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CNN Live Event/Special

CNN Covers Election Night In America. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 07, 2023 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: You're looking live at election night in America. Triumph for some, desolation for others, and lessons, frankly, for everyone.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: That's right, Laura, that election night map tells us quite a lot about what you at home are feeling about the direction of the country, about abortion, about which party gets your vote on policy. But there are also some new polls that at the same time hammer home the deep, deep alienation with the current president of the United States.

You're watching CNN's special live coverage, Election Night in America. I'm Abby Philip in Washington.

COATES: And I'm Laura Coates here in New York. I mean, Abby, if you're a Democratic consultant, this should be a good night. CNN projects that Kentucky's Democratic governor is going to win against a rising Republican star in a state Donald Trump carried by 26 points.

Now, voters in red Ohio prove abortion is still a very powerful motivator. Tonight, CNN projects they said yes to enshrining abortion access in their Constitution.

And yet new CNN poll numbers confirm just how high a hurdle President Biden has been facing with voters heading into 2024. Talking about young voters, independents, Black voters, Latino voters. That's really the core of the Biden coalition. And one year out from the presidential contest, it looks very, very unstable.

Let's get right to John Berman at the magic wall. John, what a night. Walk us through already the big headline out of Kentucky and what we're still waiting to hear for in Mississippi.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: You got it. So, in Kentucky, CNN has projected that the incumbent Democratic Governor Andy Beshear will win re- election.

And he has overperformed Joe Biden everywhere in this state. Remember, Joe Biden won only two counties for president in 2020. He won here in Jefferson County where Louisville is, and he won where Lexington is right there, Fayette County. Andy Beshear, he swept many more counties than Joe Biden did. It overperformed Biden everywhere and overperformed his own performance from four years ago, practically everywhere as well.

All these states that are colored in, red and blue, Andy Beshear is doing better than he did four years ago. So, you can see in democratic counties like Jefferson County, where Louisville is, Andy Beshear got 70% of the vote this time. Four years ago, he got 67%. So, he stretched that.

But he also was able to do that in other counties as well. If you look here in Daviess County, where Owensboro is, Andy Beshear won that county with 51% of the vote, we're projecting right now. Four years ago, it was actually a republican county. So, you can see Andy Beshear able to really extend his lead.

And one other thing I want to point out because we're going to be looking at this all night long and, frankly, all year long, suburban counties, which could be a battleground. There aren't tons in Kentucky, but there are some, and you can see here that -- actually, let me put it on, make sure we're looking at this election -- in 2023, you can see that Andy Beshear won most of the suburban counties here, including flipping this one from four years ago. So, a good night for the Democrats in Kentucky, a good night in places where they wanted to do well.

Let's look at Mississippi right now where we have not currently projected a winner. The incumbent Republican, Tate Reeves, is leading by 10 points right now with 71% in. The reason we have not projected this race is because of Hinds County right here, the most populous county in the state, is where Jackson is, you can see just 13% of the vote in right now. So, a lot of vote left to be counted there. How much vote? It's hard to say.

Four years ago, if you look at Hinds County, you can see the Democrat four years ago won by 40,000 votes. But there were just 70 -- I say just -- there were 70,000 votes total in that county. If you look right now at Mississippi, you can see Tate Reeves is leading by 65,000 votes. So, would there be enough votes in Hinds County alone to make the difference? Probably not. But we want to wait and see. We want to count those votes.

There are also some counties where there's almost no vote. Actually, the vote just did come in here. Washington County, we were looking at, there was none of this before.


BERMAN: This all just came in right now. You can see Brandon Presley there. The Democrat who is, by the way, second cousin with Elvis Presley, he is leading in that county by some 4,000 votes.

Let me look at Tupelo, Mississippi. The birthplace of Elvis Presley, Lee County, Brandon Presley is actually trailing in the birthplace of his second cousin, Elvis Presley, Laura.

COATES: With all the hype and the movies, too. That's surprising for a lot of reasons. But it's helpful to think about what happened then and now. [23:05:00]

But what about Virginia? What's happening? That's a very big barometer.

BERMAN: So, Virginia, we have a different type of data coming in. I can't show you county by county breakdowns, but I can tell you where Democrats and Republicans are leading. Both chambers and the assembly are up. Every seat is up.

In the Senate, right now, Democrats are leading in 21 of the Senate seats. They would need 21 to control. So, they are in position, if things hold, to control the Senate. They are currently in control of the state Senate in Virginia. So, this would be a hold for them there.

We can look at the House of Delegates now as well. The House of Delegates, if I pull that up right there, you see that Democrats are leading. This number is actually a little outdated. I understand now Democrats are leading in 53 of the House of Delegates races. They would need 51 to control.

If this holds, this would be a flip, Laura, and Democrats would then control both chambers of the Virginia Assembly. And this would be a setback for the incumbent Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, who wanted what they're calling the trifecta. He wanted to control the governor's mansion and have Republicans control both chambers. If things stand right now, he would control the mansion, but neither chamber in the assembly.

COATES: The trifecta, some say he wants the presidency. It's a very crucial moment to be able to flip the entire legislative branch in Virginia for other reasons. But I want to go back. It's already in real time right now. Go back to Hinds County. Tightening up there already.

BERMAN: All right, let's look back at Hinds County. You have information for me here. Hinds County right here, that is where Jackson is, 34% of the vote in. All right, it's not tightening. He's actually widening the lead in Hinds County with 34% in. You can see Brandon Presley has 87% of the vote. He's got a 20,000-vote lead there. That is a big lead and it's bigger, I think, than the Democrat had four years ago. So, he's overperforming the Democrat from four years ago. He needs to probably do even better than that.

So, right now, a wide lead in Hinds County, which is bringing him closer, closer to Tate Reeves who is still at 53%. One thing I do want to point out, there is a new law in Mississippi, that if neither of the candidates gets above 50%, 50% plus one, there will be a runoff. So, as you're watching the vote come in from Hinds County and there's still a lot of vote to come in from there, maybe that's what everyone should be watching for if it's enough to drive Tate Reeves below 50% statewide.

COATES: We'll keep watching what's going on here. Take me to Ohio right now because the abortion issue, really prominent. BERMAN: All right. Ohio, this is -- there was a ballot initiative to enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution. CNN has projected that will win. Abortion rights have won in Ohio, which I will remind people, in the vote for president in 2020, Donald Trump won by about 8%. Right now, if you're looking at the abortion initiative, abortion right is leading by about 11%.

And I can show you the counties that Trump won in Ohio right now. Every county that has a color here, green or orange is a county that Trump won. So, you can see all the green counties here where abortion right is leading, Trump actually won. So, you could think of that, if you're a Democrat, an abortion rights supporting Democrat, you could think of that as a flip. Abortion rights flipped in every county here that's green. That's an interesting way to look at it.

One other way to look at this is in again, suburban counties. This is something that we're going to be talking about for a long time here. These are the counties we consider suburban counties. You can see green, abortion rights leading in most of the suburban counties here.

And if I just circle these areas here to show you again roughly where these suburban counties are, and I remind you where Donald Trump won four years ago, you can see, yes, there are a few blue counties, but a lot of red. A lot of red suburban counties flipped, in essence, to abortion rights.

And so, Democrats looking at this think, hey, you know what, abortion rights, this could be a potent issue, a potent enough issue to turn some counties that had been voting Republican.

COATES: A really important point, and we'll talk to our strategists and also a lot of people talking about what will happen based on these figures in other states. John, stand by. I will come back to you a lot throughout the night. Abby?

PHILLIP: Laura, so much there in those maps. I want to bring it in to the studio here with my panel. Astead Herndon, start with you. The state of Kentucky, this is going to become sort of like the golden -- golden boy halo on Andy Beshear, that very popular Democratic governor winning in a ruby red state a second term. Is this potentially a roadmap for any other Democrat who is not named Beshear, which is a pretty famous last name in that state?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, it's important to note the local factors that really matter there. Of course, he has that kind of local brand in the state.


But I do think it provides somewhat of a roadmap for Democrats that they're going to take. If you're candidates who are not Joe Biden, try to refocus these issues on protecting abortion rights, on focusing on kind of Republican attempts to pull the abortion issue kind of out of where public opinion is. And you have seen Democrats really hammer home on that message, and it played really to Beasher's strengths. And so, I think that becomes somewhat of a model here for kind of Democrats to play off nationally. But what we really see, I think, across the board is a split between the health of maybe the Democratic Party broadly and what Joe Biden can do kind of himself if we're looking ahead to 2024.

And so, I think that there are signs for Democrats' down ballot that shows that their voters are still really engaged, that they really understand the stakes of the election. Things like abortion are really still driving voters in a way that really gives them signs.

But there's also really clear evidence, I think, that we have coming from CNN's polling, Times polling, others every week, that may not translate individually to Joe Biden because he has the unique issue of his age.

PHILLIP: So, who wants to help me make sense of this? Joe Biden in this polling, it's really dismal. Some numbers that are -- if you're a Democrat, Black voters, young voters, it would be really scary if this were November 2024. But at the same time, Democrats are having a good night. They're having a good night in Ohio, they're having a good night in Kentucky, and they're having a good night potentially in Virginia. How does this make sense?

JANE COASTON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think that part of this is that I think the American electorate has not yet come to terms with the fact that there's a likely chance that we are going to have a Joe Biden versus Donald Trump election again.

I think that you've seen the numbers when it's Joe Biden versus a generic Democrat, who would obviously be perfect and wonderful, or when it's Donald Trump versus a generic Republican. But that's not what we're going to get. I think that you're seeing again and again that the American people want someone else. They're just not likely to get it.

You're also seeing that Republicans once again have decided that abortion is going to be an issue they can win on. We heard from the Youngkin team saying that 15 weeks is something everyone can agree on. They kept talking about how rational and a very centrist approach to take. And I think that Americans who have been around for longer than 10 seconds are aware that when they say 15 weeks, they don't mean it.

We have heard again and again and again and again that Republicans want to limit abortion rights. And Americans were listening to that and said, no. They said no in Ohio, they said no in Virginia, and they said no in Kentucky.

And let's also keep in mind that Ohio just legalized recreational marijuana. Like these are issues that I think attract young people. They attract people who are not traditional Democratic voters.

But I think it's important to separate those issues from the fact that many Americans are saying, I don't want to have another Trump-Biden election.

PHILLIP: I mean, what does this mean for Joe Biden in your view?

KRISTEN SOLTIS-ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I mean, if you take a look at some other polls that have come out showing this hypothetical generic Republican or generic Democrat against either Trump or Biden, you see exactly the dynamic that Jane described, and you see really big swings, particularly with groups like young voters.

The New York Times-Sienna poll that came out over the weekend showed that Joe Biden against Donald Trump was running close to even with young voters. And as someone who studied young voters for a long time, I was like, hang on everybody, young voters are not Republican.

PHILLIP: And the CNN poll had very similar results.

SOLTIS-ANDERSON: Right. And then when you look at it against Joe Biden, against sort of -- pardon me, Donald Trump against generic Democrats, suddenly, the numbers snap back into place. It is not that young people have all swung to the right. It is that they uniquely look at Joe Biden and go, this can't possibly be the guy we're going to vote for, right? And so, I think Democrats have some really hard choices to make in the coming weeks ahead.

PHILLIP: I was just talking, Mark Preston, to Chris Christie in the last hour, and he was very eager to say, when you look at the Kentucky race, Daniel Cameron, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, who hugged Donald Trump, who coddled some of the election lies even, all of that, he lost. And Trump was just saying that his endorsement, just a couple days ago, his endorsement was going to be the surge to push Cameron over the top, and that did not happen.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, remember when Donald Trump after the election talked about how great his percentage was on his endorsements, but then if you looked at the endorsements, many of those people that were running didn't even have challengers, right? So, he inflated his numbers.

I think when you look in Kentucky, I think Daniel Cameron had to endorse Donald Trump. Even if you look at the CNN poll right now, Donald Trump has a 76% approval rating nationally. That's with every one of these court cases going on against him. That's with all the video footage we have of January 6 right now. Donald Trump is a force in the Republican Party that we have never seen certainly in our lifetime.

The question is, though, for Chris Christie, who I think, you know, 10 years ago, Chris Christie is like the atypical Republican candidate that you want out on the stump. Ten years later, you look at these numbers, you look at the CNN poll, Chris Christie's approval rating amongst Republicans is over 50%. Now, I don't think that's fear to Chris Christie, but I think it does go to show you where the Republican Party is right now.

PHILLIP: Oh yeah, absolutely. And you know what? Andy Beshear outperformed Joe Biden.

[23:15:00] But he also outperformed Andy Beshear, really blowing himself his last performance out of the water, which shows growth even among probably some Trump voters in the state of Kentucky, which should be something of a wake-up call for Republicans.

Everyone, stick around. Laura, you've got a lot more to discuss over there.

COATES: We really do, Abby, because it's a huge night in America. I want to bring in my panel of CNN political commentators. We've got Ashley Allison, we have Alice Stewart, we have Geoff Duncan and Jamal Simmons, all experts in their own right.

I want to really lean into what's going on in Ohio, though, because we know normally in any election, Roe v. Wade is almost always on the ballot. With the Dobbs decision, no more. And yet abortion is still on the ballot. You're from Ohio. I want to start with you, Ms. Ohioan, and ask you, what do you make of this? Are you surprised that they are coming out this way?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not. And one of the reasons why I think Ohio continues to trend more and more red is because the investment in the Democratic Party has continued to decrease and decrease after Obama won in 2012.

Ohio is a very diverse state. It has Appalachia. It has the steel mills of Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio, where I'm from. It has Cincinnati, where the airport is actually in Kentucky. And then it has Columbus, which is a booming metropolitan area with Ohio State, the second largest university in the country. So, when you have a state like that, the diversity allows for a complexity of way the way the voter shows up.

In August, there was a tell that in a special election, in August of all years of 2023, Ohio voters still showed up and said, we don't want you to change the way you get a constitutional amendment in the state. And because of that, then they showed up again and said, and now we want to enshrine abortion into our Constitution.

And so, again, I think it's a tell that Republicans are a bit out of touch with this issue and it will be a forecast on how Sherrod Brown can actually win next year in the Senate race. Joe Biden probably won't win Ohio, but can Sherrod Brown hold his Senate seat in 2024?

COATES: That's a good point.

GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's no doubt that Republicans are misfiring on abortion, right? And when you lose a state, a ballot issue like this in a state like Ohio and others, then obviously something is misfiring.

I think the fundamental flaw that Republicans have taken into this conversation around abortion is it has become a primary issue. And so, everybody tries to outwrite them -- each other in a primary process. I watched it play out in Georgia in the illustrious Herschel Walker Senate debacle, to be nice. I watched a stage full of candidates, Republican candidates, just go one after another, after another, after another, saying that they didn't believe in any exceptions. I can't imagine that makes any sense in any shape or any corner of the country to stand up there and say that you don't believe in any exceptions even if you're in a pro-life stance.

I think the conversation has got to shift and it's going to take a long time to do this. But look, almost every American is pro-life and pro-choice. It's just about where on the calendar does that come in. And we need to shape that argument in a way that's empathetic and compassionate, not bombastic and demonizing the other side on this.

COATES: Some said Roe v. Wade did that with the test. That obviously is gone. But what do you think?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, when you have a state like Ohio, very red state, coming forth with this position on the abortion issue, it should be a wake-up call -- excuse me -- to the pro-life community. It's, you know, 55% for restoring the abortion provisions in the state Constitution to 44. That's a real wake-up call to the pro-life community.

And I think moving forward, having been someone that has fought really hard for many years to overturn Roe v. Wade, the issue was to put this back in the hands of the states. It has been back in the hands of the states on ballot initiative after ballot initiative since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Every single time, voters in the states voted to protect abortion rights.

So, the pro-life community needs to look at this. To Geoff's point, let's reshape the conversation. This needs to be more about limits on abortion. Where do we agree on? Let's make sure we have protections for rape, incest, and life of the mother, and look at reasonable limits on abortion. Fifteen weeks, I think most people would agree is reasonable.

And have the conversation from there, because I can guarantee you, I'm sure Ashley will agree, Democrats will use this as an issue in the 2024 election. More states will probably put this on the ballot because it certainly turns out voters. But Republicans need to shift the conversation more to limits as opposed to an outright --

COATES: (INAUDIBLE) thinks that way. But I ask you, Jamal, because when you're talking, it feels a little bit like moving the goalpost. You say you want the people to decide in a state. Well, if time after time, they've made the decision, and then you say, well, actually, I guess I'm not framing this correctly for you, does it undermine the voter's intelligence and are they onto it?

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The voters have just decided, whatever the issue is, they're not really for taking away a woman's right to make the choices about her own body when it comes to her reproductive choices.

You know, I remember last year when I was at the White House last year, I remember everyone thought that election was going to be about the economy. There was a "New York Times" poll on October 17th, I know we were all talking about a "Times" poll from the other day, October 17th, that said the economy was the most important issue, it was going to be more important than abortion, and Republicans were headed to a big victory. It's not what happened, right?


And I think the same thing we're seeing now, ever since we had those pink pussycat hat marches right after Donald Trump won his election, we have seen the women of America stand up again and again and again when it's time to talk about MAGA and say, no, thank you.

I was watching one race in Virginia, particularly Russet Perry, who is a state senator running for state Senate in Virginia, District 31. That race was all about crime. She was being tagged as soft on crime, and then she was tagging her opponent about being an abortion extremist. She has won that race with 53% of the vote about. Right? We are seeing this again and again.

Last thing I'll say on this, I was talking to a pollster friend earlier today. He said when it comes to young voters, which Democrats are very concerned about right now, when it comes to young voters, it's Donald Trump and abortion are the one-two punch. Right?

When young voters realize Donald Trump is the one who's on the ballot, and then they think about the Supreme Court and what it did with abortion, it moves young voters back to the camp of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I think that we all need to simmer down a little bit and let this election play out.

COATES: I think that was loaded. I think there might be a poll. You're referencing about simmering down.


Something tells me there was something recently that happened that made the Biden camp a little bit nervous.

We're still waiting on results in Mississippi and also Virginia on this election night in America. We'll be back in just a moment.



PHILLIP: We are still waiting for results in Virginia and in Mississippi, and we've just gotten an update there. Let's go straight to John Berman at the magic wall. John, what's happening right now?

BERMAN: Yes, still county votes in Mississippi, Abby. You can see the Republican Tate Reeves, the incumbent is leading by about 8% right now, about 56,000 votes. But there is still a giant county outstanding. Hinds County, the most populous county in the state, you can see has just 34% reporting. And in this county, it is the most democratic county in the state as well, you can see Brandon Presley, the Democrat, is leading by 20,000 votes, nearly 75%.

So, there's a lot more vote to come in there. How much vote? It's a little hard to tell what the ultimate total will be. But if you look at four years ago in Hinds County, the Democrat won there with 77% of the vote. There were about 70,000 votes total in that county. So, project that out again to now 70,000 votes. Can they expect 40,000 or more votes? They're unclear, but it might be enough to narrow this lead that Tate Reeves has even more.

And in Mississippi, if neither candidate takes above 50% of the vote, 50% plus one, there will be a runoff. So, that's something we're watching very closely now as these votes come in. And there are still a few other counties that'll go down to 75%. Everything you see here colored in is a county that's got less than 75% of the vote in. Hinds County, the most populous, but there are a lot of the blue counties there as well. So, still counting, Abby.

PHILLIP: Yeah, still counting. But just to underscore, the question here is whether one of these candidates will get above 50%. Otherwise, we could still be looking at a runoff in this race. John Berman, stand by for us.

We are still, as you can see here, counting these votes. We have much more to come as we watch these results come in from Virginia, also from Mississippi. More of CNN's special live coverage coming up, next.



COATES: Welcome back to CNN special live coverage. Right now, a major projection. CNN projects that Democrats will hold on to their majority in the Virginia State Senate. The House remains undecided. But Democrats are currently ahead there. But we are still not ready to make a projection there.

Let's go back to John Berman to break it all down. John, walk us through these numbers.

BERMAN: Yeah, let's take a look at this right now. At this moment, there are 21 Democrats leading in Senate races in Virginia. CNN projects that they will control the state Senate. That's a hold for them. They currently control the Senate.

But this is significant because the incumbent Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, he has laid a lot on the line. He has gone all in to try to get control of both chambers, the Senate and the House of Delegates, to give him the trifecta.

So, we could have the governor's mansion, the Senate, and the House of Delegates. He's not going to get there. CNN projects that Democrats will control the Senate. And if you look at the House of Delegates right now, where things stand, Democrats are leading there as well. So, it's possible this night could get even worse for Glenn Youngkin.

One of the issues that Democrats have tried to lean into in this election, abortion rights, something that we saw in Ohio, we saw in Kentucky. We're seeing it at play here in Virginia as well. Democrats will likely credit their mentioning and campaigning on abortion rights as something that helped them maintain now control of the state Senate and has them leading in the House of Delegates and dealing a setback to a popular Republican governor. Laura?

COATES: John Berman, so important to remember, this was a governor who has only has one term and he wanted to have a lot under his belt. Maybe he wants to run for the presidency in the future. Abby?

PHILLIP: Laura, we've got the perfect person potentially to talk to about all of those developments. Joining me now is the former Republican governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Bob McDonnell. Governor, thanks for joining us.


PHILLIP: Hi there. So, look, a very significant consequential date for your state and for your governor. Glenn Youngkin really put it all on the line here, saying to voters, give me full control of this government, and I can give you a conservative agenda. Did voters tonight reject that agenda?

MCDONNELL: Well, it looks like the Republicans are going to pick up one seat in the Senate but not enough to take the majority. So, the Democrats will control there. I think it's too close to call right now in the House from everything that I've seen.

But, you know, a couple of things that really, I guess, surprised me. Glenn Youngkin did a terrific job getting Republicans to believe in early voting. And so, the ballot numbers early on for the Republicans were terrific, but the margin on Election Day seemed to be about, you know, be about even (ph), which wasn't.


Republicans had won Election Day in these past couple of years. But the second thing is, you know, Youngkin is a popular governor, President Biden is way underwater in Virginia, and on things like crime and major investments in education and taxes where there were major tax cuts for the people, all of which were popular initiatives, it's surprising that Glenn Youngkin's efforts and his popularity didn't carry -- didn't carry more weight today.

And I think the obvious issue was abortion in the wake of the Dobbs decision, decisions going back now to the states under the federalist principles. It looks like that issue was -- turned out to be a winning issue for the Democratic Party. Their messaging of calling it a ban after 15 weeks or even before is the way they message it.

Even though the Republicans that indicated Democrats had no limits up to birth, it seemed like the messaging went in favor of the Democratic Party and for suburban women. That's where the Republicans lost today.

PHILLIP: Was that a mistake for Youngkin to make this election cycle in Virginia about a 15-week abortion ban, given what we now are seeing in all of these different states? A lot of American voters, when this is put to them, they reject that. Was it a mistake for him to do that?

MCDONNELL: See, I don't think he really made it about that. He made the Republican position pretty clear early on that this was about a 15-week limit, and after that, exceptions to rape, incest and life of the mother, but said that, look, we believe in parental notification, parental consent, informed consent, abandon, partial birth, abortion, all of which are very much supported by 70% plus of Virginians.

And so, the argument was that the Democrats were the ones that were radical with favoring abortion up until the moment of birth, which they admitted in several of the legislation. So, I'm surprised that contrast, Abby, didn't carry the day with suburban women because that's more in tune with where they say that they actually -- where they actually are. And so, focusing on crime and education and tax cuts and so forth as a contrast to the democratic position, I thought, would win.

I look at my election in 2009. I got to my opponents who spent most of this time talking about my position on abortion, and I said, yeah, I'm pro-life, but look, I'm going to fix your roads, I'm going to improve your schools, I'm going to make -- carry the day on some of the kitchen table issues, and that won by 18 points. So, I'm surprised we're so purple now in Northern Virginia that we didn't win.

PHILLIP: Look, just really quick, I mean, does this complicate Glenn Youngkin's argument, potentially, that he wants to have a national platform, that he couldn't sell this message even in his home state, a purple state like Virginia?

MCCONNELL: I think that's too early to say that. He's still a very popular governor. You know, high 50s in a purple state. I think that says a lot about his ability to lead. We're going to end up with not having a republican majority, which is what he sought after. But the ultimate change in both houses is going to be essentially nominal, one or two votes. But I think that, you know, with his popularity and Biden's unpopularity, I just thought we'd have a different outcome.

PHILLIP: Yeah. It is very interesting. Interesting also that this is coming as a surprise to you, too. Governor Bob McDonnell, thank you for joining us. Good timing to have you on tonight.

And we are still awaiting some important results to come in tonight from Virginia, still waiting to find out about the House of Delegates there and also from the state of Mississippi, and how worried should the president's campaign be about these new and troubling CNN poll numbers? We'll have much more on CNN special live coverage just ahead.



COATES: You're watching CNN's special live coverage. It is election night in America, and CNN is projecting the Democrats will maintain control of the Virginia State Senate. Right now, they lead the House of Delegates as well, but CNN is not yet ready to make a projection. CNN's data guru, Harry Enten, is here at the magic wall. Harry, talk to me about what history tells us about what impact the Virginia race could actually have next year.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I think the question is, why the heck should anyone outside the state of Virginia care about the results that we're seeing tonight, right? We're keep concentrating on these individual states. Let me give you a reason why perhaps they should care. And that is that the outcome of the Virginia Senate is actually a pretty good bellwether of what happens in the next year's presidential race.

So, if you look at 2019, for example, Democrats won there, Joe Biden won here in 2020. 2015, the GOP won, then Donald Trump won. 2011 was a tie, Obama won. But then go back to 2008, the Democrats won. 2000, you can see that. 2008, Obama won. 2007, the Democrats won. So, the fact is, in three of the last four election cycles, who wins the Virginia Senate has told us who's going to win the next year's presidential race.

And that, to me, is a reason why, even if you don't live in the state of Virginia and you don't even care about the state politics, you could actually care if you care about national politics because there's a telltale sign.

COATES: Well, there's also Kentucky, though.


I heard that was a bellwether. Are they one and the same?

ENTEN: Yes. In fact, Kentucky is actually a better bellwether, four for four. Democrats win in 2019. Biden wins in 2020. 2016, Trump won. A year before the GOP won, 2011, it was Andy Beshear's father, Steve Beshear, who won in 2011 and 2007, forecasted Obama wins in both 2012 and 2008.

And I think this ultimately comes down to the question I think a lot of us are going to be asking over the next 24 to 48 hours. The polls are saying one thing, the results, when people are actually voting, are saying something entirely different.

And based upon recent history, hey, Democrats really have to like what happened in Kentucky and they really have to like as well what happened in Virginia because the next year, if history holds, right, maybe Joe Biden is, in fact, going to win reelection even though the polls perhaps at this point aren't too favorable for him.

COATES: The real question is what happens if Virginia and Kentucky are at odds, and then which one is going to be the true bellwether. I guess one that has the derby is one that will win in the end. Harry Enten, stand by.

Look, the numbers, as he indicated, they're pretty bleak for President Biden. It is not looking good, frankly, across the board. The strategy for the White House going forward, we'll talk about, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


PHILLIP: We have some breaking news. We are getting word now that the Democratic challenger to the Republican in Mississippi, the incumbent, has just called to concede. John Berman, what can you tell us about that?

BERMAN: All right, right now, you can see that the incumbent Republican governor, Tate Reeves, leads by about 49,000 votes, by about 6%. Eighty-two percent of the vote is in right now. CNN still hasn't projected a leader, but you're reporting now that Brandon Presley, the Democrat, has called to concede.

One of the reasons we have not projected a winner yet is because Hinds County, which is the most populous county in the state, home to Jackson, Mississippi, has only about 59% reporting. And you could see Brandon Presley has a huge lead there. He's leading by 30,000 votes. So, he could pick up a chunk more votes there. A lot more votes in Hinds County. But Brandon Presley, apparently, doesn't believe it will be enough to close the margin.

What's interesting is in Mississippi, if you do not get above 50%, if neither candidate gets above 50%, there would be a runoff in the state. And apparently, again, Brandon Presley might be doing the math in his head thinking that even though Hinds County only has 59%, even if he does pick up several thousand more votes there and close that margin, it would not be enough to get Tate Reeves below 50%. So perhaps that what is what is fueling that call that you're reporting on right now, Abby.

PHILLIP: Yeah, exactly. I mean, these candidates are doing more than just math in their head. They're looking at their own data. They're looking at their precinct data and seeing things that we may not have yet based on the official data. But that's why you might see a concession call before this is officially called by news organizations like CNN.

We were just showing you just moments ago both Brandon Presley and Tate Reeves at the podiums, at their respective campaign events tonight. A big race that was pretty closely watched by a lot of people in part because this is a state, Mississippi, where you have an incumbent governor in Tate Reeves who was embroiled in a huge scandal.

It looked like an opportunity potentially for Democrats to pick up that seat in a state that has the largest non-white population of any state in the South. It could be a particularly interesting moment, but it was not to be for Democrats.

John Berman, stand by for us. We'll continue to come back to you as we continue to wait on those results. I want to bring in our panel now. Mark Preston, this is a little bit of a different narrative from what we've been seeing tonight, but not a huge surprise. I mean, Mississippi is a deep red state. It would be a highly unusual thing if a Democrat were to win there. But in the context of all the other moves that we've seen tonight by voters, this is a disappointment for Democrats.

PRESTON: Disappointment for Democrats, but I would say in some ways a win for Democrats because you saw energy and focus on a state the Democratic Party really hasn't paid a whole lot of attention towards.

I remember being down there, Abby, back, and I guess it was 2019, and talking to the Democratic Party chairman at the time. He had no money, was basically on his own. He was -- he was a local lawyer just trying to hold things together.

And look, there are more Republicans registered to vote in Mississippi. But again, if you're a Democratic Party that's at least talking about Mississippi, it means that you're doing, you know, well elsewhere. So, again, a loss for Democrats, but it's not like a devastating loss.

PHILLIP: Yeah. And look, the results tonight are going to be dissected and bisected by both parties. Kristen Soltis-Anderson, if you're looking at this tonight, you're a Democrat, you're a Republican, what do you realistically take away going into 2024?

SOLTIS-ANDERSON: So, if you're a Democrat, what you're taking away is we're going to run on the issue of abortion because even with all of these headwinds, even with Joe Biden not being very popular, even with voters preferring Republicans on the economy, and even with voters telling pollsters like me that the economy is their number one issue, it seems as though an issue like abortion is enough of a driver and a turnout machine for Democrats that they should lean into it.

For Republicans, the message needs to be, when you don't invest in these races, when you don't pay attention to these races, this is kind of what happens, number one.

And number two, Donald Trump is not the turnout machine kingmaker that you might think he is. Even in a state like Kentucky that Donald Trump won by a large margin, he comes in, he endorses Daniel Cameron, he's my guy, this guy is not a Mitch McConnell Republican, well, maybe Mitch McConnell Republicans actually do quite well in Kentucky.


PHILLIP: Donald Trump is not the kingmaker, but neither is Glenn Youngkin, apparently.

COASTON: Yeah, I think we're seeing multiple -- in multiple races, we're seeing that Glenn Youngkin's efforts to attempt to achieve the trifecta to prove that he can be in performance only a reasonable Republican. Let's keep in mind that he's just wearing a vest. That's all that's happening here.

But he seems to have not achieved his goals. He's not getting the trifecta. He might lose the House of Delegates. We aren't sure yet. But I think that we're seeing that all of the talk about him potentially jumping to the presidential race, all of that should stop now. PHILLIP: We'll see if it -- we'll see about that. We'll see about that. Everyone, stand by for us. We've got a lot more to come this election night in America. Democrats are celebrating some big wins in both Kentucky and in Ohio, and we're watching the results out of Virginia. More from CNN special live coverage, next.