Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Undecided Races Will Decide Control of Senate; Arizona Still Too Close to Call; Final Midterms Results May Be Days to Weeks Away; New York's Sean Patrick Maloney Concedes to GOP Challenger; GOP Election Deniers Lose Key Gubernatorial Races. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 09, 2022 - 11:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back. It is top of the hour. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us.

Votes are still being counted in hotly contested races across the United States. On the line, the balance of power in Washington and the future of President Biden's agenda for the next two years. The important number, 218. That is what both Republicans and Democrats need to grab control of the House.

In this moment, Republicans increasingly looking to flip the lower chamber, even fewer seats to hit the threshold. Both Democrats and Republicans lead the same number of competitive races at 20.

But top Democratic leaders are expressing optimism this morning about their chances to hold on to the Senate. We're watching four tight races too close to call, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin. Both Democrats and Republicans currently hold 48 seats. They need 51 for an outright majority.

Also this morning we're learning more about the mood at the White House. Advisers to President Biden say there's a feeling of vindication after predictions about Republican red waves never materialized. The president is expected to speak this afternoon. We'll bring that live.

The Senate race in Nevada, we are waiting on an estimated 20 percent of votes to be reported. A lot of votes to be counted. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto was considered the most vulnerable. Right now she's slightly behind her GOP challenger, Adam Laxalt.

Laxalt helped former president Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 results in that state. CNN's Rosa Flores joins us live from Las Vegas.

Has either campaign spoken this morning?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, they have not, Anderson. I've reached out to both of them. But I haven't heard back. What I can tell you is that they were tweeting yesterday, both campaigns, asking voters to go out to vote to the last minute, telling them that, so long as they were in line, their ballot could be counted.

They could cast that ballot and they went before their supporters, rooms filled with their supporters, and they both expressed confidence. Catherine Cortez Masto saying that she felt confident, she felt good about the ground game.

Adam Laxalt also saying that he could win. And actually overnight he took the lead by a slim margin but he took the lead. And that's exactly what we're expecting here in Nevada, for the margins to be razor thin. And that's exactly what we're seeing.

Now Nevada has gone since 2020 into a universal mail ballot, Anderson. What that means is everybody gets a ballot, every registered voter. And we need to figure out how many are out there, how many people put them in the mail yesterday, because they can be counted until Saturday.

COOPER: A lot of election workers working long hours in the next couple of days. Rosa Flores, thank you so much in Arizona.

Slightly different story to talk about. Two Trump-backed Republicans are trailing Democratic opponents.

Blake Masters behind incumbent and gun safety advocate, Mark Kelly but the race for governor is a lot closer. CNN senior national correspondent Sara Sidner is live in Phoenix at the Maricopa County election center.

What do we expect?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are at about 7 percent of the votes that have been counted. And as you just mentioned, you've got one tight race, the governor's race. But you have some distance with the Democrat in the Senate race, which could, of course, flip the Senate.

Let me let you see what's happening right now, because in just a few minutes, we are expecting them to start tabulations again. Those machines are just there. People have shown up. They have been here for about 1.5 hours. And we're starting to see some activity with people walking around.

Why is this taking a bit of time is that here in Arizona, they have to verify the signatures. And so they come in and they verify those. They have been trying to verify about 300,000 signatures on mail-in ballots that showed up on Friday and on Tuesday. They are getting through those.


SIDNER: And as soon as they get those verifications done, they bring the ballots to this area in the tabulation room and they just start rolling with tabulation. We're waiting for that to happen. It's supposed to happen in the next few minutes.

The Democrats we have spoken with are extremely excited about what they're seeing. But they realize there's still 30 percent of the vote left to count. So they are waiting to see what happens.

The Republicans concerned but we're already hearing from one of the Republicans, especially the governor, in the governor's race. Kari Lake already screaming there's been fraud, something has gone wrong with the count. And there were problems, Anderson but those problems have been fixed. Every vote will be counted, officials say.

COOPER: Sara Sidner, appreciate it.

In Georgia, one state election's official says a runoff is all but certain between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker, a former football star backed by president Trump. A runoff would not be decided for almost a month. CNN's Nick Valencia is in Atlanta with the latest.

Are both campaigns thinking the runoff is inevitable?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. At this point, it seems inevitable. And though we don't know exactly whether or not they are going to officially declare a runoff today, it seems that, for the second consecutive election cycle, Georgia feels like the center of the political universe.

And we did check in with the secretary of state's office. We know there's a small number of ballots left to be counted, some including provisional ballots. We don't have an exact number.

They did tell us last night, though, they are not so quietly already preparing for the likelihood of a runoff. Meanwhile, the Warnock and Walker campaigns, they aren't waiting for the official declaration. They are already making plans to prepare for campaigning this next month.

One of the biggest takeaways, Anderson, from Tuesday were the ballot splitters. Republican governor Brian Kemp far outperformed Republican Senate challenger Herschel Walker by about 163,000 votes. That's a lot of votes here.

And how that's going to factor into the likely runoff on December 6th I'm sure is concerning to Republicans, even though they're not voicing that just yet publicly. But at least for the next few weeks, Georgia is going to continue to see these political ads as we prepare for the likelihood of a December 6th runoff. Anderson.

COOPER: Nick, appreciate it. Thank you.

Wisconsin is another state where the Senate race is too close to call this morning. John Berman is here at the wall with me.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Ron Johnson, the incumbent, continues to lead by 31,680 votes with 94 percent reporting. We haven't had any new numbers reported from Wisconsin for some time.

I can show you, though, the very few places in the state that have, you know, less than 90 percent reporting. The only counties with less than 90 percent reporting are these counties here. You can see this is a more Republican county, Dunn County, at 69

percent, Ron Johnson leading there. This county, Rock County on the border, you can see is more Democratic. Mandela Barnes has there.

But the main county where there is outstanding vote, is Milwaukee County, home to the city of Milwaukee. Mandela Barnes has a large lead there, just at 82 percent reporting, which is why I think CNN hasn't made a projection yet. We want to see how much vote is still left in Milwaukee to count and what that vote looks like.

Will it be enough in Milwaukee to close the gap, that 31,000 vote gap?

It's a tall order for Mandela Barnes but we'll see. Watch this space.

You go out West, it's interesting what we're seeing in Nevada and Arizona. Very different, depending on the rules in each state.

In Nevada, where Adam Laxalt leads the incumbent, Catherine Cortez Masto, by about 22,000 votes, any ballot that's mailed, as Rosa said, by yesterday and arrives before Saturday will be counted.

So we don't know how much vote is left in this state. What we do know is that, in Clark County, the most populous county by far -- makes up 75 percent roughly of the state's vote -- Catherine Cortez Masto is ahead by almost 5 points. All of the ballots remaining to be counted are mail ballots, which tend to skew more Democratic. So we're waiting for that.

Arizona, a little bit different. You have Mark Kelly, the Democrat, ahead there by about 90,000 votes, with 69 percent reporting. You just heard from Sara Sidner in Maricopa County. This is a county that Joe Biden won but just by 2 points. So this swings back and forth, as kind of a 50-50 county.

You can see Mark Kelly ahead there. If you're looking for more signs of where vote is in Arizona, as I said, this is the most populous county. The most populous Republican county is Pinal County. But 90 percent of the vote is in from here; Blake Masters has a lead of almost 9 percent.

But this was a county Donald Trump won by 17 points. So maybe Blake Masters is underperforming here, we'll see what the last vote looks like. And down here in Pima County, the second most populous county in the state.


BERMAN: We see Mark Kelly with a large lead, just 56 percent reporting. If you're a Democrat, you're thinking, hey, maybe there's more Democratic vote to come in in Arizona.

Finally, we'll just mention quickly, Nick Valencia was in Georgia, the one remaining state we have not called; the issue here, as Nick pointed out. Raphael Warnock, who's ahead, is less than that 50 percent. If no one gets 50 percent of the vote plus 1, there will be a runoff. There is still some vote remaining. But, for instance, we heard from

officials in Gwinnett County already. Gwinnett County reporting 91 percent. You can see Raphael Warnock with a lead.

But what they told us in Gwinnett County, they told CNN all the Election Day vote is counted, all the mail-in vote is counted. All that's left is the provisional ballot and the overseas military votes.

So unlikely to change. So you can see why the secretary of state's office in both campaigns believe there will be a runoff. We have yet to officially make that projection.

But watch this space, because, Anderson, depending on how this all goes, if you show where everyone's ahead right now, Democrats would need to win a runoff in Georgia to maintain control of the U.S. Senate.

COOPER: John, thank you so much.

Coming up, candidates were not the only thing on the ballot: marijuana, abortion, gun control break down the key initiatives voters weighed in on.

Plus they denied the 2020 result but voters still backed them. Republicans will now run their state elections. We break down where.

And another January 6th committee member loses their seat. Reaction from Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger -- ahead.





COOPER: High turnouts, mail-in ballots, competitive races, those factors and more mean we won't know final election results for days and maybe weeks. Ana Cabrera is at the voting desk.

Walk us through the process ahead.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. Let's start with Arizona, in Maricopa County. All 223 sites in that county have been reported. But they're not done counting yet. We're told there are still about 300,000 votes left to count in just Maricopa County today, including tens of thousands of early ballots.

Election officials sharing this video and some images of workers, processing some of those ballots that were actually dropped off yesterday on Election Day. And we're told this is the signature verification part of the process.

They say the next results for Maricopa County will post tonight. And between 95 percent and 99 percent of all ballots will be counted by Friday, Anderson. So we still have a couple of days at least to wait.

COOPER: Let's talk about Nevada now and another state that could decide control of the Senate. Those results may take a while.

CABRERA: That's right. In Nevada, this is the first midterm election, where they used universal mail-in voting, meaning every voter was sent a ballot. Now as long as those ballots are postmarked by yesterday, Election Day, they have until Saturday, November 12th, by 5:00 pm local time to arrive and be counted.

We also know ballots put in the drop boxes in three counties, Clark, here, home of Las Vegas, Washoe and Douglas Counties, those ballots weren't counted yesterday. In 2020, we know Clark County and Washoe County went for Biden; Douglas County went for Trump. So a lot to learn there.

COOPER: Ana, thanks very much.

CNN's Harry Enten is at the wall.

What did voters decide?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Anderson. Let's talk about abortion first. Abortion rights were on the ballot in a lot of different places. Let's start in Michigan where, yes, a guaranteed constitutional right to abortion easily won with 56 percent of the vote.

Let's go to a red state, though, Kentucky, where you'll be surprised perhaps to learn that here the no vote, which was, in fact, the pro abortion rights side, gets a little bit confusing, the no vote won with a little bit more than 52 percent of the vote.

Let's go to another red state. Let's go to Montana. And what we see in Montana is -- we haven't called this yet and this is, again, a little bit confusing -- the no side is the pro abortion rights side. But it is leading right now with 52.4 percent of the vote.

On marijuana, things were a little bit more split. Going to go to Missouri, a red state, and what do we see in Missouri?

Legalize won with 53 percent of the vote.

Let's go to another red state, South Dakota, we saw that recreational marijuana failed there. No one with 53 percent of the vote.

On gun rights, the state of Oregon and what do we see in Oregon, require permit to buy firearms and ban high capacity magazines, right now we can't call it. And you can see how close it is.

So when we think about all of these different ballot measures, I think we could sum it up as, abortion rights passed overwhelmingly pretty much in all states. Marijuana was more split. When it comes to gun rights, in Oregon, the verdict is still out.

COOPER: Harry, thanks. High profile election deniers running for governor came out on the losing end.

How do members of the January 6th committee feel about the results?

We'll talk to one Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger joins us next.





COOPER: Sean Patrick Maloney, the head of the House Democratic campaign committee, is speaking. He's lost his race. Let's listen.

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): -- and I pledge my support to him in transitioning this congressional seat so that the people we serve in the Hudson Valley don't have any interruption in the service they deserve.

I also just took a call from the president and expressed our appreciation for his leadership on the issues that matter to the American people. And I said to him what I hope every American will see, that, last night, House Democrats stood our ground.

And we believe November 8th, 2022, will be a signature date in American political history and, we hope, the high water mark of some of the anger and the division that we have dealt with this entire cycle, from January 6th on through.

And we hope for something better for our country because that's what all Americans deserve. We are still working. And any fair person and responsible observer should understand that it will take time to understand all of the races and their outcomes.

I just told you what happened in mine and we will tell you what happens in each of them, fairly and honestly and transparently.

COOPER: That's Sean Patrick Maloney, the head of the House Democrats' campaign committee. He had been campaigning around the country in support of Democrats in the House, raising money.

He lost, has just conceded his own race in the Hudson Valley in New York.

As we pore through the election results today, we're seeing that some of the most high-profile election deniers on the ballot were denied wins in governor's races.


COOPER: In Pennsylvania, Republican Doug Mastriano, who tried to overturn President Biden's win in the Commonwealth, suffered a decisive loss to Josh Shapiro.

In New York, Lee Zeldin came up short against incumbent Kathy Hochul. Zeldin certified against the election.

In Michigan Tudor Dixon, who falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen, lost to incumbent Gretchen Whitmer.

Nine GOP election skeptics lost their races for governors and five won. Joining me now, Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

You decided against running for reelection, Republican Darin LaHood is projected to win. He signed on to the Texas amicus brief to overturn the 2020 election results and also voted against creating the January 6th committee that you serve on.

When you look at results overall, at least as they stand right now, do you think Republican leadership is reassessing Donald Trump's role in the future of the party?


COOPER: Actually, sorry, Congressman, we have a quick projection I have to tell our viewers about.


COOPER: Two-term Republican Ron Johnson has defeated Mandela Barnes to become the senator for Wisconsin. This has turned out to be one of the year's most competitive races. Johnson is known for a history of controversial statements, including misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and false statements about the January 6th Capitol attack.

Let's take a look at how this impacts the balance of power. This would give Republicans 49 to Democrats 48 in the Senate. Lucy Kafanov is following the race for Wisconsin. Lucy.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. This was an incredibly close race. The two candidates were neck in neck, with Johnson just edging slightly ahead of Barnes. He was very close to declaring victory last night, effectively calling the race all but over.

But waiting, of course, for the final counts to come in this morning. Johnson, you know, was seen as quite vulnerable in 2016. He had pledged not to run for a third term. He changed his mind in January of this year.

Mandela Barnes is a 35-year-old young progressive, the daughter (sic) of a teacher and a union worker, the lieutenant governor. He had some popularity among the Democratic base. But he faced a relentless barrage of negative advertising, painting him as being soft on crime.

His supporters accused Johnson and the Republicans of effectively putting on more racist ads. But you know, the two candidates were very, very close in this election. We have not yet heard from Barnes and we have not yet heard from Ron Johnson.

It's not all bad news for Democrats. We did see Governor Tony Evers declaring victory last night. This is the first time that Wisconsin since 1998 is dealing with a split ticket, something that is a rarity in these partisan times.

COOPER: Appreciate that.

I want to check in with John Berman at the magic wall.

What does it look like there?

BERMAN: You see Ron Johnson, still with the 31,000 vote lead. CNN now projects he will win. He's had a lot of close races. He's been elected to a third term in Wisconsin. You can see the margin this time.

Let's look back at 2016 there. He won that race by 100,000, also pretty tight, so getting closer. Democrats are getting closer but unable to unseat this incumbent that they have wanted to for some time.

As you heard from Lucy Kafanov, the Democrats did win the governor's race here. You can see the difference, Tony Evers won by 84,000 votes. But in the Senate race, it's Ron Johnson.

I want to go to battle for control for the U.S. Senate now. You can see here, Wisconsin is now red. That gives Republicans 49 seats. They need 51 to control. We have been telling you about these three races.

Well, Georgia looks like it's going to a runoff. We won't have any answer there.

Right now, the Democrat Mark Kelly is leading in Arizona.

And right now, the Republican Adam Laxalt is leading in Nevada.

So that would mean that this state right here, Georgia, the runoff will determine control of the U.S. Senate. If these two races hold. I'll just show you obviously what happens if Nevada, if Catherine Cortez Masto is able to maintain control, and Mark Kelly in Arizona.

The runoff wouldn't matter in Georgia in terms of control there. And just to state the obvious, if Republicans were able to win both Nevada and Arizona, which is still possible, anything is possible out there, they would control the U.S. Senate without the runoff in Georgia, which looks like it will take place, Anderson, one month from now.

COOPER: Appreciate it. Thanks.