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Election Day 2010

Aired November 2, 2010 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to Las Vegas right now.

That's where CNN's national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is standing by.

I see you're at Harry Reid headquarters over there. They have got the balloons. They're ready to go behind you. We will see soon enough whether they will need all those balloons or not.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And they are ready at the Angle headquarters, too.

I will tell you, this might be the most closely watched Senate race and the biggest battle of them all with the Senate majority leader's post at stake. And, Wolf, right now, no one knows which way this one will go,. It is really up to the voters, all in their hands at this moment and the headline is from the secretary of state, turnout here is low.

Now, traditionally, on Election Day, Republicans turn out in greater numbers than Democrats in Nevada, and that is what the Angle campaign is counting on for today because in early balloting the Democrats had an advantage. But the Angle campaign thinks they can make that up today and expects huge enthusiasm out there.

Voters have another four hours to get to the polls here, so plenty of time for those turnout numbers to rise. So far today, Wolf, the candidates have been meeting with sort of their bases. Harry Reid in Las Vegas meeting with volunteers for his campaign urging them to stay on the phones and keep trying to get out the vote and sending home his message that Sharron Angle in his words is too extreme for Nevada.

Sharron Angle has been in the northern part of the state, Reno, in her stronghold. She went out to vote and she delivered the message that Harry Reid had his chance and jobs and housing picture is not good in Nevada. She laid the blame on him. Her message also, if she goes back to Washington, she will fight to repeal Obamacare.

So, the two could not be more politically opposed. And again we just don't know, Wolf. Campaign advisers on both sides are incredibly nervous today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And Tea Party Express, have they set up shop at the same hotel where you are at the Harry Reid headquarters getting ready to sort of rub it in, in case Sharron Angle wins? YELLIN: Exactly. They are in the same hotel I am. This is Reid headquarters, as you point out. They're upstairs. I just visited their suite. They are setting up a war room where they will be blasting out messages.

And they expect to have a victory celebration. That is what they say and they have buses downstairs ready to take them from this location over to the Angle headquarters so they can be there with her when they believe she will be able to accept victory. It will a long night, though, Wolf.

We BLITZER: And Will be with you, Jessica Yellin in Vegas for us.

Let's go to California right now, Oakland, California, specifically, a specifically huge governor's race getting ready to wrap up. And it has been a bitter campaign, Jerry Brown, the Democrat, facing Meg Whitman, the Republican, self-financed, largely.

Dan Simon is in Oakland for us.

Dan, the polls show that Jerry Brown after 30 years could become the next governor of California again.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You are right, Wolf. The polls showing Jerry Brown leading by about 10 points

And he already severed two terms in Sacramento and normally he would not be eligible for another term, but Jerry Brown served before 1990. That is when the term limits kicked in. When you think about this race, you really think about two things. You think about the money that Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, spent on this race, more than $140 million of her own money.

And then you think about the political landscape here in California. Whoever gets this job is immediately, Wolf, going to be facing a $12 billion deficit and an unemployment rate that is about 12 percent higher than the national average. So you are looking at a really difficult political landscape.

Meg Whitman is trying to say that Jerry Brown is politics of the past, Jerry Brown of course saying that Meg Whitman not qualified to be governor. But as you said that $140 million, Wolf, that Meg Whitman spent, which shattered all records by the way, not really looking too good for Meg Whitman right now down 10 points in the polls -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, we will see what the real polls say after everyone votes. Thanks very much, Dan Simon, for that.

There is a ballot initiative in California. It's called Proposition 19. And it would legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes.

Ted Rowlands is picking up this part of the story. Let's go to Ted right now. Ted, what's the betting on Proposition 19?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the polls have basically gone back forth over the past few months and they are within the margin of error so everybody is expecting a very long night today -- or tonight.

All day today both sides have been out and about. The pro-Prop 19 folks, the folks hoping to legalize marijuana, held a rally here in Oakland. And they urged people to get out and vote and to change the system.


JOHN RUSSO, ATTORNEY: The bottom line is this is a smart law- and-order initiative. Arresting and criminalizing tens of thousands of Californians every year for misdemeanor possession of cannabis diverts police and prosecutors away from arresting and convicting violent criminals.


ROWLANDS: The bottom line here, more so than in any other recent proposition, the voting will be coming down to age differences. There is a huge advantage. All the young voters, not all of them, but the vast majority of young voters, are for Proposition 19 and the vast majority of older voters, as you can imagine, are against it.

So who will come to the polls? The pro-19 folks have been out on college campuses throughout the day urging kids, young men and women in California, to get out and vote to legalize marijuana. They are expecting it to be very close and they're expecting a very late night here in Oakland.

They're setting up for what they are hoping will be a party at the pro-19 campaign headquarters -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All these young voters who have been energized to come out and vote on Proposition 19 legalizing marijuana, the assumption is that is also going to help the two Democrats running for governor and Senate, Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer. Is that what you are hearing out there?

ROWLANDS: Oh, absolutely. The younger voters obviously are going to tend to go Democratic, so the more young voters that show up to the polls will only help out the Democratic ticket from top to bottom.

The key is, though, will they actually come out? Over the years, people have tried and tried to young voters out. And sometimes they're successful, but oftentimes of course they fail and young voters don't show up at the polls. So we will have to see what actually happens this time around.

BLITZER: We will stay in close with you, Ted. Thanks very much.

Proposition 19 would legalize marijuana in California.

Let's go out to Colorado right now. It is a really tight Senate race out there, one of the tightest in the country. Michael Bennet, the incumbent Democrat, trying to hold on against the Tea Party-backed Republican Ken Buck.

Mary Snow is on the scene for us.

Mary, what are you seeing in Colorado?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been such a nail-biter, Wolf, with all the polls in a dead heat leading up to today, Ken Buck, a conservative backed by the Tea Party, challenging Senator Michael Bennet, the incumbent who was appointed to the Senate 2009 after Ken Salazar was tapped to be interior secretary.

The election officials are saying the turnout so far today slow, but steady. There's just a little less than three hours to go before the polls close, but remember that more than half of the voters had cast early ballots, including both candidates.

And to get a sense of the tone of the campaigns, you take a look at the schedules of the candidates. In Bennet's camp, the camp is saying they're candidate is going to be working down to the very last minute to get out last-minute voters. Ken Buck on the other hand, his camp says that he was out early this morning. He has gone down for the afternoon to work on his speech for tonight.

It is all going to be coming down to the independent voters. Independents helped elect Barack Obama, elect President Obama back in 2008. They make up a third of all the voters in this state.

And, Wolf, Republicans are saying they are cautiously optimistic. Democrats are expecting a very tight race.

BLITZER: What about for the governor? There is a tight race for governor of Colorado as well. And as you point out, President Obama carried Colorado in 2008. Whoever wins that governor's race could be influential in setting the stage for 2012 in Colorado.

SNOW: Yes. And this is a very interesting race.

Democrat John Hickenlooper -- he's the mayor of Denver -- was in the lead going into Election Day today. His main contender is Tom Tancredo, who is running not as a Republican, but as an independent, and he got an 11th-hour endorsement yesterday from Sarah Palin. That is a pretty tight race.

Now, the Republican in this race, Dan Maes, had been running in the single percentage points in the polls running up to today. The interesting thing here is, if the Republican candidate does not get at least 10 percent of the vote here in Colorado, under Colorado law, the Republican Party would be considered a minor party in the state.

BLITZER: Well, we will see how Dan Maes does in this contest tonight. All right, Mary is going to stay out in Colorado for us. We are watching this race. All these races are fascinating.

Stand by. We are getting new exit poll numbers coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. Ali Velshi will join us in just a moment with those numbers. Lots of politics going on. This is a critical day in the United States.

We are also checking some other developing news right now. We will be right back.


BLITZER: Let's get right back to Ali Velshi. He's got some new exit poll numbers that are just coming into the CNN Election Center.

What are we learning, Ali?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have got some great national election polling numbers. I want to show what we are watching very closely, though.

Within the hour, we will see poll closings in the following states. Well, you know what? I will tell you about that in a second. First of all, let's go back to that. Let's take a look at the states where we're seeing polls closing for the final time within this hour, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky.

Indiana and Kentucky have some polls that are already closed because they have got two time zones. South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia, we will have results from that within the hour. But here are some national numbers that I want to show you about. And it shows you about the remarkable split in ideology amongst American voters right now.

When asked what they thought of the role of government, 68 percent of Democratic respondents say government needs to do more. So, Wolf, while there is this theory out there that everybody thinks there is too much government, 68 percent of Democratic voters say the government needs to do more.

Take a look at this -- 81 percent of Republican voters say the government needs to do less. So this will tell you something about the split. It will also tell you how things are going to break down tonight, particularly with Tea Party-supported Republican candidates who have been emphasizing that there needs to be smaller government and a smaller role of government.

Let's talk about health care. This has been a real, real driver in this election. It has been that way since last summer -- 61 percent of Democratic voters say that health care, the health care law should be expanded to include or cover more people -- 61 percent of Democrats say it should be expanded. Take a look at what the Republicans think of this -- 82 percent of Republican voters who we have found coming out of the ballot boxes say that they think the health care should be repealed. Again, not a lot of middle ground, that is what we are finding, Wolf, in this election, not a lot of middle ground, as people are coming out of the polls. This is a polarized country right now.

BLITZER: On health care, Ali, it is about as polarized as it comes.

VELSHI: That is it. That is the most polarizing issue. Where they are united is on their view about the economy and where it is not going, but on health care, a total split in this country.

BLITZER: And you're getting new exit poll numbers coming in. I'm going to let you go back to your team. We will check back with you momentarily.


VELSHI: Very good.

BLITZER: Ali Velshi is going to be with us throughout the night doing exit polling.

We are learning more about a UPS cargo plane that crashed in Dubai in September. U.S. officials have been investigating whether that crash was linked to last week's failed terror plot. We will have more on this developing story and all the political news when we come back.


BLITZER: They have closed the polls in some parts of Kentucky. We are getting the first results. These are official results coming in from state authorities in Kentucky. It shows the Republican, the Tea Party favorite, Rand Paul, 56 percent, to Jack Conway, the Democrat, 44 percent. This is less than 1 percent of the vote that's been -- the vote in Kentucky, 4,084 to 3,19.

It is very, very early, but I just wanted to give you a little flavor of what -- these are the first results, the actual results we are getting in on this day. All the polls in Kentucky will close at the top of the hour. Some of the polls are closing in Indiana this hour. All of the polls in Indiana will close in the next hour. We will check in, see what the results are there, a lot more politics coming up.

But let's also check in on some other important news.

We are learning right now about a UPS cargo plane that crashed in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates back on September 3. U.S. officials have been investigating whether that crash was linked to last week's failed terror plot.

Let's go to our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve. She has been looking into this story for us.

I assume, Jeanne, they are taking a much closer reexamination of that September 3 UPS 747 cargo crash in Dubai as a result of what has happened over the past few days.


On September 3, that plane was en route from Dubai to Cologne, Germany, when the crew discovered smoke in the cockpit, declared an emergency, and headed back to Dubai, where the plane crashed, killing both pilots.

After finding the toner cartridge bombs last week, officials decided to take another look at the crash to see if there is a connection. An official tells CNN that government investigators reviewing the plane's cargo manifest have discovered a few -- not many -- but a few packages from Yemen on the flight.

But the official says investigators know where on the plane the fire started and those packages were not nearby. Also, officials in the United Arab Emirates and the U.S. say the plane's cockpit voice recorder did not capture the sound of an explosion, so there is no evidence of terrorism at this point, but the crash is still being looked, according to officials -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You are also getting additional information on what is now believed to be a suspected dry run by these terrorists in Yemen back in September. What are you learning?

MESERVE: Well, officials say three packages were sent from Yemen to Chicago in September.

Acting on information that they were sent by someone with ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, authorities intercepted the packages and searched them. They found only everyday items. Officials believe it could have been an effort to pulse the cargo system and get more information about how the bombs would be routed and how they could be tracked.

Also, Wolf, we are now told that the actual bombs were addressed to historical figures from the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition at outdated addresses for synagogues. It is increasing suspicion that the bombs were intended to blow up on airplanes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jeanne, thanks very much.

We are getting the first official results coming in from Indiana right now. This is the Senate race in Indiana. Dan Coats, he is the former senator, the Republican. With 1 percent of the vote counted, he has got 55 percent to Congressman Brad Ellsworth, the Democrat, 2,251 votes to 1,646 votes.

It is very, very early in this race, but Dan Coats is -- was widely ahead in all of the polls going into Indiana, but, right now, we are getting these first official results coming in from Indiana. We are going to check all of the results as they come I. You will see it first right here on CNN throughout the night. All the polls in Indiana will close at the top of the hour. All the polls in Kentucky will close at the top of the hour. Also at the top of the hour, the polls will be closed in all the precincts in Georgia and South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. We are standing by for that.

We will take another quick break -- much more of our coverage on Election Day in the United States right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

We are standing by for more results. They are just beginning to trickle in right now, but they are going to be coming in much more rapidly in the coming minutes. Stand by for that.

I want to go out to Alaska right now.

CNN's Drew Griffin is in Anchorage. He's watching this race.

It has been quite a race up there, a three-person race in Alaska. Set the scene for us. What do we know right now, Drew?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is still six hours to go in the voting or so, Wolf. So the campaigning is still on and it is pretty fierce both on TV and on the street.

The sign-waving in this town of Anchorage has been incredible throughout. But I want to lay out a scenario, Wolf, where we see the Tea Party candidate, Joe Miller, is in this race. Basically, it's a rematch of the primary, where he beat Lisa Murkowski -- Senator Lisa Murkowski trying to stage this historical write-in candidacy.

But at the end of the night, we may actually never know how many votes she got. Here is why. Because if a write-in candidate in the state of Alaska by the end of the evening is not either ahead in the race or within 0.5 percent of that winner, that leader in the race, then those votes will not be counted. They will not visually go through and see which of all the write-in votes there are.

Now, if she does pull this out, if the write-in candidacy -- the write-in ballots are in lead, we probably won't know until November 18, because that is the date that the Alaska director of elections says is the day that they will actually open up those ballots and visually read them to see who those write-in names are.

So either way, either Lisa Murkowski's career could end tonight or she may not know if she's back in the Senate until November 18.

BLITZER: We will stay in close touch with you obviously, Drew. Thanks very much.

Let's go over to the White House right now. Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is monitoring what the president of the United States has been doing on this day.

What has he been doing, Ed? ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he had been doing radio shows earlier in the day, but we have just gotten word that the president added one just late in the 5:00 p.m. Eastern hour, just before 6:00 p.m. Eastern, a Chicago area radio station.

And I am told by senior advisers this is about turnout in the Illinois Senate and gubernatorial races, of course, but that particularly they realize the president is still potent in Chicago and they are very intent on trying to win his old Senate seat in particular.

The other thing I'm told is the president has been getting updates, regular updates, on what kind of data is out there, what is turnout looking like. He is not like Bill Clinton in terms of being a political animal who has got to eat up every last morsel of data, but I'm told he is keeping a very close eye on this.

They're expected him to be in the residence tonight watching various television coverage of all of this that is going on. And the other key thing, of course, that they're doing is getting ready for the next couple of days.

What we already know is that tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, the president will be in the East Room for a news conference. He will take questions, a very important moment. We will remember with George W. Bush after a big midterm election loss in 2006, he had a news conference and said he had gotten a thumping.

You will remember that Bill Clinton got a similar fate in 1994, came out said the president is still relevant here. We will see how this president deals with what is expected to be at least some losses.

And, finally, what we don't know officially yet, but what I am picking up from Democratic sources is on Thursday the president is likely to also make remarks likely here at the White House where he will extend an olive branch to Republicans, talk about working together, get beyond just answering questions tomorrow, but also reach out specifically to Republicans and maybe even float this idea of some sort of a summit.

One scenario that has been out there is bring the Republican and Democratic leaders on the Hill out to Camp David when the president gets back from Asia later this month, sit down, hash this out, and show the American people he is serious about reaching across the aisle, Wolf.

BLITZER: And he is getting ready for a major trip basically around the world in the coming days as well, isn't he?

HENRY: He is going -- he is going to be leaving early Friday, India, Indonesia, as well as South Korea and Japan. He's got two summits there in South Korea and Japan at the tail end that have been on the books for a long time.

You'll remember, one of the reasons why Indonesia is here is he had to cancel two trips to Indonesia earlier in the year because of health care late votes here on Capitol Hill, et cetera, and so this is all sort of backed up and kind of unfortunate timing for the White House, because you already hear some Republicans privately and publicly saying why is he leaving the country so quickly after this election? That symbolically, it's going to look bad.

I've talked to White House officials, and he says, look, he still is president. He's still commander in chief. He still has to travel around the world. And that's why he's going to have the news conference tomorrow, likely will make remarks, as well, Thursday to show, "Look, I get what's going on here with the midterm elections," but then head out of the country because he has other business, Wolf.

BLITZER: And we'll obviously have live coverage of that news conference. At 1 p.m. Eastern I'll be here with the Best Political Team on Television, starting at noon Eastern tomorrow. Thanks very much for that.

Let's bring in some members of the Best Political Team. They're all here. This is a big night in politics. Alex Castellanos is here; David Gergen, Erick Erickson, Donna Brazile, Mary Matalin, and Roland Martin.

Roland, what does the president need to do right now to turn things around?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all what he needs to be doing between now and the next hour, calling other folks, trying to get them to the polls. Because at the end of the day, you're likely going to have a number of elections that could be decided by 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 votes. Every vote does, indeed, matter.

And we're also concerned about the down-ballot races, as well. People focus on congressional races, governors' races, but trust me. Many areas you care about who they judge, and so you need as many people getting out. And if he can touch them at this point, you never know what happens.

BLITZER: You know, hold on for a second. I want to just go to the vote boards for a second and take a look at some actual results that are coming in. We'll go to Kentucky first. These are real results. One percent of the vote now in. You can see Rand Paul, the Republican candidate, 9,002 to Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate, 7,307, 55-45 percent, but it's still very early in Kentucky. Not even all the polls in Kentucky are closed.

In Indiana right now, where some of the polls are closed, the rest will close at the top of the hour. Dan Coats, the former senator, he wants to be the next senator. He's ahead of Brad Ellsworth, a Democrat -- a Democratic congressman. Forty-three percent for Ellsworth; 52 percent for Dan Coats. But remember, these are very, very early results.

Let's go back and check in with the Best Political Team on Television. Alex, those are early results, but they seem to be consistent with a lot of the polls over the past few weeks. ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What Republicans are expecting a big increase in intensity over the Democrats. The Republicans think that they're going to get 10, 15 percent more of their vote out than -- than Democrats are.

What we're looking for is those independents. Are they -- are they actually voting the way we've seen in these early surveys? Are they voting like Republicans this year? Does the vaunted Obama turnout machine that got out so much young vote, black vote, suburban vote in -- women vote, yes, last time, does that deliver again or is that vote light? Those are the things we're looking for in these races.

BLITZER: It's interesting that a Tea Party favorite like Rand Paul in Kentucky is doing seemingly very, very well, but another Tea Party favorite, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, not so well. People are reacting differently to many of these candidates.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they're reacting differently to the qualifications, because the candidates are very different. And I think the press, frankly, has focused so much on O'Donnell, that it's sort of created the impression that every Tea Party candidate is sort of a witch on a broomstick, which simply is not true. And there are some very decent candidates.

I think by the end of the night, you're going to see the Tea Party candidates. I bet they will do better than you would have expected if you'd watched television over the last two or three weeks.

BLITZER: Which Tea Party candidates, Erick, will win and which will lose?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think definitely you're going to see Rand Paul in and Marc Rubio in. You'll see Pat Toomey win. I suspect you'll see Ken Buck pull out Colorado. I would say Sharron Angle probably can beat Harry Reid if she can get her ground game out. And then Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, those are the big Tea Party candidates this year.

CASTELLANOS: And looking at the numbers.

BLITZER: There's a whole caucus there of the Tea Party caucus in the Senate if what Erick just said happens.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But you know, these polls are still open. And Roland is absolutely right. People are still going to the polls. We don't know exactly who will win, who will lose, but we do know that there's been a lot of energy. The Tea Party has basically reenergized the Republican Party. They were in the wilderness searching for a leader, figuring out a way to come out and they came out -- they're coming out far right.

So I don't know if the Tea Party is just the brand of the year or the brand of the season. And we don't know if we'll dilute that brand after this election. CASTELLANOS: The lesson from the Tea Party is not that Christine O'Donnell can't win because she's a Tea Party candidate. It's that if you make a spot that you're denying you're a witch, don't wear black. That's, I think, the only lesson from that race.

MARTIN: And also -- and also keep in mind, Rand Paul in Kentucky, running as a Republican, her running in Delaware. The two states are all so different. I mean, we keep talking as if Tea Party, Republican, Democrat, somehow that you can override that. Certain states are still different.

BLITZER: Mary, how much tension will there be between the Tea Party-backed candidates and, let's say, the more established Republican leaders?

MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Not as much as the press would have you believe, because what the Tea Party people ran on is -- is what the Republicans didn't deliver on 2006 which is why they lost. So there is real unity of message and purpose and because of the numbers, I agree with Erick's assessment that the numbers are a critical mass to push the agenda which is largely the can-do Congress is going to stop Obama -- Obama-omics, whatever, or Obamaism, or whatever it is. And there will be a critical mass...

BLITZER: Whole new phenomenon in Washington. Guys, hold your thoughts for a moment. We're going to continue this assessment of what's going on. We're also getting new numbers coming in, actual voter turnout numbers or exit poll, as well. Or coverage will continue.

John King is standing by over at the CNN Election Matrix with more on the balance of power in Washington.


BLITZER: All right. The results are coming in from two states so far. The polls -- at least some of the polls have closed in Indiana and Kentucky. In Kentucky right now Brad Ellsworth is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. He's behind Dan Coats, the former senator, the Republican who wants to be the senator, 52 percent to 44 percent. A difference of about 3,375 votes, but remember, it's still early, only 2 percent. Dan Coats is ahead.

In Kentucky right now, one percent of vote is now in, and Rand Paul, the Republican candidate, he's ahead, 57 percent to 43 percent over Jack Conway. He's ahead by 2800 votes, but it's only 1 percent of the vote in; 11,000 to 8,000. This race is continuing, obviously. All the polls in Kentucky and in Indiana will close at the top of the hour, together with four other states.

The balance of the power of the United States Senate is at stake, John, right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And Wolf, both of those races you just noted are key to the map tonight. Here's a map of all the Senate races on the ballot tonight, 37 in all. If you see blue, that's held by a Democrat right now. If you see red, that's held by a Republican right now. This is where we are entering the night. Wolf just showed you those results. Let me bring you in to show you.

This is the map now. The only states that are lit up at all, the states where we're actually getting live election poll results because the polls are closed. We can click in on Indiana. You see, it's not filled in because the results are so early, as Wolf just noted, just one percent of the vote. Dan Coats, the Republican, ahead by a little bit. But it's just one percent. We'll watch this count.

The Kentucky race being closely watched, as Wolf just noted, 57 percent to 43 for Rand Paul. Again, we're very early in the night. But why do these matter? These matter when we come to the bigger question of balance of power in the United States Senate.

And here's where we begin the night. You look up here at the time, right at the wall, 59 Democrats to start the night, 41 Republicans. But Republicans are expecting big gains. The question is this: can they pick up 10 seats to capture a Senate majority?

Here's what is on the ballot tonight. These are the seats on the ballot tonight, all of them. But we're going to run a scenario here in which we're going to assign to the Democrats and the Republicans the races in which somebody was comfortably ahead in the late polls. So we'll bring this scenario up for you.

Now, you may see your state assigned, and you may say, no, it's not going to turn out that way. This is a hypothetical. Stay with us. You'll see we've assigned, for example, Kentucky to the Republicans, Arkansas to the Republicans. What I'm going to do right now is pop up California. The Democrats think they're comfortably ahead in that race, so let's give that one, for the sake of argument, to the Democrats tonight.

Here's another one the Democrats are quite confident about, Connecticut. So let's give this one again in this hypothetical to the Democrats for tonight. Look at these other races in here now: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, right? Seven white disks. Those are the races we have not called yet in this hypothetical. Look at this math.

Under this scenario, 49 Democrats, 44 Republicans. To get to 51, to get a majority, the Republicans would have to sweep all seven of these toss-up races. Where are they? Pennsylvania. For the sake of this argument, remember if you're in Pennsylvania you say, no, the Democrats are going to get it. This is a hypothetical. We're going to give it to the Republicans.

Wisconsin, that's a state where the Democrats think they're surging at the end. The Republicans were leading at the end. For this hypothetical, let's give it over to the Republicans.

Colorado, this is a very, very close race. You know what? Let's leave that one right where it is for now.

West Virginia, very, very close race. Let's leave it right there for now.

Illinois, Barack Obama's old Senate seat. Close race again, and Republicans are confident, but for the sake of this hypothetical, it could go either way. We're going to assign it over. Look, if we did just that and leave these one, two, three, four races, Wolf, 49 for the Democrats and 47 for the Republicans. I've been generous to give the Republicans a couple of the toss-ups. Even if they're lucky, and those states, things break their way, West Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Nevada. Harry Reid's seat, Patty Murray's seat, Michael Bennet's seat, that open West Virginia seat.

I could play this out either way. I could give you a scenario. Watch this. Let's say the Republicans win West Virginia. Let's say the Republicans win Colorado. We could get to 49-49, and be out west for Nevada and Washington state. Even, here's one last one for you, Wolf, the Republicans win Washington state, that seat, Harry Reid's seat in Nevada, could determine whether it's 50-50 and Joe Biden breaks the tie or whether they get to a majority. A fascinating game of chess when it comes to the Senate balance of power playing out in the hours ahead.

BLITZER: And we don't know what the results are going to be, but we're going to watch all of the results coming in during the course of the next several hours. John is going to be with us, obviously, throughout the night.

Let's go to CNN's Dana Bash. She's up on Capitol Hill right now, where the Republicans seem to be gearing up at least to take over, Dana, the House of Representatives.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are doing that quietly at this point. You see that I am still on Capitol Hill, and the reason is because we are not allowed to broadcast from the election site where the Republicans, both in the House now and the Senate will be -- will be headquartered. It's just down the street about maybe five blocks at a hotel.

And that perhaps is indicative of the kind of message and tone that they want to send tonight, and that is we have heard over and over again, and I'm getting it even more tonight from Republican sources that they are certainly feeling very good. They're feeling very confident tonight. They feel that they will take the majority by the time that the night over.

But they don't want to set a tone of victory. We're not going to see confetti. We're not going to see the balloons that you might have seen, even prepared where Jessica was in Nevada for Harry Reid. It's not going to happen, they say, because they understand.

And our exit polls tonight really do bear this out that people are mad at Democrats, but they're also mad at Republican, and they do not trust the Republican establishment here. So they say that they're going to have to prove that they're not just sort of partying and victorious, but that it's time for them to get to work.

Having said that, we understand that John Boehner, himself, is going to be heading towards that center, that hotel downtown where he is going to be in what his aides are calling a command center. He's going to be monitoring the results. He's going to be calling candidates as we get decisions on whether or not they won. And it is not going to be, we are told, until they do have a real clear and comfortable sense of whether they took the majority that we're going to see John Boehner, and that goes for Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, as well.

BLITZER: Dana, stand by. It's only, what, about 15 minutes till the top of the hour where polls are going to be closing in six states: Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. We'll have results coming in. Stand by. Much more of our coverage right after this.


BLITZER: The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is facing the fight of his political life right now. He's trying to get himself re- elected in Nevada, but Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate, the Tea Party favorite, it's a very, very close race right now.

Let's go out to CNN's Jessica Yellin. She's in Las Vegas. She's working the story for us.

Jessica, you're at Harry Reid headquarters, where they're certainly bracing and hoping for success, but it's by no means a done deal.

YELLIN: Absolutely not, Wolf. They are nervous here, and they are nervous at the Angle headquarters. I can tell you that the Democrats do seem more cautiously optimistic than I've seen them for months out here. They think the early voting numbers were good for Harry Reid.

I will add that the turnout today has been unexpectedly low. The secretary of state here says lower than even he expected it. There are still three hours here for the polls yet to close, and this is a town, especially Vegas, where there are a lot of shift workers who could go to the polls in the next three hours.

Now, Harry Reid and Sharron Angle have been pushing their people to continue to work on getting out the vote today with phone banks, with messages, and they have been pushing their closing messages, as well. Harry Reid saying that Sharron Angle would not be the right voice for Las Vegas, for Nevada, that she's too extreme. And Sharron Angle saying Harry Reid had his chance, and he didn't perform for the state.

And as you know, more than $50 million spent in the state, Wolf. It's pretty amazing. Fifty million dollars, and still no one knows how this one's going to turn out, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's good for the TV stations in Las Vegas.

YELLIN: That's right. BLITZER: But Las Vegas -- but Nevada certainly has the highest unemployment rate in the country and one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, and I assume all of that is not helping Harry Reid.

YELLIN: You are so right. And that has been the central message Sharron Angle has delivered, that Harry Reid claims he's going to bring jobs to Nevada. Harry Reid says that his seniority is good for the state. Well, then why is the state No. 1 in so many of these signs of recession, and people are hurting and struggling. And she says it's her turn to try to turn things around.

Harry Reid also has very low approval ratings. People just don't respond to him as a person. But the reason he's been able to stay in this game is he has an enormously sophisticated operation in this state. He's been in elected office for so many years and has a get- out-the-vote team, a ground team that is truly impressive. And they have been activated and working. And they did turn out their people during the early vote, and that's why Reid people think they could pull this off. No one is relaxed tonight, but they think they could pull this off.

Of course, Angle folk think in a wave election year, when Republicans are doing well, there's no way they wouldn't trounce the majority leader. So both sides are, again, very uncertain tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: And the stakes certainly enormous. We're only minutes away from the top of the hour, Jessica. Six states will be closing at the top of the hour. We'll see if we'll be able to make any projections.

But let's go back to CNN's John King. Actually, we'll take a quick break. And then we'll go back to CNN's John King. Much more of our coverage right after this.


ANNOUNCER: Now, live from the CNN Election Center, Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Thanks very much for watching. We're only a few moments away from the top of the hour.

At stake in the United States right now, control of the United States Congress, the House of Representatives first. All 435 seats are at stake in the House of Representatives. All 435 seats. The Republicans need a net gain of 39. Then John Boehner will be the speaker of the House.

In the Senate right now, 37 of the 100 seats are up for grabs. The Republicans need a net gain of 10. If they get it, they will then be in the majority in the United States Senate, as well.

We're watching all of this unfold. Right now there's only, what, four minutes to go until the polls close in six states. Anderson Cooper is here, together with the Best Political Team on Television for complete analysis tonight. We also have correspondents standing by around the United States. Let me tell you who's going to be here.

Jessica Yellin, she's in Nevada. Dana Bash, she's in Washington. Drew Griffin in Alaska. Ed Henry is over at the White House. Suzanne Malveaux, there she is. She's in Pennsylvania watching a close race. Gary Tuchman is in Delaware. Brianna Keilar is watching what's going on in Washington, as is Shannon Travis. He's over at the Tea Party headquarters.

Ted Rowlands is out in California. Proposition 19 that would legalize marijuana, he's watching that in California. Dan Simon is also in -- in California, watching two big races: for the governor, governor of California and the U.S. Senate.

Mary Snow is in Colorado. And Don Lemon is watching what's going on in Florida.

Let's walk over to CNN's John King over at what we call our Election Matrix.

The House of Representatives, John, clearly up for grabs tonight.

KING: And we will know, Wolf, very early on, using our matrix, just how things are looking in these early minutes. These are the top 100 competitive House races across the country. Ninety-one of those 100 being defended by Democrats. That's why you see blue. When you see flashing lights later in the night, that means that seat has changed hands. So if you see those flashing lights, start counting them. We'll know if Republicans get to the 39 net they need to make John Boehner the speaker of the House.

As the polls close in a few minutes, just a quick look at a few things we'll look at. Indiana, Wolf, is one of the states you just mentioned. Let me bring these districts over here. There are three House seats in Indiana, all members of the class of 2006, the class that made Nancy Pelosi speaker. The Republicans think they can take all three of these. I'll show you just one of them.

Incumbent here Barron Hill, he's running for this seat. We hope that works for him. We'll see how that one plays out. There are many there. But Wolf, you have three in Indiana, 22 House seats on our 100 just in the very first hour of poll closings. We should get a good sense as those first results come in whether or not the Republicans are on the path to a majority.

BLITZER: And we -- on the East Coast these results, we believe, will be coming in fairly soon that will tell us whether there's a wave or a tidal wave.

KING: By 22 in the first hour. By the time we get through the 7 p.m., we'll have another 30-something of our CNN 100 counted. We'll watch in New Hampshire. We'll watch in Massachusetts. We'll watch in Virginia. Then we get into Ohio, a handful of targets in the state of Ohio.

The classes of 2006 and 2008, 53 seats, 53 Democrats in just the classes of 2006 and 2008, the last two big classes that came to Washington. And the defining question tonight is, No. 1, will the Republicans get a majority, and No. 2, will all those Democratic gains of recent years, Wolf, be washed away?

BLITZER: John, we're going to be checking in with you, obviously, often. We're getting ready. We're getting ready for the top of the hour, and the polls will close in six states. Let me tell you where these polls are closing: in Georgia, in Indiana, in Kentucky, in South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.

There are several important races unfolding there for the House of Representatives, for the Senate, gubernatorial contests, as well. We're going to watch very carefully to see what's going on, to see if we can get some initial trends. Whether this is going to be a huge night for the Republicans or maybe not necessarily such a huge night, we know what all the pundits have been saying. We know what all the polls have been suggesting. But in about 40 seconds from now we'll have a much better idea of what is going on in these six states.

Specifically we're going to take a very close look at what's happening in Indiana, and there has been high interest in Kentucky, as well. In Kentucky, that Senate race between Rand Paul, the Tea Party favorite, the son of Ron Paul, the Republican congressman from Texas who ran for president in 2008, and Jack Conway, who has been struggling in Kentucky to see if he can beat Rand Paul.

All of this is going to make for a fascinating, fascinating political story in the United States.