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Election Night Coverage: Coons Wins Delaware Senate Race

Aired November 2, 2010 - 20:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: All right, the top of the hour, CNN can now make projections in important races. Let's go to Delaware first. CNN projects that the Democratic candidate, Chris Coons, will be the next U.S. senator from the state of Delaware. He beats Christine O'Donnell. Everyone remembers Christine O'Donnell, she's the candidate who said she was not a witch, she is not going to be a United States senator, at least for now, either. Chris Coons, we project the winner in Delaware.

In Florida, CNN projects Marco Rubio will become the next United States senator from Florida. Marco Rubio coming seemingly out of nowhere beating Charlie Crist. And you see his headquarters, they are thrilled in Florida, right now. Marco Rubio will be the next United States senator from Florida beating Kendrick Meek, the Democrat, and Charlie Crist the Independent.

In New Hampshire, the Republican candidate Kelly Ayotte, we predict that she will win, she beats Paul Hodes, the Democratic Congressman from New Hampshire. This is an important race for the Republicans, they wanted New Hampshire, they will now have New Hampshire. This is a significant race.

We cannot make projections in these states as of now, important races underway. We don't have enough information on exit poll numbers or on actual ballots counted. Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and that key battleground state of Pennsylvania. We're watching all of that.

We can project in the state of Maryland, right now. As expected, Barbara Mikulski, the long-term senator from Maryland, she will be reelected easily in the state of Maryland. Barbara Mikulski coming back to Washington for another six years.

And in Alabama, another state fully expected, Richard Shelby, easily reelected in the state of Alabama. Richard Shelby will get another six years in Washington.

Let's take a closer look at some exit poll data. These are raw numbers, raw exit poll data. We'll start in Connecticut. Remember, this is not determinative, it gives us a sense of what's going on. In Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic candidate, 57 percent, 42 percent for Linda McMahon the professional wrestling executive, raw exit poll data.

In Illinois right now, look at how close it is based on this raw exit poll data. Alexi Giannoulias, 47 percent, Mark Kirk, 47 percent in Illinois, as well. Doesn't get any closer than that, we'll watch Illinois. This is the seat that President Obama held until he became president.

In Missouri right now, the long-time Congressman Roy Blunt is ahead in the raw exit poll data 53 percent to 43 percent, Robin Carnahan, the Democratic candidate. We're watching Missouri.

Pennsylvania, look at how close it is here, Pat Toomey, the congressman, the Republican former congressman from Pennsylvania, 51 percent. Joe Sestak, the current Congressman, the retired U.S. Navy admiral, 49 percent. These are numbers that we get as a result of questionnaires we give people who actually emerge from the voting booths. We ask them a whole bunch of questions about their background and everything else, but one of the questions we ask is simply, who did you vote for? And they tell us.

Let's go to CNN's John King. He's over looking at what's going on.

John, give us a little sense of these projection we've just made and the bigger picture.

JOHN KING, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Well Wolf, I want to give you one more projection, as well. CNN ready to projecting a Democrat will win that House seat in Delaware. John Carney is that Democrat taking the seat held by Republican Mike Castle. So, if you have your pen and pad at home, we have said all along it is a plus 39 for the Republicans tonight, now it is a plus 40 in the sense that they just lost that seat. They need a net gain of 39. So, they've lost that seat as we go through the math, they'll need to pick up 40 Democratic held seats.

These are the results starting to come in in the House races as you look at the map, here. I want to show you a couple of very interesting things. We pop out the state of Virginia, you see all this red right now. Watch this red, excuse me for stepping across. I'm going to show you where we began the night in the state of Virginia. See that blue? See the blue down here? These are Democratic districts, right now. Tom Perriello, the president campaigned there just the other day.

I'm going to take this off. Right now in that district, Tom Perriello is losing. About half of the vote counted. The president was there the other night, this is a key Republican target. If those numbers hold up, the Republicans will be pleased.

One more over here, Rick Boucher, a veteran Democratic congressman now losing as well with about half of the vote counted. If those numbers count up, Wolf, when you look at Virginia and then you move over to Indiana, and again, I want you to look, this is how we're counting the vote, right now, these are the Congressional districts as we started the night. You see these Democratic districts, down here. Right now, Republicans are leading in two of them. Those are the big targets. If you look as this so far as we count this out, if you look at Virginia, you look at Indiana, you look at what we're starting to see early in New Hampshire, you see the building blocks of the Republicans on their way to a majority. Early yet, still have to count them up. But we're beginning to see the map fill in a way that has those people who are tracking House races, especially with the Republicans more and more happy. Still a lot of counting left to do, though -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: John, thanks very much. Soledad, you were just talking about in Florida looking at the Latino groups.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Yeah, they're polling how Latino organizations that are specifically polling how Latinos are voting and in Florida Rubio, we've just projected that he's a winner -- 62 percent of Latinos supported Rubio. When you look at the numbers of Latinos who had supported Barack Obama the last election, that's a very interesting switch and of course Republicans have put a lot of money and effort into getting out the Latino votes. Democrats as well, but they've really realized, I think, that their failed immigration reform efforts have hurt them with Latinos and so it's interesting to see how that really paid off for Rubio.

COOPER: It'll also be interesting to see nationally how Latino voters go in this election.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely.

COOPER: Out of Florida, would it have been different had this deal been done, I mean, would it have made any difference? Would Charlie Crist have won if Meek had dropped out?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't know. It's hard to say. I think older voters have turned against Democrats, Barack Obama, as a result of health care reform. They're afraid of Medicare cuts. There's a big voting bloc in the state of Florida. so it's really hard to say. Also, it was quite late. And the response to that is backroom deals. Voters don't want backroom deals even if it's between Bill Clinton and Kendrick Meek. They don't want it. So, I don't think it would have helped.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think the dynamics in that race changed very much because of that. I think it was a done deal before that. I think Charlie Crist might have survived had he not hugged Barack Obama. You know, that symbolically became that moment that was captured later on.

But to go back to Soledad's point, for the Republicans to have a Hispanic -- a Latino leader coming in, this kind of star power is a big coup for them. It's a bit important -- you know, they have got to find a way, if they want to be a majority party, to win more of the Latino vote and Marco Rubio is a step in that direction.

O'BRIEN: It's simply up for grabs. I mean, it is. If you look at 2004, George Bush won 56 percent of Latino vote. Then it went to Obama 57 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul and Bill? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's already -- if the exit polls are right, he becomes the United States senator, he'll be on everybody's short list for at least the vice presidential ticket for the Republican party for the reason that Soledad states. I mean, Barack Obama won the Latino vote 2-1, if they can cut in to that, that's enormous. And he's got a great story to tell.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a star and there's more to come. If Brian Sandoval gets in, Susanna Martinez gets in, you're going to see a very different -- I think one of the big themes for Republicans is a different kind of Republican Party. We may see that at the end of the...


ELIOT SPITZER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: The interesting thing is, notice what Soledad said. The Democratic Party is being held accountable for not passing immigration reform absolutely correct. The reason it couldn't get through the Senate, of course, the Republican party wouldn't let it go anywhere near the floor. But I think the tension here is going to be, will the Republican Party modulate on that issue. And it will have to in order to hold any of the Latino base for 2012.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the Democrats could not agree on what kind of immigration reform they wanted and the timing of immigration reform...

SPITZER: It was there if there was going to be a Republican vote to get it there.


ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And that's where Republicans are going to have to deal with this whole notion of immigration reform because, look, you can say Rubio goes out there, but if you have more Republicans from a policy standpoint take the same position they've taken for the last four years, they're not going to get those voters.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I would caution against reading too much into returns because the Latino vote in Florida is heavy Cuban which tends to be much, much more Republican than other Latinos. So I would be careful about extrapolating the one...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Florida to Florida from, you know supported Obama.


DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: (INAUDIBLE) I just wanted to mention as a Democrat that tonight South Carolina is making history. They will send the first African-American, Tim Scott, to the Congress. The first African-American Republican since reconstruction. So, I wanted to give the Republicans a little shoutout.


Republican, Republican, South Carolina -- South Carolina. I'm giving Republicans just a little shoutout. I'm not giving a lot of love, tonight.

COOPER: They don't know we're going till 3:00 a.m. so I know you're all bursting with energy now, but patience, patience. We want to check in what's happening in Delaware, obviously Chris Coons is the Democrat there beating Christine O'Donnell, but wolf you take it from here.

BLITZER: Anderson, thanks very much. Let's check out the situation in Delaware, right now. We projected that Chris Coons, the Democratic candidate, will be the next U.S. senator from Delaware. This is the seat that was held by Joe Biden for a long time until he became vice president of the United States. Christine O'Donnell, the Republican candidate, the Tea Party favorite, loses in Delaware.

Gary Tuchman is our man in Delaware. right now. He's over at Christine O'Donnell's headquarters where it's probably pretty sad and somber over there where you are -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, it's a very interesting scenario. We don't think most of the people who are here in this ballroom at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino know about the projection. There are monitors here with the newscasts on, the projections flashed across the screen, but the audio was down, so some people saw the screen, most of the people don't seem to know just yet.

But what we can say is Christine O'Donnell has certainly done better than she did in her two previous tries for U.S. Senate. She ran in 2006 and lost the Republican primary. (INAUDIBLE) in 2008 she won the Republican primary but got blown out by the current vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, this time she won the primary, surprisingly over Michael Castle, the Republican who is currently the Congressman here who is now out of public office after three decades. But now she's lost to Chris Coons.

But as we said, we anticipate people here will know pretty soon, but it's certainly not our job to tell them. They'll find out from some of the speakers and eventually Christine O'Donnell will take the stage and deliver what we anticipate will be a concession speech -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much Gary, we'll check back with you. We'll be anxious to hear from both Chris Coons and Christine O'Donnell. We'll take another quick break. We'll speak with the chairman, by the way, of the Democratic National Committee, Tim Kaine. And much more of our coverage, right after this.


BLITZER: All right, only 15 minutes until the polls close in the next state, 8:30 p.m. Eastern, Arkansas we'll see if Blanche Lincoln, the incumbent Democrat, can hold on and get herself reelected. The polls in the past few weeks said she was in obviously deep trouble.

Let's take a look at some of the races that we have, taking a closer look at. Some gubernatorial governors' races across the country, we have not made any projections yet. In Ohio, Ted Strickland, the incumbent governor of Ohio, he's ahead with eight percent of the vote in 53 to 43 percent over the former Congressman John Kasich. Still very early in Ohio.

In Florida, it's a close contest -- 36 percent of the vote has been counted. The Republican, Rick Scott, ahead of Alex Sink, the Democrat, 50 percent to 46 percent.

In South Carolina, look at how close it is, but it's only three percent of the vote in. Vincent Sheheen the Democratic candidate, slightly ahead by 105 votes over Nikki Haley, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, 50 to 49 percent -- 30,000 votes have been counted so far.

In Texas, Rick Perry, the incumbent, with seven percent of the vote in, 64 percent, Bill White, the former mayor of Houston, 34 percent. Still early in Texas. The polls throughout the state there don't close until the top of the hour, 9:00 p.m., but they've closed in parts of Texas already.

Let's talk about what's going on right now with the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the former Virginia governor, Tim Kaine.

Governor, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Are you happy, sad, disappointed, thrilled? Describe your emotions for us right now. It's still very early in the night.

KAINE: Yeah, it sure is. And you know, the main thing is voting is still taking place all over the country, especially west. And we think we're going to have close races all the way out to Hawaii. So the main thing I'm still doing is encouraging anybody who hasn't voted to turn out because what we're seeing, as your lead-in indicates, is there's still a lot of races that we think are going to be razor thing both statewide races and congressional district races, certainly. So, it's really important for folks who still have the opportunity to vote to get out.

And then in terms of results, you know, we just saw the first Democratic pick-up in the House, a projected win in Delaware for Lieutenant Governor John Carney winning the seat that was vacated by Mike Castle to run for Senate. That is a positive for us. And that is our scenario, Wolf, while most are most are saying it's doom and gloom for the Democrat, our scenario all along has been the Republicans are going to win a number of seats, but there are a number of seats we think Dems will pick up: Delaware, one or two in Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, Illinois, suburbs of Chicago we've got a great shot. So, that Delaware race is one we were watching very closely and we were glad to see that go our way.

BLITZER: We're looking closely at three Congressional races in your home state of Virginia, three Democratic incumbents, Tom Perriello, Rick Boucher and Gerry Connolly. At least so far, they don't seem to be doing that great, right now. I know you're looking at these three races. This could be, potentially in Virginia, three Republican pick-ups.

KAINE: Those could be tough, but right before I got on the air, I was actually looking at the county-by-county breakdowns in those districts. One of the things I noticed, for example, and the Boucher district is the county with the biggest populations, Montgomery County, which traditionally performs pretty strong for Democrats, had not shown up with any reported numbers yet. In Gerry Connolly's district, where he represented the Fairfax County as chairman of the elected board of supervisors before being in Congress, the numbers there are very early. These could be close races, but we feel like where the votes are coming in, Charlottesville still to report in Tom Perriello's district which will be strong for him. We think that each of those three are going to win, but we obviously are going to watch those very closely.

BLITZER: What about Florida? Marco Rubio, we've projected he's the winner in Florida beating the Democratic nominee, Kendrick Meek, the Congressman from Florida, and the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist who's running as an Independent.

KAINE: That was a race that once it was a three-way race, it was obviously a very challenging race for us. And Kendrick Meek, who was our nominee, has done a super job as a Congressman and ran a textbook campaign, but in the three-way race, it was very difficult. What we think in Florida, bigger picture, is there will probably not be a lot of Charlie Crist/Rick Scott voters. The Crist voters, we think, will go Alex Sink's way and while that is very early in the governor's race, I think only 30 percent reporting, we think that is a race -- a governor's mansion that's been very difficult for Democrats to win in the last 25 years that we think we've got a real good shot at it.

BLITZER: There are four Democratic Congressman in Florida -- we've decided that they're in very, very tight races, right now, including Congressman Ron Klein, he's facing a challenge from Allen West, who's a Tea Party favorite. What do you think about those contests?

KAINE: I was down in Florida for two days, not last weekend but the weekend before and had a chance to visit with some of those members. Those are close races. There's also a race that's a potential pick-up in Florida for us, a seat left open that our candidate, Joe Garcia, is running a very good race in the southern part of the state, Miami and others, so there are some close races on our side, there's also at least one or two pick-up opportunities in Florida and a lot of that, again, will depend on how this governor's race shakes out, and we're going to be watching that one very closely.

BLITZER: I want to talk a little bit about Florida 24 for a moment, the Democratic Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas versus Sandy Adams. We are getting ready to make a projection on that race and you won't be happy when you hear it, but presumably you won't be surprised. We are projecting that Sandy Adams will be the new Republican Congresswoman from the 24th district and Florida. So that number of 40 of the net pick-up the Republicans need, now say goes down back to 39, Governor.

KAINE: Yeah, that's very, very disappointing, Suzanne Kosmas won a big race two years ago in that Space Coast part of Florida had done an excellent job. That's a very tough race. We're going to keep our fingers crossed on that one and on the other Florida races, again, as more of the votes come in.

BLITZER: If you have a second, I want to show what's happening -- the latest numbers coming in from these three districts we were talking about in your home state of Virginia.

Let me update our viewers on those three districts and we'll talk about it on the other end, because all of these races are critical if the Republicans want to become the majority.

In Virginia five, for example, right now, 65 percent of the vote has been counted. Robert Hurt, the Republican is ahead 53 percent to 45 percent over Tom Perriello. The president of the United States, last Friday night, went to Perriello's district to try to help him -- 65 percent of the vote in.

Seventy percent of the vote is in the ninth district in Virginia. Morgan Griffith, the Republican, ahead of Rick Boucher, 53 percent to 45 percent. And in Virginia 11, right now, with only nine percent of the vote in, 55 percent for the Republican candidate Keith Fimian against Gerry Connolly, the Democratic candidate.

What do you think about losing those?

KAINE: Well, those are challenging numbers, as you report them. But again, right before I came in, I looked at the ninth district numbers and we noticed that one of the counties, the most populous jurisdiction in the entire ninth hadn't reported any numbers. That's a strong Democratic county and one that would be likely to close a significant gap. So, we still feel like we got a great shot of winning all those races and the Perriello district, it's obviously Charlottesville voting which is going to be very helpful, Charlottesville in Albemarle County . And then in the 11th, with nine percent in, it's hard to say, but Fairfax County is the largest jurisdiction in Virginia, Gerry Connolly used to represent it as the elected county executive and he's going to do very well in Fairfax -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And that's right outside of Washington, D.C. Governor, thanks very much for coming in. It's going to be a long night for you, a long night for all of us.

KAINE: You bet, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's check in with Anderson Cooper, right now. He's got the best political team on television. You want to be the chairman of the Democratic Party tonight, Anderson?

COOPER: I was going to say, obviously not a great night for him and obviously for trying to put the best face on it. What are you looking for next, Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I think it's the size of the wave, I mean, it's what we've been looking for the last three months. It really has not changed dramatically what we were looking for. And that is, we all figured the Republicans were going to have a very good night. We still want to know how good a night they're going to have.

I think those races in Virginia are pretty key. I mean, I think it does point to a very good night on the House side, but not as good in the Senate; however, when we say it doesn't look as good in the Senate for Republicans, we're looking seven, eight-seat pick-up, so that's not nothing.

COOPER: Kathleen, you wanted -- you were talking about South Carolina.

KATHLEEN PARKER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Yeah, I wanted to add something to Donna's comment about Tim Scott, but not only is he an African-American Republican going to the Congress, but he defeated Strom Thurmond son in the primaries. So, this is huge in the district that fired the first shot in the Civil War.

And the governor's race with Nikki Haley, I'm from South Carolina, so, you know, we are rarely proud these days, but you know, it's a wonderful thing that we've got Nikki Haley who's an Indian- American, first generation. Her parents migrated -- emigrated from India, so we've got, you know, for a change South Carolina deserves some applause for some of these new candidates that are pushing forward. Now whether Nikki Haley wins remains to be seen, but Tim Scott is a phenomenon.

O'BRIEN: When you look at the GOP, the number -- the diversity in the GOP, what is it? 38 African-Americans running for congressional seats from the GOP and I think 14 left after the primaries. I mean, that is...

COOPER: And a lot of those are Tea Party candidates.

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's one of the points I made this entire year. If you look at in the Washington Republican establishment of the candidates they've picked, universally they've been largely old white guys or white females. It is the Tea Party candidates across the country who have been African-American, who have been of Indian descent, who have been Hispanic. It's a very, very interesting dynamic for the Republican Party. If these Republican candidates who are ahead in these Congressional districts win, you're going to have one of the most diverse Republican caucuses in the House since reconstruction.

BRAZILE: Sixty-one African-Americans running for federal office, 13 Republicans, 40 Democrats. So, clearly the Democrats will have a good night with African-American candidates. And I want to give a shoutout for the state of Alabama. Alabama will send its first black female to Congress this year, Terri Sewell. So, I'm trying to give good news wherever I can find it throughout the night.

COOPER: Some people call that clutching at straws.

BRAZILE: But, I'm used to that, Anderson.

MARTIN: Look, first of all, we talk about the African-Americans who are running for the GOP side. I sort of compare it to African- Americans who run Democrat statewide. You can have a number of folks who will run, the question is, can they win? And that's really what you're going to look at. I mean, you have folks, you have Thurman in Georgia, you have Kamala Harris in California. One of the issues has always been, folks can run, but can they win? Running is one thing. Winning, at the end of the day, is a different issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, we'll find out in a few hours. I think Scott's going to win. I think Ryan Frazier is going to win. And I believe Allen West is going to win. But we'll see. We'll find out.

CARVILLE: We know the Republicans are going to pick up a bucket- load of House seats. I mean, the range you get coming in tonight was somewhere between 50 and 70. We're going to see a lot of that.

The interesting thing is going to be in some of these races that are shown to be very competitive, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada, are the Democrats going to be able to pick up any of these? Usually in a big wave election, all of these elections tilt one way. The close elections always go to the party getting the wave. Those are going to be the fascinating things for our viewers to look for tonight, to see if the Democrats are able to pick off a close election. If they win a 50.5 to 49.5 election, that's going to be very significant. I don't know if they will, but traditionally...

COOPER: What happens in Washington when some of these Tea Party candidates actually get there. We'll talk about that. We're going to take a quick break. Our coverage continues. We'll be right back.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Polls close in Arkansas. And CNN can now make projections in the Senate race. This is a pick-up for the Republicans. CNN projects that John Boozman, the congressman from Arkansas, will be the next U.S. senator from Arkansas beating Blanche Lincoln, the incumbent Democrat.

Boozman wins in Arkansas. The Democrats will be happy as far as the governor is concerned. The incumbent governor, Mike Beebe, he will be reelected. He beats Jim Keet, the Republican challenger. So the Democrats stay on top of the governor's race in Arkansas. But Blanche Lincoln loses. We project Blanche Lincoln loses to John Boozman. This means that the number now goes down one more. The Republicans initially needed 10 to become the majority in the Senate. Dan Coats we project wins in Indiana, so it went down to nine. That's a pick-up for the Republicans because of Evan Bayh, was still the incumbent Democrat from Indiana. But now Blanche Lincoln loses in Arkansas. And as a result, the number goes down to eight, the number they need.

Here are some other numbers coming in from some races out there. Polls in Massachusetts closed at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Two percent of the vote is in. Deval Patrick, the incumbent governor, the Democrat, is ahead 50 percent to 42 percent over Charlie Baker. Tim Cahill, the independent, with seven percent. Still very early in Massachusetts.

In South Carolina, seven percent of the vote is now in. Nikki Haley, the Republican, at 52 percent. Vincent Sheheen, 46 percent. Still only seven percent of the vote.

Forty-four percent getting close to 50 percent of the vote counted now in Florida. The Republican Rick Scott with 50 percent. Alex Sink, she's the Democrat, 47 percent. Rick Scott is ahead by 83,767 votes, but only 44 percent. There's still time for her to catch up if she can. We're watching that Florida race closely.

And in Ohio, Ted Strickland, the incumbent governor, with 13 percent of the vote in. He's got 51 percent of the vote to John Kasich, a former congressman, 45 percent. A difference of about 33,000 votes for Strickland. But it's still very, very early. Only 13 percent of the vote counted in Ohio.

We've got some more projections for you right now. Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general in Connecticut, the Democratic candidate, we now project he will become the next United States senator from Connecticut, succeeding Chris Dodd. We project he beats Linda McMahon, the Republican, the self-financed, largely self- financed, the professional wrestling executive. Richard Blumenthal we predict, we project will win in Connecticut.

And in North Carolina, we projected Richard Burr, the incumbent senator in North Carolina, that he will win as well. Richard Burr beating Elaine Marshall, the Democratic candidate. Richard Burr will be reelected 44 percent of the vote is actually in in North Carolina. But Richard Burr stays in for another six years.

Anderson, Blumenthal's win in Connecticut, it was not by any means a done deal. But he will win.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Donna Brazile was looking for hopeful signs for Democrats. That is certainly one of them.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This might start a trend. So the blue thunder is stopping the red wave. Yes.


Let's wait for the debris to clear before we determine what kind of night, you know, this will be.

COOPER: What do you think went wrong for Linda McMahon?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, I'm looking at Linda McMahon and then Meg Whitman, the eBay CEO, and Carly Fiorina, the Hewlett-Packard CEO. Three women CEOs recruited by the Republican Party who spent tens of millions. Mrs. McMahon, I think 40 million or something she spent.


BEGALA: It helped the economy but, you know, they knew Richard Blumenthal. He'd been the attorney general. He stumbled badly when he falsely claimed he had fought or served in Vietnam. But they knew him. This is where experience and being a lifelong politician has helped.

MARY MATALIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And being in a blue state.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That would have been a catastrophe, a disaster. OK. The thing that I keep looking at is I'm waiting to hear from West Virginia. That's the most important thing. That's the most important one to hear from. There was a little nervousness about Connecticut. But boy, that would have gone, it would have been an utter disaster. But let's see West Virginia. If Democrats lose West Virginia, that's not good.

COOPER: And Eliot Spitzer, you're looking at the governor race in Ohio?

ELIOT SPITZER, HOST, "PARKER SPITZER": I think that's an interesting one. Ted Strickland in Ohio for all the reasons that Mary pointed to earlier in the Senate race where you had a Republican pick- up in the Senate race over somebody who had been in the Bush administration was an incumbent -- not an incumbent but had been from Washington. So were they able to overcome the anti-Washington fervor. Here you have Ted Strickland, a Democrat in the same state, incumbent, not terribly popular recently, but a very good, solid governor, somebody I worked with a lot pulling it out apparently early yet in terms of numbers. But I think that says the public is still respecting people like Dick Blumenthal who've been there, served, whose judgment they trust, whom they like and think are just fighting real hard for them.

COOPER: Only 13 percent of the vote right now in Ohio.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. If you look at the governors' races particularly in states like Ohio and Florida, your mind moves ahead or at least mine does to 2012, because Barack Obama would certainly like to have Democrats as governors in those states. It certainly helped George W. Bush when his brother was governor of the state of Florida. And I think that if he loses those, it's going to be -- it's not going to be fun. New Mexico is also another.

SPITZER: It's also for redistricting.


SPITZER: You know, as all the congressional lines get redrawn after the census, the governors have an enormous role to play in that. So holding on to those governors' seats is critically important for both parties.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you tend to see in the governors' races somewhat a different dynamic at play. It's not too much Washington. It's about the quality of the candidates. And I think you're right.

In Ohio, if you look at the two candidates, Kasich and Strickland, the thing most people saw there they were both good candidates. They were both strong candidates, but Strickland has had time in office. He's ahead modestly. I think what most of us are looking for tonight, what happens in the congressional districts in Ohio because that's really what's going to determine what happens, you know, back in Washington. Those are going to be really big, important races.

BORGER: Don't forget, Obama went back to Ohio though for Strickland.

GERGEN: Wasn't that 12 times?

BORGER: Yes, and so he's got a lot at stake here because he really put it on the line.

WILLIAM BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: But he does not seem to have worked in the Senate race.

BORGER: Right. No.

BRAZILE: A lot of local races in Ohio and all these other places across the country. And what we forget about midterm elections is that these local races are driving turnout. It's driving voter enthusiasm, and it's also driving the results that we're seeing at the statewide level.

COOPER: What other states right now are you looking at?

BRAZILE: Well, I'm like James. I'm West Virginia. But Illinois, of course, I would also like to wait and see what happens in Colorado, Nevada and Washington State as well.

MARTIN: Look, Anderson, Illinois is critical because Republicans do not hold a single statewide office in that state and they have the possibility of not only winning the governor's mansion but also the U.S. Senate race. So that is huge for a resurgence with that party in the state where they hold nothing.

COOPER: With Linda McMahon in Connecticut, did the whole WWE, you know, the way they treated some of their employees and staff, did that play a role, do you think?

BEGALA: I think it did. I went up there for a campaign appearance actually for the gubernatorial candidate. But the voters there, they all knew about it. They didn't much like it. She got a lot of air time when she theatrically kicked a guy in the crotch, which, you know, apparently didn't go very well in a state like Connecticut. Yes, it hurt. She was a CEO who made -- who worked great in Texas. They'd love that. No, but she made -- I heard this a lot. She made tens of millions of dollars but didn't provide health care to those guys who were breaking their bodies in the ring. You hear that a lot in Connecticut and I think that disconnects --

CARVILLE: Connecticut is a really blue state and Blumenthal was the golden candidate. I mean, if we would have lost that, that would have been really, really bad. He won but he was -- we won. That is good but not overly significant. I do think that West Virginia is important. And I think out of Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado and Nevada, the Democrats should -- they have to win at least one.

COOPER: I think we have another projection we can make, Wolf.

BLITZER: Anderson, thanks very much.

In Indiana right now, the eighth Congressional district of Indiana, it's a pick-up for the Republicans. Larry Bucshon, the Republican candidate, we project will be the next United States congressman from this district. It was an open seat, beating Trent Van Haaften. Right now, 50 percent of the vote is actually win. Fifty-six percent for Bucshon; 38 percent for Trent Van Haaften. So it's another pick-up for the Republicans. It was a Democratically- held seat. But it's now going to be a Republican held seat.

Let's go to Dana Bash, our senior congressional correspondent. She's over with the Republicans. She's got a special guest, the chairman of the Republican Party -- Dana.


BLITZER: All right. Dana, stand by. We're not hearing you. But we're going to make another projection as we pick the audio for Dana with Michael Steele.

Stand by, another projection. CNN now projects -- and this is a huge win for the Democrats -- in West Virginia Joe Manchin, the governor of West Virginia, CNN now projects he will be the next U.S. senator from West Virginia filling the seat of Robert Byrd who was in the Senate for decades. John Raese, the Republican, we project will lose. Joe Manchin, the Democrat, wins.

The actual votes that we see right now, only 19 percent of the ballots have been counted. Fifty-four percent for Manchin, 43 percent for John Raese, two percent for the independent candidate Jesse Johnson. But this is a huge win for the Democrats. If the Democrats had lost in West Virginia, it could have been a total disaster and the Republicans could have been on their way to actually capturing the 10 seats, the 10 net gain seats they need to be the majority in the Senate. But Manchin is the winner, we project in West Virginia.

I hope we've fixed the audio for Dana Bash and Michael Steele. Dana, you can get Michael Steele's reaction in West Virginia, assuming we've fixed the audio. He's not going to be happy that the Republican, John Raese, loses in West Virginia. DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But this is a race that you really thought that you were going to be able to pick up.

MICHAEL STEELE, REPUBLICAN NATL. COMMITTEE CHMN.: Well, we wanted to be very competitive there and I think we are. You know, who knows what's going to happen. I know the projections and all of that. But look, we've always said from the very beginning the Senate was going to be a tough road for the party tonight just by the numbers. The House, as far as the Republican National Committee was concerned was the real focus. My job, as you know, I had a big bus that made it very clear, fire Pelosi. And that goal was very much a part of the agenda. But you know, we want to pick up as many as seats as we can. And I think that we're going to have a good night in the Senate. The majority is just going to be tough to get.

BASH: And what's your prediction at this point looking at the numbers on the House?

STEELE: You know, on the House, you know, I think we're probably going to see something between the 50s and the 60s. My numbers are around 55. But what do I know? I'm just the chairman.

BASH: Well, on that note with respect, I just wanted to ask you, you talk to some Republicans who are working very hard both for the Senate and the House and even in the governors' races.

STEELE: Right.

BASH: And they say that they're going to maybe do very well tonight despite of you, not because of you.

STEELE: Well, that's just foolishness. Look, we provided the ground game for every governor who's running, every senator who's running, every congressman who's running, every state legislator of over 360 victory centers across the country. And I'm sure those governor candidates and senatorial and congressional candidates used those RNC victory centers. If they, you know, we were providing a part of the team work here, we would win.

I think all of that's silly talk. I think the people who talk like that need to check themselves and focus on Republicans being unified and victorious tonight. And everything else will take care of itself. The bottom line is, we invested $175 million beginning with the two races that Governor Barbour wanted us to participate in in New Jersey and Virginia with $13 million, which launched us to tonight where tonight we're going to see additional governor seats, congressional seat, senatorial seats, but more importantly state legislative races.

BASH: Now, you started the cycle with $23 million in surplus. Are you going to have any debt right now? What are you ending up then?

STEELE: Well, we're going to have -- of course, everybody's going to have a little bit of debt. This senatorial committee, $20 million. $15 million, congressional committee. $20 million --

BASH: It's not because you had trouble raising money?

STEELE: No, it's not at all. Look, we didn't. I just told you, $175 million. You think that's trouble? I don't think that's trouble. So we did very well. The dollars are on the table. We invested them in the states early. And that was the difference.

We put the money on the ground so we could get the victory offices out there, so we could make over 40 million voter contacts between January and tonight to turn out that vote that's going to allow a lot of people in this town smile whereas a year ago, we weren't smiling. Two years ago, we weren't smiling. This is the first time the Republican National Committee has competed in all 50 states and it's been great.

BASH: One more question before I shoot it back to Wolf. There's another election coming up and that is for the RNC chairman. Will you tell us now, are you going to run and do you think you'll win?

STEELE: No, I haven't made up my mind.

BASH: All right. Are you sure about that?

STEELE: Yes, I haven't made up my mind.

BASH: People think you're campaigning for it.

STEELE: Oh, God bless them.

BASH: All right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, appreciate it.

STEELE: All right.

BASH: Wolf, we're going to hear from Michael Steele later tonight along with other members of the Republican leadership right here at the hotel in downtown Washington. Back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that and thank Michael Steele for all of us as well.

We have two more important projections to make right now. Let's go first to Virginia. In the ninth district in Virginia, this is a pick-up for the Republicans. CNN now projects that Morgan Griffith will beat the incumbent, Democrat Rick Boucher. He'll be the next U.S. congressman for Virginia. That's a pick-up for the Republicans. Eighty-six percent of the vote is now in.

And in Florida, in the eighth district, Alan Grayson, the liberal Democrat loses, we project, to Daniel Webster, Sixty-seven percent of the vote is now in. Grayson will go down. He's been outspoken as a progressive liberal. Daniel Webster, at one point Grayson even called him Taliban Daniel Webster. But Daniel Webster will win -- the number now goes down -- originally the Republicans needed a net gain of 39. Now we project they need a net gain of 36 as a result of these two projected winners. We'll take a quick break. Much more of our coverage, including analysis of Joe Manchin, the Democratic candidate for Senate in West Virginia. We project he wins. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Major win for the Democrats tonight in West Virginia. CNN projects that Joe Manchin, the incumbent governor, will become the next U.S. senator from West Virginia. He was in a tight, tight battle with John Raese, a businessman. But Joe Manchin wins.

So let's go over to John King. Originally, John, the Republicans needed 10 -- a pick-up -- net pick-up of 10 seats in order to win the majority in the Senate. They're down to eight right now. They've had two pick-ups. But this loss for them in West Virginia is a serious blow.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, losing West Virginia makes it nearly impossible -- not impossible, but nearly impossible for Republicans to get the net 10. Here's where we're starting. These are the Senate races on the ballot tonight.

If it's a red state, it was Republican coming into the night. A blue state, it was Democrat coming into the night.

Let's shift over and look at the balance of power and why that West Virginia race is so important. Again, this is what we just -- this is the total Senate coming into the night -- 59 Democrats to 41 Republicans. But these are the seats at stake tonight. All of the 37 right up there. Here we've assigned most of them already based on races we've projected tonight or in some races that we know. Like in North Dakota, for example, the Republicans has a huge lead. We've assigned that one.

We also recently called the Connecticut race. So let me call that one over, give that one to the Democrats. And we just called that West Virginia race we were just talking about. John Raese, the Republicans needed to win that one. Because as we assign that one to Joe Manchin and the Democrats, look at this map. Now we have the Democrats at 49 and the Republicans at 44 in the Senate. How many left? They would need 51. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven left, right? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven left, the Republicans had 44. They would need all seven to get to 51.

Guess what? We'll see what happens in California but coming in, the Democrats were very confident about Barbara Boxer. So let's hypothetically give that one over -- if Barbara Boxer now wins in the state of California, where we are right now, that would leave the Republicans at a best case scenario of getting to 50. Forty-four in this scenario, one, two, three, four, five, six.

Now the Republicans are confident about Wisconsin. So that could go their way. The Republicans are confident about Illinois. That's Barack Obama's old seat. That could go their way. Again, these are hypotheticals. But even there, you get them to 46 so they'd have to run the board, Wolf. Pennsylvania, Washington, Colorado, Nevada, not out of the question, by any means, but essentially, they needed West Virginia because California is so tough. Washington State also a tough battleground for the Republicans. They need to be perfect in running the Senate board the way out tonight.

One more quick point for you. I want to come back and show you the House right here. Come back to the national map and bring you over to the House races. You want to do something. First, Wolf, you've got a projection or two and then we'll come back to the map.

BLITZER: All right, stand by for a moment because we're ready to make an important projection in Virginia in the House of Representatives, CNN now projects that Robert Hurt, the Republican, will beat the Democrat incumbent Congressman Tom Perriello for that district. That's the fifth district in Virginia. Right now, 86 percent of the vote is in. Fifty-two percent for Hurt. Forty-six percent for Perriello. But this is another Republican pick-up right now in Virginia. And remember, John, only last Friday night, the president went to Perriello's district to campaign for him. Perriello had voted for the president's health care reform legislation. He is about to lose in that district in Virginia, another net pick-up for the Republicans.

KING: And that's two of the four targeted seats in the state of Virginia for the Republicans. We haven't called the other ones yet, so there are plenty. In terms of the races we've called, that's two for two for the Republicans. And again, let's put it in context by looking at the map.

This is the House coming into tonight. The blue, the Democratic districts. The red are Republican districts. Now what I want to do for you -- excuse me for stepping across -- I want to take this off. That's the incumbent button. These are the results coming in right now, OK? We see you look up here in New Hampshire. We haven't called these races yet, but the Republicans are leading. You look in Pennsylvania, you see all this red. You look out in Ohio, you see all this red.

Here's what I want to show you right here. Watch this right here. Watch inside that circle. Everybody take a good look at that. I'm going to step across the camera again, excuse me. Everyone take a close look at that right now. That is the results right now as they come in.

Watch that red. This is the House of Representatives as we began the night. See how much more blue we are just there in the East Coast into the beginning of the Midwest? That's where we began the night. That's where we are now. If this holds up, Wolf, we've called a few of these races but not a bunch. If this holds up right here and they continue to make these gains in Virginia, in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, up here in New Hampshire and right across into Indiana, this is the foundation right here, the Republicans at this moment need 35 to get to a House majority. There are 20 seats right in this swath right here. They could get well on their way and more than halfway there just here. And look at what is still to be counted out here.

BLITZER: John, stand by. We're getting ready at the top of the hour with 7 1/2 minutes from now or so. Another 14 states will close, including Colorado, Louisiana, Wisconsin, New York, Texas. We hope to make some more projections at the top of the hour.

Stand by. You can see the Republicans now need a net gain of 35 as opposed to 39 at the beginning of the night to become the majority in the House. The Republicans need a net gain of eight to become a majority in the Senate. We'll see what's going on. Our coverage continues after this.


COOPER: There are some major poll closings in about 3 1/2 minutes. We're going to bring them to you live. And a number of states there, some important results coming up very shortly.

Bill Bennett, some big announcements already out of Virginia. Tom Perriello, Rick Boucher going down. Also Alan Grayson in Florida going down.

BENNETT: Yes. I don't think any surprise on the Grayson thing. That's actually a favor for the Democratic Party. Nobody wants that guy in their party, I wouldn't think. But Boucher going down is a big deal for the Democrats. The poll (ph) could come in better than I can imagine.

I just want to say a word about Manchin. John's absolutely right about this making it harder for the Republicans to get to 10. But look how Manchin ran. I never ran a political campaign. I'm not a campaign strategist. I'm a philosopher and I paid attention to what he said. He said, I want to reform the health care. I want to shoot a hole through cap and trade.

COOPER: And he actually --

BENNETT: I know he did. Pro-life, I mean, I'm happy with more Democrats like that. So it's interesting how he had to run to win that Senate seat.

COOPER: James, you were talking about the importance of Joe Manchin in West Virginia also.

CARVILLE: Yes, just the math. Every time the Republican -- they have to win nine Democratic seats -- 10 Democratic seats I guess it is to get to the majority. So every time that you hold one it was problematic. They only lack 11 that they had a chance. So when you don't win one, it magnifies itself. And I mean, again, we're going to go to -- in the Central Time Zone, or some of them will close, and you're going to go to Wisconsin, you're going to go to Illinois, you're going to go to Colorado, and you go to Nevada, Washington State. Assuming that the Democrats should be safe in California, it's going to be interesting to see. But had you not had West Virginia, the math would have been just awful.

MARTIN: Right. You know, Bill made the point that he likes Democrats like Manchin, the way he ran. But it also shows you the difference between two parties. Because you could not have a Republican run as a moderate. And you can have Democrats run as conservatives, but it also shows the problem that we have in terms of, you're losing people who are able to communicate on both sides, that is moderate Republicans, conservative Democrats. Also on the Grayson point, somebody tweeted. They said, "I'll take Grayson losing if Michele Bachmann loses." They'll take the trade any day. So --


COOPER: Do you think Alan Grayson just went too far with those ads, with the Taliban ad and all that stuff?

BEGALA: I like nutty politicians. But they usually come out of safe districts. So a nutty politician in a swing district is really exciting, but now he's a former politician.

I want to go back to James' point about West Virginia, though. Joe Manchin is winning tonight when Barack Obama is unpopular in his state, really unpopular. When Barack Obama was popular nationally, he lost Joe Manchin's state by 14 points. He lost in a landslide when he was popular two years ago. So to stand against that tide, yes, he shot a hole in the bill and he ran away from them on this with that issue, he's still a Democrat in a state --

COOPER: We have a number of projections -- polls closing in just a few seconds and a number of states. Let's go back to Wolf.

BLITZER: Anderson, thank you. Fourteen states at the top of the hour are getting ready to close. The polling stations, including Colorado where there's a key Senate race, a key governor's race.

Louisiana, we're watching that very closely. The Senate race, David Vitter, the incumbent Republican against Charlie Melancon, the Democratic challenger. In Wisconsin, we're taking a close look at Russ Feingold, the incumbent Democrat. Can Ron Johnson, the Republican challenger, beat him in Wisconsin? There'll be races that we're watching in New York and elsewhere. North Dakota, Rhode Island. Fourteen states getting ready to close. We're about to make projections.

In New York State, CNN now projects Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic senator, she wins in New York State.