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Political Cartographers, 1 Day Left To Redraw Maps


It's Morning Edition from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne. This is the moment when some people just can't wait. Others just can't wait for the presidential campaign to end.

INSKEEP: The final result will be affected in part by the votes in small towns, and in a moment we'll hear from one of those towns in a battleground state.

MONTAGNE: We begin with NPR's Cokie Roberts who's been one of our guides through this campaign. Good morning, Cokie.

COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Is the Obama campaign as comfortable as the polls suggest? I mean, is there anything in particular that's making them nervous?

ROBERTS: Well, they're warning against overconfidence, which you would expect at this point, because the polls are all showing Obama comfortably ahead and over 50 percent. But it's interesting, actually some of the pollsters are saying they're worried because they're looking at numbers that are better numbers than Democrats normally get even in years that have been very good for Democratic candidates. So that's making them a little bit nervous.

But the Obama campaign seems not all that worried. They're finishing up the campaign tonight in Indiana, a state that is very traditionally Republican. It's Obama's - the campaign says it's his 49th visit to Indiana. So it looks to me he's been to so many of these very red states and having ads on in very blue states that he seems to be ready to drive up the popular vote, maybe going for a real mandate here. And we'll see, you know, how all that plays out tomorrow.

John McCain spent the weekend - his main event over the weekend was an appearance on "Saturday Night Live" with his wife, Cindy, a very funny sketch with Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. And he was making jokes about, you know, all he could do was go on the QVC network when Obama had money to go on all the others. Interesting, they're still on the attack, these candidates. They have op-eds, both of them, today in The Wall Street Journal, and they're not letting up on each other even at the end here.

Bottom line here, Renee: Obama is ahead in every state that John Kerry carried, plus Iowa and New Hampshire. He's leading in some of the states that Bush carried, and he's competitive in traditional Republican states like North Carolina and Montana. So this is looking like a race that he's doing quite well in.

MONTAGNE: Well, let's look ahead to election night. I'm curious what you think one might be looking for.

ROBERTS: Well, Virginia closes early. So does North Carolina and Georgia. If we can get a good read on Virginia early and Obama carries it, it makes it hard to see how McCain puts together 270 electoral votes without some big upset in a place like Michigan. If Obama also carries some place like North Carolina, then we could be looking at a landslide. We'll also look to see if young voters turn out because we've been talking about that all year, and they are still overwhelmingly for Obama. And we're seeing that in early voting, except in absentee ballots coming back in Pennsylvania and Florida. Those have been more Republican than Democratic.

MONTAGNE: You know, let's just turn briefly to the races for the U.S. Senate. Are the Democrats likely to get those 60 seats that would give them a big majority?

ROBERTS: They'd have to run the table to do that. But Republicans are losing the open seats everywhere but Idaho and Nebraska. They're defending - incumbents are having to defend seats. No Democratic incumbent is having to defend a seat. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana was the only one in trouble, and she now looks fine. So they could get to that 60, which means no filibusters. They get their Supreme Court nominees. And in the House, Democrats could be adding to their majorities by maybe 30 seats. So the pressure will be on to perform, but that's a pressure they're ready to accept right now.

MONTAGNE: Cokie, thanks for joining us. NPR's Cokie Roberts will be with us again on Wednesday morning to help sort through the results. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Morning Edition
Cokie Roberts was one of the 'Founding Mothers' of NPR who helped make that network one of the premier sources of news and information in this country. She served as a congressional correspondent at NPR for more than 10 years and later appeared as a commentator on Morning Edition. In addition to her work for NPR, Roberts was a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programming.
Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.