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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Election Night in America; Mitch McConnell Wins Senate Race

Aired November 4, 2014 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Desperately want, that would be Georgia. And Kentucky. Stand by.

And we have a major projection right now, CNN projects Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the United States Senate, will be re-elected for another six-year term, defeating Alison Lundergan Grimes.

We make this projection not only based on the real votes that have already come in, you see he's up 55 percent to 42 percent. Also on exit poll results, this is a surprise. We were expecting that Mitch McConnell would win. We were not necessarily expecting we'd be able to make the projections since all of the polls in Kentucky are closed.

Let's go to Brianna Keilar, she's in Kentucky where I assume the folks are about to hear, if they haven't yet, what's going on. They are probably pretty happy over there.

A big win for Mitch McConnell, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. A big win. They haven't heard yet, Wolf. So actually our viewers are getting the news before even Mitch McConnell supporters here at the headquarters in the Marriott in eastern Louisville.

When they do find out, this place is going to go crazy. And certainly there's already optimism. This is a bit of a foregone conclusion, I guess you could say, a lot of the folks here, this is what they've been expecting but they certainly want to hear it officially.

I'm told that Mitch McConnell is upstairs, he's been watching, presumably has watched this announcement with his wife and with his top advisors. It's been a very good night for Mitch McConnell as he retains his seat in the U.S. Senate -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Mitch McConnell, we have projected, will be -- will win. He will be the senator from Kentucky, and he hopes obviously he will also be the majority leader in the United States Senate.

We have some other key race alerts to go with right now.

We cannot make a projection in Georgia between Michelle Nunn, the Democrat, and David Perdue, the Republican. We don't have enough information yet to make a projection in Georgia. Similarly in Virginia. Mark Warner, the incumbent Democrat, being challenged by Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. We don't have enough information yet to make a projection in Virginia.

But we can make some other projections.

Take a look at this. South Carolina, for example, Lindsey Graham easily gets re-elected for another six years. Lindsey Graham beats Brad Huddo for another six years in the United States Senate. South Carolina stays with the Republicans. Also Tim Scott, he will have now a -- actually one of the six-year term. Tim Scott wins a special election and he will fill out the term left by Jim DeMint who resigned to become head of the Heritage Foundation here in Washington.

Let's take a look at where it stands right now with the Mitch McConnell win that we're projecting right now. Thirty-four Democrats at least will be coming back to the United States Senate, 33 Republicans. Lots of votes remaining outstanding. You need 51 to be a majority.

Fifty-one if you're a Republican, you need 50 if you're a Democrat, because according to the U.S. Constitution, the vice president of the United States, he breaks the tie. He is the president of the United States Senate.

As we wait for more real votes to come in, we want to share with you what our exit polls are revealing. Remember, these are estimates based on interviews with the sampling of voters today and during early voting processes.

All right. Here's the exit poll results for the state of Georgia. Look at how close it is. Michelle Nunn, 48 percent, David Perdue, 49 percent. In Georgia you need 50 percent plus one to avoid a runoff on January 6th.

Remember, this is the exit poll for Georgia so it's -- it shows how tight this race could be. But both of these candidates, according to the exit poll -- according to the exit poll are under 50 percent. That is critically important.

Here's another exit poll for the state of Virginia. Mark Warner 50 percent, the Republican challenger 47 percent. Close in Virginia as well. Mark Warner wanting another six-year term in the Senate but this is an exit poll.

Remember, these are estimates based on our survey of voters. The final outcome may be different. We use these exit polls to make projections only in non-competitive races. And we want to be fully transparent and make sure our viewers get the same information we have. It's very, very important.

Let's check in with Jake Tapper now.

Jake, you've got a projection for a governor's race?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, THE LEAD: That's right, Wolf. CNN is projecting that Nikki Haley, the incumbent Republican governor of South Carolina, will be re-elected to a second term, beating Vince Sheheen, the Democratic state senator that she beat four years ago. Nikki Haley re-elected. That is a CNN projection. Some talk of her,

speculation that she might be a good vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party in 2016.

CNN does not yet have enough information to make a projection in the contested Georgia governor's race with incumbent Republican Nathan Deal facing off against state senator, Jason Carter, the grandson of former president Jimmy Carter. Not enough information to make a projection there.

Likewise not enough information to make a projection in the Vermont governor's race where the Democratic incumbent governor Peter Shumlin is facing off against Scott Milne, the Republican. Not enough information.

Now, Wolf, I understand you have some key races to tell us about.

BLITZER: We certainly do. I want to go to John King over here.

John, Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, that's a projection we made right at the top of the hour. Mitch McConnell reelected beating Alison Grimes.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And if you fill it in now, we're up to 10 percent of the vote coming in. You see Mitch McConnell with a 13-point lead. Again, most encouraging, and we're still waiting, Alison Grimes is going to do better when we see the votes come in. These are early votes in Louisville. I don't expect this to stay red throughout the night. Jefferson County, we have only 2 percent of the vote counted in, and it's essentially ties, 50 percent to 49 percent.

I expect that will turn blue by the end of the night. But what the McConnell campaign is supposed to be happy about, Wolf, is it's a big battleground down here. A lot of nasty direct mail pieces, a lot of other campaigning down in eastern Kentucky. If you go back in time to Mitch McConnell's last race in 2008, you'll see he lost some of these counties down here in eastern Kentucky.

So far tonight, these early results here, he's winning them, which means even if -- even if some of these counties change as more of the votes come in, he's holding his own in a part of the state that he struggled in than when he ran six years ago. And we expect very much he'll run it up out here. So Mitch McConnell doing what he needs to do. Now he has to wait. Mitch McConnell wants to be the Senate majority leader. Now he has to wait the rest of this map fill in as these other states close.

Can the Republican candidate Scott Brown win in New Hampshire? Can the Republican candidate Thom Tillis win in North Carolina? If the Republicans are winning in those states, Mitch McConnell will have an early clue, he's going to have a very good night and he's going to become majority leader. If they don't, then we'll have to keep this coming all the way across the country.

I want to show you quickly. Just go inside the mood in the electorate in Kentucky a little bit to see how Mitch McConnell did this. This is interesting. An evenly divided Kentucky electorate. Fifty percent men, 50 percent women. Alison Grimes won the women's vote. But just with 51 percent. For Democrats to win in these races, they need a bigger gender gap. Just pure and simple. 51-46 for Alison Grimes among women.

And look at these totals among men. Mitch McConnell, getting 58 percent so he had a bigger gap among men, a much bigger gap among men. That was the key to the McConnell victory in a race frankly where people thought would be quite close.

Democrats, were the biggest group of the electorate 42 percent. Alison Grimes won them, that's why it's blue with 82 percent of the votes of those who identified themselves as Democrats. But look at this. Mitch McConnell swamped here among Republicans. Getting 90 percent of the votes there.

And again, people would dissect this. Among those who describe themselves as independents, I suspect there's some Tea Partiers in this group as well, they don't want to be identified with the Republican Party, on itself, 54 percent for McConnell there. So he won among independents. That was key to his victory.

And, Wolf, just to show you one more about the state of Kentucky as we move on, your opinion of the Obama administration, 62 percent of those voting today say they're dissatisfied where the Obama administration is going. No surprise. Seven in 10 of them, almost eight in 10 of them, 77 percent, voting right there for Mitch McConnell in that race.

So dissatisfaction with the president and key factor there and this was a big issue in the race. Right? 86 percent of the voters in Kentucky said control of the Senate was important to their vote today in the Mitch McConnell-Alison Grimes match-up and more than half of them voted for the Republican leader, their Republican incumbent senator, who, if the night goes the way he expects it to go, he will be the majority leader but we got a lot of counting to do before we get to that.

BLITZER: A long way to go to see if he becomes the majority leader.

KING: Right.

BLITZER: But we do know he will remain in the Senate for another six years. A big win for Mitch McConnell.

KING: Big win. The Democrats wanted to take that state away. They need some takeaways tonight. They especially wanted to take away the leader. Strike that one off the list.

BLITZER: Not happening for the Democrats in Kentucky.

KING: Right.

BLITZER: Let's go back to Anderson for some analysis -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, let's drill down on this race in Kentucky. What went right for McConnell, what went wrong for Grimes. Newt Gingrich, was it a mistake for Grimes to run so far away from

President Obama?

NEWT GINGRICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

COOPER: And to not even say whether or not she voted for him?

GINGRICH: Look, when she goes through an entire week and I think five different times refused to say who she voted for, when she had been a delegate twice, she was the Democratic secretary of state, I mean, there is a point where people -- it crippled her believability.

COOPER: Yes.

GINGRICH: I think Michelle Nunn did a much better job in Georgia. She said, of course I voted for him. Next question.

COOPER: Was that a turning point?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think it was devastating for her. First of all, John King mentioned that, you know, some of the grass top black leaders were able to go along with her and hold their nose and pretend, that really angered a lot of people at the grassroots level, African-Americans, who she needed. But more importantly than that, much beyond the African-American community, she looked like a laughing stock.

She looked like somebody -- she came on as somebody who was this fire brand, this tough talker, she's believable, she's authentic, she's going to take on the establishment, and then she can't even tell you who she voted for? I think it totally wrecked her. It was a political malpractice.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, you know, and let's give Mitch McConnell a little credit, too, I know he's not entirely popular. But some credit, and he is not entirely popular, but he took this race seriously from the beginning. And he had a conservative opponent in Matt Bevin early so that sort of tried him early. And unlike some other incumbents who tend to ignore the races until the last minute or ignore them altogether, Mitch McConnell really put a lot into this effort.

I think what Wolf was saying or what John was saying about the women's vote was really interesting.

COOPER: And Grimes got only 51 percent.

CUPP: Only 51 percent. And then among men Mitch McConnell got 58 percent. What you're seeing, you're seeing those kinds of deficits. Democrats down among men at far greater numbers than Republicans are among women.

In Colorado, for example, Cory Gardner was up among -- among men by 21 points and Mark Udall was only up among women six points. So I think there has been sort of a willingness to ignore men in this electorate, and it's coming back to haunt some of these candidates. COOPER: So was it a mistake for Democrats to put so much money and

attention into this race?

JAY CARNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think it was a mistake to put the money in, although I never thought that it was likely that Mitch McConnell was going to lose. He's an incumbent Republican senator in a red state. He's the leader of Republicans in the Senate. But Alison Grimes in the end started strong but ran a very poor race.

I think it was probably a done deal even before she refused to say whether she would -- had voted for the president but that put -- that put the nail in the coffin.

JONES: She made one more mistake that hasn't been talked about enough, that ad that she put out, talking about illegal immigrants, trying to attack McConnell from the right, saying that he was giving amnesty to illegal immigrants really infuriated the progressive grassroots. You see a big drop off of support, the entire blogosphere for progressives. It becomes about her being too tough and being wrong on immigration. She's shooting herself in the foot with her own base. It made no sense.

CUPP: Kentucky is also coal country. Let's also put that in perspective. And even though gas prices are down Democrats are not willing to take credit for that because it would mean admitting that fossil fuels are in demand right now.

GINGRICH: And let me say two things about that. One, if you look at the eastern counties that have now gone Republican, as recent as six years ago were going Democrat, they actually fit next to West Virginia, which is one of the great stories of the collapse of the Democratic Party. And so there are actually patterns of much more culturally close to West Virginia.

Two, McConnell deserves some general credit. This is a very tough, very smart professional who set out very early in the year, knew he was going to be a target, knew it was going to be a tough race and methodically did two things. Rebuilt himself and demolished his opponent.

COOPER: And that was, to Jake Tapper's earlier point, which was that I think, and Jake was saying that in four of the last five races he's run, the candidates who ran against him have never run again for anything.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Which is pretty devastating.

GINGRICH: Alison will. I predict Alison will.

CARNEY: One of the factors I think that's important because the disparity in the margins with women versus men is important, especially in a midterm year when other advantages, demographic advantages that the Democrats have are less prevalent because fewer minorities vote as a percentage of the electorate, fewer young Americans vote as a percentage of the electorate. So the dependence the Democrats have on running up the margin among women is even more important.

COOPER: Do you read much more into that the independents, that independents broke overwhelmingly for McConnell or is that -- do you think that's more Tea Party support?

CARNEY: I think it's hard -- those numbers are hard to parse. There are a lot of people who don't want to identify themselves as members of either party. They tend to skew one direction or another. They tend to vote regularly Republican or regularly Democrat.

COOPER: All right.

JONES: Well, I do think one thing is going to be important here going forward. He ran against Obama. He has no mandate. I think you're going to see this across the board. It was sort of if like Obama -- if you don't like Obama vote for me. I think it's going to hurt Republicans going forward because what is his mandate now?

COOPER: Look, do we know what that means?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we don't. Because I believe, and maybe Jake can talk about this, I believe there is a disagreement inside the White House about the way to proceed and should Republicans take control. I believe that there is a wing that says, you know what, we've got to show that -- you know, extend the olive branch, get something done and then there are people who are saying no, we can't do that.

There are ways to get things done on corporate tax reform, on infrastructure, rebuilding roads and bridges in this country. That may sound small, but it is actually large.

COOPER: I want --

BORGER: There is an opportunity here.

COOPER: I want to continue this conversation but quickly I just want to go to Wolf -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. I want to go quickly to Brian Todd, he's in Manchester, New Hampshire. The polls there close, all of the polls close in New Hampshire at the top of the hour, Brian, but you're getting some early results that are officially being shared with our viewers. What is going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Yes. Yes. Wolf, this is Ward One results read by moderator Joseph Lachance.

JOSEPH LACHANCE, MODERATOR: We had 4,056 votes for the governor race. Walt Havenstein 1771, Maggie Hassan 2,218. Senators, Scott Brown, 1857, Jeanne Shaheen 2,142. Congress, Frank Guinta, 1862. Carol Shea-Porter 2,071. Executive Council -- TODD: All right. The results here, first results from Ward One.

According to the moderator Jeanne Shaheen with 2,142 votes. We have our white board on here. Scott Brown with 1,857 votes. This is the first results from Ward One. This is just a snapshot of New Hampshire, Wolf. One Ward in the busiest city in New Hampshire. The busiest ward, Ward One, Jeanne Shaheen, according to these early results, has taken it by a narrow margin, roughly 300 votes.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see if she can keep up that margin statewide. The polls close in New Hampshire at the top of the hour.

John, New Hampshire a critically important state the Democrats desperately need to hold on to the Senate seat.

KING: Desperately. Now that Mitch McConnell has won in Kentucky. He's sitting around looking at the map. And if you have this, Jeanne Shaheen was the governor before she was senator. These are the early votes from way up here in the northern part of the state. We -- we can add in those votes from Brian Todd. But we're very early on. So forget the percentages you're seeing there.

Scott Brown, the former senator from Massachusetts, who lost his Senate race in Massachusetts. He was born in New Hampshire, he moved there, then ran against Jeanne Shaheen. Jeanne Shaheen has been a former governor. Her defense against the Obama drag, and there's an Obama drag in the state of New Hampshire up there last week, is that you know me. I was your governor. I'm Jeanne. She doesn't like to be called senator or governor. She calls herself Jeanne when she campaigns.

She's run a pretty effective campaign, trying to get away from the national climate as they call it. If you talk to Shaheen supporters up there or people who voted for the president up there, they call it the national environment. If you talk to former Hillary Clinton supporters they call it the Obama drag. It's interesting. Some battles never end.

But if Scott Brown were to win this race tonight in a state with Jeanne Shaheen who has familiarity in her state, that would tell you that -- I would call it at least a very, you know, high ripple. If the Republicans are winning in New Hampshire, that would raise serious questions about what's happening in North Carolina and then we go across the country, Iowa, a state the president carried twice when the Republican was leading in late polls. Colorado, a state the president carried twice when the Republicans was leading in late polls.

If the Republicans are winning in New Hampshire, that means they are winning among independents, they're winning among moderates, and if they're winning them there, there is no reason to believe they're not going to win them elsewhere.

BLITZER: Yes. This is not Kentucky. This is New Hampshire, a state the president of the United States carried twice.

KING: Yes. I will say, I talked to some Republicans in the state today, and their expectation was, and let's count the votes, but their expectation was that Shaheen would eke out a very narrow victory tonight but they said that Scott Brown in the final 72 hours of the race had put it into play. If you asked in the middle of last week they didn't think it would be in play.

BLITZER: All right. Quickly, I want to go to Alina Machado, she's in Florida watching the important governor's race over there.

Alina, what's going on?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've just learned that Charlie Crist campaign has filed an emergency motion seeking to extend voting hours at one particular county in Broward County. They're saying that they're getting reports of extended lines of people who are still in line waiting to vote in Broward County at three precincts.

At this point, Wolf, we don't know what will happen with that motion but we know they are requesting additional time for these voters.

BLITZER: Well, that would be amazing, if there is a problem with the voting in Florida. A lot of us remember what happened in the year 2000.

Alina, we'll stand by. We'll hear if they get some extra time for people in Broward County, that is Fort Lauderdale and some of the other cities in Broward County if they get some extra time to vote.

Meanwhile, a critical win for Republicans with Mitch McConnell's projected victory in the state of Kentucky, just moments ago. Now will Democrats pull of an important early win as well.

We're just minutes away from the next poll closing in West Virginia and North Carolina. And the thing -- the battle Democrats could be deciding, get this, by a pizza delivery man.

First a look at the big winner this hour. Mitch McConnell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: It may be the night's most important victory for Republicans.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Our race is the only one in 2014 that has any national significance.

ANNOUNCER: Senator Mitch McConnell could emerge from tonight as one of the most powerful men in Washington. He is old-school, unflashy, and a master of backroom politics.

MCCONNELL: So I airdropped into back a buyout into a Commerce report.

ANNOUNCER: A man who gets deals done or makes sure they are stopped. He's married to a former labor secretary, Elaine Chao, a Washington power couple that may be even more powerful after tonight.

If Republicans capture the Senate, you are looking at the new majority leader. Mitch McConnell is Kentucky's choice. (END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're awaiting results from two more make-or-break Senate races.

COOPER: Republican hopes of picking up both seats just might be spoiled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Just moments from now, one of the Senate's most vulnerable Democrats is in the political fight of her life in North Carolina against a top Republican state lawmaker.

THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I want to go to Washington and clean up Kay Hagan's mess.

SEN. KAY HAGAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Speaker Tillis has different priorities. The wrong priorities.

ANNOUNCER: Stand by for results that are crucial in deciding control of the Senate.

We know this much. West Virginia is getting its first female senator, no matter who wins.

This is CNN's coverage of election night in America. The fight for Congress, the battles for governor and the issues Americans care about most.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: Reports of the demise of the Democratic Party are premature.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I believe we are going to retake the United States Senate and we are going to retire Harry Reid as majority leader.

ANNOUNCER: The polls are closing in three more states and anything is possible until the last vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: It's "Election Night in America," we are focusing on the fight for power in the United States capital.

Welcome back to the CNN Election Center. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're counting down to the next round of poll closings and the possibility of a dramatic save for the Democrats in the battle for the United States Senate.

We are standing by for results for more key Senate races. We're watching 13 key states where the Senate seat might flip from one party to the other. Polls are about to close in West Virginia and North Carolina. Here's what we're looking for. In North Carolina, will Senator Kay

Hagan survive because of the spoiler? Republican Thom Tillis wants to oust Hagan but his hopes could be crushed by a pizza delivery man running as a third party Libertarian candidate.

And in West Virginia, the Senate race there, Democrat Natalie Tennant is in an uphill fight against the GOP Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito. This is where Republicans may square their first Senate pick up of the night.

Remember, Republicans need a net gain of six seats to win a majority of 51. That would put them in charge of the Senate once again.

We're just minutes away from the next round of poll closings in North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia.

Let's check in with Anderson for more.

COOPER: Yes, Wolf, of course our correspondents are monitoring the key Senate races around the country and they're taking the viewers, all of you behind the scenes as the votes are counted.

I want to zero in on North Carolina right now. Rene Marsh is at Senator Kay Hagan's headquarters.

Rene, what are you hearing -- what are their thoughts about her chances?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I just spoke with both campaigns, the Tillis campaign, as well as the Hagan campaign, and I can tell you the Hagan campaign, they say they are feeling good tonight. They feel good for two reasons. And we know that the early voting results, they came in skewing towards the Democrats.

Also, the Hagan campaign saying that they have built the best voter turnout operation North Carolina has ever seen. New numbers just received, they say today alone they knocked on more than 425,000 doors, they spoke to more than 82,000 people today. That's why they say they're feeling good.

The Tillis campaign saying that they are cautiously optimistic. They say they've been tracking precincts and they that Democrats at those precincts are under performing -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Rene, thanks very much. I want to turn over to Jake Tapper who's monitoring more from North Carolina -- Jake.

TAPPER: Anderson, the big question right now, will the pizza man help deliver the elections to Kay Hagan? It's likely to be a very close contest in Tar Heel State, North Carolina, that's why we had a reporter imbedded with election officials, Miguel Marquez. He's in Winston, Salem -- Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We could use some pizza out here, Jake. It is possible that he will because Sean Haugh has been holding about 4 percent in all of those polls leading up to this election. And a margin of difference between the two candidates has been one, two, maybe dead on even the entire time.

We expect the four biggest counties to start reporting their votes, their early and absentee votes, any moment now. Wake County, Guilford County says that they will be right on time at 7:30, just a few minutes here. Mecklenburg and Forsyth, where we are right now, will be a few minutes later -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Miguel Marquez, thank you so much.

Now let's turn to CNN's John King. He's at the magic wall with a new snapshots of some of the votes the voters, you, care about.

KING: Well, Jake, let's look at the mood in North Carolina. That key, hotly contested Senate race. The breakdown of the vote by gender. 52 percent of the electorate in North Carolina are women, more women than men, but that number is down a bit from when Kay Hagan was on the ballot in 2008. Last time that number of -- number of women, the percentage of women in the electorate down a little bit.

It's an overwhelmingly wide electorate, 75 percent. The African- American number, 21 percent, about on par with past elections. The Latino number has dropped. We've seen that in a couple of states so far tonight. The Latino number. 2 percent, down from 3 percent or 4 percent from past elections in North Carolina. We'll see if that makes a difference when we get the results in.

It's also the younger population voting in North Carolina, 18-29, has dropped significantly in this election. The percentage of 65 and older voters has gone up a little bit. On the surface that tends to bode well for Republicans but we'll see when the actual votes come in.

One more as we look as North Carolina. How is the president handling his job? This has been a key issue in the race. Republican Thom Tillis saying Kay Hagan votes with the president more than 90 percent of the time. 56 percent of the voters in North Carolina today disapproving of the president's job performance so we'll watch this one play out as the votes come in.

Now I want to come over just to show you. We'll start with the Senate map. We've already called the Kentucky race. We've got some very early votes in New Hampshire. Jeanne Shaheen leading. You see the blue. Very early votes in Virginia. The Republican, Ed Gillespie, leading in this race at the moment but it's very early. Democrat Mark Warner has been favored to win here but we'll keep an eye on that one.

Let's move down here out in the state of Georgia. This is the hotly contested race here, very early results, just 1 percent. David Perdue with 64 percent, Michelle Nunn at 34 percent. Remember, Georgia state law, you need 50 percent plus one to avoid a runoff. We'll show you some exit poll numbers, interesting on that question, a bit later in the night.

And I just want to switch. We heard a bit earlier about a potential controversy brewing down in Florida. Charlie Crist wants to keep the polls open. He's asked to keep the polls open down here in Broward County. That is a key Democratic stronghold, a place where he needs to run big. Very early results here from Broward County. Charlie Crist at 71 percent, the incumbent Republican Rick Scott at 27 percent.

This is absolutely critical territory for Republicans to run it up big down here in south Florida, the Crist campaign really trying to keep the polls open, they believe there are lines out there. So if you look at the overall numbers state wide, it's too early to make much of a guess. But this is the most critical part of the state right down here, these three most southern counties, absolutely critical, Miami, Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County for the Democrats.

And again if you look we're in very, very early counting territory, but at the moment that's Palm Beach County, Charlie Crist ahead, 62 percent, Broward County 71 percent, obviously he would want to keep the polls open a little bit longer because those votes, Wolf, are so critical to him, Charlie Crist, to win, needs to run up, everything from get down here and then hope he can offset conservative up in other parts of the state.

BLITZER: Yes. We are watching that Florida race very, very closely. But guess what, we are watching two states where the polls are about to close right now. We're talking about West Virginia. Will the Democrats lose in West Virginia? That will be a pick up for the Republicans if that were to happen and we're also watching North Carolina where Senator Kay Hagan, she is fighting right now desperately. Stand by.

All right. Take a look at this. We could make our first projection at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. We project the first Republican pickup, the first Republican of the night, the Democratic seat that was used to be held by Jay Rockefeller, who's retiring, Shelly Moore Capito. She will be the next United States senator from the state of Virginia, defeating Natalie Tennant. That's a big win -- that's a big win for the Republicans in West Virginia, and that now reduces the magic number for the Republicans from that net six to net five to become the majority in the United States Senate.

We cannot make a projection in North Carolina, right now, Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis. We don't have enough information to make a projection in North Carolina.

Let's show you what we can as a result of what happened in West Virginia and Kentucky earlier.

So far, there will be 34 Democrats in the United States Senate, 34 Republicans, still a lot of races outstanding. You need 51 to be the majority in the U.S. Senate if you are a Republican. You need 50 if you are a Democrat because Joe Biden is the president of the Senate, he would break the 50-50 tie. But remember, and with West Virginia now going Republican, the magic number for the Republicans is down to five from six. As we wait for more votes, the real votes to come in, we want to share with you on our exit polls are revealing.

Remember these are estimates based on interviews with a sampling of voters as they left select polling stations. And look at how close it is in North Carolina based on the exit polls

results: 49 percent for the incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan, 46 percent for Thom Tillis. Three-point advantage for Kay Hagan. But remember exit polls are estimates. They're based on interviews with voters. The final outcome may be different.

We want to be fully transparent with you the viewers, to make sure our viewers get the same information we have and that they hear it directly from us.

So, let's go to Jake. He's got a governor's projection right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, Wolf.

CNN is projecting that in Ohio, Republican incumbent John Kasich will be re-elected. CNN project Kasich will be re-elected governor of Ohio. It looked as though earlier in his term, he might have a tough time, but ultimately, Ed Fitzgerald, the Cuyahoga County executive didn't post that much of threat. Democrats basically threw in the towel after Labor Day. Kasich, we are projecting, he will be reelected.

We do not yet have enough information in Florida, where the votes are still open in some places. I want to talk about some of the vote coming in right now -- 36 percent of the vote, Charlie Crist is up by 103,000 votes. He has 50 percent of the vote of what has come in so far, over Rick Scott, the Republican incumbent governor. But as we know in Florida, this is going to be tight and it's going to go all the way to the end.

Of course, as we discussed already, Charlie Crist has filed a motion, an emergency motion with the circuit court there because he feels that in Broward County, that's where Ft. Lauderdale is, there were too many problems with polling, too many problems with lines, he wants the polls kept open two extra hours until 9:00 Eastern. It's already been denied by the Broward County supervisor of elections but now going to circuit court. We'll keep an eye on that and watch the vote in Florida come in.

Right now, 99,000 seats, are already going down as the vote comes in, 36 percent. Charlie Crist up 50 percent to Rick Scott, the incumbent governor's 45 percent -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jake, thanks very much.

We've got some real numbers coming in. Also key races that we're watching in Georgia. We have not been to make a projection very early. Right now, only 1 percent is in. David Purdue, the Republicans, he's ahead of Michelle Nunn, the Democrat, by almost 6,000 votes, so 64 percent to 34 percent. But very early.

Similarly, it's early in Virginia. Six percent of the vote is now in. The Republican challenging Ed Gillespie is ahead by 21,000 votes over Mark Warner, the incumbent Democrat, 56 percent to 41 percent. Ed Gillespie ahead right now over Mark Warner, but only 6 percent of the vote is in. Nick Valencia is watching what's going on in Georgia for us.

You got some votes coming in over there, Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hey, Wolf. Just still very preliminary numbers. These are the first votes that we're actually seeing here on the Georgia board of elections.

As you mentioned, it is still less than 1 percent, about into 0.14 percent with 21,000 votes cast, and these numbers, again, very early on, unofficial results. We want to stress that David Purdue, the Republican candidate here for U.S. Senate, up against Michelle Nunn, this is expected and projected to be a very tight race, and with these 18,000 votes cast, you see these numbers, 65 percent to David Purdue, 65.02 percent to be accurate, and 33.38 percent.

You come down here for the governor, Nathan Deal, the Republican incumbent, going up against Jason Carter who is a familiar name here in Georgia politics. Deal ahead 64.01 percent, receiving just over 13,100 votes and Jason Carter with 34.18 percent. Behind me, you see the poll workers just showing up here a little while ago, getting sworn in. And we are yet to see Gwinnett County where we are show up and that is expected to happen here within the hour -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And you are just outside of Atlanta in DeKalb County, right, Nick?

VALENCIA: That's exactly right. And it is Gwinnett County, actually, Wolf, and it's one of the ten battleground states in the United Stats. It's counties like this that the Democrats hope will help them become competitive and have a victorious night here in Georgia -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Nick Valencia, thanks very much.

I want to go back to John to take a closer look at these two battles that are under way in Georgia and Virginia right now. Let's talk about Georgia first.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very early. Let's just pull it up and take a peek -- 61 percent to 37 percent. Not vital to the conversation now because we are only 1 percent. But as we get closer. We need 50 percent plus one to avoid a runoff.

As you look at this fill-in, we just go back in time and show you another race here, go back to the 2010 race won by Johnny Isakson with 58 percent. This was not a competitive race, but you see how much this is not a typical. Republicans run it up in small counties, Democrats, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah do a little bit better in the rural areas.

So, we've got to look here -- this is the biggest place, in Clayton County, Fulton County, this is where Michelle Nunn has to run it up and we have nothing there right now, absolutely nothing. But Atlanta in the suburbs, Columbus in the suburbs, Augusta in the suburbs critical to the Democrats.

BLITZER: All right. Let's do a quick look at Virginia right now.

KING: Again, very early here. Mark Warner heavily favored, Ed Gillespie ahead at the moment, 56 percent to 41 percent. We don't have much of the key votes.

I want to come here to the Washington suburbs and pull out here. See where we are.

Loudoun County, this is a contested battleground. This is the place where Republicans can be competitive. Two percent right now. Let's see if that one holds. That will show Ed Gillespie running more competitive than most people thought. This race will be won or lost right up here. This is where the major population growth has been in the D.C. suburbs.

And go back in time and look race, here's Mark Warner's last race. Jim Gilmore was the former and Warner wanted a cake walk but this is not a not serious candidate, but you see the Washington suburbs and you see that. So, the question will be, just to give you a look at a presidential race -- a competitive presidential race, 51-47, the difference is right here in the suburbs.

So, as we watch the Senate results come in, this one coming in. You see this one just starting to come in from Mark Warner, 7 percent of the vote count in right now. But these three or four counties right up here, this is Fairfax, Loudoun over here, Arlington here, they will decide the race.

BLITZER: Those areas have really exploded with population over recent years.

Stand by. Republicans just scored the first pickup in the battle for control of the United States Senate, a pick up in West Virginia. Will they score a second pick up in the hours ahead?

Polls are about to close in New Hampshire. Republican Scott Brown is hoping to defeat the incumbent Senator Jeanne Shaheen so he can get a second chance in the United States Senate in a second state.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We've got a key race alert. I want to update you with votes that are actually coming in to the CNN Election Center in Georgia.

No projection there yet, still very early. But David Purdue, the Republican holding on to his lead over Michelle Nunn the Democrat, 60 percent to 38 percent, about 7,000 vote advantage but only 1 percent of the vote is in.

In Virginia, 8 percent of the vote is in. Look at this. The Republican challenger Ed Gillespie ahead of Mark Warner, the incumbent Democrat, 56 percent to 41 percent. He's up by about 27,000 votes.

In North Carolina, also no projection there, very, very early. About 1 percent of the vote in, if that. Thom Tillis, the Republican 55 percent, Kay Hagan, 41 percent the incumbent Democrat, Tillis up by about 3,144 votes.

Very, very early. No projections in any of these three states.

I want to check in with Brian Todd right now. He's in New Hampshire, where the polls are about to close there in New Hampshire. A very tight race.

What numbers are you getting over there? Are you getting more information, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we got early results in from ward one just a moment ago and Jeanne Shaheen took that ward by about 300 votes. We have just gotten result brought in with the tabulators of three wards total, including ward one here in Manchester. They come through here in this door at city hall.

Our photo journalist Rick Shine is going to show me where they are going to go. They've just been brought up to the office on the third floor where there is a big board with results on it. They go up in this elevator, Wolf, so we're about to head back up there. They are being tabulated now and put in the database and there is a big board up there with the final results from all of the wards in Manchester.

And only three wards have come in so this is just a snapshot of Manchester so far, but taking how the ballots come in, and how they are processed, how they're tabulated upstairs. We're about to go up to the big board and show you that in just a minute.

BLITZER: Yes, this is a state the Democrats desperately need to hold onto.

Jeanne Shaheen, the incumbent Democrat, if Scott Brown were to beat here, that would be a huge, huge setback for the Democrats' hope for holding on to the United States Senate.

Let's go to Florida right now. Erin McPike is joining us.

Erin, I think you're in Tampa. That's where you are. What are you hearing over there? There is obviously a very important governor's race.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there sure is. And what we know from the early vote is that Rick Scott is going in with a much smaller advantage than he did in 2010 when he won with just 1.2 percentage points. There were 270,000 more Republicans who go in early vote in 2010. This year that disadvantage is just 100,000 votes.

The vote tabulation is going on behind me right now. It has just begun. Polls closed here in Tampa at 7:00. The rest of the state in the panhandle closed at 8:00.

But what we know so far of course is that Charlie Crist has about 50 percent with the votes that are in to about 45 percent for Rick Scott. That is tracking very closely with what is happening here in Hillsborough County. BLITZER: Yes, we know Charlie Crist, the former governor, wants to be

the governor. He is asking courts to allow to continue voting in Broward County in South Florida, that's where Ft. Lauderdale is because of a some problems he says there. We're watching that very, very closely.

I want to go to our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta. He's over at the White House.

Jim Acosta, you've got some information on what the president is planning on doing tomorrow and the day after these elections?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, if past is prologue, then we should expect to see the president come out tomorrow and talk about the midterm results. I'm told (AUDIO GAP) is realistic about what is going to happen tonight. They are planning for all eventualities in Democratic Senate, Republican Senate, and a cliff hanger -- something that might carry on for the next few weeks if we have recounts and runoffs in some of the states.

But, Wolf, I can tell you they do expect there to be a debate inside of the Democratic Party as to whether or not it was a good idea for the president to stay away from all of the key battleground states. They know that's going to come up if tonight doesn't work out that well.

The other thing they do expect to hear is the questions about whether or not the president with the Republican Senate will take on a more conciliatory tone, one of compromise on a range of issues, and what I heard from one White House official is that the better question is, is whether the Republicans want to compromise with him? A very pugnacious tone over here at the White House tonight. We're not getting any signs of an administration shake-up and one White House official said, you can bet that the president is going to take executive action on immigration. They said John Boehner had his chance and he blew it and the president is going to move forward and keep that promise, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

I want to go back to John King.

We've got three really important races. We're getting more real votes coming in. We've seen the exit polls, North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.

Let's go to North Carolina first.

KING: Let's take a peek. This is the hotly contested race, not much in so far, just 1 percent of the vote. Tillis ahead in the early count, 52 percent to 45 percent, but it's too early to make any leap. So look at what's important. Charlotte, Mecklenburg County area right here, absolutely critical to Kay Hagan. She needs round up African- American support up here.

I talk to some people down the state earlier. They said they were a little bit worried about the margin. So, we'll watch the final numbers there.

Also up in the Raleigh, Durham area, African-American voters, also college educated women, the research triangle up here very critical to Kay Hagan. Thom Tillis has to have more in the rural areas, hope to upset her in the urban areas. We'll watch this one, hotly contested. Again, I think the exit poll showed a slight edge for her perhaps. But we're going to have to wait to count the votes.

That's way too close to call. Virginia is the surprise of the night so far, only 16 percent of the vote in, but Ed Gillespie, who just keep running a determine campaign, even though Mark Warner was well ahead in the polls throughout. At the moment, at the moment, 16 percent of the vote in, giving Mark Warner more of a race than Mark Warner thought was coming tonight.

How is he doing it? Ed Gillespie, this is out in rural farm Virginia --

BLITZER: Hold on one second. I want to show our viewers what is going on in Florida right now. Take a look at these numbers that are actually in in Florida, Charlie Crist, 47.5 percent, Rick Scott, the Republican governor, 47.4 percent. Nearly 3 million votes have been counted and Charlie Crist is ahead of Rick Scott by 3,421 votes, 54 percent.

More than half of the vote in Florida is already in. But this is such an incredibly close race right now. We're waiting for another update on an emergency request for extended voting in one Florida County, that would be Broward County. Last polls are scheduled to close at the top of the hour. Could Florida's former Republican governor make a comeback as a Democrat? We just saw how close this race is.

Stand by. Will the current governor stay in charge? More results and more suspense -- that's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're heading into the rush hour of this important election night.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And get ready for new midterm election results that could influence the next presidential election.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Just moments from now, a critical hour in this midterm election, the most poll closings, and a pair of marquee match ups.

SCOTT BROWN (R), NH SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm nobody's yes man's. Nobody's rubber stamp.

ANNOUNCER: In New Hampshire, it's a former senator who switched states, versus a sitting U.S. Senator.

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: We don't need to import a senator who will export American jobs. ANNOUNCER: And in Florida, it's a former governor who switched

parties versus the man running the state now.

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: He had this job before and he didn't do it.

CHARLIE CRIST (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Why would we reelect this guy is beyond me.

ANNOUNCER: It's CNN's election coverage in America. The fight for Congress, the battles for governor and the issues Americans care about most.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: The only thing that counts are those votes. That's what decides elections in this country.

ANNOUNCER: The polls are closing in 16 more states and the District of Columbia, and anything is possible until the last vote.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We're live here in the nation's capital, waiting to learn which party will be in charge of the United States Senate.

We're back at the CNN Election Center. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're closing in on 8:00 Eastern. And the first results from one of the nation's closest Senate showdowns.

Remember, we're watching key races in 13 states where the battle for the control of the Senate will be won or loss. So far, two of those states have gone Republican.

Right now, we're focusing in on New Hampshire where the polls are about to close. Here's what we are looking for: will Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen be sent packing by a former colleague, Scott Brown? He could score the second pickup by Republicans and make a come back in the state. Republicans now need a net gain of five seats to retake control of Senate after scoring a pickup in West Virginia. But the number could about back up if they lose any seats in the hours ahead.

And we're counting down to a very busy hour, with polls closing -- get this -- in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

Florida has the hottest governor's race in this midterm election. We're waiting to find out if Charlie Crist can win back his old job this time as a Democrat. The former Republican is in a bitter grudge match with the GOP incumbent Governor Rick Scott.

As we get closer to the top of the hour and a chance to make some new projections, let's go back to Anderson for more -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Wolf, we have more than a dozen correspondents all throughout the country, following key races. They are getting new information all the time.

I want to go quickly to our correspondent in New Hampshire, Michelle Kosinski. She's at the headquarters of Senator Jeanne Shaheen. This is obviously a state President Obama won two years ago.

How are things at headquarters for Shaheen?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, yes, we expect to see them arriving soon just after polls close. And they tell me tonight they're not doing any internal polling but they're eagerly watching the numbers come in. What we saw is Shaheen, a pretty healthy lead over Scott Brown. That was in a heavily Democratic area.

What we've seen in the last 24 hours in polls, Scott Brown closing that gap significantly. One poll showed him leading by one percentage point, Anderson.

COOPER: A very close race indeed. We'll continue to follow Michelle Kosinski all throughout the evening.

Now, we're going to Alina Machado in Florida. She is covering the governor's race and she's at Charlie Crist headquarters.

What's the latest there? And do we have any more information now on the Crist campaign trying to get a court to extend the hours for voting for Broward County?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, we're just waiting right now for result, the decision in terms of that emergency motion that was filed by the Crist campaign asking to extend voting hours in Broward county by two hours until 9:00 Eastern. Now, Broward County is just north of Miami. It's also the home of Fort Lauderdale, and it is a Democratic stronghold.

The campaign says there are long lines outside several precincts and that several voting problems were reported. And that's why they made this request. The polls in Broward County closed at 7:00 Eastern, and we are told that everyone in line will be allowed to vote. But we are all anxiously awaiting to see what happens with this emergency motion, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. A lot developing there in Florida.

Jake Tapper, we expect a lot of these races are going to go late into the night.

TAPPER: That's right, Anderson. They certainly know from cliff- hangers in Florida.

So, of course, our ballot correspondents, our ballot camp correspondents are taking us behind the scenes as the votes are counted. Let's find out exactly what's going in on in Florida and in New Hampshire.

First, let's go to Brian Todd. He's in Manchester, New Hampshire -- Brian. TODD: Jake, the results from the 12 wards of Manchester are coming

in. We've got eight of the 12 wards, maybe nine have just come in. Here's one of the wards right now, ward three has just come in. They come in on a tabulator that you see here.

This is the exciting part of the night. This is where the ballots are counted and tabulated into the database here for the city of Manchester. And you're seeing it live. This is what we love about covering these, all of this ballot cam coverage.

Now, what we're going to show you also is the big board up here. That's the tabulation from ward one. Jeanne Shaheen won ward one, 2142 to 1,857, about 300 votes. They're tabulating some of the other wards now and we'll have some of those results.

But they come right in here, get tabulated here, get put up on the big board, and people can come in here freely and watch it.

TAPPER: All right. Brian Todd from New Hampshire, which is the site of one of the closest races in American history. I think it's about 400 votes.

Let's go to Tampa, Florida, now where Erin McPike is keeping tabs on everything -- Erin.

MCPIKE: Jake, in this room behind me, the votes are being counted at Hillsboro County. And right now in this particular county, Charlie Crist is ahead by four percentage point, but in the state overall, it looks like a dead heat. And if at the end of the night, the margin is less than half of a percentage point, it goes to an automatic recount. I talked to a couple of Republicans today who said they are expecting just that.

TAPPER: All right. Erin McPike, keeping an eye on that important governor's race, where it's neck in neck, and if it's less than one half of a percentage of victory, it goes to automatic recount. Florida, New Hampshire, of course, both incredibly pivotal battleground races -- battleground states for presidential races.

Let's find out exactly what the voters in those important states are thinking.

John King is going to handle that for us at the magic wall -- John.

KING: Jake, thanks.

Let's go into the mood in the state of New Hampshire. Interesting here -- 29 percent of the voters in New Hampshire are Democrats, 27 percent say they're Republicans. This is one of those states where the unaffiliated, the independent population has always been big and it's growing, 44 percent of plurality of the voters in New Hampshire describe themselves today as independent.

How's the president handling his job? This has been a big issue in this race. Scott Brown has said Jeanne Shaheen has voted with the president 99 percent of the time. Well, 56 percent of the voters in New Hampshire disapprove of how the president is doing his job. Only 44 percent approve. So, there's part of the opening for Scott Brown in this race.

Does Jeanne Shaheen agree request the president too often or the right amount? More than half said too often. So, again, that bodes in Scott Brown's favor, however, folks are familiar with Jeanne Shaheen. We'll see how it plays out.

In Florida, the governor's race you just talked about. Look at the even split here, 32 percent Democrats, 34 percent Republicans, 34 independents voting in the state of Florida today. What do they think of their candidates?

Charlie Crist used to be the Republican governor. Now, he's the Democratic nominee, 51 percent of the voters today said they had a favorable opinion of Charlie Crist, and 44 percent unfavorable. Here's the opening for Charlie Crist, the governor is under water, the incumbent Republican Rick Scott, 54 percent say they view him unfavorable.

As we just go over and take a look here, we're watching, these are governors' races now we're watching start to fill inn. But we've got a ways to go here at 63 percent of the vote. But this map is filling in. That tells you, wow, tight race, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's going to be a tight race in New Hampshire as well, where Scott Brown and Jeanne Shaheen are in a desperate battle right now.