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CNN Live Event/Special

Polls Now Open In All 50 States; 45M Early Votes Already Cast; Thousands Of Pennsylvania Mail Ballots At Risk Of Being Rejected; Voting Underway In Georgia Where Senate Race Is Neck-And-Neck; Control Of Senate Could Come Down To Runoff In Georgia; 7 Senate Races Are Either Toss-Ups Or Tilt Republican Or Democrat; WI Voters Cast Ballots In Senate, House And Governor's Races; GOP Only Needs Net Gain Of 1 Seat To Retake Senate; Voters In PA Cast Ballots Amid High-Stakes Senate Race. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 08, 2022 - 12:00   ET



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We'll see. I'll let you know as soon as I hear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please do. I am going to check my numbers, though I suspect it will be futile. But thank you very much, Martin.

SAVIDGE: You're welcome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meanwhile, CNN's election day coverage continues right now with Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett. Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The polls have just opened in Hawaii, meaning voters in all 50 states are now making their voices heard. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Erin Burnett. And this is CNN continuing coverage of election day in America. Take a look. We've got live pictures. This is a polling location. We're showing you just outside of Philadelphia. So far, only minor glitches with officials reporting no major voting issues so far, Wolf?

BLITZER: Here's what's at stake today, Erin. All 435 seats are up for grabs. The Democratic controlled House of Representatives. Republicans need to turn five seats red, to take it back. Over in the Democratic controlled Senate, 35 of the 100 seats are also in play today. All Republicans need there is a net gain of one seat to change the balance of power in the U.S. Congress and here in Washington.

As always, we have our correspondents all over the map, covering all the key races, along with our entire CNN election team. Let's get straight to Pennsylvania where there is an issue right now. We're told with several thousand mail-in ballots in Philadelphia. CNN's Jason Carroll is just north of the city. Jason, what can you tell us about this?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, of course. We're talking about some 3,600 ballots that are now in question. This after the state Supreme Court, as you recall, last week ruled that undated or improperly dated ballots cannot be counted. So as a result of that, what you had is the city of Philadelphia, put out a list of 3,600 names on ballots that they say, hey, look, your ballot at this point is ineligible. And if you want it fixed, come down. And you can fix it.

Yesterday when we were in Philadelphia, we saw some folks lined up, waiting in line to come in and try to fix their ballot. Well, today, we now have the numbers of the number of people who actually came into to fix their ballots. Democrats really disappointed by this number. It's just 250 people so far. Of course, people can come in today. They can vote by provisional ballot to try to change their ballot.

But these numbers, very disappointing to Democrats who as you know, in the state of Pennsylvania, vote by mail-in at higher rates than Republicans do. So just 250 people so far out of the 3,600. There are a lot of Democrats who feel as though, a number of them are going to be disenfranchised as this vote gets underway.

BLITZER: And Jason, you're in Lower Bucks County right now, an area that's going to be key to tipping the scales one way or another in that critically important Senate race right now. It's quite a swing area. We're told that we did some checking. It went for Obama in 2012, Trump in 2016, and then Biden in 2020. Give us a little bit more.

CARROLL: Well, yes. It's been saying, where we are right now in Lower Bucks County. I mean, if you look at the area of Bucks County population of 650,000 people or so, a lot of swing voters. I mean, these counties around here, you talk about Bucks County, Montgomery County, loaded with swing voters. And so, you can imagine there's been a lot of attention on from both sides trying to get these voters into their camp.

And so, we were out here all morning, as we've seen voters come out here, but instead of clipping people coming out to vote, to talk to them about what issues matter most to them. As you can imagine, at the top of the list here, you've got the economy, crime, and a woman's right to choose.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know from previous years I've swung both ways. It really depends on what the person stands for. That's what I vote for.

CARROLL: But this go around a woman's right to choose drove you to the pool.


CARROLL: OK. And again, you identify as Republican, but this is the issue that---

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This one stood out to me the most in those. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crime is a big, you know, it's 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's so many people they can't afford day to day. It's sad.


CARROLL: So again, a lot of diverse opinions there, Wolf. As you just heard it again, when you think about Lower Bucks County where I am now, think about a place that's loaded with a lot of swing voters that are sure to make the difference. Wolf?


BLITZER: Jason Carroll in Bensalem, Pennsylvania for us. Jason, thank you very much. Let's go to Georgia right now where the Senate race is close. A runoff is very much possible and early turnout has been high. CNN's Nick Valencia is in Atlanta for us. Nick, I understand you're at a polling place in Kirkwood, that's a neighborhood of Atlanta. Where you say turnout has been steady, at least so far.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's been consistent over the last hour or so. It has considerably slowed down, but they expect that to pick up later this hour as lunch has started. It has been a steady stream of people, though inside, I just got out from inside. And the election supervisor says that so far, there's only been about 366 people that have voted and according to her, that's low.

She does attribute that in part to high numbers of early voters here in this county, DeKalb County, a Democratic stronghold. That may sound familiar to some of you because in 2020, it was instrumental in handing a decisive victory for President Biden and as well as incumbent senator Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. He's not on the ballot. But Warnock has a tough fight on his hands.

With the Republican challenger Herschel Walker here. We wanted to talk to voters here in this area. Tom Wilson, you've been here in Atlanta for 20 years. And you think that this is such an important election one?

TOM WILSON, ATLANTA VOTER: Well, just the fact that the state turned blue, and we need to reinforce that fact, you know, that the election was debated, it was disputed by a lot of people.

VALENCIA: Election integrity is a big issue for you?

WILSON: And so, for us, we need people to understand that this is what happened. This is what the numbers say, and this is what it is, you know. So, you know, we needed to come out and support Warnock. We needed to come out and support, you know, our mayor QAnon. We don't need to say who they are. I know you said that, but we need to come out support the people that we believe in.

VALENCIA: Why was it so important for you to turn out here to vote here? WILSON: You know, there's always this thought of, of people being harassed at the polls, long lines holding you up. Well, you know, if you come out to vote with the intent to vote, this is how it's going to be. My wife and I, we always come to vote on election day. And we've never really had to stand in super long lines, the Barack election was a little different. The lines were everywhere. But in most of our elections, you can come in and get your vote in. So, come in and get your vote.

VALENCIA: The secretary of state's office called this process so far boring. They said it's in and out. There's no really, you know, no drama to report, nothing really significant major outages. What was the process like for you, Tom?

WILSON: Again, the process is very, very quick. Two to five minutes I was in and I was out. You let me know my number there, you know, because there was no crowd.

VALENCIA: Last question. Do you really think that this is a battleground straight? Do you think Democrats have a chance to win here?

WILSON: Living here, I know it is.

VALENCIA: All right. Tom Wilson, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time. God bless you, man. All right, you heard from Tom Wilson there. You've heard from other voters, some of the most important issues for voters here. We've heard abortion, what happened with the Supreme Court. We've heard inflation, we've heard the economy. And we've heard people here Democratic voters really wanting to deliver another victory here for the Democrats in Georgia. Erin?

BURNETT: That was a really interesting conversation you just had. Nick, thank you very much. And so, let's go to John King at the magic wall. See where we stand right now. So, John, let's just talk about the Senate since that's what, Nick and that voter were just talking about right in that case of the Walker, Warnock race.

Democrats currently obviously have that narrow majority, but the Senate is totally up for grabs. So, the Republicans need just that net gain of only one seat, only one seat to get control. That would be the net gain required. What are you seeing right now?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: So, let's go through it, 35 Senate races in all areas, but as you noted, Nick is one of the - in one of the eight that we have with our partners at inside elections identified as competitive races up for grabs. If you look at the eighth include Georgia, four of them currently held by Democrats, four of them currently held by Republicans. So that battleground pretty safe. But you mentioned Democrats can't afford to lose any.

Let's switch maps just to get to how complicated this chessboard is, when it comes to Senate races for the Democrats. 50 to 50 right now, because the vice president breaks the tie. Democrats cannot afford to lose, if they lose any, they have to pick it up somewhere. And that's very complicated in this map. So, you see Nick Valencia there in Georgia, that's one of the blue states Biden won.

The good thing for Democratic incumbents in this field is all the Democratic incumbents are running in States Biden won. Now they have the headwinds of inflation, that Nick just talked about. So just think about the chess game here. Early on in the night we start getting results. Republicans think they have a chance to pick up this seat in New Hampshire, right? This is a hypothetical, but just assume that happens.

This is how hard this is for Democrats. The average in a president's first midterm since Ronald Reagan as you lose two Senate seats, right. The incumbent president's party loses two Senate seats. Democrats can't afford to lose any. What if they lose New Hampshire early on? Then what happens? Then they have to pick up this state of Pennsylvania, right? That's currently a Republican incumbent. He's not running for reelection.

Fetterman would have to win there for the Democrats, that would get them back to 50-50. So just imagine that that's just to the east coast, right? If New Hampshire and Pennsylvania flip, then it matters what happens in Georgia, Republicans think they can pick up this seat out of Nevada. This is where it gets really complicated areas, if Republicans can pick up in Nevada, and one other. In this hypothetical, I said Nevada and New Hampshire. Then where did the Democrats go?

That's why it is so important that they hold in George and that they flip Pennsylvania, because if they lose a couple, then it gets hard, then you're up to 51-49. And where would Democrats get that seat back to get the majority? You know, they have long shot hopes in North Carolina, in Ohio and in Wisconsin, but most Democrats would tell you if you're losing New Hampshire and if you're not winning Pennsylvania, then you're probably not winning these.


So, that is why the math is so challenging for the Democrats. Again, you come back to 50-50. We're going to watch this throughout tonight. If a party loses one, they currently hold, then we scour the map to see if there's a flip somewhere else.

BURNETT: And so, when you talk about it, as you know, what you're going to be doing tonight. But obviously, you know, that we're not going to know everything tonight, right? I know what we see in these first few hours after the polls close, you know, starting at seven o'clock when a lot of them start to close Eastern Time may not be what's fix.

KING: Right. And that's very important, because we've been through this in a lot of the conspiracy theories of Warnock what happened in 2021. Absolutely nothing nefarious happened. We just live in a different system. That was the COVID system, more mail-in ballots. So just let me remind people what we went through.

This is where we ended. This is where we ended in the presidential election in 2020. Joe Biden won with 51.3 to 46.8 for Donald Trump. That's where it ended. But let's go back in time, because remember, different states count their votes in different ways. Some states count those mail-in early ballots first. Other states don't and they count election day ballots first. And we know election day ballots tend to favor Republicans. The mail-in ballots tended, we'll see if it holds up in this election to favor Democrats.

So, if you look at nine o'clock on election night, back in 2020, Donald Trump was leading in Maine, Donald Trump was leading in Michigan, Donald Trump was leading in Georgia. Joe Biden was leading in Ohio and in Texas, it didn't turn out that way. Because Erin, it takes time to count the votes. So, if you just play it out over time, and look at it as it plays out, you know, Trump still here at 10 o'clock at night.

You know, Trump still leading in Michigan. Trump still eating in Maine. You have to go forward as they kept counting the votes. And even then, you know, Joe Biden 12 o'clock midnight on Thursday, November 5, that's when Biden starts to take the lead and not until we get to - this is Friday, and then Saturday we called Pennsylvania. We need to be patient tonight.

You will see red mirages. You will see blue mirages. Those are legal votes. But some states will count the election day first, other state count the mail ballots first. It can get confusing. You just have to have patience. They'll all be counted by the end and when we get to the end, we'll know the winner.

BURNETT: All right, John King, thank you very much. And next Wisconsin, where the Republican senator considered by many to be the most vulnerable this year is neck and neck with his Democratic challenger.




BLITZER: President Biden turn Wisconsin from red to blue in the last presidential election. This time Republican Senator Ron Johnson is facing a very strong challenge from the state's Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. And the state's Democratic governor is trying for a second term. Lucy Kafanov is at a polling place in Milwaukee, talking to voters for us. What are you seeing? What are you hearing, Lucy?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is one of the more unique voting polling centers here in Milwaukee. It's actually an art museum. So, you can cast your ballot and check out the beautiful paintings. But of course, there are much bigger issues drawing voters to this location. One of the most tight governor's races and also an incredibly competitive Senate race, the outcome of which could determine the balance of power in the Senate.

We've been talking to voters throughout the day. They've been talking about this pressure that they feel to cast their ballot in this particular election, because of the issues that are at stake. Take a listen?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I'm at work and my friends are like oh, did you vote, did you vote, like, OK. Yes, I'm going, I'm going. I just feel like a lot of pressure.

KAFANOV: So, the issues for you in this election are?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women's rights. I don't want to like ruin your thing, but legalizing marijuana, guns, you know, all the violence and stuff. That's 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 - to me that goes hand in hand with abortion because to me that's tied for my personal beliefs. And I believe inflation is a big topic of conversation and how we can combat that.


KAFANOV: And, you know, at the beginning of the year, Wisconsin was considered one of Democrats top opportunities to flip a Republican controlled Senate seat. Mandela Barnes had a slight lead in the polls. We have seen that evaporate somewhat in recent weeks amid a barrage of negative advertising. And so, this is a truly competitive state in a truly - competitive race in a truly purple state, which President Biden won by less than 21,000 votes. A lot will depend on turnout, a lot will depend on how these ballots are actually cast. Erin?

BURNETT: Lucy, thank you very much. And let's bring in our panel here for our first conversation, Bakari Sellers is the former Democratic member of the South Carolina, House representatives, Ana Navarro, of course, our political commentator, Ashley Allison served as national coalition's director for the Biden-Harris 2020 campaign, and also with me, the Georgia Republican lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan.

OK, thanks to all. So, actually Lucy is talking about Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee Sentinel journal actually went back. In the past 40 years, only one Wisconsin Senate race has been decided by fewer than three points. And in 100 years, it's only been two. OK, so it doesn't usually go this way. This is an unusual situation. Are you surprised by how tight some of these races are?

ASHLEY ALLISON, FORMER NATIONAL COALITIONS DIRECTOR FOR BIDEN-HARRIS 2020: I'm not. I think that Democrats for the last few years had a clear agenda. They tried to get as much done. They had obstructions by Republicans, and they've run really good races. We have seen turnout be so high, both on the Republican side and Democratic side. So, I'm not surprised every race is super tight.

But I do think it actually is a strong sign for Democrats. We were supposed to get want, right? Like everyone a year ago was like there's no chance for Democrats. It's clear that people are aligned with what the values of the Democratic Party is. It's just a matter of can - as many candidates as possible pull it out today. [12:20:00]

BURNETT: Lieutenant Governor, how do you say it? Does the closeness worry your or not?

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R) GEORGIA: Yes. I think there's this overwhelming batch of voters around an island on their own, trying to figure out fact from fiction. They're continuing to be barraged with the economy. They're continuing to be barraged with all kinds of these other issues. And they've got a president currently, if you're a Democrat, trying to figure out how far and fast can you run from him, and you got Donald Trump who is a falling knife and fading.

And so, you know, it's just this mixed bag of how do you figure out fact from fiction when you show up? And I also think we're not very good at polling anymore. I think we've got this early accelerated voting pattern folks have gotten used to voting early. I'm certainly one of those. I think so the polling is abstract and inaccurate. I think we'll have to do a post-mortem and a deep dive into the data to actually figure out how we project these elections more accurately.

BURNETT: I think it's interesting, because in the polling is abstract.

BAKARI SELLERS, (D) FORMER MEMBER OF SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I was a man in the lieutenant governor. So, I think that what we saw in 2016, was under sampling of Republican voters, and I said onset and I would have bet then that we will be in the middle of Hillary Clinton's second term. And we were all wrong about that. And so, what we're seeing today, I do believe is we've seen a lot of polls that have come from Republican posters. And I think there's been an over sampling and an overcorrection of Republican voters.

I'm excited about tonight, because a lot of my Democratic friends and Ana (Ph) knows this better than most, but a lot of Democrats that just proverbial bedwetters, like we just get anxious for no reason. We just get worried for no reason. But I do think tonight is going to be a better night, and I'm going to stake that ground out here.

I think tonight is going to be a better night for Democrats than many of the prognosticators say. And so, I'm excited. I think that you'll keep the Senate, you'll lose the House, you'll win some governor's mansions, and it won't be nearly---

BURNETT: It's interesting that. You both agree on the polling, but you've come to different conclusions - different, where it's wrong.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I mean, I think it's going to be a better night than is being prosecuted because they're procrastinating the red wedding, right? And frankly, it's a lot of democratic strategies. I have seen some Democratic strategist even on our airwaves, start the circular firing squad already, start the blame game.

Instead of spending every waking moment trying to get people to the polls, there are still polls open, there are still a ton of races and very competitive states. In states where there's same day voter registration, people can go, you know, vote in Nevada right now, for that incredibly competitive Senate race.

I'm going to be watching what happens in Florida, frankly, because I think it's going to be so determined to what happens in 2024. And I think the opposite of what's going on in Wisconsin is going to happen in Florida. In Florida, we've come to have very close races.

Ron DeSantis beat Andrew Gillum by something like 40,000 votes. And I think tonight, Ron DeSantis is going to come out of there with no help from Donald Trump as a vanquishing, you know, conquer and with much bigger numbers, frankly, because the Democrats ran a recycled has been, who had been a Republican and independent and is now a Democrat.

BURNETT: Wow. How do you really feel about (crosstalk). We're going to continue this. And everyone please stay with us as our coverage continues. Just ahead. We're going to go to Pennsylvania, the incredibly tight Senate race there, it all could come down to that. We have some new details from John Fetterman's campaign, and we'll share them with you. Stay with us.




BLITZER: The Pennsylvania Senate races going down to the wire. Democrat John Fetterman is in a very tight contest against Republican Mehmet Oz. The winner may determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. CNN's Brian Todd is just outside Pittsburgh for us at a busy polling place that has, I take it Brian three different precincts voting. What's the atmosphere like there now?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's pretty electric here, three different precincts, as you mentioned. And you mentioned that tight race between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz, that could come down to this area in western Pennsylvania, Allegheny County where we are the area around Pittsburgh. You see a line at the door here. The lines have kind of ebbed and flowed. There's a line kind of coming a little bit out the door, we're not allowed to go really past the door and film. So, we'll show you the atmosphere of the voters coming in and out of here.

Almost 4000 voters came through here two years ago in the presidential cycle. So, midterms, you know, they don't turn out quite as much. But we've talked to a lot of voters here, and they're really excited about being here. They're excited about helping to determine the race, not only for Senate, as you mentioned, which is going to be a tight one, but also for governor.

And, you know, we talked to them about the issues that are on their mind, and I'm going to deal with that right now with a voter who we're talking to Duane Lukitsh. Duane, thanks for joining us. What was the issue that was foremost on your mind when you came here?

DUANE LUKITSH, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: The big thing was inflation in the economy, kind of getting back to things the way they were, supply chains and issue going to the store and the shelves and seeing the prices going up like. And so, that was a big thing with me, like you know, kind of getting back the way things were a little bit.

TODD: And you mentioned you weren't so crazy about the tone of the race. The ads, everything else. What do you think of, I talked to you.

LUKITSH: The ads were kind of sometimes hard to watch because they were so in your face and there were stories on both sides about the other candidate like you know, it just maybe, you don't know what to believe like, you know where they live. So, they true, so like, you know, they're confusing more than anything else to me.

TODD: And you know, a lot is made of the vote count, the integrity in the vote count. All across the country, not just here in Pennsylvania. Are you confident that the votes will be counted accurately and fairly?

LUKITSH: I have faith in the system that's going to work, like you know, I know mail-in ballots are important for quite a segment of our population.