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Election Day Arrives. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 6, 2018 - 15:00   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 ANCHOR: Many, many more Americans want a voice today than the last midterm election. At least 33 million ballots have been cast in the early vote, blowing out the total number for 2014.

And in just less than three hours, the first polls close in Indiana and Kentucky, giving us those first indications if Republican will keep control of Congress.

And CNN has crews all across this country to bring you the very latest on what both parties are calling the most consequential midterm ever.

So, let's begin in Florida.

Rosa Flores is there outside a polling place in Miami.

And, Rosa, of course, the anticipation is high for the Senate and the governor's race. And you were telling me that a lot of young people are showing up.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right.

And, you know, Brooke, Florida is known, is infamous for these razor- thin-margin elections. Trump took this state by about 1 percent in 2016, and the midterms are no exception. Let me set the scene for you, because I'm live in the heart of the financial district here in downtown Miami.

Now, this polling place at a church, you don't see a line right now at the moment, but don't be fooled, because by the time you woke up this morning, 39 percent of Florida's registered voters had already voted.

When you compare that to 2014, that's an increase of 62 percent. People here are involved. They're out voting. Now, when you break down those numbers by party, that's when we get these razor-thin margins that we're talking about.

And, of course, had is just an indicator because this is based on how people were registered. Are you ready for this? The number of Republicans is 40.1 percent. The percentage of Democrats of 40.5 percent. Now, that's what we're talking about the razor-thin margins.

And then there's the 19.3 percent of no party affiliation or other. Since President Trump took office, about one million people have registered to vote here in Florida. And there's this misconception around the country that most of Florida's voters are seniors.

Brooke, that is not the case;52 percent of registered voters are either millennials, Gen X'ers or Gen Z'ers.

This bloc of voters is more diverse. They are very interested in jobs, the economy, in health care. So this bloc actually has a lot of power, 52 percent.

And, Brooke, from living here in South Florida, I can tell you that there's probably one thing that will unite everybody here in Florida after today, and that is that we're no long going to be bombarded by political ads. There's been a lot of them here in South Florida.

BALDWIN: Yes, I know people will not be sad to see them go.

Rosa Flores in Miami for us on those key razor-thin races there, thank you, Rosa.

We're also watching a potentially historic governor's race in the state of Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams would like to become the nation's first African-American female governor, but she is also in a tight race with the Republican, Brian Kemp.

We just want to show you these photos of a moving tribute to the Pittsburgh synagogue shootings. Fisa Perani (ph), whose is a voter in Marietta, Georgia, took these picture as she walked into the polling station today. She's an immigrant from Saudi Arabia and says she has voted in every election since becoming a U.S. citizen in 2012.

And she says she waited in line for two hours to vote today, even though she arrived just minutes before the polls opened.

So, with that, Gary Tuchman is live for us in Georgia.

I mean, obviously, since so many people are watching this one, the enthusiasm is there. Is that being reflected in those lines you're seeing in Powder Springs?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, it absolutely is.

Behind me, you see democracy in action, Americans voting, or more specifically Cobb County Georgians voting. The morning rush is done. The evening rush is still to come. But there's been a steady stream of voters coming into this precinct here in Cobb County.

This morning, before the doors even opened at 7:00, it was pouring outside, it was thundering, it was lightning. And when doors opened at 7:00, more than 100 people were waiting outside in the rain to come in and vote.

And the reason we came here to Cobb County, Brooke, it's an interesting place. First of all, it's the former home of the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. It also used to be a very Republican county, but it's gotten more Democratic over the years.

And in 2016, Hillary Clinton actually won here over Donald Trump, and that was not considered very likely. It happened. So it's become a battleground county. And you have a combination of this big gubernatorial race, which you just mentioned, and the fact -- we have talked a lot of voters here -- people have come here because they symbolically want to vote with President Trump or they symbolically want to vote against President Trump.

The gubernatorial race and that factor have brought out a lot of voters. the turnout here has been very good. And everything so far at this particular precinct has been very smooth.

[15:05:10]

One other thing I want to mention to you, Brooke -- this is really important.

BALDWIN: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Before the voting began here -- this is just the last day of voting. There have been up to 20 days of voting in the state of Georgia.

And each county does early voting their own way, but some counties had 20 days starting October 15. More than 2.1 million votes had already been cast before people came to the polls today. That compares with 900,000 four years ago during the last midterms, more than double.

So there's intense interest in the state of Georgia in this election -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Been texting my friends in Atlanta, saying, have you voted, have you voted? And, of course, they're like, we did that a week ago.

Gary Tuchman in a rainy Atlanta, thank you very much.

And one of the earliest signs of where the House is headed could actually come from Virginia, where two incumbent Republicans may be at risk of losing their seats. In the Senate, Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine faces Republican challenger Corey Stewart. And President Obama made a surprise visit to Virginia on the eve of Election Day to campaign for Senator Kaine.

And CNN's Brian Todd is that a polling place in Sterling, Virginia.

Brian, what's the story where you are?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, a very energized voting base here in Sterling in this 10th voting district , where you mentioned this is a key suburban battleground.

It's in the suburbs here and all over the country that the battle for the House is going to play out here in Sterling and in this 10th voting district, where Barbara Comstock, the incumbent Republican, defending her seat against Jennifer Wexton.

The young turnout is crucial. We were told by an election official that the turnout here is really off the charts. They have more than doubled the output from 2014 in the midterms.

And a lot of that is young voters like the gentleman I'm about speak to now, Joe Burks. He's been in this county now for about 12 years.

Joe, you're an employee at Salesforce, a big tech company here. It's voters like you who are really kind of driving the dynamic in this county. What drove you to the poll today?

JOE BURKS, VIRGINIA VOTER: Pretty much change and what's going on in this country. There's a lot of pretty much unpleasing things are going on.

And, as someone of African-American descent, I think it's definitely my civic duty to actually participate in democracy. So, pretty much, we need a change in how we approach people, how we talk about things, how we resolve issues, and not to attack everything we don't agree with.

We're never going to agree on everything, but we can come to a very common understanding on differences that we have.

TODD: Right.

We're told that whether you agree with President Trump or disagree with him, he's driving people to the polls today. Did he drive you to those polls?

BURKS: He drove me to the polls, but not in the way that I really wanted to. I definitely wanted to come to the polls with the president uniting us and not dividing us.

Unfortunately, there's really nothing else to say about how the climate in this country is. All we can really do is do our civic duty and go out and vote.

TODD: All right, Joe, thanks very much. Great to meet you. Good luck to you and all your colleagues there at Salesforce.

Listen, it's the young dynamic, Brooke, that has really taken over this district and this county. The numbers are staggering. In 2011, they had 70 voting precinct in Loudoun County. Now they have 98. Just since 2008, in the last 10 years, 76,000 more registered voters have come into this county.

It's one of the most fast-growing, most affluent counties in the country. And right now, it's a key suburban battleground, especially that race between Barbara Comstock and Jennifer Wexton, a very tight, tight race.

BALDWIN: So important. You appreciate the enthusiasm on both sides of the political aisle.

Brian Todd in Sterling, Virginia, for us, Brian, thank you.

Let's take a deeper dive now. With me, CNN senior political analyst John Avlon with a reality check of what to look for tonight. John Avlon, what do you have?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Brooke.

All right, so put your partisan spin aside. It is game day, midterm elections in America. And after you go out and vote, keep an eye on these basic election benchmarks, because they will help you keep tonight's result in perspective.

And that's the thing we have least of in our politics. First thing, the number 37. That's the average number of House seats that a president's party loses in the midterms if he's below 50 percent approval. And President Trump is way below 50 percent in the latest CNN poll, a historic low for a first term of 39 percent.

And Democrats need just 23 seats to gain control of the House. On the plus side for the president, unemployment is at a near-50-year low. And it could be a tsunami wave election if Republicans lose more than 63 seats, as Democrats did in 2010. But that is looking not likely.

Next up, number 10, that's the number of Senate seats Democrats are defending in states that Trump won in 2016. And they're trying to flip seats in red states like Arizona, Texas and Tennessee as well. That's why, despite a razor-thin 51-49 balance of power advantage for Republicans, it's an even steeper uphill climb for Democrats.

They have got to pitch a near perfect game to gain control of the Senate. Now, who will decide the closest races? Independent voters. So keep your eye on this number, 16, 16 percent. That's the average swing of independent voters to opposition party in the last three midterm elections, 2014, 2010, and 2006.

And speaking of swing voters, 206, that's the number of so-called pivot counties that Trump won in 2016 that Barack Obama had won twice before. And take a look at this map. That's the real battleground, folks.

[15:10:10]

And notice how they cluster around the Upper Midwest, especially Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan. Democrats are making strong runs for governor in each of these states. And while it's an annoying cliche to say it all comes down to turnout, well, it's a cliche because it's true.

So keep this final number in mind, 40 percent. That's the average turnout for eligible voters in the last three midterm elections, including the wave elections of 2006 and 2010. Midterm election turnout in 2014 fell to 36.7 percent. That was a 70-year low. So America should be able to do better than only four in 10 voters casting a ballot, given the stakes.

So whatever your age, whatever your party affiliation, today's the day. Go out and vote, because democracy, it's not a spectator sport.

BALDWIN: Amen to that, John Avlon. I did my in-person absentee ballot Saturday back home in New York. AVLON: Love it.

BALDWIN: Did you? You got it? You voted?

AVLON: Oh, yes, of course.

BALDWIN: Oh, yes. Of course you did. John Avlon, thank you for that reminder.

Coming up next: the Trump impact on these midterms, where we could see record voting turnout, to John's point. Has the president made voting great again for both sides, Republicans and Democrats?

Also -- quote -- "A new line was crossed" -- new reaction from employees at FOX News after Sean Hannity appeared on stage with Trump during a rally after specifically saying he would not do that. So, will FOX take action?

And just in, broken voting machines, long lines, bad weather, we are getting our first sense of some of the issues voters are experiencing today. We will get an update for you from the Department of Homeland Security coming up here.

You're watching CNN's special coverage here on Election Day in America. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:16:25]

BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Just before President Trump's final campaign rally last night in Missouri, FOX News host Sean Hannity said he would not go on stage with President Trump a day before the election -- except, he did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": Mr. President, I did an opening monologue today. And I had no idea you were going to invite me up here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: FOX News and Hannity himself had said that he was only there to broadcast the show and to cover the rally. So the criticism has been pouring in. And now the network is responding.

So let's go to Brian Stelter with that, our CNN business chief media correspondent and host of CNN "RELIABLE SOURCES."

What is FOX saying about this, Brian?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is very strange, Brooke, because Sean Hannity was promoted as a special guest at this finale rally.

Hannity was there to interview Trump, but everybody knew the campaign was promoting his appearance there. FOX tried to distance itself from the campaign, saying, hey, Hannity's just there to interview the president.

But then obviously, as we all saw, he got up there on stage. He reveled in the attention. He was taking pictures and shaking hands. He was there to campaign. So now FOX has come out trying to chastise Hannity, but without naming him.

Look at this statement from the network here reacting to all the criticism, saying, hey: "FOX News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events. We have an extraordinary team of journalists helming our coverage tonight and we're extremely proud of their work."

"This" -- this thing with Hannity -- "was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed."

But, Brooke, the reality here is that both Hannity and Jeanine Pirro were up on stage campaigning for President Trump. In fact, Pirro has been holding fund-raisers for GOP candidates all year long. So, FOX is kind of trying to have it both ways here.

I know Hannity is not a journalist. He's an entertainer, but he works at a channel with news in the name, so that's why this crossed all sorts of lines. And our colleague Oliver Darcy has a story up on CNN.com right now about how reporters inside FOX, staffers inside FOX are really troubled by this, by this erosion of standards at FOX News.

Obviously, FOX is a cornerstone of the GOP get-out-the-vote effort and there's no denying that, right? What FOX's prime-time lineup does is supports the Republican Party and supports President Trump.

But I'm watching tonight to see how conservative media reacts to the election and how progressive media reacts, because, for years, conservative media has supported candidates like President Trump and all the Senate candidates that are running on the Republican ticket.

But you know what's happened in the last two years? There's been these progressive media companies, like Crooked Media, Pod Save America, that have been growing and growing and growing. They are on the ballot in some ways tonight, because they have been doing these huge get-out-the-vote efforts. So we're going to see if some of these liberal challengers to FOX News have a lot of power tonight.

BALDWIN: Yes, it's like, just in case you thought there was any bit of daylight between that other channel and this White House, it barely exists.

Brian Stelter, thank you very much.

STELTER: You got it. Thanks.

BALDWIN: I want to open up this conversation. With we now, CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel.

So, ladies, welcome back. And hold your power. Hold your firepower. We're going to get into that in a second.

But, if I may, more important, the midterms, the enthusiasm, the voters who are out and about. And despite how you may feel, and we know how you feel, about the current president, do you -- did he make voting great again?

I know.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think -- I do think that the silver lining to the Trump presidency is that he has awoken something in America which had been asleep.

I think we had forgotten about the responsibilities and duties that come with living in the greatest democracy in the world. And you see now a level of engagement, a level of participation that you didn't see before.

[15:20:08]

I think you -- I think we are seeing the number of LGBTQ, people of color, women candidates as a direct result and reaction to Donald Trump.

I think the MeToo movement owes a lot of its energy to Trump's election, because so many people, so many women were so angered and frustrated by seeing that. And I do think that we see it in the protests. We see it in the protests that happen impromptu all over the country all the time.

The hive is awake. He has awoken the hive.

BALDWIN: How do you see it?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. He has energized voters on both sides.

NAVARRO: Yes.

GANGEL: He has energized his base as well.

The problem is, what is it going to mean for Republicans? And we don't know until we know. But we just -- I just spoke to a Republican source who has a lot of information about tracking polls and exit polls.

And this is what the source said: "We lose the House. We keep the Senate. Trump's closing arguments probably helped with tight Senate races."

Probably, right? There -- they don't know. They won't say there's a lock, "but probably did real damage in suburban swing districts." And here's the close: "We could be wiped out in California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania."

NAVARRO: Probably, probably, could, could, maybe, if. It's interesting how the conversation after 2016 is couched, right, on so many contingencies.

If you stop eating carbs, if you lose weight, do exercise, and have less stress, you're going to feel better and live longer.

(LAUGHTER)

GANGEL: Because everyone was wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Yes. Everybody is being very safe.

GANGEL: Better to be probably than wrong this time.

BALDWIN: Sure. Sure.

You mentioned a second ago women. And I think there are a lot of woke women in this country. And it's almost as though in the 11th hour President Trump or someone at the White House was like, uh-oh, we may have a women problem, because when you look at the rally last night, you had Ivanka Trump, you had Sarah Sanders, you had Kellyanne Conway.

And, in fact, there was a bit of an awkward moment when the president was teeing up his own daughter. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know. They will say, this is nepotism. But the truth is, she's a very, very -- you're not allowed to use the word beautiful anymore when you talk about women. You're not allowed. No, no, it's politically incorrect.

(BOOING)

TRUMP: No, no, it's politically -- I will never call a woman beautiful again. And every man here, every man here, raise your hand. You will never, ever say your wife, your girlfriend, anybody is beautiful, right?

(BOOING)

TRUMP: No. So I'm not allowed to say it, because -- because it's my daughter Ivanka, but she's really smart and she's here. Should I bring her up? Come on. Ivanka, come on.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: I do think it's -- there was that. But I do genuinely think it's fascinating the gender gap story that came out of the CNN polls here on today's elections and fast- forwarding to 2020. He's going to have a problem with women.

NAVARRO: Well, beautiful -- listen, my beautiful women friends.

(LAUGHTER)

NAVARRO: It used to be a gender gap. It is right now a gender Grand Canyon.

BALDWIN: Yes.

NAVARRO: Which requires more than a bridge to gap.

And I think you don't -- you don't -- you don't build that bridge in one rally on one night, and, by the way, a ridiculous rally and a ridiculous standard and a ridiculous attempt.

It's been destroyed and it's been built, the gap, by many years by -- and, look, what have we seen in the last few weeks? We have seen a Kavanaugh hearing where we saw a Judiciary Committee, the members of the Republican Judiciary Committee, not one woman, on an issue that ended up being so much of a gender issue and that affected so many women.

We saw the chair of the Judiciary Committee, the Republican, say, oh, there is no women in the Republican Judiciary Committee because it's too much hard work, despite the fact that the Democrat ranking member is a woman and 80 years old.

So, you know, I mean, I think it's been -- it's been so many things. Of course, Trump's tone, Trump's language, Trump's flaunting and boasting of sexual assault, yes, those things don't help. I mean, this is a stunt, a last-minute stunt that is not going to change anybody's mind.

If by this point you don't know who Donald Trump is, I don't know where you have been for the last three years.

BALDWIN: Yes.

No, I do think there are so many potential firsts and so many women, an unprecedented number of women running for office this year. It will be interesting to see how many of them are actually elected, much in part because of how the nation feels about him.

[15:25:08]

NAVARRO: Well, I will tell you, those black women saved us, saved...

BALDWIN: In Alabama.

NAVARRO: In Alabama. Sisters, come out. Latinas, come out.

(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: Ana Navarro and Jamie Gangel, thank you both so much.

Coming up next, we will take you to Texas, where the Senate battle between Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke has already shattered early voting records for a midterm election.

That race has generated so much attention, even Triumph the Insult Comic Dog went to the Lone Star State.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me this, Beto. Does it concern you that half your base thinks they can vote for you through Instagram?

(LAUGHTER)

REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, it's going to have to turn into real votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ted, is it true you will defend the Constitution at all costs, except for when Donald Trump calls it ugly on Twitter?

(LAUGHTER)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I love the Constitution. And Twitter is Twitter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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