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

MSNBC:Tim, it was just like you predicted:  “Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.”

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It seems Ohio was a microcosm of the vote nationwide -- the big cities voting more Democratic and elsewhere tending toward the Republicans. Looking back, what’s your analysis?

Tim Russert:  It is interesting to hear people talking about “mandate.”  It was a strong victory, but if 150,000 votes changed in Ohio, Sen. John Kerry would be elected president. He would have won the Electoral College, even though he would have lost the popular vote by over 2.5 million.

It’s a demonstration, when you have 58-million people vote one way and 55-million people vote another way, of how divided we are on a whole variety of issues.

MSNBC:  When America is that evenly split, where does the country go from here?

Russert:  On a lot of the issues, like tax-reform and Social Security, you can compromise and you can find common ground.  But there are issues, like gay marriage, abortion and issues of that nature, where people hold very deep moral views.  It’s very difficult to find common ground.

Video: Russert’s take

MSNBC:  Is it fair to say that moral issues turned out to be the stealth component of why people voted the way they did?

Russert:  We were asking a question in our NBC polls:  “Are you more interested in terrorism and moral values or health care and the economy?”  And the responses were evenly divided all through the campaign, except in our poll on the weekend before the election.

That last weekend there was a tick up of five or six-points for terrorism and moral values.  So we had some small indication of it.

MSNBC:  Was there a big surprise in this election?

Russert:  What no one fully appreciated was that, while the Democrats got their vote out – and they did.  There’s no doubt about it – the Republicans, when John Kerry said this is the most important election of our lifetime and you have to vote, not only did his base hear him, But President George W. Bush’s base heard him.  And they turned out in huge numbers to say to John Kerry, “Not so fast.  We’re staying with George Bush.”

MSNBC:  Who will you be reviewing all this with this Sunday, on Meet the Press?

Russert:  We’re going to talk to the man that George W. Bush described as the architect of his campaign… a rare Sunday Morning appearance of Carl Rove, the president’s top political advisor.

For the Democrats, we’re going to hear from Barack Obama, newly elected African American U.S. Senator from Illinois.  He spoke about the “Red States/Blue States” at the Democratic convention.

Then, in the spirit of bi-partisanship, from the New York Times, on the right, William Safire, on the left, Maureen Dowd.  They don’t agree about much, but they do treat each other with civility.

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