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President Obama Returns to White House; Republicans Pick Up Pieces; Interview With Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

Aired November 7, 2012 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now: President Obama is returning back to the White House for the hard part of winning reelection, the fiscal disaster that could be the around the corner.

Also, Republicans are picking up the pieces after Mitt Romney's loss, more worried than ever about reaching beyond their white political base.

And the huge lines and problems at polling places across America, can the president deliver on this promise?


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the way, we have though fix that.


BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, President Obama and his family are heading back to the White House. They will be calling that home for another four years, the American people handing him a clear victory and presenting him with enormous challenges in the immediate weeks and months ahead.

The president wound up winning every critical battleground state, except for Florida which is still too close to call. He still might win Florida, but even without Florida, he still has 303 electoral votes right now. That's well over the 270 needed to win and far more than Mitt Romney with 206 electoral votes.

The president also won the popular vote with 50 percent of the vote compared to 48 percent for Mitt Romney. The Obama camp had plenty to celebrate last night in Chicago, but today, the president has a big second term to-do list.

Let's turn to our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar. She's watching this part of the story for us -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he started to tackle his to-do list even before leaving Chicago. He called congressional leaders both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate to touch base before beginning negotiations over the fiscal cliff. He also stopped by his campaign headquarters. It was an emotional thank you received by a lot of staff and volunteers there, some who have worked toward President Obama's cause for as many as 18 months. But he has a lot of his plate as he heads back here to Washington as we wait for him to touch down at Andrews Air Force Base.

December 31, that is when the tax cuts expire, part of the fiscal cliff. January 2, that is when the spending cuts kick in, and that's not all. You moves towards inauguration, January 20, and at the beginning of February, President Obama's budget proposal will go to Congress. Also in February, the Treasury Department estimates that the debt ceiling will need to be increased. It was negotiations over the debt ceiling last year that nearly brought the country to the brink of default.

Then come March, that is when government funding, funding for the federal government, is expected to expire. That could potentially lead to a government shutdown. So you can see there's a whole lot on President Obama's plate as he heads back here to Washington, and also, quite frankly, Wolf, to reality.

BLITZER: Reality, indeed, political reality.

I take it there has been a change to the arrival back at the White House. What's going on?

KEILAR: That's right. It seemed like there would be a somewhat dramatic arrival for President Obama. He was initially expected, as he normally does, to come by chopper, by Marine One to the South Lawn of the White House and walk the 100 or 150 yards into the White House.

That's normally an open press situation where people can gather. There's room for a lot of people, including press, to gather and greet him. That's not going to happen. So there are a lot of staff members who were going to come out and greet him with clapping and with cheers as he walked into the White House.

Because of weather, he is now motorcading and that means he pulls up much closer to the White House and just goes in. It's not quite as much of a grand arrival, and it's been limited now so that few members of the press including myself and number of other correspondents and other White House staff members will not be there to see him as he comes in, Wolf.

BLITZER: So we will get a still photo at least out of that. All right, Brianna, thanks very much.

As for Republicans, they're doing a lot of rethinking right now after Mitt Romney's defeat.

And Kate Bolduan is picking up this part of the story.


When Mitt Romney told reporters he thought he would win, apparently it was not just spin. A former Romney adviser tells CNN that members of the campaign went into Election Day thinking they would defeat the president. The adviser says Romney wound up losing because of the Democrats' strong turnout. There's no word on Governor Romney's future plans. We're told though he is likely to spend the next several days getting some rest and spending time with his family, some much deserved rest after are a very long campaign.

BLITZER: Yes, a little rest is good.

We heard quite a few Republicans insist that Romney would win right up until he lost. Some of them trashed state and national polls that showed President Obama had the advantage. Listen to this.


MARY MATALIN, FORMER ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BUSH: They're overpolling Democrats overwhelmingly. These polls are basically just part and parcel of the campaign for Barack Obama to help him stay in this game as long as possible.

DICK MORRIS, FORMER CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: We're going to wind by a landslide. I base it on reading the polls, the exact same polls that say that Obama is going to win.

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That poll has a Democratic over- sample of seven percentage points. In 2008, the Democrats turned out two percentage points more in New Hampshire. That poll is so far out of whack, I'm not worried about it one bit.

KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll in Ohio had a nine-point advantage in Democrats in the poll, and that's bigger than it was in '08, and I have yet to find anybody who thinks that '12 will be a more Democratic year than '08.


BLITZER: The fact of the matter is that serious pollsters got it right all along.

Republican surrogates, they got it wrong apparently most of time.

Let's talk about this with our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, the editorial director of "The National Journal."

The CNN/ORC poll, all of the mainstream polls they were pretty much perfect in their targets all along. Nate Silver of "The New York Times" he got it all right. What happened to these Republican pollsters, these Republican political operatives if you will who insisted that these polls showing the president doing well were all biased and wrong?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It was an extreme example of a tendency that exists on both the left and the right but especially on the right in the modern conservative movement.

There is a tendency to create this kind of hermetically sealed alternate reality the ranges from RealClearPolitics to FOX News in which anything that kind of contravenes the idea that there is an inherent conservative majority in the country is fundamentally and immediately rejected.

The polls did get it right. In August, I wrote for Barack Obama, the formula for victory was 80-40, 80 percent of minorities and 40 percent of whites, so long as minorities were at least 26 percent of the vote as they were last time. If the polls were wrong about anything, it was underprojecting the minority share of the vote, which actually rose to 28 percent.

Very few pollsters had that and if anything the electorate tilted even further toward the Democrats in many places than we saw expected in those polls. So this was an example -- you know, Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, as you recall, everybody is entitled to their own opinions, they're not entitled to their own facts, and too many analysts on the right believe they are entitled to their own facts, particularly when it comes to these electoral matters.

And this was, I think, a wakeup call about the under -- you know, how many people were polled in October? The idea that they would systematically wrong at both the state and the national level kind of beggars the imagination.

BLITZER: Yes, they were even going so far as to predicting a landslide for Mitt Romney, which was counter to all the mainstream polls out there. It was pretty shocking when you take a look at it. We will have to do a complete review and I'm sure political scientists will be doing a lot of that.

You looked closely at the polls. You are an expert on these subjects. You talk about the Rust Belt and the Sun Belt. What do you see here as far as the election yesterday is concerned?

BROWNSTEIN: Here is what's really striking.

The overall picture is that Barack Obama wins reelection comfortably despite losing white voters by 20 points. Mitt Romney runs as well among whites as any Republican challenger ever, matching Bush in '08 -- I'm sorry -- 1998 (sic), and only one point behind Eisenhower in '52, and yet loses.

In part, that is true because Barack Obama was able to navigate not one tightrope, but two. He built very different coalitions in the Sun Belt and in the Rust Belt. In the Sun Belt states, like Virginia and Florida and then Colorado and Nevada in the West, he faced enormous difficulties among the working-class white voters, but he overcame it by running reasonably well among college-educated whites and benefiting from that big minority turnout.

We saw a big increase in the minority share of the voting in places like Florida and Nevada, up five points in a single election cycle, which is remarkable. In the Rust Belt, he put together a very different coalition. There is not enough of that coalition of the ascendant as I called it to win. You have to mobilize blue-collar voters. There he was able to win just enough working-class whites. If you look, for example, at the numbers among non-college white women much better in the Rust Belt than the Sun Belt. He put that together with some of the college-educated white women, and a smaller but growing minority population held on to those critical Midwestern battlegrounds of Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio.

BLITZER: Fascinating stuff, Ron Brownstein, as usual. Thanks very much for coming in.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Kate, he knows this stuff well.

It is pretty shocking the accusations that were made against the mainstream pollsters. These are professional statisticians. They do their job well. If it just one poll, that can be an outlier. When you have so many of them saying basically the same thing, to say they're skewed, they're interviewing too many Democrats, as opposed to Republicans, well, you know what? They were almost precise.


BOLDUAN: I do remember you saying when we were talking about this, in the thick of it, you were saying, just wait until we see how the election turns out, and then we will talk, then we will do our review. And I think you were absolutely right about that. You said the mainstream pollsters would be right in the end.

Still ahead, now that the election is over, President Obama is promising to reach out to Republicans. How much are Democrats willing to compromise? We will ask the party chair, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, coming up.

And a landmark election for gay Americans who want to marry or serve in the U.S. Senate.


BLITZER: Democrats are certainly celebrating key victories in the election.

BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right. Of course, President Obama won another term, and the Democrats gained seats in the Senate, which they already controlled, but very good news for them there.

But despite predictions to the contrary, the House remains firmly in Republican hands.

BLITZER: Let's talk about that and more with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She's the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

First of all, congratulations on getting reelected.


BLITZER: Was it even close in your district over there?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: At the end of the day, it was not close.

BLITZER: What did you get, how many percent?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, 65 percent.

BLITZER: Well, that's not bad. Next time, you should shoot for 70 percent.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Really appreciative. I'm just happy to be reelected.


BLITZER: Congratulations.


BLITZER: When I interviewed Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, a little while ago on October 2, she was pretty confident that the 25 seats net gain might be possible for the Democrats to be the majority, she might be the speaker again.

Listen to this exchange I had with her.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I think that we probably have to win more than 25 to net 25.

BLITZER: Can you net 25 seats?

PELOSI: Oh, yes.


BLITZER: She said -- what happened?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: She said probably have to win more than 25.

And that was because, after redistricting, the redistricting process across the country put a lot of our members who were previously not in a vulnerable situation in one.

BLITZER: Because Republicans control the legislatures on all of these states.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: In many. They picked up a lot of legislative chambers in 2010. And as a result, they were able to redraw the district lines a lot of states in their favor, and so we lost 17 seats last night, while gained -- I think we're up to 25 seats that we picked up.

BLITZER: Our current projection has 233 Republicans in the new House, 194 Democrats.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Races still to be called.

BOLDUAN: I know redistricting is one thing we have talked about a lot, but was it a problem with candidates? Was it a problem with funding? Because there were predictions that Democrats had a strong chance to take back the House.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, the DCCC, led by Steve Israel, they put a phenomenal field of candidates on the field. They really did.

They had the resources they needed to win. At the end of the day, when you're up against a stacked deck in a district that is skewed toward Republicans, then it makes it harder. And then don't forget in a House race, while a super PAC has trouble buying the White House, they have obviously troubling buys a Senate seat, and grassroots paid off there, it's much easier for all that super PAC money dumped into a House race to make a more significant difference.

And I think that affected a lot of our House races because there was such a lopsided amount of outside money in there. It's really one of those things that absolutely has to be addressed. We have to get that opaque, nontransparent, corporate special interest money out of the democratic process. It's really one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever handed down.

BLITZER: The Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional. There's a limited amount of what you can do.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What we can do as a Congress is come together and pass legislation like the Disclose Act that holds these corporations accountable, that has disclosure.

BLITZER: By the way, here is the president landing, Air Force One landing at Andrews Air Force Base, or Joint Base Andrews, they call it now. He's coming back from Chicago with the first lady and their daughters.

It's an exciting time for him. You're beaming as you just think about it.


BLITZER: You were with him last night.


BLITZER: Did you have a chance to talk to him a little bit?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I did, I did, I had a chance with him and the first lady, and the vice president, and Mrs. Biden. It was just really gratifying. I'm so proud not just of the president and the vice president, but of the tens of thousands of our volunteers who really, as I said, knocked on doors until their knuckles bled.

And what was the most gratifying was that our team, our campaign put together the largest, most dynamic grassroots presidential campaign in history. And even though there was a ton of money that was dumped on the president, they dumped everything but the kitchen sink on this president, but he -- you know, we ran a campaign that the average contribution was $50.

We ran a door to door, neighbor to neighbor, people to people campaign and increased our turnout. For months, I know we had these discussions that there was some kind of enthusiasm gap. Not only there was not an enthusiasm gap, which we insisted there wasn't. We had increases in African-American turnout, in youth turnout, in Latino turnout from over 2008.

BLITZER: I know you worked hard to make sure some of your Jewish constituents -- and you have a lot in South, whether in Miami-Dade...


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: President Obama got 70 percent of the Jewish vote.

BLITZER: What did he get four years earlier?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It was 74. But the adjustment arguably is because of the economy. There was obviously in every demographic group a little bit of erosion.

BLITZER: The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, congratulated the president today when he met with the U.S. ambassador to Israel.


BLITZER: I think we have a clip of that.



BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I want to congratulate President Obama on his reelection. I think the United States of America again demonstrated why it's the greatest democracy on Earth.

The security relationship between the United States and Israel is rock-solid. And I look forward to working with President Obama to further strengthen this relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Was that a big issue among your constituents, the U.S.- Israeli relationship? Because, as you know, the Republicans and Romney they tried to say that the president threw Israel under the bus. That was the argument and Romney made it at the convention, at the Republican Convention.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think the reason that the president ultimately got 70 percent of the Jewish vote was because on domestic issues, whether it's investing in education, or health care, or civil rights, civil liberties, women's health, that's a natural home for Jewish voters.

And then we were able to make sure the lies and distortions and the mischaracterizations that the Republicans tried to sow among Jewish voters were not able to take hold.

BOLDUAN: We're always out of time, but real quickly I have to ask you about the fiscal cliff. That's the issue we're facing when I had back to Capitol Hill and you do as well.


BOLDUAN: John Boehner today in a speech, he had a conciliatory tone, and he also made the point to say the American people expect us to find common ground and we're willing to accept some additional revenue via tax reform.

What's going to happen?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I was glad to see an olive branch extended by the speaker.

We can't ignore that President Obama did have the kitchen sink thrown at him yesterday. But his accomplishments, health care reform, rescuing the auto industry, Wall Street reform, in spite of that kitchen sink, voters voted to move forward, and we need to recognize that that balanced approach the president talked about the whole campaign is what we need to work together towards.

BLITZER: You sound a little optimistic.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I am optimistic.

BOLDUAN: It's going to be a very busy lame-duck session.


BLITZER: We will see how long that optimistic lasts.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

Thank you so much, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The glass is half-full.

BLITZER: Congratulations again. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Still ahead right now, a nor'easter, if you can even believe it, is pounding the same areas devastated by superstorm Sandy. We're getting new details ahead.



BLITZER: Coming up, we have some winners, we have some losers, and we have lessons to be learned from the election. We will talk about that with our political panel.

And a closer look at voting problems, including those long lines that some people had to stand in for hours and hours and hours to vote. Is this the United States of America? What is going on?

Also, the president of the United States getting ready to get off Air Force One. He has just landed at Joint Base Andrews. It used to be called Andrews Air Force Base right outside of Washington, D.C., in Maryland. The president and his family, they have just landed from Chicago. And they're going to be heading over to the White House.


BLITZER: There they are, the president, the first lady, Sasha, Malia, they have just landed at Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington, D.C.

They're going to get into a car and drive to the White House. Apparently, the weather is precluding Marine One from taking a little chopper, little helicopter ride from Andrews to the White House.

A helicopter takes maybe eight or 10 minutes, if that. But to drive takes a little bit longer. You're in a motorcade. You don't have to worry about street lights. So that's it. So they're getting ready to leave.

Now you're looking at live pictures of their -- they're in the limo and getting ready to drive to the White House.

Let's talk about what's going on as we look at these pictures right now. We've all been pouring over exit poll results to figure out exactly how President Obama won and why Mitt Romney lost. Let's discuss it with three of our expert panelists right now. Joining us, David Gergen, our senior political analyst; also, our CNN contributors Van Jones and Ana Navarro.

Anna, look at this. Chris Christie, he was asked -- he's always blunt. He said, "How come Romney lost?" He said, "He didn't get enough votes."

So let's figure out -- let's figure out why. And I'll talk about the Latino vote, a subject you're familiar with. In -- Bush in 2004 got 44 percent of the Latino vote. McCain in 2008 got 31 percent of the Latino vote. Romney, yesterday, got 27 percent of the Latino vote, the fastest growing segment of our population. What did he do wrong?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think he tried to establish some conservative bon fides that he did not have by going too far to the right on immigration and on issues that were important to Latinos during the primary, and he never quite recovered.

I also think he started too late the outreach to Latinos. It wasn't until after the primary when we saw a real huge blitz and effort and resources being put in.

Mitt Romney has been running for president for six years. This is something he should have been putting energy into and time into long before that.

BLITZER: We bring Van into this conversation. The president got 93 percent of the African-American vote, 71 percent of the Latino vote. Those makes up about 23 percent of the total population. He only got, what, 39 percent of the white vote, after he got 44 percent the last time. What was the issue there?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You have two disturbing trends. On the one hand, you have the Republican Party that's kind of backed itself into a demographic cul-de-sac where they're sort of wrapped around the white vote that's getting smaller. That's disturbing for the Republican Party, because they need to be a party of everybody.

But you also have another very disturbing trend, which is that the Democratic Party is not being able to find ways to attract white folks. These are two unhealthy parties in that regard. And both parties need to look at this very seriously.

Now I do want to say, though, the fact that the African-American community came out 93 percent, actually bigger numbers and percentage- wise than 2008, shows a determination on the part of this community to participate.

BLITZER: I thought in 2008 he got 96 percent.

JONES: You may be right on that, but still, to rival that 2008 turnout, which was historic, by any measure, showed the determination on the part of this community to participate. I'm so surprised because the Republican Party is only saying they've got to do better with Latinos. They're not saying they've got to do better with African-Americans, when you see this incredible desire to be a part of the system. So there's something wrong with both parties. We've got to look at that.

BOLDUAN: And David, as we're looking at pictures now of the first family heading out from Base Andrews, heading back to the White House for the first time since the election wrapped up last night, I want to ask you. We -- we hear this often when a president wins a second term, that he now has political capital. He's now free from having to worry about getting reelected. You know, his hands are no longer tied. He can get his legacy now, and he can get stuff done. Is there -- does that historically bear out, do you think?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: That's wrong. The -- historically, most second terms have been weaker at home than first terms, because you have power for a short while, and then it begins to drain away as you head toward the mid-term elections in your second term.

And then after midterm elections, everyone is looking over your shoulder to the next person. And therefore, you inevitably, with rare exception, second terms are weaker. What presidents do the second term is they spend a lot of time in foreign policy, because that's where they continue to have authority.

Now, we'll have to see. I think one of the big, big tests for this presidency, the next few months are a huge test for the president.

BLITZER: But he doesn't have to worry about getting reelected. What he does have to worry about, every second-term president has to worry about historic legacy. What are the historians going to write? And they're obsessed, these second-term presidents, about how the historians will look at their record, and that's going to be a critical issue for this president.

NAVARRO: Republicans in Congress don't have to worry about not getting him reelected, so I think this gives freedom to both sides to act.

BLITZER: All right. Hold on, guys. Don't go away. We have more to discuss. We're going to talk about the big winners and the big losers. And we're not talking about the president of Mitt Romney. We've got some other winners and losers we're talking about also. Election night is a ground-breaking moment for gay Americans.


BLITZER: Some of the biggest winners and losers, Kate, were not on the ballot.

BOLDUAN: They were not on the ballot. We're back here with our -- our team, I like to say, Ana, David, Van. Yes, let's talk about, we know electorally that one person one and one person lost. Let's not even go there. But who do you think were the -- when you look at the election and last night and this bitter battle, who were the biggest winners and losers, some of them?

NAVARRO: The biggest losers, I would tell you, are older white men, and biggest winner, I would tell you, except for Bill Clinton, who is an older white man, anyone who is not an older white man. Gay, women, Hispanics, African-Americans, I think, were all big winners last night.

BOLDUAN: That's pretty interesting. The ballot initiatives were really amazing things to watch.

BLITZER: Yes, we're going to have more of that coming up.

BOLDUAN: We didn't mean to pick on you.



BLITZER: We'll be hurt. David and I don't take it personally.

GERGEN: I think Latinos were the big winners last night. Because they were the sleeping giant of American politics. And they woke last night. And the numbers on deportation versus a path to citizenship, overwhelming support for that.

Let me just single out one or two as a winner. Jerry Brown. This initiative that he got passed, that we didn't talk about much last night late in California, to raise taxes in order to -- in order to not have declining schools was a big, big victory, substantial victory.

One other, Nate Silver. This is a fellow who does the predictions for "The New York Times."

BLITZER: He looks at all -- looks at all the polls.

GERGEN: Looks at all the polls.

BLITZER: And studies them. He does these averages, and what was his record last night? What, 100 percent?

GERGEN: If Florida goes for Obama, he called not only the national election but every single state. He called every single state.

BOLDUAN: Better record than me.

BLITZER: Not one mistake. And they were -- some of the right wingers were really killing him out there, and he was right.

BOLDUAN: And we're still waiting for the results to come in from Florida.

NAVARRO: Please don't pick on Florida.

BOLDUAN: I think Florida deserves it.

NAVARRO: We have stone crabs and political...

BOLDUAN: You do have stone crabs, that's for sure. They are my big winner all the time.

JONES: For me, Karl Rove, I think really hurt himself, because I mean, he spent a million dollars, doesn't have much to show for it. And it was kind of... BLITZER: Through his super PAC.

JONES: And was kind of the last dog barking, saying, "We're still going to win." I think it's one of -- it's kind of like the death of an icon in American politics.

I also think that the right-wing talk world is a little bit diminished now, because they did create this sort of fact-free environment around this election.

But the winners, anybody who cares about liberty and justice for all has to be excited about marriage equality triumphing. This is -- this is a big, big sea shift in American politics and American life, and I think it's huge.

The other winner, the much-maligned community organizer. The community organizer, who was the scapegoat and demonized by the Republicans, won this election. The African-American -- Ben Jealous and the NAACP had a million black voters, basic community organizers. And you had youth organizations like Hoodie Vote, Vote Mom, Dream Defenders, which we'd never heard of, that turned this election into a youth outpouring with no support for anybody outside of that youth community. An extraordinary victory for community organizer.

NAVARRO: We're going to continue to win that ground game; win that ground game for a long time to come.

All right, guys, thanks very much.

As we mentioned, gay Americans and their supporters are celebrating a string of unprecedented election victories including a Senate seat. CNN's Ted Rowlands has details.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf in 2006, this state voted to ban same-sex marriage, but last night Wisconsin made history by sending Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tammy! Tammy! Tammy!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tammy! Tammy! Tammy!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tammy! Tammy! Tammy!


ROWLANDS: In her acceptance speech Tuesday night, 50-year-old Tammy Baldwin acknowledged her role in history but tried to downplay its significance.

BALDWIN: Now, I am well aware that I will have the honor to be Wisconsin's first woman U.S. senator. And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member elected to Congress. But I didn't run to make history. I ran to make a difference.

PAUL FAIRCHILD, CREAM CITY FOUNDATION: It's a huge day. It's a huge -- it's a huge milestone in the history of America.

ROWLANDS: For 20 years, Paul Fairchild has been fighting for gay rights. He says Baldwin's win will inevitably make a difference.

FAIRCHILD: Once we have openly gay people serving on a federal level, it's much harder to vote against laws that protect us.

ROWLANDS: Baldwin's victory was one of five Tuesday night that some believe signals a sea change in the way more and more American voters view the LBGT community. Maine, Maryland, and it appears Washington have become the first states to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. And in Minnesota, voters said no to defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.

BALDWIN: I am honored.

ROWLANDS: Baldwin, who served in the House for 14 years before launching her Senate campaign, defeated former two-time Wisconsin governor, Tommy Thompson. Despite being openly gay, Baldwin's sexual identity was not a major issue during the campaign and clearly didn't seem to matter to Wisconsin voters.

AMBER WICHOWSKY, MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY: And part of the reason why it wasn't a big deal has to do with what were the top issue this is year, and it really was about the economy and about jobs.

ROWLANDS (on camera): Besides being the first openly gay member of the Senate, Tammy Baldwin is also the first female to represent the state of Wisconsin in the Senate. In her acceptance speech last night, Wolf, she said she is vowing to fight for all of Wisconsin, specifically the middle class -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Very -- very, very important. Not only what's happening in Wisconsin but in other states, as well.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Watching it very closely.

Also some voters went to the polls full of enthusiasm. Many did. But they also, many left angry and frustrated. What can be done to make sure Americans don't wait hours and hours in those lines to vote?


BOLDUAN: Fears of an election meltdown weren't realized, thankfully, but election day wasn't exactly problem free. CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this for us. Brian, we all saw those extremely long lines in some locations. Really kind of across the country. What were some of the other problems that voters faced?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, you had machines jamming up, machines changing votes. In Philadelphia, Republican poll monitors had to be escorted into precincts by sheriff's deputies after some of them had been denied access. But it was congestion at the polling place that seemed to be the biggest embarrassment. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Some voters waited in seemingly endless lines to cast ballots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, an hour waiting just to get in, that's bad. That's bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two hours ten minutes.

TODD: In Plantation, Florida, four hours in line. Some people gave up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People left and they won't come back. They can't come back.

TODD: The president, in his hour of glory, even felt compelled to say this.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whether you voted for the very first time, or waited in line for a very long time -- by the way, we have to fix that.

TODD: Then there were scattered reports of voting machine problems.

In Pennsylvania, an embarrassing scene posted on YouTube. One machine indicated a vote for Mitt Romney when a voter tried to choose President Obama. The machine had to be recalibrated.

But the lines were the big story in many places, including key swing states. Paul Herrnson at the University of Maryland, who keeps close tabs on voting systems, says the backups shouldn't be happening, but there are several reasons they do. Congestion often builds, he says, in communities that can't afford to streamline voting.

PAUL HERRNSON, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Those communities and counties usually have to decide between paying money for voting systems and election administration, roads, bridges, and hospitals, and of course, voting systems come in last.

TODD (on camera): But other issues cropped up, as well, depending on where you were voting. In some places in Florida, the ballots were 12 pages long.

(voice-over) Another big factor, Herrnson says, was the decision by some states to cut back the number of early voting days. Some state legislatures rammed through voter I.D. laws, requiring people to show photo I.D.s, fill out affidavits and other forms if they didn't have them.

Plenty of people had no trouble. And there's no indication that any of this tilted the outcome of the election. But there's little doubt this is now a patchwork system that's messy, unwieldy, different in every state.

(on camera) How do we fix this? Should there just be one system, federally mandated? Streamlined for everybody.

HERRNSON: It would be very difficult to fix it by having one system. The states have primary authority for conducting elections. And some of them pass that authority down to the counties and give them leeway and implementation. And it would be extremely challenging, because each state has its own traditions, its own culture.


TODD: Herrnson says there is no one big fix. He says after the 2000 Florida recount, the federal government allocated some money to try to improve things and created an agency called the Election Assistance Commission. Herrnson says the problem with that body is that it doesn't work very well. It's not well-funded. And we checked on this. It's been without all four of its designated commissioners for almost a year now.

A spokesman for the commission told us it doesn't have any regulatory authority. The commission can offer advice to the states on how to streamline voting, he says, but it can't tell them what to do.

Kate and Wolf, President Obama says he wants to fix this. He's got no agency with which to fix it.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and it's just amazing, the -- I mean, the amount of time people were waiting in lines yesterday. It's very -- so frustrating for voters. I know. Brian Todd, thanks so much.

BLITZER: Makes my blood boil that this kind of stuff still goes on.

BOLDUAN: Just want to vote.

BLITZER: Go vote. It shouldn't take six hours to vote.

BOLDUAN: I know.

BLITZER: People have to work.

Our Erin Burnett is here.

BOLDUAN: All kinds of ideas on how to solve that.

BLITZER: Erin, it's good to have you here in the CNN Election Center. You did a great job in Ohio yesterday, Columbus, Ohio. Let's talk a little bit about what happened on Wall Street. A subject you know very, very well. This is, what, the worst plunge in a year, 300 points?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: It is the worst plunge in a year, and you know, a lot of it was the U.S. election and really, the fact that there were...

BLITZER: Well, you're saying the U.S. election. You think the investors were nervous about Obama's winning?

BURNETT: Yes. I think, now, look, investors -- you know, one of the biggest investors in the world, Bill Gross of Pimco, said to me a while ago, "Look, we need to cut $1.6 billion a year. Both of the guys running for president are going to run trillion-dollar deficits a year. Neither one of them we're seeing as the person who's going to come in and solve this."

But there -- there was a very clear view that, under the president, there could be a real delay on dealing with the fiscal cliff, which the market's very worried about. That's part of the reason that stocks sold off today.

But they really think they're not going to get a deal. We're not going to have spending -- spending cuts, and so that's really why you saw it.

But keep in mind, the day after an election is often a weak day, and the president's past four years have been very good for the market. Outstanding for the market.

BLITZER: Well, it was down at 6,500, 7,000. It's now 13,000. It's more than -- it's almost doubled, if you will.

BURNETT: That's right. And the president had some things out there that he says he wants to do. For example, you know, if you have dividends, and that doesn't mean just wealthy people. That means a lot of older people who are watching right now. Your tax on dividends could go up significantly. That suddenly means they're worth less.

So that's a lot of what was being priced into the market today. But we'll see if they do a deal on Capitol Hill. Maybe there will be a deal on some of those things that's not quite as draconian as the market sees it now.

BLITZER: We're looking forward. Top of the hour. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT."

BURNETT: Loving being here on your set.

BLITZER: Come visit us a little bit more often.

BOLDUAN: It's a little chilly.

BURNETT: Yes. As a woman, I can agree with Kate. Wolf, I'm sure you feel just fine.

BLITZER: I feel very comfortable.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

So, Jeanne Moos, of course, has been combing through hours and hours of election coverage. Up next, she'll show us some of the more unusual ones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: We have another major projection to make right now in another key battleground state.



BLITZER: First family has just arrived back at the White House. Take a look at this. Let's see if we can hear what the president's saying.

OBAMA: Thank you, guys.

BLITZER: Very nice. They're back home now. At least for the next four years. He's been re-elected. I'm sure the girls are happy. The first lady's happy. They're all happy.

BOLDUAN: Where they're going to call home.

It was the moment of truth on last night's election coverage. Our Jeanne Moos looks at how the networks called the election.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you missed the moment live, let's relive it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama has been re-elected.

BLITZER: President of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a hard-fought battle.

STEVEN COLBERT, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "THE COLBERT REPORT": "The Colbert Report" is ready to project that CNN has projected that Animal Planet has predicted that the winner of the 2012 presidential election is Barack Obama.

MOOS: Talk about a thoughtful pundit. Though painting a bleak picture of President Obama's second term, FOX commentator Dr. Charles Krauthammer joked...

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX COMMENTATOR: So as a psychologist, I will offer to write prescriptions for anybody who needs them right now.

MOOS: But Obama supporters were ecstatic. CNN even cut away to some in Kenya. Speaking of rich...

(on camera) ... what would election night be without a Donald Trump angle?

(voice-over) After Mitt Romney's loss, Trump tweeted, "This election is a total sham and travesty. We should have a revolution in this country." Which prompted NBC's Brian Williams to launch this zinger. BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Donald Trump, who has driven well past the last exit to relevance...

MOOS: The exit for Mitt Romney was Ohio, and after FOX News called Ohio for Obama, the network's own best-known commentator objected.

KARL ROVE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We've got to be careful about calling things.


MOOS: Once Karl Rove questioned the call by FOX's decision desk, Megyn Kelly walked back there.


MOOS: ... live camera in tow...

KELLY: Keep coming. Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're actually quite comfortable with the call in Ohio.

MOOS: But the anchor who got the most flak was ABC's Diane Sawyer.

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Can we have music? Because this is another big one here.

MOOS: Viewers thought her delivery was strange: "I'll have what Diane Sawyer is having," tweeted Senator Josh Groban.

SAWYER: President Barack Obama has won Minnesota.

MOOS: Someone else tweeted, "And Diane Sawyer declares tonight's winner is chardonnay."

Officially, ABC wouldn't comment, but staffers suggest Diane was just exhausted from hurricane coverage and debate prep.

(on camera) And what's an anchor supposed to do when she gets a call of nature while she's in the middle of calling states?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: I came back from the bathroom and said that Colorado was still too close to call. Nobody told me while I was in the bathroom, Colorado went for President Obama. Thanks, you guys. I really appreciate it.

MOOS: One thing networks don't project are bathroom breaks.

Jeanne Moos, CNN...

JON STEWART, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "THE DAILY SHOW": Good news for Mitt Romney. He has won tonight -- we can announce this right now -- most of the confederacy. MOOS: ... New York.


BLITZER: Very funny stuff.


BLITZER: Thanks very much for joining us. We'll be back tomorrow. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.