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CNN Projects Trump Wins North Carolina, Virginia. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 05, 2024 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Donald Trump will run it up in small town rural Virginia tonight, Jake. The question is, if Nikki Haley has any hope of being able to call her donors up late tonight and tomorrow and say, let's do another week, let's do more.


It has to happen here. I would not go to Vegas on that.

Demographically, it's a state where she could make a statement. Can she beat Donald Trump? Can she beat Donald Trump? The map tells you so far most unlikely.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, John. We are just moments away from the first major poll closings on this Super Tuesday, where voting ends -- when voting ends in Virginia and Vermont and just seven seconds with a combined 65 Republican delegates on the line.

So, let us get now a key race alert.

It is right now in the states of Virginia and Vermont too early to call in the Republican presidential nomination. CNN does not have enough information right now to call the Virginia Republican primary or the Vermont Republican primary. And both of them, it is too early to call.

We can make this early projection based on exit polls that CNN and other news organizations conducted with voters in the Virginia Republican primary in the second. But first, we're going to talk about the Virginia Democratic primary. The winner is Joe Biden. CNN can project that Joe Biden will win the Democratic primary in Virginia.

Now, let's talk about those exit polls because we are now, given the information, now that the polls are closed about what we know in the exit polls -- David.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, Jake, we can start looking at how Trump and Haley voters split here. So are you part of the MAGA movement? Now, this is only a third of the electorate, 32 percent say yes, in Virginia. But Donald Trump wins them overwhelmingly as you would expect. It's his movement, 94 percent. Haley only wins 3 percent of this third of the electorate that identifies as part of the MAGA movement.

Let's see what else Donald Trump runs up the score here. Among very conservative voters, 28 percent of the electorate, Donald Trump, 86 percent to Nikki Haley's 12 percent. If we take a look at the non- college educated voters who were just talking about, it's roughly half the electorate, 48 percent of voters are non-college educated, Donald Trump wins three quarters of them, 73 percent to Nikki Haley's 24 percent.

And then if you look at immigration voters, which by the way, 37 percent of the electorate, nearly four in ten states, the most important issue to their vote. Donald Trump wins immigration voters nearly 3-1, 72 percent for Trump, Nikki Haley gets 26 percent -- Erin, of those voters who say immigration is their top issue.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: These exit polls in Virginia are fascinating.

And, Scott, it is, and they're different. They're very different. I mean, it -- interesting point that David was making that you don't have to register of her party in Virginia. But among how people describe themselves, you are looking at an electorate that's more than 40 percent independent and Democratic.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, yeah, and they're going to, they're going to love Nikki Haley. This state is not going to model out as well for Trump as some of the more -- I mean, to some of the data that we've seen out of North Carolina already. You can see the differences --

BURNETT: Huge differences.

JENNINGS: -- in those states. But this is also sort of a larger conversation about what were going to be talking about all year. People with college degrees, living in suburbs, used to be pretty reliable Republicans. What are they doing? And then these working class voters used to be reliable Democrats. You know, don't have college degrees coming -- coming.

This -- this is the defining issue of the realignment of these two parties. And we're seeing it play out tonight in these primaries.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Also, just like the reinvention of these parties by Donald Trump, 83 percent of people who say they're very conservative are supporting Donald Trump. What is conservative about Donald Trump? Abandoning Ukraine to Putin? That's conservative? Isolationism.

Where's the law and order conservatives when you've got somebody with 91 felony counts. In other words, this guy has completely rewritten what it means to be a conservative in a way that's unrecognizable.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I just think, look, I think what he's -- I think when people are looking at is they're using Joe Biden's -- you know, don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative. So they're looking at Joe Biden and saying Trump's -- that's what they're comparing themselves to, right?

And the shifts you're talking about, Scott, I think that's -- you know, it is the new kind of stories can be told for the next 244 days, but it began -- and it began during Reagan that has been slowly ebbing, slowly fading. When I worked for Specter, we kept losing seeing right, kind of college educated white suburban voters as Republican in the Philly suburbs. And we kept picking up more folks where I grew up in Beaver County, Western Pennsylvania used to be Democrats.

That slide has been going on for quite some time.

JENNINGS: I think it's not all -- it's not all economic either of my opinion.

URBAN: It's cultural.

JENNINGS: It's cultural. And what is conservative about Donald Trump, he is the one guy who's promising to stand up against this, in their mind, this progressive cultural hellscape they don't even understand. That is the issue.

JONES: He's anti-liberal, but he's not conservative and that's the thing. We now have a negative partisanship that is running I think both parties into a ditch.


But he's not -- he's anti-liberal. He's not conservative.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, one of the interesting -- I mean, among all demographics that you rattling off, probably the one that is most troubling to the Biden campaign in the most important in this race is a Trump has consistently getting between 20.25 percent of African-Americans here. Biden won 88 percent of that vote in their last match. He's getting -- he's even or Trump is even or ahead among vote -- Hispanic voters, Biden got two-thirds of those voters in the last race.

I don't know if there are enough college-educated white voters in the suburbs to replace those. And he's got to get some of those back.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No question about that. No question. But I also think these numbers show how much Donald Trump motivates people to come out and vote against him, right? I mean, you got what it's like 12 percent Democrats and Republican primary coming out to vote. Presumably, they are not voting for Donald Trump, although I suppose we'll see.

You know, so, the great thing about votes, right, is somebody who thinks Joe Biden's done a great job, in my vote for Joe Biden will count the same as somebody who says, I don't want Donald Trump to be president. At the end of day, building a winning coalition is about getting as many people under the tent.


URBAN: It's addition, right?

AXELROD: These guys are codependence, okay? They both -- they both have issues. And they're counting on each other to help organize those reluctant voters who they need in their own camp. And we'll see how that go.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, by the way, I think something that the Biden campaign may miss big picture, is that a lot of Trump supporters think of the Trump term in office as pre- COVID. They think of record stock market gains. They think of border crossings being down, USMCA and these achievements, and those who've turned against him basically think of the COVID, period, the economy crashing everyone and locked down, the chaos of the social justice protests of that summer.

And they have to be able to message to people who say, my life was objectively better for three of the four years of Donald Trump than it is now economically. And that is where I worry that you're going to lose some of these maybe Nikki Haley voters that really don't want to be with Donald Trump, but they're ultimately going to vote with their pocketbooks.

AXELROD: The thing you didn't mention was the insurrection in your litany of things about the Trump years. And that's kind of extraordinary and we shouldn't lose sight of that fact that this guy left --

GRIFFIN: I've forgotten about that.

AXELROD: -- left the capital in disgrace. He's currently indicted for some of those activities. And yet he is a colossus among at least Republican voters.

GRIFFIN: A fact that a lot of these voters think, Joe Biden didn't legitimately win. I could see -- I don't believe this. It was a disgrace what happened and it should be a determinant in the election. But if you don't think Joe Biden legitimately won, you may be --

AXELROD: If you believe the foundation a lot, that's true.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes. And also, we've seen in every election since 2020, voters have turned out and been motivated by this issue of democracy. And we don't have to theorize about this. We saw it in 2022.


URBAN: But again, Donald Trump wasn't on the ballot there so much. And listen, I think again, when you talk about January 6, what does that say? Everybody watched it. Everybody knows what happened.

What does it say that Donald Trump is still going to be the nominee and still ahead of Joe Biden every poll in America?

AXELROD: What does it say? What does it say about that?

URBAN: I'd say what does it say American, right? That's what I'm saying. That they're saying that Biden is doing so terribly, a flawed candidate. BURNETT: Van, I'm curious though also when you look at the exit polls

here and we'll see what the actual votes are in Virginia. But, you know, you always hear about, oh, there's seven states -- six, seven states that matter. These are the swing states and Virginia is not on that list when you go through and, all of a sudden, you look at Virginia, which had become a red state at least presidentially in recent years. That's not what your -- I mean, that's not what you're seeing.

JONES: Well, I mean, right now, there's trouble in the Democratic coalition, that's true. But I think there's more danger for Trump, if you -- if you look at Virginia. Of course, he's not going to -- Trump's not going to win Virginia. So we got to look there and see, what can you learn?

The suburbs do not like this stuff. The insurrection has not been forgotten by a lot of people. There are a lot of people who are turned off, not only turned off, they're terrified by what Trump did that and what he continues to do. And the fact that you have steamroller, he's already told you he wants to be a dictator. He's already told you that he doesn't -- you know, he doesn't respect because institutions, who seems to be in the pocket of Putin, that is motivated people in the suburbs.

And even though a Virginia is not a swing state, this election could be won and lost in some swing counties that look a lot like those counties around it, yes.

BEDINGFIELD: And, by the way, so as abortion, which was dominant issue in 2023 in Virginia, where these same voters in the suburbs rejected the Republican position. So don't forget that it's going to be a huge factor in this race.

JENNINGS: Prediction, it will be on the map by the fall. I think -- I think -- I think the Republican Party will put Virginia on the map. I don't know if were going to win, but I'm just telling you, I think it's going to -- I think its going --


URBAN: Unless a part of Virginia secedes some the other part --

JONES: I don't know what you're talking about.


BURNETT: It may not be that far from reality.

All right. All stay with us -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. We have a key race alert for you now.

Actual votes are coming in in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and right now, with this trickle coming in, Donald Trump is ahead with 72.2 percent of the vote.


That's 854 votes. That's 548 votes more than Nikki Haley, who has 25.9 percent of the vote. This is scarcely 1,000 votes of come in, but they have come in. So we are telling you, good people about them.

John King, where are these votes coming in that showed Donald Trump with a very small number of votes that have been counted in the lead.

KING: But every vote counts, and that's the magic of election nights. We get to count them. You're right. It's way too early to say anything from this, 48 delegates at stake in Virginia. And he's up 854 votes to 306 votes.

The interesting thing is they're coming in from all over the place, which means different places are starting to report in different parts of the state. Only down here in Norfolk, this is the only semi-major population center where we have any votes and we have 200 votes. So again, let's not rush. Let's not rush anywhere at this.

But this is seventh of 133 counties, so semi-significant population center, most of the other places where you're seeing votes are really tiny communities. This is right along the southern border with North Carolina. 92nd population-wise of the 133 counties. So it's down there.

But that's why it's 16 percent of the vote, right? You're not going to get a ton of votes here in Brunswick County. But this is -- this just a test for Donald Trump. Are your people coming out when that is one of your challenges?

If you look at all the prior contests and you're Republican voter, you're Trump voter, you think he's marched into the nomination. If you're having a busy day, do I -- do I go -- do I vote?

So Trump voters do tend to come out. I do think for all we focused on, can Haley turned out in the suburbs? You know, what about the uncommitted vote against Biden in a couple of states tonight.

Trump voters are motivated even when he's won six, seven in a row, and he's on a march, they're coming out. And that's a testament to him like it or not, that his people come out and they're committed. Buckingham County. Again, these are tiny pieces of the vote.

But it does tell you, where we started to move some votes up here. You move up to Loudon County. This is -- this is a much bigger test up here. One of the fastest-growing counties in America, not just in the commonwealth of Virginia.

Fourth largest of the counties, Joe Biden won this county by 25 points. Last time you were here, I think I said it was ten years. I misspoke, it was 20 years ago. The last time a Republican won Virginia for president was 20 years ago in 2004.

So is it a competitive state again? Yes, it has a Republican governor. The legislature has gone back and forth. It's Democratic right now.

For president, this commonwealth has told us for 20 years now since 2008, Barack Obama's first win, we vote Democrat.

So one of the things as we watch tonight, how strong is Trump? What does Haley do in the Commonwealth of Virginia? Is there any signs -- any signs that because of Biden's early weaknesses in the race, because of inflation, his approval rating, the Republicans somehow could stretch the map.

Most campaigns would tell you, don't waste your resources, focused on the five or six days we think you're going to settle it, but a bigger map, if you have the fundraising is a strategic advantage, if you can contest the places.

As we were standing here, you see more votes coming and you see some tiny votes coming in for Haley. Let's just come down here. It's the city of Fredericksburg, again, it's, you know, 0.3 percent of the state population. So, but, you know, if you're Nikki Haley, you're trying it's a suburban area.

You're trying to see there and you see some others, Roanoke, which is a city area here. This is Roanoke City in the city of Roanoke, 177- 163, very, very early returns, but if you're -- if you're, if you're at home and you're thinking is Trump just going to march or is Nikki Haley going to find at least one or two, three more places, five more places to put up a fight, this is one of the potentials. We'll watch as the results come in.

Trump has weaknesses in the suburbs. Trump has giant strengths in the so many rural counties here in Virginia. So, if you're sitting at home saying is to Republican race over tonight? Vermont and Virginia will give us very early clues on the East Coast.

TAPPER: Very interesting stuff. Let's go now to Kristen Holmes, who is in Palm Beach, Florida, at the Mar-a-Lago resort where the former president, Mr. Trump is following tonight's results.

Kristen, polls obviously just closed in Virginia minutes ago. How does the Trump team view how things are going in Virginia?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, really, they're looking at Virginia as setting the groundwork for a potential 2024 rematch with President Joe Biden. He was there last weekend, of course, it is a state that is Super Tuesday, but it also is a way for them to see exactly where the enthusiasm is. I'm told by a senior adviser that they are looking to see if the blue-leaning state can come into play.

Now to be very clear, this goes to exactly what John was just saying. This is not a tier one for them. This isn't the top flight of states that they want to flip or that they're going to invest resources, then it is something they're looking at. And they do know that would likely be very, very expensive.

So the big question becomes, how many resource or how much of your resources do you want to pour into the state that could be used anymore high profile are high priority battleground state. But that being said, they do believe this also goes to what John was saying, that they don't have an enthusiasm problem, that Donald Trump voters are motivated and they will come out. And if Biden support is dampen, that there is an opening there for the former president in Virginia.

And the other thing to note here is that there is somebody on the campaign who is very interested in the state, that's the co-campaign manager, Chris LaCivita, who is a Virginia politico, was run several campaigns in the state and likely something when they would lean heavily on when it comes to Virginia.


TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks so much -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Thanks, Jake.

And you know, when Kristen was talking and looking at some of the votes coming in, I'm reminded of what you were saying earlier, Abby about the Biden campaign. The flip side of that conversation, the Biden campaign insists staying, I talked to a source earlier, said something similar that their voters, the parts of the coalition, that they're worried about, some of them are low information voters, meaning they're not paying attention because they're living their lives unlike us who are living this every single day.

And once this becomes more clear that Trump really is going to be the nominee, places like Virginia, they hope they believe will be less competitive.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the theory of the case and they've been saying that for awhile -- the Trump or the Biden campaign, they know that this is not going to be in cakewalk. The biggest challenge Joe Biden faces this is showed up in "The New York Times" poll from over the weekend, he actually has to bring back his voters.

Some of those people are not jazzed about voting for him. Some of them are not thrilled. Maybe -- they're very medium about how things have gone over the last three years. Maybe they feel like its had no effect on their lives one way or another.

Joe Biden's job over the next nine months is to bring those people back into the fold, whether it happens now or it happens right before election year. The other thing that they have to deal with is what it is, what Alyssa was saying in the New York panel, which is that voters looking back on Trump have a very rose-colored view of the Trump years.

BASH: They called it amnesia.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, I was looking at the numbers and it's over 70 percent in a recent polls say that they're better off or they're about the same as a result of Donald Trump's policies. That number for Joe Biden is more like 57 percent.

So it's a huge differential and some of that is just the passage of time and the Biden campaign's job, they know, is going to have to be not just to remind voters of, you know, who Trump is the indictments, all of that, but also just to kind of remind voters of the reality of what the Trump years were about. And that's going to be very challenging.


BASH: Go ahead.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was going to say, they're also dealing with the reality of their lives, right now. I mean, you were talking to Elizabeth Warren earlier and the thing she was touting from the Biden policies was like insulin, student loans, which are great, but not really ideal for people who find their car insurance, credit cards, home insurance is all up, because --

BASH: They can't buy a house.

CORNISH: Yeah, because the one tool you have to fight inflation is the one tool that makes interest rates high.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: And I think that's a good point, and I think when Abby's talking about amnesia that these voters have maybe don't remember because there's not the Trump tweets coming out every day. He's not from the White House every single day.

He was just in Richmond a few days ago and I was looking at his remarks and, you know, sometimes we see what former President Trump says yesterday after the Supreme Court ruling comes out. And instead of touting his victory, he's talking about him his immunity claim and saying that he has brought immunity when he's in Richmond at this rally, he's not talking about that.

If you look at his remarks, he's talking about immigration and crime. That's what he's leaning into. And that may be appealing to those voters. And so I think you also have to think of what Trump they are seeing. It may not be the same kind of --

CORNISH: And it's a very pithy argument. It's richer, safer, more confident. That's what he's saying.

PHILLIP: The remains, are voters even seeing it? Yet, I think you could safely argue right at this moment, there's still not there yet. We still have so much.

COLLINS: And what is Glenn Youngkin do? You know that's someone that Trump didn't even mention. He is not someone who's endorsed Trump yet. He is not on the Republicans that dozens that Trump has rolled out. It's all just the factors and you see in these key states. Those small things make a difference.

BASH: OK. We are standing by for more votes from Virginia. We're also nearing another very important round of results when polling places close in North Carolina, voters in that state are not only shaping the presidential race right now, it could play a decisive role in November. Let's talk about that after a break.



TAPPER: CNN can now make a major projection. CNN projects that Donald Trump will win the Republican presidential primary and the commonwealth of Virginia. We can make this early projection based on exit polls that CNN and other news organizations conducted with voters in the Virginia Republican primary after they cast their ballots.

Again, CNN is projecting that Donald Trump will win the Virginia Republican primary. The big question, of course, John King how did he do it? This is an early call for a commonwealth that we thought Nikki Haley and the Haley campaign, we should note, thought that they might have some strength in.

KING: Number one, he used what has been his traditional building blocks since 2016. You see all that red, most of those are small rural counties where Donald Trumps small town America, farm town America working class, small factory America.

Donald Trump runs it up. He has his 2016 and he's doing it again in the 2024 primaries. But, but and here's this -- here's the fascinating question going forward again, as we've talked about every primary night, Donald Trump is showing remarkable resilience, especially given all the criminal indictments in all the controversy around him, January 6, at all, remarkable resilience and he's on march to the nomination in one of the states that demographically was one of Haley's best chances tonight, Donald Trump has now won that state.

This is Loudon County, one of the fastest growing suburbs in America, not just in the commonwealth of Virginia. And he's holding his own. He's beating Nikki Haley right now. Joe Biden won that county by a boatload back in 2020.

This is the test. Can Donald Trump improve his standing in the suburbs? Doesn't have to win the suburbs, but he has to be more competitive in November. That was the key to Biden's victory in 2020.

So we'll see, that's about a third of the vote, right? Really interested to see, number one, the Republican turnout. Number two, the final numbers here.

You pull it back out again. If you don't like Donald Trump, you don't like what you're seeing here. But as a student of the process, that's impressive. We're also though are seeing some patterns.

You see a tiny dot here. This is the District of Columbia on the north side of the Potomac River. This is Arlington right here, Arlington County, one of the more liberal counties in northern Virginia, right?

So if these Republicans, its not a ton of votes, its not a ton of votes.


But if these Republicans are voting for Nikki Haley, where do they go in November, right?

I'm suspect. I know people are saying Virginia is going to be about a ground state again. It's been 20 years. So you mark -- mark me down as dubious, right? I follow the demographics, I follow the map, I follow voting patterns.

But Georgia is now a battleground state. It wasn't before. Arizona was.

Can you pull Virginia back? Well, what did these voters -- let's go knocking on doors. Let's drive across the river right now and knock on these doors. You've got to be for Biden in November or even though you've voted for Haley tonight, you're going to vote for Trump.

Again, Donald Trump is not going to win Arlington County. No Republicans going to win Arlington County in November, but you win close races on the margin. See this tiny dot right there, another pattern we're seeing.

Charlottesville, that's where the University of Virginia is. Where has Nikki Haley done well? College towns. That college town, younger voters, Republicans, some Democrats and independents in a state where you don't have to be like Virginia, you don't --

TAPPER: Cities in general.

KING: Right, urban areas in general. So it's a strength for her. It is by no means enough. Look at all that red, but you heard Kristen Holmes talking about how happy they are in the Trump campaign.

They should be. They should be. They're winning state after state after state after state. And they're running it up. But they don't like to talk about this publicly.

If they're smart and there's a lot of smart people around Donald Trump -- again, like were not there studying the yellow, who are those people? They just voting for Nikki Haley now, where are they going to be in November? That's the biggest challenge as we watch the map.

And this continues to fill it and just -- we have our first votes in Vermont as well tonight. And again, 1 percent of the vote, less than 800 votes there if you added up a little more than 800 votes, if you add that up there, and we got a long way to go, but you're starting to see again, this -- Donald Trump, we've now projected wins Virginia. If you're Nikki Haley and you're looking for win on 50 states Super Tuesday, that's your best option left on the map.


KING: We'll watch as they come in.

TAPPER: Can you put back in Virginia for one second?

KING: Sure.

TAPPER: So one of the things that's also interesting and in terms of what you're pointing out, you're saying that the Trump campaign will be looking at the yellow, the Nikki Haley area and figuring out -- are these people going to come home and vote for me, Donald Trump in November or not.

The other person looking at them, Joe Biden --

KING: Absolutely.

TAPPER: The Joe Biden campaign. How can we get those Republican voters? Probably not as difficult in Arlington County, but outside Roanoke, outside Richmond, Charlottesville.

KING: Right here, this is one of the biggest swing counties.


KING: When Glenn Youngkin won the governorship is because of his strength in the Richmond suburbs. So he took it back to the Democrat. So down here, Henrico County again, yes, so you're asking these people right here. If Nikki Haley wins this tonight, Donald Trump's campaign will be fine.

They will find them, they're smart. You run data operation. You find them, say, please come home.


KING: They're not going to say that tonight. They just voted for the opposition to, look, it just switched while were here. This is this is why I love this on election.


KING: It just switched. But again, she's still getting 40 percent in a key swing county. So whether its 40 percent at the end of the night, whether 38 percent other night, Haley voters will be the aggressive target of both campaigns.

Joe Biden has other issues with his own base, with his own base. But if you can get -- Nikki Haley's getting 25 percent, 30 percent, 40 percent or higher in some of these states, it'll be fascinating to watch if that continues as we move west, as the polls continue to close, you see all these lighter gray states, that's all the counting we have left to do tonight.

So it's pretty clear. Donald Trump's going to be the Republican nominee. Let's keep an open mind, but the map doesn't lie.

The question is, if her numbers continue to be, you know, whether it's a third or whether its 40 percent or more. Where do they go in November? That is the biggest question on the board.


Let's go to David Chalian now who is poring through the exit poll results in North Carolina, as voting is taking place. Let's go to, let's go to Dianne Gallagher. I'm sorry.

Dianne Gallagher, tell us what's going on where you are.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, polls close in about two minutes here in North Carolina, a couple of people still waiting in line, they will get to vote because they are all already in line by 7:30.

I have some people would just finished voting with me. I have Tricia and David Johnson with me. They voted in the Republican primary. I'm going to ask both of you who you voted for at the top of the ticket for president?



GALLAGHER: Why did you vote for Donald Trump?

T. JOHNSON: My main most important reason is he is pro-life. I am against abortion, and that's like I'm a one issue candidate -- one issue voter, I guess, you could say. Pro-life is important.

GALLAGHER: And yourself?

D. JOHNSON: He supports my values, his values of mine align and I appreciated what he did in his other for years of the presidency.

GALLAGHER: Thank you both so much for sharing your reasons for voting with us. Thank you for coming out and voting today.

Jake, I'm going to send it back to you from here in North Carolina.

TAPPER: All right. Dianne Gallagher in Cornelius, North Carolina.

The polls are about to close in North Carolina. This is a potential battleground state, maybe come November. Joe Biden will be trying to compete. He narrowly lost in 2020.

What are you going to be looking for in a few minutes when the polls close?

KING: It's the same issue. I mean, they're neighbors, right? It's the same issue.

So Donald Trump will run it out in the small rural counties. You see a lot more urban dots here, the research trial -- triangle around Raleigh, Durham, the college towns around Charlotte. One of the things you're looking for here is what has become the greatest dividing line in American politics, Jake, and that is college education.

So you see the darker, the purple there.

[19:30:01] That is the counties with the lowest educated -- meaning high school degree or less, that lighter counties, you see that throughout the research trial around the city, right? Cities, that's where you have people with a college degree or more.

That, Jake, is the biggest dividing line in American politics right now. And so again, what is Nikki Haley's final number, and then who can get those voters to come in November because as you look at the map, fill in tonight, Vermont, we're getting votes, Virginia, we're getting votes, about to get them in North Carolina, Donald Trump's on the march.

TAPPER: Yeah. Voting is about to end in North Carolina, 74 delegates are on the line, and the Republican presidential race, two seconds left, one second left.

We have more projections to make, right this second.

CNN projects Donald Trump will win the Republican presidential primary in North Carolina, defeating Nikki Haley and a potentially crucial battleground in the November race for the White House. And on that matter, we can also project that President Biden will win North Carolina's Democratic presidential primary.

We can make these early projections based on exit polls and that CNN and other news organizations conducted with voters in the North Carolina after they cast their ballots.

Kristen Holmes, CNN's Kristen Holmes is at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida where former President Trump is tracking tonight's results.

Kristen, North Carolina, obviously, a key state for Donald Trump, not just tonight, but he wants to win it again, again in November.

HOLMES: Yeah, probably more important for him in November. Now, just keep in mind, in 2016, Donald Trump won by more than three points in North Carolina. 2020, by barely over one point, is expected to be highly competitive come November, and that is why talking to these senior campaign advisors, they are telling me that they are looking carefully at this data tonight that comes out of this -- this contest to try and decide where and how they should spend their money.

It's going to be key for them in their strategy in this battleground state. Now, when you're looking at North Carolina, one of the things that this could pose a problem for Donald Trump in is with educated voters. I want to read you this statistic here because we know that that's a problem for Donald Trump already, the percentage of the population with an undergraduate degree or higher is growing faster in North Carolina than in any other state. So that could be a problem for him.

The other piece that they're watching is how do those suburban voters, particularly the suburbs of Charlotte and Raleigh, how do they turn out, how do they vote? Where are they headed? Where their heads out?

Because that is what they're going to try to see if that area, those areas are where they should be pouring more resources into. Because as John said, they believe they're going to win the rural areas. They believe they win the rural areas of November, they're winning them now.

But what about those suburban areas, where is -- where is he with that?

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thank you so much, really appreciate it. Kristen Holmes in Palm Beach, Florida.

And we know you have to give the devil his due. Donald Trump having the night that he wanted to have an early projection of Virginia. Bad news for Nikki Haley, who thought maybe that was a commonwealth she could wrest away from Donald Trump.

BASH: Yeah. I mean, Jake, Virginia, North Carolina -- these were two of the states we were looking at obviously early because the polls closed early, but in addition to that, because those are used to be solidly red states. And now, Virginia is -- has been trending blue and North Carolina in particular is one that -- I was just getting a text from a senior Republican saying that this could be a big problem for Donald Trump if -- also looking at down-ballot races, if Mark Robinson, who is very Trumpy, maybe even more Trumpy than Trump, who Trump has endorsed.

When -- assuming that he wins the Republican primary for governor, that could be a very, very big factor in what we see in the presidential race as well.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He could motivate Democrats, absolutely.

BASH: Yeah.

RAJU: What's absolutely fascinating about these results, and we have seen this time and again in this primary season is just almost a different universe that Haley voters are in than Trump voters. Yeah, a lot of Haley voters are Democrats, some of them maybe independents who are coming out to vote because they're concerned about Donald Trump.

But still, I mean, what data point from the Virginia exit polls, 78 percent of those voters believed that Joe Biden won legitimately. Donald Trump, 95 percent of Donald Trump voters in Virginia, part of the exit polls, that Joe Biden did not win in 2020 legitimately, and that just goes all the way down the line. Today, I talked to Kari Lake, who's running for the Arizona Senate seat.

She says that her race in 2022 was rigged. She said Donald Trump's election in 2020 was rigged because that is where Republican base voters are. But the question is, the general election voters, and that is such a different calculus for these candidates. And there's -- these results show that.

PHILLIP: And so critical. And in North Carolina, I made exactly the right point. Mark Robinson is just symbolic of how divergent the Republican Party in some of these states, especially a state like North Carolina is from the median vote, gettable voter. And when the Republican party in a state like North Carolina veers all the way to the right, that means that the results that we see tonight shouldn't -- are not going to be what should tell the Republican Party how they should operate come November.


That delta is so huge. It's going to be a problem. Dianne Gallagher spoke to a voter tonight who said, there's absolutely no way I can have Mark Robinson as the governor of the state because he's so extreme. She's not the only one. They're going to be a lot of voters.

We talked a lot about suburban voters but voters who are just regular people who are not in either camp or another who are going to shy away from the extremes. And while Trump is going to romp tonight and a lot of places, he's probably not getting the information that he needs to get about where he and the Republican Party need to be in order to get those all important voters who are right there in the political middle.

BASH: Kaitlan, you had some new reporting.

COLLINS: Yeah. Well, it's just were just looking at all of this. One factor of this and what the down-ballot races mean. How does this resemble maybe even the presidential race? The other big part of this, and the reason that Trump is ready to move on from the Nikki Haley aspect of this race that were still talking about is money and having think to shore up his finances because Biden does have a major advantage there when it comes to raising.

BASH: Major.

COLLINS: They've already made ad plans for as far as August. They've already are looking ahead to that.

That has been something that the Trump team has lamented for several weeks now because they haven't been able to. And one thing that Trump is doing is you saw everyone behind Kristen Holmes there earlier at Mar-a-Lago, is he's been hosting donors at Mar-a-Lago today as he has real concerns about shoring up those finances.

And we've just confirmed that one of the people he met with in recent days was Elon Musk, obviously, one of the richest people in the world. We're confirming reporting from "The New York Times". It's not clear that Elon Musk is going to donate to Trump, but it is notable that those are the steps that he's taken in these recent days as he's less focused really on the down-ballot races in way more focused on his own personal finances and for his PAC.

Well, and his own maybe not as finances, but his own legal troubles. He is hoping and looks like he'll be successful in the RNC and whatever little which I have left there and he has paying for his legal bills.

The flip side is, Audie, that the president, Joe Biden has been doing very well in the past two months, according to what the campaign is saying in fundraising.

CORNISH: Which means they're a bunch of people who might think age is a problem and clearly want to help him. I know in the media were sort of like he's got problems. He's got problems, but people also vote with their finances.

You know, one thing I noted earlier as you guys were talking or we heard from kind of a litmus test voter who said I care about immigration, I care about crime. I think for Democrats, that's been a little bit tough. What is your litmus test?

Outside of abortion, what do people talk about where they feel like no matter what, this is what I have to vote on as their memory start to dim, or if they start to really feel very -- that the judiciary is undermined in some kind of way, the democracy argument starts to wobble.

And I think that for Biden who really relied on that -- in the year that Kari Lake lost, that's going to be tough.

BASH: Yeah.

Okay. Donald Trump has two wins under his belt so far tonight in Virginia and North Carolina. And there are many more races ahead as we've barreled towards another rapid-fire round of poll closings in five states. More results coming up.



TAPPER: Welcome back.

And CNN has a projection that we're going to make right now in the state of Vermont and the Democratic primary, we projected that incumbent president Joe Biden will be the winner. He'll be the winner of the Democratic primary in the state of Vermont.

And now, we have a key race alert for you. Looking at Republican votes in Vermont right now, we have them coming in with 3 percent of the estimated vote in. Donald Trump is in the lead.

He has 54 percent of the vote, 1,231 votes. He is 262 votes ahead of former Governor Nikki Haley, who was endorsed by the Republican governor of Vermont. She has 42.5 percent of the vote. Very early now, 3 percent of the estimated vote.

We also have another projection to make on a down ballot race the North Carolina gubernatorial primary, that's going to be a big race in November, the governor's race.

Boris Sanchez has details on that -- Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Jake, the 11 gubernatorial races that we are going to be watching in November, the North Carolina race for the governor's mansion is going to be among the most competitive. And now CNN is projecting that the Republican candidate in that race

is going to be Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson. Robinson is the first Black lieutenant governor in North Carolina's history. He is endorsed by Donald Trump.

Donald Trump actually calling him Martin Luther King Jr. on steroids. He does have a controversial record though. Robinson has made disparaging remarks about LGBTQ+ people.

Also, he has a streak of antisemitic remarks, even dabbling in Holocaust denialism. That will likely come up as we get closer to the general election.

Let's take a look at the Democratic side of this gubernatorial primary in North Carolina. Right now, the Attorney General Josh Stein has the lead. He's leading by about 4,000 votes. He has the advantage when it comes to polling, when it comes to fundraising, when it comes to it endorsements. The state's sitting Governor Roy Cooper, who's term limited, actually endorsed Stein.

Right now, he holds the lead early in the evening, 4,356 votes ahead, just 1 percent of the vote in right now, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Boris, thanks so much.

Let's go to David Chalian now who has more exit poll results from the Tar Heel State, from North Carolina after the polls have closed there -- David.

CHALIAN: Yeah. Jake, you can see why and how Nikki Haley lost this race to Donald Trump in North Carolina. So among Republican voters, which made up 62 percent of the electorate, Donald Trump is winning Republicans in this primary, 81 percent, to Nikki Haley's 16 percent. A trend we've seen throughout the primary season, he just dominates with the party faithful.

Among independents, which made up 34 percent of the overall electorate, a far smaller share than Republicans, you see here, Donald Trump even best Nikki Haley with independents, 49 percent to 45 percent.


Yes, she gets close with independents, but she needs to win independents if she's going to win some of these races. Among college voters, again, a 45 percent share of the overall electorate, this should be a place as you see, where Nikki Haley gets substantial support. But Donald Trump still wins in North Carolina with college graduates, 51 percent to Nikki Haley's 45 percent. She doesn't overtake them there.

Non-college graduates were Donald Trump runs up the score, here you go, it's 56 percent of the overall electorate that are non-college educated voters. Trump wins 80 percent of them, and Haley only gets 15 percent. So, Erin, Donald Trump wins big with the big shares of the electorate

and where Nikki Haley needs to overtake him. Donald Trump actually edges ahead of her there as well.

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

Kate, you know, looking at these exit polls and we'll see as these final results come in here. And now, obviously were not making a call yet, this -- North Carolina, were supposed to be the state that Democrats were going to get that foothold and, that was going to be there edge into the south.

BEDINGFIELD: Well, look, I don't think we should be -- I don't think we should write it off for one thing.


BEDINGFIELD: First of all, you know, we just saw the call for David Robinson. He's going to be the Republican gubernatorial candidate -- obviously, in addition to what we heard about some of his choice language. He also has been incredibly extreme on abortion, no exception for rape, no exception for incest. I mean, really language I think in a post-Roe environment, it's hard to look at what we've seen from elections and say, well, there aren't going to be people who are going to be turned off by that.

So that -- I do think that that will be a factor here. You know, I also think as Biden looks at building out his coalition, as we've talked about a little bit tonight, he's got to go out and rebuild support to 2020 levels with Black voters. Obviously, if he can do that, that helps him tremendously in a state like North Carolina, which is a more diverse electorate.

And then the other thing to remember is at the end of the day, presidential campaigns are about how you expend resources and how you force your opponent to expend resources. So, you know, if the Biden campaign, you know, even on the back of a Republican gubernatorial candidate who's very off-putting, can force the Trump campaign to play in North Carolina when they otherwise might not have.

Well, that's a good thing for Biden and that's forcing the Trump campaign to spend down resources when, as we heard earlier, Biden is sitting on an a money advantage already.

BURNETT: What do you see in these exits?

JENNINGS: Well, North Carolina, I would just point out, Mark Robinson, talk about diversity, diverse African American nominee for the Republican Party. We've never elected one governor. We had a couple of pointed, but again, it shows the commitment of the Republican Party. I think they have more diverse candidates.

He got more votes in 2020 in his race than Donald Trump got for president. He got them most of the same number of votes as the current Governor Cooper, the Democrats are nominating a very boring person.

BEDINGFIELD: That's before Roe fell, though


BURNETT: Sort of neck and neck and pull coming into that.

JENNINGS: I'm just saying, if everybody wants to write off Robinson and act like -- I mean, the guy got votes, he got elected statewide, he got more votes than Donald Trump once before. I have no doubt, it's going to be competitive, but I think if Democrats are depending on putting North Carolina on the board, on the back of a gubernatorial campaign lot, that's a total bank shot strategy.

AXELROD: Well, two things can be true. It may be, you know, generally these things run downstream, not upstream. So the presidential race has a lot of influence downstream but I would say this, Mark Robinson is the profile of the kind of candidate that went down for Republicans in 2022 because the things that allowed candidates to win the Republican Party made them unacceptable to a broader electorate.

So, you know, I -- you can celebrate and stuff, but I wouldn't go to the bank on that.


JONES: I just really wish I liked that guy a lot more than I do. But I don't like him and it's -- you got, it's very rare to elect any Black governors, period. (INAUDIBLE) never elected one. Democrats have done three, '72, Douglas Wilder in Virginia. You did Deval Patrick, Axe Rod, in 2007.

AXELROD: In Massachusetts, in 2006.

JONES: Massachusetts, 2006. And Wes Moore, my great friend, and I think a huge leader, just last year in Maryland. That's every 16 years, you get elected Black governor.

So the idea is you can have another elected Black governor, first one for the Republican Party a year later should have me excited and I am depressed and distress and sad because he says horrifically bad stuff about gay people, calls them filth, says horrifically bad that stuff about women who had been raped. He wants to force them to have the children on their rapists. He just says horrible things.

And so look, if you were a Tim Scott or someone like that, I'd actually be pretty excited tonight.


But I'm actually a distressed and depressed tonight by this guy.


URBAN: Tim Scott will be vice president.

GRIFFIN: One thing to look at, stepping away from the governors race here is out of these exit polls, Nik -- among Nikki Haley supporters, 78 percent of them. So they would not vote for the Republican nominee, potentially. They're not going to commit to voting for the Republican nominee potentially, they're not going to commit to voting for the Republican nominee in November.

And this is a partially open primary, but it's not a fully open primary in North Carolina. There are some glaring red general election signs for Donald Trump here. What he's going to have to do to try to get these Haley voters who are very dug in against him is not something he's proven the ability to do.

Yeah. I'm curious to see are we going to see gracious remarks from him tonight? That's trying to have some forward-looking embracing message. I kind of doubt it. And if even if he does that, he's going to step on it tomorrow. So there are some major red flags for him.

URBAN: I think - look, I --

BURNETT: You're shaking your head. Exactly the remarks --


URBAN: I think Donald Trump is -- that the story here is that he's way ahead. He's going to have over 1,000 delegates tonight. Next week, next week of the 12th, he's going to have -- he's going to wrap it up and go forward earlier than he did in 2020 is on the move. It's the Haley parts in the rearview mirror at this point.

GRIFFIN: Well, only in getting her voters for the general election. No one saying Haley is going to be the nominee. But if she has people saying they will not be with him, that is a problem.

AXELROD: I mean, something's troubling a fair segment of the Republican electorate. It may -- it may be that the guy is under four indictments, wasn't -- led an insurrection, and so on.

GRIFFIN: Certainly bothers me.

BURNETT: All right. Jake?

TAPPER: Thanks so much, Erin.

We're going to get a lot more Super Tuesday results very soon, as we head into the busiest hour of the night. At eight eastern polling places close in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee. Nikki Haley hoping to make inroads among moderates in more blue Massachusetts and Maine.

This next round of primaries playing out in strongholds for both former President Trump and President Biden, offering new measures of their support in some of their safest states. We're also keeping an eye on Texas, where many, but not all polling places will close at the top of the hour. It's the second biggest delegate prize of the night for Republicans.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is that a voting site in El Paso, Texas, obviously, the border -- a huge issue there, an issue that Donald Trump has been talking about quite a bit for his entire presidential life. Ed, what are you hearing from voters?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the immigration issue is what we've been hearing from Democrats and Republicans throughout the day. We're one of the more popular polling sites in east El Paso where you can see here in Texas, you have to stay 100 feet away from the ballot box area where people are standing in line. So this is where you're seeing people campaigning the volunteers with their campaign.

But right now, Jake, what were going to walk you through is basically a therapy session here with Luis who has a long time -- you've been involved in Democratic politics here in El Paso for a long time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 16 years, yes.

LAVANDERA: And not only -- you told us little while ago, not only does Luis not know who he's going to vote for and you've got about an hour left?


LAVANDERA: You don't know which party -- primary you're going to vote it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not really sure at this point. I think there's been a lot of confusion in terms of this election and I can say that because of all the border issues. It's -- this whole country is divided right now and we don't know. I mean, there's a lot of voters right now that I think there's lot of Democrats that are voting Republican this year and I don't blame them. I think there's definitely an issue with the influx of immigration right now.

LAVANDERA: You voted in 2020 for Joe Biden?


LAVANDERA: And right now, you're just --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm undecided. I am not undecided just like a lot of these voters are and I don't know what I'm going to do, but I can tell you that I'm not very happy as help this country is handling the situation with immigration.

LAVANDERA: When you told me you were undecided, I thought you meant you didn't know which candidate. I didn't know you were undecided as to which primary, Republican or Democrat you were going over it. And that's another level of undecided.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. That's another level of undecided. And like I said, I don't know which way I'm going to go, but I mean, it's -- I guess we'll find out in an hour. Yeah.

LAVANDERA: You also told us you wouldn't tell us exactly what you did after which is you're right. I don't -- I don't judge it, and -- what is it that you -- think of this as cheaper than paying for a therapist? You could just work it out here on national TV. But what is it that you that is -- that you're grappling with the most.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, there's the influx of immigration. I think that, you know, people are not handling and I think that right now, this whole country is divided, not even Republicans or Democrats.

If I had a choice to vote Republican. I would have voted for this governor out of -- the governor out of Florida, I think there's something would have been very great president. I mean, I'm not too crazy about Trump right now. But if we have no choice --

LAVANDERA: All right. Well, good luck to you.

You've got -- he's got about an hour left to decide here, Jake, so, you know, kind of a good capture of what many voters are dealing with here this year -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. In El Paso, Texas, Ed Lavandera, thanks so much.


And Dana Bash, we see there obviously in Texas, the immigration issue is huge, but it is really an issue that is has been underlined and caught fire across the country. Governor Abbott sending migrants to other states, sending them to Denver, sending them to Chicago, sending them to Washington, D.C., sending them to New York City, whatever you think of that as an action, it has been incredibly effective politically.

BASH: It sure has.

You know, as we talk about not just what's happening in Texas, but what's happening across the country, Manu, I know you've got some new reporting about the very important down ballot races.

RAJU: Yeah, it actually -- there's some actually in Texas, including Colin Allred who is trying to take on Ted Cruz in November. He's a Democratic candidate.

The question will be tonight, whether he surpasses 50 percent to avoid a May runoff. Democrats are concerned that he does not get there. It could be very expensive from over the next couple of months, hurt their ability to pick up that Senate seat literally have two pickup opportunities in the map this cycle. So that one big thing.

The other thing is in California, two key races. David Valadao, one of ten Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, can he make it into the general election? If he does not, that seat could flip to the Democrats.

And also, Adam Schiff, he is running for the Senate, also the California is the top to make it to the general election. He's tried to prop up the Republican in that race, not to have a Democrat against him in November, but that could have serious down-ticket concerns because if there is a Democrat versus a Democrat, that could potentially hurt Republicans in the fall, but was a Democrat versus Republican, perhaps that could help Republicans down ticket in those House races.

So many key things to watch.

BASH: In the jungle primary in California, which is what you're talking about, it is -- it's -- should have occurred to me, but it didn't occur to me. You said it and then I'm hearing from senior Republican about that as well. Adam Schiff's strategy to just run against Republican, if they're the only two left, could hurt some of his soon-to-be former colleagues in the House.

COLLINS: And Katie Porter, who is also obviously this race has been incredibly critical of how Adam Schiff has done this. It is political and it is cynical, but he has been boosting him. He's run more ads than he is run for himself. And now he is turning in the last few days of this race and said, well, I'm running against this MAGA extremist, won't you please help me? Because obviously, that's a lot more appealing to voters than running against two of his more progressive colleagues, Barbara Lee and Katie Porter.

And Katie Porter has been very critical of it, but clearly it has also been effective for him.

BASH: Yeah. I mean, it's never -- recently, it's never a question about whether statewide a Democrat will win, but it's those key House races primary.


CORNISH: That's ridiculous. It's just the top two vote-getters. And I think it's an important at a time when we talk about consolidation of power that is partisan.

PHILLIP: The other thing that's happening there is not new. Boosting the MAGA candidate is a strategy the Democrats ran actually quite successfully in the last midterm election cycle. I don't think we can rule out the will see a lot more of that this coming year because the whole ballgame, frankly is to amped up the concerns with what a Trump part two could mean, not just for Trump, but everybody down ballot as well.

BASH: Okay.

I'm going to kick it over to Jake, who is with John at the magic wall -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. And the vote is coming in Vermont and John King, let's take a look at, we have not called Vermont yet, although we should note Donald Trump is having yet another dominating evening. We've already called Virginia for him. We've already called North Carolina for him.

And what is it? It's almost nine, but pretty early yet. We have not called Vermont yet. He's still leading.

Where's the vote coming in from? KING: But you see a smattering of these towns and you see some Haley

yellow there. These small, small townships, most of them are tiny population centers. You just pop it up here.

You know, 133rd of the 255 towns, Vermont. So we're not seeing anything. The three biggest population centers are right here, Burlington, South Burlington, and Essex, right around Burlington, Vermont, here along the lake.

Then you come down here, Rutland is another one, Montpellier down here, but we have nothing from the major population centers yet. So we need to wait on Vermont. If you look at it right now, 461 votes, so 52 to 45. If you round it looks like a healthy lead, but we need to wait on votes.

The reason we're looking at it, again, if you come out to the full map, I don't want to distort the conversation. Donald Trump is on a path to the Republican nomination. The question is, can Nikki Haley make a statement by picking up a win tonight or at least by picking up more delegates.

This is where we are, Jake, you don't need to say a word. I mean, you just the numbers speak for themselves and the colors on the maps speak for themselves. When you look at how Donald Trump is doing not only tonight, but cumulatively across the Republican primaries.

But you're looking at Vermont just to see if Nikki Haley can make any kind of a statement about that's a very different Republican Party in the Northeast, near extinct Republican Party. And then we move to Maine, Massachusetts in the next hour, the poll closings there.

Again, that's where you're looking. It's hard to find, especially in national office, Republicans from the Northeast anymore. When I started doing this, you had Chafee in Rhode Island. You had many of you had Republicans remain. You have Susan Collins, the Republican senator from Maine, who is the lonely Republican from the Northeast still in Congress here.

So, we'll watch that play out in the next hour.