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CNN Live Event/Special
Control of Congress Still Uncertain, Key Races Too Close to Call; White House Says, President Biden to Hold News Conference at 4:00 P.M. ET; Georgia Senate Race Goes to a Runoff. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired November 09, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Plenty of action but no final answers. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Erin Burnett and this is CNN's continuing coverage of Election Day in America.
You know, as Wolf said, continuing, let's emphasize that. Key races are incredibly close, control of Congress is still hanging in the balance, every vote that is counted, every race that is called in the next few hours could make the difference, Wolf.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right, Erin. So far, no red wave, repeat, no red wave. President Biden is expected, I want to remind our viewers, to hold a news conference at 4:00 P.M. Eastern later today from the White House. We're going to bring that to you live when it begins.
Here's where things stand right now, Erin. Go ahead and tell us.
BURNETT: In this battle for control of the U.S. Senate, these tight races here, in Arizona, let's just show you that one, Wolf, between incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly and Republican Blake Masters, you can see right now Mark Kelly is ahead. Now, there're still a lot of votes still to be counted here but you have Mark Kelly ahead here, Wolf, in Arizona. And what do you see in Nevada?
BLITZER: In Nevada right now, Adam Laxalt slightly ahead of the incumbent Democratic senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, 49.9 percent to 47.2 percent. Adam Laxalt is ahead by some 22,000 votes right now.
Let's go to Georgia right now. Georgia Senate race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker is heading for a runoff in early December.
We have our correspondents standing by all over the place including in Georgia over at the White House, in Arizona across the political map.
Let's go to Georgia, first right now. CNN's Eva McKend is in Atlanta with the latest for us. So far, Eva, neither of the two senatorial candidates have reached that 50 percent margin, 50 percent plus 1. So, it looks like in early December, there will be another runoff.
EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: There will, Wolf. This was always a real possibility in this state given the unique nature of how winners are declared. And Senator Warnock in the last few weeks, as we've been following him on the campaign trail, almost seemed to be preparing his supporters for this potential outcome, imploring them to get out and vote, both in the early vote period and on election day to avoid this possibility, but saying that, you know, he could either win on election night or four weeks from now during a potential runoff.
Herschel walker, though, for his part, was a lot more bullish, not even entertaining a runoff, declaring, making pronouncement, bold pronouncements, that he would win outright on Election Day. That, of course, has not come to bear.
Take a listen to how both of them essentially are telling their supporters to hold on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Whether it's later tonight or tomorrow or four weeks from now, we will hear from the people of Georgia.
SENATE CANDIDATE HERESCHEL WALKER (R-GA): If you can hang in, hang in there a little bit longer. Just hang in there a little bit longer because something good takes a while for it to get better. And it's going to get better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKEND: Now, we know that Republicans are feeling a little squeamish this morning and that is because Herschel Walker underperformed incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp, specifically in the suburban areas, earning about 163,000 more votes.
So, this is going to continue to be a battle ahead for the next four weeks here. If anyone thought that this would wrap up on election night, they were sorely mistaken. Wolf?
BURNETT: All right.
BLITZER: It's going to be a very, very, very exciting few days coming up in Georgia right now. Erin, back to you.
BURNETT: I know, Wolf. It really is, I mean, all eyes on Georgia.
So, let's go to Gabe Sterling. He is the chief operating officer at the Georgia Secretary of State Office.
You know, Gabe, as Wolf and I are sitting here, CNN projecting that the Senate race between Senator Warnock and Herschel Walker is indeed headed to a runoff. Are you ready for that?
GABRIEL STERLING (R), CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE: Well, first things first we have to got to go Wolf's idea of exciting is. But, yes, we're ready. The fact the clock is already up in our office for 27 days and six hours from polls closing on the runoff Election Day.
BURNETT: All right. So, you're ready for that. And I know John King is with me and I know he has got a specific question about the runoff and what you're looking at. John, go ahead.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's information we don't have. So, I'm just trying to get to the point where why are you certain at this point it will be a runoff? If you look at the results, it's 49.2 to 48.7. And we have the estimated outstanding vote here, maybe you have updated numbers. We have it at 96 percent estimated reporting and you still see in these circles these amount of votes or a decent share of the votes still to be counted (ph) in Fulton County, in the suburbs around it where Senator Warnock is doing well. You're certain that there's absolutely no possibility he gets to 50?
STERLING: At 2:00 A.M. last night, I tweeted out it's pretty safe to say we're going to have that runoff as we get closer and closer, more votes keep coming in. By our internal estimates, we have less than 10,000 votes to go into the election night reporting for the final counts.
I've seen some of these estimates of these votes, saying, I don't know where the hell they're getting these numbers from, but we know there's about less than 10,000. So, there's just not enough numbers out there still to change the outcome of this race.
BURNETT: So when you think about it, Gabe, you know, you've got now, as you said, 27 days and 6 hours or whatever you just laid out until the polls close, you've already moved ahead for that. But, look, you can run -- John King can run a scenario very easily where control of the Senate rests on Georgia. We'll see what happens in Arizona and Nevada, but, again, all eyes again could be on Georgia, control of the Senate could rest on Georgia. What are the next few weeks going to look like as you get ready for that?
STERLING: Well, I talked to Secretary Raffensperger back in the summer and he asked what was going to happen. I said, well, given the fact we are Georgia, it's obviously going to be a runoff with control of the United States Senate on the line because that's what we do here.
So, what we're going to be doing really as far as the administration side is, we have already lined up to begin building the ballots. All of them will be to the counties by Monday, November 14th, for their signoff. We'll begin -- the absentee ballot portal is already open. You can begin requesting those absentee ballots. We're working with the counties. They have to have a minimum of five days of early voting. There's a very good possibility that we'll probably have voting on Saturday, November 26th, in many of the counties if they so choose and we're planning for that right now. But it's really about getting all the parts lined up so we can get as many votes in so the voters can make their voice heard on that December 6th runoff. BURNETT: So, just to bring something home that Eva was reporting on, you see Herschel Walker underperforming where your governor, Brian Kemp, performed. He easily won re-election. The secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, won re-election with 53 percent of the vote. That's a nine percentage point margin of victory, right? These were wins, right? These are two people who repeatedly resisted Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the election in your state and yet they cruised to re-election victory as Republicans despite Trump attacking them constantly. Herschel Walker is a person Trump has stood fully behind.
What message do you think the victories that you're seeing in Georgia in two cases and the runoff in a third sends to Donald Trump?
STERLING: I think the main thing is you see if you stood with Donald Trump, you didn't necessarily look like you came out too well at the end of the day. I mean, frankly, with the people that Trump helped get these Senate nominations, we probably lost New Hampshire on the Republican side because of that. We have probably lost Pennsylvania because of that. If McCormick was the nominee, I think most analysts say, we probably would have won Pennsylvania and the balance of the Senate would not be on the line in Georgia today more than likely.
So, I think the main message is voters want stability and they want candidates who stand up for themselves on their own issues and not necessarily tied to one personality or another.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Gabe Sterling, thank you very much. You hear it heading to a runoff in Georgia in 27 days. Thank you so much, Gabe.
STERLING: I'm sure I'll see you all soon.
BURNETT: I'm sure you will. I'll see you many times before that.
All right, and, next, we're going to check into the White House. That is where they're still waiting to learn who will be in charge at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue as we are awaiting a live press conference from President Biden.
BLITZER: All right. We're back with another important key race alert right now, new numbers in the very, very critically important Arizona Senate race. The incumbent Democrat, Mark Kelly, the Republican challenger, Blake Masters, let's take a look at the latest numbers just coming in.
69 percent of the estimated vote can is now in. The incumbent senator, Mark Kelly, the Democrat, he's ahead by nearly 90,000 votes over Blake Masters, the challenger, 51.4 percent to 46.4 percent, Mark Kelly slightly ahead right now in this critically important Arizona race. We have not yet made a projection in that contest. According to election officials, by the way, in Arizona, there are still more than 400,000 ballots that are left to be counted, specifically in Maricopa County
CNN's Sara Sidner is in Phoenix for us, where they're currently processing and counting these ballots. What's the latest, Sara?
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: About 86,000 of those 400,000 votes that are still yet to be counted here in Maricopa County have been signature verified and they are counting them, as we speak. So, those are going through the process.
We will know by the end of the evening here Arizona time, some new numbers for you.
But there was some really pointed comments being made by election officials here today. We heard very strong comments about some of the accusations being made by Republicans, whether it be online or on camera to media organizations. Basically, Republicans are accusing Maricopa County of conducting a fraudulent vote. They are also accusing them of being criminal because of some of the issues that happened with the printers that did not work, did not print dark enough ink and, therefore, could not be tabulated in some of the voting centers.
I do want to let you hear from Bill Gates, who is the head of the county board of supervisors here in Maricopa County, responding to what happened because of all that and to the accusations being made against him and all the officials here who have worked through the night to try to make sure that every single vote is counted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL GATES (R), CHAIR, MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: When they say criminal, I don't know what they're talking about. There was a lawsuit that was filed in Maricopa County superior court. I did not follow the entire hearing but I don't think the word, criminal, came out of the mouth of the lawyers for Blake Masters' campaign, for the Arizona Republican Party, the RNC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: So, you heard that there. He's like no one in court who sued to try to keep this voting -- the polls open longer than from 7:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M., the judge denied that. But no one in court, not the RNC and not Blake Masters' lawyers said anything about criminal or anything about fraud. They just wanted to have things extended.
The judge decided there was not enough evidence to allow that to happen and polls closed at 7:00 P.M., as scheduled. The vote continues. We will hear more about the numbers. About 70 percent of the vote has been counted so far. Erin?
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Sara. So, we're joined again by CNN Political Director David Chalian, as all eyes are on Arizona. You know, I mean it's amazing, David. You have 400,000 votes left in Maricopa County this morning. They said 300, right? The numbers, as they figure out the situation, right, they're able to get more and more specific. But as Sara said, hopefully, we'll know it by tonight.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. And what's so important to understand, right, is that the ballots that get dropped off later or on Election Day, at least in 2020, they were materially different. That was much more a pro-Trump voter or Republican vote for those late arriving ballots in Maricopa County. And that's why two years ago, we saw the Biden lead dramatically narrow to end up only winning that state by 11,000 votes.
BURNETT: Yes, I mean, it is pretty incredible, right? So, we'll see what happens as that comes in. Hour by hour and obviously with the time change to the East Coast, as Sara said, it could be late tonight before we get another massive sense of how things are going. But what do you know about from the exit polls or for what voters in Arizona were saying?
CHALIAN: Yes. So, we wanted to take a look at this issue of sort of election denialism because Arizona has been sort of the hotbed of election denialism in this campaign season, Erin. And so we asked voters, are you confident that your state's elections are fair and accurate? And Arizona voters in this election, the plurality, 43 percent say they're very confident, 30 percent say somewhat confident and the smaller groups by far are 18 percent not very confident, 8 percent not at all confident.
So, now, I want to look at how the two larger groups, how they split their vote between Kelly and Masters in the Senate race. So, among those who are very confident, that largest share, that 43 percent, who are very confident in the state's elections, Kelly wins them 85 percent to Masters' 13 percent. Now, that next share, the 30 percent who said they're just somewhat confident that the election affair and accurate, that's a Blake Masters' group. He wins them 63 percent to 34 percent.
We also asked whether or not voters thought Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election? So, overall, the electorate in Arizona, 63 percent say, yes, but more than a third, 35 percent of Arizona voters in this election said, no, Joe Biden was not the legitimately elected president in 2020. I mean, they believe that falsely, obviously.
So, let's look, of course, how these votes split. So, among those who think Biden was legitimately elected, which is a much larger group, 63 percent, Kelly wins them going away, 78 percent to 19 percent. And, of course, as you might expect, among those who do not think Joe Biden was legitimately elected, who falsely believe that, I mean, that's just the base of Masters' support here, right? 94 percent of them go to Masters, 3 percent go to Kelly, but they make up a much smaller share, about a third of the overall vote.
[13:20:05] BURNETT: That's pretty amazing. I would say, I'll never remember a time seeing 94 percent of anything on an exit poll ever. You may have just made history there.
CHALIAN: 94 percent of election deniers support Blake Masters in this race.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much to David Chalian.
And, next, we're going to go back to the magic wall, talk about where the balance of Congress appears to be headed as still we do not know who will control the House or the Senate.
BLITZER: We're continuing to bring you the results and the projections with all eyes right now on control of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, especially over at the White House. They're watching this so, so closely. President Biden is expected to hold a news conference at 4:00 P.M. Eastern later today. CNN, of course, will have live coverage.
CNN's White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is joining us right now with the latest. So, what's the mood like over there right now, Phil, this afternoon as we see these results coming in?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, in conversations with more than half a dozen senior advisers over the course of the last 12 hours, you pick up kind of a mix of vindication and resolve. And those two descriptions aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. I think they kind of tie into one another and will get to something that I think you'll hear the president talk about in just a couple of hours in that post-election press conference.
White House officials have been very clear. They believe that their kind of multipronged messaging approach in the lead-up to the midterm campaigns was going to be effective even as it was criticized from some within their own party, the kind of disparate focus on abortion one sense, student loans on another, really trying to hit at key constituencies throughout the Democratic coalition and to some degree independent voters as well.
They believe the results that have come through so far really kind of back up that approach, vindicate a strategy that some Democrats said wasn't nearly focused enough, wasn't nearly narrow enough to really kind of attack the primary issues that Democrats felt were real vulnerabilities.
In terms of the resolve, though, I think there's also a recognition of the reality here. There is a very real possibility, almost a certain possibility, that Republicans will take control of the House, even if it's narrow, and that the Senate is still very much a jump ball even though they feel comfortable with it. So, there's no spiking of the football but White House officials, Erin, feel very good about the moment they're in and very vindicated about those who were questioning their strategy leading up to this moment, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Phil, thank you very much.
As we await those -- that live press conference from President Biden, let's go back to John King at the magic wall.
So, John, coming into this press conference and it's tradition obviously for the president to do this, but he's going to do it while it was a much better performance than anybody thought or expected, still not knowing for sure who will control the House or who will control the Senate, and the House, you know, it is incredible at this moment. We still don't know.
KING: The president will speak at 4:00 in the east here today. You're right. Not knowing -- assuming but not knowing if the Republicans will control the House of Representative, not knowing who will control the United States Senate, but he will know this, the Democrats and him, he's the Democratic president, are on track to defy the national historic averages, if you will. The average is, since Ronald Reagan, you lose 30 House seat, Barack Obama lost 63 in his first midterm, Donald Trump lost 40 in his first midterm.
Joe Biden at the moment, this is where we are when you look at the House, these are ahead. We're not done yet. Right now, as Phil just noted, it looks like Republicans are on a path to a narrow House majority as where we stand now. We have a lot of votes still to count.
Leading in 222 race, right? They started with 212. Let me bring the math up here. So, at the moment, Republicans have a net gain of ten. These are not called races. I want to emphasize that over and over again. But at the moment, so they're on track, ten, maybe a little bit more than that. Remember, you can go back a few months, Kevin McCarthy was saying 60, then he moved it to 30. Republicans are not going to pick up 60 seats and it doesn't look like they're getting anywhere close to 30 seats. So, these are ahead right now, right?
So, let's look at the uncalled races, right -- well, called races first. Republicans have won 203 seats. Democrats have won 187. It takes 218 to get to the majority, right? So, they started with 212, they're at 203. Where are the uncalled races? So, we still these races to call and you see they're essentially splitting the terrain in the competitive seats right now. So, we're going to have to count for days before we know that final number. But without a doubt, Erin, without a doubt, the Democrats have resisted the historical ties and that helps the president.
Now, you can defy history and still have a more complicated, some would say, more miserable daily existence. If Republicans take the House, that's a setback for Joe Biden in terms of now he has to deal with the Republicans in the House, but he's not going to be dealing with a giant House majority. So, it's complicated for him, it may well be very complicated for the new speaker as well.
BURNETT: All right. I guess it gives you context, right? You can do better than expected. You don't have a red wave and yet you don't necessarily get your agenda. But this whole red wave, red tsunami, all of this that you're talking about, those 60 seat scenarios, people missed it, huh?
KING: So, let's go east to west. Number one, you have good Democratic candidates winning in tight races.
Two, a lot of evidence that the American people are exasperated, maybe mad at the Democrats but not willing in some parts of the country to take a risk on Republicans.