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Presidential Candidates Await First Results In Key States


We're also joined now by NPR's Rachel Martin. She'll be hosting our election night special with us which begins in just about 10 minutes. Rachel, welcome.


Hey, Rachel.

RACHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: Thanks for having me - getting settled for a long night.


CORNISH: We're also going to check in with the presidential campaigns. NPR's Sarah McCammon is spending election night at the Hilton Midtown in New York City where Donald Trump will be later tonight. And also NPR's Tamara Keith is at the Javits Center in New York City there. Tamara, can you hear me?

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Yeah, I can. How are you doing?

CORNISH: Good. So let's start just with closing arguments. What have we been hearing the last 48 hours?

KEITH: The Clinton campaign closing argument in some ways almost looks past Election Day. She's been talking a lot about needing to bring the country together, to repair some of the fissures that have been exposed by this very contentious election. And you know, the other argument, which is one that she's been making for a very long time but that she hasn't made quite as loudly in the closing days, is that she believes and has made a case over the last several months that Donald Trump is, quote, "temperamentally unfit" to be president of the United States.

SIEGEL: Sarah McCammon, you're at Trump victory party headquarters - hopefully named event in both cases. How would you describe his closing arguments?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: You know, his closing arguments are really much of the same things he's been saying all along. in recent days, he's been emphasizing his sort of outsider status, his anti-establishment message and talking a lot about this so-called rigged system, as he puts it, this idea that the media, the government, the political system is all sort of rigged against average people.

And you know, that's the argument that has really tapped into a lot of frustrations that voters - many voters have felt who voted for him - a sense that the system has failed them. So he's been hitting that hard and painting his rival Hillary Clinton as sort of the embodiment of that system.

And in these final days, he's been telling voters at large rallies across the country that this is their last chance to upend that system. They've got to vote for him because they won't get another chance like this, he says.

CORNISH: Ron Elving, I want to come to you for a few minutes because it seems like as wild and unconventional as this election has been the last couple of months, in the end, we're kind of looking at the same map we're always looking at. Help me understand this.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: We're looking at the same map of the United States, and most of the states are going to be the same coloration that we saw in 2012 in terms of red states and blue states. So thus far, we have seen Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia all called for Donald Trump. That's a total of 24 electoral votes, not a huge stash out of 538. And Hillary Clinton has won Vermont for just three electoral votes.

The most interesting thing at this juncture is that Virginia, as we expected, is too close to call at this hour. But Georgia and South Carolina also have not been called. Now, four years ago, just about this time of night, shortly before 8:00 o'clock Eastern, we called those states for Mitt Romney, the Republican. And we would have expected to call them again for the Republican this year, but we're not going to be able to do it quite as soon because very sharply divided results on the basis of race are making those races a little bit too close to call at this hour.

SIEGEL: That would be very heartening news, if very fragmentary news, for the Clinton campaign - that they're - they would - they might infer from that that they're doing better this evening than one might have expected from four years ago.

ELVING: They are doing as well as they expected to do among non-white voters. And the good news may be that there are more non-white voters in proportional terms in those states of Georgia and South Carolina relative to the non-Hispanic white population.

CORNISH: At the same time, I want to bring back Tamara Keith for a second there because the election - the campaigns tell us what they're worried about by their travel schedules. And what did we see these last few hours from Hillary Clinton?

KEITH: Yeah, well, so she went to Pennsylvania twice yesterday. She started in Philadelphia - no, she started in Pittsburgh and ended up later in the night in Philadelphia. And she also went to North Carolina and Michigan.

Now, Pennsylvania and Michigan are states that don't really have early voting, which means that the Clinton campaign was not able to use its ground game to bank a lot of votes in advance. And so when Election Day is the whole enchilada, that - it makes you tense, and you want to, you know, try to boost turnout and get people excited right before voting happens. North Carolina...

CORNISH: And we hear some cheering behind you. Can I ask about that?

KEITH: We hear some cheering. There is something on CNN.

CORNISH: OK, well, we'll hear that throughout the night as well.

KEITH: So you're going to hear that throughout the night - warning. And in terms of North Carolina, that is a state that is, you know, sort of a reach. It's a state that President Obama did not win in 2012 but he did win in 2008. It's a state where they've put just a huge amount of effort and emphasis with the hope that it could be something of a secondary firewall against Donald Trump. And so there was a rally there that I went to at about 1 o'clock this morning.

CORNISH: Right. Speaking of late-night rallies, Sarah McCammon, you've had your share of them as well - right? - for the Trump campaign.

MCCAMMON: Sure enough, last night - or it was supposed to be last night - Trump ended his last final swing of the campaign in Michigan, you know, a state that's usually blue but that he's hoping to turn red. His campaign says the polling they see looks really tight, and they think they could possibly flip it and wanted to give it a try.

It wound up being early this morning, actually, by the time he had completed four other stops all in, you know, battleground states. And honestly, by the time he got to Michigan, he seemed a little tired. Everybody was tired. He pretty much gave his standard stump speech, and that was that.

SIEGEL: We should explain what I think what some of that cheering was probably about at Clinton headquarters. The state of Florida, where the polls close at 7:00 p.m. - but it's 7:00 p.m. in the East where most Floridians live, and it's 7:00 Central Time in the panhandle where some Floridians live. So the state is - the polls are still open.

Right now they've counted from the other part of the state - 72 percent of the polling places, of the vote. And Hillary Clinton's running a couple of points ahead. Ron, that would be news to cheer - Clinton supporters.

ELVING: The eastern part of the state where the polls have already closed is of course by far the more populous part of Florida. And while this state is regarded as a prize for either campaign, it is regarded as an absolutely existential one for the Trump campaign.

For him to be trailing by a couple of points, by about 170,000 votes in the count - we're talking about the count now - and for him to be trailing by a couple of points with 72 percent of the vote counted supposedly is bad news for the Trump campaign. And they're hoping obviously to make that up, particularly as the polls close in the panhandle.

SIEGEL: On the other hand, we all have experienced Florida elections, which can get very close and defy early analyses.

ELVING: Some of us are still experiencing the Florida 2000 election. And we should also mention that Ohio is considered too close to call.

SIEGEL: Really? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Sam worked at Vermont Public Radio from October 1978 to September 2017 in various capacities – almost always involving audio engineering. He excels at sound engineering for live performances.
Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.
Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.
Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for