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CNN Live Event/Special

Control of House, Senate Hangs in the Balance; Undecided Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Arizona Races Will Decide Control of Senate; Georgia Senate Candidates Gearing Up for Possible Runoff. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 09, 2022 - 10:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is the top of the hour. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us. Welcome to viewers in the United States and around the world.

Right now, control of Congress still in limbo while votes are being counted in key races across the nation. In the House, the magic number for control, 218, which means Republicans only need 19 seats to hit the threshold, and they are leading in 21 competitive races. Democrats, as you know, have a much tougher road, they need 40 seats, they're only reading in 24 right now.

Over in the Senate, we're watching four tight races that are still too close to call. Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin, both Democrats and Republicans currently hold 48 seats. It takes 51, of course, to win an outright majority.

Now, despite the possibility, Republicans could win a narrow victory in one or both chambers. An adviser for President Biden says the White House feels, in their words, vindicated this morning, now feeling confident the Democrats have seen one of the best first midterms for an incumbent president in decades.

I want to begin with what is left to decide out west, in Nevada's Senate race, 2020 election denier Adam Laxalt is leading incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto right now by two points. The Nevada governor's race, too close to call, with only 80 percent of precincts reporting, it could go either way.

CNN's Rosa Flores joins us now live from Las Vegas. Clark County where -- you are in Clark County. What's going on there?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Anderson, because in this very tight race with razor thin margins, the details matter.

I want us to nerd out a little bit about Clark County. Let me tell you about this. 1.3 million of the registered voters are in Clark County there in Nevada. That's more than 70 percent of all of the voters in the state of Nevada. And this county leans Democratic. Now, the turnout so far is 45 percent. This is according to Clark County official website. Now, we want to break that down for you because these details are important. Election Day vote, 10.9 percent of those 45 percent turnouts, early voting, 14.8 percent, absentee voting, 19.5 percent.

And here's the breakdown between Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Adam Laxalt. Catherine Cortez Masto has 50.97 percent, and Adam Laxalt, 46.21 percent. That means that the Democrat here has a less than a 5 percent margin, and, again, in Clark County, it leans Democratic.

Now, what's important about Clark County to know too, as well, and the state of Nevada is that, in 2020, the state of Nevada shifted to a universal mail vote. And what that means is that everybody that's registered got a ballot in the mail, unless they opted out.

And so, Anderson, the key question is going to be how many people actually put that ballot in the mail yesterday. Because so long as it is postmarked yesterday, it could be counted until Saturday. And so we don't know how many of those ballots are out there, but we do know that a lot of times these mail-in ballots lean Democratic as well. But the key question will be, will that give Catherine Cortez Masto enough of a lift to actually keep her seat. We don't know that.

COOPER: It's going to be a while. I appreciate it. We'll check back with you shortly, Rosa.

In Arizona now, where Democrats are far ahead of two Trump-back Republicans, Blake Masters is behind Mark Kelly by at least five points, Kari Lake trailing Katie Hobbs in the race for governor by a thin margin. The problem is around 30 percent of the votes have not been counted.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in Phoenix, in the Maricopa County election center. When do we expect more results?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're on the money with the numbers right now. We're about 70 percent counted. There's still about 300,000 votes that have not been counted. And those are people that dropped off of mail-in votes yesterday on Election Day, and about 90,000 that were dropped off on Friday.

And so I want to just give you a look, because the verification of signatures, which you have to do by law here, is happening right now in what we like to call the belly of the vault, which you cannot see.


But what you can see, and I'm just going to move out of the way here, there are people showing up. We are waiting for people to come. If you look at the machine, and we'll show you this machine, that machine will start the tabulations in just a bit now. And we will start getting more numbers when they get those signature verifications finished, and they start getting the ballots ready to put in that machine. So, right now, you mentioned some of the races that are very tight, and Arizona and, get this, has until the end of the month, to the 28th, to count all the votes officially. That is when they have to have it done by. But they believe they will have 99 percent, 95 to 99 percent of all the votes counted by this Friday. We will hear numbers coming in the next couple of hours to let you know where we're at. Right now, we're about 70 percent of the vote counted. Anderson?

COOPER: Friday. So, they're saying Friday, they should have the majority of the votes counted?

SIDNER: Absolutely. They are on track for that. They said 95 to 99 percent, which will really give you an idea of who won these races, unless it is razor thin. But, ultimately, officially, they have until the end of the month to make sure that they have everything counted done and in. But that's what the law says, they hope to have everything really put together by Friday.

COOPER: And have we heard anything more today from either the Kari Lake campaign or Katie Hobbs' campaign?

SIDNER: All along, Kari Lake has been saying that there's fraud, there's something going wrong with the elections, and there have been some problems. Those problems have been fixed. There were problems with the printers. They have at every single one of these voting centers. There are 223 of them. And those printers can print out 12,000 different ballots. They are linked directly with the voter.

Some of those printers were problematic, they didn't have dark enough ink. And so the county said, look, that happened in about 20 percent of the voting places, but they are saying every single vote, no matter, will be counted. But she has lobbed on to that and is already starting to talk about what she says is an unfair election. We'll see happens. Katie Hobbs is happy with the results so far and happy with election as it is.

COOPER: Sara Sidner, sorry, we had to crosstalk. I appreciate it. Thanks so much. We'll check in with you shortly.

We have got CNN projection. Democrat Laura Kelly has won re-election for governor in Kansas. Her Republican supported 2022 failed state constitutional amendment to take away the right to an abortion. Let's take a look at the numbers. Here's where we stand on governorships across the country, even with the Nevada and Arizona results coming in, there's a chance it could be another month until we know which party controls the Senate thanks to Georgia.

Let's check with John here at the magic wall. What are you looking at?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Sorry. You just were talking about Kansas. We just called this race for Laura Kelly. She is an incumbent Democratic governor in a Republican state. She's leading right now not even by 2 percentage points but we project she'll win.

How Republican is it? Let's go back two years. Donald Trump won the state by 15 points, yet you have this Democratic governor who seems to be doing well. The reason largely for her continued success there has to do with Johnson County, where we see Kansas City. She's got big numbers up there. She's able to stretch her lead. So, interesting to see Laura Kelly winning there.

Let's look back at the Senate, not in Kansas, if we will. Let's focus on Arizona. We just heard Sara Sidner there. You see Mark Kelly who's got a lead of 5 points with 69 percent in. And you can see --

COOPER: That's dropped a little bit.

BERMAN: It has dropped a little since we have been on, an 89,000-vote lead. You might be thinking, 89,000 votes, 70 percent in. That seems like a lot. Well, I don't know, maybe not.

Let's look at history. I'm going to write this down. 69 percent, D plus 5, okay? That's right now. Let's look back to the presidential race two years ago and put the clock on, okay? The first votes that came in, when the first votes came in, there were already 72 percent reporting. And Joe Biden had nearly a ten-point lead.

So, a 72 percent reporting, his lead was higher than where Mark Kelly's is in terms of percentage. That was Tuesday. Wednesday at 5:00 A.M., you can see Joe Biden's lead shrinking from 200,000 to 130,000. By Wednesday at noon, down to 93,000 in Arizona. By Thursday, down to 68,000. You keep going, Sunday, down to 18,000. They're still counting. Tuesday, down to 14,000, ultimately ended up about 11,000.

So, this lead that you see right now from Mark Kelly, and we'll go back to that so you can see, it absolutely can shrink. The question is does he have enough pad right now to weather what should be the Republican, Blake Masters, closing that gap somewhat.

Quickly, let me just look at Nevada, a little bit of a different situation there.


In Arizona all the ballots are in that are going to be counted. Nevada, a very different story. You can see here Clark County, again, where the margins are a little bit closer. Catherine Cortez Masto there, only mail-in ballot left to count but we don't know how much will be counted in Nevada because it only has to be postmarked by yesterday. It can arrive today, tomorrow, the next day. It has to be counted by Saturday. We don't know how much mail ballot is out. So, we don't know what the universe, the denominator, as Sanjay Gupta could say, the denominator is there, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. John Berman, I appreciate it. Thanks.

Democrats have scored a crucial victory in Pennsylvania Senate race. As you know, John Fetterman defeated celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz to capture an open seat currently held by the GOP.

CNN's Harry Enten it's at the battleground desk. What's your exit polling showing about Pennsylvania voters? HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. So, the one thing that I think we think about Pennsylvania, it's a state that flipped from Barack Obama to and Donald Trump and then back, of course, to Joe Biden in 2020. And the reason that Donald Trump did so well for Republicans was because he did very well among white voters without a college degree, who make up the clear plurality of voters in Pennsylvania.

I think there was this question, could John Fetterman, sort of what the outfit he wears and visiting all those rural areas that have a high number of white non-college educated voters, could he cut into the Republican margin? What was that margin among white non-college educated voters yesterday in Pennsylvania? You'll see that, in fact what happened was that fetterman lost among white non-college educated voters by 24 points. You say, okay, wow, Oz ran away with those voters. But, in fact, Donald Trump won among those voters two years ago by over 30 points, so it does seem like Fetterman was able to cut down on the margin.

And, of course, there was the issue of the campaigns, right, where Fetterman had his weaknesses and Oz had his weaknesses, the idea, of course, that Oz didn't live in the state for very long. And so the exit poll asked, has Oz lived in the state long enough to represent it effectively in the United States Senate? Look at this, just 42 percent of Pennsylvania voters said that, in fact, he had lived in the state long enough to effectivel serve in the Senate. The clear majority, 56 percent, said, no.

Now, of course, health, was he healthy enough to actually serve following his -- situation with Oz where the clear majority of voters didn't side with Oz, the clear plurality of voters did side with Fetterman. 50 percent said that Fetterman's health was good enough to serve the state effectively in the United States Senate.

Now, of course, there was also a gubernatorial race on the ballot, right? And there was this whole question with Doug Mastriano. He was, of course, an election denier, and he went around saying that the 2020 election was fraudulently decided, which, of course, we know is not true.

Here's what we asked. Who do you trust to handle Pennsylvania elections? 51 percent of Pennsylvania voters said only Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate. And among that 51 percent, look how they voted. They voted 99 percent. Get this, 99 percent to 1. So, Josh Shapiro was able to win this race solely on this issue. The fact is that Pennsylvania vote handle elections effectively, they didn't believe that that at Doug Mastriano, and ultimately -- caught by Josh Shapiro. Anderson?

COOPER: Harry Enten, I appreciate it.

Up next, the latest out of Georgia, Senator Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker, so close they could be heading to a runoff, it looks very likely. In Wisconsin, Republican Senator Ron Johnson holding a slim lead against Democratic Mandela Barnes. We'll have a live update on both key races. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COOPER: Welcome back. We have a CNN projection.

We are now able to call three House races in Michigan. The Democrat, Hillary Scholten, has won her race for the third district, defeating Republican John Gibbs. That is a pickup for the Democrats. In Nebraska's second district, Don Bacon, the GOP incumbent, has won re- election, hold that seat for Republicans. And in New York's 3rd District, George Santos, the Republican, wins, which is a pickup for the Republican Party.

I want to go over to John Berman at the magic wall. How does that affect us?

BERMAN: All right. Overall, that now brings Republicans to 201 races called for them, 179 for Democrats. They need to get to 218. They're on their way slowly to getting that number.

Let's look at some of these races. These three races are all a little bit different and they're very interesting. Nebraska's third congressional district is the area around Omaha. Don Bacon is the incumbent Republican. He won. People may know this district largely because of its nickname, which is Obamaha, the way that Nebraska apportions its electoral vote and presidential votes is by congressional district, and Barack Obama actually won what is largely in this district in 2008, and Joe Biden won it this past election. It's a district that skews Democratic. Joe Biden won it by six points. But incumbent Republican Don Bacon has been able to hold on.

Now, let's go to Long Island, the New York district that we just called right there. If New York wants to cooperate, often, it doesn't. This is New York's second, let's go to New York's third congressional district. You can see George Santos over Robert Zimmerman. Again, what's most interesting is this is a Democratic-leaning district. This is a district that two years ago Joe Biden would have carried by a lot there two years ago. It's a district leaning eight points or so now.

And I want to pull out and show you what I think is the most interesting district of the ones that you just called there. It's Michigan's third congressional district. This was a district that was very controversial in the primaries.


Why? Because Democrats spent money indirectly propping up John Gibbs in the Republican primary against the incumbent, Peter Meijer, a Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump and also obviously was not in favor of overturning the election in any way. Democrats helped get this guy the Republican nomination because they thought he would be an easier opponent for Hillary Scholten and they were right. So, Hillary Scholten win this district, which largely coincides with the district that was held by the Republicans before, Anderson.

COOPER: John Berman, thanks so much.

Wisconsin, one of four states where the Senate race is too close to call. Incumbent Ron Johnson long considered the GOP's most vulnerable senator but he's regained momentum in recent weeks and is now holding a very narrow lead over Democrat Mandela Barnes.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov is in Milwaukee. Are we any closer to having results?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A slight bit closer, Anderson. both of the state's two largest counties, Dane County and Milwaukee County, are now at a 100 percent in terms of early voting, mail-in ballots as well as same-day voting ballots. Both are reliably blue.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who has been seeking a third term, was edging ahead of Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes last night sounding pretty optimistic about his chances. Take a listen.

No sound. Well, he basically declared the race over, although he did say that it was important to wait for all of the ballots to be counted.

And here's something interesting. We heard that he was supposed to speak, Ron Johnson was, this morning. That speech has apparently been canceled. We have not heard from Barnes'. A statement was issued by one of his spokesman late last night, saying, we always knew this race would be incredibly close. We will wait and see what Wisconsin voters have decided after all of their voices are heard.

But one bright spot for Democrats is the race for governor. Governor Tony Evers declaring victory Tuesday night. He has won a second term. And that means he will have the power to certify the 2024 presidential election in this battleground state.

The Republicans, the state's Republicans failed to grab a veto-proof majority, but, again, all eyes on this critical Senate race that has not yet been formally called. Anderson?

COOPER: Lucy, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

Back with us, Nayyera Haq, Jonah Goldberg and Ron Brownstein. What does all this mean for Donald Trump and for Joe Biden moving forward? I mean, obviously, the White House is feeling good compared to what some were expecting would happen. And a lot of the former presidents' handpicked candidates, Mehmet Oz in particular, did not do well.

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR: And we still don't know what's going on in Georgia, which is turning into the swing state that Florida used to be. Herschel Walker and Reverend Warnock may be seeing a runoff. But in that runoff election, you will not have a popular Republican governor on the ticket. So, what will that do to Herschel Walker's chances? Does he have to run with Trump? Is that going to help him? Or does he have to run alone? That certainly might not help him, given that he spent a big part of his speech last night talking about horse manure and comparing himself to Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights. So, he is that problematic candidate that Senator Mitch McConnell was talking about.

Georgia is also where we can look at what's going on with key demographics for Democrats, particularly black voters. Black men did not break Republican. Black women and white women, dramatic difference there, where 70 percent of white women voted Republican. 90 percent of black women voted for Democrats. So, that's going to be the purple state where we can start to prognosticate about what might happen in 2024.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The history is that midterms have essentially no predictive value about what happens in the presidential two years later. Jimmy Carter in '78, George H.W. Bush in '90 had pretty good midterms, lost for reelection. Truman in '46, and more recently, in our experience, Reagan in '82, Clinton '94, Obama in 2010, all had miserable midterms and then won re-election, so it really doesn't tell you. I mean, the issue, though, is obviously where the economy is going to be in a year.

I do think that this does tamp down the conversation in the Democratic Party about whether Biden needs to step aside. If it had been a bad night, that would have been a kind of full blast today. And as we said before, for Trump and for the Republican Party, the issue is there were five states that picked the president. Trump picked nominees for the Republican Party, and all of those states, and most of them, and maybe all of them are going to lose candidates in his image.

The Republican Party was wiped out again in the suburban counties that recoiled from Trump. Those same counties recoiled from these Trump- style candidates. So, the GOP has to ask itself, looking at these results, do you believe that Donald Trump can win back the states that are likely to pick the next president?

COOPER: Jonah, also, I mean, there's warning signs for both parties in these results. But, I mean, parties don't have a great history of learning the lessons of the election or the message that the voters have sent.


JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Virtually, every election victory in almost every race the last 20 years, the winning side has overread their mandate wildly. And so the trend particularly in presidential elections is to think that they have this huge mandate to swing for the fences but also that we only have X amount of time and power before the other side gets here, so let's do everything on a partisan basis as quickly as possible, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, it invites a backlash against them. And so that's why we've had these pendulum swings going back and forth. I expect more of the same.

On Ron's point about the predictive value about this, it's possible. I'm a conservative. I think Joe Biden deserves his low popularity. The party could misread this. I don't think Joe Biden is a particularly competitive candidate for re-election. And the idea that because he did have these historic midterms, that somehow he is poised to run away with a re-election when he won the first time by promising to be a nonpartisan, sort of above the fray return to normalcy guy, that's just not his brand for lots of Americans now. So, it's just a completely different thing.

Meanwhile, just one last data point, J.D. Vance in his victory speech thanked 34 people by name. None of them were Donald Trump. That gives you a sense of where even J.D. Vance, who owes his victory to Donald Trump, sees the party going.

COOPER: What is the chance that the White House will look at this and, you know, the president will come out and say, you know what, you know, be humble and come out and say, look, I hear voters were concerned about inflation and crime, I get it, and, you know, kind of reaching out to -- you know, there's a lot of people that could be reached out to.

HAQ: It's part of the changing definition of bipartisan, right? We've seen that on the Republican side, the extremists, election-denying candidate is losing. But Biden and Democrats were able to run on issues that are considered pocketbook issues in a way the Republicans simply didn't pick up steam this time. So, that would behoove Democrats to focus on social security and Medicare, which could be potentially slash in a Republican Congress. That's been part of the conversation. Abortion, the significant advertising dollars spent locally focusing on that issue.

These are things that are broadly accepted by the American public as popular, but in the polarization in Congress have somehow become divisive issues, along the lines of right versus left. Gun control, another popular issue for the American public, that can be a winning message for Democrats.

BROWNSTEIN: Anderson, to your point, though, Biden's approval in the exit poll was still only 44 percent. Against anyone other than Donald Trump, that's probably a losing hand. It's tougher, so, clearly, he has the need to broaden his coalition now. They've got to expect that the economy is going to do a lot of that work but they would not be amiss to take the kind of advice you're suggesting in that question.

HAQ: Biden had promised to be a bridge to the future, so this is not a guarantee that Biden has to continue in order to get support from Democrats.

COOPER: Good point. We're going to talk much more about the Ohio Senate win for J.D. Vance, next, what it might mean for 2024. Former Governor John Kasich joins me live in moments.