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CNN Cautiously Predicts

Reported by Nancy - November 2, 2004 -

At 7:00pm (ET) tonight (11/2) I switched to watching CNN with Wolf Blitzer. CNN made it much tougher to blog because they had hardly any ad breaks.

The hour opened with an extended interview with Sen Ted Kennedy. Following this, Anderson Cooper read off some Senate race predictions in GA, IN & VT based on exit polls. CNN constantly ran banners underneath with state-by-state numbers for both the presidential race & local races (governships, Senate, House) -- at the beginning these were all zeroes. All of the newscasters also repeatedly emphasized how tentative their predictions were, how many unknowns there were, & how cautious anyone should be about reading anything into their predictions.

This was followed at 7:27pm (ET) by Wolf Blitzer & Jeff Greenfield reviewing how they'd make predictions. CNN had an entire wall set up on the main stage, with all states listed East to West (right to left). At this point all the numbers were at zero (or 0%) & polls are still open in most states, so they're not "calling" anything yet. Judy Woodruff joined the discussion & reviewed some of the mechanics about how CNN will go about making predictions. Blitzer then had a panel discussion with Larry King, Carlos Watson & Greenfield.

At 7:48pm (ET) Dana Bash at the White House reported on some absentee ballot counting delays in FL.

At 7:52pm (ET), Paula Zahn had a panel discussion with the crew from Crossfire (Paul Begala, Tucker Carlson, Bob Novak, James Carville). Zahn said the only conclusion so far is record turnout. Much bloviating ensued.

At 8:00pm (ET), Blizter announced new presidential predictions based on exit polls, with Kerry winning IL, CT, NJ, MD, ME (3 of 4), MA, & DE for a total of 77 electoral votes, & Bush winning TN, AL & OK for a total of 66 electoral votes. Judy Woodruff then followed with repeated cautions about predictions, lack of data, etc.

At 8:06pm (ET), Cooper announced Senate race predictions. This was followed by Blizter with the King/Watson/Greenfield panel. Candace Crowley reported from the Kerry campaign, then Bill Hemmer & Stu Rothenberg reported on how computer-based "spatial logic" can help track trends, using FL counties as an example.

At 8:23pm (ET) Aaron Brown gave a wonderful editorial about how we grouse about politics but keep electing the same people back into office. He also noted that it was refreshing to hear newscasters say "We don't know".

Blitzer then interviewed Vanessa Kerry, who was remarkably self-possessed, including when Larry King asked some lame questions.

At 8:32pm (ET), Blitzer announced that CNN predicts Bush will carry VA & SC. Judy Woodruff reported that polls will be staying open later than scheduled in western PA, to accommodate voters still waiting in line. The panel discussed this & trends in FL, then CNN predicted that Bush would win NC. Blitzer interviewed Ken Mehlman (Bush campaign chair) & Cooper gave an update re races for Senate & Governor.

At 8:53pm (ET) Zahn & the Crossfire panel again discussed some swing states.