updated 11/3/2004 1:57:22 PM ET 2004-11-03T18:57:22

Guest: Vanessa Kerry, Mike McCurry, Ron Silver

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Let‘s take a look at the news now.  Dramatic news right now in this block.  But let‘s take a look at the news coming out.  The calls we‘re going to try to make right now from NBC.  It‘s 9:00 on the East Coast.  A lot of big states have closed their voting.  We‘re going to give you results as they come in.  These states by the way include.  Here they come.  Texas, the president‘s home.  Lone Star state.  George Bush, the president of the United States, the projected winner for reelection in the state of Texas.  No surprise there. 

In New York, the Empire State, no surprise there, Senator Kerry, the projected winner.  Here in New York, you can tell from the crowd outside here, as a sample precinct.  This state is fairly safe for Kerry tonight. 

Let‘s go to the next projections here.  Kansas, probably the most historically Republican state in the union, President Bush projected to win the state of Kansas. 

Nebraska, another Republican state historically, going back to the Civil War days.  President Bush projected winner in the state of Nebraska. 

Rhode Island, hugely Democratic state.  John Kerry is the projected winner.  Heavily Catholic state by the way.  We‘ll talk about that religious issue later tonight, tomorrow morning.

South Dakota, President Bush the big winner there, the projected winner.  That may have an influence, of course, the coat tails on the Senate race involving the incumbent Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. 

Let‘s go to North Dakota, no surprise there, President Bush, the projected winner in North Dakota.  These plains states are very, very traditionally Republican. 

Let‘s go to Wyoming.  Another state out in the west.  George Bush the projected winner.  The incumbent projected as the winner in the state of Wyoming.

Let‘s go right now—too close to call.  Well, this one was talked about a lot in the last couple of weeks.  Colorado, looks like a real fight out there at least in this early going.  The polls have just closed in Colorado.  Too close to call.  Familiar pattern tonight.

Too close to call in New Mexico.  Every state we have identified as a battleground state for the last couple of weeks is having a tough time deciding today who to pick for the next president. 

Michigan, too early to call.  That simply means we don‘t have enough votes in.  It doesn‘t mean it‘s going to be close but it could.  You never know, Michigan has been targeted by the Republicans this time. 

Minnesota, another state too early to call.  That means we don‘t have enough numbers, enough ballots to look at, enough sample precincts to look at to correspond with the exit polls. 

Too early to call also in Wisconsin.  A little bit unsatisfactory at this point in the evening.  We‘re not getting what we want which is some results in these states.  Too early to call in Arizona.  Simply means we don‘t have enough votes to count.  In Louisiana, too early to call.  Again, too early to call.  In Florida, too close to call which means something else entirely.  40 percent of the vote counted there so far in Florida.  It‘s moving ahead steadily and it‘s too close to call.  We had a vote difference there on the board of about 400,000, apparently it‘s closer than that in terms of what‘s being projected.

Too close to call in the state of Florida.  Ohio, too close to call. 

All the biggies, we want to find out what happened, we want it now.  Unfortunately, too close to decide at this point in the count who is going to win the states. 

Missouri, this is interesting, too close to call there although may be based on an early sampling.  But too close to call in Missouri.  That‘s significant. 

Too early to call in Pennsylvania.  That doesn‘t mean much, it means too early to call.  I don‘t know what the cheering is about outside.  It‘s too early to call in Pennsylvania. 

It‘s too early to call in Arkansas where president Clinton, former president Clinton campaigned for John Kerry this past week.  Too early to call in New Hampshire.  Too early to call in Mississippi in the presidential race there.  Of course that‘s a very reliable Republican state.  So take a look.  Look at how it‘s filling out here.  The president of the United States, projected to win 156 electoral votes with 27 votes reporting right now in our projections including our projections, 112 for Kerry. 

So the president has taken something of a lead in the 27 states where we have made projections at NBC.  It is starting to fill out the continental United States and we still have to hear from Hawaii and Alaska. 

Let‘s take a look at the U.S. Senate races.  No surprise here, incumbent, one-term Senator Chuck Schumer reelected to the U.S. Senate.  He may run for governor, many think.  John McCain, one of the regulars it‘s fair to say on HARDBALL, many a night we‘ve shared with him.  Projected winner, John McCain according to that checkmark there in Arizona. 

Let‘s take a look at Wisconsin, Russ Feingold, his partner, that was the McCain-Feingold campaign reform bill, Democrat Russ Feingold checked off here as a projected winner by NBC in the state of Wisconsin. 

Sam Brownback, no surprise here, culturally conservative Republican in the culturally conservative state of Kansas, projected winner.

Byron Dorgan Democrat from North Dakota projected winner by NBC in North Dakota.  Strong incumbent there.  Blanche Lincoln, Democrat in Arkansas, projected winner there it looks rather handily to be re-elected there.  So that‘s how it stands right now.

Let‘s take a look at the race.  Too close to call, very interesting.  South Dakota, this is the Senate race everyone is going to be watching throughout the night and tomorrow morning into the newspaper writing of tonight.  Tom Daschle in a very close race for reelection. 

Too early to call in Colorado, Pete Coors against the Ken Salazar the state‘s attorney general, the Democrat.  The extremely well known Mr. Coors in a close race.

Too early to call in Louisiana.  That‘s a race where you have to win 50 percent of vote to avoid a runoff there.  David Vitter is the Republican.

Let‘s go right now.  Too close to call in Florida.  That persistent closeness between Mel Martinez, the former HUD secretary but with 40 percent of the vote counted, too close to call. 

Look at this one.  Hold on this one.  85 percent of the vote counted in Kentucky, the Bluegrass State and Jim Bunning, who everybody knows in that state for better or worse, maybe for worse at some point tonight, 85 percent of that vote counted and this extremely well known Republican incumbent is battling for his career.  Look at those numbers.  4,000 votes separating those two candidates.

Too close to call in North Carolina.  Much more vote count so far and they‘re just 17 percent with 25,000 votes separating them.  That‘s 17 percent of precincts in there.  Let‘s talk about—that race is going to be part of this evening‘s story.  Too close to call.  This is another fascinating story, Inez Tenenbaum who has bought into a lot of Republican positions on foreign and domestic issues battling away there at 37 percent of the vote, precincts, I guess, counted there and she is battling away. 

Pennsylvania, a real stunner.  Too close to call.  Joe Hoeffel, the underfunded Democrat candidate battling away the veteran and professional politician Arlen Specter.  Let‘s go right now to someone very much involved in this campaign Vanessa Kerry, the daughter of the Democratic nominee.  There you are.  Where are you, Vanessa? 

VANESSA KERRY, DAUGHTER OF JOHN KERRY:  I am in the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston.  No, no, we‘re right in basically Copley Square. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you about your feelings.  We can‘t talk about them and you have probably seen them through your various networks and friends within the campaign, looking at everything you know, how do you feel? 

KERRY:  I feel very optimistic, but I am somebody who knocks on wood and sort of stays mum until it‘s really over.  It‘s—I don‘t know, it‘s just the way I am.  But I feel good and I‘m hoping everybody is going to get out to the polls, everybody is going to vote and every vote will be counted because this election is too important.  And there is so much at stake.  So I‘m just going to keep watching. 

MATTHEWS:  I noticed a bit of unusual jauntiness on the part of your father.  What do you make of that? 

KERRY:  An unusual—I‘m sorry, I missed it.

MATTHEWS:  Jauntiness.  He seems unusual jaunty these days.

KERRY:  No, that is my dad.  I mean, the dad I grew up with is a very goofy, silly guy who very much—the image I have of my father is his head thrown back, hands on his chest just laughing and that‘s who he is and I think what‘s happening is that as the camera lens gets trained on him more and more and people are scrutinizing his every minute, they are seeing that side of him that is very jovial and very alive and very just having a good time and that who he is.

But He is talking about what‘s happening in the world, when he is talking about what‘s happening in Afghanistan and in Iraq, when he is talking about the rising health care costs, when he is talking about underfunding of education, he is going to be serious because it is serious stuff and it‘s very—it deserves respect. 

MATTHEWS:  Vanessa, a lot of people have criticized the president, you have read the “New York Times Magazine” stories and others that suggest perhaps a hint of a messianic sense on his part that he was called to this in some sort of religious way to be president.  And there yet is an interesting thing I have noticed with your father, I‘ve noted this with you before on television, more than a year ago he‘d come to do our show on HARDBALL and out in the hallway we‘d exchanged courtesies and he would say things like, Chris, I‘m going to win this one. 

Because I‘m as skeptical as anyone else watching these candidates come and go and people are hopeful and then lose elections or whatever things happen and then a couple of months ago, he did it again, he said I‘m going win this thing, believe me.  What‘s that about? 

KERRY:  You know, it‘s about fighting for what you believe in.  And  I‘ve watched my father criss-cross this country and he really feels the hope of the American people and the desire for change.  We‘ve both encountered people who have burst into tears on us and said please, get yourself elected or get your father elected because I want to go to college or please—and when you feel that energy, when you see these stories, when you see what people are counting on, they are counting on you for it, it gives you a huge amount of energy and I think a real sense that you have to fight for what you believe in. 

You know, I think the one thing people can say about my father is that he has fought hard, he has fought incredible battles in this and he continues to fight for the American people and to win this presidency.  I think it‘s an amazing thing.  And I know he will work every day in the Oval Office as hard as he has worked in his campaign.  And I hope so, because I would like a leader who is going to fight that hard to defend our people and our country. 

MATTHEWS:  If you can be objective for just 30 or 40 seconds now, tell me why you think this president should not get a second term? 

KERRY:  Because I think this president has had three and a half years of making the wrong choices.  You look at the cost of healthcare, it has gone up.  The cost of gas, it‘s gone up.  If you look at the cost of education, it‘s gone up.  The cost of college education, it‘s gone up.  We have lost jobs, jobs have gob overseas. 

There have been, you know, you pick any category and I think this president has made the wrong decision.  He has gone from a record surplus to a record deficit.  Those are my future Social Security benefits on the stake, those are my friends‘ Social Security benefits.  He sent troops overseas without a plan for winning the peace.  He has sent our troops overseas without the latest military equipment to defend them.  And he is, I think, misled the American people on what the real war on terror is.  Our borders are leakier today than they were 3 years ago. 

You know, this list goes on and on.  I think this country deserves better leadership. And I know my father can provide this. 

MATTHEWS:  Venessa Kerry, thank you for joining us.  Maybe we‘ll talk to you tomorrow morning sometime as this election goes to the final results.  Thank you very much for taking the time to see us tonight. 

KERRY:  Thanks for having me. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go right now to Keith Olbermann with a lot more results coming in from those 9:00 closings—Keith. 

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, COUNTDOWN:  Chris, let‘s start with the balance of power in the Senate where we have had a straight swap of Georgia for Illinois, the Republicans seat in Illinois now goes to the Democrat Barak Obama and the Democratic seat, at least nominally, Zell Miller‘s old seat, goes to the Republican Johnnie Isaacson.  So essentially, no change in that balance of power in the new Senate. 

Let‘s run the governor‘s table.  Some of the results here.  A result now, a prediction out of North Dakota, a projections that John Hoeven, the incumbent since 2001 has held off Joseph Satrom, the former State Senator, in North Dakota‘s governor‘s race. 

Governor Mike Easely of North Carolina has been reelected, according to our NBC news projection.  He‘s been in office since 2001.  And he has defeated the former state senator Patrick Ballantine, there.  So the Democrats hold North Carolina.

West Virginia, with Bob Weis retiring from office, his secretary of state, Democrat Joe Manchin will hold the State Governor‘s Mansion over the Republican Monty Warner. 

It is too close to call in Missouri, where the battle is between the state auditor, the Democrat Clair McCaskill who defeated Governor Bob Holden in the primary and secretary of state, Matt Blunt, the Republican, Too close to call with 7 percent of the vote counted, and an 18,000 vote actual margin difference at this point. 

Also too early to call in Indiana.  Joe Kernan, the incumbent who took over from the late Frank O‘Bannon last year, and Mitch Danials, the former White House Office of Management and Budget Director, too early to call for governor of Indiana.

Governor of Vermont, with the 7:00 p.m. closure, still too early to call.  A 50 percent rule in effect here.  The mayor of Burlington, Peter Clavelle, the Democrat challenging the Republican Jim Douglas there. 

And one more in the northeast, out of our 11 governor‘s races.  In New Hampshire, also too early to call, where Governor Craig Benson is being challenged by the Democratic business man John Lynch. 

Let‘s give you 2 House decisions for the first time tonight.  In the celebrity Congressman race, in Kentucky, Nic Clooney, the former Los Angeles and Cincinnati newscaster, and perhaps better known because of his sister, the late Rosemary Clooney, the singer and his son, George Clooney the actor, is projected as having gone down to defeat to the Republican Jeff Davis in District 4 of Kentucky. 

And one other note from North Carolina, yet too early to call here, where Robin Hayes, the incumbent Republican is being challenged by Beth Troutman.  The name may not sound familiar, but part of her resume would.  She was a producer and staffer on a television show call the West Wing.  So far at least though, the transition from fictional politics to the real thing, not going too well for her. 

Two calls to make on ballot propositions in the state ballots.  Teen pregnancy in Florida, it bears a little explanation.  Teen pregnancy has not been approved in Florida.  This would be amendment one, which would ask voters to limit the privacy rights of teens so that a future legislator could pass a law requiring that parents be notified when their minor daughters seek an abortion.

One other to make, we said there are 11 of these ballots.  Eleven of these amendments or processes on ballots across the country.  And in Oklahoma the projection is that the definition of marriage between a man and a woman, question 7-11, will pass in Oklahoma. 

So that‘s the table of other results.  Chris Matthew, back to you in Democracy Plaza. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Keith Olbermann.  You have lightened my heart one more time.  Thank you for—I don‘t know where you find those interesting races, but thank you very much. 

Let‘s go right now to a real pro on the Democratic side, Mike McCurry, who has been serving as a senior adviser and spokesman.  Mike, you old classy fellow you.  When you joined the campaign, what was it—how long ago was it some you why you joined the campaign for John Kerry? 

MIKE MCCURRY, SENIOR ADVISER FOR JOHN KERRY:  That was 6 weeks ago, Chris.  It was right after Labor Day.  And I came on in September, because I was determined to try to help John Kerry figure out how to change this country. 

MATTHEWS:  What happened?  Why has he managed to get himself back in the running tonight, into a position where either he or the president could win tonight? 

MCCURRY:  Well, a couple of things.  I think a lot of country really concluded that Senator Kerry was right when he argued that we really are on the wrong track as a nation.  We need to change direction and get a fresh start.  And really the same policies that President Bush has given us over the last 4 years won‘t cut it a today. 

But the other thing Chris, and you have been around long enough to know, too, that any can‘t running for office gets better and better and better.  This one did.  And I think, he, in preparing for those debates making the argument through 3 of those televised debates, really honed his argument down so that it really connected with the American people.  And I think that‘s why he is doing very, very well tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  Had it not been for those debates, especially the first one, would your candidate be in the race right now? 

MCCURRY:  It would have been much more difficult.  I think that we needed to make, as any challenger to an incumbent president must, a very powerful change that we have to switch horses.  And that‘s a hard thing to do. 

Remember, the country voted for George Bush 4 years ago, and to now say that probably wasn‘t the right decision, because we didn‘t get to where we wanted to be for as a nation.  We need to change direction, and hire someone new.  That‘s a very hard thing to do psychologically.  And I think Senator Kerry made that argument much more effectively as we went along throughout the fall and through those debates and the last several weeks of very tough campaigning.  And I think his message really began to strike a note with the American people.  I think that‘s why we‘re going to be very happy tonight.

MATTHEWS:  Peter Hart, who is the pollster who works along with Bill McInturff.  He‘s a Democrat, Peter.  Of course, Bill McInturff is the Republican.  They put together the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll every month.  He said when the votes are counted, tomorrow perhaps, when we‘re all done here, hopefully we‘re done, that there are 2 words that are going to be talked about: 1 is Iraq, and the other is the youth vote. 

Talk about those two.  Well, how do they work together here?  We have seen a lot of state by state numbers, by the way, and you have seen them, perhaps you have seen some other numbers we can talk about, that show a wide divide among young people, in their 20‘s primarily, supporting your candidate. 

MCCURRY:  Well, let me start with young people.  I think that one of the most refreshing things that could happen in our politics is to see unprecedented increases in voter turnout, especially among those eligible in the 18-25 yearly bracket. 

Chris, and you‘re an old hand yourself too, you know this.  When young people vote and when they make their voice heard, and when they really take charge of their own future, they force a change in the political vocabulary because candidates must talk about the future. 

I think George Bush‘s fatal mistake in this campaign was that he kept talking about the past.  He kept attacking John Kerry‘s record.  He kept looking backwards.  You can‘t think of a single idea that he really advanced that broke through to the American people about what he would do with a second term.  And young people especially saw that. 

Then to the grievous issue of Iraq.  And the argument that Senator Kerry made so effectively over and over that we have made so many wrong choices there and we need to start over and figure out how we‘re going to get things right there, plot a new path forward in our diplomacy, very carefully stitch together again that kind of important transatlantic alliance that‘ll help us deal with difficult world issues like Iraq.  I think that‘s an argument that people instinctively knew to be true, especially when they saw the very hard things happening on the ground in Iraq. 

So all of that together, I think, added up for a very important and positive case for change.  And of course tonight, across the country, we are urging people to get out there, if you believe we need that kind of change, get out and vote.  This thing is still a long ways from over.  We know it‘s very close.  Many of the states have polls that have still open and we need to have everyone go out and vote. 

MATTHEWS:  Speaking of the polls, and they‘re still open.  There has been a lot of buzz emanating from the Democratic side that the president was planning some secret draft—you can‘t hear me?  That was my best question darn it.  Anyway, I wanted to ask whether there would be a draft in a Kerry administration.  We‘ll get back to them later.

Let‘s go right out to our opinion panelists, we‘re calling them.  Pat Buchanan, Dee Dee Myers, and the newcomer tonight, Ron Silver.  Ron, thanks for joining us tonight.  You haven‘t had a chance to express yourself.  Your mood tonight as you watch this count? 

RON SILVER, ACTOR:  Well, I just want to make a remark about what Mike just said.  There was another a very polarized election in my lifetime, which was 1968 where it was a very polarized electorate.  There was a lot of invective on both sides.  The steaks were very high, the Vietnam War.  And as opposed to this election, most of the youth then dropped out, tuned out, they felt if they participated in the process, they were cooperating and collaborating with a corrupt system and this is far healthier.  And I don‘t know if we‘re seeing a vibrant democracy in action tonight or we‘re having a national nervous breakdown but whatever it is, it seems to be healthy and I‘m really happy we‘re having this election. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Pat Buchanan.  I don‘t see a pattern yet, do you? 

I‘m looking at the votes coming in.  Certainly the more southern, the more culturally conservative states beginning with your home state of Old Dominion, Virginia, they are all lining up as they are supposed to joined by again as they were four years ago, West Virginia.  Do you see any change from the election of four years ago, so far? 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC ANALYST:  No, there is not.  What we can see redeveloping, Chris, and we‘ve talked about Florida and Ohio.  Let‘s assume the president loses Ohio.  Right now you have said Wisconsin is too close to call, I believe Iowa is, New Mexico is.  If the president loses Ohio, two out of three of those, with the added votes he got from the census compensates for the loss of Ohio.  So the insurance policy that the president went in to get in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico, as of now, looks like a possibility.  So, keep an eye on Ohio.  If the president wins it, he is in extraordinary shape, obviously with Florida.  But he still has an insurance policy if Ohio doesn‘t go well. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, in your Rubik‘s Cube, is there a point tonight, when you will throw in the towel for the Republican side? 

BUCHANAN:  Listen, yes, if the president loses Florida and wins Ohio, he has to win Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.  But that will be enough to compensate for the loss of Florida.  But Colorado of course comes into play.  That has got nine electoral votes.  But the math is playing out here.  You got to begin with the president has got 278 electoral votes.  Kerry has got to hold all of his votes and take nine away from the president.  He hasn‘t taken a single one yet. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you agree with all that, Dee Dee, or do you see the same pattern working for Kerry?  Seems you could look at the same results and say Kerry could win. 

DEE DEE MYERS, MSNBC ANALYST:  Absolutely.  I think it‘s about Ohio, Wisconsin as I have thought all along.  If Kerry wins both Ohio and Wisconsin.  Yes, he could come up with an electoral sort of scotch taped together plan where the president wins but the water mark will be so high, I think Senator Kerry will almost certainly be elected.  But Chris, I want to add one thing to what you said earlier.  You said it will be about Iraq and young voters, the story of this election.  But I want to add to that the economy.  If you look at what Kerry voters are saying was the most important issue that drove them to the polls, it‘s the economy by a bigger margin than pollsters have picked up before people started going to the polls.  It sort of vindicates the decision of the Kerry campaign to focus so much of the senator‘s message in the closing days on economic issue, on jobs, on health care, things like that so, we‘ll see how that plays out in the next hours and days. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re about to give you a census.  We‘ve done every night, throughout the night at :23 after the hour and :53 after the hour of how the campaign tonight, the election count looks right now.

Let‘s go right now to Brian Williams.  He‘s going to give us a sense of that very complicated vulcanized state of Florida—Brian.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS:  Chris, that is what we‘re looking at here in our tracking center.  This of course the state that kept us up so late four years ago despite adding 1.5 new registered over the last four years.  Again, too close to call at poll closing tonight.  Both candidates worked Florida very hard and this is an outstanding statistic.  Over half of all Florida voters say they were contacted and asked to vote for one presidential candidate or the other.  Both campaigns equally energetic, 37 percent say they were contacted by the Kerry folks, 34 percent by the Bush camp.  Some got calls from both.  Florida was of course one of the states where people took advantage of early voting.

Well over a million Floridians cast ballots before today.  They say one in five votes already before we said our first words tonight.  Both groups were evenly divided between President Bush and Senator Kerry.

Now if John Kerry does manage to win Florida, it will on the strength of first-time voters which made up 13 percent of the electorate.  Chris, there you have your first-time voters stat there as they broke strongly for John Kerry by a margin of 59-40 on the first-time voters.

If Bush wins Florida tonight, he may well have Mother Nature to thank.  87 percent of those voting said they approved of the way the federal government stepped in after that string of hurricanes that hit the Atlantic coast of that state in August and September.  Chris, back to you.

MATTHEWS:  Brian, I‘m impresses because we talked about it for a couple of days about the importance of the new voter, the younger voters, someone between and 18 and 29.  It‘s almost like watching a sports contest.  Those are the people that play the games in this country.  This pattern of almost 20 percent.  Do you sense that‘s going to be a decisive factor as we write the history of this election?

WILLIAMS:  Well, what was weird was, Chris, I think I even heard this expressed on your broadcast last night.  If you spent any time around politics, if you‘ve worked in it, covered it, if you just read about it, you know that every four years we talk about, well the young people are truly going to come out this time and there were a ton of skeptics because there are pros who will tell you they never do.  We will see.  We can‘t talk turnout until the last dog dies, until the last vote is counted.  We‘ll see if these numbers truly come out in the wash tonight.  It looks like of all the new registrants, they tend to be breaking Kerry in the states we‘ve studied.  We‘ll see what the numbers look like at the end of the evening in the wee small hours.

MATTHEWS:  Brian, hold that thought.  We‘d like to do these as fast as we can.  We‘ve got a call in the presidential race.  Let‘s give it right now.

In the state of Louisiana.  President Bush, the projected winner according to NBC when all the votes are counted.  In Louisiana, George Bush will be the winner in that state.  Mississippi, another projected win for the president.  These are not surprising.  These are red states if there ever were one.  Louisiana, although there was some thought early on about the possibility of Louisiana.  Let‘s take a look now at the national map which will decide the next president.  Again, it takes 270 to win this thing.  As we have all come to learn the hard way.  171 for the president, 112 for challenger John Kerry.  Look how it‘s shaping up like it always does.  Let me go back to Brian Williams who is taking a look at the exiting comments people make.  Youth is a big issue.  Have you gotten a sense of the Iraq issue, Brian? 

WILLIAMS:  Well, that is playing and you know Iraq is a double edged sword.  That is playing among certain demographics.  You can guess who they are.  We have looked at just a few of the battlegrounds tonight.  It is too early tonight to give any kind of judgment as to the mass population and how that issue cuts.  We do know, among young people, a lot of evidence, that the kind of rumor of a draft that was put down so many times by the administration, kind of stoked on the Internet, that did have an influence especially on college campuses.  Those voter registration kiosks that were set up.  That is responsible for some sign ups.  But again, with fresh data coming in every few minutes tonight with a long night ahead of us, that will be one of the great and interesting questions at the end of night.  How did the war in Iraq break? 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Brian.  I think the world will be watching that assessment by the way by our pollsters of how well the people thought and how often they thought, when they went to vote, how much they thought about Iraq.  Because the world will see this election or defeat of the president as a referendum on how we the American people support the foreign policy of this administration.  It‘s just going to be that way, like or not. 

Let‘s talk to the panel now.  I want to ask this question.  The youth vote, you have been—I have been watching you, Andrea, write down these numbers.  The youth vote is breaking for Kerry but is it showing up enough to win for him? 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS:  That‘s still unclear but it‘s showing up in Florida and it‘s showing up in Pennsylvania at least among the exit polling, if the exit polling is correct.  And in Pennsylvania, we‘re finding that the youth vote is importantly not only Kerry but importantly interested in Iraq.  The people who are voting for Kerry in Pennsylvania are caring about Iraq, health care, jobs and the economy.  Not surprising the people in Pennsylvania who are voting for George Bush are telling us that they were concerned about terrorism and moral values and they separate the issue of terror from the Iraq war.  Among Pennsylvania voters who say that Iraq was the most important issue, 75 percent voted for Kerry as did 83 percent who said health care. 

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t it fascinating, it‘s a battle of language as much as anything else.  If you say terrorism, you are probably voting for the president.  It you say Iraq, ¾ are voting for Kerry. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  If I can remain cynical tonight about the youth vote coming out in swarms, we won‘t know like Brian Williams said until the very end how many came out, but I have seen image after image and of voters today from Alabama to California, all across America and I‘ll tell you what, they look like the same middle-age voter to me.  I‘m telling you, maybe it‘s going to happen for the first time ever but we‘re just going to have to wait and see.

MITCHELL:  Well, the exit polling in Pennsylvania shows that more than 60 percent of the young voters went to Kerry. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, so—that doesn‘t matter. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  What matters is how many of them went out.  And we don‘t know that, as Brian Williams said. 

And all I‘m saying is, based on anecdotal evidence, and anecdotal evidence only, I saw the same—I looked in the faces of the voters and they looked like the same voters that vote in every election every four years.  I didn‘t see a lot of young, 18-, 19-, 20-, 21-year-old kids in the line there. 

MATTHEWS:  Can we get off this for one second and talk about the war?

Mayor, when people talk in this election and you hear them—we have been doing this for two years, this election—they talk in different language.  Republicans who like the president, it‘s 97 percent of the Republicans, use the word war on terrorism, the term war on terrorism.  They talk about WMD.  They talk about regime change. They talk values.  Democrats say jobs, jobs, jobs.  They use different lingo.  They also say Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. 

Have you heard this before, where there‘s different lingo?

BROWN:  Absolutely. 

Total and complete lingo distinctions between the various believers.  I will tell you this, though.  I don‘t think that there are very many people that believe that the president has handled the war in Iraq the way it should have been handled.  When you think about the numbers and you hear people react, those who believe that Iraq is part of the war on terrorism are definitely for Bush. 

Those who make a separation between the two are overwhelmingly for Kerry.  And that‘s why you have so many young people that are for Kerry.  They don‘t make the connection between the war on terrorism.  They appreciate what Bush has done on terrorism, but they believe he misled the nation and the world on Iraq. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And WMD in particular?

BROWN:  Absolutely, and all the other things that have come since then, all of the other...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All the things John Kerry said in 1998 about Saddam Hussein, in 2002 about Saddam Hussein, in 2003 about Saddam Hussein. 

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  Well, Joe, you could have all those views on Saddam Hussein and you still may not have gone forward with the war, unless there was some...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m just talking about misleading about WMDs.  I still find it funny that we‘re talking about this on election night.

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  I have got a question about this.  Most people give President Bush some credit for...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Just for a second, Ron. 

REAGAN:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  We can watch while we listen to you.  That‘s John Edwards, who delayed, remember, we announced a while ago, in Florida to make some calls on behalf of Erskine Bowles, the man running for the United States Senate in his home state of North Carolina. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He is joining now of course in Boston the Democratic nominee for president.  That‘s John Kerry.  But it took him a while to get up there. 

So we‘re going to watch that while you talk. 

REAGAN:  OK.

Well, here is what I‘m wondering.  And it‘s really more of a question.  Most people, as I was saying, give Mr. Bush a lot of credit for the so-called war or terror.  A lot of people are very nervous about the war on Iraq.  What does it mean that the Bush-Cheney team has combined those two issues?  Is it an advantage to them when, from their perspective, they are the same thing, if so many people are divided themselves about... 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But the American people, if you look at “The Washington Post” poll that I know everybody was familiar about a year and a half ago, “The Washington Post” poll showed that the American people a year and a half ago were merging those two together. 

As we move closer to this election, of course, it started breaking up. 

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  They‘re separate. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, they‘re separate, 20 percent Iraq, 20 percent on the war on terror. 

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  The exit polling that we‘re reporting tonight shows that 52 percent, so a majority, believes that Iraq is part of the war on terror; 45 percent think that it is separate.  And there was a direct split of 48-48 on whether the war was being handled well. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Which drives Democrats and drives the Kerry campaign and always has driven them crazy that...

MITCHELL:  It shows how smart it was for the Bush campaign to do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, that the American people put Iraq and the war on terror together. 

REAGAN:  Many of them.

MITCHELL:  By the way, the youth vote in Florida, according to the exiting polling, at least, was 13 percent, which is double what it was before.

SCARBOROUGH:  You all keep talking about the youth vote.

MATTHEWS:  Was it enough?

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ll talk tomorrow.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  It‘s a little less than that. 

MATTHEWS:  We don‘t know if it‘s enough yet.

MITCHELL:  We don‘t know if it‘s enough.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s enough.

But it is significant that there is such a split, almost 60-40, in ever state we‘ve looked at.  That is a national pattern, whatever—it could be minuscule in its importance.  We‘re going to have to see how many young people voted right now. 

MITCHELL:  And I think it is college tuitions, it‘s economic issues as much as it is the war.  And it‘s a worry about Social Security. 

Interestingly, the 65-and-over vote is going to George Bush, according to the exit polling.  The Democrats did not make Social Security a big third-rail issue this year and did not scare the old people. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a break now and get some update.  Let‘s get some numbers from Keith Olbermann as we watch this dramatic arrival in Beantown of John Edwards.  That‘s probably getting to come off the—let‘s go to Keith Olbermann for some hot news Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  All right, Chris.

Senator Edwards‘ former home, the Senate, not being significantly altered tonight, as we have been mentioned, a swap, essentially, the Republican seat in Illinois for the Georgia Democratic seat with what will be senator-elect Isakson of Georgia now taking it for the Republicans, and Illinois senator-elect Obama, soon to be so described, right now, still projections from NBC News. 

We wanted to give you some update on the House of Representatives as well and the two key members, as you see, Senator Edwards, vice presidential Democratic candidate Edwards arriving in Boston to join up with Senator Kerry, as they await the presidential election results and the continuing calling of the states, which Chris and company will be carrying. 

Senator Edwards successfully managing to get off the plane without incident and past a couple of cars and into an SUV. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Keith, thank you for that report. 

We were watching John Edwards, of course, arrive in Boston.  And he looks as good as he always looks.  We‘ll see how big a role he played in this final decision. 

Let‘s come back and talk.  We‘re going to be back with Norah O‘Donnell and others.  We‘re going to come back right here in a moment.

Stay with us on MSNBC at Democracy Plaza. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at those banners going up the side of the wall.  The red one, of course, is the president.  Somehow, the Republicans got the red number.  I hope it wasn‘t during the Cold War.  They got the red color.  The Democrats, of course, have the blue color.  That‘s John Kerry this time, both fighting up to I think the 14th floor, they‘re going for.  That will be victory.  That will be 270 electoral votes. 

And don‘t be confused by these numbers.  We have got a lot of numbers floating around tonight.  This is going to be a long night, including a long night for counting the states that everybody who pays attention knows are going to be so close, because the country is so close.  This is not mathematics.  This is poplar will.  We have got a vote going on in Florida that is so close.  We‘ve got a vote in Ohio that is so close. 

Pennsylvania, where I come from, that was supposed to be a Democratic state a few weeks ago.  That is so close.  We don‘t even have a result in in New Hampshire yet, much less do we have results in the Midwest yet.  It‘s just because it‘s not incompetence on anybody‘s part.  It‘s caution and it‘s also the fact that in the history of reelections, this may be the first real close reelection of a president in modern times. 

Usually, it‘s a slam dunk, for your dad with he beat my old boss when I was a speechwriter 100 years ago.

REAGAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And it‘s usually a race where you come back in big, like Reagan did the second time, or you get bounced like Carter rather painfully, like George Bush‘s father got knocked out of there.  It‘s never like this.  And we wait for this thing to take form and be—somebody pulls out.  I have been hearing for weeks, somebody is going to pull away.  Nobody pulls away, do they?

REAGAN:  No.  Nobody pulled away.

I think intensity and all these new voters.  We‘re still waiting for some very important states where the polls closed 40 minutes ago, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, Wisconsin.  You know, when are we going to find out?  These are important states. 

MATTHEWS:  We have got to talk when we have got a lot little more later time tonight about whether it‘s because the president won the presidency the way he did four years ago, whether it‘s personality, whether it‘s the war, whether it‘s a lot things that cause people to reserve judgment, really, or to split their judgment.  It‘s so interesting.

Let‘s go right to—let‘s go right to Tom Costello, who is out in Colorado right now, for a look at that state you just mentioned—Tom.

TOM COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Chris.  Thank you. 

We‘re with the Coors campaign here.  They are hoping it is going to be a celebration.  They are convinced that in fact President Bush will take Colorado.  All the polls going into today pretty much suggested that.  It‘s a real nail-biter for them, though, on the Senate race.  Peter Coors, the Republican and, of course, the chairman and CEO of the Coors Brewing Company, is in a very tough fight against Ken Salazar.

The polls going into today, the “Rocky Mountain News” poll, had Ken Salazar, the Democratic attorney general, beating Peter Coors.  It is a very tight race.  And a few minutes ago, I actually talked to the man who is vacating that seat, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the Republican, who says he feels a little bit guilty seat about he says possibly putting his seat in jeopardy, because it is such a tight race. 

And while the Republicans here say that they have some internal numbers saying that they still believe Coors will win, they also admit it is in fact a nail-biter.  The other issue that is very important to Colorado is Amendment 36.  That amendment would divvy up proportionately the state‘s electoral votes, nine electoral votes.

As you know, the candidates have spent a lot of time in Colorado this year trying to get those nine votes.  The concern among both Republicans and Democrats is that, if that amendment were to pass, Colorado would see it‘s electoral vote diluted.  The most recent news article, just came out from the Associated Press, indicates an Associated Press survey believes that that amendment will fail. 

That is consistent with what we have seen in the polls here in Colorado over the course of the past few weeks.  In fact, most Coloradans have indicated that they will vote that one down. 

So, again, the most recent data here indicates that the president is in a tight race here, but, likely, according to most of the polls, to come away with a win.  But the nail-biter is for the Senate seat being vacated right now by of course Ben Nighthorse Campbell—Chris, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Tom, a question before we leave you tonight.  The Latino vote, how significant is it out there in Colorado tonight? 

COSTELLO:  The Latino vote is critical.  In fact I talked to one senior Republican who said that Peter Coors has got to win the Latino vote along the western slope of Colorado, the Mesa counties down in the south and Pueblo County.

Being a kid from Denver, I can tell you that the Latino vote has become more and more and more important over the course of the past few years.  It is going to be very critical for whoever wins tonight.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, very much, Tom Costello, out in Colorado, a state we‘re going to be watching for that Senate race, if nothing else. 

Let‘s go right now to Joe Trippi. 

Joe, you are in a world many of us are just learning about, the Web site battles, the noise level.  When you get a vote out there, what do you make of it of it?  Is it always leaning tot left?  I‘m going to ask you, who is winning that battle among bloggers as to who is supposed to win tonight or who they want to win? 

JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, a lot of the polls have shown for quite some time that Kerry was doing better with this group, particularly younger voters and particularly Internet people. 

And then Zogby did a survey a few nights ago about cell phone users and found significantly for Kerry as well.  The one thing that we‘re finally getting some answers from is just looking at the exits.  “USA Today” just came out and said that youth vote in their view is doubled from last year.  We don‘t know yet for sure. 

But they are saying that it was 10 percent of the vote last year.  It looks like it‘s going to be upwards of 17 percent this year, which means a huge—sort of confirming what we have seen all along from our citizen journalists that have been reporting from across the country.  We had one report from an Ohio State student talking about how students were studying in line and really trying—and were standing in line and studying for four hours. 

Another poll worker in Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, saying, since 1988, has worked every poll, has never seen anything like the number of young people standing in line to vote in her polling place.  So it‘s clear—I think we‘re starting to see real evidence that there was an increase in the youth vote.  And where we can measure it, it looks to have been a big lead for Kerry among those voters. 

MATTHEWS:  Doesn‘t it stun you that a kid who is 18 years old and maybe he has read the newspaper for a year or two at the most has as much clout as somebody who is 75 years old who has been studying issues for 50 years.  Doesn‘t it amaze you how democratic our system is, Joe Trippi? 

TRIPPI:  Yes.  It is. 

And that‘s why I think this really is generation E.  It‘s the empowered generation.  They have got this tool, the Internet.  They know how to talk to each other.  They know how to communicate to each other.  They know how to distribute information to each other.

And I still think before the night is out we‘re going to see them be big players in at least one or two Senate races across the country and maybe perhaps pull a state or two out for Senator Kerry.  We‘ll see. 

MATTHEWS:  I mean, you are enthusiastic about it and you are boosting it a bit, but 17 percent, as opposed to 10 percent, hardly sounds like a thunder cloud of change.  Do you think that differential of seven points is going to change history or change the results of the election tonight? 

TRIPPI:  Well, we‘re looking at a very close election and these states could be decided by 1 percent.  So every one of those moves up from 10, to 11, 12, 13, 14, all the way up to 17 percent, could very well make the difference, particularly when you hear these stories that we‘re getting from our citizen journalists in Ohio of kids standing in line studying four hours and not leaving.  And they are going to cast their vote. 

And you‘re right.  It‘s an amazing thing that an 18-, 19-, 20-year-old has just as much power as anybody else in this country.  I think it‘s great, regardless of how the vote goes.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a humbling reality, Joe Trippi, for all of us of all ages.  It‘s a humbling reality to know that all votes count equally. 

Anyway, Joe Trippi, thanks for joining us from the blogging Web site.

Well, we‘re going to come back just after this short break.

Norah O‘Donnell has gone upstairs to the White House to where the president and his family live together, his daughters, his wife, Laura, of course, the first lady, and is going to give us a sneak preview of their moods up there upstairs at the White House, with Norah O‘Donnell reporting when we come back in just a minute. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  There it is, the Senate call.  We‘ve got to make this one.

Inez Tenenbaum, who fought a courageous fight, but up against a big geographical and cultural threat, the reality of southern South Carolina being a conservative Republican state, and she is not a conservative Republican.

Joe? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly. 

And, also, and the thing is, I have got a lot of friends in South Carolina, but also a bit more difficult running as a conservative woman against a conservative man.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Usually, people want the real thing when they go for a conservative.  They want a Republican. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  A conservative.

And, again, if I could just really briefly, Tom Coburn winning in Oklahoma is creating shockwaves right now through the Senate.  Denny Hastert and the Republican leadership did not want Tom Coburn, a Republican, to win that seat, because he is a fiscal conservative.  He is going to be raising hell.  It‘s going to be an amazing story there in the Senate. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Interesting inside view there, what the people think of him inside.

They are taking a look here now at the Bush family.  There‘s the president, his daughter, I guess a boyfriend.  That‘s interesting.  What a group.  What a comfortable looking picture.  There is the president, very formally dressed, of course, with his white shirt and tie, laughing and smiling for the cameras. 

Of course, over to the right, Norah O‘Donnell, give us a sense of that picture. 

NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, the president did talk to reporters.  I know you can‘t hear the audio there, but invited the pool up to the Yellow Room in the residence, where there was a sign of confidence that this White House wanted to project, the president saying, I think I will win tonight, the president saying, I think it will be over tonight. 

This White House, of course, has been fielding a lot of questions about anxiety out in the field from other Republicans, how they are doing in those mega-states, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.  This is a White House, this is a campaign that is battling impressions out there.  They say that some of the exit poll numbers out that are out there are not tracking with the real votes that are coming in.

And so they wanted to put the president out in order to send this message that they feel good, that they are not worried.  And the president very strongly saying he thinks he is going to win tonight and that there is going to be an announcement.

It is still noteworthy that the president is enjoying some family time.  You anyway he was surrounded there by family, his daughters, his mother, Dora Bush, his brother Neil Bush and his wife, as well as his twin daughters, of course, and Marvin Bush, all sort of gathered there. 

But in another room—they are all having a buffet dinner,

celebrating with other friends and family, while most of the top advisers

are down in the Roosevelt Room, the war room, eating pizza and snacks,

trying to deliver information, as Karl Rove is shuttling between those two

places delivering the president up-to-date information.  The

One other note, Chris.  The president has been working the phones.  I mean, he‘s not just enjoying himself up there dining on this buffet.  He‘s been calling his campaign manager, Ken Mehlman, getting the latest on the turnout figures and matching them up with these exit poll numbers that they think are bunk, in their words, are screwy, as one other official put it. 

And the president has also been speaking with his brother who is not here tonight, but is still in Florida, Governor Jeb Bush, who has been feeding what aides say are positive information, that he says he thinks they are doing very well in Florida—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, very much, Norah O‘Donnell.

Let‘s listen now to what the president had to say in that photo-op. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Very upbeat.  Thank you.  QUESTION:  We going to get a winner tonight? 

BUSH:  I believe I will win.  Thank you very much.  I feel good about it. 

I‘m glad to be able to watch the returns here with my family and friends.  And it‘s a—it‘s going to be an exciting evening. 

STAFF:  All right.  Thank you, all. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s—Andrea, you have covered the White House.  What do you make of that?  It‘s such an interesting kind of phenomenon.  We go and we take—and they give us a peek of the private life, which obviously is not—that‘s not the way they are sitting during the evening right now. 

MITCHELL:  Well, that‘s to communicate to their supporters some confidence and to reflect, of course, the power of the incumbency.  They are there in the White House.  They have got the real estate.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  That‘s called possession is 90 percent of the law. 

Let‘s go right now to where this campaign, election night, stands right now. 

Let‘s go to Chip Reid.  Right now, he is talking about the long lines in Bucks County, Pennsylvania—Chip Reid. 

CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s right, Chris, there and a lot of other places. 

You know, some of the terrible things that were predicted for this Election Day didn‘t happen.  Electronic machines did not go down in a big way.  They had little isolated problems here and there, but there was not a disaster on that front.  Probably the biggest impression out there for the average voter was the length of the lines.  Bucks County, you mentioned.

Excuse me.  Burke County, Pennsylvania, Amity Township, up to four hours.  Knox County, Ohio, in suburban Columbus, waits of up to six hours.  Also up to six hours at one polling station near Oberlin, Ohio, up to three hours at another.  Marvin, North Carolina, a small town, waits up to five hours.  Clayton County, Georgia, up to four hours.  Coral Gables, Florida, as Kerry Sanders has been reporting, they may still there be at midnight tonight. 

Across the country, this has happened.  And certainly it‘s a great

sign.  People are out there exercising their right to vote.  But the bad

news is that there have been reports throughout the evening that some

people have simply left those lines because they just can‘t wait that long

·         Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Chip Reid. 

Let‘s go right now to Brian Williams with the exit information he has been going through all night—Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Chris, thanks. 

And two points at this hour.  No. 1, quickly about the photo-op on the residence floor of the White House.  The White House was concerned earlier that all available videotape of the president, last night‘s last rally in Texas, this morning in Crawford, later today, his arrival at the White House, showed them in a non-upbeat, somber.  Well, they were all exhausted.  They had made seven stops yesterday, almost a 20-hour day.

So this was obviously, as you mentioned, a way to get him on the videotape record tonight, knowing we would all pump it out the minute we got the videotape and show a kind of new image of the president for tonight‘s news cycle. 

Now, as to the exit polling, Pennsylvania, let‘s talk that one, among the biggest battleground states we have to discuss tonight with the 21 electoral votes that are going to be key to someone‘s victory.  In 2000, Pennsylvania went by a slim margin to Al Gore.  Now, of course, it is too early to make a call as we sit here tonight. 

But our exit polls are telling us what Pennsylvanians were thinking about as they voted throughout this day and tonight.  President Bush drawing strange support from several key groups in Pennsylvania, 60 percent of gun owners going for tore President Bush, white Protestants, residents of the central and northern parts of state. 

Senator Kerry drawing his strongest support from young voters, over 60 percent there, union households also over 60.  Black voters, Philadelphia residents, 84 percent each.  Remember, those four golden counties around metropolitan Philadelphia, that‘s about one-fifth of the entire vote for the state if you get those four counties. 

Now to the issues.  Pennsylvania voters concerned with terrorism or moral values were especially likely to go with the incumbent; 83 percent of those who said terrorism was the issue that mattered most to them as they went to the polls went for President Bush, as did 81 percent of those who selected moral values as the issue of primary concern to them. 

For John Kerry, war in Iraq, health care, jobs, the economy, those were the issues that worked most strongly in his favor.  Among Pennsylvania voters who said the war in Iraq was on their mind the most, 75 percent of those thinking of the war voted for John Kerry today, as did 83 percent who selected health care, 84 percent of the people who said the economy and jobs.  And that blue-collar vein that runs right through the state of Pennsylvania, that all trended heavily John Kerry—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Brian Williams. 

Let‘s go right now to David Shuster with some information on the raw vote, the actual vote coming in from Florida—David.

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC ELECTION CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, when you look at the raw vote numbers, the race is actually even tighter than the numbers on the screen right now, because when you look at more than half of the state of Florida reporting, the counties that have not yet reported include Miami-Dade.  None of the precincts have reported to the state.  And Palm Beach. 

The reason these two counties are so significant is because, based on Al Gore‘s results four years ago, the Kerry campaign believes that they will pick up somewhere between 160,000 and 170,000 votes on the margin that President Bush has right now. 

The bad news for the Kerry campaign is that most of Broward County, their strongest county, those numbers are in.  The Kerry campaign cannot expect to pick up much more based on Broward County.  The reason the absentee ballots in Miami-Dade have become such an issue tonight is because there are 94,000 absentee ballots.  At a certain point tonight, the Bush campaign was told that some of these ballots may not be counted for a while, perhaps on Thursday, 94,000.  The Bush campaign believes that most of these absentee ballots will head their way, at least a majority, and that could be crucial—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Well, David, help me out here.  Let‘s get to the bottom here.

Where does this look, based upon what you know about the voting totals last time in the Al Gore-George Bush campaign and how close that was?  And I thought that was about, what, 500 votes at the end, right? 

SHUSTER:  Well, that‘s right. 

And, Chris, when you look at the spread between President Bush and John Kerry right now in the raw vote, 200,000 votes or so, the Kerry campaign believes they can make up about 160,000, 170,000 votes based on the two big counties that have not yet reported, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  OK, that surely beats 500 votes. 

Anyway, thank you, David Shuster. 

We‘re going to come right back.  We‘re going to be coming right back at 10:00 with some news, as well as our fellow Floridian here, Joe Scarborough. 

We‘re going to have big closings coming up here.  And they‘re going to be coming up at any second.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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