Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Polls Now Open In All 50 States, 45M Early Votes Already Cast; Voters In PA Cast Ballots Amid High-Stakes Senate Race; Nevada Results Could Take Longer Than Voters Expected. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 08, 2022 - 14:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Democracy in action from Hawaii to Maine, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And I'm Erin Burnett. And this is CNN's continuing coverage of "ELECTION DAY IN AMERICA."

Take a look. This is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the -- and the campus of Arizona State University. In all of these places, millions of Americans now voting. In all 50 states, voters are casting their ballots, deciding who controls Congress for the next two years, and who will control the governor's mansions in 36 states, Wolf.

BLITZER: Really important there. And now we're focusing in right now on four very tight Senate races this hour, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, any one of which -- any one of which could be decisive. And we have reporters in those states and indeed, across the map for us. Dianne Gallagher is in New Hampshire. Miguel Marquez is in Michigan. Sara Sidner is in Arizona.

Let's start with Miguel in Detroit where officials were concerned about turnout in the largest city in Michigan, but it's looking like Detroiters might be coming out in force right down this voting day. Miguel, what can you tell us?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's what we're seeing it a lot of different polling stations we've been to throughout the day, Wolf. There weren't as many absentee ballots requested and being returned in Detroit as some officials thought they might see here. But we spoke to the head of the NAACP who votes at this precinct that we happen to be camped out here today, and he said Detroiters, they're going to vote.


MARQUEZ: Does all the discussion about that, whether it has any merit or not --


MARQUEZ: Does that put?

ANTHONY: Everybody off, Democrat, Republican, Independent. I'm so glad you asked that question because we want everybody to vote. I want Democrats, Republicans, young people, old people, black, white, brown, red, yellow, I want everybody to be mellow and to go and vote. We don't want to stop it. And so when you can shave off by intimidation or some kind of suppression, if you stave off 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent, you discourage those amounts of people, then you perhaps and get a victory. If you can't come straight, you got to come crooked. Come straight, this is America.


MARQUEZ: So, this is -- his concern is that the number of frivolous lawsuits he says that had been brought by Republicans in Michigan may just affect some people and they -- he felt that they were feeling like they weren't very motivated to vote. But in recent days, and today, he says, Detroiters are starting to come out to vote. They're starting to see much more energy here and it gives candidates who are looking for those statewide races the governor, the Secretary of State, and the AG, all Democrats right now, that gives them a lot of hope that Detroiters will come out and make that difference in the absentee votes.

Because what the attorney general told us earlier is that they're concerned that when the day of the vote comes in much earlier than they will see Republican candidates for those top jobs claim victory around 10:00 p.m. tonight. And then the absentee votes will come in 12, 24 hours later after polls closed and you could see those Democrats win their places back in government here in Michigan. Back to you, guys.


BLITZER: All right, Miguel Marquez is on the scene for us in Detroit, thank you very much. And from Detroit, let's head over to Tempe, Arizona right now. Sara Sidner is on the campus of Arizona State University where students are actually lining up to vote. Sara, tell us what you're seeing over there.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The energy from these young folks is real here. We have seen a very long line. Now you're seeing, Taka (PH) giving you the picture of all of the students that are standing here. Some of these folks are first-time voters. Some of them have been voting for a couple of years now.

We have been talking to different students about what it is that brings them out to the polls. And you know what you hear over and over and over again, they really do not like the polarization that is happening in the Congress. They are really, really, really tired of it. And they want to see Democrats and Republicans be able to come together and create some change that is better for them.

You will see this line, we've seen people come out and literally go like this cheering that they put their vote in place, we have to be very careful to make sure that we're far enough back because there are very, very good rules just for security to make sure that everyone feels safe and secure voting. But we've heard also from a couple of different students that they were worried about inflation, that that's really affecting their pocketbooks as students. And we've heard from a couple of female students who said that the Roe v. Wade, the Dobbs decision has brought them out to vote.

So they are very aware of what is going on. And I know a lot of people talk about young people talking about being engaged but not being engaged. We are seeing engagement here in Tempe, Arizona, Wolf, Erin.

BURNETT: And so now let's go to John King at the magic wall. Just get some perspective here. As you hear Sara and Miguel, what does history tell us about how tonight might go? And I -- you know, I say this, John, in the context of history is everything until it isn't.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: That's a great -- it's a great point, Erin, especially in the volatile times we've lived in.


KING: For not just the last five years of American political life, but the last 15 years or so of American political life. But history outlines the huge challenge facing Democrats and the president of the United States tonight because if president's first midterm tends to be the more punishing one. Look, this is 435 elections for the House, all of these new lines because of redistricting. But let's just look at where we are now. And again, the map is a little different but the math is about the same right?

Republicans need a net gain of five seats. A net gain of five seats would mean speaker Kevin McCarthy replaces speaker Nancy Pelosi. So, let's come forward to look at this map. And then let's look at the history here. If you bring up a president's first midterm, this goes back 40 years to Ronald Reagan. Forgive me if you're turning me back just a second, I want to stretch this out.

This goes back to Ronald Reagan. The average in the first midterm for a president to lose 31 House seats, Democrats can only afford to lose four. The average is 31. We'll come back to the Senate in a minute. But remember that the average is two. So, you don't have to keep five, right? You cannot lose five and then look at all these competitive districts, right? That's the challenge for the Democrats.

Two competitive seats or coast to coast, Republicans need a net gain of five or half dozen to become the majority. And if you look at these 82 competitive races across the country, you see Democrats on defense in 57 of them, nearly three to one more Democrats on defense in the competitive races which is why when you look at the House history is just not on the Democrat side. And then, Erin, you come over to the Senate. And you know -- so Joe Biden could defy history say and let's say they only lose 10 House seats. Republicans are still in the majority, a good night by historical standards, a bad night for your day-to-day reality, same for the Senate.

I said the average in the first midterm is two. Democrats can't afford to lose any. If they lose one, the Republicans are in the majority in the Senate. So, you can beat history defy history and your day-to-day reality come January if you're Joe Biden and the Democrats, will be quite the opposite of what it is today.

BURNETT: Yes, I mean, and as you point out, right, even if you do better than anyone expects, it's just the way that it is, the races that are up where it's competitive, make it incredibly difficult. I mean, if you try to bottom line at, John, how much room for error do the Democrats have tonight?

KING: But they have none because the margins are so small.


KING: And well, they have four -- they have four in the House if you want to call that room for error. But if you look at this, I mean, just you don't need me to say anything, 50-50, Vice President Harris breaks the tie. Democrats cannot lose any. And so if they lose a blue, right, let's just pick one out -- let's make one. This is hypothetical. If they lose a blue Senate seat, if Herschel Walker wins in Georgia, and again, I'm picking that as hypothetical, Democrats are at 49. So you got to pick something up somewhere.

Anything the Democrats lose in the Senate, any chess piece is taken away by the Republicans, and the Democrats have to pick it up. That's a huge challenge because the map -- because of the map and because of those races. And then you come back to the House map, and it's just -- it's just a -- you know you can only lose -- Republicans need a net gain of five.


If you are the Democrats, you've got 20-plus competitive districts just here in the East.


KING: Can you hold? Can you be competitive here? This is the thing to watch, Erin. Just watch as we get to 10 or 11 o'clock tonight when these districts are filled in. Is there still a lot of blue here are most of the -- if half of them are red, there's a Republican majority. Even if a third of them are red, those are Republican majority.


KING: Republicans have to win such a tiny percentage -- smaller percentage of the competitive seats than Democrats. It's just a historic headwind right in the Democrats' face.

BURNETT: All right, John King, thank you very much.

And as those of you who are here spending your afternoon watching this with Wolf and myself, we're seeing now long lines of voters in many places across the country. We're going to speak live with the Philadelphia official next where they're expecting vote counts to take quite a long time.



BURNETT: "ELECTION DAY IN AMERICA" in full swing. And so much interest in the Pennsylvania Senate race. The Lieutenant Governor, John Fetterman voted today in Braddock, just outside Pittsburgh, his Republican Senate opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz casting his ballot near Philadelphia. That race is -- it just incredibly tight. If you look at any poll and any internal polling from either side, they all say it's tight. CNN's Brian Todd is at a voting site just outside of Pittsburgh. And, Brian, I mean, what are you seeing in terms of enthusiasm and turnout on Election Day itself?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, enthusiasm is very high, turnout is very good. We're being told by officials both here at these precincts and the county-wide here in Allegheny County. We know Allegheny is going to be crucial in determining who wins that Senate race tonight, that governor's race that everybody's watching tonight. Here, this -- if this polling place, this is three precincts that vote here. So far today, about 2000 people have come through and voted.

Four years -- excuse me, two years ago on the presidential cycle, we were told that a little less than 4000 people came through here. So you've still got almost six hours until polls close here, and a very good turnout for midterms here. You know, midterms traditionally, don't draw as many people but we're getting a sense, at least in these three precincts that they are drawing a lot of people.

And what are the issues that are motivating voters? Well, I'm going to talk to two of them right here, Denise and Steve Patrika (ph). Denise, you told us maybe the economy is foremost on your mind. What were you thinking? What really drove you out here today?

DENISE PATRIKA (ph), VOTER: The economy. I'm definitely concerned about even when I go to the grocery store, all the inflation. And I'm an educator and I'm also concerned about parents being involved in the education system.

TODD: Right. And, Steve, what was -- what was your main motivating factor?

STEVE PATRIKA (ph), VOTER: Well, I'm concerned about crime and the defunding of the police. I think that's a really bad idea for people to do that. You need the police department. And immigration, I think we need immigration, but controlled immigration. Just let everybody go through one like everybody else. And that's pretty much what motivated us.

TODD: Very good, guys. Thank you very much and thanks for talking to us. Good luck. Steve and Denise also told us they weren't crazy about the tone of these campaigns, a lot of negative ads, a lot of negative attacks between all the candidates in both parties, that's a pretty consistent theme out here as well. And back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you very much. I'm joined now by Seth Bluestein. He's a sole Republican among Philadelphia's three city commissioners who actually oversee these elections. Commissioner Bluestein, thank you very much for joining us. You voted today, I understand. To implement a process that will slow down the vote count in Philadelphia, your city, it's meant to catch double voters -- double votes, I should say, something that hasn't even been an issue in the last few elections. So what this -- what is the practical impact of this? Will this delay the statewide Pennsylvania results?

SETH BLUESTEIN, CITY COMMISSIONER, PHILADELPHIA: Yes. Well, thanks for having me, Wolf. And I guess I'll start by saying first and foremost, the vast majority of votes coming out of Philadelphia will be counted on Election Day. So, all -- you know most of the in-person votes, nearly 100,000 mail ballots, of those results will be known election night. The universe of ballots that we're talking about are the later arriving mail ballots. We don't know the exact number that are impacted yet because ballots can be returned until 8:00 p.m. this evening, but it is in the range of 20 to 30,000 ballots that are potentially impacted.

BLITZER: Well, if it's a very, very close election, that could be critically important, as you well know better than I do. You say this change, Commissioner, is because "Republicans targeted Philadelphia to force us to do a procedure no other county does." You're a Republican yourself, so what's behind this? And are you bracing for even more legal challenges and delays?

BLUESTEIN: Yes. So, we, as the commissioners voted last week to implement procedures for the pre-campus in Canvas that matched the procedures of every other county in the Commonwealth. And a lawsuit was brought to re-implement the reconciliation process, which is a procedure that we followed for the last two and a half years to make sure that none of the late arriving ballots that there are voters also voted in person.

And as you said, in the last three elections, there were zero instances of this happening. So in an attempt to match the speed of counting that the other counties already do, we remove that procedure and were sued because of it and they targeted only Philadelphia, even though all of our procedures across the Commonwealth were identical.


BLITZER: As you know, Commissioner, about 3600 Philadelphia mail-in ballots are at risk of being rejected because of issues like missing dates or incorrect information. What's the latest you could tell us on this?

BLUESTEIN: Yes. So when we receive the list of names of potentially impacted individuals, we made that list public on our website so that these individuals can be contacted and have an opportunity to cast a replacement ballot. So city hall has been open over the weekend, yesterday, and today and individuals who cast a potentially flawed ballot can have that ballot canceled and vote on a replacement ballot. And if they aren't able to get to the city hall, they could vote by provisional ballot at a polling place.

BLITZER: Commissioner Bluestein, thanks very much for joining us. BLUESTEIN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, Nevada, the challenge to incumbent Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. A live report and predictions from Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and former U.S. Senator Al Franken as "ELECTION DAY IN AMERICA" rolls on.



BLITZER: A video just moments ago of Arizona Republican candidate for governor, Kari Lake showing up at a polling place in Phoenix to vote. As for neighboring Nevada, it's possible we may not know the winners, close races there for Senate and Governor for some time. Ballots postmarked by today, but received by next Saturday can legally be counted. Plus, this is the first midterm election in Nevada with what's called universal mail-in voting.

CNN's Rosa Flores is joining us from Las Vegas right now. That's where she's seeing a steady stream of voters outside a polling place at a community center there. Set the scene for us.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, if it was sunny and beautiful until we turned on the camera. Right now, we're having heavy winds. It's a little rainy, but people are still out here. I want you to pan over so that you can see the line. It's been a steady stream here. A lot of voters here at this community center turn to polling place.

Now, according to Clark County Officials home to Nevada -- home to Las Vegas, the more than 40,000 people have voted in Clark County just today. Now, to give you just a little factoid about Nevada, there are more than 1.8 million registered voters, about 71 percent of those are here in Clark County. I talked to some of them this morning and some of the things that they mentioned that they're most concerned about as they come to a polling places today are the economy, crime, and the border. Take a listen.


FLORES: Would you like to share who you voted for today?


FLORES: Wait, Trump is not on the ballot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, Republican. You know what I mean. Everybody that Trump endorsed --

FLORES: I was like oh -- I was so confused.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody that Trump endorsed I voted for.

FLORES: What would you like to see? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like to see, you know, the cost of everything, you know, paying attention to what people are really going through cost of living, you know, crying, homeless.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having an open border, absolutely ridiculous. I don't care if you're Republican or Democrat. It's crazy that we're leaving it open.


FLORES: Now, Erin, we've checked with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State says that there are no voting issues in the state of Nevada. We also spoke to the ACLU as monitors all over to see if they have seen any issues, no issues so far. And back to those voters who I spoke to, Erin, they say that they do feel the responsibility as they come to vote today because the balance of the U.S. Senate to come down to Nevada.


FLORES: So again, some of the issues that people were most concerned about, crime, the economy, and the border, Erin.

BURNETT: Rosa, thank you very much. Now, these voter conversations that we've been hearing in Nevada and across the country have been so fascinating today, obviously, if you're willing to speak to reporters, you have something to say, but there have been very thoughtful and considered comments from many of these voters.

Former Democratic Senator Al Franken and Republican governor Asa Hutchinson are both back with me. So, Governor, what do you make of what we heard from those voters? It was just interesting that was one you know, the sort of cheering I just went down the line and vote for everybody that Trump endorsed, others, though talk about the economy and border, some of the serious issues we've heard about. You know, it all -- it could all come down to Nevada, what do you see happening there? How do you see that playing out?

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Well, it could. So, Nevada, obviously, is one that everyone is watching, you know, on the Senate race, Adam Laxalt, the Republican is a very good candidate. He's run a good race. I think he's leading the polls right now. But that's one that we hope that we can pick up.

On the governor side, of course, I know Governor Sisolak, who's the incumbent Democrat. And he followed California's model in terms of the COVID response that was heavier-handed mandates.