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CNN Poll Shows Democrats Maintain Advantage on Congressional Ballot; McCaskill Says Trump Motivates People to Vote for Me; Trumps Approval At 39 Percent the Worst Rating In 60 Years; Georgia Candidate Abrams Calls Kemp's Hacking Accusation A Witch Hunt. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 5, 2018 - 14:00   ET

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


[15:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin, live, here in Washington, D.C., and you are watching CNN. Both parties are calling tomorrow the most consequential midterm election ever. For the first time since Donald Trump was elected, not just a state, not just a district, but the entire country will vote on President Trump's agenda and job performance. That's at least out the majority of Americans see election day tomorrow. It's according to a new brand-new CNN poll. 70 percent of those surveyed say that their vote for congress is to send a message about this President. If you break that down even further, 28 percent say their vote is to show their support of Trump. 42 percent say their vote is to show opposition to him. And 28 percent say their vote for congress is not about the President at all. But one big number is arguably the best indicator of how Americans feel about how they value tomorrow's vote, 31 million. That is at least how many ballots have been cast so far this election. And in some states, like West Virginia and New Jersey, more votes are in at this point than at the same time in 2016, which was a Presidential election year. And moments ago, the President talked about how these midterms could be different.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a great electricity in the air, like we haven't seen, in my opinion, since the '16 election. So, something's happening. We'll see, but I think we're going to do very well. You look over a hundred years, for whatever reason, the party with the President doesn't do very well. I think we're going to do pretty well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, let's start off with CNN political director, David Chalian, to just dig in a little further on this CNN just-released poll. And David, starting with the Democrats, they continue to see, what, signs of a blue wave in the House?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, certainly, Brooke, Democrats see across all the polls out there, an advantage on that question of the generic congressional ballot. Our poll has it a little wider bit of a gap than some other polls. We show among likely voters, 55 percent say they would choose the Democrat if the election were today in their district. 42 percent, the Republican. That 13- point gap has been pretty consistent since Labor Day. We saw it in double digits, advantage for the Democrat all fall long. Other polls have it in the seven or eight gap range. Again, all showing a significant Democratic advantage. I also want you to take a look here at the gender gap. This is what's driving it, Brooke. You know better than most anyone, because you've been covering so much the story of female voters and so many female candidates out there. Take a look here. Among female likely voters, the Democrats have a 27- point advantage over the Republicans. 62 percent of likely female voters saying they'll vote for the Democrats, 35 percent for the Republicans. When you compare that to male likely voters in our latest poll, you're at 48 percent for Democrats, 49 percent for the Republicans.

If that is how it goes tomorrow when voters show up, that men are splitting roughly evenly, but women are overwhelmingly choosing the Democrat, that's going to be a very good night for Democrats in control of the House. We asked people about the top issue that mattered most to them, and I find this fascinating to see how it splits, depending which party you say you're a part of. So top issue is health care. And overwhelmingly, it's a Democratic issue. 71 percent of Democrats call it a top issue. 37 percent of Republicans is a so-so. But as you know, President Trump has been talking up immigration in the closing days here, and it is working in terms of rising as an important issue for Republicans and their vote. It's the most important issue for Republicans, 64 percent of them say so. 44 percent of Democrats say so.

And if you look at the easy of President Trump, the third biggest issue that people say are out there and this is how it splits. 70 percent of people saying it's a Trump election, that split was fascinating. And 39 percent approval in our latest poll among all adults. We've seen other polls, Gallup, USA Today, 40 percent, 41 percent. He is hanging out in the low 40s in approval. That is a warning sign for Republicans

but allow me to add this caveat, Donald Trump has defied history before about this. As we look very closely at a President's approval rating and what that means for how his party does and the battle for the control of the House, we have to remember that Donald Trump has defied norms in the political world like that before, but this is a danger sign for Republicans.

[14:05:00] BALDWIN: It is, as you pointed out this morning, still so much anyone's guess what could happen. David Chalian, thank you so much. And David hit on the polls. We want to hone in on this. Two critical races are playing out in Florida. You have Democratic Senator Bill Nelson who's trying to hang on to that Senate seat against Republican Governor Rick Scott. And as far as the gubernatorial race is correspond, Andrew Gillum is vying to be the state's first black governor. And when you look at the latest polling, it shows him up four points over Republican Ron DeSantis, who is supported by President Trump. So, let's go to Tallahassee, to CNN's Ryan Nobles. Ryan, that governor's race, mighty, mighty close.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Reporter: Both of these races are very close, Brooke. And that's why Florida is perhaps the most highly watched state to come on election night, because it's really the only state with two competitive statewide races. And it's only one of the biggest states with highly competitive races. More money has been spent in Florida than any other state in the union. Voters here have been inundated with negative ads attacking the candidates both at the gubernatorial level and at the Senate side. This is important on two fronts, Brooke. First on the Senate race, if Rick Scott is able to topple Bill Nelson, that's going to go a long way to helping Republicans control the Senate. And if Andrew Gillum is the winner here on the Democratic side, it will be the first time a Democrat will take residence in the governor's mansion here since the late '90s and also the first time that an African-American was elected governor in the state of Florida. There is a lot at stake here, Brooke, and Floridians are coming out in record numbers ahead of tomorrow's big election. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Brian, thank you for the look ahead there out of Florida. Meantime, moving to Missouri, where President Trump will hold his final midterm rally tonight. It is where red state Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is currently deadlocked against Republican challenger, Josh Hawley. It is also a seat that Democrats likely must win if they are to take back control of the Senate. CNN political reporter Rebecca Berg is live for us this afternoon in Springfield. What's the story there, Rebecca?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Brooke. Senator Claire McCaskill is in the fight of her political life, a fight for survival ahead of election day tomorrow. The polls are deadlocked. It is neck and neck here in Missouri. McCaskill told supporters here in Springfield, Missouri, just a few minutes ago that she believes the race will come down between Republican Josh Hawley and someone like her who will break with her party when she needs to. Of course, Missouri is a state that went for Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016, so he's not unpopular here. And as you mentioned, the President will be here tonight, his second visit to Missouri just in the past week to campaign for Josh Hawley and against Claire McCaskill. We asked Senator McCaskill what impact she thinks that will have on the race. I want you to take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I do think that it swings both ways, the President coming here. There are a lot of President Trump supporters that President Trump can motivate. But there's also a lot of people that him being here motivates folks that want to vote for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERG: By the way, Brooke. There is no early voting here in Missouri, no no-excuse absentee voting. So, when we say it comes down to election day here, we really mean it. We will be watching tomorrow as people go to the polls. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Rebecca Berg, thank you. Now to Nevada, another close Senate race there where Republican Dean Heller is up for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Representative Jackie Rosen is trying to flip the seat blue. Scott McClain is live with the latest on that race. SCOTT MCCLAIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jackie Rosen is widely seen as one

of the Democrats' best hope to flip a U.S. Senate seat in this election, though she will need every single vote that she can possibly get. That's because polls show she is running neck and neck with incumbent Republican Dean Heller right now. The early voting numbers, though, they look good for Democrats. 41 percent of the ballots returned thus far from come from Democrats, just 38 percent for Republicans. Though in 2012, Democrats had a larger lead after the early voting and Dean Heller still managed to come back and squeak out a win. This is also a state where voter turnout tends to drop in the midterm elections, especially among Democrats. They know that. And so, they are working to turn out every vote that they can. That's women, that's minorities, that's young people, as well. Jackie Rosen, she was at the Culinary Union office today, right to drum up support. That is really a political force to be reckoned with in this state, 57,000 members strong. Rosen has the fund-raising advantage, as well. She is optimistic about her chances on election night, although I asked her this morning, and she says that she has, in fact, prepared two speeches for election night, Brooke?

[14:10:00] BALDWIN: As they should be doing, Scott McClain. Thank you, in Nevada. Think about it both ways. In minutes, President Trump will headline the first of his three rallies on this election eve. He will start off in Cleveland and late tonight in Missouri. And in these final hours, he is sending a bit of a mixed message, because for months and months, you know, he's been saying to rallygoers, a vote for his candidate of choice is a vote for him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A vote for Marcia is really a vote for me.

A vote for Morrissey is a vote for me.

A vote for Steve is a vote for me.

A vote for David is a vote for me.

And a vote for Cindy is a vote for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: But, today, with he is casting doubt that tomorrow's vote is a referendum on him entirely. This is what he said in a conference call today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The election tomorrow is very vital, because it really is summing up what we've dope, it's going to show confidence for what we've done. I've seen all of the newspapers, many of them think it's a referendum on what we've done. So, I don't know about that. I can tell you, though, that's the way they're going to play it. And if we don't have a good day, they will make it like it's the end of the world. And don't worry. If we do have a good day, they won't give us any credit. Even though I'm not on the ballot, in a certain way, I am on the ballot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: I wanted to hear about John King about this. With me, CNN's anchor of "Inside Politics" and Mr. Magic wall as of tomorrow. So good to see you. You hear how he characterized that earlier today. Is that him saying, well, if we don't do so well --

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It's really interesting, actually. If you listen to not just his words, but his tone. He sounds kind of down there, right? You played those earlier where he's out at the rallies --

BALDWIN: Boasting.

KING: Energetic. Not only did he just say that in that conference call, before flying out to his first rally at Joint Base Andrews, he talked to reporters and he said, you know, I'm already hearing there's all of these illegal aliens voting, there's illegal votes. Remember, that's why he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton? Millions of illegals -- they didn't. There's no such thing. That's a fraud and a farce. The President's already saying that, planting the seeds that there's illegal voting out there. So, he's making excuses, so somebody is telling him tomorrow is not going to be a good day. Most Republicans if you talk to them today, they say, we're going to lose the House. The question is by how much.

If our poll numbers that David Chalian just went through, if they're right, that's 35 seats or more. It's hard to get higher than 40 the way the districts are drawn. If it's a double-digit margin on election day, if the President is under 40 in the exit polls tomorrow. Watch the exit polls tomorrow. What is the President's approval on election day? Baum was around 44 percent. They got smoked. Clinton was around 43 percent, I think, back in 1994, they got smoked, George W. Bush, the same spot, got shellacked if the President's under 40, the Democrats are taking the House. And if the President's under 40, the Senate is still in play. In 2016, he turned Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Democrats have to do even more than that to get the Senate. But if the President is at 40 or below, it's not out of the realm of possibility. So, brew some espresso.

BALDWIN: You too, you too. Just can't imagine the word shellacked coming out of this President's mouth, depending on how it goes.

KING: But this is about him. I don't mean to interrupt you.

BALDWIN: No, he says it's not a referendum about him, but it is.

KING: About every President. Especially the first midterm. George w. Bush was the exception. It was the first election after 9/11. The country was still in a very special place, still in shock and still unified back in 2002. Bush took it in 2006, when the Iraq war's was unpopular post Katrina. But every other, in our lifetime, first Presidential midterm, it's the first chance America gets to vote after a Presidential election. It's your first time you get a chance to say, how do I think these first two years are going? So, do voters act on the economy, which is a signature achievement for this economy, or do they act on his tone? And his tenor, and how he conducts himself in office? If you look at the numbers in the suburbs, where a lot of those competitive House districts are, it seems like especially college-educated women, younger people, if they vote, African- Americans and Latinos, if they defy midterm history and vote, they're voting as much on the President's tone. And if that happens, he's in trouble.

BALDWIN: You mentioned, you hit on the House and whether or not that -- how much, potentially, the Republicans may lose by. But what about the Senate? That to me seems like the real variable. And how many seats would Democrats need to take it back?

KING: And let's do that in the context of what you just heard the President say. If the Republicans add seats, Mr. President, you get some credit for that. We will give you credit for that. We can criticize your tone, we can say you're race baiting, when you go out and campaign on immigration. But it might work. It might work.

[14:15:00] What do the Democrats have to do? If you look at the late polls, the Florida race, both of them, the House and the Senate, I mean, the governor's race and the Senate race, 50-46 with the Democrats on top, movement toward the Democrats. That Missouri Senate race where Rebecca Berg is, moving slightly towards Claire McCaskill. The Indiana Senate race, moving slightly towards Joe Donnelly.

Is it real? Wave elections break late and they break toward the party with the wave. So, can the Democrats really hold Missouri in the Senate? Can the Democrats really hold Indiana in the Senate? If they do, it's not impossible, but it's improbable. All the Republicans have to do with the current map is win Tennessee. Marsha Blackburn has been up 5 or 6 points in the late polls. If the Republicans hold Tennessee, that almost guarantees him at least 50/50. Here's what the Democrats would have to do. Hold Florida, hold Indiana, hold Missouri, and then flip Tennessee, Arizona, and Nevada. That's assuming that Heidi Heitkamp loses in North Dakota, where she's been down. That is -- do you play poker?

BALDWIN: No, I'm horrible at it.

KING: You look at your first five cards and have to give them all back and take five more and get a royal straight flush. Doesn't happen that often. But, Barack Obama got elected in 2008, Donald Trump got elected in 2016. Don't let anybody tell you they know what's going to happen tomorrow.

BALDWIN: Brew the espresso and tune in all night. This guy at the magic wall, we lo watching it. Thank you.

KING: It will be fun.

BALDWIN: Thank you, thank you, John king.

KING: We get to count them.

BALDWIN: Yes, we will. Coming up, a razor, razor tight gubernatorial contest unfolding in key

states. John just mentioned, who has the edge at the moment?

And an 11th hour twist unfolding right now in that Georgia gubernatorial race.

And he was the mayor of a small Utah town who also served as a National Guardsmen, killed during his latest tour of duty in Afghanistan. Those grieving his loss now finding hope in his final Facebook message. We'll share it with you, coming up. You're watching CNN's special coverage, live in Washington, D.C. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

[14:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin. And on the eve of midterm election, the stakes are also very high in a number of governors' races across this country. 36 governorships are on the ballot. Democrats are hoping to take the governor's mansion in several states where Republicans are now in charge. And a number of those races are in states where Donald Trump won in 2016. So, CNN's senior political writer and analyst, Harry Entin is with me now with his forecast. So, hone in with me, Harry. Which gubernatorial races are you watching super, super carefully?

HARRY ENTIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: I think that Florida is the biggest one we're watching. Florida, Florida, Florida. And what we think is that in fact, he will do that. My forecast is that he wins by 3 percentage points. A number of polls came out today that bolster that forecast, that suggest that he's ahead and looks like he's going to win. Let's look to another state right now, another key state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin, obviously, Scott Walker who ran for President in 2016 unsuccessfully has won three elections in the past eight years. We think, however, on try number four, he's not going to be successful. Tony Evers is forecast to win by 3 percentage points. If you're like me and you love elections, this may be the election for you. Because this could last all the way into December. Because right now, what we're seeing is that Brian Kemp, although he'll get the most amount of votes on Tuesday night, he, in fact, will not reach a majority. And in Georgia is state law is if you don't get a majority of the vote, there'll be a runoff in early December between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp.

BALDWIN: Harry, thank you. Speaking of Georgia, that governor's race in Georgia is not only close, but it's an election being rocked by a last-minute political firestorm. Harry Kemp is a Republican in the race here and he's also in charge of running Georgia elections as the Secretary of State is now accusing state Democrats of attempted election hacking without offering an iota of evidence. His Democratic rival, Stacey Abrams, is calling the investigation a witch hunt. Kemp has resisted a number of calls to step down from his role overseeing the elections. And so, with me now, Keisha Lance Bottoms. She is the Democratic mayor from the great city of Atlanta. Miss mayor, nice to have you back.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, MAYOR OF ATLANTA: Thank you for having me. BALDWIN: So, moments ago, Kemp said, quote, I'm not worried about how

it looks, I'm just doing my job. What is your reaction to Kemp's office ordering this investigation into the Georgia Democratic matter two days before election day?

LANCE BOTTOMS: Optics are everything. And I think that when you make an allegation this serious, this close in an election, that you need to also offer proof. We have people test our systems all of the time in the city. A local news agency recently tested our system vulnerabilities to our attention. And guess what we did? We didn't go to the FBI, we fixed them within 24 hours. So, I think that it's very dangerous when you have an election like this to throw out an allegation and not have any proof to substantiate it.

BALDWIN: I go back to also -- yes, but to the point that he is -- Kemp is overseeing an election which he is also running. I read it best in one of the papers this morning. It's like he's the referee, but he's also the competitor in a game. And I'm just wondering from you, how concerned are you that he is not recusing himself?

[14:25:00] LANCE BOTTOMS: I think it's very concerning. And when we've had elections previously in Georgia, and we've had a Secretary of State running, we've had a Secretary of State to step down during the election, because you have the chance of something like this happening, where there is an allegation that needs to be sorted out and it immediately removes the objectivity. And I think this is the issue and it's been the issue throughout the entire campaign.

BALDWIN: Another headline out of Georgia, this new robo call. It's going out to voters, featuring a voice impersonating Oprah Winfrey, who was just in Georgia, stumping for Stacey Abrams, referring to Stacey Abrams as a poor man's Aunt Jemima. We should point out that Kemp has called the robo call vile and racist and absolutely disgusting. But also, in Florida, the Trump administration's candidate said, this election is, quote, so "cotton-pickin" important, and yesterday, Trump called Gillum, quote, "not equipped for the job." So as a black mayor, in the deep south, this kind of language cannot be new to you.

LANCE BOTTOMS: And also, as a graduate of Florida AMU University, I think it's ridiculous. You have two overly qualified people running, and I think the personal insults are unfortunate, but when you have rhetoric coming from our President, it empowers people to spew it, at will. And in 2018, when there are important issues facing our communities, facing our country, the fact that we are still attacking each other in this way is not productive. This is about improving our country. And we need to start at the local and at the state level. But when you have a President who speaks ill and spews hatred, then I don't flow what more you can expect from average people who listen to him.

BALDWIN: Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta, thank you.

Coming up, beyond red versus blue, a revealing new CNN poll shows why tomorrow's midterms may come down to men versus women. The story behind this massive gender gap here among voters. Plus, tragedy in Texas. A newlywed couple has been killed in a

helicopter crash while leaving their own wedding. Investigators expected to hold a news conference moments from now. We will have the very latest. Stay with me. You're watching CNN.