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CNN Live Event/Special

Election Night In America; Voters Heading To Polls In High- Stakes Midterm Elections; Election Night In America. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 08, 2022 - 16:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Certainly will. It's going to be days, as you so rightly say.

Phil Mattingly, thank you so much from the White House.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us on this Election Day. It's time to hand it over now to Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper for "Election Night in America".

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Buckle up. We are heading into the final hours of voting and the first results in one of the most consequential midterm elections ever.


ANNOUNCER: It's the high stakes race to a fever pitch campaign.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Are you ready to win this election?


ANNOUNCER: Voters making big choices in a nation on edge.

J.D. VANCE (R), OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: With high prices.


MANDELA BARNES (D), WISCONSIN SENATE CANDIDATE: The constant threat of gun violence.


ANNOUNCER: What's happening across the U.S. could shake up the balance of power in Congress and shape the next race for the White House.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, speak out, get engaged -- vote, vote, vote.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, Democrats are fighting to hold on to the Senate, knowing a loss of one seat could cost them the majority. JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: We need a senator

that understands what Pennsylvania is going through, not some guy that has ten gigantic mansions.

MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: The poster child for the far left radical part of the Democratic Party, John Fetterman.

ANNOUNCER: Republicans are aiming to win back the House, and take back the we must change direction in Washington.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We must change direction in Washington.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Everything is at stake.

ANNOUNCER: Both parties, hoping to expand their influence by winning governors offices across the nation.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We will never ever surrender to the woke agenda.

REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): Governor DeSantis only cares about the White House. He doesn't give a damn about your house.

ANNOUNCER: It's a critical test of the current president's agenda.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: We'll get a job because we're already getting it done.

ANNOUNCER: And the former president's grip on the GOP.

KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Welcome to the new Republican Party.

ANNOUNCER: Will this election set the wheels in motion for a Biden/Trump rematch?

BIDEN: Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans have made their choice, full of anger, violence, hate and division.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Watching our country go to hell, we may have to do it again.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's coverage of election night in America. The races for Congress, the contest for governor, and the future of American democracy.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: Our democracy is on this ballot.

ANNOUNCER: The people are choosing, the world is watching and anything is possible until the last vote.



TAPPER: And we are live in Washington on a very suspenseful night in American politics. Voters are deciding control of the United States Congress and the direction of the country over the next two years.

Welcome to CNN's special coverage of "Election Night in America". I'm Jake Tapper.

This is the first major election since President Biden took office and it's the first chance for voters nationwide to weigh in on his record at a moment when so many Americans are struggling with high inflation, and economic anxiety. Republicans believe that will work to their advantage, as they fight to win the 218 house seats they need to reclaim the majority. That's five more seats than they have now. The battle will take place in 82 key House races, competitive contests that could go either way.

In the closely divided Senate, Republicans need 51 seats to take back control. That's only one more seats than they have now.

We're watching 13 key races that will be crucial to the fight for the Senate. Another factor in this election, former President Donald Trump who has endorsed a slew of Republicans who support his false claims about the 2020 election. Some of them could have influence over certifying the results in 2024 or refusing to do so, if they win tonight.

That includes some of the candidates for governor in races playing out in 36 states across the nation. Among them, the pivotal battlegrounds of Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and Florida. Covering all of this tonight, Dana Bash, Abby Phillip, Chris Wallace, and our entire election team.

John King is over at the magic wall. He'll make sense of the results by mapping out the races district by district.

As we await the first vote, Kasie Hunt is standing by. She's following all 35 Senate contests, including he crucial key races.

Boris Sanchez will be reporting results from 36 governor's contests across the U.S.

David Chalian is here too. He's getting ready to roll out the first exit polls on what voters are thinking.

And Brianna Keilar is at the voting desk keeping tabs on how ballots are being counted in each state, and any issues at polling places.

We also have correspondents spread out across the country at candidates' headquarters and vote-counting centers. They're also right here in Washington, D.C.


First, let's go to Manu Raju. He's at the headquarters of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy. Manu, how confident is McCarthy feeling right now?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Extremely confident, Jake. In fact, the last couple of weeks, I'm told, Kevin McCarthy has been working on a victory speech he plans to deliver tonight. They believe they will take the majority, potentially as soon as 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. That is what they're looking at, in a time they believe McCarthy may come out and deliver remarks, and prepared some off the cuff remarks as well.

We do expect to hear from some other Republican officials through the course of the night, Ronna McDaniel, the RNC chairwoman, is the one who could talk, as well as Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker. Now, McCarthy has been raising enormous sums of money. He has traveled to 40 states over the last several weeks. And including today in Virginia, two districts in which they believe could help them take back the majority.

McCarthy and his team I'm told have set the bar at 20 seats. That is more than enough to take back the majority. But they believe they clear that bar. It will be a very successful night. They believe that will give them enough for what they consider a governing majority.

Anything less than 20 seats, they believe while successful to take back the majority would make Kevin McCarthy's life more difficult assuming he gets the speaker's gavel. So, while winning the majority is critical, Republicans and Democrats both looking at the margins, also significant in tonight's results.

TAPPER: All right. Manu, thanks so much.

Now, let's go to one of the most important battlegrounds tonight, Pennsylvania. Jessica Dean in Pittsburgh, at the headquarters of Democratic Senate candidate and current lieutenant governor, John Fetterman.

Jessica, the battle for control of the Senate could hinge on the race. What is the thinking right now in the Fetterman campaign headquarters?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it certainly could, Jake, and across the country, Democrats are playing a lot of defense. But here is where they could play offense. It's an open Senate seat, a Republican Pat Toomey is retiring, and Democrats would certainly love to pick this up. I talked to several campaign sources late this afternoon, and they -- one of them acknowledging, look, this is a jump ball, we know this is an incredibly tight race. What we are confident in, they closed it out as strongly as they could. The campaign really feels like the last five days have been very good for them.

They highlight the Oprah Winfrey endorsement that came late Thursday and dominated the local news cycle here on Friday. Then they had the rally with former President Obama and President Biden in Philadelphia, and one here in Pittsburgh with Obama, and they really feel like that has really lifted and given them a lot of momentum heading into today, especially with suburban women. That was the demographic that came up again and again when I was talking to them. One more thing that the campaign is pretty confident about, Jake, it is they believe Mehmet Oz, the Republican challenger who has pitched himself as an independent voice, a moderate, undercut that message by appearing at the rally with President Trump over the weekend. Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial candidate also there as well -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jessica Dean in Pittsburgh, thanks so much.

All 435 House seats are being decided in this election. Only the most competitive will determine which party wins control. House Republicans must win 30 of those competitive seats to reclaim the majority. House Democrats must win 53 of those competitive seats. So Democrats face a much more difficult challenge. They have fewer seats in the safe column.

We're going to see if they can meet that challenge as the results come in. And let's make our first trip to John King at the magic wall to take a look at the balance of power and the state of play when it comes to the House of Representatives -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESP[ONDENT: Brand new map, Jake, because the 2020 census, begets redistricting, which gets you to the 2020 map. But let's focus on this map to begin with. This is the current House, this is the prior map. So, the district lines have been changed quite a bit.

That's the map you need to remember. Republicans essentially need a net gain of only five. The historical average is 30, if you go back to Ronald Reagan's days.

TAPPER: For the midterm.

KING: Presidents first midterm election. Thirty-seven if you start the clock at Bill Clinton, when most people think are polarized -- you're looking at this map across the country, you mention those competitive races. First, let's bring them up this way and lay them out, just to show they are coast to coast, right? You have competitive House district from coast to coast.

Here's another way to look at it, the way you just brought it up. We get into how this map tells you here, look at all that blue. That tells you Democrats are on defense, defending way more districts. Look at them slide down here, 57 of these districts have incumbent Democrats. Twenty of them, only 20, have been incumbent Republicans.

You have four new districts, no incumbent recently redrawn. Then raised on here in Texas with two incumbents. Think about that. Democrats are defending the only three times as many seats in a Democratic president's first midterm a year.

They go from the northeast corner of Maine, all the way down to southern California, ranked choice voting in Maine and Alaska, we may not know the results of those fees for quite some time. But just think about Republicans need a net gain of five.

Jake, it's possible. They could get it right here. Manu was talking about the Republican optimism tonight, that maybe by 11:00 tonight, they will know.

Well, there are so many places we will get. Results early on, we can watch, it will be closely -- again, in the commonwealth and the state of New Hampshire -- excuse me -- two competitive House districts. They're also a very competitive Senate race.


So, we can learn early on right here in New Hampshire. Can these two Democrats, these are white working class districts, can they hang on? Can they be competitive? We will get early clues there.

Then you drop down from there, just in the state of New York, we have ten competitive districts in the state of New York. Seven of them, seven of them are Democrats on defense right there. And if you come down to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 17 districts across the commonwealth. But you see four districts in blue right here.

Again, the four competitive districts in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the governor's race and the Senate race as well, all Democrats. Jake, we could get early clues as you come down.

Then, if we haven't figured it out by then, the commonwealth of Virginia. Also an upscale Democratic suburban district here. Just across the bridge in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.

Another suburban district down here, big change in the demographics of this district as well. Can Jennifer Wexton hold on? Can Elaine Luria hold on down there?

So, we have a number of examples, even though it could take us quite some time to get to the final House map, these races in the east are going to tell us quite a bit. And they stretch down. Again, you can start in the East Coast, go across the Midwest, all the way here, the Democrats on defense so much out here.

The Democrats have dominated the West Coast for a generation. Look, competitive seats in Washington, Oregon, and in California as well. Democrats on defense, Jake. Their challenge tonight, upend history.

KING: Yeah, it's exciting, John King. We don't know what's going to happen. It's kind of fun because it's so rarely happens.

Dana Bash, as we prepare for the evening, what are you looking for?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I will pick up where John left off, which is in Virginia. Because particularly with Virginia's second congressional district, Elaine Luria, who's an incumbent Democrat, people have got to know her because she was and is a member of the January 6th committee, she's in a district that has flipped back and forth, back and forth over the past 20 years.

And she was also a so-called majority maker in 2018. She was part of the wave of Democrats that have helped pick up the house for them. She has spent about $11 million in a small congressional district, in a race. And she's been working as hard as she possibly can up against a very, very sour mood.

We will know early on because polls close at 7:00, and they tend to tabulate them pretty fast in Virginia. Whether or not she is going to survive and that could be, actually, will likely be a telltale for other like-minded districts around the country.

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dana, I will see your Virginia 2 and raise you New York's 17. That's a congressional district in the Hudson Valley, just north of New York. It's an area that Biden won two years ago by ten points.

But is especially interesting about it, Jake, is that Sean Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, the DCCC, is running there and Republicans have gone in heavy. They've spent millions of dollars, in still thought Maloney is going to end. But it got sufficiently tight in the final weeks, that Maloney's committee, the DCCC put $600,000 into Maloney's race, rather than some of the other races, a lot of the other Democrats, not happy about that.

If Maloney should lose, it would be the first time that one house party has taken out the other house parties campaign chairman since 1980.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what I think is so interesting about tonight? This is one of the rare times won both parties are like, I don't know what's going to happen with the Senate. And that kind of uncertainty, I think, is partly about what I consider tonight to be a split screen moment.

The top of the ticket, in the governor's race and then the Senate race, in a lot of these states are not going in the same direction. So, when you look at a state like Georgia, for example, if you have Brian Kemp running well ahead of Stacey Abrams, what does that do to a very tight Senate contest? You could tell the same story in Arizona, in Pennsylvania, in Nevada. Lots of the key Senate races tonight.

There's something totally different happening at the top of the ticket. I think that's going to be something both parties are looking at.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yeah, speaking about, at one of the places on watching really closely is Pennsylvania for exactly -- more than likely Democrats feel very confident about their gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania. Josh Shapiro over the Republican, Doug Mastriano.

But the Senate race really could go very, very differently and, you know, I've been talking to sources throughout the afternoon, and there are a couple things to watch. This is going to be one of the critical Senate races we are going to start to get the vote count in early. But we expected to take potentially days to actually count. That's partly because of Philadelphia County.

Both my Democratic and Republican sources are really watching for turnout in Philadelphia, and they're also looking for margin in the Philadelphia suburbs, which, Jake, I know you know, very well, as you, I haven't grown up there, because they're really looking for particularly white suburban women and how they're voting to try to see how the nights go.

BASH: And that's going to be -- that demographic is going to be one of the key questions all night long in Philadelphia, or in Philadelphia color counties, in Virginia's second district that I was talking about, all over. They went towards Joe Biden and the Democrats last time around. The question is whether the Republicans can get them back.

TAPPER: Fascinating stuff.

Coming up, as we stand by for the first exit polls, what is on the mind of the voters? We will break down the newest numbers on early voting in key battleground states. We are finding some surprises.

Stay with us on this "Election Night in America".


TAPPER: Welcome back.

Congress -- control of Congress, it's up for grabs as we head into the final hours of voting across the country in this momentous midterm election. We're back in the CNN election center.

Right now, we have a new breakdown of early voting in key battleground states. And we're finding some interesting twists. Brianna Keilar is that our voting desk with that -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, more than 45 million ballots were cast for election day in 47 states.


And here's what we know about where those early votes are coming from. You can see here on the map that states that have cast the most early votes, Texas has the highest count with more than 5.4 million votes. Next is Florida with more than 4.9; 4.7 in California, 2.5 in Georgia. And 2.1 million in North Carolina.

So, these are all the states with more than 2 million ballots cast. And here's what we can tell you about who is voting.

In Pennsylvania, we see a pretty typical divide between the parties when it comes to pre-election day ballots, 69 percent of votes so far from registered Democrats, 21 percent from Republicans. And that is roughly the same breakdown that we saw in Pennsylvania in 2020, with 66 percent of early votes from Democrats and 23 percent from Republicans.

But then take a look at this. There are several states seeing a rise in early voting from Republicans. In Ohio, Republicans make up 28 percent of early votes. That is up 5 percent from 2020, as you see here. And in Florida, Republicans are outpacing Democrats, making up 43 percent of early votes. That is also up 5 percent from 2020.

So we are going to see what kind of impact these pre-election votes will have as results are coming in tonight, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Brianna. Now, let's go live to our battleground correspondents.

Sara Sidner is at a voting location in Tempe, Arizona.

Sara, what kind of turnout are you seeing there?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has tripled in the past couple of hours, the line here on ASU campus. We are in Tempe, Arizona. That's part of Maricopa County, the largest and most populous county in Arizona.

What we do know is that typically about 85 percent of voters vote early. So, this line is an indication that there are quite a few people left that want to get their vote in today.

There are a lot of folks here who are students, there are a lot of folks here who are first-time voters, and, you know, we are talking to them about some of the different issues that they have come here to vote about. There are lots of concerns about a lot of different things. So, you know, and you have people here that are constantly, you know, saying, you've got to be 75 feet, you've got people who are constantly making sure that people feel safe.

But, you know, we've got different voters from different parts of the state because, of the county, and you can go anywhere, anywhere.

Okay, so apparently were little close. So, we've been doing this all day long, talking to different people. Apologize for that, we got a little too close. But you can see, they're serious about making sure that people feel safe here, as a vote, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sara Sidner, let's go down to Nevada.

Gary Tuchman is at a voting site in Las Vegas.

Gary, how busy is it where you are?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDEN: Jake, we picked a busy place. Not only because of the intense interest in three major races here in Nevada. But we are in a mall just east of Las Vegas Strip in Clark County. So, you can come here, shop, you can eat, you can ride kitty rides, you can go in a movie theater, and you can cast ballots. That's what lots of people are doing here.

Just about five minutes ago, when I walked on the, line you see there more than 100 people waiting to vote in 25 stations here. And the people are talking to us about five major issues when we just talked to them. No particular order, the economy, crime, reproductive rights, the border and Trump, both pro and anti-Trump.

Now, is this precinct busier than normal? Is it less busy than normal? There's no way to know in Nevada. By individual precincts because unlike most states, you can go to any voting center in the county you live in.

There are 17 counties in Nevada, Clark County being the most populated, more than 70 percent of the population lives here. But they make it very convenient for them, also to vote early. Even before the polling places open today, 34 percent of the registered voters in the state of Nevada already have had their ballots received by early and person voting, which is less than two weeks and mail-in voting.

And this state, if you register to vote, you automatically receive a mail-in ballot. Those ballots have to be received by this Saturday if they're postmarked by today. The polls are open for another four hours here in the state of Nevada -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Gary Tuchman, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

And we should point out, two of the big battleground states here, when it comes to control of the Senate, are in the states we just want to, Nevada and Arizona.

KING: Right, 35 Senate elections in all, we have identified, again, through our friends at Inside Elections as well, we do the eight most competitive seats. There are others that could come into play, you get surprise sometimes in the midterm elections. The eight most competitive seats, though, are evenly divided right now, in terms of the four held by Republicans, four held the Democrats. But six of these eight states were carried by Joe Biden two years ago.

So, again, Democrats won the state 's just two years ago. Statewide --

TAPPER: Narrowly and three of them.

KING: Some of them quite narrowly, you're absolutely right. You look at the terrain, here it stretches from New Hampshire over to Nevada and Arizona.


The best way to look at this, especially early on as we wait, we talked a few minutes ago, Jake, about how the Democrats of such a little room for error when it comes to the house. Only a five seat pad, if you will. They have no room.

Absolutely no room for error and Democratic presidents first midterm with those headwinds of inflation in your face, the historical average again back to Reagan, is you lose two. So, Democrats could have a good night by historical standards, and only lose one. That would give Republicans the Senate.

TAPPER: That's all they need.

KING: That's why this is so fascinating. Think about the chest throughout the night, right? Republicans suddenly have laid in this campaign, they think we have a chance in New Hampshire, right? So, let's bring it down to this map here. This is a hypothetical,

early on. If Don Bolduc pick up New Hampshire, then Democrats down at 49. What do they have to do to keep the majority? They have to pick up a piece, right? If you lose a piece, you have to pick up a piece.

This is their best hope, the very competitive Pennsylvania Senate race, your home state. This, like New Hampshire, it will be decided in the suburbs. Let's hypothetically say that the Democrats can get that. Okay, then they're back to 50-50. But then you go through these competitive races in Georgia, in Arizona, in Nevada.

Republicans say keep an eye on Colorado and Washington state tonight. The Democrats, Jake, the hope is for some surprise in a state, whoops, carried by Trump. North Carolina, carried by Trump, Ohio, carried by Biden, Wisconsin, Democrats are hoping that they have an upset they're up their sleeve. It would be remarkable if they do, but very close races, all three of those.

So, what's going to happen as we count the votes tonight, is it false -- let's go back to where we are. Some people are confused. As we come back to where we are at 50-50, here's how we rank them heading into the election night, right? Toss-up Pennsylvania, toss-up Georgia, toss-up Nevada, lean Republican in Wisconsin, Ohio, and North Carolina.

Then again, you have these states out West. It's the most vulnerable Democrat is Gary Tuchman is, right? The Democrats are very worried about this one. Again, if Republicans take one away, Adam Laxalt is the candidate there, Democrats are down in this scenario, down to 48. And so, that's because the toss-ups are taken away.

TAPPER: Can I say one thing about Nevada? I believe this is the first election statewide in Nevada in decades that Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader, is not alive. And he had that state, it was a well-oiled machine.

He had close ties to the unions. He was able to eke out victories, narrow once, but every time. He's not there anymore.

KING: It's an excellent point because that's one of the -- that has been, up to this point, one of the exceptions to the rules, in the sense of the national political parties, even state political parties, their influence has deteriorated, largely going back to the Citizens United campaign finance decision. If you can flip a ton of money in from anywhere, the state parties and national parties are diminished.

But you're right. Harry Reid managed to keep that network together. That's what a lot of Democrats are worried about.

Do you have a good vote operation? You have a turnout operation on Election Day? Are you keeping close track of everybody? That will be one of the tests of all these places.

Now, Democrats promised to surprise us out there. I call you that read just as a hypothetical. I want to come back here, just keep coming back. TAPPER: It's a toss-up.

KING: Yeah, it's a toss-up. Democrats say they're going to surprise us. They say, remember, Donald Trump made in-roads among Latino voters.

TAPPER: Right.

KING: Right? That could matter in the Senate race here. It could matter in the Senate race here. It could manage in Senate races everywhere.

TAPPER: Colorado, too.

KING: Colorado as well, in the Denver suburbs, even in places where Latino populations of 6 percent, or 12 percent, or 15 percent. This one constituency can matter quite a bit. Democrats say they're going to surprise us and they learn the lesson of 2020. That's why we count votes. But if you -- the challenging part about this is that the president has absolutely no room for error.

If you see one of the blues turned red, then you look at the map all night, okay, which one of the reds can turn blue? We are going to be watching this play out across the country. Republicans are very confident they will get at least one and Republicans are looking for two or three.

But these will all come down to suburbs in Pennsylvania, suburbs in Georgia, outside of Atlanta, Maricopa County, Clark County, this election will be decided, like all close, ones in the suburbs.

TAPPER: Yeah, and it is -- it is nerve-racking. It's exciting, but we're getting closer to the first exit polls on the issues driving voters. What's on your mind?

But, first, we're going to take a look at the Biden and the Trump factors in this election. Which one of them will have a bigger impact on the outcome? We'll talk about that when we're back in a moment.



COOPER: Live pictures of the U.S. Capitol on the tense midterm election night, with the control of Congress on the line. I'm Anderson Cooper, along with our political team, will be tracking the votes as they come in for as long as it takes.

Let's go back to Brianna Keilar at the voting desk.

A lot could hinge obviously on key battlegrounds out West.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Anderson.

Let's take a look at two key western states, Arizona and Nevada and why we might not get final tallies for days. In Arizona, polls close at 9:00 p.m. eastern, and no results will be released until 10:00 p.m. an hour later, and we could see results from Maricopa County even later.

So, what's been going on in Maricopa County? Earlier today, Arizona officials said tabulating machines at 20 percent of 223 voting locations were rejecting ballots as voting got underway. File this under technical difficulties, but we just learned from election officials that this problem has been resolved and all of those votes will, of course, be counted.

State officials are expecting the majority of ballot processing will be done by this weekend. Meaning, if there are some tight races in Arizona, we may not actually have final results for a few days here.

Then in Nevada, this is the first midterm election with universal mail-in voting, it was a method first put if place. Everyone in the state is sent a ballot in the mail. To be clear here, everyone receives one. They don't have to use it. Voters can go to the polls in person today.

We don't have too many details from election officials about what order ballots will be reported tonight, which means, it could take longer to project the winners. And even though election workers started processing accounting mail ballots on October 24th, Nevada will continue to accept mail ballots postmarked on or before today through November 12th, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Thank you very much.

Former President Trump will be among those watching the return to Arizona and Nevada very closely, two of the states where he challenged his 2020 election laws.

Kristen Holmes is at Trump's home base at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

So, what are you referring to about his focus?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it might be 2022, but the focus is largely on 2024, and that third presidential run, which we are expecting Trump to make an announcement on just a week from today.


What they are looking at is how many seats the House picks up, which of Trump's endorsed candidates in the Senate as well as gubernatorial actually pick up their seats as well. How big is the red wave that can give them the momentum he needs, going into the expected announcement next week.

They are also particularly watching which races they believe Trump will be given credit for. That is the Senate races in Arizona, in Ohio and Pennsylvania. That is, of course, if Republicans do take those seats. Now, there is one other race that they are watching very closely and

that is the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. A big victory for DeSantis could give DeSantis the momentum he needs with allies and donors following this election. I talked to one source who said they believe that they have encouraged Trump to actually announce earlier than later because of this. As we know, DeSantis is considered the most formidable opponent to Donald Trump should they run in 2024, I have to say, in the interview that I just listened to, Trump essentially says that DeSantis has no idea if he's running but there's no tiff, but then he follows that up by saying he does run, he might reveal some details he knows about him.

So, clearly, there seems like a veiled threat on the eve of the election.

COOPER: Yeah, not even so veiled. Pretty much ripped that veil right off.

Thanks so much. Here with team in New York.

I mean, it is interesting, Gloria, to see what candidates have wanted to be close with Joe Biden on the Democratic side and what candidates have, you know, wanted to be seen with Trump and which didn't. Mehmet Oz was at a rally with Trump but did not mention Trump's name once.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And you kind of wonder why Trump was even there since Mehmet Oz has been trying to move to the center and virtually erased Trump from his campaign, but if Trump says I'm coming, there's really nothing you can do about it.

But Biden, for example, hasn't been in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, these are very tight races. They don't think he's going to help them much over there, but whatever happens.

And thanks to Scott Jennings for this, we know that Donald Trump is going to take credit for any victories because here is what he just told NewsNation, was it. If I win, if they win, meaning his candidates that he's endorsed, I should get all the credit. If they lose, I should not be blamed at all. But it will probably be just the opposite. There you go.



DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The difference between the Biden situation and the Trump situation is he honestly can take credit for those candidates being the nominees in those states. Mehmet Oz wouldn't be the nominee but for Donald Trump, Masters in Arizona, you know, Herschel Walker, he sort of orchestrated that, J.D. Vance in Ohio, so he is responsible for those candidates.

BORGER: Except if they lose.

AXELROD: Well, but he's going to get responsibility for them. I'm sure Dave and others will make sure he does, if Republicans lose that. In Biden's case, it is very much, I mean, I went through this in 2010

when I was working for president Obama. The president becomes the fulcrum of the attack against the governing party, and so candidates often don't want, particularly swing states, Biden's numbers in the swing states and districts are actually lower than his national numbers, which aren't that high. It's not advantageous for candidates to be with him.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Biden was welcome in Pennsylvania, which is a swing state, and he was there with Obama.

Look, I think that we had hoped that you could kind of throw Trump to the wolves and be done with him. He's come back leading the pack, and that's going to be a problem going forward, but I think tonight, what I'm excited about is that people on the ground are still fighting.

Polls have been wrong. Guys, everybody, polls have been wrong. Polls have been wrong in 2016, in 2018, and I think you might see some surprises tonight when you think about in Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes, they're closing strong. They're fighting back, coming on.

You might have surprises in North Carolina. I think we've got to take a step back and let the voters do their thing tonight. It's not about Donald Trump. It's not about Biden. It's about the voters.

DAVE URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Van is overly optimistic. I'm here to help you tonight. There's going to be a lot of postmortem worked on tomorrow about Trump, about Biden, right? I think it's interesting to see how much the former president on some of these candidates, 120 million bucks in the bank, how much did he spend in Pennsylvania. In some of these races, he could have thrown in cash. He didn't choose to throw in cash.

If they lose are people going to point to him and say you're sitting on $120 million, you didn't spend any to help Mehmet Oz or J.D. Vance, or any of these candidates.


So, I think that's going to be important to look at.


URBAN: Compared to Scott's former boss, Mitch McConnell, raised and spent close to $300 million for candidates. Kevin McCarthy, the same, right, raising money, and really put an effort into it.

So, I think if you're going to ascribe credit, if there's a big win tonight for Republicans, I think McCarthy, I think Scott, and NRSC, and I think Kevin McCarthy, and Tom Emmer, the NRCC.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think what's remarkable to Axelrod's point is I expect Republicans to do well tonight. I think the Senate, There are paths to Republicans taking back the majority. That is with the worst candidates than what we would have like to have seen recruited. COOPER: And that's because of Donald Trump.

GRIFFIN: Because of Donald Trump.

Doug Ducey not getting to the Senate race. Chris Sununu not getting into the New Hampshire Senate race. Having some of these more vulnerable ones, like Blake Masters in Arizona, Mehmet Oz instead of Dave McCormick, I still anticipate we'll do well. You have to take a step back, and realize, Republicans could have been in a stronger place if not for Donald Trump.

BORGER: Well, as Mitch McConnell says candidate quality was not the greatest. If it turns out to be a wave, then it's a wave.

JENNINGS: I think this quality candidate narrative, it's through the lens of did the Republicans get the best candidates, obviously they have had challenges, but nobody has stopped to ask, were the Democrat candidates the best candidates, some of the Democratic incumbents extremely weak.

I mean, out in Washington state, we're in a dead heat race according to the polls at the last minute. Tiffany Smiley was a great contrast out there against Murray. Cortez Masto, not all that compelling.

BORGER: Maggie Hassan.

JENNINGS: Hassan was not all that compelling.

I mean, Fetterman, I mean, let's be honest, you know, a lot of challenges. There's a different focus on --


JENNINGS: Everybody has been focused on Republicans. The Democrat haves had their own, and no one wants to talk about it.

JONES: Some of our candidates maybe be the most exciting people in the world, but they aren't crazy people. I think the challenge that you have right now, if you're going to be honest is the Democrats' big problem is we have what appear to be some out of touch elites. That's what the knock is on us.

But on the other side, it's out of their mind populists who are literally scaring people not believing in the election, not believing in the Constitution, and that is the difference. And so I think that when McConnell who is certainly no swish, says that you got candidate quality problems, you do. You really do.

URBAN: You talk about crazy, let's make sure you put an asterisk next to John Fetterman.

JONES: Come on, John Fetterman is a beloved, respected Democrat, he's done well. And the only reason you have a shot is because he has a healthy issue.

URBAN: The only reason we have a shot is the policies. He's against fracking. He voted against the guy who's going to be the governor, the attorney general of Pennsylvania, 200 times plus to free people.


AXELROD: -- the polls to close so you stop campaigning in the Senate race.


JONES: You can't say one good thing about Oz, though, and that's why you have to attack Fetterman. Look, here's a reality.

URBAN: Are you going to filibuster?

GRIFFIN: There is a bit of a recruitment problem on the Dems. I mean, Ron Johnson was the most vulnerable Republican, and Mandela Barnes is not the strongest candidate.


JONES: Here's the deal. That may well be true. Wait until tonight. He is closing strong.

GRIFFIN: North Carolina as well. Ted Budd was not supposed to be a strong candidate.

JONES: Beasley I think is an extraordinary candidate.

JENNINGS: Why didn't Democrats support her? Why didn't Obama go there?

JONES: I do not know. Beasley could be the sleeper tonight. She's African-American, an unbelievable candidate. She didn't get support from the party.

But look, I will stand with our candidates from here to eternity. You can't stand with some of the people in your own party, and you know it.

BORGER: The elephant in the room is Joe Biden's lack of popularity here. You know, these candidates you may say they're bad, whatever, it's hard to overcome a president with popularity in the low 40s. That's it. So, you're pushing the ball up the hill the entire time. You may have great candidates, but --


AXELROD: There is going to be a debate within the Democratic Party if Wisconsin goes down, if Pennsylvania goes down, about whether a more center left candidate could have done better than the candidates who were promoted by the wing of the party.

JENNINGS: This point you made, you could analyze these races a lot of different ways, and it's all sort of gut feel on candidate quality but the fundamentals of elections really don't change. If the president's in the low 40s, if the right track wrong track is 30/70. If 2/3 of the country thinks we're in a recession, if inflation is waging, the gravity of that means a lot more than our gut feelings about this candidate.

COOPER: We'll soon get the first clues about how this night may unfold when we roll out our exit polls. Next, we'll zero in on top battlegrounds that will decide control of the Senate including the key race in Georgia, all ahead.

Stay with us.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It is election night in America, and control of the United States Congress is one of the top prizes tonight.

Welcome back, we're keeping tabs on voter turnout across the United States, especially, of course, in the key battlegrounds that will decide which party wins the Senate.

Brianna Keilar is at our voting desk, looking at two of those critical states and how their early votes will be counted -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Jake, let's take a closer look at Pennsylvania and Georgia. Two states that voted for Trump in 2016 and then flipped to Biden in 2020. In Pennsylvania, the early vote ballot processing couldn't start until today, but there's less than half the amount of mail ballots to count as there was two years ago, so that along with marathon counting meaning no stopping until the counting is done should help get results in sooner.

But in Philadelphia, officials have reinstated a process just this morning called poll book reconciliation, comparing mail ballots with poll books from election day to ensure people have not voted twice. Just to be totally clear, election official haves not encountered any double votes in the county in the last three elections. So, they're doing this really to prevent claims of voter fraud from Republicans, and it is something that could slow down reporting of results there, but keep in mind, there are fewer mail ballots than there were in 2020.

So, let's go now to Georgia where they are seeing record early turn out for a midterm election.


More than 2.5 million votes already cast. That is a half million more than the 2 million plus in the 2018 midterms. Tonight, Georgia might be one of those states where the Republicans take an early lead, but then as the night goes on, that lead could narrow or flip in favor of Democrats. That is what we saw in 2020, but there are fewer mail ballots than two years ago, so that count could be faster tonight, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Brianna, thanks so much.

I'm back here at the magic wall with John King. And, John, one of the things that our viewers need to keep an eye out

for, sometimes because every state counts early votes differently. It might seem as though somebody is taking a lead in a state when it's really just the early votes were counted or not counted and that creates an illusion that that person is in the lead and it could be favoring Democrats or Republicans, depending on the state.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And we lived through this on election night 2020 so we'll be very cautious tonight and explain things as closely and carefully as we can and urge you to be patient, because to your point, let's go back in time and look at the 2020 presidential election, and you bring it up here. This is the end result and I know there are conspiracies out there. There is no dispute about this, because these votes were counted fairly and over time it took until Saturday and beyond election day to get it done.

But let's go back in time and remind people what happened. This is 9:00 on election night 2020. At this point, you have Joe Biden leading in Florida -- I'm sorry, Donald Trump leading in Florida, Donald Trump leading in Michigan. Joe Biden leading in Texas. Joe Biden leading in Ohio.

TAPPER: And North Carolina.

KING: And North Carolina. We'll get more. Let's play this out as we get through. We'll move forward until midnight, right?

So, Trump has now Florida but come off the map and look again. You still have Donald Trump leading in Pennsylvania and in Georgia and in Nevada and in Wisconsin and in Michigan, right? He holds Utah in the end.

But what is happening here? These states are counting Election Day ballots first and voter. Election Day voting tends to favor Republicans so you need to wait it out. Move forward, this is noon the next day.

What happened? Donald Trump still leading in Pennsylvania and Georgia. Biden has taken Michigan and taken the lead in Wisconsin and Nevada and Arizona. This is 12:00 noon the day after the election.

You move forward to Friday, right, a full two days later. What happened? Just been counting votes. Joe Biden went ahead in Pennsylvania and in Georgia and then, of course, you come out. This is what we call the election Saturday morning at 11:25 a.m. and this is where it ended up when they finished the count, right?

Look at this. Look at the difference, though, right? You see the vote count there. Even then, even after we called the election, it takes days to count them out. There we go. It takes time. Nothing nefarious happened. So, you can look at the sense of Pennsylvania on Election Day 2020 and come back in time --

TAPPER: They were still counting -- I know Pennsylvania pretty well. They were still counting in Philadelphia the most populous county in the entire commonwealth and they were counting and counting and counting. They weren't inventing votes, they were counting legal lawful votes and it took a long time.

KING: Brianna made an important point. There were more mail in ballots because of the COVID pandemic. They were counting everywhere. There was more to count in Philadelphia because it's the most populous part. If you look, this is election night 9:00. Joe Biden is ahead, come forward more, wow, midnight, right? This is midnight as we move into Wednesday. Donald Trump is ahead.

Then you come the next day, noon, Donald Trump is ahead. This is when he starts saying before this, stop the count.

TAPPER: Stop the count.

KING: Stop the count. We're done.

TAPPER: He said -- he lied and said people were still voting.

KING: Right.

TAPPER: Nobody was voting. They were counting.

KING: They were counting. They were counting ballots that had been cast and received with Republican and Democratic election observers watching. This happens all the time which is what you want.

Look, even at noon on Friday, November 6th, right, this is when Joe Biden goes ahead for the first time and you see this by 9,000 votes there and Saturday morning when we called it, it accrued to 28,000 votes and by the time they were down counting in Pennsylvania --

TAPPER: Let's go back to 9:00 p.m. in Pennsylvania, okay? We'll have a 9:00 p.m. in Pennsylvania here, too. 9:00 p.m. Pennsylvania was -- this was what it was.

KING: Biden is ahead at 9:00. The first results that came in. It was later --


KING: By midnight.

TAPPER: So this is midnight. And then it is entirely possible, again, that at midnight tonight, the result in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will suggest that the Republican is in the lead for the Senate and the Republican is in the lead for the governor's office.

KING: There are also four competitive House races there. Two over here and two over here.


It is possible. It is quite possible.

TAPPER: But the votes will not have all been counted.

KING: No, we will know that and report that as transparent as we get the information from state officials. We will be able to show you the outstanding votes and we're making an example here of a state that started out with the red, if you will.

TAPPER: Can we do Ohio?

KING: Sure. Let's come out. Let me go back to the beginning, if you bring up Ohio on election night.

TAPPER: On election night Joe Biden was by 10 percent points by 9:00 a.m. ultimately, we knew and were telling people do not think the early results in Ohio will be the final results indicative of the final results because we know there are a lot of early votes and disproportionately for Democrats.

KING: They are allowed to count the mail in ballots here. Some states are allowed to process those, clear them --

TAPPER: Texas and Ohio.

KING: Right, and they do that quickly. We were getting texts on election night 2020, 9:00, 10:00 at night, wow, Joe Biden is going to win Ohio and Texas.

TAPPER: So again, because there aren't competitive races in Ohio tonight, might there be a blue wave tonight?

KING: Democrats are leading and we'll be here as we do in the states where Republicans are leading saying those are votes. They're votes. They're fair, freely, perfected counted votes, but it's not contextual. We don't have the full picture yet which happens over time as you count votes, and you get to the end and the same thing that Donald Trump complains about in Pennsylvania happened in Ohio. He won in Ohio.

He lost in Pennsylvania because of what? Math.

TAPPER: Right. Oddly, he didn't have any issue with it in Ohio and Texas and Joe Biden did not claim that he had been cheated out of Ohio and Texas.

KING: He did not.

TAPPER: Right, because one of them acknowledges the math and one of them does not.

We're now just minutes away from unveiling our first exit polls what is on your mind, the minds of voters as you cast your ballots.

That is coming up next in this election night in America.