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Transcript

Election Night Live

Washington Post, washingtonpost.com Staff
Tuesday, November 2, 2004; 6:00 PM

The Washington Post and washingtonpost.com was live election night with instant analysis, latest results, dispatches from our reporters around the region and the country. Anchored by Post Associate Editor Robert G. Kaiser, our rotating panel -- including The Post's David Von Drehle, Marc Fisher, Peter Slevin, Howard Kurtz and Mark Stencel and washingtonpost.com's Terry Neal, Ryan Thornburg and Ann Marchand -- was with you throughout the evening as results streamed in from around the country.

Note: The latest posts and information are at the top of the transcript.


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Robert G. Kaiser: We've been doing this for five and a half hours, and that's enough. It looks to me entirely possible that there won't be a clear result before tomorrow. Ohio is just a puzzlement. So we'll sign off now, and be back at 11 tomorrow morning, hoping then to have a definitve word--but not certain that we will.

Thanks to all for tuning in.

washingtonpost.com: Robert Kaiser will be online Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET to take your questions on the state of the race the morning after. And a reminder that our Reader Forums will be open all night.

Posted 11:35 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Manassas, Va.: Local congressional question... we had a bitter race in the Virginia 10th district. James Socas seemed to lose as badly as previous Frank Wolf opponents (despite Socas spending over half million dollars of his own money). Do you think it likely or reasonable that he comes back in two years (as Socas said in interviews)and runs again? Is Wolf really vulnerable, or is it a lost cause until the next redistricting?

Thanks!

Marc Fisher: Wolf's performance is as strong as any of the local incumbents and there's no sense of strong dissatisfaction with him in his district. To the contrary, he's viewed as an effective congressman who is willing to cross party and state lines on regional issues. And his ads effectively tarred Socas as a carpetbagger who came here to dump a lot of money in hopes of knocking off Wolf.

Posted 11:33 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Harrisonburg, Va.: C'mon, Kaiser... you sound like a magic eight ball. Must you be so enigmatic?
In the meantime: myself and my college student colleagues are tearing our hair out wondering whether or not voting absentee was worthwhile, since absentee ballots are only counted in states where the race is close or contested. Do you think there is a correlation between the notion that young people do not vote in large numbers and the possibility that a majority of college students vote absentee, and thus their votes aren't counted?

Robert G. Kaiser: I think this is an urban myth. Absentee votes get counted.

Posted 11:28 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Robert G. Kaiser: OK, here are some numbers to think about:

If Kerry can win Ohio, Michigan, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon and Iowa and all the states we have given him on our map (those now in blue), he'll have 270 votes and will win the election. He could win it more cleanly if he can carry Nevada, Colorado, Arkansas or New Mexico, the other states that remain too close to call.

Posted 11:27 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Somerville, Mass.: Could you give your current electoral vote count update?

washingtonpost.com: Happy to oblige:

Latest Presidential Race Results

Electoral Vote Count:

Bush -- 210
Kerry -- 188

Posted 11:26 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Silver Spring, Md.: Assuming Kerry wins California, Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvanialvania, New Hampshire, Iowa, Minnesota, Hawaii and Iowa, with all the states he has already won, it only adds up to 221 electoral votes. While you folks are saying the battleground states are too close to call, Kerry is losing the most important states and he doesn't appear to be gaining in any of them as the votes are counting (Florida, Ohio, and Michigan for example). It appears he has lost. What makes you folks say the battleground states can't be called? Am I missing something?

Robert G. Kaiser: You math is wrong, but I'm not sure why. Kerry can win still, but if he has lost Florida, as seems highly possible at this moment to me, then he must win Ohio, plus NH, WI, MN, and probably Iowa, and maybe one more? I'm sorry I am not a math wizard. I'll work on this and come back to you on it in a few minutes...

Posted 11:19 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Mountain View, Calif.: Do you see any surprises so far or in the making?

Robert G. Kaiser: Amazingly, I have to say no at 11:15 p.m. We did get misled earlier today by exit polls who made it look like Kerry could win Florida and Ohio quite easily, but we're used to exit polls that mislead us. So, compared to what I would have predicted last night at this time, I really do not see any big surprises yet.

Posted 11:16 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Detroit, Mich.: Why does California often have a Republican governor, but the state always ends up voting for the Democratic national candidate?

Robert G. Kaiser: Hey, this happens all over the country.

Posted 11:15 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Annandale, Va.: Is the current unfolding scenario better, worse, or on target with what the Dems expected?

Robert G. Kaiser: It's worse than what they expected this afternoon, more than that I cannot say.

Posted 11:14 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Albuquerque, N.M.: Just wanted to say thanks for what seems to me to be the most cautious reporting, despite a number of hot-headed comments from both sides. That said, it seems significantly quieter than I thought it would be... Is there something going on that we don't yet know about?

Robert G. Kaiser: Well, if there is, we don't know about it!

Posted 11:13 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Seems like it comes down to Ohio -- you guys have Bush ahead by 5 percentage points. Any info on which precincts in that would help predict?

Robert G. Kaiser: We are having a difficult time figuring out what is happening in Ohio. Sorry.

Posted 11:13 p.m., 11.2.2004

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New York, N.Y.: Bob, keep up the amazing work. It's still early, but with a indications the chips may fall almost exactly like they did in 2000 ... it may very well come down to Ohio. What is Ohio's absentee vote policy? And, is it true Ohio won't count some votes until days after the election?

Robert G. Kaiser: Ohio's absentee votes won't be counted tonight, so yes, we may be waiting for them to know what has happened there.

Posted 11:12 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Elizabeth, N.J.: Have there been any reports on voter intimidation so far?

Robert G. Kaiser: Some but not many.

Posted 11:03 p.m., 11.2.2004

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London, Ontario, Canada: A comment on Santa Fe's question...so far about 6.5 million voters have voted in Florida, with only about 300,000 votes separating the candidates. If the remaining 10% of the precincts represent more than 300,000 voters, it's still too early to call. Do you think that might explain it?

Robert G. Kaiser: maybe.

Posted 11:03 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Cleveland, Ohio: Can the Presidential election be officially called, one way or the other, if litigation is still ongoing in Ohio, Pennsylvanialvania and Florida, etc.?

Robert G. Kaiser: of course not.

Posted 11:03 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Dallas, Tex.: President Bush leads in Florida (80 percent reporting) and Ohio -- as per official Secretary of State's Web sites.

Why media is not reporting that?

That does it for Bush, does not it?

Robert G. Kaiser: We are reporting the raw votes in Fla and Ohio, but they are too incomplete to draw the conclusion you're looking for.

Posted 11:02 p.m., 11.2.2004

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San Diego, Calif.: NBC and CNN just called Pennsylvanialvania for Kerry.

washingtonpost.com: Pennsylvanialvania Candidate Profiles and Election Results

Robert G. Kaiser: thanks. California, Washington also.

Posted 11:01 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Kenmore, N.Y.: In your opinion, being as unbiased as possible, do you think the parties may win the states that they say they will definitely win, for example: do you think the Democrats will take Ohio? This is all opinion of course.

Robert G. Kaiser: No idea.

Posted 10:59 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C. (not a state): What is the analysis of the high voter turnout -- and how high is it running?
Are these new voters , one-issue voters, or what? Are we going to wake up to an American Taliban if Bush wins?

Robert G. Kaiser: We don't know the whole picture. NBC is telling us that it does NOT include an unusually high number of young voters, contrary to Democratic hopes. But more will be known as we study the exit polls.

Posted 10:59 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: Can we talk about the significance of Democrat Barack Obama winning the Senate seat that is traditionally Republican in Illinois?

Robert G. Kaiser: It's not a traditionally Republican seat. Illinois is now a pretty reliably Democratic state. Peter Fitzgerald, whom Obama replaces, was a one-term Republican.

Posted 10:58 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Rossville, Ga.: Why hasn't Florida count come up yet? Haven't the polls been closed there for hours? Any idea what the hold up is and why are they taking so long?
Denise

washingtonpost.com: Florida Candidate Profiles and Election Results

Robert G. Kaiser: see the previous question...

Posted 10:58 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Boulder, Colo.: It seems the early precincts reporting now are heavily for Bush in most states. I guess it is silly to ask why? Metropolitan areas take longer to count the vote? I can only hope the remaining 12 percent in South Florida goes 70 percent to Kerry because that is what he would need.

Robert G. Kaiser: It's just impossible to say at this time.

Posted 10:57 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Santa Fe, N.M.: Hokay, if Pennsylvanialvania is at 59% precincts reporting and you think it's ready to call, what's going on with Florida? If 88% precincts have reported and it's running a lead for Bush, why is it still considered so much in play? Just caution, after the 2000 fiasco, or do you know something we don't?

Robert G. Kaiser: We here don't know anything you don't. I think we are indeed seeing extreme caution.

Posted 10:57 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Rome, Italy: I voted absentee. When do these get added to the final votes? After the polls close? Or have they been counted as the live votes are counted?
Alexandra

Robert G. Kaiser: Depends on where you voted.

Posted 10:47 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Prince George's County, Maryland: Are there any trends out there that could encourage a discouraged, pessimistic Kerry supporter? These results so far are much worse than I had been expecting.

Robert G. Kaiser: Not sure what you mean by a trend, but the election has not been settled yet. If Kerry wins Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota he will have an excellent chance of winning. Of course, those states are all close, as is New Hampshire.

Posted 10:46 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Des Moines, Iowa: Are precincts equal size in terms of number of voters/people in a precinct?

Robert G. Kaiser: No.

Posted 10:45 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.-- school in Hanover, N.H.: What precautions are in place to assure that student voters in states with same day registration (like NH) don't send in absentee ballots to their homestates AND vote in the state where they attend school?

Robert G. Kaiser: That looks like a glitch in the system to me; I don't know of any system for cross-checking.

Posted 10:44 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Madison, Wis.: How reliable are exit polls?

Robert G. Kaiser: not very, as we are being reminded again today.

Posted 10:44 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Alexandria, Va.: Considering the states that have been reliably "called," are there still any viable scenarios where the electoral college could end up tied?

Robert G. Kaiser: I'm not sure about that, But I think it remains possible.

Posted 10:43 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: Kerry has a huge 20 percent lead in Pennsylvanialvania. Why is everyone refusing to put it into his column?

washingtonpost.com: Pennsylvanialvania Results

Robert G. Kaiser: We're not sure why the networks are holding back on Pennsylvanialvania, frankly.

Posted 10:43 p.m., 11.2.2004

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London, England: Hello Washingtonians, we are staying up late here to view your returns. We echo the question of the nuances that the person from Montreal spoke about. We are getting the same ABC and NBC feeds and thought the exact same thing. My wife is American and just moved here last year. As she heard Brokaw and Jennings, she remarked that they must think the election is over but because of the desire not to replay 2000 are being extremely cautious (and she voted for Kerry). Since you did not see these, did anyone writing you see these comments and care to speak about them? Also, we just tuned into Daniel Rather and he also seemed to imply the same, that Bush is approaching critical electoral mass for re-election.

Robert G. Kaiser: Thanks for posting. If indeed the anchors are conveying the impression that Bush has won, I think they are going too far on the basis of what we know now.

Posted 10:37 p.m., 11.2.2004

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London, Ontario, Canada: Great job on your Web site Washington Post! Quick question, your home-page graphic shows Bush having won Utah, but when I click on Utah it only shows a few hundred votes tallied and 0 percent of the precincts... just curious!

Robert G. Kaiser: it's a projection...

Posted 10:36 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Hobart, Tasmania, Australia: How are colleges determined. For example how is it decided that x state has x colleges. Is it population or some other factor?

Robert G. Kaiser: Not sure what you mean by "colleges"? Electoral votes to be cast in the electoral college? Each state has the same number of electoral votes as it has members of Congress. Each state has two senators, and the number of members of the House of Representatives is based on the population of the state.

Posted 10:36 p.m., 11.2.2004

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New York, N.Y.: Why are the networks so vague in explaining why they cannot call states? The explanation we hear is, "We don't have enough information." OK, that states the obvious. Does it mean votes haven't been counted? That counted votes don't match exit polls? Or what? It would be great if one of your reporters would go on as a guest and explain exactly how exit polling and actual poll results are analyzed to determine if a state can be called with confidence. We viewers can make absolutely no sense of what we're watching. Thank you.

Robert G. Kaiser: I'll take a shot at this, though I am not a certified wizard in these matters. The projections are based on complex formulae which are written into computer programs. The formulae include historical voting information on how particular precincts, counties, etc., have gone in the past, exit poll results from today and, when hard vote totals come in, projections made on the basis of the vote. As we know from 2000, this is art as well as science. As we and others have reported for a long time, all the networks are determined to avoid making wrong calls this year. hence their hesitancy now.

Posted 10:34 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Latest Presidential Race Results

Electoral Votes:

Bush -- 190
Kerry -- 112

Posted 10:34 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Robert G. Kaiser: Hold it, I just re-read Portland's question. I think in fact he/she is right, and that the questioner and I said the same thing: what we report is the percentage of precincts in a state that has filed full results.

Posted 10:28 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Portland, Ore.: In the percentage of precincts for a state shown on your key races, does that mean all votes in that percentage of precincts in that state have been counted?

washingtonpost.com: Search All Races by State, Zip Code

Robert G. Kaiser: No, it means that that percentage of precincts has reported results. Total results, for that precinct.

Posted 10:26 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Silver Spring, Md.: All this talk of long lines... Any predictions on overall turnout compared to 2000?

Robert G. Kaiser: not yet

Posted 10:26 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: From the Reader Forums:

"Looks like a long night. I thought Kerry would do better but he's not. He may win still. Also the exit polling is way off. VA. SC. and NC the exit polling showed different results than the vote count. I think Fla. is the same."

Robert G. Kaiser: thanks for this comment.

Posted 10:25 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Maryland: If absentee ballots have not been counted how can you say that one party or the other has won that state?

Robert G. Kaiser: Literally, you cannot.

Posted 10:25 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Escanaba, Mich.: Yesterday, I watched Tom Brokaw say that the network was not interested in being first this time, just accurate.
He promised they would not project.

Yet, with the polls still open in the West and a minute fraction of precincts reporting, he was doing just that --projecting (as well as the other networks).

What happened? Thank you...

washingtonpost.com: Elephants Are Red, Donkeys Are Blue (Post, Nov. 2)
Media Notes: Four More Years . . . of Nastiness? (Post, Nov. 2)

Robert G. Kaiser: To repeat, NBC and all the networks are holding back on all the close states. They have not yet projected any of the big battleground states.

Posted 10:25 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Miami, Fla.: Well, four years latter, and what's new? Not much! What on earth is the matter with this county's Elections Department when every voter in the entire nation is glued to their televisions, waiting for results, and there are some 250,000 absentee votes which won't get counted until Thursday, an abomination and disgrace! We've only been voting down here for over the past two weeks. Couldn't someone have started counting these critical votes two weeks ago?

Marc Fisher: Miami-Dade's elections department was actually widely regarded as a model of efficiency in the early years of computerized vote counting. But there were a number of election nights that got pretty rough starting in the mid-80s, including one memorable night when the director of elections literally froze up under midnight questioning about some alleged irregularities. The man stood at the podium and his body hardened and he stopped speaking, and it took probably a minute before those of us reporters who were firing questions realized that something was terribly wrong. I and others rushed up to the stage and the man had turned as hard as bone. The elections supervisor had to be taken from the stage and helped by medical personnel--he recovered in a matter of minutes, but it was the only time I've ever seen someone freeze up into what felt like stone.

Posted 10:25 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Bellingham, Wash.: If Kerry loses Florida and Ohio can he realistically win this election?

Robert G. Kaiser: becomes harder, but yes, literally, he could, I think.

Posted 10:24 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: Without giving any indication of your own leanings, are any of you having a tough time divorcing your personal politics from staying objective reporting today, or over the past few weeks?

Robert G. Kaiser: You know, this is second nature for all of us. You can't spend a lifetime in the news business and go around with your heart on your sleeve. Our job is to figure out what is happening. Of course different individuals here, as everywhere, will react in different ways to whatever happens, but those reactions come later, and privately, in my experience.

Posted 10:23 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Redmond, Wash.: Bush is leading in Ohio and Florida. If Bush wins both these states, which states does Kerry have to win in order to win?

Robert G. Kaiser: our information suggests there is no meaningful lead yet in either of those states.

Posted 10:21 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Montreal, Canada: Good Evening Americans - As we listen to your network returns on ABC and NBC here, it appears that the nuance of your anchors are now suggesting that the President will win re-election. In particular, Mr. Jennings, just asked Sen. Kerry's Press Secretary how realistic they are being at this time. Mr. Brokaw just mentioned that it is beginning to look like President Bush has the easier road as of 9:45 EST to win the election and Mr. Russert brought out his famous chalkboard to back up Mr. Brokaw. Are you getting the same sense? Here in Canada, we took your early exit polls to suggest Mr. Kerry was close to a lock. Now, your two major news anchors appear to be saying that it will take a miracle for Mr. Kerry to win in the end, even though it may be a very close race. Please comment for your North of the Border continent friends!;

Robert G. Kaiser: I missed Brokaw and Russert, so can't comment on their comments, but I do think it is too soon to nod in either direction. To repeat, there have been no surprises yet.

Posted 10:17 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Marc Fisher: Jumping back in, I can offer a bit of an update on Washington area elections. Voters are in a fairly generous mood across the region, approving all manner of bond issues in Virginia and Maryland, including new schools, parks and arts centers in Loudoun County, and everything their governments asked for in Arlington and Fairfax and in Prince George's, where bonds will pay for new roads, fire department facilities and libraries.
Montgomery County voters are on their way toward rejecting proposals to put a hard cap on property taxes and go to an all-single member district system on the county council. A term limits proposal for the county council is too close to call.
And in the District, voters are going in two different directions for the school board, appearing to pick Victor Reinoso in wards 3 and 4, and Jeff Smith in wards 1 and 2.
But the big local headline of the night is the overwhelming approval of bonds in Fairfax to pay for extending Metro to Tysons Corner and on to Dulles Airport.

Posted 10:16 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Tokyo, Japan: Are the votes of the people who voted early (before today) being counted now and added to the total tally?

Robert G. Kaiser: yes

Posted 10:15 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Dallas, Tex.: Is the Bush election night press conference a sign of desperation?

washingtonpost.com: Video: Bush Family Watches Returns at the White House

Robert G. Kaiser: There's no press conference, and there's no sign of desperation.

Posted 10:14 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Alexandria, Va.: Aren't CNN and NBC calling states way too soon? We are not seeing the record turnout reflected in these "calls" yet. This is crazy.

Robert G. Kaiser: I think you're missing the key point. Neither network has called any of the battleground states. They are holding back for more votes. The ones they've called are the states where the vote isn't so close. I think.

Posted 10:12 p.m., 11.2.2004

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New Orleans, La.: Any thoughts on the early Senate returns in Kentucky?

washingtonpost.com: A Passionate, Patient Electorate (Post, Nov. 2)

Peter Slevin: It has been very close all night, but with almost all of the vote counted, Sen. Bunning looks like the winner. By a nose.

Daniel Mongiardo, his Democratic challenger would have been thrilled by finishing such a close second when he entered the race as a little-known state senator, but as Bunning repeatedly damaged his chances, the Dems thought they might be able to pull off an upset.

Posted 10:11 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Potomac, Md.: What is the prediction for the Questions A,B and C on the Montgomery County, Md. ballot?

washingtonpost.com: Search All Races by State, Zip Code

Robert G. Kaiser: No predictions. Here are the results...

Posted 10:06 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Hollywood, Calif.: If this turns out to be the highest recorded number of voters in national election history, does that suggest a greater likelihood of a Bush or a Kerry win? If there is another popular vote that contradicts the electoral vote, is it possible the entire voting system could be overhauled to better reflect the popular vote in the next session of Congress?

washingtonpost.com: Voters Turn Out Nationwide in Droves (Post, Nov. 2)

Robert G. Kaiser: By all historical measuring sticks, a really big turnout should be a signal of Kerry success. But history isn't always a determining factor! The Red Sox won the World Series...

Posted 10:06 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Alexandria, Va.: I was a NOVA Election Officer and my precinct overwhelmingly went for Kerry. CBS is calling VA for Bush with still half the precincts yet to call in. When looking at the Congressional page on VA, District 8, easily going for Democrats, is only at 17% precinct.

The Post hasn't called VA, is it still up for grabs given that NOVA precincts haven't called in?

washingtonpost.com: Virginia Election Results

Robert G. Kaiser: Follow the real results here...

Posted 10:04 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Monterey, Calif.: Please give us the lastest on Pennsylvanialvania and Ohio.

Thank you.

Robert G. Kaiser: Because of long lines at polling places, voting will go on in both states for quite a while, though the polls are officially "closed" in both. So you'll have to be patient.

Posted 10:03 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.: When are the early votes accounted for in the state totals?

David Von Drehle: Presumably they are being included right now.

Posted 10:03 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Charlottesville, Va.: Exit polls from OH and PA seem to give Sen. Kerry a slight advantage. How accurate have exit polls been historically, and how accurate are they expected to be this time around?

Robert G. Kaiser: You cannot rely on them; they are often wrong.

Posted 10:01 p.m., 11.2.2004

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David Von Drehle: Please welcome back to our show, BOB KAISER!

And thanks for letting me join you.

Posted 10:01 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Plymouth, Mich.: In past elections California has always seemed to play a pivotal role in electing the president. Yet, this year I have heard very little about California. It seems Ohio, Pennsylvanialvania and Florida are the key states. Has California lost its national political clout?

David Von Drehle: California has the same political clout it always has had: 54 electoral votes, the most of any state.Win that one and you are 20-percent of the way to the White House.

It used to be a gettable state for Republican candidates--Nixon and Reagan both hailed from California. Recently, it has been a Democratic stronghold, though, and since it is not closely contested, you don't read as much about it.

But as Gov. Arnold S. has shown us, it can be won by a Republican, so I expect we will see it return to the hotly contested column someday.

Posted 10:01 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Los Angeles, Calif.: Does Kerry's projected win in New Jersey offer any guidance as to how the other close states may break (such as New Hampshire, Pennsylvanialvania, Ohio). I had understood that Bush was gaining in New Jersey over the final days of the campaign but the return there are apparently not close there enough for the media to already call Kerry the winner.

washingtonpost.com: Search All Races by State, Zip Code

Robert G. Kaiser: I don't think so. Our indications are that Kerry should win Pennsylvanialvania, and New Hampshire looks pretty good for him too, but that was true yesterday as well--based on polling info.

Posted 10:01 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Philadelphia, Pa.: What are implications for our nation when we have such hotly-contested Presidental races? More specifically, when we have a race as close as Gore/Bush was in 2000 and now the current Kerry/Bush contest, what happens to the disenchanted 49% of those who voted? Will we have another four years where millions of voters are bitter about the outcome? Will political dialog sink into partisan squabbles and outright rage? Simply put, when nearly 50% of the electorate (not the electoral college, mind you) do not vote for the winning candidate, something has to be awry with the system.

Robert G. Kaiser: I'd like to know what the vote is today before trying to interpret it.

Posted 10:00 p.m., 11.2.2004

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David Von Drehle: For an earlier poster: I'm told this is a good site for Asian and Pacific Islander voting behavior:

http://www.apiavote.org/apiastatsdata.htm

Posted 9:59 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Paris, France: I'm addicted to watching elections and your site is excellent - much better and thoughtful than the blogs. It's 4 a.m. here. Is there any chance we might have an indication of the result soon so I can get some sleep?

Robert G. Kaiser: I think you should probably go to sleep. There is a chance for a result by midnight our time, I think, but it's not likely before then, and it is far from guaranteed by then.

Posted 9:59 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Greensboro, N.C.: Thanks for the discussion.

What do you think about the rumor that Bush is preparing to speak to the western part of the country on TV. So the President gets free campaigning and publicity in guise of a news story? Is this fair and it will it help him?

David Von Drehle: The estimable political editor of The Post tells me the report that President Bush is planning to make a statement urging people to vote is ...

Not true.

Posted 9:58 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Melbourne, Australia: Hi!; Apologies if this question has been asked before. How does the exit polling achieve a sample balance between predominately Republican voting rural voters (who would be harder to survey) and the more urban Democrat voters (who are easier to survey)?

David Von Drehle: Basically, the pollsters identify a mix of precincts that accurately represent the overall composition of the state. They study past elections but also try to gauge how the current election will differ from past behavior. They send employees out to these precincts with clip boards and interview voters. This forms the sample.

THEN, when the polls close, they get the actual vote counts from their target precincts and compare it to their estimates. This gives them greater or lesser confidence. When/if their confidence reaches a certain level, the "decision desks" at the various news organizations "call" the race.

Give the fiasco of 2000, those decision desks will need a great deal of confidence to call the close, decisive races.

Posted 9:58 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Salt Lake City, Utah: When can we expect numbers from more precincts in OH, PA and FL? Is it pretty much a foregone conclusion that we "won't" be able to declare a winner until absentee ballots are counted in those states several days from now?

David Von Drehle: It's very unusual, statistically speaking, that a statewide race is so close that the absentee votes must be opened.

But it DOES happen, as we all remember.

Posted 9:57 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Ottawa, Canada: Are the results so far in line with the polls of the last few days? Any surprises?

Terry Neal: No surprises so far. At this point, all of the states that have been called have voted as they did in 2000. That's better news for Bush than it is for Kerry, in that if everything were to remain the same, Bush would win again. And because reapportionment added electoral votes to the states Bush won in 2000, Bush would get 278 EV's compared to 271 he received in 2000.
Bush ultimately could afford to lose one of the smaller states. Kerry needs to pick something up.
Now having said that, the closest battleground states have yet to be called. And that's where this race really lies.

Posted 9:54 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Statistics and Data (APIAVote.org)

Posted 9:52 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Portland, Ore.: Has anything surprised you yet?

David Von Drehle: Not so far, but the night is young!

Posted 9:50 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Yapral, India: What role does the Asian American vote have in key states? Most Indian Americans are very well off and they might be tempted to vote republican, but they are also pulled towards the democratic party because of minority-issue concerns. Also, Indians at home have benefited a lot from outsourcing, Bush has sided with india in the kashmir dispute.. all this makes me really curious about how the Asian vote is playing out. Any ideas?

washingtonpost.com: More naturalized citizens are expected at the polls (Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 31)
New citizens unknown factor in election (San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 23)
NPR audio: Many Asian, Pacific Islander Voters Still Undecided (The Tavis Smiley Show, Oct. 27)

David Von Drehle: I think we'll have to wait for the detailed analysis of the exit polls to know this--and that usually takes a few days. Watch the paper and the Internet over the next 3-4 days.

Posted 9:49 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Peter Slevin: Greetings from beautiful downtown Minneapolis, where the Kerry folks are feeling pretty good right now. The Democrats seem to have engineered a huge turnout, enlisting far more volunteers than ever, especially in the cities. Exit polls show Kerry with a comfortable edge.

A week ago, polls were showing a toss-up; Vice President Cheney was here three times in seven days; President Bush spoke to a deliriously happy crowd on Saturday.

Posted 9:49 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Greensboro, N.C.: If there's a single complaint with the media's election coverage it is this: Why all the self-absorbtion? Look no further than your own web site tonight. Kerry and Bush are locked in an historic struggle for electoral votes and the Post has a link informing readers of the exact time each network calls a state. In a race as important as this one, do you really think the public is interested in knowing which network called Maine first?

David Von Drehle: They sure were in 2000!

I helped write a book about the recount of 2000 and we had to devote most of a chapter to a blow-by-blow about which network screwed up which projection at what minute of which hour.

Posted 9:45 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Haddon Heights, N.J.: There has been talk that Bill Clinton could be given the job of special ambassador to the Middle East. He has the skill and clout to do it. Is this a realistic idea?

David Von Drehle: In Washington, in my experience, there is always "a lot of talk."

Posted 9:44 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Fairborn, Ohio: Results from Florida do not include the Miami-Dade county, which is very Democrat.

David Von Drehle: I dunno where the results come from. Some Miami precincts are probably in there.

In reality, Miami-Dade is slightly Dem but not as Dem as the counties to the north--Broward and Palm Beach.

For what it's worth, in 2000 the late-arriving precincts were heavily Democratic. That's how it happened that Gore was convinced to call Bush and concede the election--he didn't realize how many of his own votes were still to come.

washingtonpost.com: Florida Department of State Division of Elections Election Returns

Posted 9:44 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Sunny Arizona: The numbers posted on washingtonpost.com are the results of exit polling, and not the actual counted results, correct? I saw the "3 percent precincts reporting" at the end of the vote counts, so I just wanted to make sure what I was looking at.

Terry Neal: The numbers you are seeing on the site are not exit poll numbers, but actual votes. We're adding the numbers up as they come in.

Posted 9:40 p.m., 11.2.2004

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San Francisco, Calif.: LBJ, on the eve of signing the Civil Rights Act, is purported to have said to Bill Moyers, "Bill, we just handed the south to the Republicans." I am married to a man who grew up in the South and distinctly remembers the segregation...he believes that whether the quote is accurate or not, that the Civil Rights Act was the impetus for the South becoming Republican. Having been Republicans in a Democrat stronghold until recently, and after much study, we now believe that there's essentially been a 180 degree switch in the traditional platforms of the Republicans and Democrats, particularly when it comes to social issues.

Are we off our rockers?

David Von Drehle: Your analysis is right, historically speaking. The Civil War made the South Democratic for 100 years and then the cultural issues of the 1960s and 1970s--including Civil Rights--created the opening for the Republicans to break that lock.

Having said that, the issues menu has changed a lot in the South since 1964 or even 1984 and so the situation there is much more dynamic than the map might suggest.

Posted 9:39 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Alexandria, Va.: Isn't it true that most journalists are morbidly concerned about the current Administration denying them access in retaliation for coverage critical of their policies, leading to the kind of gutless coverage, with few exceptions, that we usually get? Could it also be true that sloth could be a further mitigating factor for the same gutless coverage, making it extremely convenient for slothful, gutless journalists to support the kind of government we have today?

David Von Drehle: I have a former colleague who lost his hand while disposing of a tossed grenade in Iraq--he saved four lives. Another old friend died during the invasion. The Post has reporters who have been shot at, kidnaped, threatened.

Here at home a Post reporter is being threatened with going to jail for a story he did, and other colleagues on every imaginable blacklist in town.

We're certainly not perfect, but I will put the guts of these men and women up against the courage of faceless, anonymous Internet posters any day.

Posted 9:35 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Honolulu, Hawaii: Does the Post have any articles about the spin from the Bush and Kerry campaigns on how they are doing in real time or as close to real time as possible? Example: Halftime Score (Slate, Nov. 2)

David Von Drehle: Yikes!

It's bad enough that reporters, who are being paid, have to listen to them spin.

Posted 9:34 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Audio: The Post's Manuel Roig-Franzia and Ben White report from Miami and Philadelphia, respectively.

Posted 9:32 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Los Angeles, Calif.: A questioner at 7:40 said that it has been reported on the web that exit poll data suggests that Kerry will take Ohio, Pennsylvanialvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, and one or two others. If this is true, and I know that at this stage in the evening that is a big "if", isn't Kerry virtually a lock to take the election if the non-battleground states break as expected?

David Von Drehle: If all those things are true and if all of those projections come true then yes, Kerry will be doing swell.

But if any of them are wrong, then we're right back where we started, with a very close race that is up for grabs.

Patience. Patience.

Posted 9:25 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Seattle, Wash.: I've seen a lot of exit polling showing a relatively easy Kerry win in Minnesota and Pennsylvanialvania. Any news on that? If Ohio goes to Kerry, that might not matter as well.

Terry Neal: I've seen the same exit polling that you have. But those states still haven't been called, so we'll need to see what happens. But if those states remain in the D column, Ohio remains exceedingly important. If Bush loses Ohio, a state he won in 2000, he'll need to pick up a few other states, perhaps Iowa and Wisconsin, to make up for it.

Posted 9:24 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Seattle, Wash.: What happens if this election ends up in the supreme court but William Renquist is incapacitated or has passed away from his illness? Would there be a 4-4 split? What happens then? Would George Bush be able to appoint a judge in the small amount of time that he would have?

David Von Drehle: Lot of ifs there. If Rehnquist left the Court yes, there would be eight justices. I assume there might be cases where they split 4-4 (in which instance the lower court ruling under appeal would stand) but in most cases the vote would be 5-3 or 6-2 or 7-1 or 8-0. Contrary to the partisan blather, the Court does NOT split along the same 5-4 line on every case.

It would be very hard for a lame duck president to have a justice confirmed--even harder to get a Chief Justice through.

Posted 9:23 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Ottawa, Canada: Did you expect such a large difference in the popular vote, like we're seeing now?

David Von Drehle: The popular vote totals will not tell you much for several hours. Both Bush and Kerry have some very large states out that will dump scores of millions of votes into their columns.

If you want something to look at, try Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. If all three go to the same guy, you might start humming Hail to the Chief.

Posted 9:19 p.m., 11.2.2004

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David Von Drehle: Earlier someone asked about when absentee ballots are counted. Depends on the county. Some places they open the ballots and start counting them on Election Day. I believe some jurisdictions wait until they have all arrived.

Posted 9:19 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Ottawa, Ontario: Is former president Mr. Bill Clinton working for Mr. Kerry a factor in this election?

David Von Drehle: Clinton's return to the election trail gave television a hook for a day or two so that was probably a net-plus for Kerry. But I think voters had plenty to think about between Bush and Kerry without being swayed by a former president.

Posted 9:19 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Grand Ledge, Mich.: An earlier post wondered if candidates have to stand in line to vote. The easy answer--yes. There's no short-cut to the front for the candidates. Even if there was, it wouldn't look good to everyone waiting to vote for them.

washingtonpost.com: A Passionate, Patient Electorate (Post, Nov. 2)

David Von Drehle: Thanks.

Posted 9:18 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Bedford, N.H.: Thanks for doing a great web site and for this ability to ask questions and to comment.

Do you do your own "call" on the various states or do you simply use the "calls" made by the networks? You have fewer states called at this time than at least one network, Fox News. They have Bush with 102 electoral votes; Kerry with 77.

Thanks.

Ryan Thornburg: We hope we are the tortoise of the night, perhaps trailing TV but slowly and cautiously getting the calls right -- the first time.

To answer your direct question, we are using Associated Press calls in most of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House races, but are relying on our own Post political staff and newspaper editors to call the states in the presidential race.

Ryan Thornburg: And, oh how I look back fondly on starting our coverage of this race more than a year ago with a nice dinner in Bedford.

Posted 9:12 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Election Message Board: From the Reader's Forum, participant Drgonzaga writes, "The Red states are sticking to script; Florida has 33% of precincts in and Bush still has a 56% advantage. What is interesting is the popular vote at this moment which is running with a 1 million plurality for Bush. I believe that Ohio and Pennsylvanialvania will make or break this election. Both of those states have only the urban votes turning in early, so it will be a long night unless their numbers come in one swoop by 10:00 PM." David Von Drehle: I wouldn't rush to call Florida. 33-percent of precincts doesn't mean much unless you know precisely which precincts they are, which I don't.

In the war rooms of the campaigns, they DO know this and at this moment will be comparing the actual returns to their "need-get" lists. If they are running ahead of what they thought they would need, they feel good.

As for Ohio and Penn -- sure: Keep an eye on those, especially if the same guy wins both.

Posted 9:11 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Sydney, Australia: The problems reported so far at the polls in Florida appear to be minor, still, would you consider these incidents enough for a challenge by the losing party?

Terry Neal: It doesn't sound like it. But remember, at this point on election night in 2000, the media still had not heard of a lot of the things that were going on in Florida. There's still plenty of time for something to pop up. And if the race is very close there, as it was in 2000, expect the legions of lawyers on both sides to cook up some reason to challenge results.

Posted 9:09 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: From tonight's Reader's Forum: "The Red states are sticking to script; Florida has 33% of precincts in and Bush still has a 56% advantage. What is interesting is the popular vote at this moment which is running with a 1 million plurality for Bush. I believe that Ohio and Pennsylvanialvania will make or break this election. Both of those states have only the urban votes turning in early, so it will be a long night unless their numbers come in one swoop by 10 p.m."



--

Posted 9:09 p.m., 11.2.2004

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El Cerrito, Calif.: How accurate are the percentages projected from exit polling? Besides Florida in 2000, when else have they been proven wrong? Finally, when are absentee ballots counted? Before or after polling precincts are closed?

David Von Drehle: The exit polls are margin-of-error surveys like any other, which means that they are accurate within the margin about 95-percent of the time.

Thus, an exit poll with a big difference between the candidates is probably pretty reliable except for that 1-ni-20 chance that it isn't.

And an exit poll with a narrow gap is a lot likea toss-up.

I think it's fair to say that when political pros look at polls from a range of states and they all tend to favor one candidate, they start to believe it's a trend.

Posted 9:08 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: To your knowledge, does a rainy voting day (as it is today for some parts of the country) affect voter turnout? If so, does the rain help/hurt either party more?

Terry Neal: Conventional wisdom says rain on election day depresses turnout out, which usually helps Republicans. To be very honest with you, I'm not sure whether this is true or whether there has ever been a reliable study of this question. Anyone have anything they care to share?

Posted 9:07 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Melbourne, Australia: Hi!; Is it possible to do some analysis on the results from the "decided" States (eg. Indiana, Kentucky), even though the results are one-sided? For example, is President Bush running one or two points higher in those States as compared to the opinion polls published in those States? Thank you.

Terry Neal: At this point, there are no major surprises in the presidential election. The polls, in my opinion, have been pretty spot on. If you look at the states in the eastern and midwestern part of the map that haven't been called, those are the same states that the pollsters said the race was basically in the margin of error. So nothing for the pollsters to hang their heads about--at least at this point.

Posted 9:04 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Houston, Tex.: Are Florida's absentee ballots counted before or after the other ballots? And do absentees cut toward Bush?

Robert G. Kaiser: The counting of absentee ballots may not be complete until Thursday, according to Florida officials. Broward County and Miami-Dade County both received more than 90,000 requests for absentee ballots, while Palm Beach county received more than 70,000. So there are a lot of them.

Posted 9:04 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Raleigh, N.C.: Since the Republicans are so weak in the Northeast (look at a map if/when New Hampshire turns blue), can the GOP still be called a national party?

Let me answer my own question. Yes. For some reason the media seem to think the South counts in a way the Northeast does not.

Thoughts?

David Von Drehle: Republicans do well in plenty of local and statewide elections in the Northeast, as Gov. Pataki of New York, Gov. Romney of Massachusetts, Mayors Bloomberg and Giuliani of New York City and Sens. Snowe and Collins of Maine, Sununu and Gregg of New Hampshire ... you get the idea .. all could tell you.

The same applies to Democrats in the South.

So while the presidential map looks extremely regional, for all sorts of reasons, the fact is that both parties are indeed national.

Posted 9:03 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Mebane, N.C.: What are the chances of having the Electoral College abolished? It seems an archaic facet of our election process. Many times it does not express the closeness of an election. Also, is there anything I can do as a citizen to help get rid of it. Thanks, Jude

Terry Neal: Most people would agree with you on that. The last poll I saw showed that roughly 60 percent of people favor going to a straight popular-vote electoral system. But that change would require a constitutional amendment, which is a huge undertaking. And I'm not sure there's enough political outcry on this subject--at least yet--for politicians to go through the effort of seeking to change the system.
What can you do to help get rid of it? Well, you could call the members of your congressional delegation. You could form a PAC and advocate the cause.

Posted 9:00 p.m., 11.2.2004

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State College, Pa.: Just a naive question here. Has the geographical distribution of "red" states versus "blue" states always been like it is today? Why does this dichotomy exist?

washingtonpost.com: Interactive: Electoral College Map

Robert G. Kaiser: I will resist the temptation to try to explain modern political history in this format, but it's worth your while to go to the library, or on line, to look at the electoral vote history, so you can see how the red-blue dichotomy has changed over the years. It has changed a great deal.

Posted 9:00 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Isn't it a surprise that Kerry is so far behind in Florida?

washingtonpost.com: Bush, Kerry Locked in Tight Race (Post, Nov. 2)
Florida Candidate Profiles and Election Results

Robert G. Kaiser: The raw vote totals now available are not indicative of how close the race is. Exit polls suggest Florida is very, very close.

Posted 8:57 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: Hi, thanks for the chat.

Do you think there's any chance the heavy turnout in Fairfax could tilt the VA-10 and VA-11 house races to the challengers, or are Davis and Wolfe safe?

Robert G. Kaiser: Probably safe.

Posted 8:56 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Minneapolis, Minn.: I feel like the media is on stage tonight, and how they cover the election will determine how much faith readers, viewers and listeners have in the nation's media outlets.

How are they doing so far?

Robert G. Kaiser: You have to decide. Sadly, the media is already held in a minimum high regard by a great many Americans.

Posted 8:56 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Alexandria, Va.: You said there was no chance that the Colorado referendum to allocate electors proportionally is unconstitutional. But the constitution says that the State Legislature must decide how to select the electors. Doesn't that raise a question about whether a referendum, instead of the legislature doing it directly, is constitutional?

Robert G. Kaiser: Aha. Sorry. I just don't know.

Posted 8:56 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Atlanta, Ga.: What effect do you see of the extension of the polls in certain areas of Pennsylvanialvania?

Robert G. Kaiser: More people will be allowed to vote!

Posted 8:55 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Chicago, Ill.: Within Ohio, what are the battle ground counties?

Robert G. Kaiser: Every one.

Posted 8:55 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Weston, Fla.: If Kerry wins, and I know it is big if, what are the chances of McCain being offered Secretary of Defense and his accepting, if offered.

Robert G. Kaiser: I'd guess that the chances of those two things happening are 1) small and 2) none.

Posted 8:54 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Atlanta, Ga.: Any surprises that catch your eye so far? Any interesting early trends or surprising factoids so far?

Robert G. Kaiser: The surprise is that all the battleground states are either tipping to Kerry or are too close to call. It's too early to draw any conclusions, but it's easy to see why the mood among Democrats at the moment is better than the mood among Republicans.

Posted 8:54 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: I was surprised to see a Canadian criticizing the Electoral College. After all, the Prime Minister in Canada is not popularly elected, and it's entirely possible that a party could win a majority of seats in the House of Commons (from which the PM is chosen) without winning an aggregate majority of the popular vote.

Robert G. Kaiser: thanks for posting.

Posted 8:52 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: News from Maryland -- Mikulski Projected to Win Fourth Term

Posted 8:51 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: This is neat.

I stood in long lines to vote this morning and, since I had LOTS of time to ponder, I started to wonder if the candidates (local and national) also have to stand in line at their home precinct or if they have some other procedure?

Robert G. Kaiser: I think they can usually avoid the lines.

Posted 8:51 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Will voters still standing in long lines close to poll closing time get to cast their vote?

Robert G. Kaiser: Yes, nearly always.

Posted 8:50 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Latest Presidential Results

Electoral Vote Count:
Bush -- 89
Kerry -- 77

Posted 8:49 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Fort Worth, Tex.: Any significance to the early lead for the D senatorial candidate in KY, even with Bush maintaining a lead?

Robert G. Kaiser: Sure. Jim Bunning is fighting for his political life.

Posted 8:43 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Hilton Head Island, S.C. : I know this is all wait-and-see, but lawyers from both parties seem poised to pounce on any state(s), especially Ohio and Florida, where races are expected to be extremely close. Is there a sense that there will be litigation regardless of the outcomes in these contentious states? Or might the grumblings quiet to a dull roar if one of the candidates wins by several percentage points or by a certain number of votes(an unexpected amount), thus making the results more difficult to challenge?

Robert G. Kaiser: too soon to say.

Posted 8:39 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Merritt Island, Fla.: If Kerry and Edwards lose the election, will they continue to serve in the Senate? If so, for how long?

Robert G. Kaiser: Edwards retired from the Senate; Kerry has, I think, four years on his current term.

Posted 8:39 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Oakland, Calif.: What are the next few states for which you expect there to be some results and predicted winners?

Robert G. Kaiser: Here's the list of closing times in various states. We begin getting projections soon after the polls close.

washingtonpost.com: Poll Closing Times

Posted 8:38 p.m., 11.2.2004

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New York, N.Y.: What's the statistical probability of an electoral tie?
That is, how many situations exist in which both candidates could end up with 269 electoral votes? And if we end up in a tie, who would likely win the tie-breaker in Congress?

Robert G. Kaiser: The odds against a tie are enormous.

Bush would likely win a vote in the House.

Posted 8:38 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: The Post's list shows Florida's polls closing at 7 p.m. EST. Remember, the Florida panhandle runs on Central time, and polls there will remain open until 8 pm EST.

washingtonpost.com: Poll Closing Times

Robert G. Kaiser: Mentioned that earlier. thanks.

Posted 8:38 p.m., 11.2.2004

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San Carlos, Calif.: Thank you SO much for the Channel Surfer. But why doesn't it cover NPR? They've called states that don't show up on your map.

Ryan Thornburg: Alas, we're just looking at TV in the Channel Surfer. But thanks for pointing out NPR's race calls.

Posted 8:37 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Edwall, Wash.: What do you media types do to substitute for exit polls in states where the voting is all or primarily vote by mail? I've always wondered why exit polls work anywayy, who I vote for is nobody else's business and I wouldn't answer. Doesn't that independent attitude screw up the poll results?

Robert G. Kaiser: The exit poll organization is conducting old-fashioned telephone surveys of early voters to try to learn how they are voting. I am suspicious of this methodology myself.

Posted 8:37 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Do you think the two NoVa ballot initiatives for WMATA and Metro will pass?

Marc Fisher: There are no returns from Fairfax at this moment on the transportation bond issue, but the Arlington bond issues are winning handily. Proponents of extending Metro to Tysons Corner and Dulles Airport see this vote as a referendum on the future of Metro very much as last year's defeat of the proposed sales tax for road construction was a vote of no confidence for Virginia's state transportation department.

Posted 8:37 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arizona: Is the popular vote count on the Post's home page based on exit polls or actual numbers?

Robert G. Kaiser: actual votes.

Posted 8:36 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Working Late, Washington, D.C.: Any thoughts on the SC Senate race? I see that it shows the R candidate with a big lead, but with only 1% of precincts reporting. Any chance that will change?

washingtonpost.com: South Carolina Candidate Profiles and Election Results

Robert G. Kaiser: Networks are calling it Too Close To Call.

Posted 8:36 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Annapolis, Md.: Why was the Osama bin Laden video tape transcript released so late?

I just followed the link you provided and read it. I think many people would have been better served reading the transcript rather than simply hearing about the two presidential candidates responses to it.

washingtonpost.com: Transcript: Translation of Bin Laden's Videotaped Message (washingtonpost.com, Nov. 1)

Robert G. Kaiser: The government sat on it. We don't know why. Interesting fact that Al Jazeera didn't release it at once. Don't know why.

Posted 8:36 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: Do the campaigns have their own independent exit polling or are they looking at the same data as the major networks and the AP?

Robert G. Kaiser: The two parties have a sort of exit poll operation, checking on results in key precincts, but they rely on the basic network/AP system.

Posted 8:35 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Alexandria, Va.: I prefer your quiet, thoughtful web coverage to all the babbling pundits on television, even the ones on PBS. I like the fact that I am not bombarded on this site with minute-by-minute factoids from babbling pundits and TV "reporters," an oxymoron if there ever was one. Keep your coverage the way it is and as for the idea of introducing streaming videos of talking Punditheads, don't even think about it.

Robert G. Kaiser: Thanks. No pundits here.

Posted 8:34 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Fairfax, Va.: As a student, I've voted absentee in both the 2000 and 2004 elections. Is my vote counted? I heard that states only count the absentee ballots if the race is close enough that they could make a difference. This makes me doubtful about the veracity of reported national popular vote totals.

Robert G. Kaiser: You've heard wrong. your votes are counted.

Posted 8:33 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Ok, I hate to sound stupid, but what's the difference between exit polls and what the Post.com is showing on the home page? Because Virginia looks very strong toward Bush from those numbers (much to this voter's dismay), but people keep saying that the exit polls make it too close to call. What gives?

I think Wonkette has been getting my hopes up all day.

Robert G. Kaiser: Wonkette is not a journalist, has no editor, and should not be a primary source, in my opinion.

Exit polls are random surveys of voters as they leave the polling place. Those polled are meant to be a cross section of all voters, and representative of the whole body of voters. Raw voters are raw votes, and they can come in in bizarre order: all rural votes, all Norfolk votes, whatever.

Posted 8:33 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Photo Galleries: Bush & Kerry on the Trail

Posted 8:32 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Sacramento, Calif.: This year there was more early voting (before election day). What do you think of letting people vote as soon as they've decided, and having those results known to the candidates? For example, people could start to vote any time after September 1? Then candidates would really know where they stood and who was undecided. For voters, it encourages them to vote, and eliminates the possibility of encountering a snag on election day (e.g., bad weather) and thus not voting.

Robert G. Kaiser: Geez, you would open a real Pandora's box. I'm against it.

Posted 8:31 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Sydney, Australia: Exit polling seems to indicate that Kerry is getting the women's vote. Do you agree and will that be decisive in the swing states?

Robert G. Kaiser: nope

Posted 8:30 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Columbia, Md.: What is happening with Maryland? What about the Senate, did Sen Mikulski hold on to her seat, is it too soon to tell?

Marc Fisher: Mikulski is as close to a mortal lock as exists. What made this race more interesting than her past elections was that her opponent, state legislator E.J. Pipkin, pumped a big load of his own money into the campaign, and actually went on TV against her, in both the Baltimore and Washington markets. Some in the Maryland GOP hoped that Pipkin would be able to demonstrate that Gov. Bob Ehrlich's election was not a fluke and that there is a growing Republican foundation in this very Democratic state. But there's been no evidence thus far that Pipkin will prove that out. So it will remain for Ehrlich to prove in his reelection bid that he won on his merits, and not simply because people didn't like Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Posted 8:30 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Santa Fe, N.M.: Report from a volunteer lawyer at a polling station in New Mexico:

There was a little bit of excitement in the morning, when we heard about a statewide Republican effort to challenge voters at the polls. True to the prediction, the Republican-appointed observer at my precinct began the day very aggressively objecting to legitimate voters, and intimidating voters by leaning his immense 6'4" frame into them. (I was able to get word to a precinct judge, who shut him down (and up)). I've even seen folks who were "registered" by a Republican organization that destroyed their registrations because they registered as democrats. (Their votes can't be counted by law.)

But I've seen a lot more people who've been stricken from the voter rolls accidentally or who were sent to the wrong precinct. (These folks I can usually help.)

This much I can say definitively: whichever force is more powerful, design or defect, its sad that it takes a volunteer lawyer in every district to ensure due process.

Robert G. Kaiser: thanks for posting. of course we can't confirm any of your assertions, but we hope these are accurate!

Posted 8:30 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Toronto, Canada: You mentioned that in only four elections has the loser of the popular vote not become President.
For a Democracy, an example to the world of fairness and democratic values isn't that four times too many.
It was time a long time ago to make the winner the winner.
Why are politicians against the idea?

Howard Kurtz: Each system has its pluses and minuses. Under a straight popular vote system, states like Iowa, West Virginia, New Mexico and others would complain that the candidates were spending all their time in the mega-states. Keep in mind that the American republic was founded on a compromise between a federal government and the states, which is why each state has two senators regardless of population. Having said that, I'm sure lots of ordinary folks wouldn't mind junking the 18th century Electoral College.

Posted 8:28 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: What's the turnout like in Philadelphia -- the city and the
suburban counties?

Robert G. Kaiser: CBS just reported very heavy voting all over Pa. We're looking for some harder facts...

Posted 8:28 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Stafford, Va.: When is the last time Virginia's electoral votes went to a Democrat?

Ann Marchand: The last time was when Lyndon Johnson won Virginia in 1964. Before that, you have to go back to Truman and Roosevelt, who both won the state in the '40s.

Posted 8:27 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Maryland: Sorry if this is a dumb question, but I keep seeing information for DC voters. Doesn't DC NOT have an electoral college vote?

Ann Marchand: D.C. has three electors in the electoral college... Washington does not have voting representatives in Congress. That's where the "taxation without representation" comes from.

Posted 8:27 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: Precincts results are shown as a %. ie 5 % of precincts reporting. Is there anywhere on the web people can view WHICH precincts are reporting in a given state?

This is much more interesting.

Marc Fisher: No, we don't get that information; the elections boards just pump out the raw results as they come in, without identifying individual precincts til the total tally is done.

Posted 8:27 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Temple Hills, Md.: Is there any indication that minority voters are being affected by efforts in Ohio to challenge their registrations?

Paul Farhi: No indications at all. I went to predominantly African-American neighborhoods and polling places today. There were many first-time voters there, and many voters generally. I actually think the attempts to challenge them backfired. They were fiercely determined to vote. It was, if I may say so, really quite inspiring.

Posted 8:27 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: The Post and the networks have Bush up 55%-45% in Virginia with 3% reporting. Is there any way to know what part of the state those 3% reporting are from? There's a big Northern Virginia/rest of Virginia split when it comes to Blue/Red and the 3% reporting would mean more if we knew more about the specific location of the polls reporting.

Marc Fisher: No way to tell, but there are some clues. Generally, the suburban numbers come in first. The latest numbers are often those where the poll workers have to drive the greatest distances to get to the election board--rural areas--and densely populated cities, where long queues and city traffic can delay getting the numbers to the counting facility.

Posted 8:27 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: Why is your national map on your homepage already declaring a certain state red or blue when the corresponding vote tally is based on as little as 12% of precincts reporting? One even listed Bush as the winner with 0 precincts reporting.

Robert G. Kaiser: I'll ask Ryan Thornburg, the wp.com political editor, to answer in more detail, but we are using projections to call states when we are really confident it is safe to do so.

Ryan Thornburg: The Post is calling several of these races -- based on exit polling and the analysis of the Post's political staff. The exit polls are surveys of voters as they are leaving the ballot booths. The Associated Press doesn't poll everyone, so it tries to pick a representative -- but not totally random sample. As the old polling analogy goes: we don't have to eat the whole bowl of soup to know how it tastes. We just have to eat a spoonful or two. That all said, tonight we are following our tradition of being very conservative in declaring winners.

Posted 8:27 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Bel Air, Md.: Any information on the impact of newly registered and newly voting young people?

washingtonpost.com: Bush, Kerry Locked in Tight Race (Post, Nov. 2)
Poll Chiefs Brace for Substantial Challenges (Post, Nov. 1)

Robert G. Kaiser: Much anecdotal info suggests kids are voting in large numbers, and mostly for Kerry. But few hard facts yet.

Posted 8:26 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: They may not be calling Virginia because there are people still standing in line, not because the returns are close.

By the way, the TV is reporting that the NAACP is suing in Ohio to keep polls open in various Democrat-heavy districts because of long lines there. NOW do you understand my earlier point about long lines being called disenfranchisement in some places (but not in Arlington)?

washingtonpost.com: Voters in Line Can Cast Ballots After Polls Close (Post, Nov. 2)

Marc Fisher: The elections supervisors I spoke with today in Maryland and Virginia said they will not count precincts until each precinct is finished, and finished means that everyone who was in the queue at closing time has gotten to cast a ballot.
You might think that with fancy modems and the like, you'd get much faster numbers, but consider these facts: The only polling places that transmit results electronically to election board headquarters are those located in public schools because only those buildings have secure lines for sending data. In all other voting places, the count is still done the old-fashioned way: The cards from the machines are driven down to election board HQ and are processed there.

Posted 8:25 p.m., 11.2.2004

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McLean, Va.: With all the fuss over Ralph Nader, why is that I did not see him on the ballot? I am a first time voter.

Marc Fisher: Virginia election officials rejected Nader's effort to get on the ballot in the state back in September, largely because it turned out that Nader had used out of state residents to collect his qualifying signatures--a violation of Virginia law.

Posted 8:25 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Search your race by state or zip code

Posted 8:21 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Silver Spring, Md.: The exit polls seem to be indicating that Virginia is too close to call, rather than the cakewalk anticipated for the president. Any ideas of what's behind the change?

Marc Fisher: A lot of activist groups in northern Virginia have been shouting from the rooftops for the past 10-15 days that Virginia was winnable for Kerry and that the big boost in registration numbers should have persuaded Kerry to increase his efforts in the Old Dominion. But the Kerry campaign decided instead to move its workers out of Virginia, and as we know, they never spent money on TV in the state.
I've been hearing a lot today about unusually large turnout in Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria. Is that enough to turn the state to Kerry? Probably not. But then add in possibly larger turnout in Richmond generated both by the presidential race and the comeback of Doug Wilder, who is running for mayor there, and then add in big boosts in registration in college towns around the state and you start to see the contours of a close race.

Posted 8:20 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Bowie, Md.: Thanks for this forum!

In Maryland, the election law (as stated on the MD state web site) says that employers have to give workers 2 paid hours time off from work, and that an employee may be required to show "proof" of having voted. My employer won't require it, but I could not help but notice that where I voted today (in PG County) I wasn't given any kind of proof. No paper, and not even the usual "I Voted" sticker. What kind of "proof" does one normally receive at the poll?

Marc Fisher: Hard to imagine. Many of the precincts I visited today had long since run out of "I Voted" stickers. My kids were disappointed that we didn't get any when my family voted. I suppose you could ask a poll worker for a note to give to your teacher, um, boss, but you'd have to find a friendly clerk on a very busy day.

Posted 8:20 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: What are your thoughts on the Colorado reforendum on dividing its electoral vote proportionally. Do you think it will pass, and if so, will it be struck down as unconstitutional?

Robert G. Kaiser: There's no danger it is unconstitutional; the constitution make clear that the states can decide how to allocate their electoral vote. All the late indications were that this referendum would fail.

Posted 8:20 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Bradford, U.K.: Let's post a Kerry win - the more interesting possibility, if not the more likely.

What challenges is he going to face in a Republican dominated Senate?

Robert G. Kaiser: You meant posit? We won't posit. Nor will we posit a Republican senate at this hour.

Posted 8:19 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Photos: Md., D.C., Va. Voting Lines

Posted 8:18 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Associated Press (AP) is projecting that Gov. Easley (North Carolina) as the winner and yet he is trailing the challenger, how can they make this projection?

Robert G. Kaiser: Projections are based on sample precincts that have been good indicators in past elections.

Posted 8:18 p.m., 11.2.2004

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San Francisco, Calif.: re: jury duty. In California, they pull first from the voter's registry, and then from DMV if that doesn't provide a big enough pool of jurors. I think DC goes from DMV records because so few people register to vote there. But most courts will take economic hardship into consideration when selecting jurors!

Robert G. Kaiser: thanks

Posted 8:17 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Fairfax, Va.: Question for Paul Farhi - are the folks reporting back to you in Ohio from the metro Columbus area (students, blacks, etc.) or are they from across the state, reflecting a broader electorate?

Paul Farhi: No, my sample--if you can even call it that--is just metro Columbus area. I have no idea what's going on in the rest of this very interesting state. Columbus, I would point out, is the most closely divided city in the state. Cincy and Dayton are very conservative; Toledo and Cleveland very liberal...

Posted 8:17 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Latest Presidential Results



Latest Electoral Vote Count:


Bush: 66

Kerry: 59

Posted 8:17 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Marc Fisher: Good evening, folks. I've been wandering across the Maryland suburbs and the District over the past few hours and have seen the whole gamut, ranging from extremely long lines to very lonely poll workers. But the general impression is of unusually high turnout, especially in Montgomery County, where many veteran poll workers spoke of never having seen this high a turnout.
I visited several precincts in which by 10 a.m., the voter tally had exceeded the entire turnout at this year's presidential primary. Interesting development in Montgomery: Many precincts found a surprising boost in the number of independents showing up to the polls, many of them first-time voters.
The touch-screen machines generally are working well in Montgomery, despite one big foul-up in Germantown early this morning. In the District, where voters may choose between paper and electronic ballots, the overwhelming majority pick paper.

Posted 8:07 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Gig Harbor, Wash.: Does a large voter turnout and a significant number of people who are newly registered voters tend to favor the Democratic Party?

Terry Neal: The conventional wisdom is that large-turnouts tend to favor the party that's not in power. So yes, this year, that would be the Democrats. But this is such a strange year, with terrorism and memories of 9/11 weighing so heavily on people's minds, who knows whether that trend will hold. This is one of these things that will become clearer in the reporting over the next few days and weeks.

Posted 8:02 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Greenbelt, Md.: Why have the networks (or at least NBC) been reporting about 3 percent of the votes counted already in Florida, when the polls there only close at 8 p.m.? (I'm writing this at 7:55 p.m.) Shouldn't we be smelling a rat? Or at least I thought the networks weren't supposed to report results for a state while a state's polls are still open.

washingtonpost.com: Channel Surfer

Robert G. Kaiser: Florida is in two time zones; most of the state's polls closed at 7 p.m.

Posted 7:57 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Monterey, Calif.: I hope my earlier message got through, but if it didn't, I just wanted to say a sincere thank you for the invaluable forum and insights you have provided with these online discussions during what has been a very difficult and confusing time for America during the past three years.

More than once... indeed, dozens of times... you helped me stay sane.

You go, Wash Po!

Thank you.

Terry Neal: You're welcome. And thank you for the kind words.

Posted 7:56 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Los Angeles, Calif.: Am I correct in believing that these early vote counts consist entirely of election day votes? When will early voting and absentee votes be added into the mix?

Robert G. Kaiser: Different states will report the early votes differently. Sorry.

Posted 7:55 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Alexandria, Va.: The Channel Surfer link on your main page - BRILLIANT! And to think I went out and bought four Tivo's to keep track of the networks when I could've just fixated on washingtonpost.com!!

Robert G. Kaiser: Thanks.

Posted 7:54 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Perth, Australia: It looks like the Republicans have won Zell Miller's seat in Georgia. Can the Democrats still be called a national party when their position in the South keeps weakening?

Robert G. Kaiser: Yes.

Posted 7:53 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Sacramento, Calif.: It seems like the increase in voter turnout may benefit senator Kerry, even though the Republicans also have a very focused "get out the vote" plan as well. How much of a factor do you think that voter turnout will play in a Democrat or Republican victory? Thanks for your comments.

Howard Kurtz: Turnout is the ballgame in such a close election. No matter who wins, it will largely be because their massive registration and get-out-the-vote efforts succeeding in getting more of their folks to the polls (especially in such places as Ohio and Florida).

Posted 7:53 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Farmington, Mich.: What are immediate consequences if Bush lost, nationally and internationally?

Robert G. Kaiser: And what is the meaning of life? And when will the Red Sox win the World Series again?

Posted 7:53 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Seattle, Wash.: It looks like trouble for Bush. North Carolina and Virginia are too close to call, and it seems that turnout is extremely high, which favors Kerry. You agree?

Robert G. Kaiser: It's early, it's early.

Posted 7:52 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Fairfax, Va.: What do you make of the fact that there were few apparent challenges in Ohio? Are the Republicans planning something else (post election) using the reports of their "witnesses", or did they give up? Thanks

Paul Farhi: All of us ink-stained wretches (and a few of the TV news people, too) were trying to find those legendary Republican challenges here in Ohio. We found none, as far as I can tell. I'm not entirely sure the GOP gave up, but they certainly backed off. The court battle was confusing until the end (though they finally DID get approval to challenge people), but I think a political calculation took over: I think they figured it would be horrendous PR for the party to be seen as aggressively trying to keep people from voting.

Posted 7:52 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Farmington, Mich.: By what time will the final results be out?

Terry Neal: No one knows. Each state sets the time for its polls to close. So we'll be getting results from 7 p.m. tonight through 1 a.m. when the last polls close. It will be possible to call some of those states virtually as soon as the polls close, based on exit polls alone. In other states, however, it might take hours before they can be called.
My guess is the race won't be called until well into the early morning hours--and possibly not even until tomorrow or later.

Posted 7:52 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Morgantown, W. Va. (Not Red): Do you think the media contributes to the polarization with the red-blue designation? Isn't it misleading? WV is a very democratic state that voted for Bush last time and may again but I would not consider us red republican. In 2000 the vote margins were so close I think there should have been another category--purple.

Robert G. Kaiser: Hey, the whole country is purple. I don't think either candidate will get more than 70 percent of the vote in any state, and in only a few will one go over 60%.

Posted 7:51 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Latest on the Elections Called in the Last 15 Minutes

Posted 7:50 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Philadelphia, Pa.: A bit of slightly off topic trivia -- assuming Chief Justice Rehnquist's health remains poor, there may need to be someone else swearing in whoever gets elected on Jan 20, 2005. When was the last time for a regular inaugural (i.e., other than after a presidential death) that a president- elect was sworn in by someone other than the Chief Justice?

washingtonpost.com: Rehnquist's Illness Forces Absence (Post, Nov. 2)

Mark Stencel: Wow. What a stumper. The chief justice almost always swears in the president -- except in unusual circumstances, such as LBJ in 1963. Chief Justice Harlan Stone swore in Truman in 1945.

But the chief justice's role is a tradition, not a requirement. As best I can tell, Calvin Coolidge might have been the last president to be sworn in by anyone other than chief justice, other than LBJ. I think Coolidge's father administered the oath for him.

Chief Justice Rehnquist has administered the oath to the president four times -- in 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001.

Interesting Web site, by the way, for those of you whose minds have already wandered to January's inaugural: http://www.afic.army.mil/swear-in_cerem.htm

Posted 7:50 p.m., 11.2.2004

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New York: Zogby is predicting a Kerry win. What is your analysis? The exit polls are also confirming this.

washingtonpost.com: Live Online Transcript: John Zogby (washingtonpost.com. Oct. 29)

Terry Neal: I would caution people to be careful with this. Zogby is basing his prediction on poll results from individual states and then adding up the electoral votes based on what the polls predict. The problem is, it is that too many of these swing states are too close to call and certainly within the polls' margin of error.
People should just hang tight and let this thing play out.

Posted 7:49 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Fairfax, Va.: I know that Ohio's polls officially close at 7:30, but if they're anything like around here I bet tons of people are still in line -- will the polls stay open until the last one in line at 7:30 votes, and if so any guestimates from the field as to how late that will be? What about the other battlefield states?

Paul Farhi: Word here is they will stay open long past 7:30, if need be, and need will be, based on the long lines here. The drill, as I understand it, is if you're in the building waiting to vote when the polls close, you'll get to vote.

Posted 7:48 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Metro Center, Washington, D.C.: What's going on with Bunning? Drudge has him winning but Post shows the challenger far ahead.

Thanks for all the great work!
A Live Online addict.

Robert G. Kaiser: Here's the link to the result we have:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/elections/2004/ky/?flashpage=map

Posted 7:48 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Charlottesville, Va.: Too close to call in Virginia? This is a pretty big surprise and a bad sign for Bush.

Robert G. Kaiser: agreed. if true.

Posted 7:46 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Elections Called in the Last 15 Minutes

Posted 7:46 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: Your take on Virginia being to close to call? What about S.C., N.C., and W. Va.? I don't see local issues that would turn all these red states to blue. Might this mean it is not all going to be Ohio and Florida?

Howard Kurtz: The nets have all called West Virginia for Bush. But projections in the others are, among other things, complicated by the heavy early and absentee voting.

Posted 7:46 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Oakland, Calif.: I know we can't expect the electoral college to be replaced by a popular vote any time soon -- the small states have too much to lose, and would block any amendment in the Senate.

But, what about an amendment mandating the kind of proportional distribution of electoral votes already put into effect in Maine. If there's another debacle like the 2000 election any chance of that getting serious consideration? What do the parties think of the idea?

Robert G. Kaiser: As I noted below, it's up to the individual states to decide how to allocate their electoral vote.

Posted 7:46 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: The Post has just called West Virginia for Bush. This was one of the closest states in 2000, but Kerry never was able to grab traction this year in this state.

Posted 7:42 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Paul Farhi: Hi, everyone. This is Paul Farhi, beaming in from Ohio, allegedly the swingy-est of swing states. I'm in Columbus, at the statehouse awaiting results. But from what I saw and heard today running around town, Kerry is looking mighty strong. Floods of first-time voters at the polling places I went to, and they made it very clear to me that they were there not so much to support Kerry as to vote out Bush. This is only anecdotal stuff, but it was very striking to me.

Posted 7:42 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Terry Neal: Good evening everyone. Looks like we've got a very exciting race on our hands. And it looks like it's going to be another very late night. While I can't talk about individual state exit polls just yet, suffice it to say, it's close and way too early to even speculate.
I will be joining you on an off throughout the evening tonight. And I'm looking forward to chatting with you. I'll also be doing appearances on CNN Headline News throughout the night, and feel free to check me there as well.

Terry

Posted 7:41 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Redmond, Wash.: What are the key battleground states, and/or where can I find a Web page listing details about them?

washingtonpost.com: washingtonpost.com's Electoral College Map

Posted 7:40 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Memphis, Tenn.: Any comment on the early exit polls out on the web showing Kerry winning in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvanialvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico?
When will we see these numbers on the networks?

Howard Kurtz: You'll see them a) when each state's polls close, and b) if the result is clear enough that the nets feel comfortable calling the state. So far they've been rather cautious in not calling Ohio, N.C., even Virginia.

Posted 7:40 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Do the early results, by county, in the Red states show any interesting hints of results yet to come. Is Bush's majority bigger than or smaller than his majority in 2000?

Robert G. Kaiser: we don't yet have such info

Posted 7:40 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Chicago, Ill.: Your Web site is showing Isakson the winner in Georgia with zero precincts reporting. Isn't that a little clairvoyant?

Ryan Thornburg: Indeed it is. That said, as it has in years past, the Associated Press is using exit polling to declare winners. And sometimes these surveys of actual voters leaving their ballot booths are so strongly in one direction that the AP declares winners even before they are able to send us vote results. At washingtonpost.com, we are relying on the AP to call most of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate races. We are relying on our own analysis to declare states in the presidential race. And, so far, we are being more cautious than the television networks.

Posted 7:39 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Hinesburg, Vt.: If the electoral college ends up in a tie, who decides the election?

Robert G. Kaiser: The House of Representatives, with each state delegation getting one vote.

Posted 7:39 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Latest Presidential Results.

Electoral Votes:
Bush -- 34
Kerry -- 3

Robert G. Kaiser: Again, these are projections, not based on actual votes cast.

Posted 7:39 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Question: How is the African-American voter bloc for the DEMS (Senator Kerry) this go-around as opposed to the 2000 Presidential election with Senator Gore?

Robert G. Kaiser: We don't know yet

Posted 7:38 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Woodbridge, Va.: In his online column Howard Kurtz quoted some vote counts for a sizable number of voter in two states--I think Florida was one of them--but these votes are not showing up in the figures that you have.

Is that because these early votes are being tabulated into the vote count of their precinct from today? Or are they kept separate?

Also, I don't understand about this early voting. Can anybody who wants to vote early?

washingtonpost.com: Media Notes: Four More Years . . . of Nastiness? (Post, Nov. 2)

Howard Kurtz: What I cited was a POLL of people who had voted early in those key states, so they're not actual figures. Different states have different rules on early voting -- some require a reason, some don't -- but it has become extremely common in some of the western states.

Posted 7:37 p.m., 11.2.2004

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California: Can we still submit poems at the "Ode '04" discussion?

washingtonpost.com: Yes.

Posted 7:28 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Beltsville, Md.: Who's winning?

Robert G. Kaiser: It's intriguing how many questions of this kind we are getting at this hour. The answer of course is that there is as yet no basis for a prediction, or an answer to this query. Obviously a lot of you don't like the tension that comes with having to wait. But you have to wait! I won't keep answering questions like this one; indeed, this is the last one I'll take on.

Posted 7:27 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Overland Park, Kan.: Any predictions on the House/Senate?

Robert G. Kaiser: we don't do predictions here.

Posted 7:23 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.: If John Kerry is elected President, what will happen to his Senate seat?

Robert G. Kaiser: there will be a special election in Mass. early next year to fill the Senate seat.

Posted 7:23 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Sydney, Australia: I wanted to give The Post a big THANK YOU for the fantastic coverage of all aspects of the election. I'm from Colorado and live overseas. The reporting has been thorough and balanced and has given me reason to feel proud of some of the media in the greatest world democracy. Thanks.

Howard Kurtz: We very much appreciate it, Sydney.

Posted 7:21 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: Audio: The Post's Jonathan Finer reports from New Hampshire as the state's polls close.

Posted 7:19 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: At 7:30 p.m. we have three states that are closing their polls, including the battleground state of Ohio. West Virginia and North Carolina are the other states, where Bush held leads in the latest pre-election polls. North Carolina also features probably the second hottest Senate race in the country.

Posted 7:17 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Melbourne, Australia: When it comes to elections I'm somewhat of a romantic. I don't think you should need ID and I think you should get to fill out a little slip of paper and drop it in a box. (It still is this way in Australia, but for how long who knows).

My questions is, with so many votes lodged electronically on touch screens etc. Why does it still take so long for the results to come through? If we have to wait anyway, I think it's better to stay with the romantic option.

washingtonpost.com TechNews editor: Either way, you're still talking about recording and checking and verifying 50 million-plus votes that are filed electronically. Add that to the many other kinds of voting we use stateside -- levers, pens, cards, etc., provisional ballots and absentee ballots (oh my!) until you have millions upon millions ballots, shake and serve... you see how it still is a time-consuming process. -Robert MacMillan

washingtonpost.com:

Posted 7:16 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: We have our first winners of Senate races. Republicans pick up the seat of Democrat Zell Miller in Georgia, who is retiring. Incumbent Democrats win in both Vermont and Indiana, neither of which are a surprise.

Senate Results

Posted 7:15 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: Personally I'd be surprised if Kerry didn't start with a lead as that reflects the ABB (anyone but Bush) voters who've been standing in line for 4 years now to cast another vote. The fact that the Kerry's numbers aren't better and are already starting to fade reflects that the ABB vote is in and now all the DNC has left is the pro Kerry vote. It's gonna be a long night I think.

Howard Kurtz: Well, Bush is out to a 34-3 lead. But no surprise, since the president was expected to easily carry Georgia, Kentucky and Indiana and Kerry to take Vermont.

Robert G. Kaiser: We should perhaps make clear that Howie is talking about network projections--that's where his electoral vote numbers come from.

Posted 7:12 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Sunny Arizona: Do the US territories like Guam get to vote in the presidential election too? Are they part of the electoral college as well?

Mark Stencel: Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa do not have votes in the Electoral College. Only the 50 states and D.C. Residents of the 50 states or D.C. who live in the U.S. territories and can't make it home for Election Day can vote by absentee ballot, of course.

Posted 7:09 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Charlotte, N.C.: Re: are the Bloggers worthwhile.

I found them useful as a aggregator of mainstream media articles that I may not otherwise be aware of. You just have to be cognizant of the bias of the blogger.

Robert G. Kaiser: thanks.

Posted 7:07 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Boston, Mass.: I keep hearing about all these scenarios where Bush and Kerry could receive an equal number of electoral college votes. Are any of them likely, and if so, which one is most likely to occur?

washingtonpost.com: Electoral College Calculus (Post, Oct. 27)

Robert G. Kaiser: Here's a good account.

Posted 7:07 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Bill from Peabody, Mass.: What would you say is the single most critical state at this point?

(In my mind, it's Florida).

How about the three most important?

(Florida, Pennsylvanialvania, Ohio are the choices here)

I am thinking about states that are not solidly in one camp or another based on the polls.

I am also keeping an eye to the north to see what New Hampshire is going to do. Small state, but it could set a trend.

Robert G. Kaiser: I like your list.

Posted 7:06 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: We're keeping track of the major TV networks tonight and will be updating as each network declares winners in each state:

Channel Surfer

Posted 7:06 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: About how long after (all) the polls close from each state can we expect that state to be called? I am trying to fill in my handy little electoral map and I want to be sure I don't jump the gun!

washingtonpost.com: Poll Closing Times

Robert G. Kaiser: It's starting right now with the 7 p.m. states. Here's a list of the closing times. the networks will try to make calls soon after these closing times.

Posted 7:03 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Salt Lake City, Utah: Thank you all for your fine reporting.

Question - on the table on the front page, why does it not list where those "popular vote" numbers are coming from? What is the point of including the popular vote at all?

Robert G. Kaiser: It's coming from the AP's vote-counting system. Don't you want to know the popular vote? I sure do.

Posted 6:55 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Woodbridge, Va.: I have relatives who refuse to register to vote because their employment is such that their income would temporarily stop if they were called for jury duty. Are voter registration lists used for jury duty in all states? Is this a common reason for refusing to register?

Robert G. Kaiser: I hope not. In DC it's the driver's license records that land you on jury duty, isn't it?

Do your relatives think of themselves as good citizens? Or as citizens at all?

Posted 6:54 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Winchester, Mass. : What happens when 8:00 p.m. comes and the lines are still down the block. Does that mean those still waiting won't be able to cast their vote?

washingtonpost.com: Voters Turn Out Nationwide in Droves (Post, Nov. 2)

Mark Stencel: From all we've heard in every area we've spoken to, if you're in line when the polls close you'll get to vote. Could delay results and counting from those areas, of course.

Posted 6:52 p.m., 11.2.2004

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London, Canada: Do you guys have an idea whether young voters (i.e. 18-29) are really turning out in high numbers?

washingtonpost.com: Unprecedented Efforts to Mobilize Voters Begin (Post, Nov. 2)
Audio Transcript: Youth Vote: Russell Simmons (washingtonpost.com, Oct. 26)

Robert G. Kaiser: Only anecdotal info, which suggests kids are voting. Stay tuned.

Posted 6:51 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Seattle, Wash.: Will you be leaving the maps, reports, and poll predictions for various states on your internet site after the election so that readers can compare polling results with actual election results?

Ryan Thornburg: Yes, we will.

Our state-by-state analysis will be available always at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/elections/2004/electoral-college/electoral-college.html

Our page Charting the Campaign will remain http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/elections/2004/charting.htmlat:

Posted 6:51 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Great Neck, N.Y.: What is your best guess at the final national voter turnout numbers? Does it look like it's going to break 120 million?

washingtonpost.com: A Passionate, Patient Electorate (Post, Nov. 2)

Robert G. Kaiser: no way to say at this hour.

Posted 6:50 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Palo Alto, Calif.: Did the internet/bloggers make a difference in this election. If so how much and was it for good or bad?

washingtonpost.com: Filter: Your Own Election Night Newsroom (washingtonpost.com, Nov. 2)

Robert G. Kaiser: Who knows? They certainly ate up a lot of time of the people who read them. Did those people benefit from the experience?

Posted 6:50 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Buffalo, N.Y.: Do you think it is politically possible establish national standards and procedures for elections? I have observed elections in Peru, South America. They now have an independent national electoral agency, one list of voters based on national identity documents, voter lists with photos of voters, and standard procedures for electoral observers and party poll watchers.
Thanks,
Joanna

Robert G. Kaiser: No. We have a federal system. Voting is a state responsibility. That won't change.

Posted 6:48 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Alexandria, Va.: Why, pray tell, does D.C. get 3 electoral votes? D.C. has no voting seats in either house.

Robert G. Kaiser: 3 is the minimum.

Posted 6:48 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Chicago, Ill.: What is the legal status of a concession? If a candidate concedes and then gets more votes than his or her opponent, does the concession have any standing?

Thank you,

Michael

Robert G. Kaiser: good question. No, a concession has no legal standing. The electoral college vote will determine who is the next president.

Posted 6:47 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Montreal, Quebec: Hi Robert and Howard,

I just wanted to congratulate you (and everyone at the Post) for the excellent, balanced campaign coverage on your Web site this year. It's been the next best thing to being home (in Detroit) to soak up the election energy.

Robert G. Kaiser: thanks for posting. We are all proud of the work The Post has done this year, and proud too of our Web site, which has brought it to so effectively to so many readers all over the world.

Posted 6:47 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Geneva, Switzerland: I just wanted to say thanks for your coverage. It is almost 1 a.m. here and not having television, I have been following the election online at washingtonpost.com. How quickly do you receive election results compared to TV networks?

--Sleepy in Switzerland!

Robert G. Kaiser: We all get them at the same time, from the Associated Press. That's where the vote information on our map, on the top of the home page, will come from, when it comes.

But you can get the results much faster by clicking around our site than you would from television, which has to read them out the slow, old-fashioned way.

Posted 6:46 p.m., 11.2.2004

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San Antonio, Tex.: Robert Kaiser,
In your washingtonpost.com online chat you said there would be some surprises before election day. Other than the bin Laden tape, I didn't see many surprises. Tonight you're promo'ing mystery guests for this online chat. Can you at least give some hint about these mystery guests? Are they political types, entertainment types, political figures or campaign staffers, or more spinmeisters? Can you be a little less mysterious?

Robert G. Kaiser: Howie Kurtz is our first surprise guest. David Von Drehle, Rich Leiby of the Reliable Source, and Chicago correspondent Peter Slevin will drop in later if they have time.

If I promised more surprises than were delivered by the world at large, I apologize. I did think Osama's tape was a fascinating surprise. It wasn't that well reported, I think; would have been better had it come out a week earlier. I hope we can link to the full text here, which I read with great interest this morning.

washingtonpost.com: Transcript: Translation of bin Laden's Videotaped Message

Posted 6:46 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Ammon, New Brunswick, N.J.: The most fascinating momentum story of the last 72 hours was the tightening up of the Pennsylvanialvania race. I thought the Republicans had all but thrown in the towel a week ago. Do the Democrats confirm the potential leakage and, if so, do they have an explanation?

washingtonpost.com: Pennsylvanialvania Candidate Profiles and Election Results

Robert G. Kaiser: On the contrary, Democrats I've talked to are confident about Pennsylvanialvania.

Posted 6:44 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Santa Barbara, Calif.: Mr. Kaiser,

Historically, with presidential elections that are won by landslides, were there commonly-held feelings going into the elections that the results would be one-sided?

Robert G. Kaiser: In my experience, yes, with the exception of 1980. that year there was a sudden, last-minute movement to Ronald Reagan that produced, ultimately, a landslide victory. The Washington Post poll, among many others, actually thought Carter was ahead three days before the voting.

Posted 6:44 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Woodbridge, Va.: What happens when the popular vote is clearly opposite of the electoral vote for a state. For example, Virginia already shows the electoral votes for Bush but what if Kerry gets more actual votes than Bush?

Ryan Thornburg: In each state, the popular vote and the electoral vote will go in the same direction. All of Virginia's 13 electoral votes will go to whichever candidate receives more than 50 percent of the popular vote in Virginia.

Posted 6:43 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Fresno, Calif.: Why does the media spend so much time covering the presidental races and not Congressional races? Don't we care that this governmental body can create the laws, we Americans love to complain about, yet very little medial coverage on these races? What Congress doesn't sell enough papers?

Howard Kurtz: It's true that the presidential race has been so intense this year that it's totally overshadowed the congressional campaigns. One reason is that the Democrats aren't a real threat to recapture the House and have an uphill battle to retake the Senate, so partisan control doesn't seem to be at issue. Also, nearly all House and most Senate incumbents are easily reelected, leaving relatively few contests of real suspense. One exception: Senate minority leader Tom Daschle, who's in a South Dakota dogfight with John Thune to hang onto his job.

Posted 6:39 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Sydney, Australia: As an American living abroad, I was pleased to see the Kerry campaign actively pursue the ex-patriot vote and encourage all Americans overseas to vote absentee - believe it or not, there was even a Kerry for President rally in downtown Sydney!; Having said that, I'm never quite sure if my absentee ballot even gets counted. I seem to recall hearing that absentee ballots are only counted if the race is within a few percentage points in a state - I vote in Maryland and the Presidential nominee there is usually pretty clear. Is this true?

Robert G. Kaiser: I think it is not true. Your vote is supposed to be counted. Some states don't count absentee ballots on election day, but most do.

Posted 6:39 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Why is the election held on the first Tuesday of November? It seems that more people could vote if it were held on the weekend or on a holiday.

Also, why does one need go through a separate voter registration process? It would be easier if it was automatic when you got your social security number (of course, you'll have to prove your are 18 years old at the time of voting), or when you get your passport or some other government issued ID. Better yet why not just swipe your driver licence through a reader to verify who you are and where you live.

Robert G. Kaiser: You have opened old, old questions. In Europe, elections are traditionally held on Sundays, and turnout is usually better than ours.

In some states registration is now virtually automatic when you get a driver's license. States have the right to set the terms for voting.

Posted 6:38 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: At my polling place, I waited three full hours to vote. One police cruiser was stationed across the street all morning, and a second one cruised by slowly from time to time, while the officer inside stared at the line of people. The line was forced to stretch into the street, where garbage trucks rolled by just inches away. A county surveyor disrupted the line at one point, laying down markings that the county apparently decided had to be done right there and then. Electioneering was common, with several people wearing buttons, stickers, and T-shirts for the locally-favored candidate.

Obviously, if conditions like these prevailed in a Republican jurisdiction, they would be widely denounced as classic voter intimidation. But because this was Arlington, a Democratic county under a Democratic state government, it's going to be overlooked as business as usual.

Robert G. Kaiser: Huh?

Posted 6:34 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Honolulu, Hawaii:
Aloha, from Hawaii. As transplanted Washingtonians, it was a pleasure for us to see VP Dick Cheney make a visit to Honolulu this past weekend. He did something here that we only rarely glimpsed in D.C.: he smiled, warmly.

His presence certainly helped. It's difficult being "outside the beltway" on a day like today -- let alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Aloha
William

Robert G. Kaiser: Thanks for posting.

Posted 6:34 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: A bit more on the switch to electronic voting machines from our washingtonpost.com Tech News editor:

They are still used in many places throughout the country, but more local polling places are upgrading their systems because Congress mandated it in the Help America Vote Act, and more importantly, because Congress also authorized $4 billion to be spread among the states to make it happen. Nice incentive. On a more noble level, one of the great goals of voting is to allow every voter, able or otherwise, to vote unassisted. The latest computerized voting machines by and large can do that. That's why disabled groups tend to favor the paperless machines. They see a paper-based receipt showing how you vote as discriminatory, for instance, to the blind.

Posted 6:34 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Yarmouth, Maine: We're on the edge of our seats - please tell us NOW, what's your prediction for presidency?

Robert G. Kaiser: I'm certain it will be Bush.

or Kerry.

Posted 6:34 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Do you expect any significant results before 9:30 p.m. EST? I've got class until then, and am debating skipping out so I can watch what happens as it happens.

Robert G. Kaiser: go to class.

Posted 6:33 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Birmingham, Ala.: What is your best guess as to when we will know, definitively, who won the presidential election?

Robert G. Kaiser: No way to guess.

Posted 6:32 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Falls Church, Va.: How come Ralph Nader was not on the Virginia's ballot?

washingtonpost.com: Nader Hits Reds, Blues (Nov. 2)

Robert G. Kaiser: He didn't qualify under state laws.

Posted 6:32 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Oakland, Calif.: What is the status of polling in Ohio?

washingtonpost.com: Court in Ohio Clears Way for Voting Challengers (Post, Nov. 2)
Ohio Candidate Profiles and Election Results

washingtonpost.com: First polls close in Ohio at 7:30 p.m. You'll find updated results here: Ohio Results

Robert G. Kaiser: There don't seem to have been problems in many areas. We will be looking for facts about the challenges to voters that the late court decision last night made possible.

Posted 6:32 p.m., 11.2.2004

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San Antonio, Tex.: Rather than focus on the results of election polls at this very early stage of the game, is there any information yet on the sheer number of people who went to the polls--for example, which large state had the largest number of voters, which state had the biggest increase in voters in comparison to 2000, which state had the largest turnout relative to population, which state had the most aggressive get-out-the vote campaign that yielded results?

Robert G. Kaiser: Good question, and the answer is no. We have tons of what we call anecdotal evidence of a very big turnout, and we have numbers from some locations confirming that the vote will be bigger there this time than last, but it is still too early to say anything definitive about who has voted today.

Posted 6:31 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Falls Church, Va.: I remember back in the 1980s and earlier, when I lived in the Carolinas, the voting machines were massive, with a lever to click for each candidate or question. There was even a "master" lever to vote a straight ticket. When finished voting, you pulled another lever and the curtain behind you opened. These machines were not electronic, so I don't know how they "remembered" the votes. But they seemed to work well. Why are they not used today?

washingtonpost.com: E-Voting Special Report

Robert G. Kaiser: They've been overtaken by more modern technology--which may or may not be superior technology, but which is much easier to use, to transport, etc.

Posted 6:29 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Austin, Tex.: What is this history or justification behind presidential elections based on electoral votes as opposed to popular votes? It seems strange that a candidate can win office after without winning popular vote. Is it possible, considering election of 2000, that if one candidate wins office with electoral votes but looses popular votes, that there may be a change in presidential policy?

Howard Kurtz: The history is pretty simple--it's in the Constitution, part of a compromise so that the small states would not feel slighted. There have been periodic attempts to reform the Electoral College, but a constitutional amendment has not passed both houses of Congress. And even if it did, it would be an uphill battle to win approval from 3/4 of the state legislatures because small states like Iowa and New Hampshire continue to believe they'd see little of the candidates if it was all about popular votes. The result, of course, is that states like New York, California and Texas see little of the candidates (except for fundraising) because they haven't been "swing" states for some time.

Posted 6:29 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: What do you think the chances are, in reality, of a reform of the electoral college system? It seems that some changes are due to be made, but I would guess that change would be difficult to implement on such an important/touchy issue. Would a very close, contested result this year mean a greater likelihood of reform?

Robert G. Kaiser: As I said earlier (see below), the states have the power to make reforms, so I think there is a chance it will happen, not all at once of course.

Posted 6:28 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Mark Stencel: In answer to the earlier question from Washington, D.C., on all the gay marriage amendments.....

Eleven states have these initiatives on the ballot: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah.

Republicans hoped having these issues on the ballot could mobilize religious conservatives, which would help President Bush. In most of those states, polls have shown strong support for these measures heading into Election Day. Support was more evenly divided on the question in Oregon, I believe.

The Post's pre-election analysis, which was published Sunday, ranked all of these states as solid Bush states, except for Michigan and Oregon (which were leaning Sen. Kerry's way) and Ohio (which The Post analysis ranked as a tossup).

Posted 6:27 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Freehold, N.J.: Who are the electors? How are they selected to the Electoral College?

washingtonpost.com: This graphic from today's paper explains this well: How the Electoral College Works

Posted 6:20 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Saint Marys City, Md.: What do you think would be the best way to watch the returns come in. Well, with a nice glass of wine, sure, but radio? Internet? TV? Any particular network or source?

washingtonpost.com: Filter: Your Own Election Night Newsroom (washingtonpost.com, Nov. 2)

Robert G. Kaiser: Here's an article with good answers to your question. Personally I'd be tempted to combine the Web, of course beginning with washingtonpost.com, and NPR, with Robert Siegel and Linda Wertheimer anchoring--two of the best in the business. And no commercials. But this is a night for sampling from the multimedia feast available now to nearly all of us.

Posted 6:20 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Charlottesville, Va.: Will reporters and news agencies this time pursue any election irregularities? Last presidential election the press dropped the ball and allowed a coup to take place. This time, the same group will attempt the same thing. Please protect the people by showing them what is happening, by asking questions, by pursuing the truth.

Thank you, Charlotte

washingtonpost.com: Elephants Are Red, Donkeys Are Blue (Post, Nov. 2)
Media Notes: Four More Years . . . of Nastiness? (Post, Nov. 2)

Robert G. Kaiser: Charlotte from Charlottesville? Well, why not.

Your history is highly disputable. We spent huge resources reporting on what happened in Florida four years ago. In my opinion, based on very careful and thorough reporting by The Post, there was no coup in 2000.

Posted 6:19 p.m., 11.2.2004

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washingtonpost.com: We have our first numbers of the night, from the Kentucky Senate Race: U.S. Senate: Kentucky

Posted 6:19 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Alexandria, Va.: Do you believe the act of voting meant more to voters of all stripes (Democrats, Republicans, etc.) because of September 11?

I am in my 40s and I must confess I felt misty-eyed at the polls in a powerful, poignant way I don't remember for previous elections, and it was really a nonpartisan moment. Could that be the reason for the big turnout? After all, the parties' "ground games" can do all the inviting they want, but there's some reason so many of us accepted the invite.

Robert G. Kaiser: Good point. Thanks for posting.

Posted 6:17 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Rome, Italy: What are your thoughts on absentee ballots; how much can they change the vote?

Howard Kurtz: They can absolutely swing an election, especially in the record numbers being returned this year. In some western states, absentees can make up half or more of the total vote. One of the reasons the networks botched their Florida projections in 2000 is that they badly underestimated the absentee vote in the state.

Posted 6:17 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: Ok. The exit polls are starting to come out. Question is why isn't the Post reporting their results. We all know exit polls can be wrong, but when they produce a trend, it is surprising you have not reported them. With, of course, the usual caveats.

Robert G. Kaiser: As I reported earlier, The Post has a contract with the provider of exit poll results that precludes us from reporting the results until the polls are closed.

Posted 6:17 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Monterey, Calif.: What is the latest on Justice Rehnquist's health? If the courts have to end up deciding this election, will he be well enough to do so? Is he still in the hospital?

washingtonpost.com: Rehnquist's Illness Forces Absence (Post, Nov. 2)

Robert G. Kaiser: This story from this morning's Post makes clear the seriousness of the Chief's illness. Let's hope, for this and many other reasons, that this election does not have to be resolved in the Supreme Court.

Posted 6:16 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: What effect, if any, has the various state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage had on the presidential race?

Robert G. Kaiser: we'll be watching that through the night.

Posted 6:15 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Joplin, Mo.: I voted this morning at 8.45. I had to be in que for one hour. Not bad. It is cold, windy and cloudy in Joplin!
I called my son in Chicago and he said hour and a half waiting even though he arrived at voting place at 6.30 a.m. People are more excited and are voting in large number irrespective of age and local weather condition. What do you predict the outcome of such a large turnout?

washingtonpost.com: Voters Turn Out Nationwide in Droves (Post, Nov. 2)

Robert G. Kaiser: Thanks for posting. As indicated below, I think a high turnout probably favors Kerry. So do the experts in both parties.

Posted 6:15 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Atlanta, Ga.: Has any one analyzed the statistical possibility that someone in the electoral college could "switch" party lines and cast a vote for the other candidate? Has it ever happened before and have any of the electoral college members been the focus of any "switching" pressure in this years election?

washingtonpost.com: In Class, Suddenly the Electoral College Counts (Post, Nov. 2)

Mark Stencel: Today's vote for president actually is for the electors who will meet in Washington next month to officially choose the president. In all but two states (and possibly a third, if a state constitutional amendment passes in Colorado) award all of their electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote. Many states require the electors to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged. However, a handful of times electors have voted for another candidate or not voted at all. These are sometimes called "faithless electors."

So far, no state that I know of has ever punished a faithless elector. And I don't think a faithless elector has ever tipped the outcome of a presidential election.

One recent example is the Democratic elector in 1988 who cast a vote for president for vice presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen instead of presidential candidate Michael S. Dukakis. Four years ago, one of the District of Columbia's three presidential electors abstained to protest the city's lack of democratic representation. That meant Vice President Al Gore got 266 votes in the electoral college instead of the 267 he should have received.

A Republican elector from West Virginia has threatened to withhold his vote from President Bush. That could matter, if the outcome hinged on a single electoral vote. That outcome is a theoretical possibility -- probably unlikely. But I guess, as we all learned four years ago, stranger things have happened.

Posted 6:14 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Springfield, Va.: Hello, when I went to vote this morning, I was told to remove my kerry t shirt as I was electioneering. I was quiet, subdued and in line speaking to no one. I was told I would either cover it or take it off. I want to know what law says you cannot wear a t-shirt saying anything you wish. I am a private citizen not a political party employee.

Robert G. Kaiser: See the answer below about election laws. Virginia, like D.C., has a law against any show of political preference in the polling place.

Posted 6:13 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Honolulu, Hawaii: How likely is it that Hawaii's four electoral votes will be pivotal to this election?

washingtonpost.com: Hawaii Candidate Profiles and Election Results

Robert G. Kaiser: Too soon to say.

Posted 6:12 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Gaithersburg, Md.: RE: Earlier question about Native Americans. Having worked elections in my native state of Arizona (home of one of the largest Native American populations in the nation) I can tell you: 1. Native Americans do indeed vote; 2. Their vote is indeed important and significant.

Robert G. Kaiser: thanks

Posted 6:12 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Philadelphia, Pa.: What are the federal election laws regarding political literature at polling places? What about in Pennsylvanialvania?

washingtonpost.com: Most of the state laws I'm finding on the Web say buttons, posters and literature -- including sample ballots -- are fair game outside polling places, but not inside.

Findlaw.com's Election Law Special Report

Robert G. Kaiser: That's right. There is no federal election law applying to such matters.

Posted 6:11 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Hoffman Estates, Ill.: Don't you think the Electoral College system has got to change before the next presidential election? I live in Illinois where we have seen virtually nothing of either Bush or Kerry. It's not fair.

Robert G. Kaiser: The way to change this for you is to convince your Illinois politicians to adopt the Maine system, which splits the state's electoral vote depending on how many votes the candidates get. If every state had such a system (and under the Constitution, the states can decide how to allocate their electoral votes), the candidates would surely come to every one of them, I'd bet.

Posted 6:11 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Brunswick, Maine: NPR reported earlier tonight that voter intimidation, faulty equipment and excessive challenges to voters is not as great as was initially feared, at least so far. Does your reporting agree with this conclusion?

Robert G. Kaiser: Yes, so far.

Posted 6:08 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Laurel, Md.: If the popular vote ends up virtually tied, which candidate should have an edge in the Electoral College?

washingtonpost.com: Graphic: What's at Stake: Electoral Votes

Howard Kurtz: Hard to say. There have only been four instances in American history when the popular-vote winner lost the presidency. You may remember the last time this happened. There was some chatter in the press in recent days that perhaps Bush would win the popular vote this time and lose in the Electoral College. Obviously if one candidate wins by, say, 2 or more percentage points in the popular vote, it becomes very hard for that person not to get to 270.

Posted 6:08 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Arlington, Va.: A few web pages are reporting exit poll numbers from key states, what do you think of the practice of not waiting until all the polls close? How likely are exit polls to indicate a genuine lead if there was extensive advance/absentee voting? I can't remember an election that was this close on the last day.

Robert G. Kaiser: I'd rather it didn't happen, but am fatalistic/realistic about it. It WILL happen. As I said previously (and in this discussion, unlike ones you may remember from washingtonpost.com, the latest posting will be on TOP, earlier ones on the bottom), I don't think exit polls are very accurate. Indeed, I know from experience that they can be wrong. And in most circumstances, I don't think the leaking of them will alter real voting.

Posted 6:07 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Redmond, Wash.: IS it correct that CNN and other networks will begin providing projections as soon as the East Coast polls close? If so, wouldn't that risk influencing voters in other states -- i.e., producing self-fulfilling/self-defeating or "bandwagon" effects? Didn't we go through this issue years back?

Howard Kurtz: All the networks have promised only not to project the results in a particular state until all the polls have closed in that state--itself an improvement over four years ago. It's possible, therefore, that one candidate will reach 270 in the eastern and central states before the West Coast votes (or at least it will be clear that the candidate is headed to victory, since everyone expects Kerry to win California, for example.) The alternative would be no projections in any state until 11 pm eastern, and the networks would never go for that.

Posted 6:04 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Two Questions about Native Americans:

Do you think the Native American vote will be significant in the South Dakota Senate race and in states where the presidential race is close, such as New Mexico?

Do exit poll numbers reflect voters on Indian reservations?

Robert G. Kaiser: 1) For sure.
2) I hope so. They must in those two states. Well, I say must, but I don't really know.

Posted 6:04 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Washington, D.C.: Is there a general consensus on how exit polls affect voter behavior? Are people less likely to vote if the early exit polls show their candidate winning or losing?

Robert G. Kaiser: There is no consensus and, in most cases, no real effect. One exception was in 1980, when Jimmy Carter's early concession, before polls had closed in California, had big ripple effects out West.

Posted 6:04 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Chicago, Ill.: Any predictions about how 2008 will now shape up?

Howard Kurtz: Can't we get through tonight first? Maybe not. I suspect some news organizations, and certainly bloggers, will be publishing stories and speculation tomorrow about What This Means for Hillary, Edwards, Jeb, McCain, Frist et al. Just when the rest of the country might like a brief respite.

Robert G. Kaiser: Fat chance.

Posted 6:03 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Robert G. Kaiser: First correction of the night: In fact, polls do close at 6 p.m. in Kentucky and Indiana, so we should begin to have real results before 7. Sorry.

Posted 6:03 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Recife, Brazil: Do you actually begin to get results by 6 p.m. EST?

Robert G. Kaiser: No. We'll have some results shortly after 7.

Posted 6:01 p.m., 11.2.2004

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San Jose, Calif.: With electronic voting machines breaking down, and many machines having no printer to create a hardcopy, what can/may be done to ensure a full count, and address concerns of technical vote count fraud?

washingtonpost.com: Area E-Vote Seems to Be Going Smoothly (washingtonpost.com, Nov. 2)
E-Voting Special Report

washingtonpost.com: From our Tech News Editor --
Your options for your trip to the polls today are a) Don't worry be happy, b) Try not to think about it, c) Deal with it, d) Don't vote -- and I don't recommend that option. In general, the only answer for this year is that you must trust that the machines are working. The voting machine companies and local/state elections officials have heard loud and clear from voters that printers are the way to go and the machine manufacturers are already working on outfitting the machines with printers for 2006. That's how long it should take to get that process in gear, especially because new voting equipment has to pass federal standards first to insure that it's safe. And keep in mind -- touch-screen voting technology might not be much more secure than old-fashioned pen-and-paper, but it's hardly less secure either.

Posted 6:01 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Bowie, Md.: It appears that more people are voting for this election, what do you think was the biggest influence(s) to motivate individuals to exercise their right to vote -- (ex.) war, economy, political activism among popular figures, or taxes?

washingtonpost.com: Voters Turn Out Nationwide in Droves (Post, Nov. 2)

Robert G. Kaiser: As we've been reporting for weeks or even months, all of these issues and more have motivated people to vote today. Indeed, part of the genius of the system is the way it can respond to so many different interests, concerns, etc. There's no one answer to your question, obviously -- how could there be? We all have our own hangups, anxieties, desires, etc, and many of us find ways to express them in the voting booth.

Posted 6:00 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Sierra Vista, Ariz.: Does a heavy turnout benefit one candidate over another, and if so which one and why?

Howard Kurtz: The general consensus among political analysts is that a really big turnout helps the Democrats, since they seem to have registered millions of new voters and two key groups--18 to 29 and poorer people--are tilting strongly toward Kerry. If the senator wins, it will almost certainly be in large measure due to a surge in registration and voting among those whose voting record is usually spotty.

Posted 6:00 p.m., 11.2.2004

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Robert G. Kaiser: Hello from the newsroom of The Washington Post, where hundreds of journalists are assembled to try to acquire, distill, report and explain the results of today's election. As advertised, a team of washingtonpost.com people joined by Mark Stencel and me from the newspaper's newsroom staff will try to answer your questions and offer our own comments as results come in through the evening.

Anyone roaming the Net this evening (as all of you are!) knows that exit polls or purported exit polls have leaked to various Web sites. This creates an awkward situation for us. The Post has bought exit polls from several states and the nationwide sample from the group doing them for the networks and major news organizations. I have asked NOT to be told what these polls received by The Post are saying. This allows us to remain in compliance with our contract (no release of exit poll results until the real polls close), but leaves me in the difficult position of not knowing for sure that the numbers that I (and many of you) are seeing on the Web are accurate. I'm hoping--and, frankly, assuming--that the Web is now sufficiently developed that if phony numbers got posted, there would be some corrective mechanism to alert us to that fact.
At the same time, after years of experience with exit polls, I KNOW that these polls will be wrong, sometimes by just a little, sometimes by a lot. So I am going to tread gently here, and wait for real numbers before drawing concrete conclusions about the outcome of the election.
What I can say with confidence at 6 p.m. EST is that Democratic politicians I've spoken with are jubilant, if still nervous. They think John Kerry is going to win. I haven't had much luck raising my personal pals among Republicans this afternoon. Colleagues here report talking to some glum ones, but I doubt any smart politician is giving up on the basis of what we know so far.
The big story of the day so far is turnout, it seems. In my view, as recorded repeatedly in earlier discussions, an unusually big turnout would a very good sign for Kerry. It would mean that the electorate will be bigger than the statistical models foresaw. And that, in turn, could mean that the polls we've all been reading for weeks will turn out to have been wrong, as, frankly, I would love them to be. Why? Because the idea that all our elections are going to be predictable in advance is extremely depressing. I liked the fact that the polls were substantially wrong in 2000, and I'll like it again if they prove to have been wrong this time.

We have a great tool available to you tonight on the upper right hand corner of our home page. If you click on a state on that map of the U.S., you'll be taken to a page with full results of all major races in that state.

My colleagues will be posting links here throughout the night to other good stuff on the site that will help you get through this long night.

Posted 5:59 p.m., 11.2.2004

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