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Voting Underway in Several States as Midterm Polls Open; Midterm Spending Expected to Shatter Records, Top $16 Billion; Misinformation and Disinformation, What to Look for Today. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired November 08, 2022 - 07:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We are really happy that you could join us this morning. We know it's an important day. It is Election Day, Tuesday, November 8th. Thank you so much for joining us. This is CNN This Morning. It's go to see you both.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We've got a lot of numbers to look at today, a lot of numbers to crunch.

LEMON: We've already been on air. How many?

COLLINS: A few hours.

LEMON: Yes, a few hours here.

Voting under way though and more polls are opening right now in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, like Ohio, where critical Senate races will determine the balance of power in Congress and there's already a court fight over mail-in ballots that are being thrown out.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. The stakes could not be higher also for President Biden, and namely for the American people. The outcome of this election could have significant impact on the Biden agenda for the next two years and also on whether he runs for re-election in 2024.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're good people. We just have to remember who in the hell we are. We are the United States of America. And there's nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, beyond our capacity, if we do it together. So vote.


COLLINS: All right. So, here's what to watch for today, control of both the House and the Senate are on the line right now. Republicans only need to flip five seats to take over the House, and Republicans only need a net gain of just one seat to seize control of the Senate.

LEMON: There's a lot at stake and it is a very big day.

Happening now, though, polls are opening in battleground Pennsylvania. Voters there will play a key role in choosing a new governor, a new senator and, really, the future of the country.

Kate Bolduan is in my old stumping ground of Pennsylvania. She's live for us in Bensalem for CNN This Morning. Good morning to you.

The sun, when last we met, a few hours ago, the sun was not coming up. It is coming up. People are heading to the polls now, Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: They absolutely are. Welcome to Election Day, everyone. This is the excitement. Because after all the stump speeches, and all the campaign ads, and there were a lot in Pennsylvania, all the punditry, all the polls, this is exciting stuff, voters heading to polls and votes starting to be counted. This is the whole shebang.

We are in Bucks County just north of Philadelphia. It's considered a collar county, these important collar counties around Philadelphia. It's also considered a swing county, because this is home to the independent-minded suburban voters that helped get Donald Trump elected in 2016 and helped elect Joe Biden then in 2020. And these are the exact voters that vote in this critical Senate race with John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz. They've basically gotten to the point of begging for these voters to come to their sides. And this was very evident in their final campaign rallies last night. Listen to this.


SENATE CANDIDATE MEHMET OZ (R-PA): Ten friends of yours are going to hear from you tonight or tomorrow morning. And here's the question you're going to ask. Are you ready? Are you happy with the way the country is headed?

LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): I need every one of you, I need every one of you to get out the votes, so I can get to D.C. so I can fight for every one of you.


BOLDUAN: And there is a new, big unknown that you were alluding to, Don, here, which is this issue of mail-in ballots, a few thousand ballots that could be potentially rejected, that were mail-in ballots. This is coming after the state Supreme Court ruled that if these ballots, these envelopes, the ballots were in, were missing a date or had an invalid date written in, that they will not be counted.

The Fetterman campaign has filed a lawsuit to ask for a higher court, a federal court, to step in to allow the votes to be counted. Obviously, it goes without saying, in a race this tight, every vote, especially a few thousand votes, matter. We'll see soon what it all means, Don.

LEMON: Those ballots and that court case looming large there in Pennsylvania. Thank you very much, Kate.

COLLINS: Voters can also begin heading to polls now in Georgia, where a Democratic senator and a Republican governor are both fighting to keep their jobs.

Jeff Zeleny is live in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta for CNN This Morning. Jeff, I know 2.5 million people already voted early, shattered records there in the state. But what are you seeing on the ground and what are you looking for today over the next few hours?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kaitlan. The door did just open here a short time ago, and a short line of about 20 people or so walked in, so they are voting now. But you're right, 2.5 million people here in Georgia have already voted. It's extraordinary.

But campaigns that I've been talked to for the last several days believe that there will be potentially 2 million more people voting today. And, of course, the Senate race is front and center in all of this. Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, who, of course, won that runoff race in January 2021 in the wake of President Biden winning here in Georgia narrowly, is now facing a very tough race against Republican Herschel Walker.


So, the dynamic of this certainly could control the majority of the Senate.

Take a listen to the closing arguments, the final words, from both candidates.


SENATE CANDIDATE HERSCHEL WALKER (R-GA): We ain't talking about no runoff. We're winning this. When we leave, when we leave tomorrow night, we're leaving as 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, every election is about who shows up. But in midterm elections, that's even more true. The motivation certainly for Republicans has certainly felt stronger here. Republicans feel optimistic.

So, Kaitlan, the bottom line is here, Republicans have been trying to nationalize the race, tie Senator Warnock directly to the White House and President Biden. He has been trying to disqualify Herschel Walker, saying he's simply unfit for the Senate. So, the answer to that equation will be learned tonight here in Georgia. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: Jeff Zeleny, thank you. HARLOW: So, today's vote, this election, going down in history already as the most expensive midterm election ever. This is a new projection from a nonpartisan research group.

Let's bring back in our Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans. How much?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Huge. Money is the oxygen, right, in the election system, right? And the money is pumping. The money is flowing here. Looking at $16.7 billion projected here for this midterm. That's way more than 2018 and 2014. When you look at the spending by state, excuse me, guys, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Ohio, Wisconsin, these are huge numbers that we're seeing.

And who is doing all the spending? Look at the Senate leadership fund, $205.4 million. That's aligned with GOP leadership. The congressional leadership fund, $188. Senate majority PAC, that aligned, of course, with Dem leadership. And in the House majority PAC, $96.3 million there.

And up and down the ballot, you guys, huge numbers up and down the ballot. We've seen records for how much money has been spent on ballot initiatives for state races, for some of these secretary of state races. So, really huge numbers here.

And also when you look at the billionaires, the billionaires are spending a lot of money here. Billionaire -- with a week to go, they've spent hundreds of millions of dollars, the names you know, George Soros, Ken Griffin, some new crypto billionaires and the like, but 3-2 breaking for Republican causes.

COLLINS: It's really interesting also when it comes to Arizona, Peter Thiel, saying that Republicans have tried -- people like Mitch McConnell were saying, you've got to put up money here for these candidates, because they were saying, we can't do it all from McConnell's PAC, from Schumer's PAC, those are big questions over how that has played a factor into this.

LEMON: Here in New York, I think it's Ronald Waters (ph) giving like tens of millions, or at least $10 million to Lee Zeldin.

ROMANS: And the Bloombergs, of course, every year, Michael Bloomberg is always a big donor as well, a contributor as well. Some of these folks are giving to traditional conservative causes. Some newcomers to the field just want divided government because divided government, they think, is good for business.

Also, you can't really control -- there's so much money in this process. There's nothing that the average person can control, of course, but what you can control is, you've got to vote.

HARLOW: Yes, it's up to you.

ROMANS: Your vote matters so much. I mean, in some of these tight, tight races, we're just talking to Kate, every single vote matters here. So, a lot of dollars at play, but your vote is almost priceless. HARLOW: Results of Supreme Court decisions, right? The citizens united stands and this is the result.


HARLOW: All right. Christine Romans, thank you very much.

LEMON: Well, one of today's key Senate races is in Nevada, and that's where the state's voting rules means that the race could take days to call.

Victor Blackwell joins us now from the voting desk with more. Good to you morning, Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Don. Let's talk about some of the rules of Nevada vote counting and start with the term that you're going to hear a lot today, mirage. Some have called early leads for one party or another, one candidate or another, a mirage, it really is just a process of receiving and counting the votes playing out.

For instance, let's look at Nevada 2020. Then-candidate Joe Biden had a pretty sizable lead after the vote started, vote started being counted. Then there was a noticeable blue to red shift as the votes were counted. Trump narrowed the lead over time, but, ultimately, did not win the state. We'll see if there's a similar trend this cycle.

Now, Nevada is one of eight states across the country that hold elections almost entirely by mail. This is their first midterm, though, with universal mail-in voting. They adopted this system in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

As you said, the Senate race there is a close and crucial one between incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto and the Republican, Adam Laxalt, here. If it stays close, do not expect immediate predictions tonight.


Now, ballots post-marked, here are the rules. Ballots post-marked by Election Day that arrive at the elections offices after the polls close will be counted. Now, some people call these late arriving ballots. They're not. In Nevada, they're legal. They will be counted, as long as they arrive by November 12th. That's Saturday.

Just as a point of reference, CNN projected Joe Biden's victory in Nevada four days after polls closed, even a couple hours after he was projected to have won the presidency. So, be easy. This is going to take some time to get these projections in. Don?

LEMON: All right. Victor, words of wisdom. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: All right. Speaking of the Senate, with a 50/50 split, Vice President Harris is that tie-breaking vote. Democrats do not have any room for error, John Berman. And so the ads have been cut. We've seen the speeches. We saw closing arguments last night. Now we wait to see what the voters to decide. And, of course, the Senate is what everybody is watching today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. First of all, I love what you've done with the place here, Kaitlan.

Look, there are 35 Senate races up for grabs. There are eight that CNN, along with help of Inside Elections, deem to be most competitive. We put those eight in yellow, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada. These are states that are either tossups or tilt one way or the other here.

Republicans need to get to 51 to control the Senate. Democrats need to get to 50 if they want to maintain control with because the vice president, Kamala Harris, breaks a tie in the Senate. I want to show you how tights this is, how narrow the margins are for each party and how it may not be determined for some time.

So, let's say, I don't know that it's going to go this way. I'm not suggesting it will, but if there are these scenarios that play out, it could take a while. Say that Republican Ted Budd wins in North Carolina, J.D. Vance in Ohio, the incumbent Republican, Ron Johnson, wins in Wisconsin, all of a sudden you're a Republican, hey, we're at 49, we're really close.

But incumbents in Nevada, in Arizona, incumbent Democrats, what if they win there? Incumbent in New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan, now you have 49-49. And what are these two states left? You have Pennsylvania and you have Georgia.

Pennsylvania, I will remind people, in a presidential elections two years ago, that was not projected winner until this Saturday after the election. Georgia, not until the runoff in January. This time, the runoff will be in December. But, you know, look, if Democrats are able to win this, one of these states, it's over, they maintain, control. Republicans, if they're able to win both of these states, they win control.

COLLINS: And, of course, those two states, the big questions are whether or not the candidates for governor help boost those Senate candidates. That's something I've been watched. Of course, Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania, the Democrat, is very popular. But in Georgia, Brian Kemp, the governor running for re-election, is very popular there. Do they help those candidates?

BERMAN: It is one of the things we'll be watching very closely. And, of course, in Georgia, the key is, does anyone get to 50 percent? You need 50 percent plus 1 in Georgia to avoid a runoff.

In Pennsylvania, one thing that I want to show you is what you can maybe watch, your guide, your guide to the Pennsylvania election, what to know whether it's going to tip one way or the other. There are two counties in Pennsylvania that -- two counties in a presidential election voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020. Those counties are Northampton, which you can see Joe Biden won barely in 2020. And 2016, that was a Donald Trump county. And then the other county is Erie, up in the corner there. 2018, put on the presidential, it's my first go at the wall this morning. So, you can see --

COLLINS: We're just getting you warmed up for the many hours we have ahead.

BERMAN: The presidential election here in Erie, Joe Biden won in Erie in 2020. In 2016, that was a Donald Trump county.

So, Erie and Northampton County, those are barometers right there, if they tip toward John Fetterman, probably a good night for John Fetterman. If they tip toward Mehmet Oz, probably a good night for Mehmet Oz.

COLLINS: I don't think anyone has more to lose than President Biden here though. He has been saying he thinks he'll keep the Senate. He's not so sure about the House. But he says it's going to be a horrible two years for him personally potentially, definitely for Democrats.

BERMAN: Yes. Although one thing that Democrats will have lost control of Congress when they are president in their first term have in common, they've been re-elected, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. It doesn't always mean that it hurts you long-term.

COLLINS: Yes. And, of course, it's the conventional history, that that is what happens to the sitting president. John Berman, we are going to check in closely with you to see what is happening here, of course, all of these big questions, what those races are going to look like.

This also comes as officials are warning Americans to be on the lookout for election disinformation and conspiracies today. We'll tell you how to tell fact from fiction, next.

HARLOW: That is so important.

LEMON: You know why all is well?

HARLOW: Why, Don?


LEMON: John Berman is in the house.

BERMAN: Like I said, everything is different all of a sudden.

HARLOW: I used to call him my encyclopedia. There is between those two brains on right of your screen, he will tell you everything you need to know.

LEMON: Poppy, we're on the left.

HARLOW: I know. I was talking about our friend. I'm not talking about us.

Also, Donald Trump, teasing voters about his 2024 plan. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We want nothing to detract from the importance of tomorrow.



COLLINS: This morning, the Justice Department says it is sending workers to 64 jurisdictions in 24 states to make sure that they're in compliance with federal voting law. The DOJ also has a hotline open today for callers who see possible violations of possible voters' civil rights.

HARLOW: So, one thing everyone needs to be aware of is the rampant spread of disinformation and misinformation, especially on Election Day.


How do you separate facts from deliberate attempts to confuse, distract or scare you?

Let's bring in CNN Media Analyst and Axios Media Reporter Sara Fischer. Sarah, great to have you, thank you very, very much. Can you walk through for folks what typical misinformation, disinformation, they may see today and how to tell between that and truth?

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Yes, absolutely, Poppy. So, a lot of what you're going to see today is misinformation targeted at voting itself, meaning the times that polls open or close, whether or not you are eligible to cast a ballot, whether or not your ballot can be mailed in or you have to go in-person. These are the types of themes that you're going to see most today.

Now, the way that I would advise any consumer or voter out there, distinguish between what is misinformation and what is legitimate, is who is taking responsibility for that message. Oftentimes, when people are trying to spread information or misinformation, they are not attributing their name to the message. That means anonymous texts, anonymous robo calls, anonymous emails or misleading about their identity.

HARLOW: A lesson I learned as a kid that pertains to today, consider the source.

FISCHER: Yes, absolutely.

HARLOW: Consider the source. Where is it coming from?

FISCHER: Yes. And one of the things that scares me, Poppy, is I'm a huge believer in local news, local newspapers and what they do for the community. But we've seen a huge proliferation leading up to the midterms of fake local news websites. And that's why leading up to today's election, I'm advising people to visit things, like or usagov. Those are websites that are nonpartisan, nonprofit and that they're easy for voters to discern real from not real.

HARLOW: What about the chaos? And it is chaotic right now inside Twitter. It's no longer a public company. It's privately held. It's owned by Elon Musk who said, this institution needs to be non- political just a few months ago to be trusted and now today in a tweet, he's telling people how to vote. I mean, what do you make of what is going to happen on Twitter in terms of misinformation?

FISCHER: Very worried about Twitter, not because their content moderation policies have changed but because they fired half of the staff, which means that it's a lot harder for them to enforce policies in real-time.

And you're hearing election experts say that this is a major concern, candidates, especially red candidates, taking to Twitter and preemptively calling an election a win when it actually hasn't been called as so. That spreading on Twitter, being re-tweeted, can go viral very quickly. It's going to be a major problem.

HARLOW: Sara Fischer, we're glad to have you on this team. Thank you.

FISCHER: Thank you.

LEMON: Former President Trump did not announce a third presidential bid last night, however, he did say that he would be making a big announcement next week.


TRUMP: Not to detract from tomorrow's very important, even critical election, I'm going to be making a very big announcement on Tuesday, November 15th at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.


LEMON: Okay. So, the Trump advisers told CNN that the former president was talked out of going forward with a surprise 2024 announcement last night after floating the idea to allies and family.

So, joining us now, CNN Political Analyst and Senior Political correspondent for The New York Times Maggie Haberman, she is the author of Confidence Man, The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America. Good morning to you.

So --

COLLINS: Don likes the music.

LEMON: The music was very, very odd. Have we seen this movie before where I'm going to do this -- he likes to build up the drama, build up -- this is -- we've seen be this before. But, I mean, why does it matter if he makes the announcement today, tomorrow, or whatever? I feel like we're going to see this, hey, I'm going to do something for a long time before something actually happens.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's sort of incredible how good he is at getting everybody to follow along with him when he does this game of I'm thinking of doing it. And to be clear, Don, it's hard to know sometimes whether it's a game or whether he really just working this out in his head and testing it out with 800 different advisers, which is what he was doing.

So, by yesterday morning, it was something of a fire drill. And in the afternoon, it had been walked back and it wasn't happening. And then suddenly he was announcing an announcement, which is what he did. We all know what he's talking about. We all know what's coming. I'm personally of the view that it's more interesting when he actually does something because we will cover it. He's a former president. He is frontrunner in the polls. There're legitimate reasons to cover it. I just don't know that this needs to be that much of a --

LEMON: Just to drill a little bit, just sort of why you've been doing this, he says it and we fall for it. We've done that before.

HABERMAN: And we're doing it again.

LEMON: Oh, Trump rally is about to start soon. The president is about to do something. And then it becomes nothing. I think to your point, when it happens, then we cover it instead of -- you know what I'm saying?

HABERMAN: I think that he is extremely smart in terms of media coverage and what the media will chase and what we will go after and what headlines will be, and we know that one of the things that Donald Trump loves more than anything is, with the possible exception of money, is attention.


And so he has not had that much attention. He has had a real hard time looking at other candidates getting attention. He has had a hard time watching these midterm candidates and he knows there are a bunch of people who are thinking of running themselves.

The date that he put out there, November 15th, is when Mike Pence's book is coming out. I don't think that's a coincidence either.

COLLINS: That's exactly what I was going to say a second ago, is that that is the day that he is looking at, because it does matter, the speculation here, of when he's going to announce because we're not the only ones watching it. It's not just a thing to get the media spun up. I think he was genuinely, actively talking to people about announcing it yesterday. But it does matter because Mike Pence is looking at this, Mike Pompeo is looking at this, Ron DeSantis is looking at this, all these other 2024 hopefuls are looking to see what he's going to announce.

HABERMAN: There is no question that I think -- I think he's personally aggravated with Mike Pence. We know this. I think Mike Pompeo less so, because I think Pompeo has always been extremely good at managing to appear like he's on all sides of the issue around Donald Trump, but he's very, very stressed out, and I do use that word intentionally, watching Ron DeSantis who we know is poised, assuming things go well for Republicans and in Florida, and all the polls indicate it's going to today, that he could come out of tonight with a head of steam for 2024. We know in that debate with Charlie Crist that he refused to rule out serving his full term, and so Trump doesn't want that.

And that makes sense politically. It's just that the sheer volume were of attention that Trump was able to command just saying something like this remains sort of astonishing.

COLLINS: And looking at the transcript, Poppy, last night of Trump's rally, he's putting up polls on the screen of his approval rating to different states compared to Pence, compared to DeSantis, compared to these other hopefuls.

LEMON: Well, that's why I think we have to be smarter in the way we do it, because what's going to happen is what's going to happen. And then what we're doing is basically becoming a commercial for Donald Trump and helping, I think, his cause rather than looking at the other who might be hopefuls, who also deserve attention, the Ron DeSantises of the world, the Mike Pences of the world. In that way, as you said, he is a master manipulator when it comes to the media. So, let's just see when he announces and let everything play out for now.

HARLOW: Can we talk about something he said last night though that I think warns attention. You re-tweeted it, Maggie, without comment. Our viewers all morning have been watching this interview our colleague, Anderson Cooper, did with Nancy Pelosi, the first time she spoke about the attack on her husband. And then the former president said this last night. Let's play it.


TRUMP: And we are going to end Crazy Nancy Pelosi's political career once and for all, right? That's right.

Of course, I think she's an animal, too, if you want to know the truth. They'll say, oh, what a horrible thing you said about Nancy. She impeached me twice for nothing.


HABERMAN: Yes, he's right. They will say that's a horrible because it's a dehumanizing thing to say about somebody who is second in line for presidency and whose husband was just attacked in a break-in attempt where she was the target. So --

HARLOW: Politically motivated.

HABERMAN: Yes. Donald Trump has a very long history demanding to be treated with some level of humanity while dehumanizing others, and this was no exception. But this was pretty striking given everything that we know that's going on right now.

LEMON: Well, that's why --

COLLINS: Not even --

LEMON: Sorry. Go ahead.

COLLINS: Well, I was going to say also if you read the comments from last night, he talked about -- and this is something he mentioned when he was in office about how China deals with drug dealers and talking fentanyl coming across the border, essentially praising how they have these sham trials for them in hours or less. And it's just remarkable to actually read that and to see him praising that and see the crowd cheering that.

HABERMAN: There is -- I think -- it's not underappreciated but I actually think it's something that we need to be very focused as we head into the next two years. And so much about what informed Donald Trump's strength is violence. And that then forms what he thinks makes a good leader and that's what you're seeing there.

LEMON: When you said he wants to be treated with some level of humanity and respect, and I took note what Kevin McCarthy yesterday said to our colleague, Melanie Zanona, we have to stop with the division, right? We have to stop treating people as if they're our enemies, and saying that they're stupid because they have a different opinion. And I said, is he talking about the former president? Because that's exactly what he did with Nancy Pelosi, case in point, right in that sound bite.

HABERMAN: And it justifies so much of what we have seen. He wasn't talking about the attack on Paul Pelosi specifically but he didn't have to be in order for this to get attention.

LEMON: Maggie, thank you, always appreciate your perspective.

COLLINS: All right. Today, control of Congress and the deciding factor in other key races that could come down to voters who they do not identify as either Democrat or Republican. The impact of independent voters is just ahead.

HARLOW: But, first, there is so much on the line also for President Biden today. Voters are deciding his political and maybe his personal future.


BIDEN: Today, we face an inflection point, one of those moments comes around every three or four generations.