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CNN Poll: Dems Hold Double-Digit Lead over GP in Generic Congressional Ballot 1 Day Before Midterms; Trump: Good Economy Not Exciting to Talk About; Kemp Accuses Democratic Party in Georgia of Trying to Hack Voter Registration System; Florida Governor's Race Too Close to Call; Missouri Senate Race Between McCaskill & Hawley Deadlocked. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 5, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Taking the show on the road to D.C. for a very important reason. If I need to tell you at this point, we have an issue with you. Your vote decides what happens here, and it all happens tomorrow. High stakes, huge drama, and a potential game changer in America's political landscape. We're one day away from the midterm election and there's one thing both Republicans and Democrats can agree on, probably the only thing, tomorrow's outcome is the whole ballgame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America's at a crossroads.

(SHOUTING)

OBAMA: The health care of millions is on the ballot.

(SHOUTING)

OBAMA: A fair shake for working families is on ballot. Perhaps most importantly, the character of our country is on the ballot.

(CHEERING)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The level of fever is very strong in the Republican side. So I can't speak to the blue, but I can speak to the red. There's a lot of energy out there. They want to see border security. They don't want people pouring into our country. They don't want open borders. They don't want to pay for other people's health care. There's a lot of enthusiasm on the Republican side.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TRUMP: I haven't seen it, really -- I haven't seen it really since our big election victory in 2016.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: With that in mind, the final poll before Americans head to the polls. The new CNN poll shows Democrats hold a 13-point edge in the generic congressional ballot among likely voters. Even with numbers like that, no one in Washington and far beyond really knows for sure what is going to happen tomorrow. Isn't that just part of the fun of it all?

Let's get to the latest on the landscape right now. CNN senior political writer and analyst, Harry Enten, is here with his forecast.

Harry, where do things stand with your forecast at this very second?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER & ANALYST: We're expecting a major change in the political landscape. Right now, the current House is broken down this way, Republicans have a majority over Democrats, but come Election Day, come tomorrow night, when we're counting the votes, we expect a massive change where Democrats are going to have 226 seats. You need 218 seats to control the House of Representatives. So we believe that the Democrats will in fact gain that House majority.

But in the Senate, I should point out that we're expecting something entirely different. Right now, we have Republicans at 51, Democrats at 49. But of course, what we're seeing is, with so many red states up on the ballot, we think Republicans are actually more likely to gain a seat than lose a seat. Of course, there's still a number of close races in the Senate, for instance, if we were going to go to the Indiana Senate race, we think the Democrats will barely hold on, win by two. But if this goes the other way, Republicans could get a much larger gain come election night.

BOLDUAN: Harry, thank you for highlighting Indiana. The best state in the union.

ENTEN: I love it.

BOLDUAN: Just saying.

Great to see you. Thank you so much.

Here with me now, Marc Short, a CNN political commentator, former White House director of legislative affairs for President Trump. Marc, like others, has signed a non-disparagement agreement when he worked with the campaign. Joe Lockhart, CNN political commentator, former White House press secretary for President Clinton, CNN's senior political reporter, Nia Malika Henderson, and Mark Preston, CNN senior political analyst.

I always love that.

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER: So good.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: We're not going to pretend like I'm a sports announcer today than when I am going to.

Mark, the president has always wanted to make this election about himself. He's made no secret about that. Then when you see in the new poll 70 percent of voters say he's either very or extremely important to their vote, if that's the case, who does that help, who does that hurt?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it all depends. When we look at the Senate races, as Harry was going through all those --

BOLDUAN: Yes.

PRESTON: -- that's going to help because those candidates are running state wide, so they're also appealing to voters, to rural voters, not necessarily just these urban, suburban voters that we're talking about in the House of Representatives, specifically races and seats that Democrats feel like they can win back in order to take the majority.

So who does it help, who does it hurt? If you're a Republican right now, and you are Josh Hawley, you want him in Missouri. You think that's a good idea. You want Rush Limbaugh there. You want Sean Hannity there. Although journalistically, you have to question that. Regardless of that

(CROSSTALK)

PRESTON: Right. I understand. But you want them there. But if you're somebody that's kind of on the edges, you know, you might not want him there. You might want to back off. And we're seeing that specifically in the House race here in Virginia. Barbara Comstock, outside of Washington, D.C., suburbs, you don't want him.

BOLDUAN: And it's almost like two different universes when you talk about the House and Senate. And I know smarter minds than mine have said this earlier, but I really am seeing that, Nia, right now. It's like two different campaigns. For a Republican in the House, it's about the economy or health care. For a Republican in the Senate, it's about Trump being there, it's about immigration, it's about the caravan.

[11:04:48] HENDERSON: Yes. That's because of the dynamics of those red states. Those are states obviously that Trump won and Trump won big. You think about a place like Indiana, Montana, you think about North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp struggling there, has been struggling for months. It looks like she's probably not going to hang on to that seat. They obviously want him there. But you look at a place like Arizona, Nevada, they don't want him there because it's a much more diverse state. Even though they deal with immigration, they feel like those candidates don't necessarily want him there because they're trying to appeal to moderate suburban voters, white voters. Yes, it's a whole different thing. And you look at the governors' races, right, and those are some the most interesting

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: People need to pay more attention.

HENDERSON: Exactly, people need to pay attention to these races. Trump obviously paying attention to them. He was in Florida. He was in Georgia. As well, very much those are, in some ways, his hand- picked candidates. You think about Ron DeSantis, Brian Kemp, very Trumpian candidates. He feels like his message on immigration really plays there. And we'll see on Tuesday.

BOLDUAN: So then, Marc, 39 percent approval, 59 percent disapproval. What do you do with that for the president?

MARC SHORT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The day -- the day the president was elected, his approval was at 38 percent, Kate. I think the reality is in a midterm election--

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Shouldn't it be slightly better after someone has been in office? Wouldn't you think?

SHORT: I think --

BOLDUAN: Wouldn't you hope that?

SHORT: Sure, you would. I think there's a lot of records of accomplishment the president can run on. But typically, in a midterm cycle, the party out of power has the energy. What the president is doing is upping the enthusiasm on the right side. I think you're going to have the left --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Not talking about his accomplishments though.

SHORT: Oh, I think he's done quite a remarkable job --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: The economy is not exciting. The economy is not exciting according to him.

SHORT: Kate, are you questioning the president increasing the enthusiasm among Republican voters?

BOLDUAN: Yes, I am.

SHORT: He absolutely has.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: But how, I'm questioning.

SHORT: It's about both the economy and the immigration issue. I think that's something that Republican voters need right now.

BOLDUAN: Do you agree? JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the big question we're going to look at on the Senate side tomorrow night is, I agree that he's increased the enthusiasm, but what's he done to Independent voters in those states? What's he done -- and particularly the tactics he's used, the demagoguery, to put it mildly.

BOLDUAN: Fearmongering.

LOCKHART: Yes, the fearmongering. Your poll shows some tightening in those races, places like Missouri are more tight, Indiana. I think, you know, again, we have to wait for the results, but absent the last couple weeks, it would have been the Senate moving to Republicans or continuing with Republicans. The House, with Democrats, I think there's a chance that so many people are energized or turned off. The fact of the matter is when you're at 38 percent or 39 percent job approval and you're energizing everyone, those numbers don't work for you.

BOLDUAN: That also begs the question, if Democrats don't take back the House, when you look at an approval rating like this, when you look at where the enthusiasm is among Democrats, and now kind of narrowing, what the heck does that tell you?

LOCKHART: I think it tells you that the Trump formula is much longer lasting and much more fundamental to change than the country. I don't believe that's the case. But if the Democrats don't retake the House, I think you're looking at a realignment of our politics in this country for a long time to come.

BOLDUAN: I'm going to play the sound byte from President Trump. This happened on Friday, but it's just too good not to play again. On what he says very candidly is his inner monologue, once again, coming out about what is or isn't exciting to talk about on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They all say, speak about the economy, speak about the economy. Well, we have the greatest economy in the history of our country.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: But sometimes it's not as exciting to talk about the economy. Right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: I mean, hilarious and classic Trump, yes. But is he right, when you look in our new poll of what is most important to Republican voters?

HENDERSON: Yes, he's doing really well overall in terms of the economy, right?

BOLDUAN: Yes. HENDERSON: Great economic numbers. Voters feel like he's -- they approve of how the economy is going, how he's handling the economy. But not doing so well on immigration. Like 39 percent approval rating in terms of how people see how he's handling immigration. But it's also true that Republicans very much think that's a big issue. If you're Donald Trump and you remember what those chants were when he was running, right? It was "build the wall." It wasn't, you know, "find me a job" or something more catchy about the economy.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: "Find me a job" is not as catchy.

HENDERSON: Not as catchy. So he's going back to the tried-and-true issue issues that worked for him so well.

PRESTON: Donald Trump grew up in New York. And he grew up as somebody who read and was featured in the tabloids. He knows what people read. People wake up in the morning, they're in New York, they're grabbing the tabloids. They're looking at the sports page, the celebrity news, they're looking at something catchy. What Donald Trump is doing on the campaign trail, he's right, talking about the economy is like eating oatmeal. You know you have to eat it, it's good for you, it fills you up, it's going to help you in the long run, but you want to open up the "New York Post" and eat a Pop Tart.

(LAUGHTER)

And that's what he's doing. And he's successful.

BOLDUAN: In some parts of the country, Pop Tarts are part of the breakfast food groups.

PRESTON: Oh, I eat them all the time. I fully endorse it.

(CROSSTALK)

[11:10:01] LOCKHART: I'm not sure the economy works as well for Republicans right now as they say.

BOLDUAN: Why?

LOCKHART: First off, one of the reasons why, he talked about a middle-class tax cut, it was an admission that the first tax cut was weighted towards corporations and people in the middle were --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I think Marc Short would agree.

LOCKHART: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Maybe not floating a tax cut.

LOCKHART: No, no.

(CROSSTALK)

LOCKHART: But people in the middle. But if you look at this, I mean, the group the Third Way put out a really interesting study last week that shows about 70 percent of Americans are still feeling moderate to severe economic insecurity. And I think that combination, plus I think you could probably -- and Marc will know better than I do -- you could put a lot of polling in front of Donald Trump and he'll say, it's really interesting, let me show you what my gut says. What Trump's gut says is I want to go out and create this massive fearmongering story. But I think the economy, you wouldn't have Democrats looking to regain the House the way I think they are if people felt like the economy was going really well for them.

SHORT: I think his gut has been pretty good, but I think also because he's talking about immigration, frankly, the mainstream media is saying why aren't you talking about the economy. If he was talking about the economy, they wouldn't give him the same credit they're giving him right now because he's talking about immigration. So in a way, he's getting both out of it right now.

BOLDUAN: That's so counterintuitive. Backwards, I don't even know.

Marc Short, got to love you.

Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it. I really appreciate it.

We'll see how it all shakes out tomorrow, together.

Tune in to CNN for our special live coverage of election night in America. Starts at 5:00 eastern.

Coming up for us, the battle for control of Washington is also turning out to be a battle of the sexes. What does it mean for the balance of power in Congress and what does it mean for the country far beyond that? Details ahead.

And up next, the heated Georgia governor's race just got hotter. Republican candidate, Brian Kemp, accusing the state's Democratic Party of hacking. The head of the Georgia Democratic Party will be here to respond.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:16:14] BOLDUAN: The balance of power in Congress isn't the only thing up for grabs tomorrow. There's 36 governorships also on the ballot. One of the hottest races is in Georgia, where Democratic candidate, Stacey Abrams, is trying to be the nation's first African- American woman governor. Over the weekend, the race took an unexpected turn. The Republican candidate, Brian Kemp, who is Georgia's secretary of state, accusing the Georgia Democratic Party of trying to hack the state's voter registration system.

Joining me right now is Rebecca DeHart, the executive director of the Georgia Democratic Party. Thank you so much for coming in.

REBECCA DEHART, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Thanks for having me, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Stacey Abrams this morning was speaking to my colleagues on "NEW DAY." She said it's wrong to call it an investigation that Kemp is leading. She says it's a witch hunt. But I'm left to wonder, if there's nothing wrong, and hopefully there isn't anything wrong, do you have a problem with the secretary of state's office looking into this?

DEHART: Oh, absolutely not. There's absolutely nothing wrong. This is an incredibly bogus claim that I found out about from a reporter on Sunday morning. We have not been notified by law enforcement. We have not been notified by the secretary of state's office. There's nothing to investigate. This is one of the most egregious examples of trying to distract a campaign and a party two days before a really important election.

BOLDUAN: So that's actually what I was wondering. When you first became aware, and you did not become aware from anyone involved with, not even forget his campaign, but with the secretary of state's office. You were not told by them at all?

DEHART: No, I was actually laying in bed trying to get that last hour of fall-back sleep on Sunday morning before a full day of campaigning when I got reached out to by a reporter.

BOLDUAN: Abrams also said this morning that Brian Kemp, he himself was notified on Friday, that there was a flaw in the voter registration system. Do you know what this -- is this the same thing we're talking about that he's now investigating? And did the Democratic Party notify Kemp of something on Friday? I'm confused.

DEHART: Yes, I can walk you thru a little bit in the timeline as I know it to be. So what we understand has happened is that there's an individual in Georgia, whom I don't know, who has found what he believes is an alleged vulnerability of the "My Voter" page Web site, which is the Web site that the secretary of state oversees that shows people where their voting precincts are, their sample ballots, et cetera. That person, I'm understanding, has shopped it around to a variety of people to say, hey look, I found this vulnerability. One of the people that ended up with that e-mail was a volunteer at the Democratic Party. The volunteer did the right thing and sent it to an attorney on staff who is our voter protection director. Our voter protection director looked at it and she didn't know exactly what it meant, so she sent the e-mail to two Georgia Tech cybersecurity and data professors because they specialize in that sort of thing. And she sent an e-mail to them and said, hey -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- but it basically said, hey, I don't have the technological expertise to find out if this is real or not, would you take a look and get back to me? That's all we knew happened.

Now, apparently, this gentleman also sent this e-mail to a couple other people in Georgia. One man, who I have just learned of yesterday, was an attorney for another case that has been pending against Brian Kemp, because he's often on the receiving end of lawsuits in Georgia. And this gentleman notified the FBI and notified Kemp's attorneys that there was this potential vulnerability well before Kemp ever came out to the press and said the Democratic Party of Georgia somehow hacked the system. And again, what is just the most egregious, audacious showing of abuse of power I have ever experienced.

[11:20:08] BOLDUAN: The person who reached out originally, this Richard Wright --

DEHART: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- are you confident or sure that his motives are innocent?

DEHART: I have no idea who Richard Wright is. It's interesting. You now, being the Democratic Party of Georgia, we get a lot of e-mails from different folks saying a lot of different things.

BOLDUAN: In retrospect, instead of going to the Georgia Tech professors, do you think your folks should have sent it to law enforcement?

DEHART: No, not necessarily. Because I think we did what we thought was best two days before an election. Like I said, we get a lot of e- mails about a lot of different things. We're very public. You can reach out to anybody on staff. So to get something of that potential magnitude, it made sense for our attorneys to put it in front of somebody who actually knew what they were doing to see if it was real or not before we sent it to law enforcement.

BOLDUAN: What's going to happen now? Is there really an investigation going on?

DEHART: No, I don't believe there's an investigation because there's nothing to investigate. I think that --

BOLDUAN: Have you had anyone -- have you had anyone from the secretary of state's office or any law enforcement reach out to you since this has all happened?

DEHART: Not once.

BOLDUAN: Not one person?

DEHART: Not one person.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you this. This race has now become so contentious. It's been especially if you look at the last 24 hours. If Brian Kemp wins tomorrow, is there any -- are you questioning if you as a party will accept his victory as legitimate?

DEHART: Well, I think you bring up a really important point there. We, first of all, really want to get the message out, despite all of this and despite his voter suppression tactics, that our voters need to get out there and vote tomorrow. We don't want anyone to think their vote isn't going to count. We don't want anyone to be worried. The only way someone's vote won't count is if they don't vote. So the best thing we can do to beat these tactics is to get out there en masse and win with a large victory tomorrow.

BOLDUAN: But on the eventual outcome, you'll accept it no matter what because you're confident in the security of the voter registration system?

DEHART: I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow. And we have great experts who will be sitting with us all day long and watching everything that happens. But I can tell you my focus, and what I am in charge of is, making sure that our voters get out there and that they turn out to vote, and that is exactly what I'm going to be spending all my energy on.

BOLDUAN: Rebecca, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

DEHART: Thanks so much, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

We did reach out. We want to tell our viewers, we did reach out to the Georgia Republican Party to see if someone would like to join us to discuss this as well. They did not accept our invitation.

Now, to another historic race brewing in Florida. Democrat Andrew Gillum is vying to be the state's first African-American governor. He's in a tight race with Republican Ron DeSantis, who has the backing of President Trump. The latest poll shows Gillum up by four points, but that is within the margin of error, which means the race is too close to call.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is in Tallahassee for this one for us.

Ryan, what are you hearing and seeing on the ground today?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, Kate, there's no doubt this race is as close as it could possibly be. What's interesting is exactly which direction we're going to see Florida voters go in on Tuesday night. We often think of Florida as a swing state because it will often elect Republicans and Democrats,. But there's a lot of evidence that it's a state filled with an equal number of partisan voters. Yes, about a third of Florida voters describe themselves as not affiliated with a party, but the polls show us, even amongst the non-party affiliated voters, they tend to break one way or another. As a result, we have seen both of these campaigns, the Gillum campaign and the DeSantis campaign, really play to the base of their party, emphasizing issues that Republicans specifically and Democrats specifically care about.

We heard Ron DeSantis, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, talk about that effort to get Republican voters to the polls in a rally earlier today. Listen to what DeSantis had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. RON DESANTIS, (R), FLORIDA & FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: If our Republican voters come out on Tuesday like we think, we will be successful. I think that's very, very good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: So it's all about getting the base out at this point, Kate. That's why you saw President Obama here for Andrew Gillum earlier, and that's why President Obama has been here two different times. He also tweeted his support for Ron DeSantis this morning. It's all about getting the party voters out. I have to imagine there's a lot of moderate votes in Florida wondering, what about us, we could play a big role here tonight as well -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: They could play a very decisive role tonight if they wanted to.

Great to see you. Thank you so much.

[11:24:41] Coming up, President Trump wrapping up his final campaign sprint tonight in Missouri. His target? Incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who is in the fight of her career. It's a state Trump won by almost 20 points, but it's still also too close to call right now. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: President Trump is going to be wrapping up his midterm campaign sprint in Missouri tonight to help Senate candidate, state attorney general, Josh Hawley, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. A new poll released this morning shows they're deadlocked in a state Trump won by almost 20 points in 2016. If McCaskill cannot hold onto her seat, chances of Democrats taking over the Senate even bleaker.

CNN political reporter, Rebecca Berg, is on the ground for this very important race. She's in Springfield where the president is headed tonight.

Rebecca, it's great to see you.

What are you hearing there? What are you hearing on the ground?

[11:30:09]