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Kari Lake Upset Of Initial Results; Not Really A Bad Day For Democrats; All Eyes Now To Georgia Senate Race; Florida Remains Loyal To Governor DeSantis; Republicans Can See Their Majority Hold Of The House. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired November 10, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Look at this. Democrats hold 48 Senate seats. Republicans have 49. That 49, that's two seats short of 51 that they need to win back control of the Senate. The fight for control of the House of Representatives is also undecided right now. Democrats so far have won 195 seats.
Republicans just won some more seats. They now have 211 seats. This is just seven seats short of the 218 needed to win a majority in the House. Twenty-nine House seats are still undecided as of this minute Republicans moving closer to their goal of trying to take back the majority in the House.
Let's go to Arizona first right now. CNN's Kyung Lah is on the scene for us. Those new vote totals, I take it, Kyung, are coming out any moment now. Is that right?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Any moment now I keep looking at my laptop and refreshing. What our anticipation is, is that sometime this hour, we haven't been given an exact time, but they, we are hearing that this county will be releasing another trench of votes. So, this is going to give us a better picture of those early votes before election day.
These are from Saturday night, Sunday and Monday. So, before election day early votes out there. We're expecting a drop of about 60,000 plus. We have not been given an exact number, but we're going to see it on the county web site. And so far, these numbers, actually, they have just come in. They have just come in.
John, if you are there, we are looking at new numbers for Mark Kelly here in Maricopa County. The current vote total out of Maricopa County is 60 -- 642,691. For Blake Masters, it is 539,795. And in the race for Arizona governor, which has been very, very tight as well, Democrat Katie Hobbs at 627,778. Kari Lake 573,284.
I'm not going to do the math here, but these races percentage wise are looking fairly stable, pretty much where they were before this drop. So, at least at the county level, it appears to be pretty stable. The thing that these campaigns are trying to tell us is that they anticipate that as these same day election votes come in, those votes that came in on Tuesday, there could be some more shifting. We don't know which way they're going to go, but the campaigns are certainly hoping, at least the Republican campaigns, they anticipate that it could be favorable to them. But again, we just don't know, Wolf.
The percentages on those. Mark Kelly is at 53 percent. Blake Masters at 45 percent. So that is where it was before.
BLITZER: All right. Kyung Lah, good work. Thank you very, very much. John, you're looking at all these numbers?
LAH: And then, yes, as far as Governor Katie Hobbs.
BLITZER: All right. Hold on. Go ahead. Go ahead.
LAH: Yes, Katie Hobbs at 52 percent. Kari -- OK. So, Katie Hobbs at 52 percent. Kari Lake at 48 percent percentage wise, neither has changed with this latest vote total that has come out from Maricopa County. So again, the percentages have stayed the same. The numbers have risen, they've gone up. But again, the percentages have not changed.
BLITZER: Interesting. Important numbers indeed, Kyung. Thank you very, very much. Let's talk about these numbers. They're looking very good for Mark Kelly, the incumbent Democratic senator.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. That's why it's great to have reporters on the ground when these things come out. As you see, we have the numbers before they may update while we're talking, right? They update into our system. As soon as they're punched in, everyone wants to double check the data input and all that. So, they could change as we get here.
But you see the difference right now. Again, raw vote total. There's Mark Kelly. This is just Maricopa County. It's not statewide. This is just, this is Mark Kelly in the county. These are the new numbers. So he grows, he's getting 53 percent now. He was getting 53 percent there.
So as Kyung noted, stable, if you will. And if you're in the lead, that's fine. Of course, you'd love to build it. You'd love to build it. But what you don't want to see is it shrinking. But 53 percent, Blake Masters. Again, the raw vote totals, he moves up from 506,503 to 539,795.
This is the key. This is the key, right, 45 percent. That's 45 percent. We round up. So, stability in the race as we get more votes. If you're leading, you're fine with that. Of course, you would, you would love to grow your lead, but you're absolutely fine with that.
And again, this is the largest county in the state. And I just want to bring this down so you can see it here. Joe Biden, just, you know, 2.2. This is a very competitive county. Joe Biden, the first Democrat to win Arizona since 1996 for the presidency, 2.2 percent. Joe Biden carried the county. That's eight points, right? That's eight points. So, Mark Kelly in Maricopa County, we don't have the final numbers
yet. This is preliminary. Sorry if I keep repeating that. But it's important, especially when people out there are questioning the integrity of elections.
There is no question about this count. The people doing this are professionals. They were then, they are now. But Mark Kelly, 53 percent, 45 percent. So, at the moment he's overperforming the president in the most vital county in the state. We'll see what it is in the end when they finish counting the votes.
But if you're in the Kelly campaign headquarters, your main goal, keep it above 50. If you can keep it stable or grow it, that's your goal. In this vote report, he has met his goal. Let's switch to the governor's race.
Let's come this down. Let's bring this down in front here. Again, the new totals are not in yet, so you see Katie Hobbs, this is just Maricopa County. We'll go statewide in just a minute here. But 585,000 to 627,728. Forgive me, I was scribbling that pretty quickly.
Again, 52 percent to 48 percent no change in the race. If you're the leader again, you'd rather grow it, but you're good with that. You're good with that as long as you stay ahead in the race. Kari Lake's raw vote total comes up.
So, the challenge here is for the candidates behind, in this case, in Nevada, it's different. The Republicans in the lead. But in Arizona with the two Republicans behind, they need to make up ground. And so when you get stable. It's just not good enough. It's just that simple math.
BLITZER: It's a good numbers for the Democrats.
KING: They're good numbers for the Democrats. You always love to grow, but if you're in the lead and it comes in and you don't lose, you don't lose ground. You're good.
BLITZER: Yes. And so, I'm sure Katie Hobbs and the senator are both very, very happy right now with these latest numbers.
KING: I just want to come out. I -- to look, see, yes. These numbers. I do not believe these numbers have been added to this yet, and someone can get in my ear if we know that's different. But that vote total, I believe, is about the same where we were before.
So again, when we input the data into the system, it gets double checked and triple checked. So, these are the statewide numbers. They have not been added, I'm told. So, essentially what you have to do is they're both going to get additional. They're coming in at the same percentage, so it shouldn't change this, right?
That might change it on the margins. You might see the decimal point changes, but when the new votes are added to the system, since they match what they had earlier in Maricopa County, they'll even out there as well.
And again, in the senator's race, when you come statewide, you know, it's 52, 47 statewide, even though Senator Kelly is winning by a larger margin in Maricopa County. So, when those numbers come in, we'll show them to you there. But both Democratic campaigns are happy.
KING: Period. That, that's the bottom line.
BLITZER: I think you're absolutely right. Kyung, I understand you're getting some new information on how many votes in Maricopa County actually came in tonight.
LAH: We we're getting that as well as what the picture looks like ahead. So, these are very important numbers if you are trying to keep track of what's happening here in Maricopa County.
There were more ballots, more results released tonight than we anticipated. We were told about 60,000. We got 78,000, just a little over 78,000 ballots were released, and this is again from last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. These are early ballots before election day.
So, what is left, the 17,000 so-called box three, those ballots that had a little trouble at the vote centers that that couldn't go through because of the printer. So those are being tabulated here. They still have to be reported. There are early ballots still left to process and tabulate. That's about 68,000 ballots and they still have to verify some of these early ballots. They're about 29,000 of them.
So, there's still a lot of work left ahead. You know, these are significant numbers still coming out of Maricopa County. It's still a bit of a road ahead before we know the actual result here.
BLITZER: Very interesting indeed, John, these numbers that are coming in, huge numbers still undecided, uncounted, at least right now.
KING: But with the 78,000 as Kyung noted, for those who are frustrated, if you know, if you're a partisan, if you're involved in this race, a citizen of Arizona, you want to know here in Washington everybody wants to know because this race is critical to the balance of power. People around the country who care about policy care about who controls the United States Senate. Yes, there's still a long way to go, but it is a smaller number now than it was five minutes ago.
So, look at it, look at it that way in the sense, and then we also get to the point, and David Chalian can do this math for us. I'm sure he is already working on it in a few minutes. You know, do we have to wait? They say the final numbers could come, you know, could be several more days. The question is, especially in the Senate race with 114,000 vote lead, you know, this is just Maricopa County. This is not statewide yet. There are additional votes, but so how many votes are out? Right?
So, if you look at, you know, if this were statewide, 68,060. That's 99,000. I'm rounding up a little bit here. You know, at this point here you're getting close to the area we -- where you can call the race or one more vote. One -- one or two more sets of votes because the outstanding votes, you know, are pretty close when you match them up there.
BLITZER: We're told by the way, John, that the new numbers are now included --
BLITZER: -- in the statewide numbers that we're getting right now. Show us the governors.
KING: So that's 114,894. In the governor's race, Katie Hobbs has stretch, you know, the numerically stretches to 26,879. Again, the percentages are still the same. This is still a very, very competitive race. A very competitive race. This one, a closer race again.
So, think, I want to just say about Senator Kelly. Let me just do this one more time for clarity. A 115,000 if you round that up, right, 115,000. So, you're doing 68 plus 30, you're at 98. I rounded that up a little bit. You know, so you're getting close here. Just in Maricopa County, if this were a statewide number, you'd get to the point where you're pretty close to a couple more vote reports. You can call this race.
But if you look at this one, 26,000 votes, this is just Maricopa County. Again, this is the largest pool of outstanding votes, but there are some more in Pima County, the second largest county, a few more scattered around the state, and we'll update those numbers throughout the night.
But if you're Kari Lake, yes, you don't like what just happened. You don't like that in the last voting report you were below the
number, the percentage you need to catch up, but you have plenty of opportunity, right? Twenty-six, 27,000 vote lead if you want to round that up a little bit, you know, these are the ballots still being checked. Early votes here. Box three is what it's called. They set them aside on election day. They just needed to work on them a little bit.
That's something to do, but there's plenty of votes here. Kari Lake, that last vote report, disappointing for her campaign. Plenty of opportunity, and this is just, again, I want to emphasize this, I'm sorry to be redundant, but people out there question these things. This is just Maricopa County, but they're narrowing.
BLITZER: This is the largest county.
KING: Right. But it's a smaller number than it was again 10 minutes ago. And that's a good thing they're making progress.
BLITZER: And they're working really hard at the same time. Right now, I want to bring in the chairman of the Maricopa -- Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Bill Gates.
Mr. Gates, thanks very much for joining us.
As you probably know, the Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has election officials -- she says she's accusing you and election officials of intentionally, intentionally misleading and going ahead and blowing this, rolling this process forward. And she's worried about the integrity of what's going on. I want you to listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: They're 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're in some banana Republic.
I have very little faith in, in some of the people that are operating that Maricopa County elections. I think they're incompetent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Mr. Gates, I want your reaction to what we just heard.
BILL GATES, SUPERVISOR, BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Well, Wolf, thanks for having me. And it's really sad to hear that we have the Republican nominee of governor, for governor here in Arizona who's talking like that. I think you know the votes that were just released, 78,000. That doesn't happen magically. It happens because of the people behind me. All the people here in Maricopa County elections who are working so hard, they're working 14 to 18-hour days every day.
We're about to go into a holiday weekend with Veterans Day, and they're going to continue to work those kinds of hours on the holiday Friday, on Saturday and Sunday. And I understand that Kari Lake wants us to move quickly and a lot of people do. But you know, what's more important is that this is done accurately.
That is the focus and that, you know, like for all of these mail-in ballots, that those are signature verified. This is very important to me as an elected official that only eligible people, only eligible votes are counted. I would think that Kari Lake would be interested in that as well. That's something that I ran on, on the board of supervisors.
I support I.D. at the polls and all those things. They might take a little bit more time, but it ensures that only those eligible people are voting.
BLITZER: Mr. Gates, it's John King. I just want to follow up on that and thank you for your time. I know you're incredibly busy and I know I've been to your office, it's been a few years, but I've been to that spot. I've been to offices like all around the country. And these are honest hardworking people who don't get paid enough money doing the work of democracy.
But to Kari Lake's point, I just want you to explain number one, you're a Republican. I want our viewers to know that. The Republican candidate for Arizona governor is questioning the integrity of a local Republican official who has proven he knows what he's doing and his team knows what he's doing.
But I just want to, I -- when she says that on television, I just want to -- I asked your colleague in Pima County this earlier, and I want to say it again. In that room behind you Kari Lake has representatives who have eyes on everything that is happening. Correct?
So, if she had any, if they saw anything specific that they could raise questions about, she would be able to say, I saw X, as opposed to I accuse them of things with absent zero information. Sorry to ask a long question, but to me it's important that we show transparency. There are Democratic and Republican campaign representatives behind that glass behind you who are watching everything that's happening.
GATES: So, John, that's a great question and you're right. There are Republicans and Democratic eyes on everything through the process, and I actually know this from personal experience. Because before I was elected to the board of supervisors, I actually used to be a Republican lawyer who would come down here and observe this.
Back in the 2006 race it was a close congressional race between J.D. Hayworth and Harry Mitchell. I was down here for days after election day. That's what we do. That is essential to the process. We could not do what we're doing here today and have been doing for the past few days if we're not for the Democrats and the Republicans who have eyeballs on everything.
BLITZER: Yes. Excellent, excellent point. Chairman Gates, when will we see the first of the what, 290,000 same day drop off ballots?
GATES: Yes. We should start to see those tomorrow, I believe. We'll start seeing those come in. Again, that 290,000 mail-in ballots that were dropped off on election day on Tuesday. That's the most ever we've had on election day. And in fact, it broke the previous record by 70 percent.
So, it's a lot of ballots that people are trying to process behind me, but it -- we're going to get through it. We're going to do it on a timeline, which is frankly consistent with what it takes, how long it takes us to get this done every two and every four years.
So, there's nothing out of the ordinary. It makes me wonder if Kari Lake has really been following elections in the past in Maricopa County.
BLITZER: Well, Chairman Gates, just to clarify, will we see the first of those results as early as tomorrow?
GATES: Yes. BLITZER: Any idea what time?
GATES: I think I would expect again in the evening, I don't have an exact time, but tomorrow evening we should see the next release of votes.
BLITZER: And we'll of course be with you tomorrow night. We'll be watching all of this unfold because the stakes are so enormous right now. Once again, I want to echo what John told you, Chairman Gates. So, we are grateful to you all the workers who are working around the clock to get the job done. This is democracy in action right now and we appreciate it very, very much. Thanks so much for joining us. I assume we'll continue this conversation tomorrow. I appreciate it.
GATES: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, new projections we're about to make in minutes. Plus, as we wait to learn which party will control the U.S. House of Representatives, we're going to pour over the latest numbers and tell you what CNN is still looking for to actually make a call. Stay with us.
BLITZER: All right. We have two projections to make right now in the U.S. House. In Nevada, take a look at this. Democratic incumbent Dina Titus reelected in a Las Vegas area district. Republicans have seen this as a potential -- potentially big pickup opportunity.
She's reelected though, according to our projection. In Nevada Democratic Congressman Steven Horsford reelected in Nevada's fourth district as well.
So, let's take a closer look at the state of play for control of the House right now. Now, there you see it right now. Right now, the Democrats have 197. Democrats, 211 Republicans. The Democrats have four pickups so far. The Republicans 16 pickups, 27 seats remaining right now.
Let's go over to John King. Take a closer look at the House of Representatives. It's very dramatic what's going on in this battle for the House, John.
KING: It is. So here I was just looking closely at those Nevada districts. I'll come back to a minute. I just want to make a quick point about them. If you look at it right now as you note, these are the called races. This is the current state of play, 211 to 197, 218 gets you to the finish line in the House majority.
So simple math, your eyes don't lie to you. Republicans are closer. Republicans are closer and very close. Seven seats away from taking the House majority and taking the speaker's gavel away from Nancy Pelosi. And that tells you right there doesn't -- that these races are not called right, but this, they are ahead in more than enough races, more than enough races.
But Republicans now have 212 seats at the House. They thought they, they could still get more than a 10-seat gain, but they were talking 25, 30 seat gain not that long ago. So, we'll see what happens.
But let's just come back to this plate here. This is the important number. Now these are the races that are called. Just want to quickly touch on the two you just called because you noted, Republicans thought they could have an opportunity. That Titus district is right here.
Unemployment at the peak of COVID was 28 percent in Nevada. Las Vegas was so punished by the COVID pandemic. The unemployment rate has dropped down. It's below 5 percent now, but gas prices or buck more than the national average out in Nevada.
Republicans thought this is a place we could pick up. You see this, Joe Biden carried this district by nearly nine points. The Republicans had these grand ambitions that were going to beat Democrats in solid Democratic districts. It did not happen. Ran a competitive race that's close. That's why it's so late to call it.
But this is the reason that Republican, when you come out, you can find districts like that all across the country. And that is the reason Republicans had ambitions saying we can win districts that Biden carried, you know, by seven, eight, nine points. There are some examples of that, but way fewer than the Republicans thought, Wolf, which is why that number is right there.
Again, Republicans are knocking at the door of 218 seats and they very well could get there. The probability is they will get there, but this idea they were going to get there with a massive. Your eyes don't lie. That's not going to happen.
BLITZER: It hasn't happened yet. We'll see what happens. They're in extra innings, as we say. Right now, we're watching what's going on.
David Chalian, I understand you've done some calculation. Now these new numbers that have just come in as far as the Arizona Senate race is concerned.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. To be fair, our decision desk gets the actual mathematical calculations here. But we've been looking, and this is exactly what John was just talking to you about, Wolf, when that new batch of Arizona votes, came in. And it benefited the Democratic candidates in Arizona.
Well, what does that mean then for what the Republicans need now that there are fewer votes left outstanding? So right now, in Arizona, statewide, 540,000 votes approximately. This is an estimate, not an exact science, 540,000 votes now remain outstanding after that big batch of votes from Maricopa County.
And the calculations of what is needed for each candidate are now dramatically. Blake Masters has now moved up to a range of a need number between 58 and 60 percent of everything remaining. So, when you watch Arizona votes come in going forward, look to see if Blake Masters is winning 58 to 60 percent of him because that's what he needs.
Mark Kelly's number now is down to between 37 and 39 percent of what's outstanding. That is all he needs. when you see the votes come in of what is outstanding to maintain this position and win this race.
KING: Then when you come here, that's why it gets so interesting. Let me just put this up here. So, Blake Basses right now. Forgive me for turning my back. So, let's just say he needs 58 percent, David. That was the low end of that range, right? He needs 58 percent. Let's give it, let's give him the benefit of the doubt and move it to the low end of that range, right? And that's an estimate. It could be a little bit lower than that. It might be 57.5. Might be 57, but let's say he needs about that.
Well, it just tells you he needs this with the rest of the vote. That's where he is right now. So that just tells you that's a big that he needs to dramatically overperform how he's doing right now. And here's the additional challenge. He has to, most of the votes are in these counties that are blue.
Now, Maricopa County is a competitive county, but it's a Democratic county in recent years. The president, Joe Biden carried it by two points two years ago. Let's go back, I just want to go back and look at this at 2016 and remind people what it was in the presidential race then.
In the presidential race then it was very competitive. Donald Trump carried it with 49. So here you have a county, you know, 49 percent in the 2016 race, 50 percent in the race in the president two years ago. Now you come forward here. So, Mark Kelly is doing better than he has to do.
Blake Masters if he needs 58 percent of the statewide vote. Are you going to get that in Maricopa County with 61 percent of the remaining vote? Most of the outstanding ballots are here. It's a blue county where Senator Kelly right now is getting 53 percent. Blake Masters is getting 45 percent.
Can you dramatically overperform in the remaining votes? Now, you just heard Mr. Gates tell us 200,000 or so of those votes or ballots that were dropped off. People showed up on election day, but their ballot was in an envelope and they dropped it off.
Republicans do tend to vote more on election day, so it's possible that your 200,000 votes. There's your statewide numbers right now, 114,000 vote lead. The math is possible, but when you look at the blue and you'd look at, you look at the number one blue Kelly is getting 53 percent. In Pima, Kelly is getting 62 percent right now.
So, most of the votes are in those two counties that at the moment are blue and where Senator Kelly is doing even better than his statewide number, and Blake Masters needs that. It's not impossible, but that's a steep hill.
BLITZER: Very, very steep hill, I must say. Indeed. David Chalian, I understand you've also done some more calculation on all the new numbers that have come in and how they're impacting the Arizona Governor's race.
CHALIAN: Yes. And John, I think I heard the elections officials say when you were talking 290,000, same day drop off. So closer to 300,000, coming from Maricopa County in terms of that same day drop off, which will of course impact the governor's race as well.
So overall, our estimate again now after we saw that batch of votes from Maricopa County come in a little earlier, is that there are 540,000 roughly votes outstanding in Arizona. Obviously, the biggest bulk of that will be coming from Maricopa County.
Now look at what happened here to the -- what each candidate in the governor's race needs to win. This changed from just before that vote batch when we showed you this. So now, because Katie Hobbs got to increase her lead a bit in that last batch, Kari Lake has a bit of a taller hill to climb here. She now needs between 52 and 54 percent a range of what is outstanding in Arizona.
And the Hobbs win percentage has gone down. It's now between 47 and 49 percent. Earlier it was like they both roughly needed about half, but now you can see when those votes came in and Hobbs stretched her lead a little bit. She now has a bit, a bit of an easier task here than does Kari Lake.
BLITZER: Very interesting indeed. All right, we're going to continue to monitor what's going on. This is crucial right now.
Coming up, we're expecting another new round of votes from Nevada. We'll share them with you as soon as they come in. Plus, Democratic governors scored major victories all across the country. The chair of the Democratic Governor's Association standing by to join us live. That's next.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We expect to get new votes very soon out of Nevada. In the meantime, Democratic governors are celebrating tonight after some major victories in this midterm election. We'll just show you some of them. California Gavin Newsom, Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, Michigan that was a competitive one, Gretchen Whitmer and in Pennsylvania, a very competitive one. Josh Shapiro. In Maryland, Wes Moore, and in Massachusetts, Maura Healey.
And joining us now is the Democratic Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, who is the chairman of the Democratic Governor's Association. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
First things first, we do have two outstanding governor's races, one in Nevada, one in in Arizona. What are you seeing and hearing about the prospects of Democrats taking either or both of those.
GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): Dana, Democratic Governors had a very good night. We beat expectations and historical trend -- trends. The worst we can do is plus one, in gov -- net governor's races. And if we can win Arizona and Nevada, that would be plus three. Already we have beat the midterm for any president's party in governor's races since 1986.
We know though that Arizona is a critical state for us to flip. Katie Hobbs has been strong. She's been courageous. I believe she's going to win this race, but we're all on the edge of our seats. We know that Kari Lake has been sowing the seeds of confusion and chaos using the Donald Trump play -- playbook.
But we know, but we know particularly with these election workers that are working so hard late at night that this election is going to be decided by the number of votes counted, not by how loud Kari Lake screams.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Governor, it's Abby Phillip. Thank you for being here tonight.
So, as you just described, you had a lot of successes last night, but particularly in the so-called blue wall of governors. Michigan and Wisconsin picking up those governor's mansion also in Pennsylvania as well.
Given the role that those states play, especially in our presidential politics, what do you think the takeaway is, especially for Democrats about what the direction is of those states going into the next two years?
COOPER: With the attacks on our democracy that we've seen, governors are the last line of defense, and it was critical that we elect Democratic governors in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. And we did that.
When you look at what this U.S. Supreme Court, Trump influence Supreme Court has done in stripping away women's reproductive freedom, you know, your abortion right shouldn't be decided by your zip code. But that's where we are. So, these decisions are going to be made in state capitals across the country.
Having Democratic governors there can protect our rights and freedom. And when you have somebody like Kari Lake who is an election denier who may very well just decide to go by the Trump playbook and ignore the popular vote of the people when it comes time to select presidential electors, it shows that it's even more critical that we elected Democratic governors in these swing states.
Right now, even without having counted Arizona and Nevada Democratic governors represent more than 54 percent of the United States population. That is so important right now when we have so much on the line. I think for years Republicans have concentrated, actually for decades,
they have worked hard in state and local elections. I think Democrats have not done that as well. I think we, with the election of Donald Trump, we've been waking up to that.
The Democratic Governor's Association invested three times the amount of money that we did in 2018 in these elections because we knew how important it was. And it turned out that we had the right formula. People knew that Democratic governors were going to protect their pocket books and their freedoms, and we know that they're there to protect democracy.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Governor, it's Kasie Hunt. It's good to see you tonight. We've rightfully talked quite a bit about your successes, but I want to ask you about the state of Florida where the Democratic gubernatorial nominee lost by 1.5 million votes in a state that used to be so, so close.
What happened in Florida to Charlie Crist. And are you going to regret not throwing a bigger roadblock up in Ron DeSantis' way come 2024?
COOPER: Well, I think it's important to remember what kind of midterm we were dealing with. We have his inflation where people are paying more at the gas pump in the grocery store. We have the historical trend, the party of the president and the first midterm not doing well.
So, we knew those wins were against us. You add to that, one of the hardest things to do in politics is to beat an incumbent governor. And what we did at the Democratic Governor's Association, we concentrated on those states that we believed that we could win, that were important swing states, we have not given up on Florida. I believe that we can regroup there, reassess there, and Texas.
These states are too important. It involves too many people. I believe that Ron DeSantis kind of politics are not in the long run going to be what the people of Florida want, nor is it going to be what the people of the United States want. He's planning to run for president. We all know what he's doing.
BASH: Is it the demographics, Governor, in Texas and Florida, or were, was it the candidate in each state? That was the -- that was the problem and not --
COOPER: Well, you had two --
BASH: -- overturning those governor's mansions.
COOPER: You had two strong incumbents, and I think you had a Democratic Party that was concentrating on protecting our incumbents. We had more than we ever had. We were defending 13 incumbent seats in critical states, so we made those elections there.
No, we're not going to give up on Florida, and I think it's important that we reassess there, make sure that we are speaking to the people. Democratic governors have heard what the people have said to them and they've listened to that. And I think that in Florida we can do the same thing.
BASH: Governor, before we let you go, I want to ask you about President Biden who said yesterday that it is his intention to run for president again. He'll make that decision early next year. I know you have said you want him to run. What is your message to fellow Democrats who aren't as sure as you are, maybe even opposed to that idea?
COOPER: Look at the results, in 18 short months President Biden has passed three major pieces of legislation that've helped us to invest in childcare, reducing cost to working parents, allowing them to be back into the workforce, connecting people with high-speed internet access, capping the cost of prescription drugs for seniors and capping insulin costs. Lowering energy costs for people, repairing our roads and bridges.
The long-promised infrastructure legislation finally came under Joe Biden. I've known him for a long time. You can never, ever count him out. We know that his approval ratings weren't as high, but that's happened to great presidents over the years during the first midterms.
I think now that we had this, these funds in place, we're going to be investing them over the next couple of years, and I think people are going to feel the results of the success in Washington. And a lot of that has come from the leadership of Joe Biden.
BASH: Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina and the chair of the Democratic Governors Association, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
COOPER: Thank you, guys.
BASH: And coming up the Georgia runoff that could decide control of the Senate, we're going to go there live as Raphael Warnock and at Herschel Walker's campaigns are preparing for a monthlong battle.
Our election coverage continues in a moment.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back. We've got a large batch of votes just in from Arizona and we are awaiting new numbers from Nevada. Two very close Senate races could obviously determine control of Congress. The final say could come from Georgia where Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock in QP challenger Herschel Walker were heading to a runoff election next month.
Let's go to CNN's Nick Valencia in Canton, Georgia. Both candidates, Nick, held their first public event stay since the runoff was announced.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, and today is going to be the start or was the start, rather what's going to be a very long four weeks for both Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker. And it was a walker who kicked off his campaign alongside Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
The first, in what will no doubt be a cavalry of Republican leaders to come down to the state over the course of the next four weeks. And a source close to the Walker campaign tells me that they kicked off their runoff campaigning here in Canton deliberately.
Part of their strategy over the next four weeks is to try to get out to vote in red counties where they underperform when compared to incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who won his midterm election and avoided a runoff.
At the rally both Cruz and Walker boldly predicted a win in the runoff, and it was after the rally was over that we caught up with Senator Cruz and asked him if he thought it was a good idea if Walker should invite the former president, Donald Trump to stump alongside him as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: We in overtime, that mean we got a run off. Hey, I was built for this. I will feel for this. God prepare me for this moment right here.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Herschel has made clear he will welcome the support from President Trump who's supporting him. He said he would welcome the support of Ron DeSantis. He'll welcome the support of anyone coming to campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: Meanwhile, incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock also kicked off his runoff campaigning just a couple blocks away from Ebenezer Baptist Church and standing in front of a mural of the civil rights icon John Lewis. He appeared to make a plea to those who may not have voted for him in the midterm saying, stick with me for the next four weeks. Painting this really as a moral decision, not so much between a Republican and a Democrat as one between a right and wrong candidate.
This is, as I mentioned, Anderson going to be a very long four weeks. And once again, Georgians find themselves in the middle of, perhaps deciding who's going to control the Senate in the United States. Anderson?
COOPER: Yes. Long, indeed. The White House -- Nick, thanks very much. The White House says, of course, that President Biden will support Senator Warnock in any way he can. But as of now, no specifics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Clearly, the President will do whatever Senator Warnock needs him to do to help him win. The DNC made significant investments in Georgia this year. But again, I don't have anything right now to lay out as far as any travel that the president will be making.
I actually have not -- I have not heard of a request. I just don't have anything to share on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Let's talk about it, with our team here. Van, I mean. there's a lot of folks from the Democratic Party who would be very eager, obviously to help campaign for Raphael Warnock. Do you think Biden will be one of them that will be invited there?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he will be. It may not be the, if Trump shows up, it's going to be a big deal. Biden will do what it takes to be helpful. Here's what I think is important about Georgia. You can waste a lot of money and a lot of time. This is not the last like the last time, you only have four weeks. You've got to be smart and you've got to be surgical.
Digital is going to matter a lot more than TV ads. Grassroots organizing going to matter a lot more than rallies and credible influencers for grassroots people are going to matter more than celebrities. And so, it's good, if Biden wants to come fine. I don't think it hurts, but it probably doesn't help.
You've got a bunch of D.J.s, you got a bunch of preachers, you got a bunch of social media influencers who have not been called in yet. I'm telling you, right now, and we were talking about this at the break, you have some deflation among some black voters. You can talk about that more if you want to.
There's some deflation among black voters. They're not going to want to hear from big establishment people. They're going to need to hear from people who are closer to the grassroots. If those people get the support the digital platform and the money you can get there.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: How about Obama though? I mean, when --
JONES: Of course.
BORGER: Well, yes. I mean, well that's big establishment.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, yes.
JONES: But Obama think -- yes, that's different.
AXELROD: He's, yes, sort of the nuclear --
AXELROD: -- nuclear weapon of -- BORGER: Of him and Oprah.
AXELROD: -- turnout.
AXELROD: But someone just --
COOPER: Do you think Obama -- do you think Obama would move there for the month?
JONES: I wish he would. I wish he would.
AXELROD: I don't know. Anderson, I'll ask him. But the -- a friend just sent me numbers from just from Wisconsin, but I think there are a microcosm of what would happen -- what happened across the country.
AXELROD: Milwaukee, yes. I'm sorry. Two -- 62.8 percent of Milwaukee registered voters cast ballot in the midterm elections. It's a, you know, large black population in Milwaukee. That is the lowest he sent me the last four elections, I mean, the lowest that there was. So, there is a -- there is a sense of deflation in the community, and I think that's a -- that's a problem and that's a particular problem in this race.
JONES: And I think that one of the dangers that we're having right now is that people are so stunned that the Republicans are falling apart in the way that they are. The Republicans are actually having a healthy response. They're looking at their mistakes. They're trying to figure something out.
Democrats right now are just so happy. We're still alive. We're not looking at our own problems. There are some soft spots, there are some challenges that we -- that we have -- some challenges that we have. If we don't, improve our game in Georgia in a serious way, we're going to have problems.
COOPER: This is incredible because, I mean, just, what was it? I can't remember how many days it was before the election, but before there, you know, we had conversations about there's going to be a lot of soul search in the Democratic Party --
COOPER: -- about what we need to do and how they need to change.
AXELROD: And Van right there still should be Hispanic votes around the country. And we've talked about how the communities are different and South Florida is different than the west and so on. But that margin was 40 percent in favor of Democrats four years ago, 21 percent in this election according to exit polls.
And I think part of it is that these communities have been lashed by these economic circumstances. But there are other factors as well. I mean, there's a lot to chew over here. Democrats should feel grateful to have escaped, as well as they did in this election for the reasons that we've been discussing.
AXELROD: But that doesn't paper -- that shouldn't paper over real challenges.
BORGER: Well, the enthusiasm gap, which we saw in all these exit polls we see is, you know, Republicans, despite the results we're much more enthusiastic about voting this time.
JONES: But some voted for us. Most of them voted for us.
BORGER: Right. But and so I think that's a -- that's a big issue. Look, it seems to almost be a constitutional requirement these days that Georgia determines who controls the Senate. So, I think that adds a level of involvement on, on the part of the electorate thing.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Van, you were talking about grassroots activities being more effective than TV ads. And I agree with that. The Republicans, I think are also feeling that there's a story in Politico tonight that McConnell's outside group, the Senate Leadership Fund, has finalized an agreement with the best Republican grassroots guy in Georgia, the governor, Brian Kemp.
And so, he has agreed to transfer his door knocking, data analytics, phone banking, and micro-targeting program to the Senate Leadership Fund. This is the first time that group normally just runs TV ads, right? It's like mass media. That's what their air cover. This is the first time they've ever engaged in a grassroots program. They're going to spend $2 million on, and they have hired Kemp's senior advisor.
So, I had heard earlier that right after the election there were lots of discussions about how to get Kemp with arms around Herschel Walker. I think they've solved it.
JONES: That's dangerous. That's dangerous.
JENNINGS: That's for us.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Put a fine point on what Scott is saying. A lot of the criticism that's got what we even talked about here is on the RNC, right? Where is the RNC on these exact things that Scott is talking about on the ground game, get out to vote. They were kind of absent in a lot of these places.
And so, I think there's going to be a lot of soul searching in the Republican about what Ronna, you know, did and on a national level and why there wasn't more an effort to knock doors and drag bodies.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And just real quick from that Ted Cruz interview, I mean, that that is a green light for Donald Trump to come and he's not going to be able to help himself. It only hurts Herschel Walker.
And by the way, we saw this in 2020 where Donald Trump could bring 20,000 people out but they didn't necessarily go to the polls. Part of it was just seeing the Trump show. It's like a grateful dead show. You show up, but you don't necessarily go and cast a ballot afterwards. So.
URBAN: Or maybe the same people had voted for Herschel already.
GRIFFIN: Well, exactly. Exactly. So, the -- I don't know what that does at all to bring out independents or people who are on the margins, and in fact, I think hurts him. But this Kemp factor is huge.
JENNINGS: I had a question for everybody, and it is in an election like this, a lot of experience here. So, you've got people that voted for you, you've got two choices or two challenges. One, to get those same people to vote for you. Does anybody here think there's any way to get somebody who voted for the other guy to come over to you?
So, if you're Warnock, can you drag a few Walker? If you're Walker, can you drag a few Warnock? I've been thinking about that. I doubt it. But it's such a close race.
GRIFFIN: Per control of the Senate.
JENNINGS: It's such a close race.
COOPER: We got to take a quick break. We'll talk about that more. New numbers out of Nevada coming up after the break.
BLITZER: Election officials are working into the night in Arizona right now with hundreds of thousands of ballots still to be counted in critical contests. We're also watching the vote counting in Nevada right now where additional results were just released. Both states key to the ongoing fight for control of the United States Senate as election night in America continues.
I'm Wolf Blitz here in the CNN election center. We're tracking all the votes right now as they come in.
I want to go right to CNN's John King to break down the new numbers for -- from Nevada first of all, for us. These new numbers are significant.
KING: Right. They are significant. They're already factored into what you see here. I want to write them on the board in a minute to make a point about the percentages, but the numbers are factored in to what you see right here. This is the statewide.