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CNN Live Event/Special
Dead Heat in New Jersey Race; GOP's Youngkin Wins Virginia Governor's Race; CNN Projects Eric Adams Wins New York City Mayoral Race. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired November 03, 2021 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know what that music means. It means it's Election Night in America. I'm Don Lemon and this is CNN's continuing coverage of Election Night in America.
An incredible race for governor in New Jersey. It is a dead heat, as you can see over my left shoulder right now. Fewer than 600 votes are separating Republican Jack Ciattarelli and Democrat incumbent governor Phil Murphy, who many expected to just walk away with it.
Didn't happen. Ciattarelli was leading for most of the night but Murphy has closed that gap now and the outstanding votes are coming in from heavily Democratic counties. So we will be watching it all very closely this hour.
And in the race for governor in Virginia, CNN projects Republican Glenn Youngkin is the winner there, beating out Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who was joined by the campaign -- on the campaign trail, I should say, by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Also, the former president Barack Obama showing up there as well. Virginia voters sending a big message to Democrats.
But right now, New Jersey, still up for grabs and that's why we need to head over this way to the magic wall -- John Avlon.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Battle for Jersey, man, look. One year ago, Joe Biden wins by 16 points. Democrats thought they had this one in the bag. They forgot that one of the things that Murphy is trying to do is be the first Democrat re-elected in 40 years.
AVLON: Tight as can be tonight, 565 votes apart. Tied 49-46. Here is the deal, though, where those outstanding votes are. Where there is 80 percent reporting in, 20 percent of the vote out, these are Democratic heavy counties, particularly in Jersey, Newark, Trenton, Camden.
And that's why Democrats, even though it shocked them, being ahead for most of the night, feel fairly confident that Murphy can make up that ground when the morning comes.
LEMON: Well, at first, it was, well, you know, Murphy's winning. And then, whoa, look at this. Ciattarelli is getting close. And now, it is going back the other way.
LEMON: We still have this one red and it's Atlantic City. But not as populous as Camden.
AVLON: Yes. This is -- this is the Atlantic City county. But -- but yes. The southern part of the state is just not as populous. These -- these are the major areas. But this is a -- this is something Democrats didn't think they'd have to be fighting, in a war of attrition, to win New Jersey. They are.
LEMON: This is what, I think, Terry McAuliffe and some Democrats are -- what the hell happened in Virginia?
AVLON: Well, let's take a look at what happened in Virginia because it's a big deal and it is a cautionary tale.
Look, Democrats had had a lock on the state, it seemed, in statewide races since 2009. Now McAuliffe knew, as a former governor, that, actually, Virginia, with the exception of one race out of the last 10 since 1973, had always voted for a governor from the opposition party of the new president.
It went back to form. Youngkin running out with Trump at arm's length really made some gains. And let's look at how he did that.
LEMON: Let me ask you, so then is this a -- is this a -- I don't know if we should call it bellwether or sign of things to come.
Or is this just a race?
Because this is the way it normally happens here.
Biden did win by 10 points, right?
AVLON: He -- he did. Look, Democrats have been feeling that Virginia was moving their way with population growth and urban and suburban centers. Youngkin reset that. And I think that's a real cautionary tale for Democrats, who thought that a really strong campaigner and former governor like Terry McAuliffe could pull it off.
Here's what I want to show you, though, because it's important. Youngkin deserves a lot of credit. He overperformed Donald Trump in every county in the state, red and blue. Donald Trump was a drag on the Republican ticket. Youngkin was able to appeal to his base with a lot -- lot of themes but keep him at arm's length.
Didn't want to campaign with him and so he was able to win back a lot of moderates and independents and suburban voters; whereas, Terry McAuliffe overperformed Biden nowhere. That's a real problem. He even saw erosion from Ralph Northam's win four years ago, particularly in the southern part of the state.
LEMON: Wasn't -- and Northam was going through some controversy even, then, right?
AVLON: No, that was mid -- mid in his term after a Blackface controversy, thought he was going to resign. Totally different deal now. McAuliffe had left popular, a sort of pro-jobs, centrist Democrat.
It didn't matter. Democrats have had real erosion in districts and counties that Northam and Democrats had won four years ago and that Biden won one year ago. Boom.
LEMON: See you.
AVLON: See you.
LEMON: Over to the panel, now. All right. So listen. What is this -- say, Mark, I want to ask you, because if you look at that board where, you know, there was erosion and, you know, Democrats underperformed. He overperformed.
But isn't that what usually happens when the opposition party, like -- the opposite wins in Virginia, usually in the governor's race?
Whoever -- whoever's not in the White House?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Sure. And I will answer this question but I need one of the -- OK. I needed the energy from that, from -- from the Avlon segment.
We need more Millennials at CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are they doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we doing?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Only one at the table.
LEMON: Millennials do not text, hey, how you doing?
PRESTON: You know what's interesting about tonight is -- is then what we've seen in past elections, certainly in these off-year elections, is that we are in an entirely new political landscape right now. The Donald Trump phenomenon, COVID that has hit us the last two years.
The political parties, as Bakari was noting earlier and Laura has, as well as Alice and yourself, is that the political parties are not the same political parties they were 12 months ago, let alone what they were 24 months ago.
So you have a Democratic Party right now, that is infighting and killing one another. You are seeing a Republican Party tonight that is unified but only unified because Donald Trump's loud voice wasn't part of this election.
What I do think you are going to see happen though, as we go forward, is you are going to see this Democratic Party still in disarray and I think that Youngkin has the potential to take a lot of wind out of the Trump sails because I've already been hearing from centrist Republicans, saying -- well, well, that's where I am going.
Imagine how lucky we are, then. Let me pave the way for you there.
LEMON: Do Millennials say mind meld?
OK, so --
PRESTON: Centrist Republicans are already looking at Virginia right now and looking at Youngkin to try to be their savior, to try to overcome Trump owning the Republican Party.
LEMON: Alice Stewart, so, everywhere pretty much around the country, where Republicans won, Donald Trump didn't. And then tonight, you have what you have in Virginia. And I'm just saying.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, but the --
LEMON: Overindexing him?
STEWART: -- yes, the shininess is off the penny and look. As soon as this was clear that Glenn Youngkin was going to win, we're getting emails from Donald Trump, taking credit for this.
STEWART: And even the RNC said this was MAGA voters out there that helped pull this across the line for Youngkin.
Look, if there were so many MAGA voters in Virginia, Donald Trump would have won Virginia. If there were so many MAGA voters that supported him in Georgia, we would have two senators from Georgia.
And the fact of the matter is that, with Donald Trump, look, I support his policies 100 percent. I don't agree with the tone and tenor. But if the MAGA vote was so strong, he would still be president. We would still have the House and we would still have the Senate.
The magic formula moving forward is to embrace the policies, embrace the base but add to that and do away with the tone and tenor that we had of Trump, because it is clearly not a winning formula.
There is only so many times you can run on the Trump name and lose until you have to realize you cannot do that anymore. And look, Trumpism worked for Trump but it's not working for anyone else. And I think the -- the sooner that the party can recognize the fact we
need to go back to traditional Republican values and traditional Republican ways and that's the way we are going to move forward.
Glenn Youngkin is not a Trump Republican. He is more of a Reagan-like Republican. And that was something that the traditional Republican voters in Virginia, like myself, supported. And that's the exact reason why he's the governor-elect.
LEMON: I got a question about progressives. Before we do that, I just want to stick with this. Is this -- and Alice and I were talking about this earlier -- I think that there is a win here for everyone. I really do.
I know that Democrats are, you know, now they are sort of licking their wounds, right?
If this is, in any sense, a return to politics as usual in any sense of the word, isn't that good for all of us?
We have got the craziness, possibly the wackos and the QAnons and the people who believe in the lies and all of that and the Big Lie and whatever.
If this is -- even if it's just a short -- a small move toward normal politics, is this good?
BARRON-LOPEZ: The question is we don't know, yet, if it will be a small and incremental move or an even bigger move for the Republican Party because, even to win, Youngkin did have to win the Trump base.
And to win the Trump base, he went on Sam Gorka's (ph) show, who has been tied with neo-Nazis. He also did the wink and the nod with saying there should be an audit of the Dominion Voting Machines, while also saying that Biden's win was credible. There was that acknowledgement.
LEMON: Double speak.
BARRON-LOPEZ: There was double speak. There was a -- a -- the wink and the nod to conspiracy theorists, to the Trump base that, I'm with you. I understand you. I'm there.
You know, Sam Gorka (ph), after he went on his show, fully said, look, he is one of us. He is a Trump Republican even though, at the same time, Youngkin didn't want to campaign with Trump.
BARRON-LOPEZ: The other difference, too, is in these primaries, is Trump going to stay away in all of the Republican primaries?
And if he is not, then you are most likely going to see a lot of Republicans still very much stick with Trump. I mean, this still is his party.
That's why you only see a handful of Republicans in the House deciding that they are either going to vote to impeach or that they are going to stand with Democrats on the January 6th committee to get to the bottom of what happened there and also, push back against the election lies. That is all still very present and not going anywhere.
So Bakari, I will give you two choices here. We can talk about Winsome Sears or we can talk about progressives -- if you can do both -- because Democrats need progressives to win.
They fire up the Democrats' -- whatever -- the voters, they go out upon but they also fire up Republicans to go out and vote against them. So it's a double-edged sword there.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, it is but I mean I go back to the point I made two hours ago and that is, that regardless of whether or not it's progressive or moderate, you have to do something.
And right now, the fights that we're having show -- I mean, it reminds me -- Democrats in D.C. now remind me of infrastructure week for Republicans.
Remember every infrastructure week during the Trump administration?
And they also remind me of, when we are talking about Build Back Better and the transportation bill, they remind me of, every week, we were going to get a new health care plan from the Republican Party. Every week they were going to -- and they never got there.
And so, that type of chaos in the legislative process is just -- it's not conducive to winning in states like Virginia. And -- and the pressure that was built from national Democrats on the Terry McAuliffe campaign and the lack of him homing in on those state and local issues, it -- it proved too much for him to bear.
LEMON: The race was -- right -- front and center in this campaign with the critical race theory and the so-called banning of books but you also had a Black woman who was elected lieutenant governor. Her name is Winsome Sears, first woman of color in the office of the commonwealth's history. You know, some are saying this proves that it isn't about race.
Do you agree with that?
SELLERS: Congratulations to the lieutenant governor-elect.
SELLERS: It reminds me of when Thurgood Marshall was asked about Clarence Thomas replacing him. And it was one of the more powerful moments that Thurgood Marshall had. And he was talking about someone who was Black and of color replacing him. And he says that it doesn't matter -- in paraphrasing, of course, the great Thurgood Marshall.
it doesn't matter if that person is of color if they don't reflect and promote the values that would help move his people along.
And so, I -- I'm very happy; she ran an amazing campaign. She won. And I know that here we go and I am going to get in trouble for this. But it reminds me of Nina Simone and many others, who stated that, you know, all -- all skin folk ain't your kinfolk.
And there is a -- a huge, huge gulf between what the lieutenant governor-elect stands for and what is best for African Americans throughout this country.
LEMON: A lot more to come here on Election Night. Voters sending a clear message to Democrats and President Biden.
LEMON: We are back now with CNN's continuing coverage of Election Night in America. The race for governor of New Jersey, too close to call. A dead heat between incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli.
And CNN projects that Republican Glenn Youngkin wins the race for governor of Virginia, beating Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Let's get some analysis from CNN's senior data reporter, Harry Data Enten.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.
LEMON: Yes, you like that, right?
ENTEN: HDE now.
LEMON: What -- what do you know, Data, about this -- the outstanding votes in New Jersey?
What can you tell us?
ENTEN: Yes. I mean, look, as we pointed out, they tend to be in overwhelmingly Democratic counties, one of which in fact, where we believe the most votes out of the percentage of votes that have come in, is Mercer County. Trenton is in Mercer. Princeton is in Mercer.
And we believe -- at least, I believe, looking at the numbers, Patrick Murphy (ph) is a pollster down at Monmouth University, also believes if you check out his Twitter, that there is a lot of vote by mail that hasn't been counted there.
I don't need to tell you who the people who vote -- who voted vote by mail tend to favor. It's Phil Murphy. It's the Democrats. So it's not just that the vote that's out, the counties that are out, are Democratic counties; it's also the types of votes that are out in those counties.
And right now, I believe there is still a lot of vote by mail out. So if -- you know, look. We don't know who has won this race but if it's dead even right now, I would clearly be putting my finger on the scale for Phil Murphy.
LEMON: And that's why Phil Murphy is so confident, seemed -- appeared to be happy, speaking, saying every vote should be counted.
ENTEN: Right. Exactly. And we have seen that -- remember, Phil Murphy was down 3 or 4 points earlier this evening. As more of the vote's been counted, he has sliced that. Now we are basically dead even. And I expect Phil Murphy will eventually pull ahead.
LEMON: Let's go to Virginia, which was -- I don't know if we can call it an upset because you have been saying over the past couple -- at least the past month -- that this is all moving in the direction of -- of Youngkin.
But in Virginia, it was these sort of social -- these cultural issues that were -- came to fore, critical race theory, school choice or parents' choice in school.
How -- how did that impact the vote?
ENTEN: I mean, if you look and you look at those who said essentially that -- that parents should get a lot of say in what -- in what their children learn, look at who won that vote. It was overwhelmingly Glenn Youngkin. Look at that, 51 percent said that they should essentially have a lot of say in what the schools teach.
Youngkin won that vote by -- look at that -- nearly 4:1. It was clearly an issue that worked for him in this race.
But where did this issue fall?
Because the economy was the number one issue for voters in Virginia, right?
This issue was --
LEMON: I guess that was high up. But --
ENTEN: Right. Right. So essentially, if you look, the economy was numero uno. Number two was education. But look. If you look on the economy and jobs, among the 33 percent who said that that was the most important issue facing Virginia, Glenn Youngkin won on that, too.
All of a sudden, Glenn Youngkin won on economy, jobs, education, tax as the top three issues, even won on abortion. The only issue on which Terry McAuliffe won was coronavirus. And maybe two or three months ago, that was high up on the voters' list.
But at this point, look at that. Just 14 percent of voters said that was the most important issue. So if you are winning on all the top issues, it makes it much easier to win.
LEMON: Thank you, Data.
ENTEN: Thank you, Don. Don Data. Don Data Lemon.
LEMON: No, no, Data. That is it.
ENTEN: I thought -- I thought I was Data Jr.
LEMON: Yes. OK. There you go.
ENTEN: I always wanted to be your son.
LEMON: You're so weird.
LEMON: We are going to take a quick break. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.
LEMON: All right. Our coverage continues now. I want to bring in CNN's John Avlon or bring back CNN's John Avlon.
I want to start with the mayoral race in Buffalo. There is no projection there yet. But the Democratic socialist candidate, India Walton, is behind in the vote for write-ins. The incumbent mayor Byron Brown has -- he's strong here. He's got the -- if this holds up, these write-ins, then he will be the mayor.
AVLON: That's right and this is a fascinating race because a lot of Democratic socialists had put a lot of faith in the fact that India Walton had won, beaten the four-term incumbent, Byron Brown, in a Democratic primary, narrowly but she won.
But Brown decided to fight back with a write-in campaign, which is the kind of thing you only saw in Alaska, for example, when Lisa Murkowski lost back in 2010. But that's the dynamic we are seeing.
We talk a lot about how close partisan primaries can lead to unrepresentative results of the Republican Party. That seems to be what is playing out here. Once the general election happens, even with a write-in campaign, you had twice as many folks vote. And it looks like the incumbent might pull it off, extraordinary.
LEMON: All right. So Atlanta, we have got Felicia Moore, the city council president in Atlanta, leading against more than a dozen other candidates, including the former mayor, Kasim Reed. Look, CNN is projecting the race is going to go to a runoff.
AVLON: That's right. And folks assumed that Reed would make that runoff. But he slipped just behind Andre Dickens, city council member and the president of the city council, Felicia Moore.
First of all, congratulations to the world champion Atlanta Braves. They won the World Series tonight. They deserve some props for that.
But this really is a shocker. Not that it's going to a runoff but that Reed fell out at the last minute in the top two positions. Here is the thing. Crime has really been driving the politics in Atlanta.
Crime has been rising, as it has been nationally. And all the top three candidates, Felicia Moore, Andre Dickens and Kasim Reed all made crime the top priority. Reed had been most aggressive on it.
He has not made the runoff but it does, I think, show that first of all, politics is local. And second of all, that some national themes, crime in particular, that drives voters big-time right now.
LEMON: Wasn't Reed the favorite?
AVLON: He has certainly the highest name ID, city council president, powerful position. There had been some clouds of allegations around some of his cronies from his previous time in office. But folks thought he would make that runoff so that is a real shocker tonight.
LEMON: Let's here, New York, Eric Adams.
AVLON: Not a shocker.
LEMON: He ran crime. Crime was the number one thing in his campaign.
AVLON: It was but Eric Adams really -- I mean, he hopes to present himself as a national model. And look. That 2-1 win is not surprising.
AVLON: I mean, he won every county in New York, except Staten Island. But what Adams did to win the Democratic primary's interesting. He was tough on crime but he said he'd be tough on police abuse of power as well.
He was pro-business but also said he was representing the interest of working-class New Yorkers, particularly communities of color. So he was able to bring together a broad coalition for this decisive win although, interestingly, almost the exact same margins as Bill de Blasio had in his last reelection. LEMON: Ah, interesting. CNN is now projecting that Minneapolis
rejected a ballot measure to overhaul policing that was drafted in the wake of George Floyd's death there -- murder.
I mean, this is a big rebuke of -- this wasn't quite -- they didn't say defund the police but everyone saw that it was inching toward that.
What is that?
AVLON: It was the closest we have seen to defund the police, a flawed slogan at best, being put on the ballot in real legislation. Here is what it would have done.
It would have taken the police department out of the charter and replaced it with a department of public safety and removed requirements to hire a certain number of officers and had that new department report up to both the city council and the mayor.
That was rejected in Minneapolis. Again, violent crime rising in Minneapolis and you saw polling around defund the police, which was never terribly popular, going down as crime has gone up. So going down to defeat.
Question two, a ballot initiative with national implications.
LEMON: OK. Boston, right?
Boston. I am not going to even try the Boston accent.
AVLON: Thank you for that.
LEMON: You have city councilor Michelle Wu set to become the next mayor, first Asian American, first woman of color --
AVLON: 36 years old.
LEMON: -- the moderate challenger conceded. It's interesting. She's a progressive.
AVLON: Yes. Big time.
LEMON: In the city of Boston.
AVLON: In the city of Boston. Look. That's where you got to say sometimes national trends on every local race doesn't hold. Wu was the more progressive candidate of the two, she was ahead in polling throughout the race and she won very convincingly tonight.
It was going to be a first, no matter who won, after a long string of white guys in Boston but Michelle Wu, really extraordinary, young; her family originally Taiwanese. She came to Boston as a student, stayed, was elected to city council. Now going to be the next mayor of Boston.
LEMON: John Avlon, thank you, sir.
CNN's coverage of Election Night in America continues, we'll be right back.
LEMON: Very big Election Night for Republicans, the race for governor in New Jersey, look at the dead heat, dead heat. Fewer than 600 votes separating Republican Jack Ciattarelli and the Democrat incumbent governor, Phil Murphy.
And CNN projecting Republican Glenn Youngkin will be the next governor of Virginia, beating Democrat Terry McAuliffe. I want to bring in now CNN senior political analyst, Mr. Ron Brownstein. Bring him back.
Ron, so when I spoke to you last hour, you said that Democrats' failure to pass Biden's agenda is a contributing factor to what we are seeing. But the principal element is dissatisfaction with the immediate conditions in the U.S. Explain that.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, look, I mean, in -- in the last NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll a couple days ago, 71 percent of the country said the nation is on the wrong track.
And when you have that level of dissatisfaction, which is probably driven primarily by the continuing disruptions to daily life with COVID, the inability to get it fully under control, even if that is rooted in the refusal of much of red America to get vaccinated, purple America is holding Democrats responsible for it.
Inflation, you know, the -- the disruptions in people's ability to buy things with the supply chain, just people are -- are feeling, you know, that Biden was promised a return to normalcy and here they don't have normalcy.
And -- and what you see, Don, in these elections so clearly, is that, in modern politics, it is simply impossible to -- to outrun the undertow from a president in your own party.
I -- I was looking earlier today when -- when Terry McAuliffe won the first time in 2013, Obama's approval rating in the exit poll in Virginia was 46 percent, which was about the same as Biden's tonight, which was 45 percent.
But back then in 2013, Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican, only won 80 percent of the people who disapproved of Biden -- I'm sorry, of Obama.
This time, Glenn Youngkin won 90 percent of the people who disapproved of Biden and which was basically the number of people who disapproved of Trump who voted Democratic in 2018. That is the reality of modern politics.
It is almost a national referendum, in which the president's approval rating just has enormous impact on every race. And I think the message can't be clearer to Democrats that, if Biden is in the same position in a year, they are going to have a really rough night. And they all need to figure out what they can do to help him rebuild his standing.
LEMON: OK. Having said that, then, even -- they have got to do something.
They have got to pass legislation, right?
So even if they do, how big an effect do you see that having on the midterm?
BROWNSTEIN: What I said is necessary but not sufficient. If you don't pass your agenda, you look incompetent to swing voters and you dispirit your own voters.
But passing it by itself is no guarantee. I mean, 1965 was the single most productive Congress since the Depression with Medicare and Medicaid, the Voting Rights Act and everything else that they did. And then the Democrats lost 47 seats in '66. Republicans lost 26 seats in '82, the year after Reagan's tax cuts.
Legislation, by itself, doesn't get you there. Ultimately, I think, you know, people say presidential elections are about the future. Midterms elections are about the present. And we are seeing, again, tonight, this was an election about the present.
And so, ultimately, the key, I think, in passing this is both to give them something to run on and say, yes, we are responding to your problem.
But it also -- once it's off the table -- Biden can begin to focus more on what really is front and center for Americans right now, which are these problems with inflation, with COVID, with the availability of products and the ability to buy cars and things.
So he needs to be seen as dealing with what Americans are worried most about now and -- and that -- and that is something that is not possible, really, as long as they are stuck in these interminable, intractable negotiations, basically with two people.
I mean, there are 270 Democrats in Congress right now and 268 of them are ready to move forward and maybe even Sinema at this point. Maybe it's 269.
LEMON: OK, let me ask you this, then.
Who calls the Democrats and says, let's have a meeting and get your sheet together?
I said sheet like S-H-E-E-T but you know what I meant.
LEMON: So who has the meeting and says,
OK, look, y'all, we're messing up?
And, because, look, there is some real -- when -- when a Republican steps out of line, right, they feel the heat. They feel the consequences. Sinema and Manchin or whomever, they are not feeling any consequences for not going along with. No one is feeling consequences. They are just like, oh, come on, let's coddle them and hopefully -- I'm just saying that's my observation.
BROWNSTEIN: Don, I would differentiate between the two of them actually, because I think Sinema has had a very different posture in the last week than she had earlier.
I mean, she -- she did negotiate a deal on the Medicare prescription drug, which looked like it was going to be out of the plan. She did work with Elizabeth Warren on, you know, tax -- an alternative tax approach after she refused, alone, among every Democrat in Congress to raise rates.
The problem is there really is no leverage over Joe Manchin. He is in a -- a Trump state by 40 points. If Democrats push him too hard, they do have the precedent of 2001 looming over them, which you and I have talked about before, when Republicans punished Jim Jeffords, a liberal Republican senator from Vermont, when those things existed, for not voting for the full Bush tax cut, he said, you know what?
I am now declaring myself an independent. I am not a Republican, joining in the Republican caucus anymore. And the 50-50 Republican controlled Senate went to a 50-49 Democratic Senate in -- in 2001. And that's kind of the ultimate leverage.
LEMON: OK. I get you. I get you. OK. I get you.
Then, who -- is there someone who can get them together and say, look, let's get this together?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, it's interesting.
LEMON: Is that the president?
BROWNSTEIN: That is the president. You know, I have talked to several Democratic -- Democratic senators and others, who have -- who have met with Manchin, who have said that, you know, deep down, he probably prefers there to be no reconciliation bill at all. That would be his preference.
You never hear him talk positively about it in public. Whenever he goes out in public, he just basically repeats Republican talking points against it. It's not much different in private, I am told.
But what Democrats say is that, even though he thinks it would be easier for him to just sink the whole thing, he understands both that that would sink the infrastructure bill that he does care about.
And also, that he does have a commitment, a belief that he does not want to undermine and destroy, you know, basically obliterate Biden's presidency by allowing his agenda to collapse.
So that is the one leverage, you know, point they have with -- with Manchin, that he does not want to see Biden's presidency collapse. And therefore, he is kind of going forward on reconciliation.
But you know, when -- when he says that nobody is compromised, you know, when they cut the price in half to meet primarily his objections, he is viewing it, I am told, from a perspective that, by his druthers, he'd spend zero on this.
So he feels like he's already given a lot. It's a really difficult situation for Democrats. But I think if there is any clear message from tonight is they need to get this done. They need to -- they need that success that would help Biden's approval rating.
And they also need to shift their focus back away from some of these longer-term changes toward being seen as dealing with the kitchen table concerns that people have right now.
LEMON: All right. I want you to stand by, Ron Brownstein. I have a key race alert for everyone.
LEMON: All right, everyone, take a look at the big board right now. You can see, they just updated New Jersey. It is even closer. Still, 49.6. But it is within 100 votes there. Very close. We are under 100 votes, 61 votes between Jack Ciattarelli and the incumbent Phil Murphy.
What does all of this mean?
Can he pull it out?
Will Phil Murphy pull it out?
We'll discuss, right after this.
LEMON: I am just going to get right back to our big panel there. And we can talk about these numbers and what's on the board, Laura Barron- Lopez, Mark Preston, Bakari Sellers, Alice Stewart.
So, look, you guys know what is happening around the country. We saw that the numbers keep changing in New Jersey. Slight updates, now and then. It is believed, you know, we are not calling this. If things continue to go the way they are and what is out, that Phil Murphy will pull it off but this is a shock to the system. PRESTON: It's going to be a wake-up call. You know, you asked Ron
Brownstein earlier, right before the commercial, you know, who is the leader that is a going to pull the Democratic Party out of this tailspin they are in?
And right now, there isn't a leader necessarily, because you have Joe Biden, who is clearly wounded, who potentially could run in a couple years but then you have Kamala Harris, who, you know, the Democratic Party -- more people in the Democratic Party probably want her to run in his place because she's young. You -- you know?
LEMON: That's not true.
PRESTON: A woman of color.
LEMON: That's not true.
PRESTON: No, no, no, that is totally true.
LEMON: No, people are wondering where Kamala Harris is.
PRESTON: She is the vice president. I mean, yes, people who say that don't understand how government works. I mean, the bottom line is there is going to be a president and the vice president always has to be subservient to the president.
I mean, that is a just how our politics work. But, no, here is the key. As the Democratic Party looks forward about who is going to be the one that helps them get their mojo back, I think you got to look at somebody here in New York. Hakeem Jeffries, who potentially is going to be the next Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, and I think --
LEMON: Push the party.
PRESTON: -- yes, you know, somebody who potentially could pull together the more centrist, the more liberal parts of the party.
LEMON: The reason I said that about the vice -- I get what you are saying.
But people are asking where is Kamala Harris?
What is -- what does she stand for?
What policy decisions?
What has happened with immigration she's been put in charge?
She is getting us pretty much as much criticism as the president. So that is the only reason.
PRESTON: And the right-wing media, by the way, is really pouring it on and they have been all night. If you watch any of the other channels, which I know you don't, but if you do watch some of the other channels if you look at social media, they are all going after Kamala Harris right now, in saying she is the one that said, if we lose in Virginia, then that's really going to dictate what happens over the next couple years.
They are trying to soften her up right now.
LEMON: Yes. Yes.
STEWART: I will nominate Bakari to be the one to bring the Democratic Party together.
I think you would do a fantastic job with that responsibility.
SELLERS: If I am still allowed in the room.
STEWART: But here is the thing to keep in mind. The Democratic Party right now -- as we know -- in control of White House, the House and the Senate, not being able to get anything done, it's not because of Republicans. It's because of the party infighting.
And they are so quick to point the finger at Joe Manchin for what they say, as him holding up the -- the progressive agenda.
STEWART: He's representing the people of his state, of West Virginia. And when -- when his people say, we don't need any more spending, we need to cut the fat, we need to look at programs that we agree on, that's what he is doing. He is representing the people of his state.
And that's what all of them are elected to do, is represent their people as opposed to being dictated by the party. And if the Democratic Party would look at what they can all agree on, we have bipartisan support for the actual infrastructure bill. And there's broad sweeping transformational change --
LEMON: I don't know why they haven't passed the infrastructure bill already.
STEWART: That's a win. Infrastructure bill passage is a win for the Democrats. They should go ahead and do that and then find the aspects of the transformational package, pass the ones that are -- have support. The rest of those issues, take them on the campaign trail and see if you can get support.
LEMON: What I will say about -- Bakari, you can jump in -- but what I will say is I understand what you are saying about Joe Manchin, he has to represent. But some of the ideas just that Joe Manchin is espousing or putting forth are regressive in a sense for the rest of the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No question.
LEMON: Coal is not something -- I mean, even my mom, who is, you know, and your mother, say like, coal is -- is not it. We're not going back to coal.
LEMON: People -- hold on -- people need child care. People have realized in this economy that they don't like their jobs. Workers have not had this -- haven't had this much sway over their jobs, right, leverage over the jobs and the salaries in decades, right?
If ever because of what happened with COVID. So I understand what you are saying about Joe Manchin.
But Joe Manchin also has to realize that what is best for his constituents may be what's best for the rest of the country. It's like having a house phone and an iPhone.
SELLERS: Let's take it a step further.
LEMON: House phones are out. IPhones are on the way in.
SELLERS: Let's take it a step further. When we talk about Joe Manchin representing his constituents, Joe Manchin stood in front and blocked a billionaire tax that could pay for many of the other things we wanted.
You talk about someone who is speaking for their constituents, how many billionaires do you have in West Virginia?
Zero. Literally, none.
So you are not representing your constituents. Instead, you are putting forth your ideology and you are pushing your ideology and using that leverage over an entire caucus that disagrees with you.
My biggest problem with Joe Manchin and others -- because it's not just Joe Manchin -- but others who are stifling the president, we didn't elect president Sinema. We didn't elect president Manchin. We elected Joe Biden to pass his agenda.
But even doing things like not -- even if you don't want to eliminate the filibuster, limiting the filibuster so we can pass voting rights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or a carve-out.
SELLERS: So we can have a conversation about criminal justice reform. We told -- we said, Joe Biden, if you don't want to carve out the filibuster, go get -- we told Joe Manchin, if you don't want to carve it out, go get 10 more Republicans.
He failed, right?
So this is where we are as a party. But I do want to say that the future of the party is still bright. I'm still a believer in Kamala Harris and I am still a believer in Pete Buttigieg. But even more importantly, tonight -- I mean, we -- we -- you ran down
a few races tonight. Justin Bibb is the newly elected mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. Ed Gainey is the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Quentin Hart won reelection in Waterloo. Sharetta Smith, first Black woman mayor of Lima, Ohio.
You had Ken Welch, who is the first Black mayor --
SELLERS: -- I had to throw that out there.
LEMON: Laura, my question is the frustration from Democrats, as he said, they elected Joe Biden. They didn't elect Manchin or Sinema or what have you.
But also, Democrats -- I hear it all the time -- Joe Biden needs to realize that this Kumbaya -- they say the word S -- is not going to work. They don't want to work with you Republicans, they are not going to work with you and there are people in your party who don't want to work with you.
Stop with the Kumbaya, be stronger, get your agenda passed. Make people face consequences for not helping you with your agenda.
BARRON-LOPEZ: It is a little bit harder when the president's approval rating is as low as it is. Sometimes lawmakers say I don't need to listen to you because your approval rating isn't that high.
That being said, there was a lot of frustration among House Democrats, particularly House Democratic leadership, when the president came to the Hill last week and did not ask -- explicitly ask for -- for the Democrats to put up the votes on the infrastructure bill.
There was no hard ask and Pelosi felt like she was left in the wind, trying to get the votes together. And that was because progressives said, we are not going to have the votes for you. We are not going to provide the votes for that.
Fast forward a week. Look, Democrats now appear poised in the coming week or so in the House to pass the infrastructure bill, unless moderates start to run scared in the House because of the results tonight.
They appear poised to pass the infrastructure bill, pass the social spending bill. But then, it is going to take another month or so, probably, in the Senate, because of Manchin, because of Sinema and other holdouts there.
LEMON: What -- go on, sorry.
BARRON-LOPEZ: So with Biden, yes, I mean, you know, in the White House, I think they are coming to an understanding of -- to be harder.
[03:55:00] BARRON-LOPEZ: To say look, the train is moving -- the train is leaving the station and this stuff needs to start passing right away because they understand that's the only way his approval -- his approval may start to rebound.
But it's also that, on other items, you were just mentioning voting rights, on police reform, on immigration, there are no Republican votes to be had. So part of why Democrats can't move there is because there are not 10 Republicans on that.
LEMON: I think -- I think they are realizing tonight, like when the president said and others said that votes simply aren't there, do you think Democrats are understanding tonight that the votes simply aren't there?
SELLERS: No, that's BS and let me tell you why because of the simple fact that if -- if it was Mitch McConnell, you know what he would do?
Ram it down the throats of the Democrats. We have seen him abolish the filibuster to ram through justices and ram through their agenda. And the fact is, Democrats, we don't have that dog.
We don't have that dog in us to go out there and do what the American people elected us to do. And so, yes, we -- we have the votes. We got 50 plus one.
BARRON-LOPEZ: Biden though even said it -- and I think it was in a CNN town hall -- where he said it, where he said that he could not start talking about carving out the filibuster or potentially changing the filibuster until his social spending bill and until the infrastructure passed because he knew that, if he started saying that that's where he was headed, you are not going to have Manchin and you are not going to have Sinema, you are not going to have other holdouts in the Senate that aren't ready.
LEMON: It is going to be very interesting to see what happens tomorrow, when the sun comes up and the lights go on and everyone is in front of cameras. I am going to be watching.
Thank you, all, I appreciate it. Interesting night. Stay with us. Much, much more straight ahead. CNN's coverage of Election Night in America continues.