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CNN Live Event/Special

Virginia Governor's Race Too Early To Call; Election Night In America. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 02, 2021 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Can he, Jake, reverse what has been a dramatic decline, a route for Republicans in the suburbs? Run it up rural, compete in the suburbs. That's the challenge for the Republicans.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. John King, thank you so much. Polling places are closing in Virginia, home to the marquee contest tonight. The outcome of the Virginia governor's race could give us a gauge of the political headwinds and we have a key race alert for you right now.

Right now the polls are closed. It is too early to call the Virginia governor's race, between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin and we are awaiting the first votes in this high profile contest. We can now share more information from our exit polls, though, now that the polls are actually closed.

Let's go to David Chalian with that. David?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, Jake. Now we can take a look at how voters are splitting between McAuliffe and Youngkin now that the polls have closed in some key demographic groups.

Let's look at young voters, 18 to 29-year-olds. It's key to note they make up about 10 percent of the Electorate in today's race. That is about half the share that they were just a year ago. They made up 20 percent of the Electorate in 2020, smaller group. And look at this, McAuliffe is only winning young people by seven points, 53 percent, Youngkin 46 percent.

You would say, hey, that's good, except Joe Biden won young voters a year ago by 29 points. So Glenn Youngkin making up some ground there with young voters.

Let's look at the other end of the age spectrum, 65 and older. You see Youngkin here has 53 percent of them, McAuliffe 47 percent, they make up about a quarter of the Electorate and they're a much bigger size than they were just a year ago. So this Electorate is older and Youngkin is winning them by six points.

White college educated voters, this has been part of the story of the Trump era of politics where Democrats have made real inroads into white college educated voters. Right now you see McAuliffe is winning 52 percent of them, Youngkin 48 percent. They make up about 38 percent of the Electorate. White non-college voters, huge Youngkin territory, 76 percent. You'd

expect to see this. This is part of that Trump base. McAuliffe 24 percent. That is 36 percent of the overall Electorate right there and that's a big Youngkin group. He's winning them by much bigger then McAuliffe is narrowly ahead among white college educated voters.

Among Latino voters, McAuliffe 69 percent, Youngkin 30 percent and they make up about 5 percent of the Electorate in Virginia today.

And finally, independents, we're going to watch how independents are doing all the time. But right now Youngkin is winning independents, 52 percent to 47 percent for McAuliffe. That's 30 percent of the Electorate independents. Joe Biden was winning independents by a big margin just a year ago, now Youngkin is ahead here and McAuliffe among independents by five points. Keep your eye on this demographic throughout the night. Jake?

TAPPER: All right. David Chalian, thanks so much. Let's talk about this with Danna and Nia Malika. So, again, this is just exit poll information, we're waiting for the actual results. But if you were Terry McAuliffe or Glenn Youngkin watching this exit poll information come in, you would say the Electorate is wider than it was last year. The Electorate is older than it was last year.

Joe Biden won young people buy a lot more than Terry McAuliffe is winning them. Joe Biden won independent voters, Terry McAuliffe is losing them. I would rather be sitting in that moment and be Glenn Youngkin than Terry McAuliffe.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly. But what is really remarkable about this night, especially in Virginia, which is where we're focused, is we don't know. It is a tossup.

TAPPER: Right.

BASH: And the fact that it is a tossup, people are looking at it saying, well, Joe Biden won by 10 points one year ago, that is true. It has been trending Democrat, that is also true.

On the other side of that, the history of Virginia is such that when Terry McAuliffe won his one term back in 2013, he was making history because the trend or the way that Virginia usually goes is they usually elect a governor in the opposite party of who's in the White House.

TAPPER: Right.

BASH: So that is why we really don't know, that's if you look at the history why we really don't know but more importantly where the votes are, where the exit polls are.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And what kind of ground games these different campaigns had and how effective they have been, the door knocking campaigns. I mean, we always talk about turnout is key. Well, guess what, it is key and we really don't know what the

composition of this Electorate is going to look like at the end, even though we have something of a hint and from the looks of it Youngkin might feel a little better. He certainly had momentum going in.

But Democrats also feel pretty good as well about where they will end up at the end of this night, so that's what's so exciting. We just don't know.

TAPPER: And let's check in again with David Chalian who has more information from the exit poll. David, what else are you learning?


CHALIAN: Now, we're digging in, Jake, to the education issue that we have discussed so much that's been sort of at the center of this race in Virginia for the last several weeks. So among parents, people who tell us that they have children under the age of 18 at home, Youngkin is edging ahead in these exit polls with 51 percent of them, McAuliffe at 49 percent.

I also want to look at those who say education is the most important issue. Now remember, it didn't rank as high as the economy and jobs, but it was up there as an important issue for voters in this race. If education is the most important issue, Youngkin is winning a majority of education voters 56 percent, to McAuliffe 44 percent. That is a Republican taking away what is traditionally a Democratic issue and making it is at this moment in these exit poll results.

And then, of course, that whole issue about whether parents should have a say in their child's education, we saw a majority of Virginians, some 53 percent of the Electorate believe that. That's how they're splitting. Youngkin get 76 percent of them, McAuliffe 24 percent.

This is the report card on that gaffe that McAuliffe made at that debate at the end of September. Youngkin is winning three-quarters of the voters who say parent should have a say in what's going on in their kids' schools. Jake?

TAPPER: All right. David Chalian, very interesting. And Glenn Youngkin, Dana and Nia Malika, Glenn Youngkin has been seizing on the education issue which is a very significant issue. One of the things that's been going on in Virginia in the last year and a half is obviously as has been going on across the country and around the world is that in in-person education schools stopped.

And then there was a lot of frustration among a lot of parents, not just conservative parents, independent parents, liberal parents about schools being reluctant to reopen, about teachers wanting to get first in line for vaccines, which they did and I have no problem with that, but then not agreeing necessarily to in-person education even though they were vaccinated. A lot of frustration and Glenn Youngkin may have given them an outlet for that.

BASH: Absolutely. This is such an animating issue in this campaign. And when was the last time we saw education as such a front burner issue for the Electorate? But you're exactly right, the reason, full stop, is because of the pandemic, because of parent frustration, no matter what their political affiliation is.

And he saw that and he played on that. He took it a step further.


BASH: Glenn Youngkin and that he played into the culture wars. But that is an example of how he's trying to appeal to independents, appeal to people who are generally speaking, frustrated and just looking for an outlet for that but also giving a little drop to the Trump base, the GOP base who liked to hear, get some red meat, unclear how much that's going to win because he has to overcome the reality that Democrats have a much bigger and much more real structural advantage.

HENDERSON: And then there was this fear of critical race theory and you hear Republicans all across the country talking about this ...

TAPPER: Explain what that is, because a lot of people might know it's not ...

HENDERSON: ... well, it's this legal theory developed by Derrick Bale (ph) and Kimberle Crenshaw (ph) that essentially says institutions in this country were informed by racism. It isn't about your kid going to school if it's a white kid feeling guilty about - for slavery. But it has certainly become a boogeyman for Republicans and this idea that folks are being taught in elementary school about white people being racist.

So that has become a real talking point among conservatives and ...

BASH: You know it's not part of Virginia curriculum.

HENDERSON: It's not part of Virginia curriculum. It's not really part of any curriculum in like K through 12. But it has worked to scare a lot of white parents. There was all this talk about the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Beloved by Toni Morrison being taught in school.

And the Democrats I talked to have said they feel like so far, Democrats don't really have a good answer to critical race theory in this criticism coming from Republicans and it's just ramping in schools all over the country. So that's going to be something I think you're going to see a lot of Democrats do focus groups on how do you actually answer that, but it's something ...

BASH: Well, Terry McAuliffe called it a racist dog whistle, full stop.


TAPPER: But we should also note that during a debate, Terry McAuliffe, and it was about whether or not parents should have a rights, the subject ... HENDERSON: Right.

TAPPER: ... to take books off the shelves in schools and he said the parents shouldn't, but the way he said it made it sound like he was saying parents should have no involvement in schools' education, a huge gaffe by him that Glenn Youngkin used over and over and over. That's even why the question split among voters who think parents should have a lot of say in what their child's school teachers, 76 percent say they voted for Youngkin.

We're going to expect the first votes in the Virginia governor's race at any moment to come in. We have correspondents on the ground to bring you results as well back in a moment.




TAPPER: And we have a key race alert for you right now because some actual votes are coming in and with a just a miniscule number of votes in. Terry McAuliffe has 1,126 votes, that is 216 votes ahead of Republican Glenn Youngkin with 910. That is 54.6 percent for Terry McAuliffe, 44.1 percent Glenn Youngkin.

But, obviously, that is just a very, very small percentage of votes that are in. Where is it coming from, John? Where are the votes coming in from?

KING: So you zoom in right here, you see the capital of Richmond. You come right down below here at Chesterfield County, this county actually matters. This is one of the central suburban counties just south of Richmond. This is a place for Democrats. The transformation of Virginia from Red State to purple state to Blue State has been because of the Democratic growth here.

You're absolutely right to make the point, this is a miniscule number of votes. It is a proof though that we are getting started, that the counties are beginning to report results. So then we will accelerate and get through it.

Now, that's not a big deal. You always want to be in the lead, sure. But what matters is the end of the night. They're now counting votes. The polls are closed. No one else can vote anymore. So we've watched that play out. Why does that matter?

If you go back, again, this is what, 2,000 votes. When you add it up, Terry McAuliffe is slightly ahead. If you go back to the 2020 presidential race and you come down here to that same county. This is one of the people suburban counties where Trump was more competitive.


It used to be a Republican suburban county. It has trended to the Democrats, but this is one place we very much want to watch tonight. The Youngkin campaign will tell you if they can win this state tonight. They will prove it in places like this.

We talked earlier if you come out to the full statewide map, I'll come back to the current race in a minute, this is the presidential race, might actually be better to look at in the context of the last governor's race and move this over. Again, Ralph Northam won Chesterfield County, but look how close it was, essentially a tie in Chesterfield County.

So this is one of the places where Republicans used to win. It's been trending more to the Democrats. If Youngkin is going to compete and possibly win tonight, it's going to happen like this, run it up out here in rural Trump country, rural Republican country and then compete in the suburbs.

So as we come back to the race tonight and you look now we're starting to see some other votes come in. Let's go back first to Chesterfield, an insignificant number. This is a very significant battleground within the battleground. Glenn Youngkin needs this to be read at the end of the night, so we'll be watching Chesterfield County throughout the night.

If you come out here, we're just going to look now at some other places where we're getting again, 200 votes, shy just here. But this is one of the places. You say 200 votes doesn't matter. Every vote matters in a very close race.

Glenn Youngkin needs these smaller rural counties not only to be red, he needs to run up the math and you're starting to see more of the votes come in, in some of these counties.

Let's come up here, Culpeper County. We're getting closer to Washington. This is more rural, but if you start to drive out of Washington, you go through the highly populated suburbs and you get into the urban areas right there. This is a place where Glenn Youngkin, again, these early results, please don't jump to any conclusions at home. Virginia is one of these places, we're going to be at this for a long time.

But if you're in a headquarters and you're just looking at the early results, this has to be red for Youngkin. We pick these little counties. We go through Buchanan County, it is 0.3 percent of the statewide population. But again, in a close race, every vote counts and so in the end, Glenn Youngkin not only needs to win by a big percentage in these counties, look at that 80 percent right there, let's just flip over, go to the presidential race, Donald Trump 83 percent.

Donald Trump lost the state by 10 points. So when you see Glenn Youngkin, if he's getting big numbers here, that's great. That's what he needs. He needs to get all of the Trump base in rural Virginia, then he has to crack the code in the suburbs.

But you watch them come in, we can pop around a little bit if you want. Richmond counties, a tiny 0.1 percent. This is on the shore. You see starting to move out. Again, Republican area most of the time. If you watch it come up. So we just watch it, you fill in the map. It's nice to count votes.

We have a long way to go before we know anything definitive but we're starting to see, this as Amherst County in the center of the state, again, 0.4 percent of the state population. But that is the math, if you will. The building blocks for Youngkin is to run it up in these smaller rural counties, much like Donald Trump did but much like Republicans do in every election, which is why as you see this fill in red, if you're a Republican, get optimistic. That's your right.

But remember, every Republican has won these, but Republicans have not carried Virginia statewide since 2009. So they have to run it up in these areas. The key is going to be here, here and then ...

TAPPER: Northern Virginia.

KING: ... giant population center there.


KING: This tends to come in late, again, with the early voting this year. We may get some results there pretty quickly, some.

TAPPER: But we should just know that we have now more votes than we did before ...

KING: Right, and Republicans.

TAPPER: ... and Glenn Youngkin is about 70 percent and Terry McAuliffe is about 30 percent. He's taking a 2,700 vote lead plus. But as we've noted, it's early and we're not, we haven't gotten any numbers yet from the most populous parts of the state. And I do anticipate this filling in. Do we have any idea like which states are going to report, et cetera?

KING: We don't. And again, that's one of the mysteries of tonight. Traditionally, the Republican in any race, Donald Trump did it twice, Ed Gillespie did when he ran for governor last time, when he ran for Senate four years ago before that, traditionally, these smaller counties come in first and the Republican builds a big lead and then we get the urban in the suburban areas and the Democrats catch up late.

If you want to go back in time and look at this, I can show you, if we go back, let's come up to the presidential race in 2020. Let me come down here first. I'll try to turn this off and come back to it that way. Come to the presidential race, my apologies. That's my going the wrong order.

Let's go back to the presidential race. This is where we were early 8:30 on election night. Donald Trump builds an early lead. Two hours later, look how many more votes we got. You're up to nearly 2 million votes, Donald Trump still in the lead. This is Virginia 2020.

You get later past midnight, Donald Trump still in the lead with Joe Biden closing, why? The votes are starting to come in, in these blue areas. And then as we went later into the night, Biden essentially ties it at 2 am Wednesday morning. Remember, election night went into the next day. And then as Fairfax County, these other counties came in, Biden pulled away overnight.

So that's just an instructive lesson as we go through the night tonight, that don't jump to conclusions based on what you see early on. But if you're in the Youngkin campaign, you're looking at the map, you know where you need to fill it in red. At the moment, that's what's happening. One way to go.

TAPPER: Yes. Although we should note in 2020 we had an idea based on the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign that they thought that Biden was going to win.

KING: Right.

TAPPER: Both of them did. Tonight, we have no idea and it's a tossup. We have both campaigns have no idea what's going to Happen.

KING: Right. Publicly both campaigns voicing optimism privately, both campaigns saying we're brewing a lot of coffee.


TAPPER: We have no idea what's going to happen.

KING: Yes.

TAPPER: We're getting votes in. It's exciting. Stay with us. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: We have a key race alert for you right now in the great Commonwealth of Virginia in the governor's race there with 5 percent of the vote in, Glenn Youngkin the Republican has 74,409 votes, that's 52.6 percent of the vote. He's 8,408 votes ahead of Democrat Terry McAuliffe who has 66,001 votes with 46.74 percent of the vote.


Again, we only have 5 percent of the vote in, but as of right now the Republican Glenn Youngkin has a lead. Let's go to John King right now at the magic wall.

And one of the things that's interesting, John, as you just talked about in the previous segment how normally votes from Northern Virginia, the Democratic stronghold and the most populous area don't come in until the end of the night but so many people voted early. They had early voting in Virginia, 45 days of early voting vote by mail and early voting. And so now those northern Virginia counties are able to give some votes early.

KING: Some. Some. Emphasis on some. And the key point as you watch the map start to fill in, we're at about 5 percent of the total votes. So we have a long way to go. If you're going Youngkin, the map is filling in red where you need it to. In a very close election, we know the suburbs around Washington, D.C. up here, around Richmond and in the Norfolk, Virginia Beach area in a very close race. It's those suburban areas, population centers that tend to decide it, so we are starting to see some votes.

This is one of the key suburbs we're going to watch tonight. Again, we're looking here at 1,400 votes or 1,500 votes. So this is not dispositive by any means. This is the first glimpse of votes. But Prince William County, traditionally you go back 25 years ago, a Republican suburb that has trended Democratic. Terry McAuliffe wants to keep this blue this again, the very tiniest smidgen of early votes right there.

If you come within it right here, the City of Manassas, a population center here, Terry McAuliffe early votes, again, shy of 5,000 votes if you look at it right there. This is the part of the map that needs to stay blue and that Terry McAuliffe needs to run up pretty healthy margins.

If you move closer to Washington, D.C. let me stretch this out, you see just across the Potomac in Arlington, Virginia. This is a very liberal Democratic stronghold. And you see, again, about 31 percent, they say estimated. Again, with some of the early voting coming in, those numbers could bounce around a little bit.

But that's the biggest side, that's the biggest piece of math, chunk of the map you see in 22,000 votes from one community. Arlington, again, a liberal suburb just over the border, just across the river, the Potomac River, Terry McAuliffe needs to win it big.

Just by point of reference, if you go back to 2017, Ralph Northam in winning the Virginia governorship by a healthy margin, ended up with 80 percent of the vote. Now, again, in 2021 we're just starting to count so that's where Terry McAuliffe starts in Arlington. We'll see as the rest of the votes come in throughout the night.

So you pop out the statewide, you see what else is coming in, significantly down here real quick, Jake. Richmond here, you have down below, we talked earlier about Chesterfield County, Youngkin with a slightly there and Henrico County to the north. Again, the Youngkin campaign says if it can pull this off tonight, it will be competitive in the suburbs around Richmond. Again, it's early, 52-46, one of the battlegrounds within the battleground. We'll continue to watch.

TAPPER: Very interesting.

KING: (Inaudible) pull it out.

TAPPER: I'm going to go to Joe Johns right now who's in Chesapeake, Virginia. So don't you punch up Chesapeake on the magic wall while we bring in Joe who has some election results? Joe, what do you got?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, we've gotten five different precincts that came in, I heard John King say just a minute ago that it's good to count votes. If you look right through that window behind me, you can see the voting going on in action when I read some of these.

All of the precincts reporting here in the Chesapeake city have Youngkin leading and I'll just read you the raw numbers if nothing else. Youngkin ahead in precinct number one that I've looked at, 667 McAuliffe, 312. In the second precinct, the numbers are similar, it's in the four hundreds versus the two hundreds and so it goes.

Another precinct, McAuliffe is behind, again, McAuliffe has 382 votes, Youngkin has 664 votes. Still early. The simple thing we can say to you is we're going to keep watching all of these. The other thing that's important, I think to say about Chesapeake is in total last time around, it was Joe Biden winning the election. The question, of course, is what happens in this governor's race.

And we can also tell you that we spent the day over at one of the precincts, a heavily African-American precinct. I talked to a lot of folks there. Interesting fact that a lot of the people really didn't know that much about Glenn Youngkin, but they said they were voting for Terry McAuliffe, because they knew his name. Back to you.

TAPPER: All right. Interesting. Joe Johns with some actual votes coming in there, John, and these are just a couple of precincts, but it shows a strong showing by the Republican Glenn Youngkin.

KING: Right. It shows, number one, yes, in a Democratic area and I'll show that in just a second, it also shows the value of just having reporters on the ground. Again, this is not dispositive, these are, as Joe mentioned these are two of the precincts he mentioned where he had the firm vote numbers and Glenn Youngkin ahead by a couple of - 300 votes or with change there in all of those.

So why does that matter? I just want to push this down out of the way. Again, this is in Chesapeake. They haven't officially reported them yet, so you still see the map blank. If you go back to the last governor's race, this is a very blue area, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, all around in here.

Again, there's a lot of military down here. It used to be a more of a competitive area, a lot of Republican pieces in the suburbs. Democrats made huge gains out here in part because of African-American voters, in part because of the suburban revolt.


Again, it started before Trump, it went on steroids after Trump, it is one of the places we will watch. As we get early results, let me just come back to the race tonight, people at home are not confused, and pull out. We think we are about 5 percent of the vote, starting to sprinkle in around the state, and we have what -- we thought we were going to have some early votes, and a very competitive race.

TAPPER: It's a very competitive race, only 5 percent in, 95 percent of the vote to go.

We'll be right back with more of the actual votes from actual voters coming in on election night.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: And we have another key race alert for you, as the votes continue to come in. And the competitive Virginia governor's race, we have 12 percent of the estimated vote from Virginia and. Republican Glenn Youngkin is retaining his lead, and expanding upon it.


As of this hour, Glenn Youngkin has 211,382 votes. That is 55.3 percent of the vote. He is 43,149 votes ahead of the Democrat, former Governor Terry McAuliffe. Terry McAuliffe has 168, 000, sorry, it just jumped again. It is up to -- Terry McAuliffe has 173, 192, Glenn Youngkin has 55.2 percent of the vote, Terry McAuliffe 44.1 percent of the vote.

We just jumped from 12 percent of the estimated vote to 13 percent. Glenn Youngkin with a lead at this hour, of roughly 43,000 votes. We have more votes coming in from northern Virginia.

KING: Including from a very key county we will be watching all night, Loudon County, again, one of the suburbs you come across the Potomac River. You are into first Alexandria or Fairfax, you move out a little bit, once a reliably Republican suburb. This has trended Democratic.

Again, 45 percent of the estimated vote. Let's watch throughout the night because you get some of the early voting, then you get the day- of voting. But you see Terry McAuliffe jumping to an early lead. You look at that and you think okay that's good for the Democrat.

You go back in time to the last governor's race, though, and you see Ralph Northam winning the governor's race four years ago had a bigger margin there and if you look at the 2020 presidential race, click it up here in Loudoun County, Joe Biden had a blowout.

And so, that's one of the questions we are going to watch tonight is Glenn Youngkin running stronger than Donald Trump. Donald Trump last year, Ed Gillespie four years ago, is he showing that Republicans can make inroads in the suburbs? Can't answer that question, yet. At the moment, he is competitive.

If you pull out and look, again, this is the major population center. The Loudoun County is the fastest-growing county in the Commonwealth of Virginia. So how it votes will matter a lot.

You are starting to see, again, more of the map fill in. Just want to come down here, as well. This is Charlottesville and around here right here. And then, if you come up here, we talked Loudoun County is here. Next to it is the largest population center, Fairfax County. This is Prince William, excuse me.

Let me come up to Fairfax City here. Fairfax in the city, in the county, itself. Still waiting but that's one of the places we have reporters on the scene.

TAPPER: Yeah. In fact, punch up Fairfax County because I am going to go to Ryan Nobles right now, who is in critical Fairfax County, Virginia.

And, Ryan, you have some -- you have some vote numbers coming in for us. What do you have?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Jake. Just handed the early vote and absentee vote return totals for Fairfax County. This is just the first tranche of votes that Fairfax has counted until this point. And it shows right now, Terry McAuliffe with 98,657 votes total both early vote and by mail. Vote by mail.

And Glenn Youngkin with a total of 34,410 votes. There is a total, so far, of about 133 votes cast. Actually, closer to 134,000 votes cast. And when we break those down, early voting versus vote by mail, it's a 77,000 of those votes are early votes. 56,000 are vote by mail.

So that shows that there is still a pretty significant amount of early-vote totals that have yet to be counted yet because there were somewhere around 110,000 early votes cast in Fairfax County. Still, this is probably relatively good news for Terry McAuliffe. Perhaps, not the huge margins that he was looking for but, again, that total, 98,657 for McAuliffe, 34,410 for Glenn Youngkin.

And this is just the early vote totals and absentee vote totals this first batch that they have been able to count, Jake.

TAPPER: Ryan Nobles, thank you so much. Just to re-explain this to our viewers, those are votes that have not shown up on our big map, yet. Fairfax City right there. Fairfax County is what Ryan was talking about.

This is where Terry McAuliffe needs to run up the board.

KING: Yes, absolutely. And again, this is the largest population center of suburban -- it's the Washington suburbs in northern Virginia and again, if you want to -- let's go back in time. Look at the 2020 presidential race in Fairfax County.

You see what we are talking about here. 70-28 if you round up President Biden. Go back to the 2017 race for governor, 68-31. This is the Democratic vote bread basket right here. This is where the Democrats have to run it up and run it up big because not -- these other suburbs help. Without a doubt, the other suburbs help but Fairfax is, when you get into a close election, it is going to slide this out of the way a little bit. We can bring it back if we need it.

You know this is 2017. You know Republicans are going to fill in this map, the issue for Republicans is every one of these votes counts, don't get me wrong but these are smaller, less populous counties. If you look at the population centers and bring it in this way, bring in population, you see, you know, these are Republican wins. These red circles but the smaller the circle, the smaller the population center. You see what happens in these races. Democrats with the big blue

circles, that's because they are winning in the urban areas and suburban areas where you have the higher population center. So, even though this map, a Virginia map, tends to be more red than blue, like many states, the Democrats win because they run it up in the urban areas, in the suburban areas.


So when we come back to the current race, there is absolutely no doubt, especially with Youngkin, it's an early lead. We have to count the votes as we get through it but this is what happens. If Democrats are to come back as we have seen them time and time again by blowout margins in recent elections, Republicans often get the lead early, comes down to this.

TAPPER: Right and as you note, the Republicans are hoping that they got enough vote out today, election day, because Democrats traditionally get their votes out in the early vote and the vote by mail. So McAuliffe needs to run it up in the early vote, and he needs to run it up in the populous northern Virginia counties.

We are going to take a quick break. The numbers are coming in. It's very competitive. Stay with us.


TAPPER: And the votes keep coming in. Let's bring you the latest key race alert in the competitive Virginia governor's race.

With 25 percent of the estimated vote in, Republican Glenn Youngkin remains in the lead with 410,598 votes.


That's 52 percent of the vote. He is 36,837 votes -- pardon me -- ahead of Democrat Terry McAuliffe who has 373,000. Now, 374,000. It was just updated to 26 percent of the estimated vote, 374,979.

Glenn Youngkin remaining in the lead as votes come in, more than a quarter now. Youngkin, 52 percent. Terry McAuliffe, 47.3 percent.

And we are getting votes from northern Virginia. This is different from how it usually happens, John.

KING: Yeah, sometimes, when we get northern Virginia votes, you get a little early and then most comes in late. Again, midnight, 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m. has been our experience in recent years but we are seeing more. Again, that's in part because more than 1. 1 million votes were cast early and so you want to get the breakdown.

Again, as you watch this play up, if you are in the Youngkin campaign right now, you are thinking okay we have a long way to go but they expected a big surge on Election Day. If you are the Youngkin campaign, you are getting 47 percent in Loudoun County. Is that enough to keep it competitive? We will see. But it's a lot better than previous Republicans have done up here.

You move over here Fairfax County. This is a problem. This is good for McAuliffe and bad for the Republican. Fairfax, traditionally, Democratic stronghold. But again, we have about a third of the vote so we have to wait to see what we get later as we come in.

These are the closer Washington suburbs, more liberal, more loudly Democratic. You see McAuliffe there, about a third of the vote in. Getting 81 percent. That's what he needs to do. You click down here Alexandria.

The Youngkin campaign thought it was going to overperform most recent Republicans including Trump or Ed Gillespie in the last governor's race. Here, again, just 3 percent of the vote in here so we are going to watch. I tell you something else we are watching this again in a very close race, northern Virginia suburbs are the biggest population center. So they are dispositive and they are the key to Democrats, especially if the Republican vote comes in as you see here.

One indication early on, though, again, it's early. Not sure why that shape came in there. Let me try to do that again. That was good, right? I don't think I could do that again if I tried. Every now and then, I communicate with my -- but if you watch in here, you come down here.

If we go back to the race for governor in 2017, you see that blue.


KING: So you come back to 2021. Again, it's early but it's what you watch, right? Youngkin has to rewrite the recent map for Republicans in Virginia. So that would mean are you competitive in Virginia Beach with about 20 percent of the vote in, the answer for now is yes. We don't know how this is going to play out. But this is why we are watching.

Over in Chesapeake, we just talked to Joe Johns. You add up all the math there, again 6 percent. Early in the night, the Youngkin campaign you are thinking, okay, we are starting to lay down some markers.

Early in the night doesn't matter. We have lived through too many of these. Every vote counts but we have to watch it play out. But as you watch that fill in red right here, you are encouraged. If you are the Democrats, you are going to watch here in addition to northern Virginia, you have to win in the Richmond suburbs in all the suburbs, Henrico County here to the north of Richmond.

Again, you go back in time. That's McAuliffe, Youngkin right now as we get about 40 percent of the vote. If you go back, Ralph Northam winning big for governor four years ago at 61 percent.

So, if you look at it that way, in some of this early voting, we don't know the answer to the question yet but one of the big questions is does Terry McAuliffe over-perform Northam? Or at least one equal with Northam? Run close to Biden in the Virginia suburbs? Or does he under perform? We can look at that early on, Jake, and I want to emphasize for people

at home this is early on. We are just starting to build but if you look at the map right now, let's take it this way.

Let's look at it from this way. Is Glenn Youngkin over performing Trump? In a lot of places. In a lot of places at the moment. Again, the vote is early.

TAPPER: If it's red, it's a county --

KING: If it stays on. So let's come back to this. I will turn it off for you. Here -- here, you are looking at the vote right now. This is -- this is the actual live vote as we count it right now. If you bring this in, these are counties where Youngkin is over performing Trump. It includes the early count in the populous northern Virginia suburbs. We have a long way to go.

This -- this will matter a lot more in three, four, and five hours than it does right now. But if you are looking at your early-vote counts in a campaign headquarters, you are looking if you are Glenn Youngkin, you are looking at the map and saying, so far, so good. The emphasis on so far.

So, let's come out and look at it from another perspective. Let's turn that off. Where is Terry McAuliffe? Again, this is the live vote right now so watch what turns off. Where is Terry McAuliffe under performing Joe Biden? Saw a lot of counties turn off, right? You see a lot of that turn off right there. That means at the moment in this early vote, McAuliffe is under performing.

Now, McAuliffe can underperform Biden. McAuliffe can underperform Northam because both of them won in blowouts. So it's important to note this is a blue-lean state. It is not a presidential year and it's not the political environment that Ralph Northam ran in back in 2017. This is a much more difficult environment.

So, Terry McAuliffe can underperform Joe Biden, underperform the current Governor Ralph Northam, and still win this race which is why you don't overemphasize them now.


But that's what we are going to watch throughout the night. It is a test. Are Republicans -- is the Trump base turning out in a campaign where the Republican candidate kept Trump at arm's length? That's test number one for Glenn Youngkin. He cannot win this race, unless he gets all of the Trump base but even if he gets all the Trump base, it's not enough. He has to make inroads here, here, and here.

Early indications are he is in play.


KING: Now, we count.

TAPPER: He has to draw -- he has to draw a straight flush but he is not out of the game yet. He's getting some good cards.

KING: By no means.

TAPPER: He is getting some good cards.

We are standing by for more results out of the commonwealth of Virginia. Polling places are about to close in the other governor's race being decided tonight north of us, in New Jersey.

We'll have much more ahead. Stay with us.


TAPPER: We have another key race alert for you right now. More votes are coming in from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the competitive gubernatorial race there.


Let us look at what the voters have said so far. With about a third of the vote in, 33 percent of the vote in, Republican Glenn Youngkin is up with 556,912 votes. He has 54.2 percent of the vote, roughly, 92,323 votes ahead of Democrat Terry McAuliffe who has 465,588 votes. He has 45.1 percent of the vote.

The votes are still coming in, though. It remains a very competitive race. There are still more than 2 million votes that we need to count.

We are closing in on the next critical round of votes that could send a message to President Biden and the nation about the political climate right now.

Voting is about to end in New Jersey, home of the second marquee governor's race tonight. Murphy is the Democrat. He is the incumbent governor. He is seeking re-election to a second term against former- Republican state lawmaker Jack Ciattarelli.

We are also standing by for votes in big city mayoral races across the country. Polling places are about to close in the contests in Atlanta and Boston.

Right now, let's go to MJ Lee. She is in New Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy's election headquarters in the famous Asbury Park.

MJ, how are they feeling in Governor Murphy's campaign headquarters tonight?

MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, essentially what Phil Murphy is doing as he tries to get re-elected for another term, they are making the bet that the people in New Jersey are going to grade him based on how things look in New Jersey as opposed to focusing on the events that are happening in Washington.

This sort of underscores the political reality right now as you know very well that the governor of New Jersey is more popular right now in his state than the leader of the Democratic Party, President Biden. He enjoys support from the majority of voters in New Jersey, whereas President Biden -- he has seen his popularity slip into negative territory, recently.

And this is really important to think about. What is happening in Washington, something that Joe Biden came actually to New Jersey to try to sell his ideas on the infrastructure spending bill, the sweeping economic package. Obviously, he ended up being unsuccessful before he left for his foreign trip.

But folks here are feeling cautiously optimistic. They don't want to come out and say that they are going to be necessarily successful. But ultimately, they believe that because they were so focused on local issues, that if they are successful, that will be the key to why -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. MJ Lee in Asbury Park, New Jersey, with the campaign headquarters of Governor Phil Murphy, the incumbent Democrat.

Let's go back to the Virginia's governor race. Jeff Zeleny is at the headquarters of Democrat Terry McAuliffe in McLean, Virginia, Northern Virginia.

Jeff, so far, it is -- well, the numbers are still coming in but it is very, very competitive. How are they feeling at -- at McAuliffe headquarters?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, Terry McAuliffe has been through winning campaigns and he's been through losing campaigns.

And right now, I am told he is at home with his family, his wife, his five children, extended family. Not far from here in McLean, Virginia. He is simply watching these results come in. Talking to one Democrat who has spoken with him throughout the day, saying he realizes that his rival Glenn Youngkin closed in a strong position.

But the McAuliffe campaign remains optimistic about the high turnout in these northern Virginia counties. They are keeping their eye on Fairfax. They are keeping their eye on Alexandria, other places.

But, Jake, we did just get a very interesting letter Terry McAuliffe sent to his supporters. He said, win or lose, we fought a good campaign. So, certainly, striking not necessarily an enthusiastic tone but thanking his supporters as they begin what could be a long night of counting here in Virginia -- Jake.

TAPPER: That's an interesting letter for Terry McAuliffe to have written.

We are expecting the polls to New Jersey to close in two minutes. John King, quickly tell us what you are looking for.

KING: Well, here you see two candidates, Republican Jack Ciattarelli. As you mention, Phil Murphy trying to win re-election as a Democrat, that hasn't happened in a long time. Jake, you know the state well. You are from Philadelphia. So, obviously, you look at the suburban vote, right? You look at the suburbs down here across from Philadelphia. More importantly, giant suburbs up here outside of New York City and the urban population center of Newark.

This is a Democratic state. It is a Democratic state where Governor Murphy believes his COVID leadership has earned him re-election, so we will watch it play out. Again, the president's approval rating is down.

Democrats say this is a tough climate because of COVID and because of the economy. This should stay a blue state but we will watch to see as it plays out. We'll start to fill in the votes right there.

We're waiting -- as we wait on New Jersey, also you see Virginia is leaning red at the moment, but there you see, about a third of the vote in, Glenn Youngkin with the lead. One thing that the Republican campaign is saying there so far, Jake, is that they are very encouraged by the turnout in these rural areas. Smaller communities where they say Republican turnout is exceeding the last governor's race four years ago, so the Youngkin campaign happy at the moment but as you noted, lot of votes still to be counted.

TAPPER: And we are just moments away from the end of voting in the New Jersey governor's race. We are expecting that at the top of the hour.