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Voters Head to Polls Across U.S. In Consequential Midterms; Control of Both Senate, House, At Stake in Today's Midterms. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired November 08, 2022 - 05:00   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember, the power in America lies where it always does, in your hands, the hands of the people.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It's Election Day in America.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The only thing that could get you singing at 5:00 a.m.

LEMON: I'm a little delirious. It's 5:00 a.m.

Good morning, everybody. How are you doing?

HARLOW: Good morning.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm excited to see what's happening today. We've been talking so much about the speculation, you know, the day before the midterms is the worst. And so, now, we're actually here. We need to find out what verdict is decided.

LEMON: Yeah. I just -- this is a marathon. We're going to be here for a long time. So, get used to our faces everybody.

Thanks for joining us.

Polls begin to open in less than two hours, 435 House seats and 35 Senate seats are on the line. So too is democracy, with election deniers poised to win key races or refuse to accept losses.

HARLOW: CNN reporters are on the ground in the key battleground states this morning, and here in the studio our team, has our eyes all over the critical races as well. Americans are not just choosing candidates today.

COLLINS: They're also weighing in on the issues -- health care, abortion rights, marijuana and minimum wage are all showing up on the ballots as well as for some voters in several states, today.

HARLOW: Yes. As I said, polls are about to open in critical battleground states, that will likely determine control of Congress.

In Georgia, Republican Herschel Walker and Democrat Raphael Warnock are locked in a very tight Senate race. It is really up for grabs there.

The same holds true for Pennsylvania. That's where Jonathan Fetterman, Mehmet Oz are in a fierce high stakes Senate battle. Just as close there.

CNN has reporters on the ground in both those states, and critical battleground state of Ohio, where polls open in 90 minutes. So, if you're there, get your coffee, get your breakfast, turn your TV on, watch us and all of our reporters.

So, first up, Jeff Zeleny live in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, which I know well. My home for seven years.

Good morning. How is it going there, Jeff?


Well, you know that Cobb County is one of the critical pieces of the puzzles we'll be watching all day today, as voters, in Georgia, finally have their say. But we should, say more voters in Georgia have their say.

Going into Election Day, an extraordinary 2.5 million Georgians have already cast their ballot. Officials in both parties tell me that they believe just 2 million more will cast their ballots today. So, we could have more than half of the ballots already in.

But this is a critical race for the U.S. Senate. No question about it. Control of the U.S. Senate on the line here with this Georgia race. Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in the fight of his life with Republican Herschel Walker -- of course, who made his name in football fame, now, wanting to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

Last, night on the campaign trail, both men had their closing arguments.


HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: We aren't talking about no runoff. We're winning this. When we leave, we will leave tomorrow night, we're leaving us winners.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): If the people show up, I win. If the people of Georgia show up, I win. If the people of Georgia show up, we win. Are you ready to win this election?


ZELENY: So, of course, it is all about which people show up. So you heard the senator they're telling people, really imploring people at a rally in Columbus, Georgia, to come up today. So, yes, Democrats believe that they may have an edge going into early

voting. But we know that Republicans vote traditionally in heavier strength on Election Day. So the polls do open here in Marietta, and across the state of Georgia in just two hours time.

Also, of course, a governor's race on the line, a rematch from 2018. Republican Governor Brian Kemp running again against Democrat Stacey Abrams.

So, the question here in Georgia, unique from many other battlegrounds -- will these candidates avoid that runoff election? You heard Herschel Walker talking about it right there.

The candidates need 50 percent plus one to avoid that. So, that's where we'll have our eye on there tonight. If they don't, they'll be a month of overtime with that --


LEMON: Oh, boy.

ZELENY: -- with the next runoff election on December 6.

LEMON: No, no, no, Jeff. Let's -- I don't know if we can -- I don't know if we have the patience for that. Jeff Zeleny, once again, in Georgia, the center of the election this time again. Thank you, Jeff. Appreciate it

HARLOW: All right. Let's go now to Columbus, Ohio, this morning. Our colleague Melanie Zanona joins us live.

After your interview with Kevin McCarthy, must of flown overnight to get there, what are you hearing on the ground?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, listen, we have Tim Ryan, the Democrat, he's a congressman. He is running here versus J.D. Vance, the Republican. He is the author of "Hillbilly Elegy". And, for Republicans, they need to hold on to the seat in order to be able to win the majority. And, Democrats, if they were able to flip this, this would be a massive upset for them.

I talk to Tim Ryan, a little bit, yesterday. He thinks he's going to, quote, shocked the world. Very optimistic outlook there.

But, look, this has been a closer than expected race, especially considering it is a red state that Trump won in 2022. Republicans have had to spend money, and resources here. And, Tim Ryan has been able to raise a ton of money, even without the help of the national Democratic Party. And a big part of that reason is that he has done a really good messenger on the economy for Democrats.

He's really leaned into the economic -- now voters are feeling. He's talking about bringing manufacturing jobs back. And he's also been a fighter. He has gone up against JD Vance. He's tried to tie to Donald Trump, paint him as a sycophant of Donald Trump. Meanwhile, J.D. Vance, he is someone that has tried to make Tim Ryan into the want to be Republican and said he's not actually a moderate. He's trying to run as a Republican, even though he is a Democrat. But, for J.D. Vance, that strategy here has been talking about inflation, the border, and of course making Donald Trump a key part of his strategy as well.

The former president wasn't here, Ohio last, night rallying, for J.D. Vance, even though we should know J.D. Vance was a one time never Trumper.

HARLOW: Yeah, that's a good, point it's interesting that Tim Ryan messaged to be consistent for a long time on jobs, economy, jobs, economy, manufacturing. And it is this issue of this race as we've seen from all of those. Melanie, thank you from Columbus.

COLLINS: All right. Turning now to our voters are going to be casting their ballots. And they're critical races in Pennsylvania, a state we have all been watching closely.

Kate Bolduan is live in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, for CNN this morning.

Kate, you know, the final closing hours we get a lawsuit from one of the Senate candidates, John Fetterman, when it comes to those mail-in ballots. What else are you watching on the ground this morning?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, AT THIS HOUR: Yes, let's get to those mail- in ballots in the issues there in just one second. But, welcome to election day in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Which may be one of the swinging east of swing counties and Pennsylvania the candidates are basically, at this point begging to win over the swing voters. This could be the whole ball game, could be in a place like Bucks County. Donald, Trump in 2016 came within a couple of thousand volts of winning this county. 2020, Joe Biden won then by more than 17,000 votes.

This is home to these swing suburban voters, that, especially in this very critical Senate race between Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman, these candidates are begging for supporters in the swing suburban voters, begging for their support in the final days of this election. And, that is exactly what we heard from Mehmet Oz, last night, in his final campaign rally with supporters. Listen to this.


MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: This is bigger than just Pennsylvania. It's in fact a bigger than the country in many ways. And I want to go out and talk to conservative Democrats, and independents, because they are going to vote for us when we had this discussion. And, you're going to ask that question, are you happy with where the country is headed?


BOLDUAN: So, after all the campaign speeches, all the, rallies and all the millions and millions of dollars spent on campaign ads here, this is the most expensive Senate race in the country right now. The answer to that question, could likely decide this election. Especially, how voters think can handle that question, the direction of this country.

Now, this is a race that candidates can still themselves, they say it's too close to call which is just the back and it has been a while even John Fetterman on Sunday he said it's a jump.

COLLINS: Yes, and of course, it's going to take a little bit of them to count the votes as, well we'll be watching that very closely.

Kate Bolduan, we'll check back in with you in a moment.

HARLOW: Pack your patients as they say, a record number of people across the country, they've already voted. They voted early by mail, by drop box or in person.

Victor Blackwell joins us again this morning with a breakdown.

Good morning. Big numbers.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, these are big numbers that we are seeing, early voting playing a huge role in the midterm election. Let's all look at the numbers and go to the states.

Already now, more than 41 million people have cast those ballots in 47 states. By comparison, the pre-election voting is surpassing the 2018 levels and that's of course in the state where we're getting some data but it's still too early to know if overall turnout will reach the 2018 levels.


Question, why could this be happening? Well, some states with these big increases and election voting, so, far they have made changes in election rules. Since 2018, for instance, Virginia, Vermont, Michigan, they have all expanded access to mail ballots.

Let's go into some of the state numbers here. Texas, at the top of the list, when we look at their nearly 5.5 million early votes cast, that is the most in the country. More than 4.7 million Florida, California, 4.1 million plus Georgia. -- more than two and a half million ballots cast.

The secretary of state office says that, already, more than one in three Georgia voters have already cast their ballot. Let's go into who's casting these ballots. These are pre-election ballots cast by party affiliation in the battleground.

First, up Arizona, Democrats edging out just a little here with 38 percent to Republicans, 37 percent in Nevada. We are seeing Democrats with a little bit more of a distance here, 40 percent of the voters are Democrat who are about to pass the pre-election ballots compare to 36 percent of Republicans.

In Florida, the pictures flipped. More Republicans. 43 percent to Democrat, 37 percent. Now, it's important to say that we don't know if these voters are voting for the candidates that match their registration. We also don't know what this means because, maybe some of these people, in 2018, worked an office job for 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday. And could not get to the polls on Tuesday to the afternoon. But, you, know we have to see when the numbers come in if we see this turnout carry out through the rest of the day.

HARLOW: It is a great thing to see such an engaged electorate. That is for sure. We'll be watching that.

Victor, thanks for all the numbers. We'll be back to you very soon.

LEMON: All right, Victor, Poppy.

All right, there are 35 Senate seats up for grabs today. And, we just mentioned some of those races. So, let's turn now to CNN senior data reporter, Harry data Enten.

Harry, you've got everything. You've got my. You know everything --

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I don't have a cheat sheet. My cheat sheet is up here.

LEMON: Yeah. So, what we have here, what are we looking at?

ENTEN: We have a bunch of Senate races.

LEMON: Arizona.

ENTEN: Key thing to keep in mind, of course, is that minus that we just need a net game of, one and, Democrats they have won five of we get to all of these races. Five races up, here and Democrats, likely need to win four of these five to maintain control.

So, let's start in Arizona. Senator Mark Kelly, of course, he was elected in 2020, to a special election, rarely won that, race he's getting a very good challenge for the Republican, I should note Blake Masters is an election denier.

This is a race that has closed at, closed, and closed, Kelly was way out in front, early in the campaign. But Masters and Republican have been doing nationally, this race is way too close to the call.

LEMON: All right, what's next?

ENTEN: Let's go to Georgia, which is a race we've already mentioned. The thing I love about Georgia which we will emphasize all day here is an order winning Georgia, you need the majority of the, vote of their was discern off in December. And that's why we have chase Oliver on here.

Normally, we don't have libertarian but he could be the leader from reaching 50 percent of the votes. Let's go back out West, Don. Because, I want to go up to Nevada. -- receiving a very strong challenge from Adam Laxalt, the former attorney general.

This is a race war in which it's the best pick up opportunity. Unlike a lot of other Republicans, like Laxalt has public office experience. This is the state where a lot of Democrats feel they can run away with. Remember, Democrats have won every presidential race in Nevada since 2000.

But keep in mind, Trump improved upon Romney in 2016, and improved himself in 2020.

LEMON: My handy notes here say it's a toss-up. But definitely, it's not leaning in --

ENTEN: All of these states are a toss-up.

LEMON: All of them are toss-up, okay.

ENTEN: Let's go to a state that I think is a toss-up, that a lot of people weren't paying attention to.

New Hampshire, Senator Maggie Hassan, barely won election back in 2016, Joe Biden, easily won the state. But Hillary Clinton won it by less than a point in 2016.

Don Bolduc, who a lot of Democrats are hoping or to, extremist someone who's gone back on whether or not the 2020 election was legitimate, but he seemed to be closing in the final days. This could be a surprise Republican pick up opportunity.

We'll go back to Pennsylvania, why not in there.


ENTEN: Let's in the commonwealth in the keystone state. John Fetterman was way out in front of this race, Mehmet Oz has been closing, closing, closing. This is going to be a very interesting race, insofar, it's understanding whether and not Republicans a lower net fever billet he can actually overcome that because of Joe Biden's and popularity.

LEMON: It's also been one of the most, dramatic when you think that you had a former talk show host, right? And then you had, John Fetterman who has health issues. So, it's really been dramatic for voters.

ENTEN: It's been very dramatic. Neither of these candidates are perfect. So, we'll see what happens.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Data Enten. We appreciate that.

ENTEN: Thank you.

LEMON: Kaitlan?

COLLINS: All right. Thanks, Don and Harry.

CNN, this morning, election day coverage is going to continue, our reporters standing by in Wisconsin, Arizona.

[05:15:01] We also have an entire roster of analysts to break down the high stake races for you.

And, from abortion rights to the legalization of marijuana, to minimum wage, ahead, the amendments that are on the ballot across the country, today.


COLLINS: All right. From health care to voting rights across the country today, there are more than 100 issues on the ballot.

One of the biggest up for a vote in several states is abortion access. It will be voted on in five states, including Michigan which wants to amend the state's constitution to ensure the right to an abortion. If that measure passes, the state would still regulate abortion in some cases.

Other measures include using marijuana for recreational use in Arkansas, Missouri, Maryland, North and South Dakota, both Nebraska and Nevada will vote on increasing the minimum wage and Nevada will be a 12 dollar an hour minimum wage by 2024. Nebraska voters could bring it up to $15 an hour by 2026.

So, joining us now to talk about this crucial part of the ballots today is CNN political commentator and host of "PBS Firing Line", Margaret Hoover, and CNN senior political analyst Nia-Malika Henderson.

Thank you both for joining us this morning, nice and early on set.



LEMON: Happy anniversary with Mr. John Avlon.

HOOVER: I do not know why he is sleeping in and I am here.


COLLINS: Yeah, we will talk about that later.

But a lot of these ballot issues are actually affecting some of these races. I know in Michigan, I have been talking to people about how it's been a wedge between Tudor Dixon.

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. These are two women who are vying to be in the governor's mansion. Gretchen Whitmer obviously running for reelection. It really is determining a lot of the talking points, a lot of the ads that you see on air there. It is really galvanized I think folks around this issue on both sides.

Listen, I think these ballot measures are sort of test cases for the larger country. You think about minimum wage, the argument has always been states cannot really afford, it restaurants cannot afford it, you see it happen in the stakes and that is fine.

With legalization of marijuana, you see it happening in other states. It really is to try to push the federal government to do something about legalizing marijuana. Because average Americans think that marijuana should be legalized, on both sides of the aisle. The majority of voters say that it should be legalized.

HARLOW: On the first point that Kaitlan asked you about, Margaret, I wonder what you think -- what is so interesting in the reporting that Dana Bash did in the last few days is that even though Democrats thought that they were putting this initiative on in trying to right write to an abortion, it split some voters. So she talked a voter who was only comfortable voting early for Tudor Dixon to be governor because he was at the same time able to vote for that initiative to protect abortion.

HOOVER: Democrats are not monolithic when it comes to some of these issues. You have traditional Catholics, this has always been the case, you have traditional Catholics in blue Rust Belt States who tend to be more socially conservative around some of these issues.

You cannot think that it is going to be a Democratic issue if it is a ballot initiative for abortion it is necessarily going to drive Democrats the polls. What you see in many of these ballot initiatives as that is representing the key issues that are on the ballot. Inflation and the economy, inflation is the hidden tax on any working class American ends up being the driver for these ballot initiatives that are for the -- I am sorry I'm blanking, for the minimum wage. The minimum wage represents an inflation. It is a shorthand for inflation.

That is ultimately what is driving the polls, driving energy to the polls this morning and today. And so, that is what we are seeing, it is the economy.

LEMON: That is the first time I've ever seen at a loss for words, knowing you all of these years.

HARLOW: She found them very quickly, by the way.

LEMON: Are any of these -- to dig in a little bit more on that. These drivers, is that going to really motivate these initiatives, the person is on ticket?

HOOVER: I think what we are seeing in the last three days is that many of these states, especially in the Senate races, are coming down to a margin of error. And it seems to be -- the final push seems to be about the inflation and the economy and hard brass tacks economic issues around the kitchen table. It seems to be the final motivator that is pushing Republicans to the polls. It seems to be breaking for Republicans in these vitals.

LEMON: She brings up a good point about what drives Catholics, being socially conservative. It's the same thing for Black voters. Black voters tend to vote Democratic, but they are also socially conservative in many, many ways.

HENDERSON: I think that is right, when you talk about Black voters, it's the same with Latino voters, to increasingly evangelical voters particularly in the south, and that is why you see some of these demographic shifts. Republicans are very, very bullish on their chances with African American voters, with Latino voters, not winning them over completely, but certainly doing better with those voters, particularly black men. This is going to matter in states like Georgia, Nevada, Latino voters are there.

So this is something that is going to be a fascinating dynamic to watch over the next hours as we see the voters go to the polls and the results come in.

COLLINS: Part of the reason that people will be watching that closely is because what happens here, what it signals for 2020 for potentially. The day after the midterms when everybody immediately starts talking about 2024, former President Trump is already doing so as he did last night.

But I also want to talk about the environment here. You mentioned Texas, which was great for the Astros after they won the World Series last night.


Senator Ted Cruz was at the parade and you see in this video someone throws a beer can at the senator. That of course, that person who threw that, the man was later arrested. Ted Cruz commenting on it. He commented saying that he had a bad throw.

What does a signal to you? We were just talking about that exclusive interview with Pelosi, you know, about this political environment that we are now in?

HOOVER: The rhetoric and the vitriol on both sides that has eroded our politics to team-ism and pointing to the other and then really rolling the other, to the extent that we are often dehumanizing the other, right? That has led to an environment where we are not only the speaker of the houses husband at his head bashed him with a hammer, but Supreme Court justices are having individuals target them in their homes.

I mean, we are at a really, really dangerous moment right now where the kindling point is getting hotter and hotter. It is incumbent on all of us, I mean, to bring down the temperature, to talk about the ideas and the issues, and we can talk about the sentiments, but we cannot demonize each other. We are all Americans.

HARLOW: I mean, it was Republican Senator Susan Collins a few weeks ago, Nia, remember, she said that someone is going to get killed.

HENDERSON: Listen, America is not a stranger to political violence. If you think about the assassinations that have happened in this country of presidents and political leaders. So I think the difference now is that you do have, on the Republican side, almost a cheering section for some of this violence that has happened, and that is a difference.

LEMON: You cannot, it shouldn't happen to anyone. Ted Cruz if you like you, we do not know who the person is -- whether it's Democrat or Republican. A lot of Republicans do not like Ted Cruz by the way.

But, if you look at the video was, if it was not for that gentleman who swatted away, it is going right for his head and no one wants to see that. No one wants that to happen. But, I think, when you have people like Don Junior and others, people who are running for office making light of what happened to Paul Pelosi --

HENDERSON: And candidates, Kari Lake.

LEMON: -- this is what is going to happen on your own side. What if it was Democrats doing the same thing, Democrats have not done that for the most part in this environment, you've got to be consistent in this day in age and say it is not right. And for people who make light of it, who make fun of, it were making jokes about it on the Internet, you need to stand tall and called them out.

HOOVER: Yeah, we need to hear this from the Republican side. We need to be hearing this from the Republican side because it comes from the top, and the former president, even when he was president, had rhetoric that supported frankly hate speech and violence.

LEMON: Yeah.

HOOVER: We have seen more of that since January 6th. That just, it has to come from the right.

LEMON: So, how long with this Avlon guy?

HOOVER: Thirteen years.

LEMON: I don't know how you do it with him. I have no idea.

HOOVER: Thirteen years.

COLLINS: Congratulations.

LEMON: Yeah, I love you both. Thank you. Congratulations.

HARLOW: You can go out to dinner after the election.

COLLINS: Margaret, Nia, we know you'll both be sticking with us all day long, so thank you for getting up early with us.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

Straight ahead, we're going to hear the closing arguments on the economy from key Democrats and Republicans.


OZ: And they are coming for your money because they're not going to be stopped with just people with affluent. JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: This is an

individual who has spent $27 million of his own money trying to buy this seat.