Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Election Night In America Continued; Awaiting New Results From Crucial Arizona And Nevada; Republican Blame Game Intensifies As Dems Spoil "Red Wave"; Sen. Pat Toomey, (R-PA), Is Interviewed About Midterm Election In Pennsylvania; Republican Blame Game Intensifies As Dems Spoil "Red Wave"; GOP Eyes House As McCarthy Tries To Lock Down Speakership Votes; Republican Flips Seat, Says GOP Needs To "Move Forward" From Trump; CNN Estimate: 120,000 Votes Still Need To Be Counted In Nevada. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 10, 2022 - 17:00   ET




ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: The final votes and the final states are being counted as we speak. Welcome back to CNN special coverage of Election Night in America Continued. I'm Erin Burnett and we are standing by for a new batch of votes to be posted from two states, Arizona and Nevada. These are the two states with Senate races still up for grabs that really will probably control -- determine who controls the Senate. Of course it could go all the way that runoff in Georgia.

But get ready because the most populous county in Arizona, Maricopa, is expected to release more results there. The top official there, Bill Gates, in Maricopa County just telling me that they're about to release results in a little bit more than 62,000 ballots that could provide more clarity in that Senate race between the Democratic Senator Mark Kelly who currently holds the lead over the Republican nominee Blake Masters in the counting. Masters just a short time ago in a fundraising e-mail writing that he is quote expecting a contested road forward and legal battles to come.

And in Arizona overall, there are 665,000 votes still outstanding. So, a lot more to be counted, about 400,000 of those are in Maricopa County, 148,000 are in Pima County, that is where Tucson is. aAnd officials for both counties are going to be holding news conferences over the next hour.

Now, let me bring you to Nevada. This is the other one we're watching here. Adam Laxalt currently ahead. But as you can see on the 84 percent of the vote is in right now. The Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto is lagging, but 120,000 votes still have to be counted. So we just don't know. We are expecting more of those votes to come in tonight.

And as you can see, both parties still within reach of controlling the Senate. Democrats win Arizona and Nevada they'll have 50 seats without Georgia, which of course is heading to that runoff now on December 6.

Right now, Kyung Lah is in Arizona, Gary Tuchman is in Nevada, Jeremy Diamond is at the White House. I want to begin with you in Arizona, Kyung. And obviously we've got anticipating an update here. You've got some more information on some of these votes outstanding right now.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, you just got exactly how much they anticipate that they will be releasing tonight. We're getting a little more clarity on exactly what kind of votes are being counted and will be released as far as the overall tally. We are being told by Maricopa County the elections department that the types of ballots that are going to be included in tonight's release are ballots counted from Saturday night, Sunday and most of Monday. So, these are ballots, early ballots before actual Election Day.

And we also got an update from the tabulation process. So what is happening as of just about 30 minutes ago that 17,000 so called box three ballots, they're actually being processed behind me. That process has just begun. Those box three ballots will not be included in tonight's tally. They are anticipate -- the elections department anticipates that that will be a part of tomorrow's tally.

So, it is still happening. It is slow, but the county says the reason why is they want to make sure this entire process is accurate. And we keep getting these updates almost hourly from the county. And we anticipate a little bit more information when Bill Gates does hold his news briefing with reporters here at the elections department.

I'm also getting a flurry of responses from the various campaigns. The -- on the Republican side, the Kari Lake campaign says for them, the conditions have been changed. They -- their position and posture has not changed until they start counting those Tuesday ballots, which again, will not be a part of tonight's release. At least that's the anticipation.

The Mark Kelly campaign, we did get a statement from the campaign manager who says, quote, "we remain confident that we will win this race."

And as far as Katie Hobbs, their campaign, even though it is so close with the Kari Lake campaign says that they are still feeling very good. Erin.

BURNETT: This incredible to watch, a race like this that is going on with -- as we know, 665,000 votes outstanding. It's absolutely amazing. Kyung Lah, thank you very much from Maricopa County.

Let's go now to the White House where President Biden is obviously incredibly closely watching the results from both Arizona and Nevada. Jeremy Diamond is there.

And Jeremy, I understand the President spoke this afternoon to staffers at the DNC. What was that about?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Erin. If you just listen to the top of the President's remarks today you would be forgiven for thinking that Democrats swept the floor in these midterm elections. There was a celebratory atmosphere, you heard the President expressed that sense of vindication once again about defying the historical odds in these midterms, arguing that Americans support his agenda. The reality, of course, is that Democrats are likely to lose the House. And that is a reality --



DIAMOND: -- Erin, that Democrats here at the White House are very clear eyed about, very much gearing up for. And that's why in the second half of the President's speech, you heard him talk about how he would deal with Republicans. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Regardless of what the final tally showed, I'm prepared to work with Republicans. But the American people have made it clear, they expect Republicans to work with me as well.

But I've also made it really clear that if Republicans tried to repeal the power we just gave Medicare to reduce prescription drug cost, I will veto it and let it happen. If Republicans tried to walk away from the historic commitment we just made to deal with a climate crisis, I will not let that happen. If Republicans tried to cut Social Security, Medicare, I will not let that happen.


DIAMOND: And now, Erin, when I asked the White House press secretary earlier today where exactly the President would be willing to compromise, she couldn't point to any specific areas. But the President was very specific and trying to draw those red lines talking about the issues that he would veto. And so the big takeaway from the speech today is that this is a president gearing up for the very high possibility of a Republican House --


DIAMOND: -- who's trying to project strength, who's trying to show the leverage that he has as he prepares for the possibility of divided government and the many negotiations to follow. Erin.

BURNETT: Jeremy, thank you. So now to John King, he is at the wall.

John, so here, we are waiting for some updates. And we do expect that we're going to be getting live updates from both Nevada and Arizona as well as, you know, a significant chunk of votes from Arizona tonight. But when it comes to the House, neither party has reached 218 seats. And that's what it takes for control. Now, the way everybody's talking about this, obviously, we understand Republicans are much closer to that mark than Democrats right now as you see it, right?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, but, and let me add the but, and let's walk through it, it is mathematically possible, I wouldn't say probable, but it's mathematically possible Democrats hold the majority. And the fact that we are having that conversation on Thursday after Tuesday, Election Day, this is not the conversation and this is not the map that Kevin McCarthy and Republicans expected out of this election. So right now, Republicans are leading in 222 races, Democrats are leading in 213. If we were done right now, Republicans would have a gain of 10 seats, and they would have a very narrow House Republican majority, if it ended right now. But we're not right now, and this is leading.

Look at the races we have called, Republicans have 209 to 192 for the Democrats. So Republicans, you need 218 for the majority. So they're just eight seats away from winning a House majority. But that would be a very narrow House majority even if they got to the 222. But they could get higher than that or it could be lower than that.

Let's so -- if you look at the map, I just want to walk through a little bit, 290 -- 209 right now, 292 called races right?


KING: So then you come over to the uncalled races here, and Democrats are leading in 21 and Republicans are leading in 13. And Erin, they run coast to coast, Jared Golden's district in northern Maine, this district has ranked choice voting, it's going to take a while to figure it out. He's just shy of 50 percent right now as they keep counting the vote. If he can, and over 50 percent, rank choice voting doesn't kick in. But this one could be a long time before we get that.

And you can go from northern Maine, all the way to Southern California to Alaska. So we have more races to count. The final tally is going to take days, it could even take a couple of weeks. Will we know a House majority in the next day or two? It's possible.

It's possible if the Republicans win those nine plus seats, they need to get it. If the Democrats are going to defy history, that'll be the mail balloting in California, that'll take a while.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, you know, look, voting in America has changed. And that's not a sign of bad things, it's a sign of reality. It's changed, more early voting, absentee voting, all of it. And that has changed when we find things out.

So when you take a total here of leading for Democrats, leading for Republicans, 34 uncalled. What are some of the races that are extremely close that you're focused on?

KING: Let's look at some of them. Look, they run coast to coast, but people at home will know some of these names here. Again, here's the current state of play, Republicans leading in 222. That would be enough if it finishes, but we're not there.

So you mentioned uncalled races, so let's come here and look at them. And again, you see right there, Democrats are leading and 21 of these races, Republicans leading in 13. One of the more prominent Republicans who is leading but just barely in her race is Lauren Boebert, a Trump acolyte, very feisty member, you might say controversial member of the House Republican Conference, she's only ahead by 794 votes. Former Aspen Council Member Adam Frisch, this race has been a seesaw in the last 24 hours or so. But Congressman Boebert, leading at the moment about 96 percent of the estimated vote in.

I was going through the map a little bit earlier through the counties, there's some blue counties on this map where there's still some votes out but there are some red is too. So this is going to be count the votes and get to the end. And is likely to end here, Erin, within the recount race.


Now I just want to move out to California for a second. You talked about these uncalled races, I just want to bring up this district here in central California. David Valadao is one of two remaining House Republicans who are part of the impeachment 10. The other is Dan Newhouse, who won reelection up in Washington State.

David Valadao right now is ahead by 3300 votes and change. But look at that, only 30 percent of the vote counted. California has a history, it's a lot of mail-in ballots. A lot of mail in ballots, they can take days and days to count. So he's leading at the moment, a ways to go.

Just one more that we're keeping an eye on, people may know this name at home. Let me pop this up here. In Southern California, the Democratic Progressive Katie Porter, she's very active in committee hearings, asking tough questions about the banking industry, challenging Republicans on many questions. She's leading right now, 50.5 to 49.5. Close, a very close lead there with about 60 percent of the vote in there. Again, the mail-in ballots coming in.

So there are prominent members of both parties, coast to coast --


KING: -- where we're still counting votes. And the balance of power hangs in the balance. And the fact again, the probability is Republicans will get a small majority. The fact that it's a mathematical possibility the Democrats holds on to theirs is striking giving the headwinds in this election.

BURNETT: No, absolutely so. All right, thank you very much to John King.

So, we're going to go to North Las Vegas in just a moment, because we talked about all the different ways people vote. In Nevada, we have a lot more ballots arriving by mail. They're allowed to do so if they come by Saturday. Our Gary Tuchman is there on the ground to talk about the closest races including the one in Nevada that could tip the scale of power in the Senate.


[17:15:27] BURNETT: Welcome back to CNN special coverage of Election Night in America Continued. Democrats and Republicans are on edge over who will control the House and the Senate. Incredibly, we don't know for sure for either.

And today, top official for Nevada's largest county pushback on unfounded charges by president -- the former President Trump, former president calling Clark County's voting system, a home of Las Vegas, corrupt. The county's registrar says he is misinformed. Our Gary Tuchman joins me now from North Las Vegas.

And Gary, I understand you're expecting another vote batch at some point this evening. Do you know -- any sense of what that might be? I understand the total outstanding is, what, about 125,000?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's unclear, Erin, how high that number will get it's about 120,000, that's the estimate. But what's unique about Nevada is you could send in your mail ballots as long as it's sent by Election Day, it can arrive by Saturday. So, there's an unknown number of ballots in the postal system --


TUCHMAN: -- right now. But we're expecting an election result update later this evening. There are literally 10s of 1000s of ballots have been counted right now in all 17 counties in the state, including inside this building at the Clark County Election headquarters. This is by far the most populous county in the state of Nevada, 75 percent of the population lives here.

Here's what we know right now, there are still 50,000 ballots to be counted. Those ballots either have been mailed in or were putting drop boxes on Election Day. And then there's an additional 13,000 ballots that are either provisional or need to be cured. A lot of people sometimes don't sign their ballots, all they have to do is sign it and then it can be counted. So there's a possibility of up to 62,000 ballots still to be counted in this one county in addition to the ballots that gets sent in on Friday and Saturday.

Now, as you were just mentioning, the former president of United States, Donald Trump, and his Truth social app said, quote, "Clark County has a corrupt voting system." There's absolutely no evidence of that whatsoever. And the people who run the election department here were very upset about what he said, listen.


JOE GLORIA, CLARK COUNTY REGISTRAR: Obviously he's misinformed two years later about the law and our election processes, which ensure the integrity of elections in Clark County and the state. We couldn't go any faster now even if we wanted to.


TUCHMAN: Tomorrow is a federal holiday, Veterans Day, but the people inside here, the Clark County Elections Department will be working like any normal day. Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Trying to do everything they can to get those votes counted.

I want to go to Elizabeth Thompson, because she is the editor for the Nevada Independent. She has been looking at the numbers of these races from every angle.

And I know, Elizabeth, you and your team know so much about this. So, how are you able to help us out here just on the basic, right? Gary talking about right as long as you mailed it by Tuesday and it arrives by Saturday, it can count. When you look at the past, you look at history, well, we know there's 120,000 ballots still outstanding in Nevada, do you think that number changes markedly over the next few days or not?

ELIZABETH THOMPSON, NEVADA INDEPENDENT EDITOR: It very well may. That's the most interesting thing. It's the big question in Nevada is we know how many mail ballots are in hand that have not yet been counted. It's -- we think it's around 110,000, maybe as high as 125,000 as your reporter said there from another location in Las Vegas. We just do not know how much mail is still out there.

In addition to that, a complicating factor is, we have a high percentage of nonpartisan voters. And also it's clear from the numbers so far that we are seeing a lot of ticket splitting, voters going for a Republican in one race and a Democrat and another. All of these unknowns make it virtually impossible to predict where we are going to be by this weekend.

BURNETT: It's just really incredible, right? You don't know the -- you know, don't actually know the denominator. There's tickets splitting. I mean, it's unbelievable when you think about it in this context.

So, let's put the Senate race and superimpose it on this conversation. Adam Laxalt lead Senator Catherine Cortez Masto right now by 15,867 votes. Now, we'll get a little bit -- hopefully another data dump tonight, but the spread right now is less than two percentage points. We're estimating 120,000 ballots outstanding. You're saying it could be anywhere from 110 to 125.

But when you look at what's been coming in, and you will get the math of what it would take for Catherine Cortez Masto to win or Adam Laxalt to make it impossible for her to win, which way do you think this race is heading?

THOMPSON: Yes, that's such -- that is the question of the hour, right, because so much hangs in the balance.


Look, the returns that we got this morning show that Catherine Cortez Masto, the incumbent, was winning two to one in that particular data dump. If that holds for the future, right, the data dump we get later tonight, the one we hope to get tomorrow, maybe two, if she can hold from this point forward at that two to one or 65 percent ratio, she will pull ahead and she will win.

But going back to what you and I were just talking about previously, we don't know how many mail ballots have not been received yet. We know where we're at percentage wise in the rural counties which run red versus the urban counties, which of course run blue, but there's still a shadow of doubt here in Nevada, which is why the Nevada Independent has not yet called this race. And I think it may be at least another day before we have the competency to do so.

BURNETT: Which is -- it's amazing and important, obviously, that you wait until you know that you're sure but amazing that we are in this moment. Thank you so much, Elizabeth.

THOMPSON: You're welcome.

BURNETT: And coming up, the outgoing Republican senator from Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey, will join me. Democrats flipped his seat. The incoming John Fetterman will replace him. We'll discuss whether Trump was to blame.



BURNETT: Welcome back to CNN special coverage Election Night in America Continued. Control of the House and Senate still hanging in the balance at this hour. Many in the GOP, of course, thought this election would be a big red wave, many in the Democratic Party did as well, but that is not what has materialized. And now some in the GOP are pointing the finger squarely at former President Trump who endorsed so many of the candidates on the ballot. Some of his highest profile candidates including Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania loss.

Joining me now, retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who just saw Democrats flip his seat. That was the seat at stake that John Fetterman will now occupy.

Senator Toomey, thank you so much for being with me. So, you know, as you watch this from a perspective that -- perspective of one, only you really could see this the way you did, right, it was your former seat. You know your state so well, why do you think Oz lost?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): Well, it's actually still my seat for another couple of months, but --

BURNETT: No, yes.

TOOMEY: -- I get the point.

Look, first of all, let me be very clear, I think Dr. Oz ran a very good campaign. I actually think he was a very good candidate in a lot of ways. So, the question that I think arises is why did a good candidate running a good race in what should be a very good environment not prevail in a state like Pennsylvania, which is very, very competitive, always close or almost always close? And I think a big part of the reason was that at the top of the ticket in the gubernatorial race we had an ultra MAGA candidate who never appeared to even attempt to expand beyond a hardcore base that was very, very committed to him, but he ended up losing in an epic beat down.

BURNETT: Yes, epic.

TOOMEY: And it's very, very hard for candidates who are down ballot. And Dr. Oz, you know -- so, our governor -- our gubernatorial Republican lost by like 14 points, Dr. Oz kept his race to within three. It's really hard when that's what's happening.

By the way, we had three House seats that I thought we had a very good chance of picking up in Pennsylvania, we lost all three of those. And again, I think it was a combination of a real problem at the top of the ticket, but also President Trump inserting himself into the race. He came to Pennsylvania, you know, late, I think it was the Saturday before the election.

BURNETT: He rallied with Oz multiple times.

TOOMEY: It was never going to be helpful.


TOOMEY: He -- well, he was -- yes, I mean, Mastriano was his big interest. But still, the point is, we were in a moment, we were in a cycle, we were at a time when it's good for Republicans for the race to be about President Biden who is not popular, whose policies have failed, and instead, President Trump had to insert himself and that change the nature of the race, and that created just too much of an obstacle.

And by the way, it's not just Pennsylvania. Look, all over the country --


TOOMEY: -- there's a very high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses --


TOOMEY: -- or at least dramatically underperforming.

BURNETT: I mean, it is amazing, though, Senator, you look at this --

TOOMEY: That's the truth.

BURNETT: -- you're going to three House races, a gubernatorial race and a Senate seat, five crucial races that can be put on the doorstep from your analysis of former President Trump. I mean, that's pretty terrible record, just in your seat.

TOOMEY: Well, you need to add to that control of the General Assembly in our state capitol of Harrisburg. We're probably going to lose control of the State House, which Republicans have had for some time. So, yes, so this is a huge problem. And I think my party needs to face the fact that if fealty to Donald Trump is the primary criteria for selecting candidates, we're probably not going to do really well.

BURNETT: So, is this going to break the Trump fever? I mean, I say it and I, you know, I guess incredulously a bit, but I mean, you know, we keep hearing, oh, this will be it, this will be it. Here we are losses after losses after losses handed to your party. Will that be enough?


TOOMEY: So here's my theory on the case is that there is not going to be one discrete moment at which the fever breaks and Donald Trump becomes irrelevant. That's not likely to happen. What I think is his influence wanes. And a debacle like we had across the country Tuesday night from a Republican point of view, accelerates the pace at which that influence wanes.

You know, there are some interesting data points already. A year or two ago, if you asked Republican voters do they consider themselves more traditional Republicans or Donald Trump Republicans, he had a huge lead that has flipped. And that's telling I think, and I think that's going to continue.

BURNETT: Well, Senator, I really appreciate your time and you're taking, you know, the time to share your thoughts and the nuance with us. I appreciate it.

TOOMEY: Thanks for having me.

BURNETT: All right, Senator Toomey, as he said, is still senator here, of course until the new year.

Everyone is back with me now. So, interesting.


BURNETT: You know, and not afraid -- look, he's not -- he's always been a moderate. He's not afraid to make his point here. But he's talking about if this doesn't break the fealty, what will?

I think he's being too cautious about that. Look, I mean, Pat Toomey is -- I wouldn't call moderate Rent Club for Growth. But he is in the era of Trump. He has stood up to Trump in a principled, moderate way and worked with Joe Manchin on issues. You know, been a responsible conservative senator from the Keystone State.


AVLON: Look, I think he called out Trumpism for what it is, it's the toxic mold of American politics when it comes to moderates. And we saw that again last night. But -- well, Toomey deserves a great deal of credit for calling out Trump consistently and saying, this guy is a loser for our party, he is a drag on the ticket.

There's the -- the underlying assumption that, you know, this fever is going to break slowly, that everything's basically fine, that Trump's an aberration. There's not a lot of evidence for that right now. I think instead, there is a moment where Trump is wounded because people recognize how dangerous he is, or divisive he is and how bad he is for close elections, even in the midterm.

But now Republicans have to step up and start filling that void, including and especially folks who want to run for president because otherwise it will revert to the mean. We've seen this movie before.


AVLON: Two weeks after January 6, Kevin McCarthy went (INAUDIBLE).

BURNETT: Right. From grab them --


BURNETT: -- the grab them tape all the way on. I mean, Jonah, it's amazing, though, you know, and Toomey, I like how he, you know, elaborated on what I was saying, right? He's three House seats, governor's seat, Senator's seat, and he was clear to point out the State House in Harrisburg.


BURNETT: I mean, that's just like being punched 50 times.


BURNETT: He lost everything.

GOLDBERG: No. So the argument you always hear from the MAGA people is it reminds me of like the salesman who says, sure, we lose money on every sale, but we'll make it up in volume, right? They just -- they seem to think that the MAGA candidates because their support for him is so intense, it will outweigh the numerical superiority of the people who don't like it. And we saw this in this election.

Look, I mean, Joe Biden has every right to celebrate, you know, what happened on election night. But his approval rating, you know, was not good. This was an anti-Trump party coalition more than it was a pro- Biden coalition, at least at the margins. And there were other things going on as well.

And so I don't know if it's likely that this smells the end of Trump, but I do know that it's never -- it hasn't been this possible for a very long time. And it's going to require institutional actors to step up and figure out how to do this. A lot of it depends on how DeSantis handles things. A lot of it depends if Trump announces on the 15th, and it looks like it's going to hurt the Georgia runoff. Is this going to hurt Herschel Walker? That could be the kind of thing that roads even more support for this entire approach to power.

BURNETT: And Astead, I mean, it looks like that is going ahead --


BURNETT: -- this 15th announcement.

HERNDON: Yes, it does look like it's going ahead. And I do think it will be interesting to see what the response is to that. We know that before Election Day happened, Donald Trump was basically looking at all of the Republican kind of -- the Republican leaders to see if they were going to pre-endorse him for 2024. They thought that this was going to be a core nation after a Republican wave driven by Donald Trump, that will lead him directly to the nomination.

I think we are already seeing that that's not going to happen. Even if he does announce on the 15th. There is a lot of other Republican candidates that see this as their window. The problem is if the base, if the voter is with them, because Donald Trump did not make these people -- make his voters believe, and he wasn't dictating beliefs. They actually reflected a lot of those beliefs. I think it's either election denialism. So will you --

BURNETT: There is a truth -- yes, you can't sell somebody, something they don't want to (INAUDIBLE).

HERNDON: Absolutely. So will those new candidates that come up out of this, will they reflect those same grievances that Donald Trump has? Or will they try to pivot in a different more moderate type of way? Well that still open the question.

BURNETT: And he'll be making that announcement in Mar-a-Lago in Florida --


BURNETT: -- the lone site of the great Republican victory such that there was one in this cycle which was Ron DeSantis' reelection.


ALLISON: Yes, I'm not one for giving Republicans political advice, but I will say, I think that if Donald Trump announces to John's point and there are other candidates that step up, the more that step up, the better Donald Trump's chances are because you save 30 percent of the Republican Party. I still think our MAGA Republicans, extreme MAGA Republicans, I mean, they still did vote for some of these candidates, and some of them still did win and could still win.


ALLISON: So you have that part of the base. And then if you get a Kemp, a Youngkin, an Abbott, DeSantis, 70 percent of your party might split four ways and then just Trump prevail.

BURNETT: You just set up a debate stage right there.

All right, all of course going to be staying with us as we continue our coverage. We're waiting to learn which party does get control of the House and for updates out of Nevada and Arizona. The GOP race for speaker is already underway. The backroom dealing is underway. Inside reporting from Capitol Hill next.



BURNETT: Tonight, new reporting from our Manu Raju about the power struggle beginning to brew on Capitol Hill around the speakership. OK, so right now, yes, it is true. Control of the House is still up in the air, but the GOP is preparing to win it. That's what they think is going to happen and they're jockeying for the top spot. So if the GOP wins, it would be by an extremely slim majority, though, that will not make it easy for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his drive to become Speaker of the House.

Mana Raju is at the Capitol tonight. So Manu, these are the machinations that when we see the outcome, right, this is the function machine where when we come out of it with a speaker, if it is a Republican House will be crucial to all Americans to how legislation goes in this country. What are you learning about what's happening behind closed doors tonight?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a hard right faction of the House Republican conference has been meeting all day behind closed doors, and part of their discussion has been exactly how to deal with the speaker vote that is coming up. Next week, there'll be a first vote that was when they will nominate their candidate for speaker.

And that vote just -- Kevin McCarthy just needs a majority of House Republicans to support the nomination. But the key vote is in January, and that's where McCarthy would need 218 votes on the House floor in order to become speaker. And that is why the margin is so significant with a narrow House majority, just a handful of defections could be enough to scuttle or complicate McCarthy's bid to become speaker.

And in speaking to a number of these conservatives, they are holding out their support for Kevin McCarthy because they want him to commit to a number of rules changes, some of which would give them power to essentially almost a sitting speaker if they don't agree what he is doing on the floor. Now, Scott Perry, who is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, indicated to reporters just moments ago that he is not committing yet and supporting McCarthy speaker bid.


REP. SCOTT PERRY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: We're supporting any leadership team or any members that wish to be a part of leadership that are interested in members -- more fairness for members and a more member driven conference as opposed to a leadership driven top-down strategy. That's where we're supporting -- that's what we're looking for.

So, we're not excluding anybody. We're saying anybody that's interested in doing that, we're interested to have a conversation with everybody.


RAJU: Now, other Republicans were more explicit, including Bob good of Virginia, who said, quote, there will be a challenge to McCarthy for speakers. Some others also indicated that McCarthy simply does not have the 218 votes. That's what Chip Roy, a congressman from Texas, saying no one currently has 218 votes to currently become speaker, meaning that McCarthy's work is cut out for him.

He's been behind closed doors, talking to members, reaching out to them. Fanning -- sending his allies all across the conference to try to lock down support. His team is still confident that he will get there but he has some work ahead of him. Erin?

BURNETT: All right, Manu, thank you very much.

And I want to go now to the Republican who took one Democrat out of the leadership picture entirely, defeating him at the polls. The winner of New York's 17th Congressional District, Michael Lawler, narrowly unseating Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. It was significant. Maloney, obviously, has been in Congress for a long time. And he was also the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee responsible for getting Democrats elected.

So the Congressman-elect Lawler joins me now. And I appreciate your time. So you just heard Manu Raju reporting about the speakership that may be up for grabs in the House if Republicans do indeed have this win. Do you plan to support Kevin McCarthy as speaker?

MICHAEL LAWLER (R), NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN-ELECT: Yes, I will be supporting Kevin McCarthy. I think, in my race in particular, I can tell you, he was extremely supportive. He came and campaigned with me and for me. And, you know, I'm a big believer you stick with who brought you to the dance, and I will be supporting him.

BURNETT: Well, you know, it's good to hear a clear answer, and I'm sure he's glad to hear that there is still some loyalty in this world. I want to ask you about your win because it was significant, Congressman-elect. You have defeated Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who actually was in charge of getting Congressional Democrats elected.

Republicans did flip a number of Democratic House seats in New York, right? So the governorship stayed democratic, but some of these House flips to Republicans in New York state, you know, many are saying could be responsible for the GOP taking control of the House if that indeed happens. Why did the Democratic Party miscalculate in New York?


LAWLER: Well, the Democrats have nobody to blame but themselves. And especially Sean Maloney. Back in January of this year, he sent a memo to state Democrats demanding that they gerrymander New York's congressional maps and knock Republicans down to three members. They did that and, ultimately, a Democrat appointed Court of Appeals throughout the maps ruling them unconstitutional and gerrymandered, and appointed a special master to draw a fair set of maps.

And that's exactly what we got, and why on Tuesday, New York voters elected four new Republican members and driving our total to 11, which is the highest in years. And so there'll be 11 Republicans going down to Washington in January. And ultimately, that will be the decisive factor and Republicans taking back control of the House. BURNETT: It's just, you know, I think, important to say right, when you talk about New York, seen as a deep blue state, and Kathy Hochul did retain that -- the governorship, obviously, by a small margin, but still she won. We've talked a lot about Trump, whether he's going to run in 2024. And his role in what we're -- and has been so many defeats for your party on this election cycle, would you support his candidacy if he indeed announces he's going to run?

LAWLER: Look, the former president will make his decision whether or not he will run and ultimately the voters, both within a Republican primary, and obviously a potential general election will decide. I think the issue here for me is obviously the challenges that we're facing as a country. And they are great.

I mean, right now, one party rule has created a mess. And my objective is to go to Washington to deal with those challenges, whether you're talking about inflation, whether you're talking about crime, whether you're talking about our porous southern border, or our energy crisis, and the challenges, obviously, across the globe, in Ukraine and beyond. So --


LAWLER: -- that's my focus. And I think the politics of 2024 will certainly play itself out in the coming days and months ahead.

BURNETT: They certainly will and it's going to be a choice you're going to have to make, you're going to have to publicly make it. I mean, I guess the bottom line is, do you -- if Trump announces, do you want it just to be his, do you want to just to be the coronation? He's the guy or would you prefer somebody else?

LAWLER: Look, as I've said, earlier today, I mean, I think obviously, there are a lot of rising stars within the party. Ron DeSantis had a great night the other night. I think as we move forward, I'd like to see, you know, new voices in the process. But again, ultimately, the voters in the Republican primary and/or obviously, the general election are going to be the ultimate and final say in this process.

BURNETT: All right, Congressman-elect Lawler, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

LAWLER: Thank you.

BURNETT: Still ahead, more than 100,000 votes still waiting to be counted in Nevada's tight Senate race. We believe 120,000 or so but we don't yet know because some are still in the mail. We're going to break down what we do know about how different groups are voting next.



BURNETT: All right, our special coverage of Election Night in America continues. As we mentioned earlier, CNN estimates about 120,000 votes remain to be counted in Nevada. 84 percent of votes are already in and it is a race that is too tight to call. In the Senate, Republican Adam Laxalt has about 15,000 votes as a lead over Catherine Cortez Masto, the incumbent.

Back with me now, CNN Political Director David Chalian. So David, as we wait, and we're going to be waiting for a while possibly in Nevada, what can you glean from the exit polls?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, before I get to the exit polls, I just want to give you, Erin, a little bit of information about what you were just saying about the outstanding vote. So you noted, we have about 120,000 votes outstanding in Nevada. And then our decision desk does a calculation here that is an estimate. So what would Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democratic incumbent, need of the remaining 120,000 or so votes outstanding in order to overtake Laxalt and win.

Right now our calculation is that Cortez Masto would need 53 to 56 percent of that outstanding vote in order to secure victory. Now, obviously, Laxalt is ahead in this race. So he would need a lower percentage. He only needs about 41 to 44 percent of the remaining votes. So when we get the update from Nevada, look to see how the votes split and if the candidates are within range of what they need to win.

BURNETT: Yes. And, you know, it's actually -- it's interesting, right when you see how they're coming in to, you know, when it -- when you become mathematically sure of which way it will go. So what do the exit polls tell you about the demographic breakdown, you know, who's voting and where they're voting from in the Nevada Senate race?

CHALIAN: Yes, Erin. And I think this explains why it's such a close race. Take a look. We took -- look at young voters, 18 to 29-year-old, how are they -- they make up about 12 percent of the overall electorate, a little smaller of a share than two years ago, but split Cortes Masto 64 percent, Laxalt 31 percent. That's about what we saw Biden Trump when Biden won this state.


But senior votes, take a look, 65 and older, they make up a much larger share of the electorate, 32 percent of the electorate, and you see Laxalt is winning them 56 percent to 42 percent. Obviously, Latino voters are key in the state of Nevada. They make up about 12 percent of the electorate, again, a smaller share than the 17 percent they made up two years ago.

Cortez Masto winning them though 62 percent to 33 percent right on target of what Biden was doing with the Latino vote when he won the state. White voters with a college degree 26 percent of the electorate. And look at this even split, I mean, this is 51 percent Laxalt, Cortez Masto 48 percent. That is a really slight edge but one that may be helping Laxalt in his current position.

White voters with no college degrees sort of the Trump base of an electorate, you see Laxalt winning them going away, 62 percent to 35 percent, they make up 41 percent of the electorate, Erin. BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, David Chalian.

And in just minutes, we are expecting to hear an update from the Arizona race. Election officials in Maricopa County going to be speaking live. Hundreds of thousands of votes, there are still uncounted. And the outcome in Arizona as well as Nevada, obviously, could determine the fate of the U.S. Senate.

Special coverage continues after this.