The Crystal Ball contest rewards precision. A single number can make the difference between the agony of defeat and the thrill of -- well, enough of the cliches. Here we offer originality: "Hot hunches" that allow our 12 competitors to take a flyer. There's no risk; it doesn't count as part of their score.

BANNEKER

ACADEMIC

HIGH SCHOOL

Tainted voting? Or did Jeb Bush really win?

JOHN

MICKLETHWAIT

2002 deja vu: Long wait for Southern state, judges to the fore.

ANNE WEXLER

Bowles upsets Dole in North Carolina Senate race.

TUCKER CARLSON

On Nov. 4,

South Dakota Democrats replace Sen. Johnson with George McGovern.

RALPH NADER

A Green Party

upset in the

Delaware attorney general race.

TAVIS SMILEY

In N.Y. governor's race, Democrat McCall gets fewer votes than Schumer in '98.

HERNDON

HIGH SCHOOL

Minority vote makes the difference in

Maryland governor's race and South

Dakota Senate race.

PEGGY NOONAN

GOP's Simon narrowly defeats Democrat Davis in Calif. governor's race.

AMY WALTER

Nov. 5 won't be the end of Election 2002 -- look for Dec. 7 runoffs in Louisiana House and Senate races.

WILLIAM KRISTOL

Coleman beats Mondale in

Minnesota.

SHEILA TATE

Minnesota Senate race could make the Florida

presidential

recount look like a cake walk.

ARMSTRONG

WILLIAMS

Simon defeats

Davis in a

California

cliffhanger.