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New Vote Count In Nevada Senate Race; CNN Projection: Democrats Keep Control Of Senate; Schumer Speaks After Dems Keep Control Of Senate. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired November 12, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Election Night in America continues. Right now, the eyes of the nation are on Nevada and your eyes are seeing the vote counting unfolding right now in Washoe County.
At any moment now, we're expecting a new ballot count from Clark County that's home to Las Vegas and the vast majority of Nevada's population. The new numbers could push us closer and closer to knowing the winner of Nevada's pivotal U.S. Senate seat.
Republican Adam Laxalt holds a razor thin lead over the Democratic incumbent Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. The margin between them, listen to this, the margin between them as a mere 863 votes. That's 863 votes out of nearly a million counted so far.
If Cortez Masto wins, Democrats will achieve what seemed almost unthinkable just a few days ago. They will keep control of the United States Senate having won at least 50 seats. It's now deadlocked with Republicans and Democrats holding 49 each.
And in Arizona right now new vote counts have trickled in over the past hour adding more drama to the governor's race there. It's still too early to call Democrat Katie Hobbs maintains a lead over Republican Kari Lake. We're also following all the key races and all the latest developments.
Our reporters are in the battleground states. And John Berman will break it all down for us over at the magic wall. But let's begin with CNN's Rosa Flores. She's joining us from Nevada right now, she just outside the Clark County Election center in North Las Vegas.
Rosa what four days after the elections, we may now be approaching the decisive moment for control of the senate. So what's the latest? What do you see? What are you hearing?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the stakes are high, the margins are razor thin and all eyes are on Nevada and on Clark County right here where I am where we are expecting results at any moment. We are refreshing our computers and we'll bring those to you as soon as we have them. Now here in Clark County, we're expecting the results of 22,000 ballots to be registered to be posted online at any moment right now. The breakdowns of those 22,000 ballots are a mix. They're a mixture of Election Day Drop Box ballots and also mail-in-ballots.
I mentioned that because the distinction is important. We don't know how many of each but we do know that Election Day ballots usually lean towards Republicans and mail-in-ballots usually lean towards the Democrats. Right now we don't know what that split is looking like we're waiting for those results.
The margins of this election are razor thin right now; Adam Laxalt is in the lead by 0.1 percent. That's 863 votes. We have seen him in the lead since the morning after the election when we woke up and he was in the lead by more than 22,000 votes. That advantage has been shrinking to 15,000 to less than 10,000 to right now to 863 votes.
And Wolf, Adam Laxalt in the last hour taking to Twitter encouraging voters to cure their ballots what does that mean we know that thousands of ballots also need to be cured the deadline for that is Monday. Laxalt at the last minute ticking to Twitter asking voters to please cure those ballots and of course, I'm assuming Wolf that he's meaning the ones that voted for him, Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Yes, that means they want to make sure that the ballots have the right signature. They want to make sure the ballots have the right dates and all of that. That's what it means when you have to go cure those ballots. Rosa Flores is on the scene for us. Thank you very, very much.
CNN's John Berman is joining us right now for the Magic Wall. So John, walk us through what we know as far as the Senate contest is concerned right now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, what we know is that there are two states left where we have not yet projected winners, Nevada where Rosa is and was just talking about and also Georgia. Georgia, of course will have a run-off on December 6.
If either one of these states, if the Democrat wins in either one of these states, they would get to 50. There are 49, 49. Now if either of these states goes blue, the Democrats would have 50 votes in the Senate, the Vice President Kamala Harris would break the tie and they would maintain their majority.
Let's talk about Nevada and let's talk about where we are and what we're expecting maybe in the next few minutes. Clark County is the most populous county in the state where Catherine Cortez Masto holds a lead of about seven points. [21:05:00]
BERMAN: We're expecting to receive about 22,000 votes, the tabulations from a count of about 22,000 votes. Now, how much of a difference could that make? Let me remind you that right now, Adam Laxalt leads in Nevada by 863 votes. So it's very close there. Let's do some math.
Bear with me. I did this before some simple math that will show you what difference these 22,000 votes could make me right 22,000 up here now, Catherine Cortez Masto In Clark County, which has been leading Democratic in the Vale vote which is even more democratic than most of the votes there.
She has been winning about 60 percent of the vote there. So 60 percent of 22,000 is 13,600, 30,200 excuse me, 13,200. 40 percent which is what Adam Laxalt would win is 8800 there.
The difference and this is what's most important, is 4400. So if Catherine Cortez Masto is able to win 60 percent in this batch of 22,000, we're expecting she would net 4400 votes, 4400, which Wolf, is more a significant amount more when you're talking about the margins we're in right now more than 863 and would give her the lead.
For the first time since Election Day, she's been behind in some cases by as much as 22,000 votes by then. So this would put her into the lead there. Let me just also tell you that these aren't the only votes we're expecting tonight to get new counts from also in Washoe County, which leans a little bit democratic about plus four in the last presidential election, about 12,000 votes will get the results from the council those 12,000 votes.
Of course, as Masto has been doing better in Washoe County, you can see her lead right there. The margins in the mail have been coming in a little bit less favorable for her than in Clark County. But again, she could get maybe 1000 votes there.
She maintains the margin she's had, we are waiting to see, and we've been told now that the Clark County vote could come at any time. We are told that the Washoe County vote will come about an hour from now. So needless to say we're watching very closely, things could change and soon in Nevada, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, these numbers could be really, really significant. John, don't go too far away. I want to get some more on this very, very tight and critical senate race in Nevada right now. Joining us now, Elizabeth Thompson once again, she's the Editor of the Nevada Independent. Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining us. First of all, tell us what you're looking for when these new numbers come in.
ELIZABETH THOMPSON, EDITOR, THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT: Well, if Catherine Cortez Masto can land 65 percent of the ballots that are about to drop in Clark County, she'll be very close to the finish line, if not over it. My team has got a bunch of spreadsheets going right and we're crunching the math every which way just as your team their Wolf is at CNN.
So I think something between 63 and 65 percent is kind of the magic number for her in Clark. Having said that, as we discussed earlier, we've got thousands of provisional ballots and Signature Care ballots is still waiting to be processed. We've got the issue of Washoe County; we'll have to wait about a half hour from now I think to get those numbers. So I'm hoping we can call it here soon and if not, after the Clark County data dump, and then hopefully after Washoe County reports. BLITZER: Elizabeth, you just heard our Correspondent Rosa Flores report that these results we're waiting for are a mix of what they're described as Election Day drop, box ballots and mail-in-ballots, explain why this potentially is significant.
THOMPSON: Well, it's so tricky Wolf, this year, because this is only the second cycle that Nevada has had universal mail voting, we've always allowed voters to drop those mail ballots into a box on Election Day or prior to during early voting.
And we're still figuring out here in Nevada as analysts who votes early, who waits till Election Day who does it in person who mails it, who drops it in a box, where we don't know. And that's one of the reasons why we are kind of on pins and needles here with these votes we're waiting for because we just don't know how those lines are going to break down. We do not have enough data from past cycles to be able to predict these transits. It's making things pretty dicey.
BERMAN: And you know, Clark County, which is what we're talking about expecting right now, we were told that the votes would be announced as early as 7 p.m. Eastern time. Last night that's exactly when they came out almost on the dot and tonight now it's what it's like 9.10 Eastern Time, in nothing. You know, any sense of what the delay is if and in fact even is the delay?
THOMPSON: I don't, it's not a delay, because this morning, Joe Gloria, the Registrar here told us that we should not expect our data dump today to come until between four and six or 6.30p.m. West Coast time and we are coming up against the end of that window right now. So they're later than yesterday, but not later than expected. If they go much past the bottom of the hour, then we'll be able to complain that they are indeed late.
BERMAN: And what kind of visibility do you have on the red rural counties here which lean heavily, heavily Republican, how much vote is known to be left there? THOMPSON: We don't think there's much, we're guessing there are between two and 4000 ballots at the most and the rest of the rural counties, probably most of them of course, in the larger counties. We're watching Douglas in particular, that's that just south of Washoe County.
But it may not matter depending on how many votes she can pick up, Cortez Masto, the Democrat can pick up from the Clark and Washoe drops. We may not have to wait to see the rural count, we may not have to wait on these provisional or signature ballots either.
I do want to caution people, though, if this race remains tight, after this next two vote drops, we may have to wait until Monday because that is the deadline for curing signatures. And I think they've even got into Tuesday to look at some of the provisional. I hope that doesn't happen. I'm not trying to scare anyone. But if it stays super tight tonight, we're going to have more counting and waiting to do.
BLITZER: Elizabeth, we've seen Adam Laxalt's lead continue to shrink and shrink over the past couple of days as more votes have come in. What more are you learning about the mood right now in the Laxalt campaign?
THOMPSON: Well, according to your inside sources, Wolf, the mood is not great. That doesn't surprise me one bit, because although they did get a bump a couple days ago when some votes dropped, it's basically been a downward trend for Laxalt pretty much since Election Day.
I think part of the frustration there, Wolf is this. Joe Lombardo, the Republican candidate here for governor was already declared the winner, which means that he pulled in many more votes than Republican Adam Laxalt, I crunched the math today.
He's Laxalt is about right now as it sits he's about 6000 votes behind where Lombardo is. And if you add the 1000 that he's got in his pocket that means that he's trailing the other statewide Republican candidate by about 7000 votes. So ticket splitting definitely happened. Laxalt did not pull as many votes as our Republican governor elected.
BLITZER: Interesting. Elizabeth Thompson, the Editor of the Nevada Independent, thanks so much for joining us once again. We really appreciate it. And to our viewers, we could get new votes literally at any moment from Nevada right now. And control of the United States Senate could be decided tonight. It's Election Night in America continue. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Alright, this is what we've been waiting for. See, there's Rosa Flores is just outside the Clark County Election center in North Las Vegas for us. We understand Rosa that you've got the new numbers. They are just coming in right now. Is that right?
FLORES: They are Wolf, here are the numbers, this is according to the Clark County register's office.
BLITZER: Hold on a minute, Rosa. Your microphone doesn't seem to be working right now. We're going to fix that and make sure we can hear all those new numbers. John Berman now you're watching, you're waiting for those numbers. Have you gotten those numbers already?
BERMAN: All right. Let me just tell you Wolf, I don't have the exact numbers in the county. We'll wait for Rosa to fix her microphone. But what I can tell you is the results of whatever numbers just came in have now given Catherine Cortez Masto, the incumbent Democrat the lead of 4982 votes, a lead of 4982 votes, which means she netted a total of 5845 votes there. Rosa, her microphone is now working; she can give us the breakdown.
BLITZER: Rosa, go ahead.
FLORES: Yes. Here's the breakdown Wolf. Catherine Cortez Masto, a total of 350,825 votes and Adam Laxalt, 300,326 votes. Now this widens Catherine Cortez Masto's margin here in Clark County to 7.53 percent. It was 6.91 percent before, so she again widens her lead.
This is not as big of a lead as President Biden had in 2020, that was 9 percent, but she is getting closer again, these numbers fresh off the presses here, Catherine Cortez Masto with 52.28 percent of the vote and Adam Laxalt with 44.75 percent of the vote. Wolf?
BLITZER: That's in Clark County, right?
FLORES: And this is in Clark County, correct.
BLITZER: Yes, it's not statewide because we're seeing some of the statewide numbers up on the screen right now. So John, give us your analysis. Or hold on for one moment as a result of these new numbers. Right now we have a huge projection to make. Look at this, projection in the high stakes battle for the United States Senate.
CNN now projects that Democrats will keep control of the United States Senate holding on to the majority they narrowly, narrowly won two years ago. This is an extraordinary victory for the Democrats, as the battle for control of the House continues to play out.
We are making this call because we cannot project that Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto will win re-election in Nevada, Cortez Masto defying expectations and beating back a very strong challenge from Republican Adam Laxalt.
Once again, CNN projects that Senator Catherine Cortez Masto wins re- election sealing the Democrats control of the United States Senate for another two years. Our David --let me get your immediate reaction. That's major breaking news.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICS EDITOR: Well, major breaking news since Tuesday, we've all been waiting with the battle for control of the House of Representatives and battle for control of the senate hanging in the balance, no more Democrats will maintain their majority in the United States Senate.
And as we were saying earlier, this is very good news for the Biden Administration. Because things like judges and Cabinet appointments and what have you that will not be under the purview of Mitch McConnell to navigate through the Senate that will be under the purview of Chuck Schumer, who will maintain his role as Majority Leader.
So in terms of the balance of power shifting in Washington, with this senate projection, it doesn't, because the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent figured her path to victory here. And I got to tell you Wolf, on Wednesday morning and the wee hours after election night, Democrats were calling me and saying even with Laxalt's big lead, they were saying, we think Catherine Cortez Masto is going to get there with what's outstanding when that leaked mail arrives. We have a very high level of confidence and they were right about that.
BLITZER: A huge win Gloria for the Democrats.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, a huge win and I think one of the things when we take a long view of this is that this may be the moment that we discovered that Donald Trump is not a kingmaker any longer. This is it. His candidates did not do well.
His election denial was not a big issue in this campaign. And I think that Republicans are going to have to do an awful lot of soul searching about whether they actually ran on issues that were geared to them and how they could have lost the senate with an election that was about inflation that was about crime that was about immigration.
BORGER: Yes, it was also about abortion rights. But I and democracy, but I think that the fact that the Republicans couldn't pull this off is going to force them to go to the couch and have a little bit of therapy and say, why did we do this? Were we following the wrong leaders? And how can we fix this?
One short term answer might be to tell your voters that they should vote by mail, because maybe it's easier and maybe more people do it. And, you know, if you don't want to show up on Election Day, as Donald Trump wants you to show up, just vote any way you want.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I think what's interesting, too, is we talk about the problems that Kevin McCarthy is going to have over in the House of Representatives regardless of what happens in Republicans. But look what's happening in the United States senate right now.
You have the Head of the of the campaign arm calling, questioning Mitch McConnell and in the future of the conference, you have Josh Hawley doing the same thing in Missouri Senator, you have Marco Rubio from Florida as well, somebody who you would think would be lining up behind Mitch McConnell.
Republicans are going to have their own issues in the senate right now, just trying to stay together and Mitch McConnell who has been bulletproof now for decades. Because he has really done such a very good job of keeping the Republican conference and - has done an amazing job getting judicial nominees through now, he's going to have a fight on his own hands within his own coffin.
BLITZER: Because they were complaining Mitch McConnell, among others about the quality of those Republican candidates who won the primaries and now they're paying the price.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right and they were talking about candidates in Georgia. They were talking about candidates, not so much in Nevada, but certainly in Arizona and New Hampshire as well. And we see what happened with that. We're going to enter into this period very quickly, where Donald Trump looks like he is going to announce for president, what does that do to the calculus that Republicans have been making so far?
Essentially, they've been afraid of the base of the Republican Party, which has been bonded to Donald Trump over the last a couple of years. But now we see some of that frame. You see some sniping at Donald Trump, the idea that maybe he shouldn't even announce a heading into Tuesday, given the fact that there was a Georgia runoff coming up on December 6, but we know he is a person who likes to suck up all the oxygen.
He likes to take credit. He likes to have the sort of the roar of the crowd in so far, even though there is this distancing, I think, from some Republicans from Donald Trump. It doesn't seem like that is necessarily a trickle down to the base of the Republican Party and now will be the big question.
CHALIAN: Wolf, we should just note, though, that December 6 run off in Georgia now, it's an entirely different race.
CHALIAN: Battle for control of the United States senate is not going to hang on that, it's going to be a little less engaged in that probably not as much money spent, not that it's people, important to the people of Georgia and not that Chuck Schumer would rather have 51 and 50 and not have to go to Joe Manchin for every single thing. But we're having power sharing agreement with Mitch McConnell. So it has ramifications. It's important, but without control of the senate hanging on Georgia now, that will become an entirely different race.
BLITZER: 100 percent.
BORGER: And you know one thing the one Republican Victor and all of this as we look back on this election is Rick DeSantis.
HENDERSON: Ron DeSantis, right.
BORGER: Ron, sorry Rick. Ron DeSantis, somebody who won--
BLITZER: The Governor of Florida.
BORGER: Yes, who won overwhelmingly, double digits and lots of Republicans are now talking about as the heir apparent. So we don't know how that's going to turn out. We don't know what Donald Trump's future holds right now. But I would have to say that Ron DeSantis is somebody who rises above the pack.
BLITZER: Let's get some more reaction. This is major, major breaking news. We've just projected that Senator Catherine Cortez Masto will be reelected defeating the Challenger Adam Laxalt. And as a result, we've now projected that the Democrats will maintain their majority in the United States senate. Ashley Allison is joining us right now. Let me get your reaction first, Ashley.
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm excited for our country. I think Americans showed up if there was ever a question of whether your vote matters; these tight races tell you that every single vote matters. I'm so proud of young people. I'm proud of my generation, the Millennials who showed up, Gen X or Gen Z who showed up women who said you cannot take our constitutional rights away.
It is an important moment. It's a historical moment in our country, that we were able to hold the Senate. But I also think it is an opportunity for Democrats, particularly if Republicans hold the house, choose draw a stark contrast.
While Republicans may try to do oversight hearings and not really do things to improve the quality of life for the senate, now that it is still controlled by Democrats to push an agenda that is for the working person. It is going to improve our economy; it will continue to solidify our democracy.
ALLISON: So not surprised that we were we were able to do it because so much was at stake and voters were very clear on that. But it's an important night for the party, but also our country for sure.
BLITZER: Let me get Scott Jennings into this conversation. What's your reaction, Scott, what happened here?
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER ADVISER TO SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, number one, we did have candidate quality issues. I don't think there was really the issue so much in Nevada, which is the race, has just been called. But you look around the map. And quite clearly, moderates and independents just revolted against Republicans and voted for Democrats that they didn't really like.
I mean, Joe Biden's approval rating and our exit polls was low.
Most people said his policies were hurting and not helping the country, there's a lot of anxiousness and anxiety about the direction of that country, yet. They stuck with the party in power, despite all of their fears about the direction of the country.
This ought to be a wake-up call to Republicans, that if you want to be a majority governing party, you have to appeal to a majority of the American people. And we nominated a lot of candidates who are not able to do that at the behest of one person, Donald Trump.
And you know we're heading into 2024. He's going to announce for president and we're going to go through this whole thing again, we'll see if the lesson will be learned. I hope it will be.
BLITZER: Well, let's get Hilary Rosen to weigh in as well. Go ahead, Hilary.
HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, well, let's look at some practical realities here, which is that, you know, with the Democratic Senate, we can continue to confirm judges. Joe Biden has had been very successful at confirming judges for the federal judiciary.
He also gets to continue to govern, which means that he gets his cabinet and sub-cabinet officials confirmed when he needs them. We were looking at, you know, a scenario where that might get a standstill. I agree with Ashley, this is a great moment for our country.
I disagree a little bit that, you know, that means we're going to get a big, proactive legislative agenda. I just don't think the House of Representatives is going to let that happen under a Republican majority. But I think what we have in this with this backstop in the senate is that the president will get to continue to govern that you know, bad things won't happen. And we're going to walk into 2024 with a, you know, a positive story to tell.
BLITZER: Kristen Soltis Anderson, a huge win for the Democrats in the United States senate right now maintaining their majority. What is that - what is the message that sends from your perspective?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & POLLSTER: It's fascinating that in a year, when you have only a quarter of Americans saying that things are headed in the right direction that you are going to have if Alaska and Georgia both turnout preserving their incumbent senators, every incumbent senator who is up for re-election is going to be going back to Washington.
This was not a change year, even though there were so many signs that people were agitated and frustrated with the status quo. And I think part of this is you had a lot of voters, as Scott mentioned, who didn't necessarily like Joe Biden, they didn't necessarily love the way the economy was going.
But that wasn't enough to get them to pull the lever for some of these Republican candidates in some of these big races. I want to throw some numbers at you Wolf. Back in 2010 in the exit polls, Republicans won 67 percent of voters who said that they somewhat disapproved of the job that President Obama was doing.
If you didn't like Obama, you voted Republican that year. This time around if you somewhat disapproved of Joe Biden, you broke for Democrats by a slim but four point margin. That's an enormous difference.
And it really suggests that Republicans can't just coast on being negative and talking about how much they disliked Democrats. They've got to prove and earn the trust of the American people who are looking at them skeptically and saying I don't like what we've got. But I'm worried that it could get worse if I hand things over, they need to earn that trust.
BLITZER: And the Democrats deal this, maintain--
JENNINGS: Wolf, can I comment on what she just said about these voters?
BLITZER: Go ahead Scott, go ahead.
JENNINGS: And about these candidates, yes, absolutely. So I think everything she said is spot on. And there were a few Republicans that followed the model. Ron DeSantis, in Florida, Brian Kemp in Georgia, Mike DeWine in Ohio, you did see some Republican governors create their own brand and set aside extremism and set aside, you know the things that turned off these moderate and independent voters.
And they just governed like you would expect somebody to govern sort of between the 40 yard lines of American politics. That's the lesson here. And so although it was a glum sort of midterm election for the Republicans, there were a few bright spots that offer lessons for the future.
And so the question is now, are Republicans going to adopt those lessons or set those aside and keep going down this path? That's really a path for losing more elections.
BLITZER: That's a good point. And Gloria it's going to be a huge, huge disappointment for Mitch McConnell in the United States senate right now. Chuck Schumer is going to be very, very happy at the same time.
BORGER: I'm sure we'll hear from - him immediately from Chuck Schumer. Mitch McConnell has a right to be disappointed to be very disappointed.
BORGER: He's raised hundreds of millions of dollars that he's given to Republican candidates. They are complaining. Some who have lost like, like Masto was complaining that he didn't get enough money for Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell warned people about candidate quality. And Donald Trump triumphed and his candidates became the nominees.
BLITZER: In the primaries.
BORGER: In the primaries, and then well and in the general and they didn't win. And it is a lesson about extremism. And the Republican Party is reaching the proverbial fork in the road. Which way do they go now? How do they govern in the house number one, because people are going to be watching McCarthy and seeing if he could herd his cats and get them all in order?
And they're going to be watching the Democrats to see what happens in the senate and maybe whether there's anything they can do together. Because governing now, I think one of the lessons of this election is the governing is important. People want you to govern and so let's see what happens.
I don't want to be Pollyannaish here at all. But let's see if McCarthy can overcome his right flank. Let's see what happens in the Democratic senate, let's see if they could get something done on some issues, like opioid addiction - there are issues.
CHALIAN: Gloria, this is not the first time we've seen Republicans arrive at a fork in the road.
BORGER: That's correct.
CHALIAN: They were at a fork in the road in 2018.
BORGER: That's right.
CHALIAN: The Democrats won that house. They were at a fork in the road in 2020, when Donald Trump lost the presidential election and then lost two Georgia senate seats to help Democrats, the majority in the Senate; they were at a fork in the road there. They were at a fork in the road after an insurrection on our United States Capitol. And at every time in all of those forks, how many problems are there on fork? The Republican Party chose to keep going with Donald Trump.
BORGER: That's right.
CHALIAN: The voters and these elected officials who followed the voters kept going down this other road?
BORGER: That's the question.
CHALIAN: So that is a question. So they are yet at another fork in the road.
CHALIAN: And will they take a different path? And I don't know that we have the answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I would argue this though. Ron DeSantis in Florida right, now, let's see if there's going to be some kind of a coming together of the Mitch McConnell's of the world and the Ron DeSantis 's of the world because right now, to your point, David, you know, fool me once, you know, shame on me fool me twice.
Well, however, that goes the other way around, basically, shame on me. But you know, the fact is, if you look at candidates right now and you look at where Republicans who they could have ran, they could have ran Doug Ducey, a fairly popular governor out in Arizona who would have been a much more formidable candidate against Mark Kelly, you look at what happened in Pennsylvania, where David McCormick would have been a much more formidable candidate might not have had it.
Well, yes, he did have as much money as Mehmet Oz. But the fact is, he would have been embraced by the Republican Party as a whole and Pennsylvania probably wouldn't run that race in New Hampshire.
HENDERSON: Well listen, Republicans made some terrible choices. And they certainly blew it. But Democrats also made some really smart choices, right. I think there was a lot of scrutiny on Joe Biden. He obviously has very low approval ratings.
He had a hell of a summer in terms of getting a popular legislation through infrastructure reform, the inflation or Reduction Act, which didn't, hasn't even kicked in, it'll kick in at some point around student loans. That was also very popular with voters.
There was a lot of question about whether or not they will be able to keep sort of the anti-rump coalition together, African American voters, Latino voters, young voters, Asian voters, and college educated voters as well. And they were able to do that. They were able to meet voters where they live with key issues, whether it was abortion, whether it was student loans, where there's any number of issues, so we should give Democrats some credit. They ran a smart race. Also, I think by really doubling down on the incumbents, there was this idea that maybe they should, you know, reach into other senate races; they really spent a lot of money on these key senate races. And it turns out, they were right to do that.
CHALIAN: Yes - is a smart way.
BLITZER: Go ahead Gloria.
BORGER: That's right. Well, you know, to get back to your question about is it going to be different this time for Republicans having reached the fourth fork or whatever in the road? I think now it's about self-preservation. You can make the argument that after January 6, when they all said when Lindsey Graham stood up and said, I've had enough and then they all seem to change your mind. They thought that it was preserving their political futures to stick with Donald Trump.
Now, the question is, is self-preservation about abandoning Donald Trump or is it about sticking with him? And we don't know how that's going to play out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they have, but they have a legitimate offering now and you said it before in Ron DeSantis. Ron DeSantis gives you the off ramp to get off of the Donald Trump highway because he still does play very well with the MAGA voters. And that's why we've seen Donald Trump come after Ron DeSantis even before the election.
HENDERSON: But he doesn't play as well, right now, as Donald Trump plays with the base that he created, right. You know, I think they're going to be a lot of attempts to sort of make Ron DeSantis happen, particularly in sort of studios and around the consultant class. I don't know that the consultant class has consulted with actual voters yet in terms of Ron DeSantis. We'll have to figure that out.
CHALIAN: I want to get back to your point about this path to the Democratic majority for the senate. Because there was so much pressure on the Democratic outside groups on Chuck Schumer, what have you, you're not investing enough in Cheri Beasley's race in North Carolina; you're not investing enough in Tim Ryan's race in Ohio. These are peopling strong Democrats, great, great candidates, they have a shot in these redder states and you're not investing.
And what you heard from the Democratic campaign committee from the outside groups all the time is we have to make choices that - about like we don't like this candidate or don't think they're doing well. They made very smart choices about how to pursue to get to 50.
And they did it, as you said, by doubling down on these incumbents and protecting them rather than trying to expand the map. They took a lot of heat for that, but it's paying off now. And I would just also note, when you look at these exit polls in independent voters, delivered the senate majority than the Democrats get.
CHALIAN: Fetterman beat Oz by independent voters by 20 points 58 to 38. Kelly beat Masters by 16 percentage points among independents 55 to 39 percent; Warnock beat Walker in that first round 53 to 42, all double digit advantage for these Democratic candidates among independent voters in this political environment.
BLITZER: And Mark Preston, what is so impressive for the Democrats in this huge win to maintain the majority for the Democrats in the United States senate. Going into this election, if you took a look at all the polls, is the country moving in the right track or wrong track.
The polls overwhelmingly showed the country's moving in the wrong track. Despite that, despite the Democrats being in the White House, the House and the Senate, the majority, the country decided, at least in so many of these important senate races that they wanted the Democrats that continue to be the majority.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They did. And in this comes as, as the leader of the party. And the President of the United States has a 55 percent disapproval rating; we always talk about his approval rating in the 40s. Well, how about we just flip it and it really crystallizes a little bit more --you might.
Look at the Democrats, you know; in fact, as we're talking here, I'm getting texts from Democratic strategists who are telling me, we actually could have done more. We could have done better; our message wasn't as sharp as it should have been. And that argument, you know, there's probably something to be said about that. But having said that, Democrats, we've got to be pretty happy where they --.
BLITZER: Well, we go back to some of our political analysts, as well. Kristen Soltis Anderson, what's the main lesson? You think Republicans and you're a Republican, the main lesson Republicans should take away from what has happened that the senate's win, the Democrats win the senate.
ANDERSON: That in order to win elections, you need to put together a majority coalition, you can't just rely on turning out your base, you can't just rely on getting your most reliable, most ardent supporters to the polls. You have to win those who are a little bit skeptical of you, groups, like for instance, younger voters.
In pre-election polls, we saw, for instance, voters under the age of 30 were the most likely to say that they thought Joe Biden was focused on the wrong issues, et cetera, et cetera. They're not in love with the Democratic Party. And yet, by unbelievable margins in this election, younger voters are breaking for Democrats. That's just one example of the type of group that Republicans cannot take for granted.
And say, well, it's OK that they vote for Democrats, because we'll just run up the numbers with our base. That is not a sustainable strategy moving forward. BLITZER: Yes, if you're going to win these contests, you got to go ahead and find some of the independents and get them to support you as well. Not just your base, right, Scott?
JENNINGS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, in 2024, the Republicans have a favorable map for the U.S. senate. There's a lot of Democrat defense to play. But if we go and hit ourselves in the head with attack hammer again over and over and over, we're going to bleed to death.
And so we have to learn the lesson about candidate quality candidate appeal. And we also need to learn it for the White House. Look, this is a midterm, we've looked at the congress now, we're trying to take back the White House.
Republican Party hasn't won the national popular vote since my old boss; George W. Bush did it in 2004. There are candidates out there I mentioned a few governors before Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is one as well. She seems to have figured something out is that members of the Iowa congressional delegation out there.
There are people in this party who seem to know how to attract the base, the independence, Hispanics, you know, that coalition that you could see would be a national governing coalition, who we're going to listen to, the people who just won in that fashion or the people who just fell flat on their face? I think it's a pretty easy.
BLITZER: Yes, I think you make a good point here. Hilary Rosen, go ahead.
ROSEN: Wolf, yes, so I, I can't help but think there's a little bit of over reliance on the Trump blame here on the Republican side. And because when you look at actual policies, Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump are not that different. I mean, Ron DeSantis is, you know, has done everything around abortion has been, you know, attacking kids in schools and curriculums and families.
And so I think what we're going to see in the next two years is going to be very telling. We have still a six, three, conservative Supreme Court; there are more decisions to come down. There are more things that the Supreme Court has promised to undo.
I think, you know, we may have the benefit of Donald Trump announcing he's running for president again. But these Republicans are going to have to stand up for themselves and not blame Donald Trump for their losses, because their policies are just not popular. And that's the thing that we've been seeing. And that's the thing that we'll continue to see whether or not Donald Trump's in the mix or not.
BLITZER: Actually, I want to get your thoughts as well. And you speak as a former national coalition's director for Biden Harris in 2020, but go ahead.
HENDERSON: I agree with what Hilary is saying. I mean, the one lesson that I take away every cycle is don't forget your base, black voters. People have forgotten that young, they just have thrown away young voters as though they aren't going to vote. Well, we have seen young voter's turnout and record numbers since 2018 demand change.
And slowly and surely, things have been happening that they are asking for whether that student loan relief, whether that is the bipartisan gun reform bill that was passed this congress. I think Dems - cannot forget their base and they did in this cycle.
They need to double down in Georgia; they cannot let that coalition fall apart because we still want to win that Senate race. And that will play well in 2024. I also think to Hilary's point on the big decisions coming out of the court. Democrats need to continue to say what they are for and what they are going to do for the people and fight.
And even if we have a split government, show the people that you are trying to improve their quality of life. It is not always just saying that I don't like this person, or I don't like this candidate. People are smart and voters are smart. And they are living their lives every single day on the backside of this pandemic, after being essential workers being on the frontline and had to make some really, really tough decisions.
And so it's not just one issue. It's a comprehensive agenda. And I think Dems are landing that plane for this cycle. And if they continue, even with the split government, if they continue, at least in the senate and in the White House to put forward policy agendas that will improve Americans lives. I think it will fare well in 2024 as well and hold that coalition together.
BLITZER: Do you think Scott; the Republicans are learning the right lessons right now?
JENNINGS: I don't know yet. That's what primaries are for. And we're fixing to have one Donald Trump's going to run, I think others are going to challenge him if Ron DeSantis does. I heard Nia-Malika Henderson earlier saying, you know, maybe the voters haven't been consulted.
Well, you know, with all due the Florida voters were consulted and he won by 20 points. He won independence, he won Hispanics, he flipped Miami Dade. There are Republicans out there who can show Republican primary voters, there's a better way I give you all the fight that you want. But I also give you something you didn't get out of Trump.
And that's competent governance, like the no drama governance, no chaos, no constant anxiety. I'll give you what you want. But I will also take away the anxiety that model exists. And that's what primaries are for. We'll see if we learn the lessons.
But this is the battle that the Republican Party is going to have with itself over the next couple of years. And if it wants to compete in 2024 and I think this may be for the Democrats too. New may be better than old another lesson for this election for me, Wolf is, I do think Americans would, you know rather pick two names out of the Peoria phonebook to run against each other than Trump and Biden. It may be that both parties need to look to a new generation for the White House next time around.
BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, we're just learning Gloria, that Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Leader in the senate, as you predicted, he's about to make a statement. I guess he's not waiting too long. Hold on a second. Hold on a second. I think he's speaking, is he speaking? You're ready?
He was about to start but then he walked away. He's about to start speaking very soon. We'll hear what he has to say. So stay with us. But you predicted this, Gloria.
BORGER: Look, I don't blame him.
BLITZER: Now. Here he is. Here is Schumer. All right we'll come back to Schumer when he finishes his phone call.
CHALIAN: Anybody who knows Chuck Schumer does, he will take a gazillion phone calls. That guy never gets off the phone.
PRESTON: As soon as he actually starts to make his statement, we'll hear what he has to say. But he's going to gloat obviously; he's going to be thrilled.
BORGER: Well, he might not gloat, but he might congratulate his candidate saying, congratulate the President of the United States and talk about the Democratic agenda and what they'll be able to do now that they've retained control of the senate.
Look, this is a moment for him that a lot of folks were saying the Democrats weren't campaigning the right way. They weren't bragging about all the work that they had done on infrastructure and the American rescue plan and all the rest of it. And I think now this is going to be a moment for him to say, look, we, you know, we succeeded because of what we did for you.
And here's what we're going to do in the future, this, this enables us to do a lot now. Its bit difficult to predict what Chuck Schumer is going to say in any given moment, but.
BLITZER: All right, I think he's speaking right now. Let's listen.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): American people. With the races now called in Arizona and Nevada, Democrats will have a majority in the senate, and I will once again be majority leader. This election is a victory, a victory and a vindication for Democrats, our agenda and for the America and for the American people.
There are three things that helped the senate secure the majority one are terrific candidates, two, our agenda and our accomplishments. And three, the American people rejected the anti-democratic extremist MAGA Republicans when he talks about each quickly.
Our candidates Catherine Cortez Masto, Mark Kelly, Maggie Hassan and John Fetterman and Raphael Warnock are just fine human beings who really care about people who have the understanding of how to get things done. And those who have been in the senate have already accomplished great things.
They believe in our democracy and public service. And they're going to get a lot done for their states in the next six years. Contrast our candidates with some of the people they ran against, our strong candidates beat some very flawed challengers, who had no faith in democracy, any fidelity, the truth, or honor.
And even when the polls look bleak, our candidates never gave up and never lost faith. As the MAGA Republicans stoke fear and division, Democrats were talking about here how we delivered on issues that matter to people.
I think one thing the - and prognosticators missed was that in all the incendiary ads that blanketed the airwaves for weeks, people knew that Democrats were getting things done for them. So that's the second reason we won our accomplishments and achievements.
The American people believed in what we got done and it stood in contrast to the other party. So many of the things we did, getting the cost of prescription drugs lower, taking on the big oil companies and getting home heating prices lower, taking on the NRA and doing something rational about guns, helping our veterans who were exposed to burn pits, and getting the chips act on which is going to bring thousands and thousands of jobs to America and stop China from dominating that industry. So we got a whole lot of things done.
We took on the special interests and we delivered for the American people and they knew it. And finally, the third reason, oh, and one other thing we did, which I cannot forget, we staunchly defended a woman's right to choose because the American people turned out to elect Democrats in the senate.
There's now a firewall against the nationwide abortion ban threat that so many Republicans have talked about. So we got a lot done and will do a lot more to the American people. But finally, and maybe most important of all, the American people rejected soundly rejected the anti-Democratic, authoritarian, nasty and divisive direction the MAGA Republicans wanted to take our country in.
From the days of the big lie, which was pushed by so many to the threats of violence and even violence itself against poll workers, election officials and electoral processes and of course, the violence on January 6.
All of that bothered the American people. And another thing that bugged them just as much, too many of the Republican leaders went along with that didn't rebut that violence. And some of them even aided and abetted the words of negativity and other things, other things.
And when I talk about violence and in violent language, I mean violence against other people where was the condemnation from the Republican leaders so often missing from so many of them? [21:50:00] SCHUMER: That bothered that bothered the American people. So the American people are not happy with Republican leaders who condoned and even supported this nasty, poisonous rhetoric. And I'm making a plea to my Republican colleagues; we can disagree on so many issues. That's fair.
But let's not have this kind of divisive negativity. Let's not have the condemnation of viciousness and even violence against poll workers against so many others. Let us try to come together. Finally, some thank you.
Thank you to our senators who ran a great campaign and a welcome to Peter Welch and John Fetterman, who will be our new senators. I know I'm confident in Georgia, that Reverend Warnock will be re-elected and back in the Senate. He's done so many good things already.
I want to particularly thank Gary Peters, the Chair of our Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and Christie Roberts and all the great staff of the DSCC. Without this wouldn't have happened. And finally, my friend, Harry Reid, he may be gone. But he's still with us.
His legacy in Nevada continues to shine bright as the lights on the Vegas strip. And also, thank you to all the grassroots groups that stood for America. That said we're going to get things done. Thank you to the millions of people who supported us and the thousands of volunteers and organizers who were there.
I look forward to working with President Biden, Vice President Harris and God willing a Democratic majority in the House to continue delivering meaningful results for American families, as we continue in the new senate, ready for a few questions if anybody has there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible)
SCHUMER: Thank you, thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible)
SCHUMER: We always had much greater faith in our victory than a lot of the pundits and prognosticators. The people understood that inflation is a problem. But they understood it's a worldwide problem all over the world not caused by Joe Biden, but caused by COVID in the bottlenecks that COVID cause.
And they saw the Democrats were doing something against inflation, getting prescription drug prices lower, getting heating costs lower, and lowering the cost of health care. And in the longer run, dealing with the supply chain problems that have caused cars and appliances and other things to go up.
So we have faith, we were talking to what the American people really cared about. And we knew that the negativity, the nastiness, the condoning of Donald Trump's big lie and saying that the elections were rigged, when there's no proof of that at all, would hurt the Republicans not helpful. You have too many of them and their candidates fell into those traps. OK. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're looking good --.
SCHUMER: Thank you, I feel good. You know what I feel good about? I feel good for the country. Because so many people worried I did about this democracy with all the negativity and all the threats, and even some people doing violence. Not, you know, not the party leaders.
But some of the people in the Republican Party didn't seem to condemn it very hard. America showed that we believe in our democracy, that the roots of democracy are deep and strong and it will prevail, as long as we fight for it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible)
SCHUMER: Well, I hope we, you know, I always tried in the last senate, the majority of the important bills we passed were bipartisan, the Biff bill, the largest infrastructure bill that's ever happened. The bill that helped our Veterans with the burn pits, the gun control bill and maybe most important the chip spill, which is going to create millions of good paying jobs here in America and bring the chip industry so important to the future of our economy back to America.
So we did a lot of things bipartisan, but when we couldn't get things done on bipartisanship, such as things like climate change, such as things like going after the prescription drug company so we could lower costs. We did it on our own.
So my first choice is always to do it bipartisan, but on issues that really matter to the American people and when the Republicans aren't being bipartisan won't be bipartisan. We tried to do it on our own. OK, thank you, everybody. Have a great night. Take care. We love America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See you tomorrow.
SCHUMER: Thank you.
BLITZER: Clearly a very, very happy Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in the United States Senate presumably he will remain as the majority leader in the United States senate as a result of the Democrat's huge win today.
BLITZER: CNN has projected the Democrats will maintain their majority in the United States Senate after Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto defeated Adam Laxalt in Nevada tonight, a huge, huge win for the Democrats.
Gloria Schumer basically citing these three reasons why the Democrats weren't strong candidates, very strong agenda and a lot of accomplishments, he said and the heavy opponents he said describe them as MAGA Republicans and extremist that's why the Democrats he says were.
BORGER: Well, I think he kind of summed it up, in a way he also, you know, talked about democracy. And he didn't say thanks to Joe Biden and your great popularity for getting us through this. But, you know, I think he you know, he makes very valid points. One thing I want to point out is that Chuck Schumer is not going to be challenged as leader.
And before the election, the Head of the Republican campaign committee for the Senate, Rick Scott of Florida was thinking of challenging Mitch McConnell as leader and somehow that has vaporized because of course, he was not as successful as he thought he was going to be.
And lots of folks are saying, well, he's the one who let Donald Trump pick the candidates, instead of letting Mitch McConnell really get more involved with it. And so I think there isn't going to be a leadership fight with McConnell. But that's because they weren't Victoria.
BLITZER: It's a huge embarrassment for the Republicans right now.
PRESTON: Oh, it is right now. And so as we see Chuck Schumer right now on television, and, and he has a sigh of relief right now. I mean, that really is what it's a sigh of relief that they at least have some control over congress, going into the New Year.
You have Mitch McConnell right now who, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars that he invested that he went out and raised to try to, to take back the senate majority at the same time, being attacked time and time again, not only by Donald Trump, but by his allies forced to take candidates that he knew because he knows this game better than anybody would not win, or they would have a difficult time of winning.
You have Mitch McConnell right now trying to figure out how are we going to operate next year. That's what they're thinking right now. They're not thinking, you know, oh, my gosh, we've lost right now. Mitch McConnell, I guarantee was thinking, how are we going to operate over the next year?
And right now, he won't have a majority, that's for sure. And he is incredibly angry. And I think that we are even going to see the recriminations between the MAGA party and the establishment comes back together and it is going to get --.
BLITZER: What do you think Nia, is there going to be a split between Mitch McConnell supporters and Trump supporters, let's say?
HENDERSON: Yes, I think that's right. I mean, we know how Mitch McConnell himself feels about Donald Trump hasn't really talked to him through this whole cycle. I think since the January 6 incident, he hasn't talked to him. And in some ways that created the landscape that we saw, which was all of these Trump candidates in Mitch McConnell sort of talking about candidate quality?
I will say this; I want to sort of get back to Biden, right. I mean, we kind of say, oh, you know, Biden might have been a drag. But I think if they had lost, we'd be doping on Joe Biden, the fact that they did win, we should give some credit to Joe Biden as well for some of the choices that he made a labeling in speech after speech MAGA, ultra-MAGA and framing those folks as a threat to democracy as a threat to the country.
He got a lot of blowback from Democrats for doing that. And, you know, he kind of broke with his sort of bipartisan agenda and his bipartisan manner. But I think it helped right to brand Republicans as a threat of the MAGA Republicans you know, essentially, as a problem.
And you see some of that in the polling. The voters concerned about extremism, the fact that they win independent voters, I think, you know, Biden himself had a real sense of what the American public was feeling. It was sort of a bookend to why he ran right, this idea that this was a battle for the soul of the nation in his argument, ultra- MAGA was on the wrong side.
CHALIAN: And I know I spoke in the final weeks of the race to senior White House advisor and you are identifying the right strategy. It was to prompt the Biden strategy. It was sort of half their strategy was geared towards localizing in the races that he could go and visit and highlighting the agenda item in there.
So you know, KV porters district and highlighting prescription drugs, very localized pocketbook issues from the agenda that was sort of 50 percent of what they wanted to do and gave a lot of speeches about that to do that.
The other 50 percent was to make everybody aware that the Republican Party was no longer called the Republican Party, but it was now the mega MAGA Republican Party, that that was the other piece of the strategy. And that had real resonance we are seeing. I mean, we talked before about the independent voters pushing this way, that is what that is in response to.