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CNN Live Event/Special

CNN Election Night in America Continued. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 10, 2022 - 16:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for spending your afternoon with us.

CNN special coverage of "Election Night in American Continued" begins in just seconds.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good afternoon. I'm Erin Burnett.

This is CNN's special coverage of election night in America continued yet again. Right now, control of the Senate could come down to two states. They are Arizona and Nevada. And with millions of votes already counted, the Senate races in these two states of still too close to call.

And then there's the third pivotal Senate race, that one in Georgia. Already, we know headed for a runoff. That is on December 6th, but there may be more clarity in the coming hours. More votes are going to be coming in tonight.

So, first, let's look at Arizona. The race there between Democratic Senator Mark Kelly and Republican nominee Blake Masters. Right now, Mark Kelly, incumbent, ahead by 99,638 votes but you see what is so important there. Only 76 percent of the estimated vote is in. We have a lot more votes to come in Arizona.

And that razor-thin race between Democrat Katie Hobbs and Republican Kari Lake, also up for grabs. That one is incredibly close. Margin only 16,000-plus votes for Katie Hobbs, but there are 665,000 more votes that need to be counted. That's why these races are way too close to call.

Let me show you what those are, 400,000 of those outstanding votes are Maricopa County. That is Phoenix, 148,000 down in Pima County, home to Tucson.

We're standing by to hear officials in both Maricopa and Pima County over these next minutes and we're going to bring you those press conferences when they happen.

Now, let me show you the situation in Nevada where all eyes are on the crucial race there. That is the Democratic senator Catherine Cortez Masto against Adam Laxalt, the Republican challenger, neck and neck, only 16,000 votes, just shy of that separate the two.

Let me give you the context there, 120,000 votes still need to be counted in Nevada. So that is too close to call and we are expecting more results on that tonight. Now, these two races are so crucial, because if Democrats can pull off a win in both of them, Democrats control the Senate. And when I say that, that means control the Senate regardless of the outcome in next month's Senate runoff in Georgia.

So, we have reporters on the ground in these crucial races as America waits for the outcome. Gary Tuchman is in Nevada. Josh Campbell is in Arizona.

I want to start in Nevada, though, with you, Gary. I know you're in Las Vegas, near the election, where they're counting these outstanding ballots. What is it? About 120,000 in races simply too close to call?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. Mail-in ballots continue to be counted in all 17 counties in Nevada. There's nothing unusual about that whatsoever. The race wasn't close, 50 percent, percentage's point difference, either way, votes still counted because they have up to Saturday for ballots to arrive. That's the rules here in the state of Nevada.

Here in Clark County, this is where people are keeping their eyes on, because 75 percent of the population of Nevada lives in this county where Las Vegas is located. We're just told in a news conference, still about 50,000 votes to be counted. Those votes come from the mail and also come from buckets, baskets put in polling places, boxes, we saw a basket in one place with a lock on it, but 300 boxes throughout this county, and that's what's being counted right now.

Now, in addition to the 50,000 there are 5,555 provisional ballots, 7,155 ballots that need to be cured. That's a total of 12,710 ballots that could be counted. So a grand total more than 62,000 votes that could still be counted in this county and then the other counties also.

Now, as I mentioned. Not a big surprise at all's still counting, 1.8 million registered voters in Nevada. Every one sent a mail-in ballot. Here in the county most popular way to vote. Postmarked by Tuesday, arrive by Saturday. Not a big surprise.

Former president of the United States Donald Trump on his Truth Social app said that Clark County has a corrupt voting system. I can tell you that the people here, the election bosses are not at all happy about that disrespect.

BURNETT: Certainly not. Certainly not.

All right. Gary Tuchman there in Nevada.

Now, I want to head now to Arizona where we're waiting for more results as well, which could be coming soon.


As I said, there you got, what, 600,000-plus votes outstanding.

Josh Campbell is in Phoenix, at an election.

And, Josh, I know right there, they are counting these ballots. They're going to update us. We anticipate a couple press briefings at least over these next few hours to get more information on the count. What are we still waiting on?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Two key areas where I am here now in Maricopa County. The largest highly populated area in the state of Arizona, and south of us, second most populace county a Pima County, first starting with Maricopa.

We're still waiting on 400,000 ballots. That includes 290,000 ballots received in envelopes by voters, but actually didn't submit by mail. They brought them to polling places which is fine.

Heard different reasons why people decided to do that. Some hadn't made up their mind who they wanted to vote for. Others thought more secure to physically hand that to an election worker. That means it's going to take time to vote.

Again, waiting for 290,000 ballots there in Maricopa County, south near Tucson waiting on 160,000 votes there. But we're told, Erin, that could come maybe later next week. Still a lot of ballot counting yet to be done.

As you mentioned, we're also waiting to get updated by election officials both here and in Maricopa and Pima County. That's scheduled for 4:00 p.m. local time hour. We're expecting here in Maricopa and additional batch of ballots released tonight. Yesterday, 62,000 ballots updated.

We'll see what tonight brings as the razor-thin majorities, you mentioned, with Mark Kelly up over 95,000 votes over Blake Masters. And in the gubernatorial race, obviously, much closer, Katie Hobbs 13,000 votes over Kari Lake.

BURNETT: Right. But, of course, when you put that in context of 600,000 outstanding, we all can understand, we simply just don't know the winners yet.

Josh Campbell, thank you very much.

So, as I said, we're going to be getting press conferences from both Arizona and Nevada throughout these next hours. Right now, I want to John King at the magic wall.

So, you look at these two states and these vast troughs of votes still outstanding. Where does the fight for control of the Senate then stand at this hour?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's go into the states individually. First, before I do that make a key point. So, we've called, we have 49-48. That's where we are right now. The current United States Senate is 50-50. So, I can give you a scenario. We know Georgia will have a runoff on

December 6. There's a scenario which Republicans could have control regardless of Georgia. A scenario of Democrats regardless of Georgia, or there's a scenario where Georgia once again decides control of the Senate. We'll go through that in a minute.

These states follow-up from Gary and from Josh. Number one in Nevada. When I went to bed early this morning, kind of middle early morning I guess, hard to remember when on day three, Adam Laxalt was leading Washoe County. I bring up Washoe County because it's a swing county, northwest corner of the state. It's about 15 percent of population. Clark County, where Vegas is, it's much bigger. But this is important, Erin, in terms of Nevada politics and viewed as the swing county. And the winner here often wins state-wide. Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democratic incumbent, leading now, but look at that, 48.8 to 48.6. That is what we're talking about in terms of closeness of the contest here.

Come out to statewide, 49.4 to 47.6. You'd rather ahead than behind at any point in the race. But as Gary noted 120,000 or so more ballots. Adam Laxalt obviously in the lead by 15,000 right now statewide. Senator Cortez Masto has to make it up.

For her, the advantage is, if you go to red rural counties, most of the votes is in. They're smaller, anyway. And Clark County is 74 percent of the vote statewide, 74 percent of the population in the ballpark statewide. Senator Cortez Masto is already ahead in Clark County. So, she's behind statewide a little bit, but ahead in Clark County, that's where most votes are still to be counted.

So, we're not done here and there's reason for Democrats to think math allows us to put it out.

And then when you come over, as Josh just said, this is the statewide count right now. Mark Kelly, just shy of 100,000 votes, but with hundreds of thousands more to be counted. Be patient. Got to walk through this one.

BURNETT: So there's the senate, you talk about, and patience is a huge virtue in this situation we're in right now. Obviously, Democrats have chance to hold the Senate even without waiting for the Georgia runoff, though. I mean, that's I guess, if you do the math, right? You get two, you've got it.

KING: That's what we're doing. We're doing a lot of math. And we're doing math, we're going to be doing math for at least, well, December 6th, final math here. Question, how consequential is it? Obviously, to the citizens of Georgia, their next United States senator is consequential.

But let's get to the point you were just making. Here's where we are right now in terms of races we have called. Again, 49 Republican seats, 48 Democratic seats. Those on ballot this year and those already called.

So, what happens out here? If Mark Kelly holds his lead in Arizona, not guaranteed, but we're doing a hypothetical.


If he holds his lead there and Senator Cortez Masto can come back and take the lead and win Nevada, then for Democrats, Georgia would be gravy. Democrats only need 50 to control the United States Senate because they have Vice President Harris. So Georgia then would be, can we get to 51? And Senator Harris could leave Washington more. She wouldn't have to be around to break all the tie votes. That's one consequence of that.

So, yes, Democrats is win majority, protect their majority, yes, without Georgia. However, I just want to put on the table. Republicans can also win the majority without Georgia. If Senator Laxalt holds on and Blake Masters comes back in Arizona, he's trailing right now, but we're still counting hundreds of thousands of votes, Republicans could get to 51.

And Georgia, maybe Democrats to 49, or Republicans get to 52. That's why this is so consequential. These two races out there will determine how consequential Georgia is on December 6th. That's why we're going to count these votes. And if you're a Democrat or a Republicans, whether you live in those states or care about balance of power where I work in Washington, these are tense times and there will be tense days I believe before we know the answer.

BURNETT: They are going to be definitely tense days, as we said, with 600,000 votes outstanding. We do anticipate more coming in tonight, but not all. This is a case where you're going to need virtually all to make these calls.

All right. Thank you so much, John King.

And Republican Senate candidates in Nevada and Arizona both threw in their lot with Trump and the election deniers. So, just ahead, what happens if they win?



BURNETT: Welcome back to CNN special election coverage, "Election Night in America Continued".

President Biden moments ago saying democracy met the test on Election Day.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's what we do know -- we lost fewer seats in the House of Representatives than any president's midterm, in at least 40 years. We had the best midterms for governors since 1986. And experts said we couldn't beat the odds, but we did beat the odds.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Well, all eyes of course still on Arizona and Nevada. And as we've made clear, control of the Senate could hand just these two states, right? Never mind that Georgia runoff.

In both states, the Republican candidate for Senate has questioned the 2020 election.

CNN's Brian Todd joins me now with more. And, you know, Brian, obviously this has been a real question whether the election was a referendum on the Democratic agenda or on the Republican election denialism.

Tell us more about the candidates in Arizona and Nevada and their record on denying the 2020 election?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Erin. We want to focus on the most prominent election deniers and start, as you mentioned, in those states where deniers can still win those really important races for senator, governor and secretary of state.

One of the most well-known and aggressive deniers in Arizona, Republican Kari Lake, still in a tightly contested race for governor. She's falsely declared that President Biden's win there in 2020 was stolen and demanded that this year, that Biden's 2020 win in Arizona be decertified, which is an impossibility. Another denier Republican Blake Masters still in a close race in Arizona for senator.

Now, let's go to Nevada. A tight race could put denier Adam Laxalt in office as a U.S. senator. Laxalt made several fall claims about the 2020 election saying it was rigged and baseless claims about integrity of the vote count in that state. But also very important races, Erin, for secretary of state in Arizona and Nevada that have not been called yet.

These are critical, because the secretary of state basically runs the election process in most states. In those two states, aggressive election deniers are still in the running. In Nevada, Jim Marchant could be on the cusp of victory. He has insisted that it was, quote, almost statistically impossible that Joe Biden won in Nevada in 2020, which is flat-out wrong and he's claimed that election winners in Nevada since 2006 have been, quote, installed by the deep state cabal.

In Arizona, Mark Finchem is still in a tight race for secretary of state. He's called for the arrest of Democrats who were involved in overseeing the 2020 election. These are men, Erin, who could be running elections and certifying results in those crucial states.

BURNETT: All right. So amazing to think about this situation there. Obviously, those are the votes outstanding. Who are the -- when we try to look at whether this was a referendum on election denialism overall, obviously, there were many people who denied the 2020 election who were running across this country for various positions -- secretary of state, senator, congressperson, who were the prominent deniers who have already won or lost?

TODD: Well, Erin, one of the big winners among deniers, J.D. Vance. He's going to be the next Republican senator from Ohio. Vance has claimed that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and claimed people were voting illegally on a large-scale basis, both completely false claims.

Among the prominent losers among deniers, Don Bolduc, the Senate candidate from New Hampshire, and Doug Mastriano, the gubernatorial candidate from Pennsylvania. His campaign chartered buses to Donald Trump's rally in Washington on January 6th and Mastriano was photographed on the Capitol grounds that day but he was never charged with anything.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Brian.

So, now, let's bring in our panel today. Astead Herndon, national political reporter at "The New York Times" joins John Avlon, our senior political analyst. Ashley Allison, the former coalition director for the Biden/Harris 2020 presidential campaign, and Jonah Goldberg, editor in chief of "The Dispatch."

So, Ashley, many Republican election deniers did lose, OK? Not all. And not even some prominent ones we don't know. Many did, though. Few that have not been called obviously, you've heard Brian go through highly consequential ones including secretary of state in Arizona and Nevada.

Are you surprised those races are still so close? Frankly, those could be states where votes appear to be split between election deniers and maybe Democrats, which is a strange thing to imagine.

ASHLEY ALLISON, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE STAFF MEMBER: Yeah. I mean, I'm not surprised to get splitting happen in this election cycle. We've seen it in other states, but Nevada and Arizona always take a long time to count. It's unfortunate.

We see states like Pennsylvania who I expected to go a little longer in Pennsylvania.


But they got it done quickly. Florida got it done. My home state of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin.

You also look at who their secretary of states are. In Pennsylvania, you have Lee Chapman, who is a strong secretary of state. In Michigan, you have Jocelyn Benson, who's a strong secretary of state. In Ohio, you have La Roche, who I don't always agree on his approach how to vote but these are people running really strong elections.

But for some reason, Nevada and Arizona take a long time to vote but I appreciate they're taking the time and they are letting every vote count. We'll see what happens.

BURNETT: Yeah. So, John, one of the most vocal election deniers is in a race that is too close to call. You know, look, I don't know what she would do win or lose, one can imagine bizarre situations, right? You win by two votes, and you're okay, but if you lose by two voters, it's rigged. I don't know.

We're talking about Congresswoman Boebert. Here's what she said about the 2020 election.


REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): The members who stand here today and accept results of this concentrated, coordinated partisan effort by Democrats, where every fraudulent vote canceled out the vote of an honest America decided with extremist left.

Millions of ballots mailed out illegally right in front of all of our faces. That right there is what rigged this election.


BURNETT: Right now, Jonah, she's ahead by 794 votes, right? Our graphics put you are, our dynamic. That number changes constantly. Right now, she's up by 794 votes. She could win.

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She could win, and a couple things. First of all, I personally think she's a couple fries short of a happy meal, right? I mean, she's a kind of crazy person. She was in Congress for 2020.

And my point is that I -- I repudiate all election denying, I don't think anyone should be doing it. I think it's irresponsible, but the biggest election denier in the entire country in our lifetimes was Donald Trump. And he couldn't pull off stealing an election.

People make this leap that everyone who's an election denier will be 100 percent to cheating once they actually get the job. Seen a lot of people who, you know, Don Bolduc changed his mind a couple times because when he looked at facts, he kind of wanted to be seen mainstream and all that.


GOLDBERG: My only point is, look, I don't trust Kari Lake, I don't trust these secretaries of state. Shame on them for what they are doing, but it is not obvious. I think Biden's framing of democracy was on the ballot was ridiculous, and dangerous, and stupid. But it's just not obvious that just because you denied the election we are going to be capable of stealing one next time around.

The courts still exist. Journalists still exist, and I just think it's one of these things that it's not proven. It doesn't mean we have to celebrate or not worry about it, but you have to keep an eye on them. It just doesn't necessarily mean all of these people will try to steal an election.

And remember, the guy who tried to steal hardest failed because the institutions of democracy held.

BURNETT: Right, they did. ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's also a rosy view of

2020, I would say that, institutions of democracy held on by a questionable amount and I don't think, something like January 6, we cannot gloss over.

GOLDBERG: I'm not glossing over.

HERNDON: No, no, no as a real blow to the heart of transfer of power. That was a real violent action.

But I also think we should be clear that it wasn't just election denialism that hurt Republicans in these races. It was a whole view of extremism that voters took from that party. It was not only a denying last results. We're talking Mastriano and Boebert, two people who have embraced the term Christian nationalism, who have gone further in terms saying that the church should be directing politics of the state. I think all of those things added up to a view that hurt some of those people in this election.

I do think it's right that for voters, it is not a clear line to say that, oh, if you question results from 2020, you're inherently Donald Trump. There is conflation of that. When I talk to Republican voters, that's not a distinction -- that's not a line, that's not a truth they put together.

But I do think it adds up to a view Republican Party moved into an extremist lens that hurt them in places.

BURNETT: And yet in Arizona, again, doing the John King hypothetical, you could end up in a world where Mark Kelly is your senator and Kari Lake is your governor.


BURNETT: And whoa, that's amazing to imagine those two things, same place.

AVLON: And normally, I like ticket splitting because I think it shows a degree of independence of judgment. What -- Kari Lake it different.

BURNETT: That would perhaps show schizophrenia.

AVLON: It may very well. And I think the reason Kari Lake is a different position than say a Tudor Dixon in Michigan is because she had been a local news anchor 20 years.

BURNETT: Yeah, very well know.

AVLON: So, she's known across the state with high name ID in a different way than people who had no business running for Senate except for the fact they're willing to loudly parrot Donald Trump's election lies. And I still think the macro message of the election, and Tim Alberta in "The Atlantic" put this very well, is that voters prefer out of touch to out of their mind.

[16:25:03] BURNETT: Yeah. Right, right.

Well, and we should say, Jonah, you know, Tudor Dixon, you bring her up in the case of Michigan. You remember election denier conceded and we have seen concessions, right, on from -- in both sides and tight races we have seen concessions, right?

Stacey Abrams conceded, Lee Zeldin conceded, Tudor Dixon conceded, you know?

And I know there are some who say, well, we shouldn't celebrate what should be mundane, but I kind of think we should.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, no. I think this is all should be celebrated. And I think people forget the sort of antibody response. Even in the polls about, Joe Biden said that 77 percent of Americans think there's a threat to democracy. Half of those people thought the threat to democracy came from Democrats. I'm not saying they're right or wrong, I'm just saying that --


GOLDBERG: -- everybody out there, the very few people out there actually saying democracy is bad. They're just saying they think -- because of our age of polarization and conspiracy theory that the other side cheats.


ALLISON: But I don't -- I just -- do you think democracy is on the ballot as well as other things? I think it is fair to think that if someone is saying, if you saw Boebert on the floor of Congress saying all of this is a conspiracy, tat they would do things. Just because you weren't successful doesn't mean you wouldn't try to cheat?

GOLDBERG: I think she's terrible for the Republican brand. I mean, she literally said over the summer that Jesus should have asked God for an AR-15 to protect himself from the government, which is a lot of theological violence right there if you start to play that.

AVLON: Yeah.

BURNETT: All right. All stay with me, some chronological issues as well.

OK. All right. Coming up, with control of the Senate still up in the air, we're going to dive into the outstanding vote count in that Arizona race with our political director David Chalian.

Plus, the top official in Arizona's Maricopa County, right, Arizona with 600,000 votes outstanding, the official of the most populous county out with the most votes out will join us as well.


[16:31:18] BURNETT: All right. This is CNN special coverage of election night in the America continued.

And again, hundreds of thousands of votes are still uncounted in Arizona, with control of the Senate hanging in the balance. We are waiting to hear from officials in two Arizona counties that have the most outstanding votes. That is Maricopa, home to Phoenix, and Pima, home to Tucson. We're going to bring that to you live.

At this moment, the Democratic incumbent senator, Mark Kelly, is ahead of his Trump backed Republican opponent, Blake Masters. Just barely, as you can see by just under 100,000 votes. I say just barely because 600,000 votes are still outstanding.

So, let's talk about that. Our political director, David Chalian, joins me now.

So, David, I said about 600,000. Where are those votes? What are those votes? Are we sure that is the sum total of the outstanding vote?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I just want to make sure, Erin, that I am presenting to you the latest information that we have right now in Arizona about the outstanding vote.

I can't see the graphic representing on there but it's approximately 665,000 votes that we have deemed remain uncounted. And so, what we look at with that is, okay, then what would Blake Masters need of the uncounted vote, the remaining vote, what percentage of that what he needed to overtake Mark Kelly and win this race? What would Mark Kelly need?

So, Masters would need in a range of somewhere between 52 and 56 percent of that outstanding, roughly 665,000 votes that are to be counted in Arizona. Mark Kelly, who's obviously ahead, would need less in order to keep that and win. He needs about 42 to 46 percent of the remaining vote to secure victory in this race.

So, it's just a guide, as you see more Arizona vote come in later today, what are the percentages between the candidates? How is that vote splitting? And is Masters hitting that need number he would need to overtake here and win?

BURNETT: So, we know many Democrats were concerned that President Biden's low approval numbers could hurt them. So, in Arizona, as you're trying to, you know, figure out what people felt when they went into the polls, what do the exit polls in Arizona tell you?

CHALIAN: So, in Arizona, the president's approval rating as it is nationally is underwater according to the exit polls. Arizona voters in this election, 43 percent approve of Joe Biden's job performance, 57 percent disapprove. It's like a tick below where he is nationally, which would make sense in a more purple battleground state.

What about the opinions of Biden's policies and whether they're helping or hurting the country? Fifty-two percent of Arizona voters say, Biden's policies are hurting the country. A majority. A slim majority. Thirty-four percent, helping, 14 percent, not making a difference.

I will just say, you would think, well, that has to be good news for Blake Masters. Yet, he's running behind here. Yes, but Mark Kelly also carved out a separate identity from Joe Biden, so it may not have been as much of a weight.

And then we asked, of course, Erin about election confidence, your vote in Arizona. It's sort of the hotbed-elect of election denialism, as you know. Well, look at this, 43 percent of Arizona voters say they're very confident that the state's elections are fair and accurate. Thirty percent say, somewhat confident. So, nearly three quarters of Arizona voters in this election are somewhat or very confident that the elections are fair and accurate.

And yet, when we asked, did you think Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election? I mean, you see the divide in American politics here right now. Sixty-three percent of Arizona voters say, yes, Biden was legitimately elected. 35 percent, a third of the electorate in Arizona, does not believe, wrongly, that Joe Biden was legitimately elected.

So, what about the views of Donald Trump in Arizona? A battleground state, how does it compare to Biden's approval rating? Well, the views aren't great for Donald Trump either. He's at 42 percent favorable in Arizona, 57 percent unfavorable. Kind of in the ballpark of where Joe Biden's approval ratings are.

So, Donald Trump is also upside down in this critical battleground state, Erin.

BURNETT: It's amazing just to look at that and see, you know, when we matchup, when we finally know the outcome, how does it fit or not fit? With some of those exit polls. I'm sure some of these things will be confounding.

All right. David Chalian, thank you so very much.

So, let's go to Bill Gates now. He is the Republican chairman of the Maricopa County board of supervisors.

And, Chairman Gates, I appreciate talking to you again. We've spoken many times over these past couple years and here we are again with you in the midst of a big count and all eyes of the nation are on you.

I know you are going to release more votes tonight. So, from Maricopa County, how many ballot results do you expect to release this evening?

BILL GATES (R), CHAIR, MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Well, Erin, thanks for having me. And we are not sure on the exact number. We did 62,000 last evening. It will be more than that, but not significantly more.

BURNETT: Okay, more than 62 but not significantly more. And just trying to understand what that will be relative to your denominator of total outstanding. How many are still outstanding in Maricopa County, total, including that number you expected to release tonight? GATES: Yeah, currently outstanding. We have a little bit over 400,000


BURNETT: All right, so let me ask you just drill down on that a little bit more. Because I know you want to be as transparent as possible. Yesterday morning, there were about 300,000 votes left to count in your county. That's what you told us.

Then later that morning, that number went up, 400,000. As you said, you did released some results last night at about 62,000 votes. But then today, you told Sara Sidner, who as you know, of course, is out there with you, our reporter who's covering this. You said, there's still about 400,000 votes remaining.

Can you explain, so we can all understand better why the numbers appear to keep changing?

GATES: Yes, absolutely. No, it's a great question. So, when I gave that 300,000 number, that would've been yesterday morning, that was based on an estimate of the number of people who dropped off early ballots on Election Day. It was consistent with the high numbers that we had seen in the past.

Well, yesterday we determined how many ballots have been dropped off by people, early ballots have been dropped off on election day, and it was a number we had never seen before, 290,000 ballots were dropped off on Election Day. That's 70 percent more than the previous record.

So, that's why it was low on those numbers yesterday. That was an estimate. I told the folks that, but it surprised us and that is what gets us to that, like I said, 400, a little bit over 400,000.

We are very confident with that number down. And from this point, we are going to go down as we have the numbers release this evening. And then you will be seeing those over the next few days.

BURNETT: Right. Okay, so tonight will be the 400 minus, as you said, more than 62,000 votes, a little bit more than that. You will anticipate releasing tonight.

So, look, you are in the sense, to incredibly narrow races, right? Your Senate race with Mark Kelly is very close. But your governor's race is much, much closer. Only 17,000 votes right now, as you know, Bill, separate Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake. That is a 0.8 percentage point difference.

Kari Lake had some very strong criticism today about how long she says it is long that it's taking to count the vote, and in your county. Here she is.


KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: They are dragging their feet and they're slow rolling the results, and they're trying to delay the inevitable. This is just an embarrassment and the people of Arizona are sick and tired of elections being run like we are in some banana republic. I have very little faith in some of the people that are operating that Maricopa County elections. I think they are incompetent.


BURNETT: You are obviously the supervisor in charge of the Maricopa County elections. What do you say to Kari Lake who's out there saying this today, as you count?

GATES: Well, I can understand why Kari Lake might be surprised by how long this is taking, because she probably has not followed elections the way that I have over the last 20 years in this state. I was actually one of the lawyers in charge of Republican observation of elections for years.

I can remember 16 years ago, I sat outside of that same counting center. I was there in a close congressional race. I was there for days waiting for the final results. That's how it works here in Arizona.


When folks are dropping off 290,000 ballots on election day in a ballot envelope, those don't magically get counted. We have to verify those.

I'm sure Kari Lake cares about only eligible votes being counted just like I do. Just like all of us, Republicans in any good American, or any good Arizonian would.

So, here's the reality. Those ballots from Tuesday, 290,000, you need to bring them into our center. They have to be signature verified. Each and every one of those, making sure that the signature on the outside of that envelope is the same signature that is in our voter registration files.

That takes a while. We have experts who examined this.


GATES: So, there's a lot of work involved in this. We are going as fast as we can, but accuracy matters.

BURNETT: Yes, it does, to get every single one right.

All right. Bill Gates, thank you so very much. I appreciate you taking the time and you heard it from him, anticipating more than 63,000 votes coming out in these next hours. Thanks again.

And as we wait to hear more from Arizona, did Republicans lose votes this year by losing sight of moderates? I'm going to ask our senior data reporter, Harry Enten, when we come right back.


[16:45:28] BURNETT: We are back with election night in America continued. So much second-guessing going on for Republicans about why their performance in House and Senate races did not match their lofty expectations.

Now, some are blaming former President Trump. Republican Senator Josh Hawley today is blaming Republican leaders in Washington.

Well, our senior data reporter Harry Enten joins us now with other reasons.

So, Harry, what do you think happened and why don't we start here in the Senate?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REOPRTER: Bad candidates. It's bad candidates. It's extreme candidates.

You know, we asked an interesting question to our exit poll, which essentially said, okay, for the Democratic candidate in the Senate races, do you think that their views are too extreme? We also asked that for the Republican candidates as well.

And what we found in all but one state, all but one state, any of the competitive states, more people said that the Republican candidate was extreme then the Democratic candidate was extreme. And this, as we've been talking about, the entire time, right? President Biden has this low approval rating, but the GOP candidates in the minds of voters are not particularly strong.

And I think that's ultimately what happened in the senate. It was bad candidates and it cost Republicans.

BURNETT: Right in that space, in that void, have you put in good candidates, maybe things will be dramatically different than what we're talking about.

Okay, what else did you find as you've been scouring through the exit polls, the information that we do have that stood out to you?

ENTEN: So, our national house exit poll. Look among independents.

BURNETT: These are house races.

ENTEN: This is how serious. Look among independents, look where they voted for. They voted for Democrats by two percentage points.

You might say that's a small margin. But look historically at how independents voted weather for the president's party or the opposition party. In every single house election, midterm, since 2006, they overwhelmingly voted for the opposition party by double digits. All of a sudden this time around, despite the fact that independent voters did not like Joe Biden, they voted for the president's party.

In my opinion, what happened was, Republican candidates were so interested in appeasing their base, they completely forgot about the middle and the middle said, you know what? Forget it. We're going with the Democrats even if we don't --

BURNETT: It's incredible because when you look at those margins, if you're even in line with history, right? You would've been 20 points different anywhere right now. Anywhere between --

ENTEN: Fifteen.

BURNETT: Fifteen.

ENTEN: Yeah, 15.

BURNETT: Fifteen, but that would be, that would be a red tsunami. That would've been a red tsunami. But that is not what happened.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. If they just match recent history, if the Republicans would've easily taken back the House. Instead, this point it probably will. But the fact that it's still too close to call as we're sitting here on Thursday, I think, says it all. Democrats did much better than expected.

BURNETT: All right. Harry, thank you very much. Pretty incredible look at the history there.

Okay, coming, up more on the Republican league. This time, Republican finger pointing at former President Trump. So, does it stick this time? Does it stick or does it just blow over again?


BURNETT: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage, "Election Night in America Continued". President Biden today, speaking, renewing his promise to work across the aisle with Republicans, adding, though, that compromise in his view goes both ways.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm prepared to work with Republicans. But the American people made it clear. They expect Republicans to work with me as well.


BURNETT: John Avlon and Astead Herndon are back with me.

Astead, I just raised a point here, a congressman told me recently, a Democratic one. It would be better for Republicans to make up 20 or 25 seats because then moderates on the Republican Party would have some influence. But if you get out sort of win, the crazy extremists would control McCarthy. That is the scenario we are looking at her Republicans do, indeed, take the House.

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That is absolutely the scenario we're working at. It's kind of a weird irony of this election where the electorate does I think the President Biden's point, make a kind of clear statement about the way the Republican Party was moving. At the same time, because of that slim majority, it is up to Kevin McCarthy if he does take the speakership to kind of realm his caucus into match that. I don't think that's a given, though. We have seen Republicans in close elections over the last 4 to 5 years not use that as a chance to moderate.

So, yes, the parties kind of having this open question right now, you know, maybe Donald Trump tracked us down. But that could just be about election denialism, that could just be about Donald Trump as an individual. There is no guarantee that the kind of grievances he embodied goes away or the willingness to bipartisanship to shows up.

BURNETT: No, no. I mean, look, they already spoke about what their agenda would be. Now we will see. It was a lot of investigations impossible impeachments of the president and his party.

John, you have talked and spent so much time focusing on Independent voters, right?

So Harry just spoke about how independent voters really grow with every historical trend that exists, and voted for the party in power, as opposed to the opposition. What do you make of this?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This is what I've been obsessing over because it's absolutely fascinating. Harry laid out the historic numbers, but typically a midterm opposition election is a double digit swing to the opposition party in the midterms. That didn't happen.

And here, you see they actually voted for Democrats by two points, and I think that accounts for the evaporation of the red wave because they were not able to capitalize on independent voters. Democrats won moderate voters 56 percent. They were 40 percent of the electorate, according to our exit polls.


So, if you lose the middle, if independents turn against you because they don't trust you, because I think you're too extreme, that is a clear resounding warning. And just a contrast between the two parties right now.

And so, Republicans are going to have to recognize that this is not just about Trump and the election denialism, although that's the marquee point. If you let the inmates run the asylum, it's going to continue to compound this problem.

BURNETT: Amazing. Somehow though by stunting the red wave, you end up with extremists having more power. That is the ultimate bizarreness of American politics.

All right, thank you both so very much.

And in just over an hour, we are going to have news conferences from Arizona's two biggest counties about those vote totals, right? Where I told you about 600,000 votes are still outstanding.

Just ahead, what that could mean for those incredibly razor-thin races there and control of the House and Senate. Our special coverage, "Election Night in America" continues in a moment.