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GOP's McCarthy Speaks As House Control Still Hangs In Balance; Key Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin Senate Races Too Close To Call; House, Senate Control Still Hang In The Balance. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 09, 2022 - 02:00   ET



REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Sean Patrick Maloney which will be the first time in over 40 years a DCCC chair lost his reelection. Not only that, but on Long Island Anthony d'Esposito won a seat the Joe Biden carried by 17 points. We are on the verge of historic gains in New York. In Florida, we gained four seats alone. We are poised to sweep the entire state of Iowa. I will tell you from the southern border of Monica de la Cruz to Virginia Beach of Jen Kiggans to Detroit with John James and to Houston with Wesley Hunt, we are expanding this party.

Now let me tell you, you're out late. But when you wake up tomorrow, we will be in the majority and Nancy Pelosi will be in the minority. The American people are ready for a majority that will offer a new direction that will put America back on track. Republicans are ready to deliver it. It's a new direction towards an economy that is strong where you can fill up your tank, feed your family where your paychecks grow and not shrink.

A new direction towards a nation that is safe where communities are protected. Law enforcement is respected and criminals are prosecuted. A new direction towards the future that's built on freedom where children come first and are taught to dream big. And a new direction towards a government that is accountable where government works for you instead of against you.

Republicans will work with anyone who's willing to join us to deliver this new direction that Americans have demanded. But they're no time to waste. Our work begins now. Let's get America back on track. Thank you. God bless and good night.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right. That is the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaking in Washington, D.C. really putting a good face on tonight. Thought that they'd have many more gains than they did. But he's touting gains. He says in New York, the DCC chair Sean Patrick Maloney said that they have historic wins in New York, Florida and in Iowa, as well as saying that they're going to take back the House and that by tomorrow are coming soon, that Nancy Pelosi, the current speaker of the House, he believes will be in the minority.

But clearly, as I turned to John Berman here who is at the magic wall, he is like a coach trying to put a good face on basically what they thought would be a good way and getting ahead of it. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So two important things. Number one, he's ahead of himself, we have not projected yet that republicans will take control. Number two, if they do, and they might.

LEMON: Right.

BERMAN: It is by much smaller of a margin than Kevin McCarthy hope. Let me just show you. This is what you're seeing right here is where republicans are currently ahead. You can see, yes, this would give them control of the U.S. House of Representatives but barely done just by a few seats. This is where the races that we've called. Among the races that we call, they hold a bigger lead. But again, there are still a lot of races out there.

And if you look at the competitive seats, these are the seats that CNN with inside elections considers to be either toss ups or tilting one way. Republicans need to win 30 of these to take control. Right now they're ahead or called and only 33. So again, 30 is their magic number. They're at 33. So barely, barely where they need to be. And I want to also just point out a few other things he said worries ahead of himself.

Let's go to New York. He said for instance. Well, first of all, in New York, there are 10 competitive seats, right? You can see republicans do lead in eight of the seats, democrats and two. This would be a very disappointing night for democrats in the state of New York. Two years ago within these boundaries, democrats would have held eight of these seats, republicans just two. So you can see why republicans feel good about New York.

He particularly pointed out the district held by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Sean Patrick Maloney. He is trailing in his race right now. We have not called this race. There is still a fair amount of vote left to be counted there, including in the most democratic county in this district, Westchester County, still more than 25 percent of the vote. He's got a smaller lead there than he should.

This is a democrat plus 27th district right now, he's only leading by a little but it's possible that he does pick up some votes there. A couple other states I want to point out to you here, again, why democrats might feel better about certain things. Let's look at Michigan right now. Again there are four competitive seats here. Democrats lead in two.

Republicans lead in two. Two years ago this would have been three to one. So let's actually focus in on one of these races that we have been watching. This is Elissa Slotkin's district. Actually, this is a disappointment for Democrats if this holds. This is a district the democrats fought very hard for. Liz Cheney actually went out to Michigan and campaign for Elissa Slotkin. You can see that she's trailing right now.

Let's see where the remaining vote might be. Lansing, which is a highly democratic area, only 68 percent. This is a -- this is a county where democrats hold a wide margin. So there is vote to be made up by Elissa Slotkin there, but right now she is trailing. We can look at some other states on the map here. Pennsylvania. What's interesting about Pennsylvania is that we've called the senate race there for John Fetterman already.

In the house, you can see four competitive districts, democrats leading in all four. Two years ago, they only would have led in three. One of these districts right here. We'll look up here is a district held by an incumbent Matt Cartwright. This is a -- actually a republican plus three district right now. And Mark -- Matt Cartwright is holding a lead. So democrats outperforming in some places that Republicans had hoped to make gains, Don.

LEMON: Yes. But it's interesting. A lot of the votes are coming from, you know, big areas, big urban areas, right, near the city. So there's a lot of democratic votes out there. And you are cautioning. It's so early. There are still votes out there. Even though it's 2:00 in the morning. It's still early because a lot of the votes have not been counted, John.

BERMAN: We are watching this come in again. Republicans have a very narrow lead in the House race.

LEMON: I was warned that John Berman is going to be my best friend tonight. So John will be my best friend, we'll be buddies tonight throughout the evening and throughout the morning here on CNN. So John, we just saw just moments ago, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaking in Washington, D.C. Inside of that room was our very own Manu Raju. He appeared optimistic. But this is not the night they thought they were going to have, Manu.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, going into the night McCarthy's people, his team set a bar. That bar was a 20-seat gain because they believe that if they were to clear picking up 20 seats that would give them a comfortable governing majority. And the lesson that would be problematic, potentially for Speaker McCarthy because that would empower the right flank of the conference, often folks who do not listen to leadership and often folks who have their own ideas about exactly what to do.

It would empower that element of the Republican conference. What we are seeing here tonight is a very likelihood that the republicans will not meet that goal of achieving a 20-seat gain. Never mind what McCarthy had hoped for last year which was a 60-seat gain. Things had changed post Dobbs, but even so, even though the post the decision over abortion, republicans were still optimistic that coming into today, they could get that a majority of more than 20 seats.

Right now, as John pointed out to you, Don, that path seems uncertain. If the republicans do take back the House and they are still likely to do so given the amount of territory that are playing in, it could very well be a very narrow majority. So, not only could that give problems for McCarthy in trying to pass an agenda, but also trying to just lock down this votes to become speaker. And that's one of the things he's going to beginning -- begin tomorrow, Don, is to actually call members, ask for their votes. Ensure he has the votes, become speaker, he almost certainly does have that. But republicans, even though they may not have the bigger majority, as they may ultimately have, they will still have subpoena power and the ability to set the agenda.

LEMON: Yes. So everybody, stand by, fasten your seatbelts as they say. Manu Raju at Washington at the House minority leader's headquarters where he spoke just moments ago. So let's slow things down for you and get you caught up here. Everything that we are watching this hour here on CNN. Ballots are still being counted all over many of the races, just too close to call right now.

But now we're going to take a look at where we stand. This is the balance of power and the House of Representatives. At this hour, control of the House is still in question. The party with at least 218 seats will be in the majority. There it is up on your screen right there. Republicans leading with about 193 seats, they need to win 21 of the competitive seats to gain control. Democrats on the defense with 170 seats at this hour.

Now the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. over on the Senate side of the chamber still hangs in the balance. OK. So let's look at the senate seats here. Republicans still hoping to gain control.

At this moment. All eyes are on three senate races. Wisconsin, Nevada, Georgia. There are still no projections in these states. Of course, there's one in Pennsylvania as we saw John Fetterman. In Nevada, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto leading with more than 50 percent of the vote. Let's take you to Wisconsin now. Democrat Mandela Barnes. He is trailing Republican Senator Ron Johnson by about 40,000 votes.


In Georgia, this is a really close one that everyone is watching. Probably just as close to zero watch in Pennsylvania. Republican Herschel Walker, incumbent Democrat Senator Raphael Warnock locked in a very tight race. And you can see they are separated by nearly 14,000 votes. Will someone come out victorious tonight? Well, you got to stick around and find out or could this contest head to a run off? We'll have it all for you.

This is what's happening in Pennsylvania. As you can see, there is a huge democratic win here. Democrat John Fetterman. CNN is projecting that he has won the race defeating Mehmet Oz. This after he had a stroke on the campaign trail recovering. And after Oprah Winfrey through major support behind him. Check this out.


LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D) PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR-ELECT: Every county every vote, every county, every vote. And that's exactly what happened. We jammed them up. We held the line. I never expected that we were going to turn these red counties blue. But we did what we needed to do. And we had that conversation across every one of those counties. And tonight, that's why I'll be the next U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Back now with John Berman. John, we have been -- we've taken you around the United States. And you're going to give us some of that. And also, let's talk about what's happening in Georgia. And just a bit you saw Pennsylvania there. Big win for them.

BERMAN: Let's talk about what this all means for the U.S. senate. The number you're seeing on the screen now is where democrats are currently ahead. In terms of the races that have already been called. They hold 48 seats, republicans hold 47. The remaining seats that we're watching very closely. Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia. Let me just quickly take you through all these states to see where we are right now.

In Nevada, we only have 62 percent in. Catherine Cortez Masto. The incumbent democrat there is holding on to a small lead but we need to wait for more vote to come in. In Arizona the incumbent Mark Kelly is holding a lead there, it looks big. But again, this is largely the early vote that's come in so far. We know that in the presidential race two years ago, Donald Trump actually narrowed that lead as the days went on, Joe Biden ultimately did win. But we're going to wait and see for more voting --

LEMON: The voting of the day that republicans usually have the advantage.

BERMAN: They have same day voting, they tend to have an advantage. That's usually the early vote that we've seen at this point in Arizona. In Wisconsin right now, the incumbent Ron Johnson is up on Mandela Barnes, we have not projected a winner in this race. But let me finish here on Georgia and stay here for a little bit. The key number you need to look at now, Raphael Warnock, the incumbent democrat is leading by it's -- but he is underneath the key number of 50 percent.

If neither of these candidates gets to 50 percent, there will be a runoff in Georgia in December, and right now, you know, they're closer to each other than they are to fit.

LEMON: John, it's 50. It's not 50 plus. It's 50.

BERMAN: It's 50 plus one.

LEMON: Plus one vote. Yes.

BERMAN: Sorry. Left out that one.

LEMON: Yes, yes, yes.

BERMAN: But it's 50 plus one. So he's got to really pad that lead. If he's going to avoid a runoff. Let me take a look.

LEMON: Can you -- you considered him a -- at this point --

BERMAN: He's a third candidate in the race. He's got two percent of the vote. If he were not there, you can imagine if someone would be over 50. He didn't really play a major role in the campaign in general, other than to be that two percent this morning that may be causing this to go to a runoff. Where is the vote? OK. 96 percent reporting. So it doesn't feel like there's a lot left. But of that four percent, right, of that tiny little bit that's remaining, the bigger the circle, the more votes that's out there.

The bigger the blue, the more votes that we think is out there. You can see there are bigger, bluer circles left here. There are more red circles.

LEMON: There are more red. Yes.

BERMAN: Right? But the blue ones are bigger. And let me just circle this here. So you remember where that is. And I'll take this down. And then you're left here primarily around the Atlanta area where we know there's a lot of democratic vote. Fulton County, Raphael Warnock's got a hugely, almost 50 points. 95 percent and it doesn't feel like there's a lot left but it could add up. Cobb County. There's actually only at 8 percent in. Again, Raphael Warnock leads by 16 points.

He's outperforming what Joe Biden did in that county. Biden won by 14. Warnock is up by about 15. A little bit more. He's outperforming there. Still a little bit of vote there. Let's go to DeKalb. Also a very important county. 91 percent in. A lot, but there's still some vote to come in there. This is a district he's up by what? 70? 70 percent also, outperforming Joe Biden. Biden won this district by 67. So you can see here in Georgia, Raphael Warnock might be able to expand his lead a little bit.


Can he get to 50? That might be a little bit harder. So this could go into overtime and depending on what happens, right? Depending on what happens in these other races. If Wisconsin goes red, all of a sudden this number for republican gets to 48. If republicans managed to win, Nevada, for instance, they get to 49. And then all of a sudden, you know, Georgia, it could all come down to the runoff.


BERMAN: Democrats would need to win that runoff, Don, in December in order to maintain control.


LEMON: We may not know until start of the first of the year.

BERMAN: We may not know. We may not know until December.

LEMON: This isn't just days. This is weeks before we will know. OK. Thank you very much. We appreciate that, John Berman. We'll get back to John in just a little bit. So that's where the outstanding goes. Let's go inside of the votes. The outstanding votes especially in Georgia. Victor Blackwell is at the voter desk with more information now. Victor?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. Let's pick up where you just left off with John. That question about if there will be a run off December 6th in the senate race. We're just getting this in from Gabe Sterling. He runs the operations day to day for the secretary of state's office there in Georgia, tweeted while you were speaking with John Berman, while county officials are still doing their detailed work on counting the votes we feel it is safe to say there will be a run off for the U.S. senate here in Georgia slated for December 6.

That's a prediction from Gabe Sterling looking at the numbers they're coming in from across the state. Now let's look at what's still out there. 154 of the 159 counties there in Georgia have completed their counts. If we're looking at a precinct, that number of the total 207 -- 2723 precincts. We've got 2711 that are complete. So we've got the numbers there.

As we look at turnout overall for this. We've got nearly four million, exactly, I'm updating the website from the secretary of state's office while we're talking here. 3,922,847 ballots cast. Turnout but 56.4 percent. If we look at the pre-election number of how many votes were cast before Election Day, that 2.5 million, that means that almost 65 percent of the votes overall were cast before Election Day as it relates to any questions of voter integrity questions or issues with the count.

Things are moving very smoothly there. But the headline here, the prediction from the secretary of state's office, Don, is that there will be this run off December 6th for that senate race looks a lot like it did after the 2020 election. Don?

LEMON: Yes. That is -- at this point, Victor, that is a prediction. We have not called that for sure. That is just a prediction. Thank you. Victor Blackwell. We'll get back to Victor in just a moment. He's standing by with news all over the country. We have reporters, correspondents standing by all over the country including CNN's Nadia Romero standing by in Georgia. Nadia, hello to you. What are the campaign saying at this hour?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Don, both campaigns, Warnock's and Walker's are very optimistic about their chances, and likely seeing that this could go to a runoff election here in the state of Georgia. Still, though too close to call right now. And that's to be expected. If we look at our recent poll numbers leading up to Election Day. But if we remember back to when the Republican Party first gave the nod to Herschel Walker, many people question if he stood a fighting chance.

But we saw that gap between the two start to narrow bit by bit as the months went on. Partly probably because of some of the spending that was done. If you look at the top spending in those senate races, the Georgia race at number two only second behind the Pennsylvania senate race. And then there were scandals after scandal after scandal in this race that really, really muddled up that campaign trail. And so I went to Rome, Georgia, which is about two hours outside of Atlanta in the same district that is representative by a congressman Marjorie Taylor Greene. A MAGA supporter, an election denier. And I spoke with Walker supporters and her district, they were clear. They said to me, we don't believe that he potentially paid women in his past to have abortions. One woman told me that she thought it was simply the media trying to ruin his reputation.

Another person told me that even if he did do that, that he was sorry, he was a changed man. And then some people were pretty frank. Pretty clear saying that they just wanted to vote for the person with the R next to their name because they wanted the republicans to regain control of the senate. And that's why we saw those numbers. The margin between those two candidates really start to close through early voting and now today, leading through Election Day and I guess for the morning after now at 2:00 a.m. So, I want you to hear from both of the candidates as they spoke with their supporters.


HERSCHEL WALKER (D) GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm like Ricky Bobby. I don't come to lose. If you can hang in, hang in in a little bit longer. Just hanging there a little bit longer because something good it takes a while for it to get better. And it's going to get better.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): We're not sure if this journey is over tonight or if there's still a little work yet to do. But here's what we do know. We know that when they're finished counting the votes from today's election, that we're going to have received more votes than my opponent.


ROMERO: So Don, this could lead to a runoff election. And that's exactly what we saw two years ago after 2020. And that's something that Raphael Warnock was able to win last time around. Don?

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much. Nadia there in Atlanta, Georgia. Appreciate that. So at this hour, at this hour, we're standing by for the latest information on the campaign. The votes are still being counted. The balance of the senate, balance of congress up for grabs. Election Night in America continues right after a quick break.


LEMON: Hello, everyone. Don Lemon here. It is election night and America and we have got you covered here. We're going to start with two key race alerts.

First up in Wisconsin, that's where incumbent republican Ron Johnson. Ron Johnson is holding on to a very slim lead over democrat Mandela Barnes. A very slim lead there. 50.7 percent to 49.1 percent. Mandela Barnes with 49.1 percent. Ron Johnson was 15.7 percent. [02:25:03]

Let's take it to Nevada that you see right here as well. Catherine Cortez Masto with 50.9 percent. Adam Laxalt 46.3 percent. Those are in the senate races in Wisconsin and Nevada. 60 percent of the votes have been counted. So let's go over to Mr. John Berman here at the magic wall. So John, take us inside of this battle for the senate where we are.

BERMAN: So it's really interesting. Victor, our friend Victor, who's, you know, sitting generally not far from us just told us a Gabe Sterling who works in the secretary of state's office in Georgia told us that this will be a runoff race. That Georgia will not be decided. The four races you see on yellow on the map right now are the races that we have not called in the U.S. senate.

Remember, democrats need to get to 50 to maintain control because Kamala Harris, the vice president would break a tie. Republicans need to get to 51 if they want to control. So let's see what happens if things go a certain way here. All right? We can play a little game. In Wisconsin, you just showed Ron Johnson leading there, that gets republicans to 49. You have three races left here.

In Nevada, you just had the democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto ahead. But let's say that the republicans are able to win this. OK? That gets them to 50. Right? Arizona then becomes crucial. If it goes democratic, then this runoff right here determines whether or not democrats maintain control. If republicans were to win this, that would mean the runoff would matter. If democrats were to control or win both in Arizona and Nevada, it means the runoff would not matter in terms of control.

So we just don't know yet whether or not the Georgia runoff will determine control the senate but it very much could depending on which way these states go.

LEMON: OK. These states that are outstanding. Georgia, you've taken us here, where are the outstanding votes and these two very crucial states?

BERMAN: OK. Let me get back here. It's going to take a second to reload.


BERMAN: This map here will go out and we'll take a look at Arizona right now. You see 56 percent reporting, the most important county by far is Maricopa County. It makes up 61 percent of the population. You see, only 56 percent of the vote in. This is actually a pretty tight county. Joe Biden won this district by 2.2 percent. You can see Mark Kelly, a democrat has a big lead here.

But again, it's when -- which vote has been counted so far that matters the most. And we don't have clear visibility on that just yet.

LEMON: And this 56 percent is very important because -- (CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Fifty-six percent. It's not nearly enough to know. Nevada, you have 63 percent in. The county that matters most in Nevada is Clark County, which makes up 73 percent of the vote. It is by far the biggest county. Right now, Catherine Cortez Masto has a lead of say, seven or eight points there. This is a nine-point democratic district for Joe Biden. So she's actually underperforming Joe Biden here. 74 percent of the voted.

But you can see in these other counties, there are counties where we have virtually nothing yet. Now look, this is not a big county. I can show you two years ago in the presidential race. You're dealing with, you know, 25,000 votes, but those votes add up. When you start getting up these huge leads, this is a republican plus 40 district in this county. We have no votes in Eureka County. This is a republican plus 77 district.

Lander, republican plus 61. Now again, they're not giant counties. But those numbers can add up. The swing county typically in Nevada is Washoe County. We only have 43 percent of the vote here. Catherine Cortez Masto has a slimly there again. Joe Biden led there by more than four-point. She's up by three. So it's the type of vote that might end up mattering most in Nevada and Arizona. What's left to count? We'll try to find that out soon.

LEMON: All right. John Berman. John, speaking of Nevada, why don't we head over to Gary Tuchman who is actually in Nevada to check in on him. Gary Tuchman, good evening, sir. I --they're still counting ballots. It looks pretty quiet where you are. It doesn't mean that they're not counting and doing their work behind the scenes.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, John. And it does look quiet behind me and there were dozens of workers processing the votes here in Clark County, Nevada. Alluding to what John was just talking about. I need to point this out. Clark County, this county is just one of 17 counties in the state. This is the home of Las Vegas. More than 70 percent of Nevadans live in this county.

Washoe which John was just mentioning has about 20 percent. So between those two counties 90 percent of Nevadans live. So these votes are critically important. So, right. There's a lot of counties haven't reported yet. But all together, those 15 counties comprise less than 10 percent of the vote. So these are the two key counties. So we are at the election center in Clark County. A short time ago, there were dozens of workers out here processing the votes.

They have gone home for the night. They come back early in the morning, but back in the corner there, that secret corner. It's not really a secret but we have to stay far away from it. That's the tabulation center. And right now workers are there tabulating the votes that came in today. Now you may think it sounds like things have been kind of slow here because the polls have been closed for 4-1/2 hours.

[02:30:03] These workers are working very well. It's not slow. There's a tradition here in Nevada, in this relatively small state -- I mean, it's not small anymore, it's 3.1 million people. Just to give you an idea, which is pretty amazing, after World War II, there are 150,000 people lived in the state. This state has increase by 20 times since World War II. It's increased -- it's doubled in the last 25 years. So, the population keeps growing.

But anyway, it still has a small state mentality. And they have a tradition here, they wait for all 17 counties to process their votes before they put it on the state list. So, that slows it down a little bit. Also, what slowed it down today, is when you come to Vegas, you're expecting great weather, sun and maybe a little chilly, it may be very hot in the summer but it's usually sunnier in the desert. Torrential rain today and winds, tropical storm force winds.

And then in Reno, Washoe county in the north, it was snowing today. So, the weather was very bad. Nevertheless, we are being told by officials here in Nevada that people really turn out big numbers. The key though is the mail-in balloting. That will be the number one way to get votes here. And mail-in ballots are allowed to be receive by this Saturday.

Don, back to you.

LEMON: Gary Tuchman, Las Vegas, Clark County election headquarters. Election headquarters in New York, where we are right now for CNN. And go to Kaitlan Collins.

Kaitlan, hello to you. A lot of (INAUDIBLE) being -- you know, were being purported in this election and now it's time to talk to the people who have been talking about those narratives and the polls as well.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly surprising. Some upending a lot of those expectations. So, to talk about that let's bring in pollster and communications strategist, Frank Luntz.

Frank, thanks so much for joining us in these early hours. Election morning which we have now turned into. Let's talk about what's happening in the Senate because, I think, it has not met the expectations that Republicans had going into the night. It has surprised even some Democrats that I've been speaking with throughout the evening. What are you watching as we are trying to determine who is actually going to have control of the Senate when all this is over?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER AND COMMUNICATION STRATEGIST: The question is whether the candidates on both sides of the aisle were the best candidates who could have been nominated, could have been chosen. And I think that you're going to see, within the next 24 hours a real examination. Why -- what happened in Arizona? What happened in New Hampshire? What happened in a number of these states where Republicans had tremendous opportunities and they did not follow through on them.

Pennsylvania is another one. Places where Republicans were poised to do better than they did. And I'd agree with you. The level of surprise. The level of disappointment. It's still a -- it feels like it's a reasonably good night for Republicans. But it's nothing like they expected and they're going to start to do analysis of was it the candidate? Was it the party or was it the message that really did not achieve their objectives?

COLLINS: Yes, and of course, the big question has been the Trump factor in all of that, especially, you know, not even just in Ohio where J.D. Vance did win, but the fact that Republicans had to put so much effort into that race to pull off that victory.

I also want to ask you, though, about what we're seeing happening in the house. Because you saw Kevin McCarthy came out. It took him a little bit where they came out at the Republicans headquarters in Washington tonight to talk about what he believes is going to be a Republican control of the house. But it does make a difference how big of a margin he has in there, right?

LUNTZ: Absolutely, the bigger the margin, the easier it is for him to government. There is a segment of the GOP that is difficult for leadership, a segment that votes know. And if you got a majority of about 20 seats, it makes it very easy to succeed. I think out of majority of five to 10 seats, it means that every vote you're under pressure and you have to ensure that your caucus is behind you.

So, I got to believe that Republicans are looking at this in the house, knowing that they're going to get the majority, but not the majority that they were hoping to get. What they're going to do in the days and weeks to follow.

COLLINS: And the person that makes the biggest difference for us, Kevin McCarthy, because the smaller majority he has, the more power that goes to the figures in that caucus like a Marjorie Taylor Greene and the others of that wing of the party that have been quick to challenge him on certain aspects of his rule.

LUNTZ: And we've seen this with the Democrats. Nancy Pelosi had about a four-seat majority and she was pulled to the left by her squad, by her more progressive caucus. So, it's not just -- it's not settled yet. I've been following the races. And I still expect the Republican to end with a 10 to 15 seat gain. And the questions is, is it 10 seats or is it 15 because that means everything for the flexibility and the capability of the leader to move the caucus in different directions depending on what the public calls for them.


COLLINS: Yes, and no one is watching that closer than Kevin McCarthy. Frank Luntz, thanks so much for joining us. We'll check back in with you. Obviously, ballots here are still being counted. There are still a lot of key races that we are watching here, including when it comes to those Senate races in Nevada, in Georgia to see what is going to be happening there. Stay with CNN. We'll be right back.

CHURCH: Hello and welcome everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. We will get back to our U.S. election coverage shortly. But first some other news we're following this hour. North Korea has launched ate least one ballistic missile off its east coast, that is according to South Korea's joint chief of staff a short time ago. And CNN's Paula Hancocks is monitoring this for us from Seoul, South Korea. She joins us live.

Good to see you, Paula. So, what more are you learning about this?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, we're waiting on the South Korea military at this point for the exact details of this particular missile. But what it is isn't keeping with what we have seen over recent weeks and months from North Korea. Certainly, last week was a particular -- particularly busy week towards the end of the week. We saw a flurry of launches from North Korea.

Now, we have been hearing from Pyongyang that the reason it's carrying such a great amount of these launches out because of what it calls the open provocation of the U.S. and South Korean military drills. The U.S. and South Korea were carrying out military drills last week. We know that this week, South Korea is carrying out unilateral military drills.

And this is really the reasoning that Pyongyang has been giving for carrying out quite so many launches. Now, there was also a significant launch, we understand from the South Korean military at least, last Thursday. It was a presumed failed launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Now, this is the kind of missile that North Korea claims can reach mainland United States. But we understand it only had a maximum altitude of less than 2,000 kilometers according to the assessment. So, that particularly one was deemed to be a failure. Something which North Korea has not publicly acknowledged to its people that very rarely does.

Now, we have not heard about today's launch from North Korea. At this point, we expect that probably within the coming hours if it does in fact admit to this launch. It hasn't been admitting to them all this year. But this year has been a record when it comes to the sheer number of missile launches that North Korea has carried out. Never in its history has it carried out quite so many. This is the 32nd day of this year that it's carried out a missile launch. Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Paula Hancocks, bringing us the latest there from Seoul, South Korea. Many thanks.

Attorneys for Brittney Griner say the U.S. basketball star is being transferred to a Russian penal colony. She is serving a nine-year sentence for drug smuggling. The U.S. is asking Moscow to improve the treatment and conditions that she may be forced to endured. The White House press secretary says the U.S. continues to work for Griner's release but renewed accusations that Russia is not negotiating in good faith.

Ukrainian officials say a group of self-detonating drones launched by Russia exploded in the central city of Dnipro just a short time ago. The blast reportedly wounded at least four people and triggered a large fire in the state. Officials say five of the drones were destroyed by Ukrainian forces, though CNN cannot independently verify any of those claims.

Now, we head back to CNN's coverage of the U.S. elections.

LEMON: All right. We are back everyone. I'm Don Lemon. This is CNN's special live coverage of Election Night in America, both chambers of Congress up for grabs at this hour. And just in, we have CNN projections in the house.

We're going to take you straight away to the 15th district. Texas's 15th district. Look up, it's there on your wall. Republicans have picked up a seat. Monica de la Cruz has defeated the Democrat there. Has defeated the Democrat in Texas. In Iowa, the second congressional district Republican Ashley Hinson has won defeating Liz Mathis. Republicans holding on to that seat in Iowa, Ashely Hinson, winning right now.

In Minnesota's second district, Democrat -- Democratic Angie Craig has defeated Republican Tyler Kistner there. This is a hole for Democrats. Democrats hang on to that seat in Minnesota.


This is North Carolina's 13th district that you're looking at. Democrat Wiley Nickel has won over Republican Bo Hines. Wiley Nickel defeats Republican Bo Hines. This is a Democratic pick-up there.

Take you to Pennsylvania, this is the eighth district, incumbent Democratic Matt Cartwright has held his seat. And in that state, 17th district, another hole for Democrats there, Chris Deluzio has defeated Republican Jeremy Shaffer -- Jeremy Shaffer, excuse me. He defeated Jeremy Shaffer there.

So, I want you to take a look at the balance of power now. The balance of power, Republicans are getting closer and closer to that magic number of 218 but they're not there yet and we still have lots of runway to go.

And another CNN projection, just in. That CNN projection is in Alaska. Alaska will remain a Republican stronghold. There is a seat held by incumbent Lisa Murkowski. We cannot yet declare an exact winner because the state uses rank choice voting. So, that's what's happening in Alaska.

That is the balance of power now in the house. We're going to continue to check in with the balance of power in the house and so as well with the balance of power in the Senate.

So, I want to get straight now to CNN's Poppy Harlow. Poppy is -- you know, talking about what we want to hear about what we want to hear from the voters. We've been talking about a lot about the votes. We've been getting a lot of numbers but I want to hear from the voters who are out there and what our correspondents are hearing on the ground, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. I remember many, many nights in Iowa on election night. Being one of those reporters in the field, let's go to let go to our Athena Jones, she joins us in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. We're going to go to her in a moment. But let's bring in also our analyst before we get to Athena Jones.

Thank you, ladies, very much for being with me. We got Alice Stewart, Maria Cardona, Hilary Rosen, Mia Love. Thank you all.

Hilary, let me just begin with what you said on Sunday. It's a lot better than what you thought it was going to be for Democrats. On Sunday you said we did not listen to voters in this election, we're going to have a bad night.


HARLOW: What do you think now and why?

ROSEN: Well, I'm not going to celebrate Kevin McCarthy being speaker. So, it's still not a great night. But look, the numbers are better. And, you know, we learned from the exit polls, economy was the number one issue. We didn't actually have an economic message.

But I think the Republicans scare tactics didn't work. And, you know, I'm glad about that. I said this morning that our turnout seemed stronger than anticipated that the Democrats had done a really good job on early voting. And Republicans were depending on their vote coming out today, that's a big gamble. So, we had a couple of things in the field in our favor.

And the, you know, the hidden factor, I think, here really is abortion. It came up as number two in the exit poll. Very close to the economy as an issue that mattered. And I think that people just didn't want to vote for anti-choice --

HARLOW: And it dominated.

ROSEN: -- Republicans even as their struggling with this -- with their family budget.

HARLOW: And the CNN exit polling did show that abortion dominated for those that voted for Democratic candidates, 44 percent.


HARLOW: Alice Stewart, you're hearing in real time from a number of big Republican donors. What are they telling you tonight?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: They're frustrated but the fact that there was not a larger, as we had anticipated, a larger red wave. It looks as though Republicans will take over the house but they had expected a lot more. And they made those assumptions based on the state of the economy. And hearing from voters from the last several months, they were frustrated with the economy and we saw in the CNN exit polls that the condition of the economy was poor or bad according to 75 percent of the voters.

So, Republicans thought they could capitalize on that and send out a message of commitment to American from Kevin McCarthy that they would really address that. But the big factor what donors are saying is that Trump. Trump's involvement in this turned off a lot of independent voters.

And look, what we saw, Democrats voted for Democratic candidates, Republicans voted for Republican candidates. As always, that's -- the independent voters, the squishy middle, they were turned off by Trump's tone. They were turned off by the -- his involvement. They were turned off by his continued election denialism, his support for January 6th, and his hand-picked candidates. They were in this race. They were not resonating with people.

And they -- the constant thought of election denial was in the back of independents minds. And he's going to take credit for some of these Republicans that won. But we could have won much more if we had more moderate candidates and those that trusted the auto (ph).

And let me just say one quick thing, the reason some of these Republican candidates that were hand-picked by Trump got across the finish line, J.D. Vance in particular, it's because of Mitch McConnell and his Senate leadership fund.


They contributed over $300 million to these candidates to help them get across the line. And it's attribute to Mitch McConnell and not Donald Trump.

HARLOW: That's -- I mean, that's a good point. That's the point Kaitlan brought up earlier in advance race in particular. So, Mia Love, to you -- I mean, the question now is November 15th is supposed to be a big surprise, not likely a surprise to most. But surprise announcement from former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago. But if Georgia goes to a runoff as Gabe Sterling and the secretary of state's office and Georgia is predicting it. Well, we have not made that prediction yet at CNN. But if that happens, what does Trump do?


HARLOW: Like, in terms of what it means for that race in Georgia. What it means for the party.

LOVE: I think Trump should stay home, that is always the answer. He's got enough problems to deal with. He should stay home. There's no reason why Dr. Oz should not have won that race. He was doing well. He was doing well with independents. He was doing well.

HARLOW: However, most voters thought he didn't even live in the state long enough. That's what they said in the exit polling. Continue.

LOVE: You know, at the end of the day I think that everybody went home. And I do believe that the fearmongering didn't work on both sides. Democracy on the left, election fraud on the right. What I believe happened is both sides failed. One side failed to talk about the real issues that people were facing, it's still. I believe inflation, the economy, gas prices. And then Republicans failed to have an articulate message on how they're going to fix it. So, when you go to the polls, you don't have -- you'd -- you have this idea of, OK. What is going to happen here? Do I have someone that I trust that can fix these problems or do I just go home? And I think -- that's why I feel happened.

HARLOW: Maria, you get the first bet at the app on the next one, all right. I got to get to my colleagues here and gets some breaks. And stand-by, everyone. The votes are still counted at this hour. It is a nailbiter in some races. Keeping us from calling which party will control Congress. Stay with us. We'll be right back.



LEMON: I'm Don Lemon. We're back now with Election Night in America. And now time for a "Key Race Alert".

Listen again, this is up on your screen now. The races everyone is talking about now. Georgia, as you can see, still very closer at 49.1 percent for Raphael Warnock, the incumbent Democrat. Herschel Walker, 48.8 percent. And then you have, of course, Chase Oliver far behind, two percent. We're told that this is -- at least in Georgia, they're saying that this will he probably go to a runoff. CNN has not projected that. We're still waiting for the votes to come in.

Also, in Wisconsin there. The incumbent, Ron Johnson, Republican, 50.6 percent to Mandela Barns, the Democratic challenger, 49.2 percent. 93 percent of the vote is in but we're still waiting for the final count and a final projection there in Wisconsin.

OK. Now, let's move on to Nevada. We're going to get to Nevada. The incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, 50.1 percent. Adam Laxalt, the Republican challenger, 47.6 percent. There is still a long way to go -- 47 percent I should say. There's still a long way to go here with just 65 percent of the estimated vote in.

So, those are the projections now. I want to head over to Harry Enten who is at the voter desk here. Harry, here's my question. I won't say Democrats are doing well. They're doing better than expected. Not a bad night for them but it's got to be a sigh of relief here.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I think it is a sigh of relief, you know. And I think essentially what happened was, you know, you look at our exit poll and you say, OK. The vast majority of voters, the clear majority of voters disapproved of the job that Joe Biden was doing. That was true in the pre-election polls and that was true in our exit poll as well.

But the question is, look at those voters who said that they somewhat disapproved of the job that Joe Biden was doing. And look at how they voted for Congress. They were a small group but they're an important group. And you see that Democrats actually had a slight advantage with them, Don. LEMON: There's just -- they're just six -- there's just 10 percent somewhat disapprove and that was -- that made the difference, you believe?

ENTEN: That made the big difference because of the idea was if you put that somewhat disapprove together with the all -- with the completely disapprove, strongly disapprove, then that got you to majority. But it turns out that 10 percent, they actually chose Democratic candidates instead of Republican candidates in their house votes.

But I don't think it's just about Joe Biden, right? It's also about the important issues. And going into this election, everyone is saying it's inflation, it's inflation, and there's inflation. And yes, inflation was number one but abortion was considerably higher in our exit polls, at least as the most important issue, than I think a lot of the pre-election polls had. And look at the folks who said that abortion was in fact --

LEMON: It's 45 percent.

ENTEN: Correct. Look at those voters. How did they vote? They voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. Overwhelmingly by a 40 plus point margin. And when you look at those who said inflation was the number one issue, they too said by an overwhelming margin that they in fact were going to go for Republican candidates instead. But those two groups kind of canceled out. So yes, inflation was such a big issue but abortion kind of canceled that out.

LEMON: If you look up what up on your screen now for inflation, Republicans 71 percent, the most important issue to their vote.

ENTEN: Yes, yes. If you look at it, it's 71 percent but that 71 percent was canceled out by the abortion issue in which a similar percentage voted for Democratic candidates. So, those two issues really canceled out according to our exit polls which was not what we were seeing in the pre-election polls where inflation was a runaway and most important issue.

LEMON: Look, we're still -- they're still counting the votes all over. But I got to tell you that Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada, they're still very close. Arizona was still waiting for the results to come in there. They're still counting the votes and we still have much more to go. We're going to be back in just a moment here. Election Night in America continues right after a quick break.



LEMON: I'm Don Lemon. You know what that music means. That means it's CNN's Election Night in America coverage, and we've got a lot for you. At this hour, control of Congress still at stake. The balance of power in the house has not been decided. Many of the races, really just too close to call at this point. But now, we're going to take a look at where we are. So, let's look at -- this is the balance of power in the house right now. First to the house, the party with at least 218 seats will be in the majority. And you can see there, Republicans now have 195 seats. Democrats 174. Republicans must win 19 consecutive seats, a handful of seats to gain control. Democrats 174.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy spoke just last hour. He was optimistic, maybe a little bit too optimistic about his party's chances of taking control. Watch this.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) MINORITY LEADER: Thank you to everyone who voted Republican for the very first time.

Now tonight, we built upon those gains two years ago. And it is clear that we are going to take the house back.


LEMON: Alright so that is the Democratic side. Now, let's look at the balance of power over on the Senate side. That chamber still hanging in the balance. Republicans still hoping to gain control. And at this moment, all eyes are on three Senate races. Three Senate races, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Georgia. There are still no projections here.

This is -- take a look at what's happening in Nevada, this is incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto.