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David Lightman on early polls

McClatchy White House correspondent David Lightman discusses the early polls on Election Night

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Story Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: We’re doing coverage of the 2008 US presidential elections, live from the McClatchy Newspaper offices in DC. Joining me now to start, kick off the evening is David Lightman, who’s the national correspondent—you are the national correspondent? White House correspondent? White House correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers. So where are we now? We’ve got some exit polls. Kentucky has been won by McCain. Where are we right now?

DAVID LIGHTMAN, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We’re still in a state of limbo. We don’t know. We don’t know much of anything. We have exit polls. There appears to be a trend here and there to Obama, but those of us—and I’m sure you understand—who have been around this business awhile know you don’t write stories off exit polls, you don’t make conclusions off exit polls, unless they’re overwhelming. They’re not overwhelming, so right now we don’t know.

JAY: So British bookies who called the 2004 election apparently perfectly—not just the presidential elections, but apparently the British bookies correctly called every Senate race, so that their record’s pretty good—they’re saying this is 80 percent Obama. If you were making a bet right now back in London, that’s the odds you would get.

LIGHTMAN: Really?

JAY: What are you saying?

LIGHTMAN: I’m saying I don’t know. I was out in Ohio last week for three days. I came back thinking to myself, I don’t know what’s going to happen here.

JAY: Well, where do you think—like, for example, let’s start with Florida. Obama’s up three points according to the polling. Where do you think we’re at here?

LIGHTMAN: Again, I hate to keep saying I don’t know, but I don’t know. And here’s why. Let’s take Florida, up three points within the margin of error. There are so many variables. African-American voters: are they going to turn out in unusually high numbers or not? If they do, obviously advantage to Obama. Young voters, that is, 18 to 29: high numbers or not? If they do, you would think that’s an Obama advantage. Seniors, particularly in South Florida: how are they going to break? Are they going to break Obama or McCain? We think Obama, but on the other hand, McCain has strong support down there, and Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democrat’s vice presidential nominee eight years ago, is very popular down there, particularly in the Jewish community, which votes in high numbers. Is Lieberman going to help swing them over to McCain? So you have all these variables.

JAY: Now, there’s an interesting, perhaps somewhat new factor in Florida. The Cuban vote will likely go mostly McCain, as it traditionally does, but the Latino vote, which now is bigger than the Cuban vote, is apparently polling 60-40 pro-Obama. So Florida’s kind of a new story in some ways.

LIGHTMAN: Yeah. I was there about two weeks ago, and with McCain, actually, and we went from Daytona Beach on the east coast across Interstate 4, which cuts through Disney world, all the way out to Sarasota on the west coast. Obama pretty much worked the same turf. Those are where the votes are. There’s a lot of Hispanic votes there; there’s a lot of elderly people there; a lot of white, conservative voters there. That’s the place to watch in Florida tonight.

JAY: Now, how’s voting been going today? Do you have any stories of any irregularities? Or have the lineups been extraordinary? There was a lot of expectations of problems. How has it panned out so far?

LIGHTMAN: Yeah. Nothing out of the ordinary. I mean, not to make light of any problems, but yeah, there have been problems, there have been potential irregularities, but so far nothing that I see that’s huge, number one. And number two, it doesn’t seem to be quite as pronounced as in the past. Now, it’s only seven o’clock in the east—we still have a long way to go here. But so far, I dare say, so good.

JAY: Just let’s have a quick look throughout the evening. We’re going to be looking at a television, and we’re going to be able to cut, even, to full screen of the television set. And we’re going to do that right now, I think. And we’ll be showing you some of the coverage from MSNBC and CNN and some of the other networks as it goes, keeping you up on numbers. But thank you, David, and you’ll be back later in the evening.

LIGHTMAN: Let’s hope we know some more by then.

JAY: Great. Thank you very much.

LIGHTMAN: Thank you.

JAY: Please join us in a few seconds. We’ll return with our next guess, Rob Richie, who’s executive director of Fair Vote. And if all our technology’s working, we will either go full screen to the television or we’ll go to a promo.

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Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.