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CNN's Provides Real-Time Results Of The Midterm Elections; Trump Mocks Potential 2024 Rival Youngkin; GOP Finger-Points At Trump After Midterm Miss. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 11, 2022 - 23:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Blake Masters. And in Nevada, the Senate race has narrowed again after that new round of results that have just come in. Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto leaping at the heels over Republican challenger Adam Laxalt.

Take a look at the balance of power in the Senate this hour. Democrats and Republicans now have won 49 seats each. But Democrats are closer than Republicans to winning Senate control. They need only one more seat to lock up a majority because Vice President Kamala Harris has the tie breaking vote in the Senate.

There is also a very exciting fight playing out right now for control of the U.S. House of Representatives. We can now make a new projection. CNN projects that Democrat Greg Stanton is reelected to a third term in Arizona in a (INAUDIBLE) base district that Biden carried by 10 points.

Take a look at the balance of power in the House where it stands now. Democrats inching up to 203 seats. Republicans holding at 211 seats. That's seven short of the 218 seats needed to win control of the House.

But Democrats continuing to make gains tonight. Let's go over to John King who is taking a closer look at this battle in the House of Representatives that's unfolding right now. So, John, tell us a little bit more.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, just wow. I keep trying to find a better word for it. But wow, this is not the math Republicans expected. And actually, let's be honest, it's not the math many Democrats would tell you a week or two ago. They expect it to have, it's Friday now, in an election week where we started counting Tuesday night.

As you mentioned, called races, the Republicans have 211. That leaves them seven shy -- seven shy of the 218-seat majority. Democrats have a steeper hill to climb. They need 15 more wins to get to 218. So, the simple math tells you Republicans are closer, knocking at the door of a speakership.

Let's look at races where they are ahead. Republicans clearly have the edge there. They're leading in 221 races. So, that will give them a three-set majority. Not what they wanted, not what they're running for in this campaign, not what they expected, but a majority is still the majority, right?

And so, what is going to happen from here? Let's go back to this. We leave these numbers up. This is the cement, right? The cement has dried on these races, 211 Republicans, 203. Republican haves a cleaner path. We need to emphasize that. Republicans have an easier path to the 218. But, and this but is getting more interesting as the democratic numbers close in.

Let's walk through. Let's just walk through. Can the Democrats get there? Well, let's look at this. Number one, we have two likely. Republicans have actually conceded in these races. But some of these have happened before. You have concessions. Votes come in and they get flipped. So, we're being conservative here. We're being conservative here at CNN.

So, you're at 203, but pretty certain those are going to end up there. That gets you to 205, right? We'll just finish them when we get there. What's the next step? These are races where Democrats are ahead. You see them filling in in green here, right? Democrats are ahead. We haven't called them yet but the Democrats are ahead. So, what does that get you? You're at 205, right? Where seven gets you? That gets you 212. That gets you 212. That gets you six away from 218.

Now, can the Democrats get more than that? Well, let's go back and look at the map. Number one, we go here. Okay, so, what is your third step? This is quite probable, actually. You talk about this being a steep hill for the Democrats. But rank choice voting in Alaska, Democratic House incumbent. Rank choice voting in Maine, Democratic House incumbent. They are both leading. They're both close to 50%.

They may not get there. Then you do second and third choice for the candidates at the bottom of the ballot. Certainly, within the realm of possibility. A lot of Democrats will tell you even likely. Where does that get you? Two, one, four. Wow. And so then, the question is, how do you get there? Can you get there?

Well, we've identified these races. I'll show you a couple others in a minute. We've identified these races. We will call them a reach because they're a reach. They're all a reach. This is not easy for the Democrats by any means.

This district here, Lauren Boebert's district, Western Colorado, want to check the map, she is 1,122 votes ahead. She was trailing yesterday. She has pulled back into the lead. It's not done yet. It's not done yet. It is possible Democrats can get that seat.

You come back up, more seats in California. Just want to bring up one of them. I want to show you this because we talked about it before. I want to show you again. This is David Valadao, one of the House impeachment 10, meaning House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump. His lead was above 3,000. It was about 3,700 earlier today.

More ballots have come in. The democrat is closing the gap. Still only about 40% of the estimated vote counted. So, A, this is going to take a while. B, the Democrat is still in play. It's a reach. It's a reach. There is no guarantee.

Pull back out. We have these other races as well where Democrats -- again, anything you see here within the pink purple, Republican is leading and it would be a reach for the Democrats. But there are four right on this map, Wolf, that if the Democrats' -- luck isn't the right word but if the map turned in their favor -- I just want to come back out because they're not the only ones, they're not the only ones.

We put those on our list because the Democrats were closing in or in districts where we thought, okay, it's a possibility in a strange year. But let's come out to the state of California, right? Let me look here at the uncalled races.


The uncalled races are the ones that now highlight on your screen. Let's look at this race right here. That's not on the list. That's not on the reaches I just showed you. Republicans are 84 votes ahead. Republicans are 84 votes ahead.

Come back down here. This is the one I just showed. This was on the list. He's at 2,900 votes if you round that up a little bit. But you come here, there is another one there. Let us come over here and look at this one. Much more likely, right? Much more likely the Republicans keep this seat here. You see almost 10,000 vote lead there.

But you can look at the map nationally to uncalled races and, again, the likelihood is that Republicans get -- those are ahead races. Look at the called races. A statistician would tell you the probability, especially when you look at the ahead races, that the Republicans get to 218, and will also tell you they're not likely to get much past 218 if they get there.

So, it is -- the likelihood, if you're in Vegas making a bet, is the Republicans get the House. If they do, it will be very narrow. Guess what? It's a mathematical possibility and it has been an interesting night as Democrats hold up. Maybe, just maybe, they can keep the House.

BLITZER: To get your perspective, you and I have covered politics for a long time. Have you ever covered anything similar to what we are covering right now?

KING: No. I think it is going to take us a long time. I said weeks ago this was the most complicated midterm of the 38 years I've been doing this because of the competing pressure. You have the Dobbs decision. You have inflation. You have the president's approval rating. Republicans are trying to use the crime issue, the return of Trump in the campaign in many ways.

There has been a lot stirring in the pot, and I think it's going to take -- anyone who tells you today, they already know what happened here. There are some basic assessments you can make. It will take a long time to sort this out.

But I do think the one thing that has come true, panels have talked about this, almost three years of the pandemic followed by inflation. The American people are anxious. They are nervous. They are exhausted. When you're exhausted and you feel queasy, you don't order the spicy food, you get the meat and potatoes. And a lot of meat and potatoes Democrats are winning, and a lot of spicy Republicans are losing.

BLITZER: Early on, during the republican primary, some Democrats were actually going out and campaigning for Republicans who were Trump supporters and election deniers and all of that, thinking they would be more vulnerable in a general election against the Democrat. With hindsight, knowing what we know right now, was that smart?

KING: Well, here is the district right here that Republicans spent money on. I mean, the Democrats spent money against the Republican incumbent so they could get a different candidate in the general election. So, it worked in some races, where Democrats spent money to get the Trump Republican to try to help.

Again, that will be one of the things studied for months and some of the races the money went in. The Maryland governor's race, for example, most Republicans will tell you, that guy was going to win, anyway, or they think he was going to win, anyway.

So, there is a lot to study. It will take us months to go through all this. But we know this: The historical average is a president, Democrat or republican, Barack Obama lost 63, Donald Trump lost 40. If you go back to Ronald Reagan, the average is 30.

If you start the clock at Bill Clinton, you think politics are more polarized now. Don't go all the way back to Reagan. You start the clock at Bill Clinton, it is 37. The democrats are not going to lose 37 seats.

Here is where they are now. They're at -- whoops, how did that happen? Democrats right now are at 220. Let me block this off so numbers don't confuse people. Democrats went into the election at 220. Here is where they are right now in the called races, 203. Republicans at 211.

Someone -- which one party is going to have a narrow majority? We were done counting all this. It is still possible the Democrats hold on. The probability is Republicans have a very narrow majority. Wolf, there was a time they were talking 60 seats, then it was 40 seats, then it was 30 seats. That's not happening. That's simply not happening.

So, the president will defy expectations. The Democrats will defy history, if you will. His life is still miserable if Republicans controls the House. Some would argue -- I know Manu has done this. Manu would make this point. His life will be more miserable in some ways if the republican majority is smaller because it will get so much more complicated to do anything, but the Democrats will take that. They want to keep that number as small as possible and they're doing a pretty good job at it.

BLITZER: Excellent point, John. Thanks very much for all of that. Let's go back to Dana right now. Dana?



BASH: It's late at night.

HUNT: It is getting late at night. You know what? We have Manu Raju --

BASH: Thank you.

HUNT: -- sitting here who can tell us more about exactly what John was suggesting.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, look, I think --just take a step back here. What a divided time we are here in America. We are coming off a -- the longest period of a 50/50 Senate in American history. We are -- it's a possibility we could be at another 50/50 Senate for the next two years. It's a real possibility.

You showed the breakdown in the House right now. Democrats have a handful of seat majority right now in the House. We could see the Republicans with almost a similar majority on their side.

This country is divided right now. And also, it shows parties that go too far with the majorities or the rhetoric and the like, they'll get brushed (ph) back by the American public that clearly does not want to see them.


HUNT: And you know, one thing that I've heard from sources that I've been talking to over the past couple of days who represent both parties, Republicans and Democrats, it's kind of a wonky phrase. It's the median voter, right? It's the person in the middle who sometimes thinks, no Democrats have this mostly right, I'm going to vote with them this time, and who sometimes thinks, actually, you know what, I want to change, I'm going to vote for the other party.

There has been a lot of school of thought and there is truth that our politics are much more polarized than it ever been. But a lot of our politics have been dictated by the extremes. I think this election really shows, and certainly a lot of the smartest people who think about this stuff all the time who are talking to me about this are saying that actually those people in the middle, they still exist, they still want something in the middle.

BASH: And they're showing up. First of all, thank you for the save.

HUNT: Of course.

BASH: I just lost my voice.


BASH: Welcome to the table, David.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Thank you, Dana. BASH: What are your thoughts?

CHALIAN: Well, I -- the point that Kasie is making is super interesting. It's just that we live in a time where you were talking about the extremes, especially on the right now and sort of the magnification (ph) of the Republican Party. It is producing nominees, right, that that median voter is rejecting.

And we've now seen that in three successive election cycles, '18, '20 and now '22, where we thought -- where I think a lot of people thought the overlay of inflation and the economy and the president's standing would somehow not make that reality of that median voter rejecting the magnification (ph) of the Republican Party come into play.

I think what these results are showing is that's not the case. I mean, that that actually -- there is a still a reality of moving from a primary to a general election and having to deal with that.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And just to underscore the underperformance that we are seeing here because even though we don't know where this is all going to end up, I think it's pretty clear Republicans have dramatically underperformed.

This was also a redistricting year in which Republicans had an advantage in the battleground, so to speak, redistricting a lot of these states in ways that were generally favorable to them, creating an extraordinary narrow band of districts that could be described as battlegrounds.

And even still, here we are, we are still counting down to see who -- which party it is going to be that will control the House in an environment that is deeply favorable to Republicans.

And as David and Kasie pointed out, their primary process is producing extreme nominees

BASH: Yes.

PHILLIP: And they are not as a party willing to acknowledge that and address that problem. Maybe they can because it's not really a top down problem. It's a bottom up problem. Republican voters are choosing largely extreme nominees. And then when those candidates get to the general election, even in this extraordinarily favorable environment, they're struggling.

CHALIAN: I'm reminded of a piece Dana did in this cycle where you went down to Texas, right, and you were in the room of the guy who was like drawing the lines on the computer screen. I remember when you were reporting this out and we all were having conversations, obviously, this notion that both parties were less interested in drawing competitive districts that they thought they could win and much more interested in drawing very safe --

HUNT: Status quo.

BASH: The person who was sitting in your seat, the Maryland Democrat who just won, Congressman Trone, he had a competitive race only because of redistricting.


PHILLIP: And because also a judge created that more --

BASH: Right, the Democrats who run Maryland have written a map that was very gerrymandered and then that was fixed --

HUNT: And it happened in New York, too. That might hand the whole thing to Republicans.

BASH: Okay. It has been an incredibly exciting night so far. The balance of power in the Senate becoming clearer after Senator Mark Kelly's win in Arizona. Now, all eyes are on the closely watched Nevada Senate race, which could determine control. Much more on that, next. Stay with us.




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: All eyes are on Nevada this hour as the outcome of the Senate race there could determine which party controls the chamber. Democrats and Republicans tied right now at 49 seats each.

Scott Jennings, if you are Mitch McConnell watching what is going on in Nevada, what are you thinking now?


COOPER: What are you doing?

JENNINGS: Yeah, you're hoping. Right now, probably asleep.


JENNINGS: It's late. You know, you're hoping because if you somehow pull a rabbit out of a hat in Nevada here, it keeps Georgia relevant and gives you a chance to pull the Senate majority.

If you don't win it, it's obviously a huge disappointment because you would -- I have imagined at some point, although McConnell was always quite cautious in his predictions. Everybody was out there screaming about the red wave and he was always very muted on that.

But, you know, in a world where Joe Biden's approval rating is in the mid-40s where three-quarters of the country thinks we're off on the wrong track, they're upset and anxious about the economy, you would have thought in a year like that, you could have found one Senate seat out there to flip. And they -- and if this Nevada thing goes against Republicans, they just would not have found it.


And it would be a disappointment, just like the House Republicans are facing disappointments over not, you know, having -- if they hold the House --

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: But this seat was the one that Republicans and Democrats thought was absolutely the most likely to go. They thought that because the nature of the state is much more sensitive to economic issues.

They thought so because Harry Reid passed away. He was the ramrod of the democratic organization there. They've always had close elections. He was the guy who kind of pulled it all together. I mean, there are a lot of reasons.

And Adam Laxalt had been the attorney general. He's a famous state name. He had run for governor. He was not someone who sprung from Donald Trump's brow. So, you know.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Biden's disapproval was 54% in the state. Laxalt was endorsed by Trump and DeSantis. Okay? So, brought them together. Cortez Masto, we have seen in our exit polls now, was trying to attract Latino voters. She did about two to one.

And as David was saying, he had the pedigree. You know, the political pedigree wasn't an unknown. He's an election denier because -- that is one of the reasons, of course, Donald Trump went with him. So, it's clearly considered really gettable and it's closer than, you know, I think Republicans thought that it was going to be.

COOPER: Alice?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: And Laxalt is one of those people. When we heard Mitch McConnell talk weeks ago about his concerns over candidate quality, in my mind, Laxalt was one of the poster child of that because, as Gloria said, he was an election denier. He did not see anything wrong with January 6th.

But he was wise on his campaign to make this about economic issues. He continued to point to Cortez Masto and her support of Biden's policies that led to the economic turmoil that many people in Nevada face.

This is also an interesting -- another example of split ticketing because already in Nevada, we had a republican win: the governor, lieutenant governor, and state comptroller. Now, this is getting so close to the wire. So, it could possibly be another example where people decided they wanted to vote Republican on one side --

COOPER: We should point out this race is not over.


ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do think, though, you know, again, Roe plays a role in this. He is not a pro-choice candidate. He is very anti-LGBTQ. I also think -- you know, I'm an organizer at heart, and the culinary union showed up and showed out in Nevada. And, you know, if you run a race in Nevada, knocking on doors matters. And they did that. And I think it is actually what is helping to close the gap for Cortez Masto.

COOPER: Alyssa?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: One thing I don't think we've mentioned enough, I think the January 6th hearings mattered in all of these races. This is a referendum. We haven't called this race yet, obviously.

But on election denialism, I think that tens of millions of people tuned into those and saw that it was a con and it was a lie. So, even people with a pedigree like Adam Laxalt with a name that matters in the state, they're saying, we're through with people lying.

COOPER: Which is so fascinating because we talked about this earlier, when those hearings started, there's a lot of people saying, look, there is not going to be anything new, what's the point of these things? But just the constant drumbeat of it and the sort of the laser focus of it -- I mean, they were just laying out odds.

GRIFFIN: And to that median voter that Kasie Hunt was talking about, I think they absolutely had an impact.

AXELROD: It was -- I'm sorry. It is part of that stew of kind of extremism that we were talking about earlier. And let me just say, it isn't just what happened during the summer and late spring and early summer, but also the way the race closed.

I wonder how much that attack on Paul Pelosi entered into this. I wonder how much the reemergence of Donald Trump in the last week played into this. I think that this -- you know, added to the burden of -- you know, all of the Republican candidates.

COOPER: Also, the mockery of the attack on Paul Pelosi.

AXELROD: Yes, exactly. Exactly. Yes.

BORGER: Looking at the exit polls, though, that we've shown, it's kind of split at this point between these two candidates, 48% for Cortez Masto and 45% for Laxalt. So, you see how close is this because, of course, the economy in the state of Nevada has really been hit. You know, gas prices still over $5 a gallon. And so, you know, the tourist industry, et cetera, et cetera. So, I think we see why, given everything else, this race remains so tight.

JENNINGS: In a race this close, everything causes you to win and everything causes you to lose --

BORGER: Right.


JENNINGS: -- with such small numbers. But on our exit polling, 75% of respondents said the economy was not good or poor, and Cortez Masto still pulled 36% of those. The people who thought it was excellent or good, she got 92%.

But the fact that a little over a third of the people who are upset in a state where the economy really was ravaged during COVID still went with the Democrat does speak to the idea that other issues crept in there. We thought it was going to be an economic election and inflation election, but, obviously, there are people who are mad about that but then opted for other things.

COOPER: Yeah. Coming up, Senate balance of power coming sharper in focus after a dramatic night. We'll continue to track the vote counts as the numbers come in.

Plus, Donald Trump unleashed a flurry of attacks on social media, giving Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin a mocking nickname which many are calling racist and unhinged.

Our election coverage continues right after a quick break.




COOPER: Battle for control of the Senate in full swing tonight with each party now holding 49 seats. Nevada, Georgia will determine the outcome.

Meanwhile, many Republicans have been evaluating how much former President Trump is helping or hurting his party, especially in light of remarks about Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. Trump writing on his own social media site, Young Kim (now that's an interesting take, sounds Chinese, doesn't it?) in Virginia couldn't have won without me. I endorsed him, did a very big Trump rally for him telephonically, got MAGA to vote for him -- or he couldn't have come close to winning. But he knows that, and admits it. Besides, having a hard time with the Dems in Virginia -- but he'll get it done."


GRIFFIN: Well, I mean, I don't know that that sounds racist, it is racist. I'm not even sure what he's trying to get at with the Youngkin name there. It's just not true. Glenn Youngkin got elected because he ran a very smart race. He met the needs of the state, kids being kept out of the classrooms during COVID, ran on an education choice platform.

Trump was not a factor. It was actually kind of a model that Republicans are saying going forward, that candidates want to run away from Trump but win in purple states need to do. He can't let anyone get credit. If he is not winning, everyone -- COOPER: By the way, he won.


COOPER: He's in office. So, right. And Trump is not. It's remarkable.

BORGER: Do you think it was because he apologized to Nancy Pelosi? He apologized to Nancy Pelosi after he made an ill-considered remark, you know, and he wrote her a handwritten note.

GRIFFIN: He sees that as weakness.

BORGER: And like the fact that he did it.

JENNINGS: I think because he is running -- I mean, everybody is talking about Youngkin running for president. So, you know, you're going to get there.

BORGER: That's part of it.

STEWART: Clearly, he's one of the other people listed on the potentials to run in 2024. But Glenn Youngkin was smart not to take the bait.


STEWART: Any Republican who has ever been against Trump realizes, don't take the bait or you're going to be served up as a fillet on the dinner table in short order.

They also talk with Youngkin's campaign today about this. They said, look, Donald Trump is becoming more and more irrelevant, just let him go. When Trump is running into a big mistake, he's clearly going to label everyone. He did so with DeSantis, calling him DeSanctimonious. But he is making a big strategic mistake when he is attacking popular governors in their states.

You heard when he called Ron DeSantis that name. People in the crowd booed. So, if he wants to burn the down the House, that's fine, but he's going to really hurt his own grassroots base when he goes after --

JENNINGS: On the strategy of ignoring it, that's also what DeSantis is doing. There has been some reporting today that DeSantis has just decided to ignore it. I think that's -- you can comment on this maybe -- that might be what drives the craziest. McConnell has ignored. By the way, he made racist attacks against Mitch McConnell's wife, Secretary Chao, as well, also on the idea of something sounding Chinese. But this idea of ignoring it, I think, is --

AXELROD: I think that disturbs him most of all. But, you know, the thing on Youngkin that was interesting is, he had the advantage of a system in Virginia that didn't really -- that wasn't really a primary. He didn't really need Trump's endorsement.

And that is the big problem for the Republican Party because you need his endorsement to win or at least you've had to have his endorsement to win in the past, and then it's really hard in a general election to get that. Frankly, that stench off of you with voters who don't like Trump.

GRIFFIN: Can I just mention, by the way, Youngkin's lieutenant governor, a rising star in the party, Marine Corp veteran, was one of the first people to come out of the gay (ph) and say it should not be Trump in 2024. I just like to note that it is women who have traditionally been ahead of the curve on the Republican Party.

ALLISON: I mean, is anybody surprised by this tweet? Trump is racist. He pouts when he loses. He draws tantrums. I mean, he is actually one of the most consistent politicians in a negative way I have seen. I'm not surprised by this. He is showing us who he is and he is not going to change.

BORGER: But this isn't the first time. I mean, this is kind of deja vu for me about 2016. When he ran in 2016, he had a nickname for everybody. It was low energy Bush or whatever. He's kind of replaying all of that. But he seems to be the only one who doesn't realize that people don't want to hear that anymore. I mean, maybe some people in his base do who go to his rallies.

COOPER: But when you hear Ted Cruz who is -- went over to campaign for Walker, saying, you know, of course, Trump is welcome. It would be great. Anybody is welcome here. I mean, they're not -- everyone is not --

STEWART: That's part of the strategy with the Walker campaign, speaking with his folks. Look, they need Trump's base. They need the support. They're not really going to turn away anyone. The key with them is, you don't want to put him in Atlanta. You want to put him in more the areas of the state where he does have support.


BORGER: But they're really going to rely on in the Walker race if it does go down to Georgia, which it appears that it may be hugely instrumental. They are going to rely on more people like Youngkin, like DeSantis, and people that are more of the rational wing of the Republican Party, the new face of the Republican Party.

AXELROD: In that rant of his, Trump talked about, you know, doing this telephonic rally for him. The reason it was telephonic was because they didn't want him anywhere near the state. They made that very, very clear to him, and the people around him made it clear. He had that because he didn't want the impression to be that he wasn't invited into the state. So, he pulled it together. I think Bannon was involved in that.

GRIFFIN: And if I could issue just one warning, though, the problem with Donald Trump -- we know his character at this point -- is if he loses, he will burn the entire party down with him. That's, I think, what we all have to look forward to.

BORGER: He has done that. He's continuing to do it. GRIFFIN: That is part of what forces some of the same wing of the party to keep going back to him. My advice would be let him burn it down and let's rise from the ashes.

ALLISON: Here is what I will say about Georgia and Trump going, be careful. There are a lot of Black voters in rural Georgia. And that was the approach in 2020, going to counties where people often don't go. And if Trump goes there, he activates a base in the democratic Georgia party that I think could backfire.

COOPER: Democrats defied expectations, historical precedent, and denied Republicans the big red wave this week. We will take a closer look at why has this election cycle been different from midterms in the past. "Election Night in America" continues.




BASH: The results of this midterm election we projected so far have been unlike any midterm in modern history that we have seen, and it could be in part because of the major Supreme Court decision this summer to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Let's talk about that. Abby, we were talking about this in the break, about the notion of right after it was overturned, the Democrats thought they had a galvanizing issue, then the economy seemed to supersede it, but abortion was always there as an energizer --


BASH: -- for Democrats and independents.

PHILLIP: Absolutely. You know, I think that there is this temptation to view what happened over the summer after the Supreme Court decision as something of a mirage. But I was talking to a Republican who is working in a bunch of races across the country who said, we were getting killed over the summer after the Dobbs decision. It was a very, very real change for Republican candidates. The question was, how long would it last?

I think even a lot of Democrats didn't really know. I think what we are seeing this week is that in a lot of places, not everywhere on the map, but in a lot of places, it was that extra edge.

The Democrats need to hold on to some seats that were really at risk and to get voters out. And also, these ballot initiatives. There were several on the ballot. Abortion rights won in pretty much every single one of them. That's really remarkable, I think, just for the record on where the country stands on this issue of abortion.

CHALIAN: I had a conversation -- I went back and read my notes from it next this week, back in February, with the White House adviser --

BASH: I remember this.

CHALIAN: -- about the abortion issue and about whether or not the court was going to overturn Dobbs. And I remember the White House having this mentality of, this is going to be the thing for us. If the court does do this, this is going to change this whole midterm landscape, but also raise the issue of, but it will come out in June, and we have to go all the way to November. So, there was this open question there.

I think what is so fascinating about this week, and we said it's unlike any before -- remember, in 2020, the House was really close also. There was a presidential contest going on. We didn't quite focus on it as much. But this is the second very close House election in a row now. I do think what is intriguing to look at is from a tale of two states. If indeed the Republicans win this majority, it is going to be largely like New York and many districts there which flipped from blue to red is going to hand the majority.

The countervailing pressure is a place like Pennsylvania, four competitive districts there that Democrats were able to maintain. So, you're like, what is different? What is different when it comes to this abortion issue? In New York, Kathy Hochul is governor, and perhaps people did not feel quite as threatened about the outcome of what would be in their lives versus like a Doug Mastriano running for governor.

And so, it's even that much more of an edge, much more galvanizing for voters in a state like Pennsylvania, even though that is more purple than New York.

RAJU: I also think that the pendulum just swings both ways in American politics. When voters view one party going too far, they tend to bring them in from time to time. So, even though people supporting Roe v. Wade, overwhelmingly supported by the American public, the idea that --

HUNT: Roe?

RAJU: Yeah, the idea that Roe could go away essentially galvanize Democratic voters.


The question for Republicans in the runup in the last few weeks of campaign season is, they have no answer for this issue. They were getting absolutely hammered. They decided to just completely ignore it.


RAJU: They completely believe that it was just going to be inflation.

HUNT: Economy.

RAJU: Just going to be the economy and didn't want to get into this issue and ultimately cost them. HUNT: We spent a lot of time talking about what we've seen over the past couple of days in terms of extremes, right? Voters rejecting extreme candidates. I actually think that plays, to your point, a very important role in the abortion issue as well because the reality is that the decision, the Dobbs decision, was the most extreme version of that decision that could -- that they could have made.

It was the farthest they could have gone to change our abortion laws and frankly was out of step with the majority of the country. Right? Like yes, there are pluralities of Americans who believe that there should be some restrictions on abortion at some point in pregnancy as long as, you know, there are reasonable exceptions for rape and incest and the life of the mother. Fine, but that's not what the court did and that is not what many of the states did.

And Republicans, I think, lost sight of that. They figured it out at the end of the campaign. You may have noticed that they started talking about and trying to pin down Democrats on what restrictions they would support, and they started trying to argue Democrats support abortion without any restriction because they realized that they were now the ones on the extreme end of the issue and the voters didn't like it.

RAJU: But they never talked about -- they never talked about what they would do as a party on this issue. They were just --

PHILLIP: Except by putting on the table a national abortion ban, which I think actually --

RAJU: Which badly divided the party.

PHILLIP: -- to make abortion a very much a national issue no matter where you live.

BASH: I got to -- I was asking Republican strategists who worked on Senate campaigns about like what happened, and the answer was, we lost independents when we thought we'd win them and massively underperformed with them, and the reason largely, some of it was Trump, but also abortion.


HUNT: Yeah, and it's pretty clear now.

PHILLIP: Now we know where Americans stand on this issue, in a way that we haven't known even since Roe became the law of the land. I think that's going to have huge implication for this country, especially in the next election, a presidential election in which you could have people who are opposed to abortion on the ballot on the republican side.

BASH: Okay, coming up, there is much more vote counting ahead in the remaining uncalled critical races. We're going to take a closer look at what we can expect to learn in the days ahead. Days ahead. Stay with us. Our election coverage continues right after a quick break.




BASH: Nevada is in the spotlight tonight as that state's Senate contest could potentially determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the chamber.

David Chalian, 821 votes at this hour, but it has been a very, a very dramatic night.

CHALIAN: It certainly has been, Dana. Now, I wish I had a timestamp to put on this graphic, everyone. This is where we started the evening. Right before we came on the air, Adam Laxalt had 8,960 vote lead at that time. There were 95,000 ballots left to count in Nevada. You can see here that Catherine Cortez Masto needed 52% to 54% of them, Adam Laxalt 43% to 47%.

We got about 40,000 votes over the evening. So, where are we now? This is the current assessment. Approximately 55,000 votes are out. And when those 40,000 votes came in, wow, did things close. Now, Adam Laxalt leads only 821 votes and Catherine Cortez Masto only needs about 50% to 51%. Her need number went down because she made up so much ground. And Adam Laxalt, who is slightly ahead, needs about 49% to 50% of this outstanding 55,000 to win this race.

BASH: And David, there are still tens of thousands of votes that could sway this election in either direction. Brianna Keilar is at the voting desk with how many votes are left in Nevada. Brie?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Dana, as Chalian was just illustrating there, we still do not know who Nevada's next senator will be. It is a crucial race for control of the Senate. So, let's look at Clark County, home to Las Vegas, of course, and 70% of the population of the state. They have just over 23,000 mail-in ballots left to count. Mail-in votes in Clark County, they have been trending democratic and new votes that we got there tonight did stick with that trend.

I should note, not included in the remaining mail-in ballots are about 15,000 additional ballots, ballots that could eventually be counted, including 10,000 that need to be cured, meaning the voter there made an error, they need to correct it in order for their vote to be counted.

Usually, not a lot of ballots get cured, but we do know that the Las Vegas Culinary Union, which is huge there, is organizing to help alert any of its members that have a problem with their ballots, to alert them to what they may not know. So, a higher number than past elections could come in by the Monday deadline. There are also 5,555 provisional ballots cast in person on election day that still need to be validated.

So, on to Washoe County, home to Reno, we are still waiting on 12,000 mail-in votes there. That is expected by tomorrow. The county also has just under 2,000 provisional ballots that still need to be verified.


Votes reported tonight in Washoe County have also continued to trend democratic. So, between these 12,000 ballots left there in Washoe and the 23,000 left in Clark County, it is possible that the Democratic candidate or incumbent Senator Catherine Cortez Masto could take the lead.

BASH: So incredible. Brie, thank you so much. Thank you so much for watching. Our election coverage continues, next. Stay with CNN for all of the latest results.