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CNN Live Event/Special

Virginia And New Jersey Gubernatorial Races. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 02, 2021 - 23:00   ET



NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: So far, it doesn't look like Democrats have a real answer for the culture war arguments or the economy at this point if you look at sort of inflation, the price of gas, and issues like that.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, they're having -- I mean, that's what people are talking about right now.


TAPPER: The gas prices are too high. Inflation is costing me (ph). What are the Democrats doing about that? By the way, we haven't even talked about the message being sent in New Jersey, in Dana's beloved New Jersey.

Bergen County, as of the last time we looked at the map, a place that has a Democratic congressional representative for much of it, Josh Gottheimer, a moderate, and a place that Democrats have performed really well in, last time we looked, the Republican, Jack Ciattarelli, is winning in that county.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Republicans I'm talking to in New Jersey are surprised and Democrats are very, very concerned for lots of reasons. I mean, you talked about Bergen County. When I grew up there, there was a moderate Republican. And so, it really is a swing district.

TAPPER: I'm just looking at the map. There was 60% of the vote in. Ciattarelli is still up, 51.5% to 47.7%.

BASH: Yeah.

TAPPER: Not a lot of people saw that coming. It's still 40% of the vote to be counted but still.

BASH: Yeah, there's still a lot to be counted. But what's happening -- I think David can speak to this, too, because he's also from New Jersey and is talking to people back in his hometown -- is what we are seeing -- we are seeing the numbers on the gubernatorial level, but if you look even down into the counties that we're talking about and those local officials, Democrats are losing.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah. BASH: That happened in Paramus, for example. Not to get too provincial here, but why does it matter? It matters because it is the local level, the local issues where people are making their voices heard. And in some examples, anecdotally, that I have heard, they're making their voices heard by getting rid of the Democrats even at that local level.

TAPPER: It is an anti-incumbent mood right now clearly and Democrats in New Jersey and in Virginia are the incumbents. They are the incumbent party.

I just want to explain for our viewers right now why CNN has not yet called some of these races. Here is the latest from the governor's race in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Ninety-four percent of the vote is in and Glenn Youngkin is up 51.1% to 48.1%. He is at 92,112-vote lead. We're still waiting for six percent of the vote to come in.

It is still a tight race. Things obviously look very positive for Glenn Youngkin and the republicans, but we are waiting for some more votes to come in before we call it, and that is the status of that.

CHALIAN: Jake, can I just say, it's worth noting, remember earlier in evening, we saw an 11-point lead for Glenn Youngkin.

TAPPER: Right.

CHALIAN: This is now a --

TAPPER: Three-point --

CHALIAN: I'm not -- you are right, it's hard to see the math for McAuliffe right now and Democrats will tell you that, too. I'm not trying to suggest otherwise. But what I'm saying is this is why you don't make a projection yet when there's still mathematical possibility of another --


CHALIAN: You just want to make sure --

TAPPER: Right.

CHALIAN: -- that as much of that vote gets in.

TAPPER: Yes, he was up by 11-percentage points. Now, he's up by three-percentage points. He was up by 200,000 votes. Now, he's up by 92,000 votes.

CHALIAN: Still having a very good night.

TAPPER: I think we all know where this is headed, but we're just being cautious because there are still votes to count, John King.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Still votes to count. So, that's why I'm doing now -- I'm just going county by county by county as you go through this just to see. Okay, so, here we are, 51 to 48. Look, if Glenn Youngkin was going to win the race in Virginia, we knew it was not going to be five, six, eight or 10 points as we saw earlier tonight. We knew it is going to get tighter and we know that the democratic areas tend to come in later.

But 92,000 votes with 94% reporting. So, then you start thinking, okay, is it possible? So, you're up here, 95% in Loudoun County, one of the more populated suburbs near Washington, D.C. McAuliffe is winning. He might pick up some votes there, but he's not winning by a ton, so you're not going to pick up a ton of votes.

You move over to Fairfax County, which is the number one basket of votes. McAuliffe is running quite well here, 64% to 35%, but there are 95%. So, again, this is where you might see 10, 15,000, maybe as many as 20,000 more votes come in. But even if McAuliffe won 100% of them, which he is not, he's winning right now somewhere in the ballpark of 65, you think is relatively close to that, you'll make up ground but not enough to make up a statewide lead of 92,000 votes.

So, you keep looking at the map in the blue areas. And so, you come down to the city of Richmond. The McAuliffe campaign has mentioned this. Yes, there are some more votes to come in in heavily Democratic Richmond, but it is at 95%. So again, add a couple thousand, maybe a few thousand, when you come back out to the 86,000 -- so here we go. This is what's happening, right? So, now we're getting close.

TAPPER: His lead is shrinking a little bit.

KING: His lead is shrinking as this come in. But I keep looking and it come through. Again, Norfolk is 75%. So, here's a place where you're going to see some more democratic votes come in. The question is -- 25% more, okay, so may be, you know, there may be several thousand.


It is possible Terry McAuliffe picks up several thousand votes there. The question is, is it -- as I was saying earlier, you know, Republican passed it by a hundred here, a thousand there. That was the cushion that Glenn Youngkin built early.

Can Terry McAuliffe come back late? We can go through every one of these hundred plus counties, right? Hundred and thirty-three of them. At 86% here, Youngkin is likely to pick up a couple more votes as we count the last 14% in a heavily republican county.

So, if you look at the dynamic, it tells you it is most unlikely, most, most unlikely that Terry McAuliffe can make that up. Mathematically impossible if you look at all the outstanding votes across the state, no. But at this point, when you get up to 95%, it gets very hard.

When your major democratic population centers, here, again, 95% in a place where you're winning but not usually, this coming to Fairfax City, 95%, this is Fairfax County, 95%. Move over here, Arlington County, 95%.

TAPPER: Yeah --

KING: -- 86%.

TAPPER: You run out of bucket to a certain point (ph).

KING: Right. Again, 86% in Alexandria where you're winning by 24,000 votes, a little shy of that right there, as the other 14% comes in, you can anticipate Terry McAuliffe is going to cut into it more. The question is, is there enough to cut into 84,000? Well, an hour ago, it was 111,000. So, it has been shrinking. That's a fact. That's a fact.

So, if you're a Democrat, you say, I'm going to wait until you get to the finish line.

TAPPER: Right.

KING: We have every right to do. It gets mathematically improbable as everybody gets up to 95% or close to 95%. But look, we live in very unpredictable times. The Republican is leading in Virginia by 84,000 votes. That is a shock to the system. There is no reason to not say let's get to the finish line. Let us keep counting.

TAPPER: While we're talking about improbable, go up by 95 to Jersey for a second. Look at this. Jack Ciattarelli, the republican, up by 75,000 votes, 51.6% to 47.6% with 62% of the vote in.

KING: That's where that number now gets very significant, when you have a healthy margin, both in percentage wise and in raw vote totals, when you start to get -- now you're closing on two-thirds of the vote. You're about 60% closing on a two-thirds.

So, again, it is the same experiment and they're doing this in every campaign headquarters, calling all their officials in these counties, bringing them in to the vote room in there.

I'm going back to this again because this is the number one county in the state, population wise, Bergen County, 10% of the population, and this at the moment is a flip and were up close to 68%. It's taken a tiny bit, but is still 53-46 in a place Governor Murphy won with 57% of the vote four years ago. So, that tells you that the Murphy map is in trouble when you have the Republican leading here.

Then you come down here to Hudson County, which is Jersey City. Again, we were talking earlier, Jake, they were not at 65% the last time we spoke when I said, you look at these places, potential for more democratic votes --


KING: -- more votes have come in, but now you're up to 65%. So, how much more? You've got a third of the vote left, right? And you have just shy of 50,000-vote difference there.

Yes, Phil Murphy has the potential to make up some votes here. This is the one we've been waiting on for a very long time and this is when you start to get on the phone to local election officials and say, why, why have we been an 18% in Essex County, which is Newark for very long time.

Look, elections are hard to administer anyway. They are more hard to administer in the COVID pandemic. These are mostly incredibly good public servants. But you do reach a point sometimes when you're looking at it and it's 11:08 in the evening where you start to think why is that stuck there for a long time. There may be a good reason for it and will be calling in to find out.

But if you're in the Murphy campaign, you might know more about this, or if you're in the Ciattarelli campaign, you might know more about this because you have people on the ground in these places. But Essex County, the third largest county in the state, just shy of nine percent of the state population, if you are the Democratic candidate and you are right now down 72,000 votes, your fate at least put this into --

TAPPER: Your fate lies in Newark.

KING: Your fate lies in Newark. Again, you can come over to Trenton. Murphy is winning 10 points, about half of the vote in.

TAPPER: How do they do four years ago in Trenton?

KING: There are votes here, 64.

TAPPER: Way underperforming by 10 points at least in lots of these places, much worse in Bergen County. And the Republican is way overperforming.

I think it's important for us to remember the kind of the backdrop here. The backdrop is that President Biden's approval ratings are underwater. More people in the United States disapprove of his job performance than approve of his job performance.

KING: Yes.

TAPPER: Inflation is up. Prices are up in terms of home heating oil. The economy has not bounce back the way people wanted. People are still struggling with COVID. A lot of frustration in schools in New Jersey and in Virginia with mask policy, vaccine policy. Parents frustrated because schools were closed, in-person learning for so long. There is a discontent. You look at the right track or on track numbers.


You ask voters, is the country on the right track or the wrong track? It is something like 75% say the wrong track. They might blame it on anybody. Who knows who they blame it on? But there is an anti- incumbent mood.

KING: Democrats benefited for the entire Trump presidency. In 2018 midterm, Nancy Pelosi becomes speaker. In 2020, Biden wins election, flips Georgia, flips Arizona. Democrats benefited all those years from Trump exhaustion. There was Trump exhaustion in the country, particularly in suburbs like that, Bergen County, New Jersey. The Democrats benefited.

Now, you have 19 months into the COVID pandemic, you have COVID exhaustion, whether it's from a public health standpoint, whether it's in my kids' school standpoint, whether it is about why is the economy come booming back standpoint.

And remember, one year ago, one year ago, when Joe Biden did that in New Jersey --


KING: -- he said, elect me, the economy will come back, we will have come, we will have progress, we will get things done in Washington, COVID will be better --

TAPPER: Right.

KING: -- the economy will be better, we're coming back, and we will have no Trump chaos. What do we have? We have a lot of democratic chaos in Washington right now. They have not produced at the rate Biden has promised.

They may yet, but if you're Phil Murphy tonight or if you are Terry McAuliffe tonight, one thing you are saying, muttering to yourself, as you watch these final votes come in, is both campaigns with Joe Biden, sometimes you run away, sometimes you say I have no choice, both campaigns with Joe Biden, Terry McAuliffe made quite clear his displeasure with the state of play in Washington.

I'm guessing Phil Murphy is watching this coming tonight and thinking how much of this is me and how much of this is out of my control.

TAPPER: Yeah. I mean, I think both of them, both McAuliffe and Murphy, would've love at the very least the bipartisan infrastructure bill, some tangible result. We happen to have the good fortune of two children of the Garden State to New Jersey ends on our panel this evening. As a Philadelphian, normally, I would take umbrage, but they are here. David Chalian, are you surprised? First of all, what part of New Jersey are you from?

CHALIAN: Monmouth County, central Jersey.

TAPPER: It's generally a republican county.


TAPPER: Are you surprised by what we're seeing?

CHALIAN: Yes. Obviously, this is surprising. I mean, again, you went through the math, Joe Biden just won it by 16 points. But it's not that long ago in history of both of these states after Barack Obama had a big win in 2008, when Bob McDonnell in 2009 in Virginia, and Chris Christie in 2009 in New Jersey made their mark.

What you're looking at here, and to Dana's point earlier, you're just hearing or I'm hearing from some local folks in Monmouth County that even at the township level, some town council seats seemed to be going republican in sweeping fashion. So, you're seeing something that is happening at the local level that you're also seeing mirrored at this gubernatorial level.

And you're right, John, to say that Murphy must be wondering how much of this is me and how much of this is out of my control, because if you looked in the recent polls, pre-election polls going into this New Jersey governor's race, Phil Murphy's approval rating was far outperforming Joe Biden's approval rating in the state of New Jersey. Joe Biden was underwater in New Jersey. But Phil Murphy seemed to be a brand of his own. That's what they thought going into this election night.

It doesn't look like Democrats have an individual brand right now, the way these vote totals are coming in. And so, if indeed, and again, I know there is more vote to come, but John, you said earlier tonight, Bergen County, you are going to start saying, if it still red when 50% to 55% of the vote is in and I think -- what is it at now?

KING: Fifty-eight.

CHALIAN: Fifty-eight percent.

TAPPER: Fifty-eight percent and Ciattarelli is up --

CHALIAN: So that's a chunk of vote there.

KING: Just to make your point, this is -- Dana Bash spent a lot of her childhood in Bergen County, the republican, only 58%. It can change, right? The Republican at 53%, four years after the Democrat won with 57%, right?

So now, let's move down to David Chalian's Monmouth County. Yes, this is a republican county. It was carried by the Republican four years ago. But the Republican four years ago got 55% of the vote. The Republican tonight is getting 61% of the vote.

So, Republicans are overperforming. Republicans are coming out of the woodwork to vote. And I believe you saw some of this in the exit polls. They are getting help from independents, especially suburban independents --


KING: -- who again went Democratic in the Trump years, who are now one year into the Biden presidency clearly rethinking where they stand.

TAPPER: Yeah. I think it's also important to note -- Dana Bash, I want to get your thoughts on Bergen County. But one of the things that Phil Murphy had going for him four years ago was we were almost a year into the Trump presidency. And there were a lot of independents who were turned off by Donald Trump and a lot of Democrats that were motivated to vote. Now, we're almost a year to the Biden presidency and you have the exact opposite happening, Dana.

BASH: Yes, and what we are seeing is the historical trends staying true to those trends.


In that, you know, again, we have not called either of these, but just seeing the way they've been moving with Virginia especially, that is a place where the voters tend to do the opposite of what happened in the presidential the year before.

And New Jersey is not that different. Again, we don't know what is going to happen in the end. But just the fact that there are trends that people did not expect, particularly that the Democrats didn't expect, and quite honestly, a lot of the Republicans didn't expect to be as robust as they are in a lot of these counties, is a real indicator and is very, very interesting.

A lot of the issues in New Jersey and Virginia are the same. They are the same. They are about parents, they are about education, they are COVID exhaustion, they are bread and butter economy issues, but also just wanting to get away from political debates that maybe they can't connect to or relate to and kind of swinging back towards the middle.

Remember, New Jersey, in particular, this is a state where Chris Christie won not one but two terms, and you had several other examples further back in history from Christine Todd Whitman to others who were Republicans who won two terms. It's the Democrats that have trouble keeping the governor's mansion for more than one term.

And so, the pendulum is swinging back a bit no matter who wins in each of these states, just the indicators that all of these counties.

KING: And so, if it continues, if it continues. David Chalian just made a point that stirred my memory here. I'm not sure if I have all the historical data loaded. I am about to show you. David just made a point about Chris Christie in 2009. The reason we pay so close attention to these off-year elections in New Jersey and Virginia, the governor's races, is do they foreshadow the midterm mood?

You can get too far ahead of yourself sometimes. Sometimes, you better be careful not to read too much into any one or any two elections. But back in 2009, Bob McDonnell wins in Virginia a year after Obama wins the president. Chris Christie wins in New Jersey a year after Obama wins the presidency. So, let me see if I can do this.

TAPPER: Just as a note -- oh, you're going to do the House.

KING: I'm going to try this and I'm going to go back in time. This is Barack Obama wins the presidency, Democrats take a big lead in the House. This is 2008 right after the Obama win. Fast forward, 2009, as David noted, McDonnell, the Republican, wins in Virginia. Christie, the Republican, wins in New Jersey. Two states the Democrats thought were blue and moving more blue. In 2010, watch the blue, keep your eyes on the blue. That happened. 63 seats.

TAPPER: It's tsunami of red coming over the country. We have no idea what is going to happen in the midterms next year. But we are one to be a Democrat and one we are looking at the election results this evening. One would think even if Murphy ends up pulling it out of New Jersey and we still do not know what is going to happen there, one would think the mood of the country is not with the Democratic Party. It is not.

KING: That is the point David Axelrod was making earlier tonight and Van as well. The president is on Air Force One. I believe he is on the way back now. I believe he is over the Atlantic Ocean right now. Air Force One has pretty cool technology. He has every idea, President Biden does, about what is happening right here. He is going to land -- there is supposed to be a House vote on Thursday or Friday, we will see.

There is going to be a ton of conversation in the Democratic Party tonight about what this means. Again, we are not done here. Even if this turns around, if Phil Murphy pulls this out, it is going to be by that, which is in and of itself a message. Again --

TAPPER: And a state that Biden won by 16-percentage points one year ago. Let's go to New Jersey right now because we have MJ Lee who is in Asbury Park in New Jersey with the Governor Murphy campaign headquarters. MJ, this is not the night that Governor Murphy thought he was going to have. What are you hearing?

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, what's the Murphy campaign has been saying for a while is that the northern more democratic counties still have not come in. So, they feel like they're still waiting for those votes to be counted. And so far in the evening, the more heavily republican areas have come in. And so, when those areas do start reporting, they believe that their numbers will start turning in a more favorable direction.

As you can hear around me, CNN has been playing here inside the Murphy event all night. Just to give you some color about the mood in the room, earlier in the evening, whenever you all were showing the numbers for New Jersey, you heard a lot of cheering. We have not heard that kind of cheering in a while. Obviously, right now, they are cheering because they see themselves on the screen.


We expect that the lieutenant governor is going to be coming on stage in a few minutes to deliver remarks. But I can tell you the room has thinned out a little bit since the event opened to guests at eight in the evening and a lot of folks in the room, I think, had hoped that at this point in the evening, they had seen Murphy, the governor himself, come and deliver a victory speech. Obviously, that hasn't happened quite yet. Jake?

TAPPER: All right. MJ Lee, thank you so much. Let's go to the Ciattarelli headquarters now in Bridgewater, New Jersey where Evan McMorris-Santoro is. Tell us what is going on there. I'm guessing some people are surprised at how great this is going.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, that is right. A couple hours ago, Diane Allen, the lieutenant governor nominee for the Republican Party here, came out and said, hey, everybody, it is early, these numbers are looking pretty good, but let's keep watching and see what happens, it could get better, it could stay good. A couple hours later, she looked like she was right. It has stayed pretty good.

As you say, we do not know what is going to happen yet, but that same lieutenant governor nominee, Diane Allen, came out again just a few minutes ago to tell the audience, we are feeling pretty good, we are seeing down ballot numbers that we like, we are seeing results that we like, just hang on, and this could really be a really, really good night for us.

It is amazing to see how this race has turned around. It hasn't gotten a lot of national intention up until really tonight. It was not that long ago that Governor Murphy's campaign was running ads about how low the name I.D. for Jack Ciattarelli was. Making a joke about. It was a funny ad, but it looks like the Republicans here tonight feel like they just might get the last laugh. Jake?

TAPPPER: Evan, tell us some of the issues that have been animating the Ciattarelli campaign. Why many people beyond the anti-incumbent mood, why so many people who voted for Murphy last time, who voted for President Biden a year ago, why so many people turned out for the Republican Jack Ciattarelli today?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: As we heard earlier from MJ in her reporting, this race, a lot of it was about COVID, the pandemic, and the pandemic litigation strategy. Obviously, this was a place that was hit very hard by it. There were a lot of debates and controversies about how to actually deal with it, when it came to things like reopening schools, when it came to things like masking policies, things like that.

These are the kind of things that all over the country Republicans have been taking advantage of and they try to do it here as well. Jake?

TAPPER: Interesting. Thank you so much. Evan, we will come back to you in a little bit. With 66% of the vote in, that is two-thirds of the vote out of New Jersey, Jack Ciattarelli is still ahead by 67,000 votes, 51.4% to incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy's 47.8%. I mean, it is looking good. Again, lots of votes outstanding but two- thirds of them are in.

KING: Two-thirds of them are in. So, listen closely to what MJ Lee just said. The Murphy campaign says the suburbs and the northern part of the state, they believe a lot of the votes are still out. When a campaign says that, you put it to the test.

Here is a democratic suburb in the northern part of the state. Correct, 37% of the vote in in Passaic County, a 10-point margin for Phil Murphy right now, again, just to go back in time, and look, 22 points last time. A win is a win. He went on a blowout last time. He will take a close win this time if he can come back there. Again, they talk about the suburbs in northern New Jersey. This is the largest one, Bergen County, where they are losing right now.

It has gotten a little closer in the margins. It has gotten a little closer of up to 71% right now. But again, I say a little closer, 52% for the Republican candidate in a place where the Republican candidate got 42%, 10 points lower, and Phil Murphy got 57%.

TAPPER: Let us go to the statewide right now.

KING: So, if you pull it up statewide and take a peek, there you go, it is down to 22,000 votes.

TAPPER: Down to 22,000 votes with 70% reporting. So, still a lot of votes to count, 30% outstanding, and Jack Ciattarelli's margin has just shrunk considerably. It is 49% to 50.2%. That is less than one- percentage point.

KING: Now you're in play and you wonder, so I'm going to look. We are at 18% here. That is where they came from. We are now up to 72%. I will say what I said just a short time ago. At some point, you wonder where are the votes.

They have gone from 18% to 72% in Essex County, which is 90% of the state population. It is the third largest county in New Jersey. It is home to Newark and the area around it. This is an urban democratic area, some suburbs when you get up this way, 73% of the vote. That is where your big votes switch just came from.

So, what about these other counties? Sixty-five percent here. Still some democratic votes to come here. Middlesex which is important -- this is Union, 78% here. Then you move down to Middlesex, which is important for Phil Murphy, but 80% of the vote is in.

So, it will be in the northern part of the state where we are still waiting for votes to be counted. But that made it closer but it didn't -- but in some ways -- it made it closer, but in other ways, it also takes more votes. It takes votes, potential additional votes off the board.


Still more than 25%. So, if this trendline continues, look at the gap here.

TAPPER: Right.

KING: Look at the gap there. That is a lot of raw votes, not just the percentages. That is a lot of raw math when you are trying to cut that.

TAPPER: He can make up the lost in Essex County.

KING: Yes, exactly right.

TAPPER: He can make up the lost, what is behind an Essex County.

KING: He can make it up alone in Essex County.

TAPPER: Right.

KING: So, it is there.

TAPPER: It is by no means over.

KING: Yeah.

TAPPER: The larger point, though, is that nobody in the Democratic or Republican Party in Washington D.C. thought that this was going to be competitive and it is competitive. It is a competitive night. Phil Murphy, the Democratic governor, may yet pull it out, as you have been saying all night. Still, Jack Ciattarelli up 24,000 votes with 70% of the vote out. I don't know what I did. Look at that. I don't think I touched that. But that is okay.

KING: You touched it.

TAPPER: I don't think I touched it. I think I might just have like some sort of magic power. What is up with this county?

KING: I love it. This is Salem County. It is the smallest county in the state. It is not a giant chunk of vote. It is 0.7% of state population. But if you have been with us through a lot of election nights in two competitive races, there is always one, especially in a close race where you need every vote.

TAPPER: It is a small county. A few people working hard.

KING: A lot of times in these smaller counties, they just take count them all and they do it all at once as opposed to these other people where we see the vote jump up and up. At 70% statewide now. Again, that has come from closer to 100,000 down. Now, just went back up to 27 from 24.

TAPPER: That is what I'm seeing. It went down to 22,000-lead. Now, it is going back up to 27,000-lead. The outstanding votes are not only coming from the democratic-leaning counties. They're also still coming from the republican-leaning counties.

KING: Absolutely not. This is a republican area here. There is only 28% of the vote in here. This is traditionally -- they are up to 95% here. They are up to 90% here. Traditionally republican Monmouth. Again, it is the margins. If this is tonight, at 90%, 61%, the Republican, four years ago, just 55% for the Republican.

So, the Republicans are coming to play. I would look more closely. You will see I'm guessing with the assistance of some independents as well. But again, just a reminder, look down here and look up here, and you go back four years ago.

TAPPER: It was a sea of blue and now it is not.

KING: You want to flip a state, you have to flip big counties. You are starting to see especially here, but down here as well, significant Republican candidate. Can the Democrat come back? No. It is 88%. You can make it closer, but you are not going to flip a 12- point lead, just shy of a 12-point lead with 88% of the vote in. Over here, it is 10 points with 91% of the vote. These are counties that the Republican candidate is slipping. So, you watch a Democratic candidate. You're right. Two months ago, anyone think we are going to be talking about Phil Murphy tonight? No. There was one poll that showed a six-point race, most Democrats shrugged it off and said, he must have had either a bad pull or a bad week. Guess what? Nineteen thousand votes now. So, we are getting closer again.

We are doing a little bit of seesaw as these votes come in. I just want to check again to see where they are coming from. Sixty-five percent, still waiting here, stuck at 72 there, 37%. This is another place where Phil Murphy is going to make up some votes. He is running at 55%. If that continues to come in at that rate, there is some roads to be made of here, and 71% here, Bergen County staying red. We will watch. Still 30% of the vote to count there.

Just come back and look, 19,000 votes. This is where it gets interesting. Nineteen thousand votes, 70% counted.

TAPPER: Let us go to Virginia for one second.

KING: You can just go down yourself. Bring it up. Here we go.

TAPPER: You didn't like it when I touched that on, even though I didn't touch it.

KING: You turned something off.

TAPPER: I want to compare how Youngkin did this time to how the last Republican who won -- do you have 2009 in there? Was that the last time a Republican won?

KING: We do not have it.

TAPPER: You do not have 2009, okay. One of the things that is interesting, whether it is Chris Christie in New Jersey or Bob McDonnell in Virginia, we are talking about the last 15 years, the last two, when a candidate with appeal to moderates, a conservative, a center right candidate or right center candidate, whether it is Youngkin or McDonnell in Virginia or Christie and I don't know what is going to happen with Ciattarelli in New Jersey, but these two states, the Commonwealth of Virginia and New Jersey, they are not Massachusetts.


TAPPER: -- which by the way has a Republican governor. But I mean, they have not been transformed into San Francisco, is my point.

KING: They both also have a history of sending a message to the other party, when the other party is in the White House.

TAPPER: Right.

KING: So, now, you have a Democratic president in the White House. Virginia has a long history. Terry McAuliffe, when he won the first time, he was the exception. The state had been -- TAPPER: In 2013.

KING: In 2013. The state has since the 1970s, always essentially said, you know, they sent a warning to the president in power.


They have a history of being call it contrarian, call it what you will, yes, both states have a history of deciding we want to send a message, we do not like what we are seeing from the party in power. That is true. Democrats did not think because of the growth they made throughout the Trump years.


KING: Because of the increasing diversity especially of this state, they just didn't think it was possible or as possible as it has been in years past. This state has changed so dramatically in the last 10 years. We look at it earlier. I will bring it up again just to show you here.

This is just -- look at the size of the circles. That is where the population is, where the Democrats win. But more importantly, turn that off, and if you just look, this is why what Youngkin is doing is so significant in the sense that he is defying demographics. The darker green are the counties that are losing population. The lighter, you see here, light green --

TAPPER: They are gaining population.

KING: Gaining population. If you are yellow, that is Loudoun County. This is Fairfax up here. You are gaining population. So, losing population down here, gaining population up here. Turn that off, come back to the map of the race, losing population down here, gaining population up here. If you look at the presidential race and do it in that context, where Trump won big, is shrinking, where Biden won big, is growing. And yet, one year after Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points, we have that.

TAPPER: And there is also a significant, I think, here for the Republican Party when it comes to how to be a post-Trump, assuming we're in a post-Trump era and we don't even know that we are because he might run again in 2024, but how to run and win in a post-Trump era at least right now, in a purple, let's call it a purple state, and that is you don't insult Trump but you don't embrace him and try to be the second coming of Donald Trump.

KING: That will be a giant conversation that has probably begun while we've been here on live television among many Republicans who are trying to navigate that very difficult challenge in other places next year. I would say that you're absolutely right and yet you also have to also take into account a very wealthy man who can sell finance not dependent on any Trump or any party organization for money, and Trump has a lot of sway over some of the party organizations in raising money. He's a different candidate, but yes, he did manage. Again, I was asking this question of everybody I ran into in the last few days. Name me a Republican candidate who has been able, you're right, politely so, but to keep Trump at a distance who Trump keeps praising and keeps endorsing, he endorsed him eight or nine times, and then told his voters to turn out and said, flood the system, don't just turn out but flood the system. That is the way to change the election.

So, Youngkin did something that I have not seen a Republican in the Trump years do where he made clear that, you're right, politely so, that he was not a giant fan of Trump yet managed to not only keep Trump support but to keep Trump to not only get Trump voters but to just light it up.

TAPPER: I think you're kind of over -- I don't think he ever said he wasn't a gigantic fan of Trump. I think he just said, I am my own man and I'm going to win my own race. He never distanced himself from Trump. He never criticized Trump. He never said, well, I wouldn't do things that way. He just didn't engage.

KING: Said this is about me, not about him.

TAPPER: Right. He just didn't engage. And that worked. That worked.

KING: But Trump historically has not like that.

TAPPER: No, it's true.

KING: And he just let it go in Virginia.

TAPPER: Right. No, it's true. But, I mean, it is a map, a blueprint for Republican running in -- maybe you can't do that in Alabama, I don't know, or South Dakota or Ohio. I have no idea. In Ohio, in the Republican Senate race there, they're jumping over each other who can be more Trumpy.

But Glenn Youngkin, I mean, I saw Ross Douthat from "The New York Times," a conservative columnist, I assume somewhat tongue-in-cheek, tweeting Youngkin 2024. But it's a little early and Ross is cheeky, let us say. But the point is this is a map for conservative policies winning over suburban voters the Democrats have lost, not sweeping them but winning over enough of them, keeping the Trump voters, and delivering a state that Hillary Clinton won.

KING: Right. If this keeps up, then he gets a chance to govern, and we will see if he can do the governing model as we see it. You make a key point. Another point I will also make is Republicans are going to study this. How did he manage to thread that needle in the -- I was going to say post-Trump era, that is not where we are, Trump is not in office anymore, but the Republican Party is not in a post-Trump era.

TAPPER: A Trump post era.

KING: And Democrats are going to say, Terry McAuliffe thought Joe Biden won by saying you know me, I've been there, I can do this, you want me. He ran the Biden campaign. Elect me governor of Virginia just like you elected Joe Biden president.


It didn't work. One year later, it didn't work to go to a familiar name and a guy who had been in power before. So, Democrats are going to think about that. So, why are we looking at these 85,000 votes, 399, 51 to 48, 95%? Why haven't we call this race? Well, we just want to --

TAPPER: What are the counties we are still waiting for?

KING: We know the history. Again --

TAPPER: Five percent in Fairfax County.

KING: Five percent where you're winning 65, 35 if you round it. So, there are some votes to come in here. Is it enough to make up the statewide difference? No.


KING: But there are still some votes to come in. Here, McAuliffe's margin of smaller, but we're still going to wait. Again, no Republican has won this state since 2009. So, by nature, you're going to be cautious. Plus, what is the purpose of trying to get out ahead of something when we have the drama? We know who's winning, the Republican. We are just going to finish the math.

Prince William County, still waiting, five percent of the vote. Again, a healthy margin for the Democrat here, but if you go back in time, still underperforming where the Democrat was four years ago when he won handily.

So, you're looking on the map and you're just trying to say, is there any mathematical possibility of additional votes? The McAuliffe campaign says keep looking down here. Here is the challenge. If you're at 75, 78, you think more. When you see so many of these places at 95, it is getting very hard.

This is Richmond City. You move out here, Henrico County, 95%. It is getting late in the night. Henrico County, 95%. You come down here, much smaller county, Charles City County. The last thing you're looking at is down here. We talked about this a lot tonight. But in McAuliffe playbook, he flipped them. Those are blue. And they're right now red. And so, you're looking, oh, can we get them back?

First, let's look at the democratic areas. Norfolk, 75%. So, there are some more votes here. You're looking at 15,000-vote margin where we are now.

TAPPER: What is the margin right now? What is the statewide, what is the margin?

KING: Right, that's the point.

TAPPER: It's 85,000. Assuming you get 5,000 votes there, 5,000 votes there, 5,000 votes there, you have to do that so many times. You eventually run out of counties.

KING: Exactly. You eventually run of counties. So, we look down here, one blue spot, Southwest Virginia, Roanoke. Again, 95%, 4000 votes. You might pick several hundred, maybe a thousand more.

TAPPER: It is tiny.

KING: Right. So, you can look and you can find maybe 700 or 800,000 here, maybe a couple thousand there. You piece it around and you look at that 85,000 and you think, can you get there? Most improbable. Most improbable but that's why we keep counting just to be sure.

TAPPER: So, one other thing I just wanted to note, one of the other things that Glenn Youngkin had going for him beyond his campaign, which obviously deserves credit for the strong showing, is the sentiment in the air and you brought this up before.

One of the things a top Democrat said to me last week was look at how the top three candidates do, not just for governor but for lieutenant governor, which is a separate race, they run separately, and attorney general, and if the lieutenant governor and attorney general Democratic candidates win, Terry McAuliffe loses, then that might be specific to Terry McAuliffe not being the ablest campaigner.

But if all three win and we still don't even know about the House of Delegates, then it's a larger message about the Democratic Party. What that message is will be interpreted differently by progressives and moderates and the like. That's for them to sort out. So, tell me about the lieutenant governor's race. Where are we?

KING: Do it in the context of -- remember, 51-48 --

TAPPER: Fifty-one-48, Youngkin.

KING: Or look at the Youngkin vote total, lieutenant governor.

TAPPER: It's almost the same exact vote total.

KING: Almost identical and the margin just about the same.

TAPPER: Ninety-four percent in. We haven't call this yet. If this holds, we will go down in history as the first woman of color lieutenant governor or elected official statewide in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia. That was going to happen no matter what. It looks like right now the Republican is in the lead with 94% in. What about the incumbent Democratic attorney general?

KING: Again, there you go.

TAPPER: He is losing. The same thing, 1.5 million for Jason Miyares.

KING: At 51-49.

TAPPER: At 51-49. Mark Herring, the incumbent Democrat, 49%, 95% reporting. So, this was a rejection of the democratic slate, is my point.

KING: It wasn't --

TAPPER: Glenn Youngkin, I'm not trying to take away from him, but in addition to everything he did right and everything Terry McAuliffe did wrong, everything Joe Biden (INAUDIBLE), this was, we want change, we don't want Democrats.

KING: Yes, this is --

TAPPER: Democrats are the ruling party in Virginia right now.

KING: This was -- he ran against him, but he also ran against Washington. He said, republicans, we need to send a message about schools, about the commonwealth, but also about the country. And yes, he brought the Republicans with him in a unified republican ticket.

Again, we're not quite to the finish line yet, even though the math is pretty convincing. The Republicans have not won a statewide office in the Commonwealth of Virginia since 2009. They are ahead for governor, ahead for lieutenant governor, ahead for attorney general, three constitutional offices they have not held in more than a decade.


And you mentioned, in the case of the attorney general, he is an incumbent --

TAPPPER: Incumbent.

KING: -- who thought about running for governor. And he's a former governor, former national party chairman, friend of the president of the United States, friend of the Clintons, a national institution, if you will, a very prominent figure in the National Democratic Party, and the Commonwealth of Virginia appears to be saying, we want to turn the page.

TAPPER: Well, but it is also -- I mean, it is imminently predictable in the sense that these off-year elections are quite often anti- incumbent.

KING: Right.

TAPPER: You look at these two, which one is changed and which one is more the same? You look at these candidates, you say which one is, I apologize for the ages here, but which one is new and which one is old. This is what voters generally want, new. Not necessarily new in terms of younger but a fresher face. Fresher face, more familiar face. Change, more of the same. That's what voters went to the pools and judged in a really not that complicated way.

KING: Anybody who runs a campaign in any party will tell you, if you could be the candidate of change in an environment where people are tired and frustrated, that's what's you're going to be.

People are tired, they're exhausted, they're frustrated, they want things to be different, they want COVID to be over, they want to feel safe about sending their kids to school, they want -- wherever you are on the question of masking up or mandates or anything like that, you'd like it to be over. It's been a long time.

That doesn't mean you don't practice safety, you don't have the patience to bear it out, but 19 months into this, the country is tired. So, it is striking one year after Joe Biden won this in a walk, that's where we are.

TAPPER: Indeed. Indeed. Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, fascinating. Scott Jennings, we've been talking a lot about the Democrats, the battles between progressives or moderate wing of the Democratic Party. Democrats need progressives in order to get people to come out.

At the same time, progressives turn off a lot of other people who might otherwise vote for Democrats. The Republicans have a problem of the former president. Obviously, he motivates a large part of the base. But is this the solution for that problem?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, in algebra, we are often trying to solve for X. In Republican politics, we're often trying to solve for T, for Trump. And Youngkin figured it out. He kept Trump out of the race, basically. He didn't campaign there. He didn't wake up every day talking about it. He didn't feel a need to respond to every grievance or whatever. He kept focused on the issues.

And here to furor, some Republican candidates would have said, well, then you're running the risk of the MAGA voters not turning out. But look at the map. The rural counties not only came out, they came out huge. So, it turns out that Glenn Youngkin has solved for this problem in that you could run a race based on issues, continue to attract the Trump base, get a path back in the suburbs, and take advantage, frankly, of enormous collapse of the Democratic Party in rural areas.

That's how we win. That's how we're going to be successful, when you could put the suburbs back together with the rural areas the way we used to do.

COOPER: What if Donald Trump is running for president? What does that do to that question?

JENNINGS: I've been very clear. I think Republicans have an enormous chance to win in '22 and '24. Donald Trump is the least likely person to give the Republicans a chance to win back the White House. Somebody who can do what Glenn Youngkin did and put the coalition together, rural counties, people who voted for Trump, people who didn't vote Trump but like to vote Republican, suburban moms.

And by the way, look at the ticket. People who look like America, the African American women. We just elected the lieutenant governor. The Hispanic that we just elected to attorney general. Republicans have solved this coalition issue in Virginia, suburbs, rural, female, male, white, Black, Hispanic. That's how we win. And so, if we follow the Youngkin blueprint, talk about issues, put together a ticket that looks and sounds like America, you can do it.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: The question is whether that's transferable, Scott. As Gloria pointed out earlier, he came through a convention. He didn't have to run a protracted primary. Trump endorsed him and he paid tribute to Trump but it wasn't a lengthy process.

And the question is, can candidates run in primaries without getting entangled with Trump and identified with Trump to the extent that Youngkin did not?

The second issue is Trump himself. He's watching these shows tonight. I can only imagine how he's processing this as you and others say Youngkin successfully kept him out of the state, did not mention his name, he wasn't part of it.

As you pointed out in between breaks here, he sent out like 10 statements tonight trying to claim credit for this victory. But the idea that Donald Trump, because he's so self-aware, is going to say, you know, I think I will just sit it out because I think I would hurt these candidates if I actually came out and campaign, well, I don't see that happening.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, he's never going to do that. Everything has to be about Donald Trump.


And even tonight, when in fact Terry McAuliffe tried to make it about Donald Trump and it wasn't about Donald Trump, Donald Trump made it about Donald Trump. The head of the Republican Party made it about Donald Trump and said that Youngkin would not have won otherwise.

So, I think there's no way for these candidates to say, oh, you know, Mr. President, really, is it okay if you don't come to my state? That's not going to work. This was a special case. He did not have a divisive primary as we've all been talking about. This is the state of Virginia. And so, maybe there are some up.

But look at what is going on in Ohio and the other candidates who Mitch McConnell would rather not have running for the United States Senate but Donald Trump has endorsed. And so, they are going to hang like an albatross there because they may not be able to win.

If you think that -- the question is and I don't know the answer to this, does Donald Trump have the juice that he had a year ago? And it depends whether he announces that he is going to run. It depends whether you look at Virginia and say, you know, these voters who did not like Trump last time like Youngkin and they said, okay, you are yesterday's news. I mean, we don't know the answer to that. We really don't know how Trump is going to impose himself.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's hard to know. Here is what I think this is taking the bigger picture back. This is clearly, if you look over the past couple of elections now, this is not left-wing period for the country, it's not a right-wing period for the country, it's a turbulent and volatile period, when you see this much emotion in such a short period of time.

And so, I think Democrats have to look in the mirror now because the New Jersey situation, you don't have a bunch of critical race theory stuff there, you don't have a bunch of Trump, you don't have Terry McAuliffe, doing -- there's something happening out here. It could be just anti-incumbent. I think that's a part of it. But I think there's something else happening.

I think that the Democrats are coming across in ways that we don't recognize, that are annoying and offensive and seem out of touch in ways that I don't think show up in our feeds when we are looking at our kind of echo chamber. And I think that this is a message here because Scott was describing --

COOPER: When you are talking about our, you are talking about Democrats, because it seems annoying to a lot of people.

JONES: I'm just saying, if you look at the way that Democrats tend to construct our argument to ourselves, I think --

COOPER: I see it in my feeds a lot. Just so you know.

JONES: I'm trying to make a point here, which is that there is an opportunity, I think, for Democratic Party to take this seriously. To say -- Scott was making a point about the coalition they got to build to win. It's the rural folks, plus suburban folks, and a piece of urban America. That's the coalition they got to win. We got to win a different way but it goes through those same suburban voters and we got to have a bigger outcome in the urban area.

You know, I think when it is all over, you are going to see that the suburban -- what we thought was part of this democratic coalition was really this anti-Trump coalition with a whole bunch of volatility at the edges for Black and brown voters and at the center for the suburban voters, and we don't have the right issues yet and the right rhetoric yet and frankly the right attitude of humility and listening yet to get them.

AXELROD: I think that the attitude is important, Van. You know, we become, you know, Democratic Party, what you have seen is it's become a more college educated urban party in coalition with minority voters, and the message is tend to be moralizing.

JONES: Moralizing.

AXELROD: It's like we are going to tell you, we will tell you what is right. And no connection to people who work with their hands, people who work with their backs, rural voters. So that is part of the problem. As you know, race courses through this as well.

I want to make a couple of points. One is, while we nationalize all of this and clearly something national is going on here, there also was kind of a property tax revolt in New Jersey, and that was part of what motivated that.

So, we should not try and reduce everything to national politics. It's not to say this is not a stunning result in New Jersey. However, it turns out. But I also think that, you know, what John King said earlier is important to keep in mind. I do think Democrats have work to do. I do think there are some soul-searching that Democrats have to do.


It's also true that if the virus is subdued, if the economy takes off, then 2022 may be different than 2021. I remember 2010 very well. I knew two years in advance that it was going to be an annihilation for the Democratic Party. Why? Because we were told by economists, we're never going to get out of this problem by 2010. We are still going to be feeling the effects of this recession no matter what you do by 2010.

And Democrats were holding seats that were really sort of -- they were not friendly ground. They were big democratic majorities in 2006 and '08 because of the war. So, it stood to reason Democrats were going to get beaten badly in 2010. This economy may turn around a lot faster. And if you can avoid inflation and the economy can -- well, you laugh about it, but I mean --

JENNINGS: Avoid it? How about get out of it? I mean --


AXELROD: Scott, we know that there are supply chain issues and a lot of things animating this. I'm not saying this is all going to happen. I'm not saying it's all going to happen. You're feeling good tonight. You should feel good tonight. This was a big night for the Republican Party. I'm just saying that I would not -- I would not rule out the possibility that circumstances will be different a year from now, Joe Biden will be trading higher, and therefore, the Democratic Party will be trading higher.

BORGER: I think the party has to take inventory right now. They spent the last year arguing. You know, people watch what is going on in Congress. There, like, what do you want? What do you believe? What's number one? Again, COVID is a part of this and delta variant was a part of it, but I think now you have to sort of take a step back and say, wait a minute, what can we deliver that the people want?

We can't say it. And this is what you should want. This is what we think is good for you. And that's where Terry McAuliffe got in trouble, saying, you know, oh, I know, you know, you shouldn't be involved in your kid's education or whatever that misstep was.

But instead of saying this is what is good for you -- we have a couple of things that we think is really going to help your life, whether it's family and medical leave or changes in Medicare. Focus on these things that affect people when they feel bad because inflation is bad.

And they go to the grocery store, the prices are high, they don't like it. They're not earning what they think they should be earning. They discovered during COVID they didn't like their jobs very much, right? So, there's this uncertainty. AXELROD: But Democrats would say to you that that's a lot of what this "build back better" package was about.


AXELROD: The problem was, because of procedural demands, they had to load this all into one big --

BORGER: Thing.

AXELROD: -- colossus --


AXELROD: -- and the colossus took precedent over the parts -- the parts are more powerful than the sum. The parts are popular. The sum is not. The big debate over whether it's $3.5 trillion or $1.7 trillion leaves people cold.

BORGER: Exactly.

AXELROD: And the inability to explain what is actually in it and what would touch people's lives, I think, has really hurt Democrats here. I kind of think that that was how Biden thought he would be spending his summer. Instead, he was fighting the virus and dealing with Afghanistan and issues that took him away from this. He lost a lot of valuable --

JONES: The danger of us as Democrats falling between the two chairs, on the one hand, Biden holds out the promise, I can bring people together and get stuff done. That is the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, hard infrastructure. So, that's the part of Biden that some people like. That bill hasn't gotten passed.

The other part of Biden that frankly a lot of our base voters voted for is maybe this guy has enough empathy and cares for our pain enough, he might do something bold to help us, send us some help, send us some economic relief. He also hasn't gotten that done.

And so, when you fall between who chairs, then you leave us in a great deal of danger because some of our base voters are tired already. In other words, you got people who say, listen, I stood in long lines, I believed I worked hard, I'm an African-American, I'm a Latino, this and that, I haven't seen anything on voting rights or anything on police reform, haven't seen anything at all, and I don't feel the help is coming to me, why should I keep participating?

So, the stakes are quite high for Biden to deliver. He's got to deliver for somebody because, otherwise, the moderates walk away, the progressives sit down, and we are going to get really, really hurt next year.

BORGER: Early on, he did the America Rescue Plan. And so, he did deliver er on that without Republicans on that. And people gave him credit for that. But then it kind of ran out. And now, you're moving to another step. I think the question is, people get in their car and they would like to see the infrastructure changed.


AXELROD: People want to pay less for gas. But you know something, Gloria? I don't think he actually got credit for the rescue act.

BORGER: He did it well --

AXELROD: I mean, you know, he passed this sort of historic child tax credit. People were getting checks. They have no idea. You know, everybody ridiculed Donald Trump for signing every check. But, you know, he's nothing, if not a marketer. He understood. People said, well, Donald Trump sent me a check. Nobody really recognized where the -- well, I mean, I think a lot of Democrats are asking that question.

JENNINGS: At some juncture, you have to ask yourself when you're trying to pass any kind of policy agenda, what I'm trying to pass actually popular? I think Democrats may have talked themselves into believing, because David said that these individual things are popular, but the sum of it, the enormity of it and the fighting about it is not popular.

And ultimately, if what people care about, gas prices and it cost $11 to buy bacon, when it's available, do I think this $1.75, $3.5 trillion, whatever it turns out to be, do I think this is really germane to the day-to-day stuff? And it doesn't seem to me from the polling that is out there that people do believe that it is germane. At the same time, I also think this.

At the same, I also believe that while I'm -- while voters are worried about the day-to-day economic issues, they're being brow beaten in saying that if you don't support these Democrats, if you decide to go with the Republican in Virginia, then you're voting for a racist, you're voting for white supremacist, you're essentially voting for Donald Trump all over again.

And people out there do not believe that about themselves. They don't want to be told that about themselves. And I don't think they fundamentally believe that America is full of the hateful kind of people that McAuliffe and Biden and the rest told us that Virginia was full of. And they rejected that today.

And I think Democrats are going to have a difficult election if they continue to paint America in such a negative light when Republicans fundamentally are going to say, look, we are good people, we all want the same thing, and we have an issue set that will appeal to you.

JONES: I think that is fair enough, but what I will say is this. Part of the reason that progressives have been wanting to fight so hard and continue to fight so hard for the reconciliation package is because not only stuff in there popular, it's desperately needed by whites, Blacks, brown folks, red states, blue states.

When you talk about getting hearing aids for your grandma, when you talk about getting dental care for your grandparent, when you talk about getting pre-K for kids so that kids have a better shot, that is not left or right, that is massively popular.

I think the frustration from the progressives is, we put forward substantively popular stuff and then we get hit with CRT. We get hit with stuff that makes it -- what the heck are you guys talking about? We're trying to deliver you real stuff and we have to go with the nonsense.

And so, I think that's why. We may overreact to that and I may be guilty of that myself. But I think the problem that we have is we're trying to deliver stuff that's good in Appalachian as well as the hood and still we get hit with the CRT stuff. That makes it hard for us to participate.

JENNINGS: On the school issue, the CRT issue is just one of several education issues that have been building over time.

JONES: The one thing about that, when you have somebody who runs for governor and wins, attacking Toni Morrison, and African-American Pulitzer Prize-winning national treasure, that lands very, very badly. You might say there's a whole bunch of other stuff in there, but that's what ire was about, the ire on the other side.

COOPER: I have to go to Jake in D.C. Jake?

TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson. We have a key race alert for you now. Let's check in where we are on these two incredibly competitive gubernatorial races. First, to New Jersey, the Garden State. In a shocker, Jack Ciatterelli is up with 50.2% of the vote, incumbent Democrat Governor Phil Murphy at 49% of the vote. Ciatterelli, 23,420 votes ahead with 73% of the vote in. It is too close to call. There is remaining 27% of the vote left to count, but this is a result very few people saw coming.

In Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 95% of the vote in, Republican Glenn Youngkin is up with 51.2% of the vote, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has 48.1%. There is 96,000-vote lead for Republican Glenn Youngkin. Still five percent of the vote is out. We are waiting for that to come in. But still, a shockingly great night for the two Republican gubernatorial candidates that were on the ballot this evening.

KING: Where do you want to start?

TAPPER: Let's go to New Jersey because it's more of the shocker.