio, George Voinovich, the former governor, the veteran politician in that state, according to our projections, will be reelected when all the votes are counted in Ohio.  So that‘s one clear result already coming out of the Buckeye State. 

In North Carolina, still, still, too close to call.  That‘s a race that closed the gates.  Voting stopped there just at 7:30 Eastern time in the Tarheel state.  Erskine Bowles was, of course, chief of staff to President Bill Clinton.  And a very important race there, two very impressive candidates, Richard Burr and Erskine Bowles.  Either man is going to be an important senator, should he pull this out. 

Still too close to call in Kentucky, and that is very significant, with 40 percent of the vote in, an early count and a lot of count already, 40 percent and Jim Bunning, who, a week or two ago, I think we can all agree was expected to win by 10 points at least, finding himself in a real horse race with Dr. Mongiardo.  Very close.  It depends, of course, in that state, like it does with others, where the vote is coming in from. 

MITCHELL:  That could be a city vote, not a rural vote. 

MATTHEWS:  South Carolina, another one—there‘s another heroic contest going on.  Inez Tenenbaum, the Democrat, who was accepted many of the president‘s positions on issues such as the war, etcetera, in many ways doing what often Southern Democrats do and that is accepting the leadership of the president, if it‘s a Republican president, on conservative issues. 

Let‘s go right now to Chris Jansing, who is in Cleveland, Ohio, one of the states that we just can‘t call yet.  It‘s too close—Chris.

JANSING:   Yes. 

Nobody here‘s ready to call it either.  I‘ve got to tell you, Chris, I‘ve been talking to top officials in both the Kerry and the Bush campaigns here in Ohio.  They‘ve been nervous all day.  They‘ve telling me almost consistently for six or eight months now that they thought this was going to come down to the wire and it would eventually be a ground game. 

Now, here‘s what‘s different from 2000.  Remember, this is what Democrats call the tragic mistake by Al Gore.  He was down double digits, so he basically pulled out of Ohio a month before the election.  He ended up losing by just 3.6 percent.  It taught the Democrats a lesson, but also the Republicans.

What they believe is that the reason the Democrats were able to close so close and make them nervous is because they had a superior ground game.  Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman were determined that was not going to happen this time around.  They have worked on this for four straight years.  And both sides told me earlier tonight that they are even surprised at the success of the ground game on both the Democratic and Republican sides. 

That‘s why, even in the cold, in the rain, we have seen lines of three to four hours, people waiting, not getting out of line.  Both sides think they have done what they set out to do years ago here in Ohio and, as a result, this race is too close to call—both sides right now, Chris, very nervous. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Chris Jansing.  We‘ll come back to you time and again tonight in Cleveland, Ohio. 

I want to go right now to Joe Scarborough.

Joe, I know it‘s early in the night and we knew looking at this schedule for days now that we would have possibly an early call in Ohio.  We‘re not going to have one there.  And we of course coming up Florida and Pennsylvania in the next half-hour.  We‘ve got New Mexico—or why did I say that?  New Hampshire.   

SCARBOROUGH:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Another one that Kerry may pick up. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Which, New Hampshire is a very important state, yes.

MATTHEWS:  Why‘s that? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I think, obviously, for economic reasons.  If this is going to be an issue, a campaign that George Bush—because of economic issues, then New Hampshire would be a bellwether state.

I wanted to pick up on something, though, that Chris Jansing said, because this is so interesting.  We all remember when—years that parties are better at getting out the vote; 1986, Jesse Jackson went across the Southeast, elected a lot of Democrats in the middle of the Reagan revolution, put the Democrats back in charge of the Senate; 1994, you had the Republicans doing well on the ground game. 

What I find so fascinating about tonight is, both sides are at the top of their game.  And we‘ve got Democratic operatives and Republican operative who have been at the top of their games.  The get-out-the-vote machines are as well-oiled.  Nobody got caught off guard. 

You know, 2002, Karl Rove, George Bush shocked a lot of people with their get-out-the-vote operation and I think prepared Democrats for 2004, understanding that this—you couldn‘t just call up your local union leader and say, hey, I need you to get guys to the polls for us, that they needed to do more than that.

So now you have got these 527s going up against Karl Rove and the machine, and you have the absolute best.  This is the Yankees vs. the Red Sox, game seven.  And let‘s just hope that the right team wins. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, it‘s interesting, Mayor Brown, that—is it because—I think Joe‘s right, but is it because both parties assumed, despite the big lead for the president at certain times and the big lead for Kerry at certain times, that this was going to be a very squeaker race and therefore it was going to be decided not by the best TV ads or the best debate performance; it was going to be decided by these polling operations sometimes at 7:00 at night? 

BROWN:  Well, the science of politicking now and doing campaign activities has grown tremendously since Jesse Jackson did his number in 1986.

You now are at the stage where you can literally pinpoint every voter in the whole United States of America.  You can address materials to every voter.

MATTHEWS:  How do you do it? 

BROWN:  By first name.

MATTHEWS:  People don‘t like to hear this.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  I know that, but it is a reality.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But you know what‘s so interesting?  And I still—talking to friends that do campaigns, and what is still interesting is, the most important thing is somebody knocking on your door.

BROWN:  No question.

SCARBOROUGH:  Handing you a piece of literature and say, you need to get out tomorrow and vote for Senator Kerry or vote for George W. Bush.  That‘s what going on all over America.

MATTHEWS:  But they know more than just where you live.  They know how you think. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right. 

BROWN:  They know how you think.  They know where your kids go to school.  They know what you are eating for dinner. 

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN:  And believe me, you have to have talented people.  Karl Rove‘s people are talented and the 527 people are talented.  The Democrats are talented.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BROWN:  You can‘t send just the old union leader.  You‘ve got to send a guy who will know that he‘s looking at Chris Matthews, not Joe Scarborough, when he rings the doorbell.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s really scare people early this evening who are all watching, so they really know how bad it really is.  What would they know about somebody like yourself if you weren‘t a public figure?  They would know where you buy your clothes.

BROWN:  No.  They would know better than that. 

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN:  They would probably know exactly where I go to church.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BROWN:  They would know where my kids go to school.  They would know who my friends are.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How?  How would they know that? 

BROWN:  Because we do the research.  The politicians now keep a memory bank.  They really keep do a whole tally on everybody.  They know if you have season tickets to the Giants baseball games, if you are seated near Ronald Reagan, who Ronald Reagan is.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Listen, come on now.  I hate to kill Hamlet in the first act, but let me tell you something.  They don‘t know that much.  They ain‘t that smart.

BROWN:  Yes, they do.  Believe me. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  They ain‘t that smart.  But I will tell you what they do know.

They know how to tap where you go to church.  That‘s correct.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  You‘re thinking congressional.  You‘re thinking U.S. Senate.

SCARBOROUGH:  No, I‘m thinking gubernatorial.

BROWN:  I‘m talking about legislative races.

The common denominator, the lowest common denominator politically in this nation would be people who run for state office.

SCARBOROUGH:  Right. 

BROWN:  People who become a representative. 

And believe me, they are your retail politicians. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right. 

BROWN:  They are almost just like mayors.  They know people by first name, what church you go to, when your kid is graduating.  You get a birthday card.  You get a bar mitzvah card.  You get attendance at funerals.  You get the whole bit all year round.  You get a Flag Day.  You get a white feather day.  You get everything. 

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  And believe me, all of that goes.

REAGAN:  It‘s an outgrowth of marketing technology. 

BROWN:  No question.

REAGAN:  The same way they can sell you soda pop and anything else, same technology.

BROWN:  Let me tell you...

REAGAN:  Neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, address by address, they know. 

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  They also know what petition you sign. 

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  They know exactly petition you sign for an initiative that may go on the ballot.  They make some conclusions from your signature on that.  So, believe me...

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s nice to know, when you get a nice, cheerful, what you think is a spontaneous call, we know that we share your values on the issue of abortion rights.

MITCHELL:  Well, actually...

MATTHEWS:  And we just wanted to let you know that the candidate shares them as well.  Get out and vote.

REAGAN:  Right.  Right. 

MITCHELL:  Chris, one of the real techniques used in the early voting by both parties was, having accumulated this data, these data, then they would know where to go to try to get the early voters that would be sure best for their candidate and where to stay away.  So it was a way of avoiding...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t want to disturb the enemy. 

MITCHELL:  Exactly.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go right now to Joe Olbermann—Keith Olbermann, who has some information about some big developments on the governor‘s races.  Let‘s go now to Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Chris, yes. 

There are 11 open tonight and several of them are key.  And we‘re ready to give you likely results on two of them.  Let‘s go to the boards. 

In West Virginia, where the secretary of state, Joe Manchin, has been projected as the winner by NBC News over the former Army Colonel and businessman Monty Warner.  The Democrats, who had outgoing Governor Bob Wise holding that seat, now expected to retain it under Joe Manchin in West Virginia.

To North Carolina, where incumbent Governor Mike Easley will get another term, as the projection go, although, obviously, there is very little vote to actually base this on, at least statistically.  He will beat Patrick Ballantine, the former state senator, as Easley gets a second term in North Carolina. 

In Indiana, Mitch Daniels, the former OMB director, trying to unseat Joe Kernan, who took over for the late Frank O‘Bannon when he passed away last year.  This is too early to call and also just 13 percent of the vote in and obviously fairly tight, still, with Daniels statistically ahead, too early to call in Indiana. 

Vermont again too early to call, because we have a 50 percent rule.  And Peter Clavelle, the mayor of Burlington, the Democrat, trying to unseat the incumbent Republican Governor Jim Douglas.  These polls closed at 7:00 in Vermont, but we‘re still calling this one too early to call.

So four of the 11 updatable at this point, Chris.  Back to you at Democracy Plaza. 

OK, thank you, Keith. 

Let me talk to the panel about the question of Ohio. 

This one is going to decide a lot, isn‘t it?  Pat isn‘t the only one who thinks—Pat Buchanan—that this election could well ride on Ohio? 

MITCHELL:  Well, I think Tim Russert may have been the first to say that Ohio is the new Florida.  And I think this year Ohio could be the new Florida, because it is so critical to George W. Bush.  He‘s got to win Ohio unless he does very well in the Upper Midwest, in Iowa, Minnesota, there, and Wisconsin.

REAGAN:  Wisconsin.

MITCHELL:  If he does well in those three states, then that would offset a loss in Ohio, especially with Florida as close as we expect and know it to be, from all the polling before Election Day, and especially with the inherent Kerry advantage in states like Pennsylvania. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s face it.

You know, everybody‘s been talking about Minnesota, Wisconsin for a while. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Minnesota‘s been breaking John Kerry‘s way the past week.  Wisconsin still may be close. 

So, that‘s why if George W. Bush loses Ohio, he‘s going to have to pick up New Mexico, Nevada, which is still in the undecided column.  But, look, George Bush‘s numbers, it appears over the past few days, have been dropping in the Upper Midwest.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Excuse me, everybody.  We‘re going to come back after this commercial break to talk about Ohio, because we‘re going to get lots of new information coming up at 8:00 from Pennsylvania.  We might make a call there and also New Hampshire.  These are states that are going to really decide this election.  And it‘s all coming up in the next few minutes.

We‘ll be right back from Democracy Plaza. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back at Democracy Plaza.

And we have a call to make in the state of West Virginia in the presidential race.  Let‘s take a look at this one.  It‘s a hard call.  President Bush has won West Virginia.  So he‘s winning states that he won last time.  No pickup here. 

Andrea, a conservative state on cultural issues, on gun issues, on coal.  The president campaigned there with—he‘s now got 39 electoral votes, the president—he went in there with Zell Miller, the very conservative senator who I‘ve had some business with, I must say—I didn‘t really want it—from Georgia.  That‘s a state that is getting more conservative, isn‘t it? 

MITCHELL:  It is getting more conservative.

They‘ve got a senator, Jay Rockefeller, who is one of the more liberal members of the Senate and is beloved in the state.  But when it comes to voting in presidential races, it‘s very conservative.  And I will bet you that, when we look at the numbers and talk to people afterwards in the exit polls, that Zell Miller, that kind of appeal was very good for George Bush. 

MATTHEWS:  What is the thinking—and everybody can join in this—when you select a John Edwards for running mate, when John Kerry did that and made that big decision?  Wasn‘t his plan to try to pick up some of those border states, not just North Carolina, but perhaps West Virginia, perhaps Missouri?

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  I think the plan was the Midwest. 

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  The plan was jobs and the economy.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, why John Edwards, then? 

MITCHELL:  John Edwards, because he was the two-America candidate, because he was going to appeal to Michigan and Ohio. 

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  It was also a broader question of energy nationally.  He was such an effective campaigner during the primaries. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Wouldn‘t Dick Gephardt have made more sense if you were trying to win Ohio and Missouri and Iowa?

SCARBOROUGH:  If I could dissent.

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, it used to be that we would pick our candidates because of states.  Now you have blue state candidates picking red state candidates. 

John Edwards was going to be the red state candidate.  Remember, they took him around to all of the small towns. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  He‘d sit on the front porch.  I‘m one of you and kind of, hey, you all.  He had the kids.  And so...

MATTHEWS:  Has he been successful in any state so far tonight, and can you expect he will be?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know what?  North Carolina is still too close to call. 

MATTHEWS:  Good point.  Good point.

SCARBOROUGH:  So I think, again, so many people sort of scoffed.  Republicans scoffed when John Edwards was first elected.  They said, why, he couldn‘t even win his own state if he were running for Senate for reelection. 

Well, tonight, we see that Virginia is still too close to call—I mean North Carolina is still too close to call.  I suspect, in the end, George W. Bush will win that race.  But, at the same time, it‘s balancing a blue ticket with a red ticket member. 

BROWN:  I think John Edwards was also selected because you wanted something fresh and something new in the world of politics nationally. 

You wanted young people to see that there would be opportunities, there is an opportunity.  John Edwards does not embody any of inside of the beltway.  He‘s from outside of the beltway, so to speak.  He‘s young, vibrant, and really a part of the hip generation, at least by perception.  John Edwards was selected to show that this is a fresh, new day.  And he represented change.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But he don‘t play in West Virginia, though.

MATTHEWS:  Pardon me?

SCARBOROUGH:  I said, but he don‘t play in West Virginia,

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Why not?

SCARBOROUGH:  Look at him.  He just doesn‘t play in West Virginia,

MATTHEWS:  He is not rough-looking enough? 

SCARBOROUGH:  He‘s not—you know what?  They‘d rather hang out with W. shooting guns. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He‘s got the Breck Girl problem, right?

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s the Breck Girl problem.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  ... in South Carolina.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  Let‘s go right now to Ros Jordan, who is in my home city of Philadelphia—Roz.

ROSILAND JORDAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hello, Chris, from the city of Brotherly Love, where tonight there is some concern about whether or not all the votes that have been cast in today‘s election are actually going to be counted.  In this particular case, we are talking about potentially tens of thousands of absentee ballots cast by people who are Philadelphia residents. 

The Republican Party went to Federal Judge William Yohn late this morning and said that the Philadelphia Board of Elections did not provide the party with a complete and accurate list of people who had obtained an absentee ballot, so that they could go ahead and try to challenge people at the polls who were perhaps voting twice.  The judge, after hearing discussion about it all afternoon, decided that there could be a problem here, so he has issued a temporary restraining order, meaning that none of the absentee ballots that were cast as of 8:00 Eastern time will be included in tonight‘s unofficial tally of the votes in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

There will be a hearing tomorrow morning at 9:30 Eastern in Judge Yohn‘s chambers—excuse, in courtroom.  However, this could affect, as I said, the tally or victory of—the margin of victory, I should say, for either John Kerry or George W. Bush. 

This is a situation where the Board of Elections has decided not to appeal the judge‘s decision and try to go into court tomorrow to make a good-faith argument.  The Democratic Party late this afternoon tried to make itself a party to this dispute.  That was turned down.  So, basically, there could be tens of thousands of votes that are not included in the Pennsylvania tally tonight, and that could affect who gets to be the winner of the 21 electoral votes that Pennsylvania brings to the table—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Are the Republican people who are making this an issue, are they afraid that the Democrats are going to try to vote people twice in Philadelphia, once as absentees and once as people who vote on Election Day? 

JORDAN:  No.

As I understand it, the concern really was, Chris, about the margin of victory.  There is a truism in Pennsylvania that if John Kerry could pick up a margin of victory of at least 350,000 votes—that‘s according to Mayor John Street—or perhaps at least 400,000 votes margin of victory in the city of Philadelphia, experts here are saying that they could consider this a bellwether, that John Kerry would win Pennsylvania. 

So there has been concern about Republicans trying to hold down the margin of victory in the state‘s largest city and, of course, the biggest media market.  We don‘t know really yet what the total effect of this order will be from Judge Yohn, because we don‘t really know exactly how many absentee ballots were actually given out, how many people are supposed to be on that list. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Roz Jordan, in Philadelphia.

Quickly, what does that mean in terms of the history of Philadelphia and this fight between the city and the rest of the state? 

MITCHELL:  Well, they‘ve got to bring at least 350,000 out of Philadelphia in order to carry the state.  I think they‘ve been so optimistic.

You‘ve been talked to the governor, Ed Rendell.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MITCHELL:  So optimistic about Democratic voting, big Democratic voting in Pennsylvania, that I don‘t suspect it‘s going to be a big problem overall.  It would only be a problem with if we got to a case where popular vote was an issue, but I think that, from our visit there, you and I last week, it seemed to us that Pennsylvania was pretty solid, when we talked even to congress members from out... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Highly optimistic about 400,000 even coming out of the city. 

MITCHELL:  Exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  For all of our viewers right now, we‘re going to tell you what‘s going on in the campaign right now. 

And what‘s going on right now in the campaign is going on in Ohio.  Let‘s go to Brian Williams to analyze the exit polling that will tell you what‘s causing that conflict, that closeness of the campaign and the election count in Ohio—Brian. 

WILLIAMS:  And, Chris, we have some of the stats you‘ve been specifically interested in, along with a whole lot of people watching. 

Specifically, in Ohio, as we‘ve been talking about, there are about 800,000 of those newly registered voters in that state out of nearly eight million voters statewide.  Now, our NBC News exit poll is providing some important information about how these new voters are affecting tonight‘s race.  First-time voters made up a larger share of those who cast ballots for president in Ohio than they did nationally, 13 percent in Ohio.

Those first-time voters in Ohio backed John Kerry by a significant margin, in fact, 56 percent to 44 percent.  Now, who are these first-time Ohio voters?  Seven in 10 of them under 30 years of age.  In terms of party, we‘re told they‘re as likely to be Republicans as Democrats.  Four years ago in his race against Al Gore, the president ran slightly better with Ohio voters who were under 30 than he did with voters age 60 and above. 

This year, totally different story.  Kerry is capturing the under-30 vote in Ohio, 58-41, making them the strongest single age group for John Kerry.  President Bush‘s best age group in Ohio, age 60 and older.  They back the president by a margin of 56-44.

Now, one other place where young voters may be helping John Kerry tonight.  We‘ve talked about North Carolina.  The president won big in 2000.  It is still close tonight.  Part of the reason?  One in seven voters there today were under the age of 30.  John Kerry is getting 60 percent of that vote in all these states we‘re watching tonight—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Brian Williams. 

Let‘s go right now to Chip Reid at Make Your Vote Count nationwide voting program.  Let‘s go to Chip.

CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi.

Hi, Chris. 

We have had just a smattering of problems all across the country today, but most of them have been relatively minor, lots of long lines, lots of polls staying open a little bit late.  A number of polls opened early.  We have had some serious problems.  In Milwaukee, for example, there‘s a criminal investigation right now.  Apparently, 30 vans that were going to be used for the Republican get-out-the-vote effort had their tires slashed. 

Here in Detroit, two things.  No. 1, they lost power at a voting place and they had to vote in the dark.  And now we are told the NAACP has filed suit to keep some of polls open in Detroit, alleging that voters have been intimidated on the basis of race.  And that is something that is in court as we speak. 

And one other interesting thing, Chris.  You see this fuchsia or magenta color all over the map.  That is electronic voting.  In fact, significantly down here in Southern Florida, of course, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, there have been relatively few problems with that.  A lot of people thought the big story today might be problems with electronic voting.  It has not been—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Chip Reid. 

Let‘s go back to David Gregory at the White House with some info about the president‘s brother and his location tonight and what it means—

David. 

GREGORY:  Chris, you remember four years ago Jeb Bush was in the room with the president and his family.  They were out to dinner in Austin, Texas, when the news from Florida started to turn bad.  The president‘s brother got up, hugged him and said, I‘ve let you down, brother.

And then they went back to the governor‘s mansion and he started working the phones.  Well, this go-around, there‘s plenty of family behind me in the White House residence.  Governor Jeb Bush of Florida is not among them.  He is in Tallahassee tonight.  They are counting on his high approval ratings in that state to not only kick up their ground operation, which is critical tonight, which has been a major focus for their political operation tonight, but as well to just keep tabs on what‘s going on down there as the night progresses. 

Operatives in the White House down in Florida making very clear to reporters no early predictions here, they say.  Remember the Panhandle.  Remember getting out our vote later in the night.  They still think it is extremely tight there—Chris.   

MATTHEWS:  You know, David, I‘ve heard from a lot of people down in Florida that the areas worst hit by the hurricanes were in Republican areas and therefore the gratitude that most citizens would feel toward a governor for the rehabilitation and the recovery efforts wouldn‘t be felt in areas that would help the president.  Is that your sense? 

GREGORY:  Well, it was certainly something that they were paying attention to.  It is one of the sources right now of Jeb Bush‘s political strength. 

It‘s one of the reasons why it was so important for political advisers to get the president out to Florida.  Remember the day before the first debate, the morning of the very first debate.  Some people thought that was a mistake, that he was too tired for the first debate.  They take it very seriously, that not only the president‘s brother, but even his presence there in a role that John Kerry can‘t match, as commander in chief, as president, somebody who can deliver in a time of need, was very important. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, David Gregory, at the White House.

That‘s interesting stuff, isn‘t it, Andrea? 

MITCHELL:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  We‘re watching almost like the president‘s brother.  It‘s almost like a dynastic bit of information there.  What is Jeb doing tonight?  What‘s the king and the king‘s brother doing? 

MITCHELL:  Exactly.  He‘s trying to deliver. 

And I thought also that Brian Williams‘ information on the Ohio youth vote is just so interesting. 

MATTHEWS:  Give me those numbers.

MITCHELL:  Well, the new voters in Ohio, let‘s...

MATTHEWS:  I got it, 58-41. 

MITCHELL:  Fifty-eight, forty-one.

MATTHEWS:  Among those 18-29s.

MITCHELL:  Kerry over Bush.  Four years ago, the president did better with younger voters.  And also interestingly he‘s now doing 56-44 with the older voters. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, this is an amazing moment tonight.

We‘re coming up on 8:00 in the East.  And this is the time we can give you hopefully the biggest results of the night, perhaps, Florida, Pennsylvania, Missouri, New Hampshire, Maine and all the others, 17 states.  They‘re all coming up in just a very few seconds right now. 

And we‘re also going to have a surprise guest.  We‘ve got former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean. 

END   

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