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CNN Live Event/Special

Control of Congress at Stake. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 08, 2022 - 11:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Election Day in America. I'm Anderson Cooper, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Polls are now open in nearly every state. The doors opening now for voters in Alaska. Control of the Congress is at stake. Dozens of House races are considered tossups. Republicans need to win 30 competitive seats to win the majority in the Senate.

The race is likely to determine control of very tight -- Republicans need a net gain of just one seat to clinch the majority from Democrats. There are also 36 governor's races across the country and the outcome of which will have major impacts on everything from state elections to reproductive rights.

We have special election coverage from coast to coast. We want to begin with Jason Carroll live in Pennsylvania, where we're monitoring the very tight Senate race between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of eyes on this county. We're in lower Bucks County in a place called Bensalem. A lot of swing voters here, talking to them all morning long. We've seen them coming in to vote. A steady clip of voters coming in and out.

Talking about the issues that matter most to them. And as you could imagine, at the top of the list, a woman's right to choose, crime and the economy.


BRITTANY CASTOR, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I know from previous years I've swung both ways. It really depends on what the person stands for. That is who I vote for.

CARROLL: But this go around, a woman's right to choose drove you to the polls?

CASTOR: Absolutely.

CARROLL: And again you identify as Republican but this is the issue that -- (CROSSTALK)

CASTOR: This one stood out to me the most, yes.

WILLIAM CASTELBERG JR., PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: Crime is a big -- you know, it is really big in the city of Philadelphia. I would hate to see it come to the suburbs here in Bucks County. The second thing is inflation. You know, there are so many people that can't afford day- to-day. It is sad.


CARROLL: So Anderson, as you can see, a lot of diversity in terms of opinions. A lot of people willing to share opinions on camera. But I have to point out, just a short while ago I spoke to one woman, a woman of color, a teacher here.

And she told me that she was afraid to come on camera. She felt intimidated in this climate about sharing her opinion. And so that is the climate for some voters here as well in Bucks County -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jason Carroll, appreciate it.

There are two races in Georgia. Stacey Abrams is again trying to defeat Brian Kemp and while Raphael Warnock faced a challenge from Herschel Walker. Nick Valencia is in Atlanta.

How busy has it been this morning?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been consistent. We've seen the steady stream of voters, just like what Jason is witnessing. In the last 30 minutes, things have slowed down. It is expected to pick back up with the lunch hour rush.

This morning we saw about 20 people lined up outside of this polling location in Dekalb County. You might remember Dekalb County because it was decisive in handing Democrats a major victory during the 2020 general election.

Both Republicans and Democrats have indicated that they believe control of the Senate runs right through the state of Georgia. It is something that the incumbent senator, Raphael Warnock, mentioned yesterday during his closing rally in Columbus, Georgia.

And Herschel Walker believes he will be the rightful winner on Tuesday night. There is however, this possibility of a runoff floating around there, Anderson. In the state of Georgia, if you don't get 50 percent of the vote or more as a candidate, that triggers an automatic runoff.

That would happen on December 6th. Already 2.2 million votes, early votes cast in the 17 days of early voting. Behind me, people are in and out and in a matter of minutes. About two to three minutes on average, according to the secretary of state.

And no major outages; there were a few issues starting things up in a few polling places across the state but overall here things are smooth. And they're already about four hours into the votes -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nick, appreciate it.

This hour Wisconsin governor Tony Evers will cast his ballot. He faces a challenge from Republican Tim Michels. And we're also keeping an eye on the Senate race there. Lucy Kafanov is live at a polling place in Milwaukee.

What is it like there this hour?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, both of those races are extremely tight, the governor's race as well as the Senate race. The Senate race, of course, the outcome of which could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.


KAFANOV: This is an incredibly purple, closely contested state, where President Biden won by less than 21,000 votes. So it is really anyone's guess which way things will go. But for the voters here on the ground, at this polling location in Milwaukee, it is not so much about the balance of power; it is about the local issues, the issues that are important to them.

We spoke to a Democrat, a first-time voter, and a Republican, take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I'm at work and my friends are like, did you vote, did you vote?

And I'm like, OK, yes, I'm going, I'm going. I just feel like a lot of pressure.

KAFANOV: So the issues for you are?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women's rights -- I don't want to ruin your thing but -- legalizing marijuana --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- guns, you know, all the violence and stuff. That is not how America should be, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I think about taxes. For me, religious freedom is a big deal and that actually goes hand in hand with abortion, because to me that is tied to my personal beliefs. And I believe inflation is a big topic of conversation and how we can combat that.


KAFANOV: And it is not so much enthusiasm that we've seen here but rather the pressure that that young voter was talking about. It feels, they say, that the issues facing the country are quite serious right now. And so they are here to cast their ballots. And for the Democrats to win it is really going to depend on turnout

in the largely liberal cities like here in Milwaukee. For Republicans, the turnout in the conservative suburbs is going to be key.

And it is also going to depend on how independents cast their ballots. There has been a lot of early voting, nearly 719,000 early ballots cast. They are already being counted. But the polls close here at 9:00 pm. Again, Anderson, an incredibly close race that has national implications.

COOPER: Lucy, appreciate it. Check in with you shortly.

To Michigan now, where Gretchen Whitmer is fighting to keep her seat. Miguel Marquez is live in a polling place in Detroit.

How is it, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is busy here. We've driven across many polling places in Detroit and it is busy at them as well. They've had a ton of absentee votes, over 2 million absentee votes requested across the state; about 1.7 million returned so far. They expect those will go up.

And that will be the real issue for officials in Detroit and across the state, counting the absentee votes because they can't start processing them and counting them until today. So all of that process is happening at different boards around the state.

We're here with one voter who has just voted, Shenika Courtney.

You just voted. You vote every election.

Did you feel more motivated this time to vote?

SHENIKA COURTNEY, DETROIT VOTER: I did feel more motivated to vote this year because I knew who I was voting for and what I was voting for.

MARQUEZ: There has been a concern about sort of a lack of attention, a lack of concern, a lack of sort of motivation in Detroit.

What are your friends telling you, what are your family, do you sense that people are engaged in this election?

COURTNEY: I think more people are coming out to vote now within the last few years. I think that also they are getting more engaged in what we all are standing for.

MARQUEZ: You told me, you don't have any specific concerns or specific issues that you are voting on this year. But you come out to vote anyway.


What is it -- what is that drive and why is it so important to come out here and cast that vote? COURTNEY: Well, it was something that I saw my grandmother and my mom do. So I knew this was important. And I also I wanted to bring the young with me to see that this is something that we need to do every single year.

MARQUEZ: Well, you have made the point. Thank you very much.

COURTNEY: Thank you.

MARQUEZ: Hope you have a good day.

COURTNEY: Thank you, have a good day.

MARQUEZ: Look, there have been some issues at some precincts in Detroit, last reported, of computers to check in not working initially. But now they are able to get people checked in without computers.

So just everybody is on edge across the state. The state government saying that they have all of the resources available if there are massive challenges across the state -- Anderson.

COOPER: Miguel, thank you.

The key tonight will be patience and time to know who will control the House and Senate. It all may come down to the battleground state of Pennsylvania. John Berman is here with a look at the map.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The reason we went to Jason Carroll first in Pennsylvania is because we think that Pennsylvania could be decisive in terms of who controls the Senate, John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz in a tight race.

We know it will be slow. We know that it takes them some time to count their votes. They don't start even processing the early vote until today.


BERMAN: And we saw what happened two years ago in the presidential election there. In the presidential race, Joe Biden won by some 80,000 votes ultimately.

But how did we get there?

I'm going to walk you down memory lane. This is a cool demonstration here.

The polls closed at 9:00. When they closed at 9:00, Joe Biden had a lead of some 360,000 among the votes that were in and counted. But one hour later, 10:00, on Tuesday night, Donald Trump, all of a sudden, ahead by 33,000 votes in the votes that were counted.

By the next day, Wednesday at noon, Donald Trump was ahead by some 500,000 votes in the votes that were counted.

But where were these votes?

And more importantly, where were the votes remaining?

So I'll take this down to about 75 percent. And you could see the areas that had less than 75 percent counted included Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is. And most importantly of all, Philadelphia County, which is the home to Philadelphia, which is an extremely Democratic area.

You could see at noon on Wednesday, only 60 percent or so of the vote had been counted, still an enormous amount to count and Joe Biden was way ahead there. So there was reason to believe that Wednesday, that he could make up some of that ground. And, of course, he did.

Let's look, by Thursday at noon, I'll show you the whole state here, Joe Biden had cut into the lead, which had been 500,000 votes by Donald Trump and Thursday at noon Trump only leads by 120,000. Friday at 10:00 am, Joe Biden takes the lead in the votes that were counted by 5,000 votes.

And then Saturday, at 11:24 am, CNN projects that Joe Biden will win Pennsylvania and the presidency. By the way, when this was projected, it was only 96 percent and the margin was 28,000. And that grew to 80,000.

COOPER: And this is what partially fueled a lot of the conspiracy theories falsely that suddenly things were flipped, the votes were just counted.

BERMAN: The votes were just counted. It is a matter of counting the votes when they came in and where they came in; all of the counties have different processes. If you want a cheat on how to see where the night -- or week -- is headed, I'm taking you back to Northampton County.

They are one of two counties in Pennsylvania that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020, one of two counties that flipped. Now Northampton County, Joe Biden way ahead. A little bit later, he's still way ahead but 26 percent in.

Actually, Wednesday at noon, right, you have 95 percent of the vote in. So you have most of the vote in. And Joe Biden is ahead here in a county that Donald Trump had won four years ago. So they count fairly quickly there.

So tonight or really this morning, tomorrow morning, when I'm in between 2:00 am and noon tomorrow, I'm looking at Northampton County because whoever is ahead here, it may show you where Pennsylvania is going to go.

COOPER: John Berman, thank you so much.

Democrats and Republicans offering starkly different closing arguments to voters on this Election Day.

Which party will emerge the big winner? We'll take a look at some of the states in play.





COOPER: Americans across the country casting their votes in this consequential midterm election, control of Congress at stake. There are dozens of governor's races being decided today. Joining me, Natasha Alford is V.P. of digital content and senior correspondent for "The Grio."

Ron Brownstein, senior editor for "The Atlantic" and Jonah Goldberg, the co-founder and editor in chief of "The Dispatch."

Ron, I know governor's races you've been looking at in particular.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: All of the states that flipped from 16 to 20, that made Joe Biden president, if I'm doing my math right, they're all picking governors, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia as well as Nevada, another closely contested state, and New Hampshire.

Seven of the actual, genuine eight swing states in country are picking governors. And it matters partially because red and blue states are moving further apart on every conceivable issue, from LGBTQ rights to guns to voting to abortion.

But it really matters because of these questions of whether you'll see a 2024 election certified in these states that are at the absolute tipping point of American politics. And there is a strong possibility that, at least in Arizona and Wisconsin and maybe even Michigan -- and certainly Georgia is a little different -- you'll have election deniers elected as governor.

And the amount of chaos and crisis that that could bring to the American political system, I don't think we're fully internalizing yet what 2024 might look like.

If you have secretary of state and governor candidates, who have sent a clear signal they are not in the tradition of free and fair elections if they are in charge, what does 2024 look like?

NATASHA ALFORD, VICE PRESIDENT OF DIGITAL CONTENT/SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, "THE GRIO": And they do so much under the guise of election integrity. And we know Democrats and Republicans feel completely different about this.

The majority of Democrats have more confidence in our systems; Republicans overwhelmingly questioning our systems. And so I do worry about that because election integrity has roots in post Reconstruction era, trying to dismantle the power of the Black vote. And so all of these new rules and legislation which will be presented

to save our vote, to protect our vote, really will effect the most disenfranchised communities, Black communities and beyond.


COOPER: Jonah, how do you see it?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CO-FOUNDER/EDITOR IN CHIEF, "THE DISPATCH": Yes, well, first of all, as the resident curmudgeon, I want just to point out --

COOPER: Is that a title?

GOLDBERG: Yes, I self declare.

BROWNSTEIN: Change the Chyron.

GOLDBERG: Uh-oh. Yes, we've been hearing for years about how low voter turnout is a bad sign for democracy. Well, we have very high voter turnout right now.

Does anyone think it is a great sign for democracy?

There is something to be said for the complacency of the old days, where people who were just really engaged in politics voted and people who weren't didn't vote. And one of the things I can draw -- as we were talking about governors -- I draw some comfort from is the return of, even at the margins, split ticket voting.

And it turns out that, like, for the Senate, people are voting their sort of infotainment, partisan passions. And for governor they're voting much more about their pocketbook issues. And I think that is a good sign.

Anything that breaks up the monolithic way of thinking about politics as a zero-sum existential crisis is good. And -- but they're going to have real problems with some of these guys.

BROWNSTEIN: And even from some of the 2024 problems, I think you could arguably -- I think you can argue that we're seeing the widest divergence between the states since before the Civil War.

If you look at breadth of issues on which red and blue states are hurtling in opposite directions -- on abortion, on transgender kids, on voting, on whether teachers can talk about race and gender and sexual orientation in the classroom and whether you need a permit to carry a gun.

The space between how blue and red America is living, I think it is as wide as we have seen on this range of issues, really, as I said, since before the Civil War.

And what is striking, I think, and has not gotten a lot of attention, is if the Republicans win the House or the Senate or both, there are proposals from Republican members of Congress to basically nationalize all of these red state initiatives and impose them on the blue states.

Now with Joe Biden as president, they can't do that. But proposals to ban abortion nationwide, to impose red state voting rules nationwide, to impose a ban on transgender girls playing high school sports nationwide or how teachers talk about race nationwide.

That is going to be a real issue of debate, whether this rollback of rights and liberties and this reordering of the social agenda that has occurred in the red states over last two years at incredible speed, are we going to see a serious attempt to impose that on the blue states?

And think you'll begin to see that in the next two years.

COOPER: How much control do governors have over the elections in their states?

BROWNSTEIN: It varies from state to state. In some states like Pennsylvania, they appoint the secretary of state. In other states, the secretary of state controls the mechanism.

But the governors often are certifying the election. They're the ones who is, under the Electoral Count Act of the 1880s, it defers to the slate chosen by the governors.

So that is what people are kind of focused on as the real risk.

Would a Kari Lake certify a Joe Biden victory in Arizona in 2024?

Under any circumstance?

Is there a circumstance under which that would happen?

COOPER: Georgia County is extending the deadline for hundreds of voters who did not receive an absentee ballot. We'll have details on what happened next.





COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper. When you are watching CNN's special coverage of Election Day in America. This hour polls are now open in nearly every state. The fate of Congress hanging in the balance.

Republicans need to win 30 competitive seats to take the majority in the House. In the Senate, Republicans need a net gain of just one seat to clinch the majority from Democrats.

Moments ago we learned that more than 45 million Americans in 47 states have already cast their ballots in early voting. Multiple states reporting report high numbers. To Georgia now, where roughly 1,000 voters have now been given a few more days to make sure their absentee ballot is counted. Ana Cabrera has more.

What happened?

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Election officials are essentially blaming human error. Let me take you to the northern Atlanta suburbs, in Cobb County. About a thousand voters didn't receive their absentee ballots in the mail because of what was an apparent mistake.

Basically the ballots were never packed up and sent. So now the state has extended the deadline for just those impacted ballots to be received until November 14th. That is the same day as Georgia's military and overseas ballots are due. But they still need to be postmarked by today, Election Day, in order to count, Anderson.

COOPER: Georgia could keep us waiting possibly until next month to know the winner of that Senate race.

CABRERA: That is right, Anderson. If it comes down to Georgia, it could be early December before we know which party controls the Senate. The state has a rule that if no candidate gets over 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff election.

So that would be held four weeks from today on December 6th. And we're seeing a lot of voter enthusiasm in the Peach State. In fact, this is the early vote. This was all before today, 2.5 million pre-election ballots were cast.