Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Election Day; CNN Projects Results in Utah
Aired November 6, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: CNN can make a projection. Mitt Romney will carry the state of Utah, not a big surprise, six electoral votes at stake in Utah, one of the most Republican states out there.
Mitt Romney will carry Utah. So, with Utah right now, we can make that projection, let's see where the road to 270 stands right now. We have 158 for Romney, 143 for Obama. We cannot make projections right now in three states where the polling has just closed, in Iowa, no projection, in Montana no, projection, and Nevada, no projection.
Iowa, Nevada are always considered battleground states in this race for the White House. So no projections right now.
We can share with you as we wait for more real votes to come in, our exit polls. They are -- let me show you what they are revealing. Remember -- and I want to caution everyone, these are estimates based on interviews with a sampling of voters as they left select polling stations.
Here are the exit poll results. Estimates in Iowa right now, Barack Obama 52 percent to Mitt Romney's 46 percent, this is an exit poll estimate of what we saw today. In Montana, look at this, the estimate, Mitt Romney 53 percent to Barack Obama's 43 percent in Montana. In Nevada, the president slightly ahead in the exit poll that we conducted, 51 percent for the president to 45 percent for Mitt Romney in Nevada.
Those are the exit poll results. Remember, these are estimates that reflect the votes of the people we interviewed in select polling places and early voters by the way we interviewed by phone. They may not necessarily reflect the actual outcome in a particular state once we get the final vote tally.
Let's go over to John King right now.
We're watching all of these states. This is the national vote right now, what we're seeing, 50 percent to 48 percent. National vote is nice. But what's important are the battleground states.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: National vote is nice -- 270 is the vote that really counts, not who wins the popular vote.
There may be a debate tomorrow if one candidate wins the popular vote and somebody else wins the Electoral College. This is the state we're watching most closely right now, because this one is pivotal, 29 electoral votes, almost impossible to show you a scenario, it is impossible really to show you a plausible scenario to get to Mitt Romney to 270 without the state of Florida and its 29.
Look at this, 86 percent of the vote counted in Florida, 40,000 votes, right, about 40,000 votes, a little shy of that separating two candidates. The question then is, what's out? What's out? I want to show you here's one rural county up here. Governor Romney will win this county, so he will get some of those votes back. But, look, it's a tiny Santa Rosa County, less than 1 percent of the state population.
Let's move into some of the other conservative counties, Panama City, Bay County, 93 percent. So, Governor Romney will get a few votes there. But there's not a lot there. And I'm clicking around on purpose to show you a lot of the conservative vote is in, Wolf, 100 percent here, 100 percent here, you come down, I'm just randomly hitting the more conservative counties.
The issue for Governor Romney is what's left? Can he make up the margin? Or can the president pad? And that's why we come down here, and it's very significant. Only 53 percent of the vote in, in Miami- Dade counties. Governor Romney is running a little bit better than John McCain percent-age wise, but look at that. The president, if you project this, it keeps going, the most reliably Democratic states in the counties in the state are right here. The president will pad this total here, 84 percent in here. More votes for the president likely here -- 99 percent here. Palm Beach County just about in, so 59 percent to 41 percent there. We assume the math is about done there.
You can start looking for other places. Where can Governor Romney get some votes? You start tapping the red counties and you see a lot of 100s. If you're in the Romney war room right now, you're wondering and you're calling your people on the ground, saying, where? What is out? What is out? Is there any way to make up the gap?
It's very, very close. We have a lot of counting to do. But, Wolf, I'll tell you, when you're looking at Florida and you're a Republican, you're saying find me some votes, please.
BLITZER: Yes. And every one of these electoral votes very, very important. We're watching every single state right now, those states where we have not been able to make projections.
But we are ready right now to make another major projection. New Hampshire, we project the president of the United States will win the state of New Hampshire. Only four electoral votes, but they could be very, very important.
Right now, 22 percent of the vote in New Hampshire is in. You see the president with a lead of 54 percent to 43 percent, a lead of 16,257 votes, so New Hampshire, there was a fierce battle for New Hampshire, and Mitt Romney made a major push for New Hampshire. So did the president. But the president, we project will carry New Hampshire.
Let's take a look and see where we stand now on the road to 270 with New Hampshire in the president's column. Look how close it is. Mitt Romney maintains a slight advantage, 158 for Romney to 147 for the president of the United States, 270 needed to win.
You see the yellow states, and those are the states where we have not yet made projections out of the West Coast. They're still voting in California, Oregon, Washington State, and they're still voting in Hawaii and in Alaska, so we will get more states coming in shortly, but New Hampshire, an important state, John King, and we watched it closely from the beginning, but it's going to be won by the president.
KING: And it's a disappointment for Mitt Romney. He ended his campaign there. He went out today and campaigned, but he ended the official campaign there. He has a vacation home there. He was the governor of Massachusetts.
This is a state he very much wanted. It's only four electoral votes. You look at it and you say it's only four, why does it matter? Governor Romney needs takeaways. He needs to look at the map from 2008 and get some takeaways. He does have one in Indiana tonight. That's 11.
But 11 is not enough. He needs to take away maybe Florida, 29, North Carolina, 15, Virginia, 13. He is in play here. It looks like he might get those. Virginia, we're still not so sure about either one of them. But he looks in play there.
The question then becomes though how does he get to 270? When you come back to the other map, let's go back and look at it. When you look at the states, the president of the United States at the moment leading, and leading, and leading in Minnesota. They made a late play there, the Republicans.
Governor Romney is leading in Wisconsin. Let's put it out, though it's only 13 percent. The Romney campaign keeps saying, remember the governor's race, we will surprise you here. The exit polls shows the president with a lead here. Let's watch the results. We will see if there is a Republican surprise in Wisconsin.
But that's just 10. Sorry for touching that again. The question is, can he figure this one out. About half of the vote in, in the state of Ohio, we repeat this history a lot. But it's history worth repeating. No Republican has ever won without this state. Ohio has picked the winner in every election since 1964.
In 1960, Richard Nixon won and John Kennedy of course was elected. But, Wolf, you start looking at this and you say, again, where is it going to come from? At the moment, down in Hamilton County, Republicans need this to be red in close statewide elections. Only 18 percent in, so we will watch this one play out. But at the moment, the president winning in a place Mitt Romney needs to win.
Come into Franklin County in the middle of the state, about half of the vote in, 62 percent to 36 percent. Let's just go back and take a peek and see. Compare that to 2008, 60 percent. The president is overperforming his percentages. Let's take a quick look at the numbers. He's a little below in the numbers, but that's only half the vote. If the numbers double up, the president will overperform in Franklin County as well.
And then here is where the biggest chunk of votes are up here, got a long way to go here. The president will add to his vote total up here. Governor Romney is performing well in the suburbs. This is what he needed to do this in the Cleveland suburbs. It's a little narrow win. He would like it to be a little bit bigger than that. We have got some votes still to come in.
In a sense, Governor Romney is doing what he has to do up here, but not what he has to do down here. When you look in these and you see all this red in here, again, just like in Florida, 100 percent of the vote in. Only 4 percent here. But it's tiny. You start going through counties, 32 percent here.
The question is with the vote out in these smaller rural counties, can he make up what we know will happen here? The president is leading in Toledo, a lot more of the vote to be counting, and the president is leading in wood county. A lot more of the vote to be counted.
Still halfway to go in Ohio.
BLITZER: Only, almost half the vote is in. So we have got a long way to go in Ohio.
Let's go to Virginia right now, because that's another key battleground state. The Romney folks desperately want to win Virginia.
KING: They desperately want it.
At the moment, you see both North Carolina, Virginia, Mitt Romney needs them. He's leading in both of them at the moment. The president has been inching back a little bit here, 51 percent to 47 percent. We're at 64 percent of the vote.
Here's a couple of places we're watching. Watching down here in Virginia Beach. You see Governor Romney at 56 percent there, that's 21 percent of the vote. Again want to go back in time, Governor Romney down there, outperforming John McCain, and roughly just a little bit behind George W. Bush.
Here's a spot here. Norfolk City. This is an African-American vote center here. If you look at '08, the president got seven in 10 votes here. You are looking at the potential for the president to get 30,000, 40,000 votes to add to his cushion in Norfolk City. That's still out.
Let's come back to '12 and pull it out here. You look again and this is where we have been looking closely because this is where most of the votes are in Fairfax County, only 30 percent of the vote in there, so the president will add to his hotels here. Only 75 percent in Arlington County. Again, the president will cushion his totals there. So you see a lot of places up here where Governor Romney might be running a little better than John McCain in some of them, particularly Prince William County, Mitt Romney leading it by a couple of votes. Barack Obama won this county four years ago. But that's not good enough at the moment.
Mitt Romney has a narrow lead here at the moment. But I can find you plenty of places where there are potential votes for the president to come.
BLITZER: Well, 65 percent of the vote in.
Let's go to Colorado right now, because that's another key battleground state.
KING: It's blue at the moment, but we're at 51 percent of the vote here.
If you look at this, it's quite interesting. Very, very close election, so let's go in and look. First, we look at inner city Denver. We don't have a percentage here. Obviously, it's not zero percent. Sometimes the feed doesn't give us our percentage. But the president is running up those numbers in Denver.
Let's just go and look, 74 percent in Denver County now, 76 percent. He's a little below his 2008 totals there. Arapahoe is a key county in the suburbs, the Denver suburbs just down below, 53 percent now, 56 percent four years ago.
BLITZER: I want to go to Paul Vercammen.
He's in Boulder, Colorado, right now.
What is going on there, Paul.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I want to share what's happening in nearby Adams County.
As you and John well know, it's very important to the whole component. The huge suburbs northwest of Denver. The numbers right now show out of Adams County 59,315 for President Obama and 44,810 for Mitt Romney. This is significant because Romney hoped to make a big dent here in Adams County. Maybe not win the county, but at least hold Obama to a draw there, so, so far in Adams County, the first dump of votes, Obama doing very well with about 55 percent of the vote.
And also here in Boulder, as expected, Obama doing well with 75 percent. I believe we have got some others. Yes. These are the Obama numbers out of Boulder, and it's 70 percent in Boulder. He had 72 percent back in 2008 and again the Republican strategy to chip away in some of these counties, that way, they could win the overall state.
BLITZER: What did you say the number was, the actual number there in Adams County, Paul? VERCAMMEN: Forgive me just one second. It's on a piece of paper. Don't you love the mix of old school fun and new technology?
We have it as 59,315 and 44,810 for Romney. That's Obama 59,315 and that's 44,810. That's Adams County.
BLITZER: Those are numbers we don't have yet reported officially here.
But you see a nice little advantage there for the president.
KING: That's old school, and the nuns are going to be mad at my messy handwriting there.
But you see -- Paul mentioned that's about 55 percent, right? Let's turn this of and let's go back and look at Adams County. These numbers will disappear for a minute, folks, when I go back in time here, 55 percent of Adams County. Let's go back look at '08, 58 percent. The president is underperforming a little bit, underperforming a little bit.
But Adams County, if you look at Colorado, I will blank this out, folks, don't you love my writing there? I will blank this out. This is where Colorado is won right here. Here's Denver right in the city. As you mentioned, the president 74 percent in Denver.
Then you come up into Adams County. I was in an Obama field office out here just a couple of months ago, they were working hard. Romney working hard as well though. Then you come over here, Jefferson County, president running -- this is where Governor Romney is running ahead of where John McCain was four years ago if you look at Jefferson County there and Governor Romney is doing a little bit better.
What has to happen here is -- let me come to '12 for you -- the president has to run up the margins here, Governor Romney trying to shrink it in the suburbs. And the president trying to shrink it in the suburbs. And then out here this is a congressional race out here and the Republicans think they are going to bring in a lot of votes. You see 65 percent to 35 percent out in the Grand Junction area, 81 out here, 60 percent of the vote in.
The question is, we're at 52 percent, and this is very, very close. We have to see the percentages here. When these votes are in, much easier to make your assessment.
BLITZER: Other big counties.
Let's go to Iowa quickly because that's another state that the polls have now closed there. We have not been able to make a projection. And 8 percent of vote is in. You see the president had 60 percent to 39 percent.
KING: Almost all the vote is coming right here from Polk County in Des Moines, which is traditionally more Democratic. Let's be a little careful about that. When you see this still up, I will just show you a map of Iowa over time. You can see what I'm talking about.
Des Moines is a very Democratic area. If you come out here, this part of the state tends to be Democratic. Out here is more Republican. In a year when a Republican carries the state it looks more like this. When George W. Bush won it, you see a lot more out here. So at the moment this is a big turnout place.
The president needs to turn out the votes here. Got a lot of Democratic votes. Looks like he's doing that job here. We will watch this one as it plays out. This is one of the places where not only Romney campaign but evangelical Christians say we will surprise you on Election Day.
We will see if they can hold that up. The exit polls suggest otherwise. But we will see what can happen there because when you come back to this map, again when you come back to this map and you start looking, the goal is 270.
I know Governor Romney is leading at the moment. But when you look at the West Coast and you look at the small size of the more prairie and mountain states he's likely to win, you're starting to have a hard time. You're starting to have a much tighter, narrow window to say how does Romney get to 270?
He needs two of these, and this is the one I'm watching most closely right now, because if Governor Romney doesn't get those 29...
BLITZER: You don't see how he can do it?
KING: I'm having a really hard time finding 29 more for Governor Romney.
Now that Pennsylvania is gone, now that Michigan is gone, those were the if you would back pocket surprises he might pull on us. Even if he holds on in Wisconsin, that's just 10. And if even he somehow pulled off a miracle in Minnesota, combined, that would be 20. That's 29. That's 18 more. That's not enough.
BLITZER: Yes, and then pretty soon we will get results from California, Washington state, Oregon, and those are pretty reliable Democratic states in presidential contests.
KING: As the map fills in, the map is filling in, in actually a rather predictable way in the sense of red/blue America.
What the president did four years ago was turn nine states, including Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, nine Bush states from 2004, the president turned from red to blue. Florida is a swing state. The big surprises were North Carolina, and Virginia. We will see what happens this year, Indiana of course has gone back.
But if you look at the map at the moment, got a lot of counting to do. But if look at the map at the moment, the Obama's campaign easier path to 270 is still in play.
BLITZER: We're watching it closely. Want to go back to Anderson and Dana.
There's more races unfolding in the United States Senate.
COOPER: That's right. Big projections, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two big projections with big implications.
Let's start with Ohio. Sherrod Brown, the Democratic incumbent, CNN is projecting that he will go on to win reelection. Same goes for Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill. She will also go on to win reelection. She is beating Todd Akin, who very famously talked about rape and abortion in a way that had the entire Republican Party on him to try to get out of the race. Didn't happen. Claire McCaskill will win.
Let me just tell you what this means. We have been running the numbers, Anderson. What this means it is now mathematically impossible for Republicans to retake the Senate, even if Mitt Romney wins the White House, which would put Paul Ryan in a position of being the tie-breaking vote. It's mathematically impossible.
There are a lot of really depressed Republicans I'm talking to. This is one piece of good news, though. Orrin Hatch, the senator from Utah, is going to win reelection, he fended off a primary earlier this year from within his own party.
I said it's mathematically impossible, but the way the Senate works, is every single senator has a really big role, so all of the races are still very interesting, including Virginia, again, look at how close this is. Republican, George Allen, is ahead right now with 65 percent reporting. He's ahead by about 33,000 votes, actually fewer than 33,000 votes right now.
They is a Democratic seat. They're hoping Republicans pick this up still. North Dakota, same thing. This is an open seat. We haven't talked about this yet. This is an open seat in Democratic hands right now. At this point, the Republican, Rick Berg, is ahead of the Democrat, Heidi Heitkamp. But we will be watching that as well.
COOPER: I want to go over to our contributors and our analysts over here.
And in particular, I want to talk to James Carville, because, James, you have been just mumbling over and over, Florida, Florida, Florida, Florida, Florida, and during a commercial break, you said to me this puppy is about done. What do you mean?
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean John's reporting, which has been excellent. There's one story, only one story right now. Florida. Florida goes, the election is over. If Florida goes to Romney, then there is one story, Ohio. But let's not kid ourselves.
COOPER: But the fact it's so close right now and the areas that are not reported are traditionally Democratic.
CARVILLE: Right. It's not that close. It actually looks like based on John's reporting -- I can say this, because I'm a contributor. This is not a CNN thing.
Based on this, it looks to me like it's awfully probable that President Obama will carry Florida and win the election.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Boy, I hate it. I hate it when he's right.
COOPER: You agree with him?
CASTELLANOS: The parts of Florida that are out are very Democratic, Dade Coward, Broward County. The Tampa area, Pinellas County there, that's a place that picks presidents. Whoever carries that area usually carries Florida.
One rule is when you're running a race, don't shoot yourself at the starting line. On any path to the presidency, Florida is essential for Mitt Romney. Right now he is hanging on to a shot at winning this thing by his fingernails.
COOPER: When you look at all the numbers, where is your heart right now?
CASTELLANOS: Right now, I think my silent majority I hoped would be there is not only silent, but invisible.
CASTELLANOS: It's looking very tough right now for Mitt Romney.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think would you have to say it is -- if you look at the state of Florida, that the president is winning with non-Cuban Hispanics.
If we were to look at a larger picture tonight that is going through states -- we don't know the result in Colorado, 13 percent of the votes in Colorado in 2008 were Hispanic. But if you look at the exit polls this evening, by a 2-1 margin, people in this country believe there should be a path to citizenship.
And the Republican Party, you have to give George W. Bush credit; 10 years ago, he really did battle with his own party and he lost. I think when you look back on this election, you look back to the primaries, you look back to Mitt Romney moving to the right on immigration, I think it was a huge opportunity they missed. The president himself said it in an interview with "The Des Moines Register."
COOPER: A lot of enthusiasm over at camp Obama right now.
David Gergen. DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I do think Latino is a very, very important part of this.
Look, two stories here, one is Florida, which is a surprise, frankly. We all thought and many of us thought Romney would win that. But the other part of this is the Midwest. This has been a swing area, and for the president not only to hold the Upper Midwest, but almost the states now, he has got a significant lead in the exit polls. Seems to be doing very, very well.
That was intended to be his firewall, as everybody said. But it's turning out to be a huge area of strength for him. That's the Industrial Midwest. That's working white. That's the automobile bailout. That's a lot of the kind of things...
COOPER: If this continues to hold up and the president is reelected, there is going to be huge postmortem among Republicans.
CASTELLANOS: This isn't going to be just a loss for Mitt Romney if it goes this way.
Again, there are a lot of states to vote, a lot of people to vote. This is going to be a repudiation of the Republican Party. Democrats moved to the middle, new Democrats and they transformed their party. Republicans are still the party of no. We're not seen as having enough solutions.
We have got a failing, tanking economy going over the cliff and the opposition party was not seen as an alternative.
CASTELLANOS: If that's what happens here, we have to go back to the drawing board.
CARVILLE: In the '80s and the '70s, we were losing elections, and President Clinton -- David, you remember this well -- was able to shed a lot of the '60s, '70s, and even some of the '80s baggage. We had lost five out of six presidential elections and ran as a kind of new Democrat.
Somebody in the Republican Party will have to break out of what I call the Tea Party, talk radio, talking head sort of bellicose, in your face, you're not like us.
GERGEN: I think a cautionary notice here. Yes, Barack Obama is winning a lot of these swing states, but it remains true if you look at the overall national vote, it's quite close, and that's a message that will be sent to the president too. It may be 50-48 or something like that. BORGER: Some people will blame Romney, because Romney's message was my business credentials, my business credentials.
And you can make the case against Mitt Romney he didn't sell those business credentials well enough. If you look at these exit polls, he's at parity with the president on who is best able to handle the economy. He's way behind the president by 10 to 12 points on who cares about my problems. There will be some Republicans who will say it wasn't us, it was him.
CASTELLANOS: This election also tells you that the coalition of the ascendant that the Obama campaign bet on -- Van, you know about this -- young people, professional...
COOPER: And we have seen big turnout among African-Americans.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER FOR GREEN JOBS, ENTERPRISE AND INNOVATION, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY: This is not just about Republican weakness, it's about Democratic strength. We have been hearing about this enthusiasm gap and this whole thing. Where is it?
You see a huge turnout from the African-American community.
COOPER: In some states, even exceeding what it was in 2000.
JONES: Ben Jealous from the NAACP who put a million new black voters in lay is a hero tonight. The youth vote, it looks like a may be a big percentage of the election than last night. The Latino vote, bigger. This is not just about Republican failure. It's about there is a new coalition that wants to govern, that has a vision, that has a leader named Barack Obama. And that is what is happening tonight.
COOPER: What should viewers who are watching look for in the next hour or two?
James, what are you looking for? You are just looking at Florida?
CARVILLE: I'm looking at Florida, Florida, Florida, and Florida.
But once I see Florida, then I will look somewhere else. But I really don't care about anything else.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Republicans will deconstruct this, but a lot of money was spent by Republicans and Democrats on this race, almost $90 million more on the Republican side if you count all the outside groups and the hard dollars raised. Republicans will be looking at each other wondering where that money went.
COOPER: Let's go back to Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Anderson, there's still a lot of yellow on the CNN electoral map right now, states that we believe are still too close for us to make projections, including Ohio and Florida.
Let's take a look at the votes in Florida right now; 87 percent of the vote is in. The president maintains a slight advantage, 50 percent to 49 percent. Some, what, almost eight million votes have been counted already, and 46,000-vote advantage, 46,518-vote advantage for the president, still 13 percent of the vote is outstanding. And 29 electoral votes are at stake.
In Ohio, more than half of the vote is now in. And the president here too maintaining a slight advantage. Changing right now, 50 percent to 48 percent, the president has an advantage of about 85,000 votes, and more than three million votes have already been counted, 18 electoral votes in Ohio.
We're watching Florida, Ohio. We're watching the battlegrounds, including Colorado. How late will this night go before we can project a winner? Stay with us, and don't miss a moment.
BLITZER: A watch party going on at Times Square in New York City. They're watching us, they're watching CNN, they're watching history unfold, the election continuing. We're counting votes right now.
Nice to see all of those nice folks in New York City. It's a little chilly out there. But they are watching us at Times Square. Thanks very, very much.
There are lots of watch parties going on around the United States, indeed, around the world. We will show you more of them.
But let's update you right now on where we stand in this race for the presidency. Right now, remember, 270 votes, Electoral College votes are needed to be president of the United States. Mitt Romney maintains a slight advantage, 158 Electoral College votes we project in his corner, compared to 147 for the president of the United States. But there are still several states that are still out there on the West Coast.
We're getting ready to see what happens in California, Oregon, Washington state, Iowa, excuse me, Hawaii, and Idaho, and we're watching all of those states, and they will be closing those states up at the top of the hour.
Let's take a look at some key battleground states right now and where the contests stand. We will start in Missouri. We have not made a projection here yet. A third of the vote is in. Romney is ahead 57 percent to 41 percent. A significant lead of 153,000, 10 electoral votes in most Missouri.
Wisconsin, a quarter of the vote now in. Mitt Romney, look at that, he's ahead 51 percent to 48 percent. He's got an advantage of more than 20,000 votes in Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, which has 10 electoral votes.
In Colorado, the president is ahead, more than half of the vote in, 51 percent to 47 percent. The president maintaining an advantage of about 50 percent. Excuse me, 50,000 votes. It's now 51 percent to 47 percent. Nine electoral votes.
In New Mexico, the president ahead there as well. And 40 percent of the vote, 54-43 percent in New Mexico. Let's go to Virginia, a key battleground state. And 68 percent of the vote is in, in Virginia, and Mitt Romney is ahead 51 percent to 48 percent, 72,000-vote advantage in Virginia right now for Mitt Romney. That's a key state.
North Carolina right now, Mitt Romney slightly ahead -- 94 percent of the vote is in, in North Carolina. Four million votes have been counted. Romney is slightly ahead. Ohio, very close, 50 percent for the president, 48 percent for Mitt Romney. A 65,000-vote advantage for the president right now, but only 59 percent of the vote is in. There are still a lot of votes out there.
In Florida, 87 percent of the vote has been counted. but look at this, 50 percent for the president, 49 percent for Mitt Romney. What, almost eight million votes have been counted, 46,518 votes -- 518 votes -- for a presidential advantage, at least right now.
We've got more votes coming in, in Iowa. Right now, a quarter of the vote is in, in Iowa: 59 percent for the president, 40 percent for Mitt Romney. He's got a significant lead already of 77,956 votes.
In Arizona, Mitt Romney is ahead. Forty-seven percent of the vote is in, almost half. He's got a significant lead, 56 percent to 42 percent. That's a lead of almost 154,000 votes. That's significant there.
And in Montana, only 6 percent of the vote is in. Fifty-one percent for Romney, 47 percent for the president. Very early for those three electoral votes in Montana.
So what does the popular vote, the national vote show us right now? These are all the states where we have votes. So far, 39 percent of the national vote is in. Mitt Romney is ahead by almost 1.5 million votes nationally, 51 percent to 48 percent over Barack Obama. That is a significant advantage, at least right now. Thirty- nine percent of the national vote is in. We'll see what happens when California, some of the other states on the West Coast close up.
Ted Rowlands is joining us from Wisconsin right now. Ted's in Milwaukee. What's happening out there? Because, as we see, a quarter of the vote is in. Mitt Romney is ahead in Paul Ryan's home state. TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Milwaukee County, Wolf, is where the vast majority of the folks live in terms of the highest population center in the state. This is where people from both sides are looking very closely.
We're just getting some initial results from inside the county of Milwaukee with our old-school board here. Hails Corners, that is a predominantly Republican part of this county, has come in. And two good -- two things that is good news for the Republicans. Voter turnout is higher this time around than it was in 2008 by a few hundred votes. And all of those votes have gone to Mitt Romney. In fact, Barack Obama lost some votes in Hails Corner.
We're waiting on Franklin, Greendale, River Hills, Oak Creek. These are the predominantly Republican areas. If they can replicate what happened in Hails Corners, that's exactly what the Romney-Ryan folks would want.
On the other side of the county (ph), we're getting real-time results from the city of Milwaukee. And that's the mother lode for all of the votes, and this is good news for the president. Because voter turnout is exceptional. And 73 percent, and he's carrying the vote at this point with 32 precincts in, with 87 percent of the vote. If Milwaukee continues to come in at that clip, it's hard to imagine a scenario where the president would not win Wisconsin.
BLITZER: Yes. He's counting on Wisconsin big time, even though it's the home state of the Republican vice-presidential nominee.
Ted Rowlands in Milwaukee for us.
So John, Wisconsin is an important state in this pattern. The Republicans thought they had a pretty good chance, and they might -- still might win.
KING: And they still might win, however, Ted makes a very important point. And I'm going to show you in Wisconsin, then I'm going to move around the map. Because if you're in the Romney war room right now, you're looking at all these counties and you're calling Republican county chairmen. You're saying, "What do you got? Where are the votes out there? What do we have?"
And if you look right now, yes, Governor Romney is ahead, but that's 18,000 votes, if you look at it right there, 51-48. As Ted just said, this is the biggest population center, 17.5 percent of the state population. A huge Democratic base. A tiny percentage of the vote in.
The president is going to get 70 percent or more right there. There are an awful lot of votes right there that would not only erase but obliterate the Romney lead at the moment.
Then I want to come over here with Madison, Dane County. You pull Dane County up, there's another 8 percent of the population. Just a third of the vote in. You see the president with about, you know, double almost -- about a 30,000 vote lead. So if you project that out, if that stays the same, if the other precincts track these precincts that are in so far, there's more votes for the president.
You come out here, just a footnote for history. This is Paul Ryan's hometown is right here in Janesville. The president, they're running more competitive down there. It's only 20 percent of vote in. But the president is winning down there.
So when you look across here, and you look, "OK, well, here's Republican vote center here," it's a smaller area, though, 1.7 percent of the population. So you look where the people are and you look at this map now, and you see how the Romney lead is shrinking as the votes come in.
You have to look at this map. Barring something huge out of Milwaukee to think the later vote count is going to be an advantage to the president. Plus, you remember the history of this state with the deepest blue DNA.
And I want to say, the same things are happening, if you look closely, at the map in Virginia and even North Carolina. You look here, Mitt Romney is ahead, but his lead has been shrinking. Sixty- nine percent of vote in. So you ask yourself the question, what's out?
So let's look down here. And you move down here, one of the things that's out is Norfolk City. It's 3 percent of the statewide population, a little more than that. Guess what? The president's going to win big in Norfolk. He's going to win by a decent margin down there, African-American vote down there. So there's one place the president is going to make up ground in the state of Virginia.
Then you ask yourself what else is out? You come up here to the biggest population centers. Only 29 percent of the vote in right now in Fairfax County, Virginia. Look at the president's margin. Governor Romney is doing better than John McCain in the close-in suburbs. But that's a margin. The president is going to pick up some votes there.
Most of the votes are in here over here. And come up in here, only about half of the votes in Alexandria City. Again, the president, let's say that comes in, and he picks up another 10,000 votes there.
So when you look at this map, Romney ahead, but where the votes are missing are largely Democratic areas, and I'm going to say the same thing when you come down here. This one is very close right now. I won't get as detailed as I just got. But you go into Raleigh. They're in there finally. You come across here, you come into Greensboro. Still votes out of Democratic areas.
If you're looking at the map, and you start touching Republican counties, you're at 100 percent. You go to the Democratic counties, there's still room for the president to catch up, even in North Carolina.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, if he carried North Carolina, he won North Carolina by 14,000 votes four years ago. Very close. We'll see what happens this time. Let's go back to Anderson for now -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, we're obviously tracking every vote and every state that could decide this election. Let's talk to David Gergen, Gloria Borger. And a fascinating look at these numbers as the night progresses. I mean, this thing may not go as late as we had thought earlier.
GERGEN: It may not go very late. If we know Florida. I just don't know. You know, let's say we get to the end of the count, 100 percent. I don't know what they still have to count, other ballots they have to count. If Florida goes, I think Dave (ph) and Alex are right. I think this is basically over.
But I think the way we've been talking about this -- I want to come back to this from time to time. The way we've been talking about is all interpreting through the lens of the Electoral College, especially the battleground states. And that looks Obama, Obama, Obama.
But if you look at the national race, and look at the national vote, at the moment, Mitt Romney is ahead by a million and a half votes. Now, Obama may wind up with more national votes, but clearly, we have a very divided country.
COOPER: And again, the significance of that is no matter who rules, it affects how they rule. And how they...
BORGER: And particularly when we're headed towards a fiscal cliff. If you look at these numbers, and I was adding them up, 77 percent of the voters, if you're to believe the exit polls at this point, believe that the economy is either poor or not so good. Seventy-seven percent.
So should the president win, he still has a country that's very unhappy with the -- with the direction it's headed. They believe we're headed over the fiscal cliff. Forty-seven percent believe that taxes should go up on people earning over 250,000 a year, so you're setting yourselves up for the same kind of arguments we had before the election.
GERGEN: If you -- in the exit polls, if you ask people, should we raise taxes to pay for the deficit? By 63 to 33, people said no. The same people who are voting for Obama are saying no to taxes for that.
COOPER: As we're tracking every vote, our correspondents are embedded with election officials in Colorado. They're going to have some new numbers to share ahead.
We're also counting down to the next round of results the top of the hour, including the biggest electoral prize of the night, California. We're live at election watch party in Los Angeles for that. There they are for there.
When will we know a winner? Well, get ready for more results ahead.
COOPER: We're going to a live picture of New York's Empire State Building. Election results being displayed in the lights, the blue and red lights on the top of the spires. CNN's election results. Romney with 158 electoral votes right now, 147 for Obama. But again, the story right now, Florida, Florida, Florida, as James Carville said. We are watching results coming in there, also the state of Ohio as well.
Jim Acosta is standing by Romney camp with some information about what it's like right now behind the scenes of the Romney campaign. Jim, what are you hearing?
ACOSTA: That's right, Anderson. We have heard from a source inside the Romney campaign that the mood over at Romney headquarters, their war room where they're watching these returns come in is, quote, "very tense," and that is obviously because they are watching these returns come in from across the country and seeing states that they had hoped to perhaps capture tonight slipping out of their fingers.
And Anderson, I can also tell you, that is somewhat the mood in this room. You know, just to show you what's going on behind us. On these big jumbo screens, the campaign has been showing different networks and their programming as to what is being reported tonight across the country as all these returns come in.
And each time it flips to another network, there seems to be more bad news being reported to this campaign, in various Republican races, that it appears to be having an effect on the mood in this room. Every time that channel flips, the mood in this room gets a little more somber -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jim, thanks for that. We'll continue to check with you.
Wolf, let's go back.
BLITZER: Take a look at what's going on. The state of Florida, John King, is obviously critical right now. Eighty-eight percent of the vote is in, 12 percent still outstanding. The president -- the president has a slight advantage right now, 50 percent to 49 percent. If you take a look, 3,866 to 3,850. What is that? 16,000 votes?
KING: That's about 16,000 votes and you say 12 percent of the statewide vote in a big state still out, so anybody's game. And that's true. Anybody's game. This is still very close.
Remember a while ago, I was saying, where are the votes still out? This is one of the counties that was still out back then. And -- sorry, it was this one here. It was Santa Rosa County. As I predicted, Romney is winning it big, but again, look, there's not a lot of numbers there. So that's 88 percent of the vote. He might have a 44,000 vote advantage, but not enough to match this.
Come over here and look at what else is out. You go to Orange County, where Orlando is, and the president is running up big numbers, nearly 60-40. So there's more votes out here. Logic tells you, and it will add to the vote total there.
And you come down her. The three most reliable Democratic counties. Palm Beach is almost all in, so let's consider that one done.
But you come down to Broward County, the president is outperforming the 23008 totals in Broward County by a percentage: 84 percent. The president's going to add more to his votes here.
Miami-Dade is at 77 percent. The president's a bit under his 2008 performance here. But again, logic tells you the president's going to add to his total here.
So when you pull out that the state, and you look statewide and you're in the Romney war room. You'd doing what I'm doing, You're calling into these counties. And you're saying, wait, do we have any votes here? Ninety-three percent sure, we might get some votes here. But it[='s pretty close.
So there's a little bit of math for Governor Romney here. Then you keep tapping around: 100 percent, 100 percent, 100 percent, 100 percent. You get the point.
You come out to the full state wide and you look at places where there are still votes to be counted, OK? So the Democrat vote is in up here, 100 percent, 100 percent, 100 percent. But when you come down here where the people live, still some votes to be counted.
Still some votes to be counted, just a few here, but the president's winning, in places where you find significant population centers with votes still out, you find the president running up big numbers. When you look at the map right now, you have to count the votes. But I'm having a very hard time finding places where I can show.
BLITZER: It's very close. A nice slight advantage.
Let's go to Ohio right now. Because that's obviously a key battleground state, as well.
KING: At the moment, still blue. When you look at this map, Romney needs that. He needs that -- he needs that more than those two. But he can't win without those two. And at the moment, again, incredibly close. Wow.
BLITZER: Fifty percent to 48 percent. Sixty-four percent of the vote in Ohio has been counted, and he's up by about 90,000 votes right now.
KING: He's up by about 90,000 votes. Here's the largest county in the state right now, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland area. Again, this is bad news for the Romney campaign. Only 30 percent of the vote is in up here. And it's 70-30. You know when the rest of the vote comes in, this is the president's breadbasket right here. And one of the things you have to say is not having a primary challenge, not having a primary challenge, one of the things I did earlier in the campaign is travel around to some of these areas.
And the Obama campaign is going into the African-American community and saying he's had your back. Now, you're going to have -- have to have his in November. No primary challenge. They got names. They've got phone numbers, and they have proven so far they're turning out the vote in places where you thought in an off year, tough economy. Top economy, maybe a reelection year. Maybe they wouldn't vote.
KING: Cuyahoga County, you have to tip your hat to the Obama operation here. You come back into Akron, 66 percent. Let's just take a peek: 58 percent in 2008, 66 percent now. Across the northern industrial part here, the turnout operation, seems to be working two more words. Auto bailout.
KING: I want to stay in Ohio right now. Erin Burnett is watching what's going on. She's got a front-row seat in Columbus, the state capital -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, and we've been getting updates from the secretary of state here, John Husted. You're talking about the north where the president needs to really pick up votes and increase his margin. I want to go to the south, though, an area where Mitt Romney was hoping to pick up.
Let's go to Don Lemon at the board of elections in Cincinnati -- Don.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Sixty-three-35 now in Hamilton County, a county, Erin, that usually goes Republican, except in 2008. A correction, I have 53-46. 53-46. This county usually goes Republican, except for 2008, and this could sort of be a bellwether for what's to come.
If you look over here, all these results are coming in now, and everyone is watching from really around the world. From the BBC, all over. People are coming in here, and those results are going up on the screen.
And then back around here to the left, you can see, this is really the war room. This is where everything is coming in. They're crunching those numbers in here. They're going to those cards. They've got about 25 trucks that have to come in and out. They said so far about five of those trucks have come in.
But here is an interesting thing, what I'm being told here. They're saying many people underestimated the Obama ground game here, because they are believing that's where Obama is winning in the bigger counties, in Montgomery County, in Franklin County, in Cuyahoga County, up where Martin Savidge in. They believe that he built up such a bulwark of the smaller, Republican rural counties, that it's going to be hard to fight against that. Of course, there's still a lot of numbers to come in. But they believe just because of the sheer size of those counties, it's going to be tough to fight against that. So right now, the president leading, but still, still all of the numbers are not in, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Don, thank you very much. And Wolf, you know, this is something we've heard a lot about. You know, the Obama campaign has said we have a better ground game. We have a better ground game. It's going to serve us well in Ohio. Obviously, the jury is still out, but at least from the numbers we have so far, it seems to be the case. They've got the better ground game.
Back to you.
BLITZER: They certainly do seem to have the better ground game. Hamilton County is really important, where Cincinnati is, but only 21 percent of the vote officially in so far. The president has a 55-45 percent lead.
KING: This is the home of Rob Portman, who was his debate practitioner. A lot of people thought -- people in Ohio thought he should have been the vice-presidential nominee.
If you look at Hamilton County right now, 55 percent to 44 percent, let's go back in time to 2008, 53 percent to 46 percent. So if that holds, the president will essentially match his totals from four years ago.
Now, why is that significant? Because to win Ohio in a statewide election, here's the last time George W. Bush won it. Hamilton County was red. So again, President Obama matching his performance so far, Wolf, in the counties where he needs to.
BLITZER: Stand by. I want everyone to stand by, because we have two projections to make, right now.
First projection, Minnesota. Ten electoral votes. The president of the United States will carry the state of Minnesota, we project. Minnesota goes for President Obama.
In Arizona, winner will be Mitt Romney, 11 electoral votes in Arizona. We project Arizona going for Mitt Romney.
So where does that stand -- leave us right now in the race to 270 electoral votes needed to be elected president of the United States? Right now, Mitt Romney has 169, Barack Obama has 157.
You see a lot of yellow states that are still out there. Those yellow states are states where we have not been able -- not been able to make projections. We're getting ready for more projections, though, at the top of the hour -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, we're watching a slew of battleground states that may be too close to call right now. Also, polls close soon on the West Coast. The biggest electoral prize of the night, California, is on the line. A lot of drama right now for both presidential campaigns. We'll take you to their headquarters for all the behind- the-scenes action ahead.
BLITZER: You can bet there is plenty of tension at the candidates' headquarters in Chicago and Boston right now, as we get later into this election night in America.
We'd like to welcome back our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer.
We're counting down to what's often the zero hour of presidential election nights like this. Will we be able to project a winner any time soon?
Polls are about to close in California, the biggest electoral prize of the night, as well as Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington state. Those states have 82 electoral votes. That's been enough in the past elections to put one candidate over the winning total of 270.
Let's check in with Jessica Yellin over at Obama headquarters in Chicago, Candy Crowley at Romney headquarters in Boston.
Jessica, first to you. What do they think over there?
YELLIN: Hi, Wolf. Well, they are increasingly optimistic here at the headquarters. Lots of cheers throughout the night.
President Obama has now left his house where he had dinner with Mrs. Obama and the girls, and brought both -- the whole family over to the Fairmont Hotel to watch results with family and friends, and then he has one more movement over here later tonight.
I will tell you one thing I am hearing from some of the senior aides. they keep pointing out that, when we are reporting our popular votes totals, it does not include one of the most populous states in the nation, California, and we should not forget that state is likely to go, we all know, will probably go to President Obama, bringing up his popular vote total. Big point they want us to make, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, I made that point. They should be watching us more carefully. I pointed out that California, Washington state, Oregon, they have not closed yet. And those are big states, especially California.
Candy, what's going on in Boston?
CROWLEY: Well, I have to tell you, the -- prior to what we're watching right now, which really is the family story of the Romneys, so it's very dark and very quiet in here for this crowd. Right before that, they watched Scott Brown, the Republican senator from Massachusetts, concede. So it is a very subdued crowd here.
In the past hour or so, I've not been getting any return phone calls or messages from the Romney campaign. But look, they're looking at these numbers. They're trying to figure out, you know, how to make the math work. And I'm sure it's turned from tense to really tense, because this is, you know, the pathway to the presidency is shrinking. You can feel it in this room, because they're sort of watching returns come in. And you know, at this point, they are like others waiting.
BLITZER: And the wait continues. Guys, thanks very much. We'll get back to you.
Anderson, we're getting closer and closer to 11 p.m. on the East Coast, 8 p.m. on the West Coast. And you remember, four years ago, exactly 11 p.m. on the East Coast, we projected that Barack Obama would win the presidency.
COOPER: After all the ads, after all the money has been spent, we are getting close to finally having an answer about who will be the next president of the United States.
People in Boston have their eyes glued to the vote tallies, as well. We're live at a watch party at Mitt Romney's home city, and in the president's hometown of Chicago. You can see crowds right there, watching CNN outside.
We're also in New York city's Times Square.
We've got something special going on at the Empire State Building, as well, in New York City. Look at this. We turned the masts at the top of the building red and blue, the colors rising to reflect CNN projections of the electoral votes won by Romney and Obama so far.
Now check out the people following the election results on the Strip in Las Vegas, as well as in Los Angeles. The polls are about to close in California, the biggest electoral prize of the night. Election team is poring over those results as we get them. Let's go to John King at the Magic Wall -- John.
KING: Anderson, I'm going through the map here. Sorry to have my back to you as you do the toss, but I'm going through the map, trying to search for votes.
Let's start in battleground Florida. It's fascinating at the moment. Ninety percent of the vote in in Florida. Why does it seem every four years, we spend a lot of time counting the votes in Florida? Why? Because it's one of the most evenly-divided states in a very evenly divided country. But 50 percent to 49 percent right now.
The question is, when you look at a map, can you find the Republican votes to bring this state back to Mitt Romney? And these are 29 electoral votes he needs to win. Make no mistake about it: there are some states you can win, some states you can lose. In the Romney scenario, he has to win this. And so we're looking and looking.
Only 93 percent of the votes in in Orange County, which leads you to believe the president will add to his margin here.
You come back out, and you look down here. We're getting at 96 percent in Broward County. But again, what's left is likely to go to the president. Miami-Dade, probably more for the president here.
So if you're in the Romney war room, and you're looking at this, you're getting more than a little nervous.
Let me pop up the map and move up the coast. North Carolina is a state Romney also has to win. I can still find you some places where there are Democratic votes out. This one looks like it's very close. Advantage Romney at the moment.
It appears, if I had to make a bet, that one will hold. But I'm not so sure. We'll watch -- in this one here, as we watch, Governor Romney leading. Look at that narrow margin, the state of Virginia 50 to 49.
But just like in Florida, when you search this map, looking for places where the Democratic vote is still out, you find it in places like Norfolk down here, where the president's running up big margins. Still a lot of votes to be counted.
And you find it in places up here. The popular -- populous, fast-growing northern Virginia suburbs. Only 60 percent of the vote counted here. The president's likely to add here, as well.
So Wolf, as you go through these states, back and forth, still a lot of counting to do. But, if you're looking at the big picture, advantage Obama.
BLITZER: They're getting ready to close the voting in -- on the West Coast, including in California, and we've got some major projections right now.