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Fetterman Projected as PA Senate Winner; Four Senate Races Too Close to Call; House, Senate Control Still Hang in the Balance. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 09, 2022 - 06:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Don Lemon.


Election night in America rolling into the morning. Here's the state of play at this hour.

Control of Congress is hanging in the balance. First, we're going to get to the House. Republicans and Democrats both hoping to hit that 218, that magic number to clench the majority here.

Democrats have won 178 seats; Republicans have won 198 seats.

Same situation is happening over in the Senate. Democrats and Republicans both have 48 seats this hour. It is too early to call some key races, but we're going to talk about what's happening.

So Nevada, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia. That's where we're looking closely. CNN has not made any projections at this hour.

In Nevada, Republican Adam Laxalt inching ahead of Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto. In Wisconsin now, Democrat Mandela Barnes trails Republican Senator Ron Johnson.

And in Arizona's biggest county, Maricopa County, officials there say that they are done reporting votes until later tonight, and you're looking at a time lapse of votes being counted in Maricopa County there.

As it stands, though, incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly is in the lead.

Let's take you now to Georgia. Republican Herschel Walker and incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Walker [SIC] neck and no -- neck. If no one -- Raphael Warnock, I should say. If no one hits 50 percent plus one, we could be in for a runoff. And that's going to take some time.

So despite all of this, Republicans in the Senate and the House are feeling optimistic.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): What I hope is I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning, and all of you are -- maybe even late tonight, and we're going to learn that there is a new Republican majority in the United States Senate.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): We need to remember that we don't come together to celebrate the concentration of power. We come together to rejoice in the dissipation of power.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Tonight we built upon those gains two years ago, and it is clear that we are going to take the House back.


LEMON: OK. But here's what the House speaker is saying. Right? She says she's waiting on the votes to come in. She released a statement writing that "it is clear that House Democratic members and candidates are outperforming expectations across the country." This is current House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. That is what she's saying.

So we're going to head over now to the Magic Wall and Mr. John Berman, who is keeping us informed. So give us the state of play, please.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The U.S. Senate right now stands at 48/48 in terms of the races that are projected, with the remaining Senate races in Georgia, in Wisconsin, in Nevada and Arizona.

If you look at who's ahead in these states, you've got a 50/50 tie.

LEMON: Whoa. Whoa.

BERMAN: Right? Let's go through this very quickly and talk about this. Actually, I want to start in Pennsylvania.

LEMON: Sure.

BERMAN: Which we didn't show there, because we projected this race overnight. I have a feeling that some of you might have gone to sleep before this was projected.

John Fetterman, CNN projects, will win the Senate seat in Pennsylvania by a reasonably comfortable margin. He's ahead by 2 and a half points. And just for frame of reference, where did he outperformed Joe Biden, what Joe Biden did two years ago? Almost everywhere.

John Fetterman did a really good job in a lot of these red counties. I just wanted to point that out, in case you're waking up without knowing who won in Pennsylvania.

Now, let's talk about these other key races. Let's go around the country to the races that aren't called yet.

Ron Johnson in Wisconsin with a narrow lead of 32,000 votes, 94 percent in. We will watch this closely. There is still vote to be counted in Milwaukee, just 82 percent in. Mandela Barnes, lieutenant governor, the Democrat there, leading by a lot there. He could make up maybe some of the 32,000-vote margin there. Can he get all of it? We'll have to wait and see. It is a tall order. In Nevada, counting all night long. They're at 80 percent. Adam Laxalt

has a narrow lead of 22,000 votes. This actually flipped overnight. Early on, Catherine Cortez Masto, the incumbent Democrat, was ahead. She is now trailing.

Very importantly, Clark County, the most populous county in the state, 84 percent in. But all the votes they have left, mail-in votes which there tend to skew toward the Democrats. Are there enough votes in Clark County, which is the district, the county that Joe Biden won by 9 points there, for the incumbent Democrat to make up the margin? Possible. Again, we're going to have to wait and see.

Mail-in ballots in Nevada can arrive and be counted until Saturday.

Let's go South to Arizona. The incumbent Democrat, Mark Kelly there with a lead of about 6 percent over Blake Masters. Sixty-seven percent in, 107,000 votes. Mark Kelly's lead has been getting smaller as the night has become morning. They are county more votes there.

Maricopa County is the crucial county in this state. Joe Biden won it by 2 percent. Mark Kelly, you can see, has nearly an 8-point lead there. That could bode well for him. They have counted all the election-day vote in Maricopa County, which tends to skew toward the Republicans. Just mail-in ballot left to count.

However, I should note that in Arizona, some of the late-arriving mail ballot that may have arrived yesterday --

LEMON: A little bit --


BERMAN: -- can be more Republican.

LEMON: How much of the vote is out for overall? Sixty-seven percent?

BERMAN: Sixty-seven percent in so far.

LEMON: That's in.

BERMAN: There's a lot more to count. There's a lot more to count, and they will be counting. So we'll follow that.

We know from the presidential race two years ago, the Republicans tend to make up ground as more vote is counted in Arizona. Can they make up enough to -- to close that gap? We'll have to wait and see, once again.

I ended here in Georgia because in Georgia, with 96 percent reporting, you have Raphael Warnock with 49.2 percent of the vote. Why is that important?

Because in Georgia, if no one gets to 50 percent plus one -- plus one single vote -- there will be a runoff, and that runoff will be December 6th.

The secretary of state's office tells us they believe this is headed to a runoff.

Raphael Warnock is ahead. His lead may even grow some because of the votes still remaining, for instance, in Cobb County, 93 percent in. Still more votes to count there. Fulton County, 95; more votes to count there. These are very Democratic counties. His lead may grow.

But the secretary of state's office does not think it will get to that 50 percent plus one.

What would that mean overall? Again, the reason I put this up here is if things remain where they are -- imagine this blue state isn't there. It would be 49 Democratic seats, 50 Republican seats. The Democrats would need to win that runoff on December 6th to maintain control. They need to have 50 seats. Vice President Kamala Harris would break the tie.

So we may not know who controls the U.S. Senate until December, Don.

LEMON: All right. Leave Georgia up there. And the reason why, because I want to get to a political reporter at "The Atlanta Journal- Constitution." That's Patricia Murphy. She joins us now.

Good morning to you, Patricia. We appreciate you joining us. You have been listening to us and our assessment and what John has here on the Magic Wall. What say you?

PATRICIA MURPHY, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION": Yes, I think you guys are exactly right. We are going to probably keep Thanksgiving very interesting here in Georgia.

We have a razor-thin margin between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker because of that state law that says a candidate needs to get over 50 percent of the vote. Neither one of them looks like they're going to be able to pull in enough votes from anywhere in the state to get up over that.

Or right now, it's still too close for us at the AJC to call. So we're not calling the race yet. We're not even calling it as a runoff yet.

But this has just been an unbelievably tumultuous race between these two. Herschel Walker, obviously, lots and lots of allegations against him. Raphael Warnock has been able to outperform the rest of the Democratic ticket here in the state for a whole lot of reasons.

But if this comes down to control of the U.S. Senate, Raphael Warnock has been here very recently. Georgia has been here very recently. The exact same scenario happened in 2021, and we could be here again in 2022.

BERMAN: Let me just show you, show people what you were talking about there, Patricia.

Raphael Warnock at 42 [SIC] percent of the vote, about a half- percentage lead.

If you look at the governor's race here, you can see that Brian Kemp, the Republican -- and we have projected he has won this race. Won by almost eight percent. So there is, you know, roughly a 7.5 percent difference between the governor's race, what you were talking, and the Senate race there.

That could show you the weakness of Herschel Walker as a candidate or the strength of Brian Kemp as a candidate, of the strength of Raphael Warnock as a candidate. But there is a very big difference there.

Historically, Patricia, there's been a sense that runoffs favor Republican candidates. I should say historically, because that was the case until two years ago, when both Democrats won the runoffs there. Is there any sense who might be favored in a runoff in Georgia?

MURPHY: I think we really need to find out what happens with the rest of these Senate races to know. If this comes down to a true referendum on the Biden administration, if this really is all about control of the U.S. Senate, that is going to tend to favor Herschel Walker.

We're seeing all kinds of our own internal polling that shows, even Republican voters are concerned about Herschel Walker as a candidate, worried about his past allegations of violence, worried about his readiness for the job, his fitness for the job. But they are willing to look past some of those shortcomings of Herschel Walker's if it comes down to controlling the Senate, if it comes down to putting the brakes on the Biden administration.

Joe Biden right now has about a 37 percent approval rating, and then that is why we're seeing this really interesting dynamic between crossover voters between Brian Kemp and Raphael Warnock. Seems unusual, but we've got a really unsettled, unusual Senate race here in the state. And I think it looks like it's going to continue to be unusual and unsettled and very interesting.

LEMON: Yes. Patricia Murphy from "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," thank you very much. You make some very good points there.

She said "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" has not called it, the race. Nor has it called for a runoff. CNN, same thing. We have not called the race, not calling for a runoff.

But apparently, voters there in Georgia willing to look past a lot of Herschel Walker's shortcomings, if you look at what has been reported about the abortion things and so on and so forth.

We'll get back to John in a moment. Stand by. Let's go now to CNN's Victor Blackwell. He's at the voting desk with news on Arizona and Nevada.


Good morning to you, Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Good morning to you, Don. Let's check out West. As you said, the two states, two of the four we're watching for questions about control of the Senate. And in Maricopa County, of course, as Jeff [SIC] -- John just said,

I'm sorry, 61 percent of the votes there in the state. We know that they have completed the day-of voting, but right now they're working through, sorting through the early ballots, the ballots that were dropped off.

Actually, some video tweeted by the Maricopa County Elections Commission of the machines actually scanning the signatures on those ballots. We have the video of the machinery actually working to show that they are scanning those ballots, staging them.

So what will happen over the next several hours is that they will compare the signatures on these ballots as they're going through this machine to what they have on file to determine the validity of those ballots. Those will be added to the count.

We're told that we will not get an updated report on a count from Maricopa County until this evening. So that county, a great tranche of votes there in the state, will be on hold for a while.

Now in Nevada, the question is when will we get the votes from these drop-boxes? We know that in Clark County here in the South, where Las Vegas is; Washoe County here in the Northwest, where Reno is; and Douglas County, much smaller, we'll have to wait until later today or tomorrow, local reports say, to get those votes.

None of those votes from the drop-boxes were counted on election day. So we're standing by to get those counts and add those to the overall report -- Don.

LEMON: Victor, just to sum up what you were saying, be patient. Stand by.

BLACKWELL: Easy. It's going to take a little while.

LEMON: There's a lot going on. We've got a lot more to do here, and they've got a lot more to count. So thank you, Victor. We'll get back to you.

LEMON: Now back to Mr. John Berman at the Magic Wall. Nevada.

BERMAN: Let's talk about what Victor was just -- was just showing us there. Adam Laxalt, the Republican, with a 22,000-vote lead, 80 percent in. He's talking about the mail-in ballot in Clark County. They're done counting the election-day vote.

How much mail do they have to count?


BERMAN: We don't know. We just don't know how many ballots they have. Clark County is a very big county, Las Vegas there. Seventy-five percent of the vote in the state, it makes up.

This is a county that Joe Biden won by 9 points. Catherine Cortez Masto may be underperforming there. She's just got about a five-point lead there. Is there enough mail-in ballot for her to make up the margin she needs to in the rest of the state?

It really needs to happen here in Clark County. Because if you look at the map, it's the one county where she's leading right now. The other county with the second largest population, Washoe, which is about 15 percent, she's trailing Adam Laxalt by almost 5 points. Only 64 percent in. She may not be trailing when the counting is done, depending on how much mail there is left to count. Also, we just don't know.

But she needs to grow her margins in the mail, in Washoe and Clark County. Just what Victor was talking about there. And that's going to take some time to count, because the mail -- let me just stay on Nevada for a second -- the mail in Nevada just needs to be postmarked by yesterday, election day. It can arrive today, tomorrow, Friday.

LEMON: Until Friday, right?

BERMAN: And they're going to count it until Saturday. So this could take some time in Nevada.

Let's go down to Arizona.

LEMON: Arizona.

BERMAN: Now, we were just talking about that. As Victor pointed out, right now here's the lead. You can see Mark Kelly, the incumbent Democrat, with a lead of about 6 points. Just 67 percent in, in Maricopa County, the most populous county. Sixty-one percent of the vote.

He's got a lead that sort of mirrors his overall statewide lead. Why is that? Because it's the biggest county. It makes some sense. It's also kind of a swing county. Democrats won this, Joe Biden won this, just by 2 points. He's got a lead there.

The mail-in ballot will be counted -- I guess Victor just told us we're not going to get another update until tonight.

LEMON: Tonight, yes.

BERMAN: It's going to be several hours.

LEMON: Wednesday night. Yes.

BERMAN: Which is -- Yes, it's Wednesday morning. So Wednesday night. We're not going to know more until tonight. So we may not know more about Arizona.

Patricia Murphy was talking about what this means overall. Well, if we don't know more about Nevada and Arizona, we don't know who controls the U.S. Senate, because look, if it stays like it is -- and again, cover this up, it would be 49 seats for the Democrats, 50 for the Republicans -- it would all come down to the runoff in Georgia.

If somehow, the Democrats are able -- if Catherine Cortez Masto were to retake the lead in Nevada, then the run-off in Georgia, it wouldn't matter in terms of control of the U.S. Senate, Don.

LEMON: Everyone is waking up going, "Oh!"

BERMAN: I know, I didn't know there would be math! That's what they're saying when they wake up this morning. It's only math.

LEMON: All right. John Berman, stand by.

Victor Blackwell, stand by.

Everyone, stand by.

The other big story, the House is still undecided. We have new CNN projections.

Plus, new reporting on what President Biden is waking up to this morning.

This is CNN special live coverage.



REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Republicans will work with anyone who's willing to join us to deliver this new direction that Americans have demanded. But there's no time to waste. Our work begins now. Let's get America back on track.

Thank you. God bless.


LEMON: OK. So here's the reality. The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, thought that he'd be waking up with the Republicans in the majority in the House. But the race for control of the House not over yet.

You can look at it right there. Republicans have 198 seats. They've won 198 seats. Still 20 seats away from the 218 magic number that is needed to take control.

And right now Republicans are leading in just 21 competitive seats. The Democrats playing defense. They're on the defense there. They lead in 24.

So there is lots to discuss, Kaitlan Collins, as it comes to the balance of power in the House; also in the Senate, as well.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And a lot of those competitive seats that they're going to be looking at for Kevin McCarthy when he wakes up this morning are in California, in his home state. So it might take awhile before we actually know the results there. But also, like the rest of America, President Biden is waking up to a

lot of results that came in overnight. Congress still hanging in the balance.

M.J. Lee is at the White House for us. And M.J., you know, President Biden was making a lot of phone calls last night before he went to sleep. Congratulatory calls that the White House wasn't necessarily expecting the number of calls that he would be making last night, compared to what the numbers look like now.

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Kaitlan, as the results were coming in late last night, there were two things that Biden advisers felt convinced of.

One is that they felt like the races across the board were very competitive. And two, they felt like Democrats had probably avoided a blood-bath that so many had predicted and feared.

And what they are waking up to this morning is really reason for that optimism to basically hold up if things sort of stay on track.

You know, one thing is, of course, that the Democrats' chances of keeping the Senate, that still remains a real possibility. That door is still open.

And second, White House officials and advisers have been glad to see some of these Democratic governors and House frontliners, seeing them win these very competitive races overnight.

Of course, the huge outstanding question for this White House, as it is for all of us, is what is the fate of the House, and how many seats do Republicans ultimately end up picking up?

Because of course, what ends up happening with the Senate and whether Democrats keep the Senate or not and then just how big the margin ends up being in the House, that is going to have huge implications for the ability for President Biden to govern in the next two years.

COLLINS: Yes. It seems to ensure gridlock and chaos, given of course, terribly big questions about the debt ceiling, funding the government, funding for Ukraine.

I do know -- I do want to know, M.J., though, how Democrats are seeing President Biden's role this morning, because he strategically went to certain states. He avoided others, given his approval rating going into this. There had been some criticism of the White House on the messaging front, but how are Democrats feeling about it this morning?

LEE: Yes. I can tell you, it has been so striking heading into election day yesterday, Democrats were really ready to pounce. We heard a lot from various Democrats, including a lot of House members, who were really ready with their finger pointing and the blame game to begin.

One House progressive member that I spoke with yesterday -- and again, emphasis on yesterday, because this was before we know what we know this morning. This is what they told me. They said, "We knew the economy would be bad, and they," being the White House, "didn't have an economic message at all."

So I think this just reflects the key criticism that we've heard when it comes to this president and this White House, this -- this idea that there wasn't a clear enough economic message and that the president didn't spend enough time talking about economic issues.

Now, White House officials, of course, have been defensive about their strategy and their messaging. And they would say, you know, there's just no universe where President Biden wouldn't have talked about abortion rights issues, given what happened with the Supreme Court.

You know, there's no universe -- universe where he wouldn't have talked about threats to democracy when Nancy Pelosi's husband is getting hit in the head with a hammer.

So they are going to continue, probably, being defensive of their strategy. But we're really just going to have to see how the results start to -- and continue to come in as we head into today.

COLLINS: Yes. And we'll see how it changes the conversation, maybe, about Biden running in 2024, potentially.

M.J. Lee, thank you.

Back with my panel now. John, Nia, you've been with me for several hours now. We are now joined by Al Schmidt, who is the former city commissioner of Philadelphia.

It's safe to say you're having a much different election experience this morning than you were in 2020. You were the main target for Trump, given you were the only Republican who oversaw the election and how it was conducted in Philadelphia in 2020. What are your main takeaways this morning?

AL SCHMIDT, FORMER PHILADELPHIA CITY COMMISSIONER: Well, both are sleepless nights, whether you're interested in -- in elections or running them.

I'd say from Philadelphia there's two really significant takeaways. One is, we've had a lot of lessons learned since 2020. Election directors across the commonwealth know how to count ballots faster without, in any way, compromising the integrity of the process.

The other thing that I think is why we're knowing results a little bit faster is because in 2020, about half of our voters in Philadelphia voted by mail. And in this election, about 25 percent of our voters voted by mail. And those are disproportionately Democratic voters. So we had a lot of Democrats vote in person in this election that voted by mail in 2020.

COLLINS: Yes, and you know, M.J. was talking about the White House's reaction to this. Obviously, they are happy that John Fetterman has won that Senate seat, defeated Mehmet Oz.


But also, when it comes to the governor's race. It didn't seem that close with Josh Shapiro and Mastriano. But what's your reaction that -- to that, given Mastriano was someone who questioned openly the results of the election, was talking about how these elections are being conducted?

SCHMIDT: And he and others like him had certainly targeted Philadelphia and suggested that somehow, the vote count was underhanded or corrupt in some way, which, of course, was a paranoid fantasy that has, you know, captivated so many people's minds.

But I think from that race, what I think is particularly interesting is Shapiro's campaign and Fetterman's campaign were so different from one another.


SCHMIDT: And -- but had the same goal. And that goal was to bring in voters other than just their Democratic base. Whether it was Shapiro reaching out to moderate Republicans or whether it was Fetterman reaching out to white, working-class, rural Democrats. And Republicans.

COLLINS: Yes, John what -- John, what do you make of that?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, that's what politics is supposed to be in America. The politics of addition, not the politics of division.

But we've seen the politics of division narrowly win victories, and that was one of the big questions hanging over the national election, right? It was can these election deniers, who can win a partisan Republican primary with Donald Trump's endorsement, can they cross over and win a general election in a purple state?

Well, the answer today seems to be no, right? Pretty decisive repudiation. Now, we'll see what happens as we move West in some of these key races that aren't called yet.

COLLINS: Like with Kari Lake.

AVLON: Like with Kari Lake and others. But that fact that Democrats narrowly won independent voters last night is stunning in terms of the typical pendulum swing of midterm elections.

And that suggests that Donald Trump is a drag on the Republican Party. And that's something that Republicans are going to need to really assess to -- as they look forward into the future.

HENDERSON: Will Republican voters realize that? Right? I think Republican leaders have thought that for a while, but they've been following their voters, who have a kind of attachment to Donald Trump.

They have bought wholesale, essentially, this idea that -- that you know, 2020 was an illegitimate election. They bought it completely into the big lie.

So listen, Republicans are waking up to a different reality than they thought they were going to. This, remember, was supposed to be the most favorable political environment for Republicans in decades, right? And it turns out that it -- it wasn't the case at all.

COLLINS: And instead, it might be one of the most favorable for a president, a sitting president, whose party typically does not do well in the midterm elections.

On that front, you know, Pennsylvania's own, Michael Smerconish is also with us this morning.

Michael, what are you making of what you're seeing in these numbers, especially for the White House and what this means for Democrats? Because typically, the White House was bracing for some serious losses here. That is exactly what they would expect, given it is the sitting president; his approval rating is not great. What is your reaction this morning?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR, "SMERCONISH": So all politics being local, I of course, am Philly burb-based. They are a bellwether of what's going on in the national climate.

Yesterday I was with you from Bucks County, and I said, you know, welcome to the swingiest of counties in a swing state.

What's amazing to me as I scrutinize these numbers is how John Fetterman was able to outpace his statewide numbers in those Philly burbs.

So in an area where you would think it would be right on the bubble, right on the margin, instead, he blew away Mehmet Oz in Bucks County, in Montgomery County. And it's so shocking, I'm almost reluctant to give the number on CNN, because I can't believe it's as high as it is.

Josh Shapiro is a resident of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. That may accounted for the boost that Fetterman received there.

But to answer your question, if I were the White House, I'd be looking specifically at the Philly burbs and trying to take away a lesson from how successful Shapiro and Fetterman were in the final analysis.

COLLINS: Yes, and on that front, Al, you know, when it came to Mehmet Oz, I heard from a lot of Republicans. A lot of curse words were included in their messages, about how upset they were that Mehmet Oz ended up being the candidate, because they thought Dave McCormick, who he ran against in that primary, and beat him by, what, 900 votes, they thought he could have actually taken on Fetterman.

Would it -- what do you make of that? Were you surprised at all by Fetterman's Victory?

SCHMIDT: You know, I think just another aspect to that that's important is that, while the former president endorsed Oz, he was really not a favorite of a lot of Trump voters and groups in Pennsylvania.

So they sort of came along, and came along reluctantly toward the end, and they backed him to the hilt. But --

COLLINS: And did most of --

SCHMIDT: -- there was a lot of thought that, you know, McCormick would have been more competitive.

COLLINS: Did most of that have to do with the criticism that came from the Fetterman campaign, saying, you know, he's not really from here; he doesn't really live here, comparing him to a carpetbagger, something that didn't help when he was talking about a Steelers game in the last few days of the race. There was no Steelers game that week.

SCHMIDT: And the polling and your research does show that that -- that issue about not living in Pennsylvania is a pretty -- pretty significant one. And as I know Michael and others have said, it's not just not living in Pennsylvania. It's living in New Jersey.

HENDERSON: Right, right.

SCHMIDT: Which is a whole different matter.

HENDERSON: And sort of not being a man of the people, right?