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Polls Now Closed In Primaries In Eight States; California Jungle Primaries Complicates Dems' Midterm Strategy; Key California Primaries; White House Says Eagles Players Decided To Abandon Their Fans. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired June 5, 2018 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: There's lots more live coverage here for you here on CNN. Anderson Cooper is going to continue our live coverage now with Election Night in America, and then I'm going to see you right back here after him live at midnight, so don't go anywhere. See you later.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, again. Polls have just closed in California. The biggest prize and the biggest night of political primaries before we get to November. Democrats, looking to maintain the momentum in the run-up to midterms and they hope it will turn into blue wave.

Of course facing a Republican base that could be reawakening. In the case of California there is also the added twist of how the primary itself is organized with the top two vote getters advancing to the general election regardless of party affiliation.

We are bringing you turns throughout the hour, John King is at the magic wall as always, breaking down the numbers. And learning us any developing trends. Also joining us Bakari Sellers, Mike Shields, Dana Bash, Gloria Borger, and David Chalian.

Let me start with David Chalian, just explain, David, why exactly these primaries tonight typically California are so important.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The story -- the political story, the big political story of 2018 to watches is control of the House of Representatives in November. And tonight is probably the most consequential night in the primary season for the Democratic effort to position themselves in November to try and win the 23 seats they need to win in order to become the majority party on the House of Representatives.

And if you're a Democratic strategist and you're looking at the map of the country, the first thing you're going to do is go to places that Hillary Clinton won, but where a Republican is the current sitting member of congress.

COOPER: And there's a lot of that in California.

CHALIAN: Exactly. There are 23 in the country, why, but 7 in California. So, that is treasure-trove of potential pickup opportunity. That is why putting forth candidates that can actually convert the potential into real pickup opportunity is what Democrats have at stake.

COOPER: It's tricky though in California, because of the kind of primary that we were talking about, Dave.

CHALIAN: It is. You mentioned on the top, Anderson, this top two system. So this is a reform that was put in place several years ago by Governor Schwarzenegger in California to try and see if you can elect more moderates. Well, the system isn't necessarily working that way. But what is happening in this year, because of all the anti- Trump resistance energy that we've seen inside the Democratic Party, part of that enthusiasm is a slew of candidates running for office.

So just take a look, what are the Southern California District. We have a list of all the candidates from the 39th Congressional district in California. I count one, two three, four, five, six, seven D's on that list, Democratic candidates in this one district that should be a real pickup opportunity for Democrats. If all those Democrats flip the vote, then there's a chance that two Republican ends up as the top two finishers, Democrats end up being block out of the district that they really should be counting as one of their 23 who are trying to take over the majority.

COOPER: It is also important gubernatorial governor's race in California and also the Senate.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that speak to the bigger question of the Republican Party. Ronald Reagan's Republican Party in California, which is almost extinct. As a Republican from California said to me earlier today, it's definitely an endangered species on almost getting there. Because you mentioned, because of this system, it is possible maybe even probable that certainly in the Senate race, the race to defeat Diane Feinstein who's running for her sixth term, that she is going to go up against a fellow Democrat, there won't be a Republican in the general.

And same goes for the governor's race, the race to replace Jerry Brown who's leaving. You have three Democrats who are very, very strong, excuse me, two Democrats who are very strong --

COOPER: Gavin Newsom.

BASH: -- Gavin Newsom and the former mayor of Los Angeles and then you have sort of the lone Republican there. The house majority leader Kevin McCarthy put together an effort successfully to get the gas tax repeal on the ballot in order to try to lure Republicans to the voting booths today. Unclear if that is even going to help.

COOPER: I want to quickly run through all the key races to watch. Let us go to John King at the magic wall. So, I presume there are no results in California yet. So what on the map should we be looking for tonight? Because obviously in California it could take weeks to actually get the final results. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're going to look

really for trends. We may not get some of this close, house races and you're right, Anderson, nothing so far. They could come in any minute. I'll caution you when we do get the early results, that will be early vote counted -- that has been counted throughout the day that will be released at the top of the hour. So you'll see some of this fill in pretty quickly, but then the Election Day. Today's voting will take longer to count.

And you are absolutely right, especially in these close house districts. David challenges, we could talk about a couple of them. We could be at this for a few days, it could for a week, could be at this for more. So we're going to wait to watch how this plays out. The key question, of course, can the Democrats get candidates on all of those targeted races or do they get lock out, because of the jungle primaries.

[23:05:05] There are three races where we think that is a distinct possibility, there could be more, but there are three where even the Democrats can see privately they may not have candidates in November in races in January, February, March, or right up to this month they thought they had a pretty good chance of winning.

That doesn't mean they can't take the house back, but it just makes the hill steeper, it complicates the math. So, away for California, let me just pullout the map to show what others did, we do have some results in (inaudible) to switch the map a little bit here. The Republican senate primary in Montana. John tester is the Democratic incumbent, he is unopposed in the primary. Remember, he had national promise just recently when he was so public and out spoken against Dr. Ronny Jackson, the President's pick to be the new Veteran Affairs Secretary.

Dr. Jackson is now with withdrawn as a picked. The President has made this a priority. This is a state the President won huge. This is state where we know he doesn't like the Democratic recumbent. Republicans are picking a candidate tonight at very close so far. Rusbag (ph) is a former state legislator, a former state judge, 32 percent. The state auditor, Matt Rosendale (ph), 32 percent, 133 votes right now.

The Republican Party, frankly, would be happy with any of these top three candidates, they think all three are mainstream Conservatives that fits the state pretty well. It would be a good opponent against John Tester. I do think even Republicans privately would concede right now to give a slight edge Tester in this race. But because the President cares about it so much, because he won the state so big and because especially if Democrats do have a good sentiment, good momentum in the House headed close to November protecting the Senate and trying to pick up a couple of these Democratic seats is going to be very important.

So, we'll watch this one for the rest of the night tonight. And I just want to pull back out and go back to California just to see if anything's coming in. As you can see, this is the governor's race. Could have two Democrats in November. See how that one goes. This is the Senate race, and I go back to the House race since now and we have absolutely nothing coming on the map right now.

Just one other, we can't show on the wall, we're not getting a live feed. We do have a Republican incumbent Congresswoman in Alabama, Congresswoman Roby who is force into a run-off now. Why is that noteworthy, she was one of the Republican when the Access Hollywood tape came out, who said she would not vote for Donald Trump. She is now going to have a run-off. Keep your eye on the White House to see of the president gets involve in that one.

COOPER: All right. John, we are going to check in with you shortly. I want to get to CNN's Maeve Reston with word on a snafu involving voter rolls in the state's biggest ballot region, L.A. County. So, break it down for us. Exactly what happened, and what does this mean for that Congressional district and the Governor's race?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: So, basically, Anderson, and the biggest county in the state in Los Angeles County, there were something like 118,000 voters whose names did not appear on the roster today. When they went to vote at the polls. And so that is potentially going to cause huge counting problems later on in the day for both the governor's race and also that very tight Congressional race we've been talking about in the 39th district.

Basically people turned up, they couldn't find their name. Some people were turned away, and they should have been given a provisional ballot. So there's potential huge legal headaches ahead. And some of the candidates are already raising this as an issue, one of the gubernatorial candidate saying he wants to extend the voting period, for example.

COOPER: I mean, how does it end? Are we talking about a possible recount? If the races are that close. As you said if some people were turned away, they were supposed to be given a provisional ballot and allowed to cast a vote.

RESTON: Right, I mean, we might see huge legal fights over this, Anderson. Basically whatever campaign would make that case, they would have to prove that there were a lot of voters that this happened to that were turned away and not given a provisional ballot, but clearly this is going to be big issue, because a lot of this races will be decided on the margin. Maybe by something like a 1,000 votes or less than that. So, we'll have to see how this all plays out.

COOPER: All right. Maeve Reston, I appreciate it. Back now to my panel board. Gloria, just in terms of what you're looking for tonight.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm just kind of looking for some irony in the state of the California. You know, this is ground zero for the resistance. And if Democrats are shutout, because they have too many enthusiastic voters, curb your enthusiasm comes to mind, they have too many candidates as we were talking about, this could be a real problem for Democrats. I mean, those seven districts that Hillary Clinton won in are real targets for them.

They've got some real opportunity there. And they've tried -- and you guys know about this -- they tried to get people off the ballot. I think the national Democrats may have gotten involved in this a little bit too late, but it's dangerous when you try and tinker in primary races. But they find themselves with such enthusiasm, so many candidates want to run. But because of the way this this primary system runs, they could end up hurting themselves with this and wind up with no Democrats in the top two, because they split the vote.

COOPER: Mike Shields, what are you looking at?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And they have to spend money. The amount of money that the Democrats have had to spend in California to try and fix this horrible problem equals everything the Republicans has spent in the special election so far in the cycle.

[23:10:06] So we have over spent in the specials and we, you know, it was a problem for us. And now we're sort of even spending on sort of problem races, because the Democrats are approaching $8 million from their super-pac and the DCCC to come in and try and pick and do some sort of bank shop in picking this candidates. And there's still no idea if any of that is going to work, because of the enthusiasm.

The other thing I pointed out interest -- something like 70 percent of the people in California vote early, so interesting how that plays in Los Angeles county when you have those provisional ballots. And the other things is and actually in California 49, there are ICE in district, there's actually a chance the Republicans get frozen out there. If the numbers so far in the early voting show in a couple of the districts that Republicans have turned out in heavier numbers through the mail, which is unusual for us.

And so the ultimate thing I would say about California is California is a country. It's not like a regular state, where you can sound to say is that district similar to this one, is the turned out high there? There's some of these districts where Republicans are super, super motivated, and there is other one's where they are less motivated. There are some where Democrats are just off the charts and there are some for some reason they're not as motivated. The districts are super far apart from each other. They're spread out and different parts of the state have really have different political influences. So, just add that to the complicated nature of what we are trying to sort through.

COOPER: Bakari, as a Democrat, are you optimistic tonight?

BAKARI SELLERS (D), FORMER MEMBER OF SOUTH CAROLINA'S HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well, there are two things. I mean, politically speaking --

BORGER: That was a yes or no question.

SELLERS: I'm going to hedge my way through this. There are a lot of people who perceive that Democrats may get locked out in couple of races and Democrats always screw the pooch when we have the opportunity to take back the house or do things that are good in these elections. I look at it from a slightly different perspective. Because I don't see how we're spinning enthusiasm to be a bad thing. I think this will balance out. The over enthusiasm we have in California, that is going to spill over into the suburbs in Pennsylvania, that is going to play a role in North Carolina, that is going to be in Georgia, that is going to be in a senate race in Tennessee.

And so, yes, we may have a race or two that we should pick up in California that we do not, but Republicans have an enthusiasm problem around the country. And you know, if the Democrats, for Tom Perez to get involved in any this races. That is a very, very difficult needle to thread. So, by staying out of it, for the most part, allowing this enthusiasm and the chips to fall where they may I think we may see some balance, maybe not tonight, but further down the road.

And to look at one county in particular, if Democratic enthusiasm is really where we believe it to be, you have to look at Orange County, California. It is the red area in all of California and in particular, the Asian American Pacific Islander vote, Democrats had been focused on turning those voters out, making sure that a coalition that looked a lot like Barack Obama's coalition in 2008 and 2012 is replicated in Orange County. And you may have surprises in the Orange County electorates.

SHIELDS: And Republican have nominated -- there is an Asian woman, young candidate who is running, who use to work for Ed Rose who seated is, they take that very seriously. The NRCC, the house campaign committee has an office open up to do a ground game just to turn out Republican in that district.

SELLERS: What you are saying is within a larger state smaller little battles taking place, and what it's going to show is how the rest of 2018 is going to play out. I'm going to bet -- I rather Democrats be enthusiastic than sitting on their hands. So, if this is a problem, let it be the best problem we had.

SHIELDS: To that point and maybe you'll agree with me on this --

SELLERS: I doubt it.

SHIELDS: No, we talked about it before. I worked with the NRCC in the 2010 cycle and we started to get involved in primaries, and we quickly learned our lesson right. It is best to not to do that because it dampens the enthusiasm. They get mad --

SELLERS: Why -- the enthusiasm?


SHIELDS: because the grassroots doesn't want the national party to come in and tell them what to do and they end up citing with the candidate who is not being back by the national party quite often. And you're stuck in this place, because you're at the Party and being told by everyone else control this primary, get the right person through. And yet when you try to do that, it hurts them. And the Democrats have been all over the place -- this cycle down in Texas, in California, in other states where they are trying to get involve. Some places they've been successful. Other places they really hurt the candidate they were trying to help and it actually dampens the enthusiasm.


BASH: But they did it successfully at least tonight in a place like New Jersey, which is one of those states where they're hoping that they'll get a number of pickups that will add to the larger 23 in order to take back the house. And they did put their thumb on the scale for that matter.

COOPER: Got to get a break in. John King is back. We will get back a new wave of returns coming in. More on the Alabama surprise next. Later the shifting explanations also for the President's White House disinvite, I guess, the Super Bowl champion's Philadelphia Eagles. As well as the very political reason for the presidential desk.


COOPER: In just the last few minutes we've gotten some new California primary numbers coming in. Let us quickly go back to John King. John?

KING: Starting to get the feeling in the House primary out there. We can show you the senate and governor's race as well. A lot of this is pretty predictable. This is Republican incumbent winning big in his district here. This is Republican incumbent winning big in his district here. This is the Democratic incumbent here. This, though, is one of the races that we're very much watching. The incumbent Republican Jeff Denham (ph), why is this race more important than some of the other races, this is one of the seven Republican held districts in California that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

So this is one of the seven Democrats are most targeting. What they need now is to run against the Republican incumbent is a good Democratic candidate. You see right now this is district where Democrats do believe they will not get locked out. They believe they'll have a Democratic candidate. But it does highlight what you had been talking about throughout the evening. The incumbent 38 percent. Right now the Democrat in second place, but we are very early in the count. Tonight, might not sell it. I just want to show you. There's a Republican candidate in third, and look at these other candidate. A Democratic at 10 percent, almost 11 percent. A Democratic at 10 percent, a Democratic at 9 percent, a Democratic 2.2, a Democratic at 1.1 percent, if you add up all this Democratic votes. The Democrats are actually getting about 50 percent of the votes cast today. They are just split among the number of candidates.

So the question to watch is, Jeff Denham is going to make the November election. The Republican incumbent, will the Democrats come in second and get a candidate here? Again, why is this so important? I will just walk you over here. These are the seven Republican districts carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 that are on the ballot now. Ed Royce is not running for re-election. (Inaudible) is not running for re-election. These other Republican incumbents are.

The Democrats think if we're going to pick up five or six seats in California, these are the best opportunity targets. Let me just pop out and see where else the results are coming in. Again Jeff Denham running again. We will watch the results coming in to this districts, we will just pop back out and see what else are the results are coming in. Right now they're coming in either Democrat or Republican districts that we think are pretty solid for each party heading in on the House side. We will keep an eye on it.

[23:20:07] Let us look at the governor's race, again. This is very, very preliminary so don't bet on anything, but Diane Feinstein is running well ahead. Right now there's a Republican in second. Everyone expects Kevin DeLeon to be the other Democrats that this will be a two Democrats race in November. Why don't invest in that, these folks are coming in from Republican areas right now. You don't have any Democratic votes from Los Angeles and not much from San Francisco. Well, the Democratic era is coming out everyone expect till we move up.

The other point, just take a quick look at the governor's race. Again, Republicans will be encouraged at these early numbers. Gavin Newsom, a Democratic running first, John Cox, a Republican, running second. The big question is the former L.A. mayor Anthony Villariagosa make these a two Democrats race. So there is John Cox, hang on, again, don't invest anything in the early numbers. Look where the votes are coming in. Central to Eastern California, much more Republican areas. We're still waiting for the votes here. But this jungle primary, Anderson, guarantees a long night and makes it interesting.

COOPER: And just -- the votes you're talking about, those are actually ones that have been written in, it is not actually votes that people are voting today, correct?

KING: For the most part, yes. The first votes to come in are the votes who came in early through the mail ballots and then we'll get the actual count from all these precincts. So, that is why you get this big numbers, pretty decent size numbers pretty quickly. That is the early vote. But remember you can cast your vote up until today. So, there will be vote that were mailed today that will not be counted for several more days. So, if it's close in these house districts, a close call between second and third which will be a big fight in many of these races, we might not know the answer tonight, we might not know the answer tomorrow morning. We might not know the answer until next week or beyond.

COOPER: John King, thanks very much. More now to Alabama, which could be a key sign on how the Republican Party has become the party of Donald Trump. Dana mentioned this at the top of the broadcast, Republican Congressman Martha Roby, failing to get 50 percent of the vote tonight, forcing her to run-off. Congressman Roby, you recalled criticized candidate Trump and dropped her support for him after the "Access Hollywood" tape came out. She is now facing former Democrat Bobby Bright, next month.

Back now with the panel. David, do you think there's some hammering in the White House tonight as these returns come in? Because there's been obviously been becoming a talk about, you know, Democrats possible impeachment if they do take back the house. CHALIAN: Well, on that Martha Roby race, I don't know that there is

hammering in as much as note taking in the White House. Certainly it is something that the President is keenly paying attention to. What is happening with Republicans who backed him, what's happening with Republicans who walked away from him and how might he determine his support for those candidates based on their support for him. It's a bit of a loyalty test.

Our colleagues and White House team have been reporting this out today. And so, somebody like Martha Roby who now is forced into a runoff clearly should not be anticipating the President's help anytime soon. She walked away from him after that "Access Hollywood" tape. And that is exactly the kind of person that the president and his political team would not say yes or get in there, we really want Martha Roby back in Congress. Normally you would expect a President to go in and defend an incumbent and want to help to get them re- elected, but that is not the case.

BASH: And it speaks to what former speaker John Boehner said last week, which is the Republican Party, he thinks, is becoming the Trump Party. This is exhibit a of that, because Martha Roby lost -- excuse me -- was forced into a runoff tonight for one reason and one reason only. It is because she got on the wrong side of Donald Trump and his supporters, full stop.

And the fact she is somebody who is a popular member of congress, a popular Republican and not sort of the inside the belt way kind of thing, but even among her constituents and yet there is so much blow back still from the fact that she unendorsed the President two years ago really is telling about where the base of the Party is. And it's solidly in Donald Trump's hand.

BORGER: It is Donald Trump's Republican Party. And as our White House team was reporting today and David mentioned it, you know, they're making a list over there about friends and foes. And the President is going to work to defeat John Tester in Montana, because of what happened to Dr. Ronny Jackson who was nominated, you know, and then had to withdraw to be the head of the V.A. and a friend of Donald Trump's. And he is going to support the people who support him. This is who Donald Trump is. Come hell or high-water and defeat the people who have hurt him. And I think she is feeling that right now, particularly in a state like Alabama, of course. But that is what you're going to see from the President.

CHALIAN: We should just underscore what we're saying here. Because we're saying that Martha Roby by going sort of against Trump inside the Republican Party who's she forced in the runoff with, a former Democrat. She just became a Republican inside this Trump Republican Party in February, right. Who she previously beat. He was a former Democratic member of congress, Bobby Bright that is who she is forced into the runoff with. That is how much the undercurrent inside the Republican Party right now is on the Trump energy. That is the life force inside the party.

[23:25:10] BASH: It is his party.

COOPER: Bakari, do you expect the Democrats to run on impeachment in the fall?

SELLERS: I think they'll run on the fact even on a larger theme, that this is Donald Trump's Party. And when you have a President whose approval rating is around 40 when it is not a Party that has core values. I mean, they're not supporting Bobby Bright, because of the fact he has conservative values. There's no way he is conservative enough to represent that district at this point in time when just last week or three months ago he was a Democrat.

And so, I think, what Democrats are feeling is, yes, we have a lot of enthusiasm, but the fact is we're putting Donald Trump on the ballot. We have ideas and everybody would talk about the ideas of the Democratic Party. The people, if they're honest with themselves know that 2018 is a referendum on Donald Trump.

And no matter what your ideas are about what we're going to do about the sovereignty of social security or foreign policy or the affordable care act, this is a referendum on Donald Trump, and this Donald Trump Party, it is a petty party and it is one that doesn't have any core values. And Democrats are going to seize on that.

BORGER: I think Republicans are going to run on impeachment to be honest. Because we already hear Rudy Giuliani talking about it and Republicans talking about it -- and the president himself saying they are trying to steal.

SHIELDS: Yes, I mean, I should disclose, by the way, I do work with the NRCC. So just in full disclosure. First of all, I disagree with something Bakari said earlier about enthusiasm. That enthusiasms got its closing. That is one of the reasons why we had seen the generic ballot go from 18 points to about 3 or 4 points, because Republicans are getting more energized. When you start talking about impeachment they're going to get even more energized.

And another problem the Democrats have a problem that Bobby Bright hasn't in this runoff is the he voted for Nancy Pelosi when he was a Democrat. And Nancy Pelosi and impeachment together are two things that will motivate the Republican base to show up which interesting you were saying about of being the president's party.

There are about 15 districts that are sort of in the battle ground that were Romney-Clinton districts like these ones in California, right? But there was another 15 or so that were actually Obama-Trump districts. If you look at the Pennsylvania special that we lost that was a 10,000 vote Democrats see, when everyone called the Republican seat because Republican held it and Trump won it by 20 points. Trump wasn't on the ballot and it caused us a problem. So there are some districts where you're going to want the President to come in there every single day and campaign for that 2person. And there are other places where you are just going to have to turn out regular Republican.

BASH: Regular Republican? What does that mean?

SHIELDS: I mean, regular Republican in the sense that not necessarily just the Trump, there's two parts of the Party, right? There are Republicans that are going to back the President because they're Republicans and there are former Democrats and union workers that are coming out and supporting the President.

COOPER: I got to get a break in. Wm primary results coming up. Also throughout the night here on CNN, Devin Nunes after the break, also the combined politics of football and the flag that kept the Philadelphia Eagles on the sidelines stay and left the President singing the national anthem instead.


COOPER: New numbers again in some key California races. Let's go back to John King. John?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, how are you? I'm waiting for Brian (ph) to come over here and help me with the camera to get a little close. Sorry, cut him off a little bit. Let's watch the results come in one of the races we're looking for here. This is the Darrell Issa district, California 49.

Darrell Issa is not running for reelection. Again, this is one of the seven districts Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election. And so Democrats are thinking maybe we have a shot here. The leading candidate right now is a Republican. It looks like we'll have a Democrat challenger in this race.

I just want to show you again in these races where Democrats think they have a chance. Look at all the blue. There's a bunch of Republicans, too, because it's open. But you have a lot of Democratic candidates as well. At the moment in the Darrell Issa district, you have a Republican on top, Democrats fighting it out.

Let's move a little bit to the north here. This is the Dana Rohrabacher district. He is a controversial Republican incumbent running for reelection. At the moment, there's a Democrat in second place here. But this is one of the districts where Republicans believe they may have two candidates.

Scott Baugh, Republican candidate running. We'll count the votes again. This one may not be settled tonight. But the incumbent in first place. And gain, people view the seat as another one of these Clinton districts. They view it as competitive. And look, a Republican here, a Democrat here.

Look at all these candidates coming out to run because they see the opportunity. That's why the vote is being split among all these candidates. Some of whom in these races stopped campaigning when they realized they were low, but they're still on the ballot. You see the vote split.

This is one of the factors tonight at the jungle (ph) primary. But at the moment, in the Rohrabacher district, the incumbent running ahead. The question is, will his opponent be a Democrat or another Republican in November? We'll sort that one out. Let's move up the map a little bit to come up here. Again, this is Republican district. You move over here, Republican district. You move here, you pull this out a bit. We can move further up to the north here, a name everybody knows nationally, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes running for reelection.

Democrats have this dream of winning this district because they say Nunes has become so tied to the Russia investigation. He has lost track with his agriculture district. Republicans will tell you this is a pretty solid state for Republican seat the Democrats are dreaming.

But it is a race we will watch because of the congressman's national prominence. He's running well ahead and it looks like he will get a Democratic opponent. If you look, Democrat second, then a huge drop off here. So Nunes is likely to have a traditional Democrat-Republican race. Again, Democrats put this on their dream list.

I'd be very skeptical about that, Anderson. We're watching the rest of the results come in. Those are the two big ones, the Issa race and the Rohrabacher race. Interesting because they were Clinton districts.

Nunes will be renominated and have an opponent. The rest of this again, we showed the race earlier. The Republican incumbent on top. Does he get a Democrat? Does he get a Republican? We're going to be asking that question a lot throughout the night and into the morning as well.

COOPER: All right. We'll come back to you shortly, John. David, how much have we seen it play out, the divisions within the Democratic Party between progressives and moderates?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it's interesting. In different pockets, we're seeing everything is in Iowa. Bernie Sanders, the Sanders versus the Clinton dynamic in the party. Bakari can certainly speak to this.

But the Sanders juice inside the party that was part of the 2016 race doesn't seem to be translating just yet to all of the people he's endorsed. And I was the biggest example of that tonight. The guy who ran the Sanders campaign in Iowa that basically drew Hillary Clinton to a tie in those caucuses, if you remember.

He's not going to come through as a Democratic nominee tonight, despite the fact that Bernie Sanders was on TV for him, raised a lot of money for him. So I think that divide in the party certainly exists. There's no doubt there's a tension between the grassroots energy and the establishment wing.

We see it on the Republican side, too. But I don't think that the party because of the Trump factor, which is a unifying factor for the Democratic Party, I don't think we're going to see the divisions sort of tear the party apart. This cycle maybe we'll say --

[23:35:00] MIKE SHIELDS, FORMER RNC CHIEF OF STAFF: I'll speak to one impact he has had, though. So maybe some of his endorsed candidates haven't gotten through. But one of the reasons is because the ones that did get through moved to the left. And so in California, you have a Medicare -- a single payer health care plan in the state that was rejected even by the super majority legislature and you have candidates running for Congress tonight who said they would be for that plan in Congress.

And so Bernie's impact -- there are primaries across the country where Democrats are moving hard to the left on a lot of issues like health care. And so he has had a huge impact. And by the way, we believe as Republicans that benefits us when you get to the general election because they will be nominating people that are far to the left.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the Democratic Party believes that would benefit you, too, which is why they've been trying to steer the party towards more established candidates --

SELLERS: Democrats have not -- Democrats problem this cycle. I don't think we need to shift focus. Democrats problem this cycle has been the sheer quantity of candidates.

It's not the quality of candidates because we haven't had the full pause (ph) that the Republican Party has had by nominating somebody who is just completely out of the box who cannot win a general election.

I do think, though, that the divisions that we begin this conversation about are fizzling away. There are people like myself who are engaged and in the trenches who simply don't want to re-litigate the primary of 2016 anymore. I mean, we are beyond that. In Georgia, for example, just last week, you had Bernie Sanders, Nina Turner, myself, Kamala Harris, so many people who are on different sides of this come together for Stacey Abrams.

Stacey Abrams got 80 percent of the vote and now she is a -- she literally has a credible chance to be the next governor of Georgia. We can argue that point later. But, I am just saying that there are a lot of individuals who are setting that aside all because we have one unifying factor in the Democratic Party.

CHALIAN: That's for 2018, Bakari. But the day after the midterms, when you have 20 Democrats running for president, those divisions are going to reemerge.

SELLERS: I don't -- can we get to one thing at a time here?


SELLERS: Let's focus --

SHIELDS: The very leadership of your party between Perez and Ellison. There are still some things that are playing out. Ellison is now leaving Congress and running for attorney general --

SELLERS: Do you know why? Because attorney generals are the spear to the Donald Trump presidency. It is the same --

SHIELDS: And you still have a super delegate fight going on in your party. So the idea that this is all smoothed over and everything is just fine, I think --


SELLERS: In the first 10 minutes of tonight, we were having a discussion about the fact that Democrats were too enthusiastic. And now we are at the halfway point and we are saying that Democrats are broken.

BASH: It's not a question of too enthusiastic. It's just a question of how that enthusiasm, that very real enthusiasm is playing into this very odd system in California. No one is arguing that enthusiasm isn't helpful in places tonight like New Mexico or New Jersey or even Iowa. That's a given.

It's just that in the state of California where we're focused tonight, because of these jungle primaries, it makes it very difficult. The other thing I just want to say is remember the last time Democrats swept, 2006? They did it for lots of reasons. There was the big anger about the Iraq war and so forth.

But a big part of the reason they were able to do that is because Rahm Emanuel and other leaders of the Democratic Party then found and made sure that the candidates fit the districts. And so it's harder to do that with the kind of enthusiasm that you have right now. It's harder to do that when you have --

COOPER: We've seen that in some of the earlier races that we've already seen.


BORGER: -- Conor Lamb had no primary.

SELLERS: That's what I'm saying. So look at -- but Democrats have been doing a great job of that. Because if you're looking at our Senate candidates who are up in tough races, they're running unopposed. Or little opposition. So we're not out there nominating a Tod Akin. We're not out there nominating the woman who thought she was a witch in Delaware. We're not doing it --

BORGER: Christine O'Donnell.

SELLERS: Christine O'Donnell.


SELLERS: We are not -- we are not doing those things. What we are doing is we are actually making sure that we have enthusiasm and we have people running. And the people who win these primaries are going to have incredible shot.

COOPER: We're going to have more ahead tonight on the Republicans, the GOP's evolution as we have been discussing to the party of Trump. We'll talk more about one issue that could be moving in that direction, the national anthem, the NFL (INAUDIBLE) the Eagles at the White House. [23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We are continuing to keep our eye on primary numbers coming in from California and elsewhere. We'll check back in with John King shortly. But first, a story from the inner section of politics and culture and football. The Super Bowl champion, Philadelphia Eagles, were originally supposed to visit the White House today.

Last night, the president pulled the plug. He first said it was because the players wouldn't stand for the national anthem. That wasn't true of any Eagles actually during the regular season last year. Then he accused them of staying -- some of them staying in the locker room during the national anthem. That also was not true either of any Eagles last season.

Then Press Secretary Sarah Sanders accused team members who weren't attending of disrespecting their fans. And she also said it was a political stunt by the team, that they informed the White House just before the event, that only a few representatives of the team would be coming and then offered to reschedule when the president would be overseas.

The best we can tell, there are only really two significant and solid facts in this controversy at this point. One, a substantial number of Eagles did not want to meet with the president. And secondly, that the president, a source has told our Jim Acosta tonight, believes attacking the NFL is a winning political tactic. It certainly is a favorite subject of his over the last several months.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We cannot have people disrespecting our national anthem, our flag, our country and that's what they're doing. And in my opinion, the NFL has to change, or you know what's going to happen, their business is going to go to hell.

Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, get that son of a bitch off the field right now? Out. He's fired. He's fired!

You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country.


COOPER: Back now with the panel. Mike, by the time the -- of the midterms, the NFL season is going to be in full swing. Obviously it is not an issue going away any time, at least from the president. Is this a winning issue for the president to be pushing?

SHIELDS: The numbers would say it is. And the numbers if you look at the ratings for the NFL, I will tell you, this is what we discussed, a cultural fight. And it kind of puts Democrats in an odd position because they are forced to support the players for a reason that are understandable, what the players are talking about. That's where Democrats are going to wind up.

But the president is putting them cleverly in a place where they're not for the flag and the military. And they are explaining, no, I am for the flag and the military. And by the time you get there, you've really done damage to yourself because when you're explaining, you're losing.

[23:45:00] And so he has picked a wedge issue here where the American people are with him saying the flag is what brings us together. Go protest in a different way. Why would you do it during the national anthem?

COOPER: I can't even remember what election it was. But years ago it was the burning of the flag issue which was a kind of a wedge issue. Bakari, do you think this is a danger for Democrats?

SELLERS: Not at all. I mean, if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. And I think that sometimes in this country -- I mean, I know we are talking about wins and loses politically, especially here on election night. But there are things that are maybe slightly larger than that.

The unfortunate part is the president of the United States is as petty as they come. And so he will -- he is the only president we've seen in recent history to dive right into cultural war after cultural war after cultural war and use that as a political ploy. It's very obvious -- as you just said, it's very obvious, what he is doing is he is dividing the country. The fact is this --

COOPER: You don't think other presidents have --

SELLERS: Utilized cultural wars to this extent? No. I don't think we have seen a president that utilize cultural wars to this extent. The fact is this. These players are kneeling because of injustices, racial injustices, police brutality in this country. No one is disrespecting the flag. No one is disrespecting our military. And the fact that there are voters out there who want to see it as such means that we have to do a better job of educating voters because that is simply not the case.

SHIELDS: Isn't one of the things that we have learned, that if they are offending, they have the right to be offended. You're saying it shouldn't offend them and they are saying it does offend me. And we have learned that on the other side of this conversation over and over again.

SELLERS: No, no, no.

SHIELDS: There's a massive group of Americans who watch this happening. And I actually think it hurts the cause of the players. Because there's ways for them to talk about this that would not also divide the country.

When Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during the national anthem, he knew he is being provocative and he knew there is going to be consequences for what he did or else it wouldn't been a brave act --

SELLERS: Actually --

SHIELDS: Now the consequence --

SELLERS: -- a military hero actually would have advised him.

SHIELDS: I know but let me finish my point. So, he knew that he was going to do something provocative. That's why he did it during the national anthem, because he wanted to offend people, so that they will listen --

SELLERS: That's absurd.

SHIELDS: Because he wanted to them to listen --

SELLERS: That's absurd.

SHIELDS: He could have just stood outside.

SELLERS: That's absurd. You don't want to offend people. You want to raise consciousness. And this --


SELLERS: Let me finish. There are two things. There are two things that you need to understand and America, I hope, will understand. There are two things. The first is that you telling oppressed people how they should protest is patently absurd. Not only --


SELLERS: I'm going to finish my thought. Not only is it violation of our First Amendment, but it's patently absurd. And like I said last night, I will repeat it again, you and people like you who would tell Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis (ph), they don't need to march across the bridge --

SHIELDS: Absolutely not true.

SELLERS: -- they should find somewhere else.

SHIELDS: No, that's not true.

SELLERS: You should not have a sit in because you're making --


SELLERS: Let me finish my thought.

SHIELDS: I'm not going to have you disparage what I believe about the civil rights movement.

SELLERS: Well, let me tell you this.

SHIELDS: I would not be for the march -- SELLERS: For saying that's not true, because you're uncomfortable, because Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, the Philadelphia Eagles make you uncomfortable, that means it's a success. And secondly, the reason that it is red herring when we talk about NFL ratings is because there is no more socially conscious league in the United States of America than the National Basketball Association.

What has happened to their ratings? They've skyrocketed. What did the Golden State Warriors do last year? They didn't show up at the White House. What did they do? They went to the national African-American history museum. They went to Kevin Durant's old high school and gave back. They could care less about the president of the United States. And their global stature has increased.

SHIELDS: They protested in ways that weren't provocative and designed to offend people. And so here is my point. I actually agree with some of the things that the players -- I personally agree with some of the things the players -- I wish they had done it in a different way that would be easier for me to talk about what it is that they stand for.

SELLERS: Why can't -- why can't you take --

SHIELDS: Let me finish.


SHIELDS: OK. Here's the difference between going to a lunch counter and getting arrested. Because you should have the right to go at a lunch counter in the first place. That is different than chaining (ph) yourself to a building when you know there is going to be consequences for your protests.

These players, none of us, we work for CNN. We couldn't just decide to walk out of here right now as a protest and not face consequences from our employer. So, why would they be trying to sort of do a brave act and then when they face the consequences of it, they're up in arms about it?

SELLERS: They're not up in arms about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president is up in arms about it.

SELLERS: The president is up in arms about it. They're not up in arms about it.

SHIELDS: The Eagles wanted to go to the White House.

SELLERS: They don't --


SHIELDS: -- because they did not want to go.

SELLERS: If the president was serious about this -- and let's just get the BS, if the president was serious about this, he would have Malcolm Jenkins in the White House talking about criminal justice reform. Real serious people in the White House talking about criminal justice reform. He wouldn't try out Kanye West and Kim Kardashian talking about this is good for the black vote.

Everything he does, every single thing he does is a calculated chess move in a cultural war, a larger cultural war. And it may work, but it's just dividing our country.

BASH: There is no question that he has his finger on the pulse (ph) of how to engage and enrage the culture war better than anybody. And I say better, I mean, in a more politically stooped (ph) way. I mean, that's how he got where he got.

[23:50:01] That's how he got to the White House. But it's not the first time a president has engaged in culture wars. I covered and followed George W. Bush around in 2004 when he was running for reelection. His campaign made sure that there were anti-gay marriage referenda on the ballot across the country. And it helped them.

COOPER: Bill Clinton did this --

BASH: And on the flip side as well. So it's not the first time. And it is -- you guys are having a very important policy discussion, but this is raw politics. This is blatant absolute raw politics.

BORGER: I think with Trump, though, it's personal. I mean, it is personal. He didn't -- it is raw politics, I agree with you 100 percent, but it's also personal for him. It's about about him. He was offended. He wasn't going to have the photo op that he wanted so he canceled this. And you can't take Trump out of anything Trump does and say it's also not about him personally.

COOPER: Got to get another quick break in. When we continue, the very latest from those California primary races.


COOPER: More late numbers now from California coming up an hour after poll closing. Let's go to John King. What do we know?

KING: Starting slowly, Anderson. Let's see the map fill in. I just want to caution you we are getting early results. We don't have a lot of today votes. It's mostly early votes. But some of the House districts we're keeping an eye on, some because they're competitive, some because they have interesting personalities.

[23:55:02] Duncan Hunter, for example, a Republican incumbent, district down by San Diego, this is a solid Republican seat. He is under investigation for corruption allegations. A lot of questions, can he survive? Well, he's certainly surviving his primary tonight. We'll see how that one goes forward.

Let's move up the coast a little bit. California 49. Darrell Issa's district. He's a national name, used to be chairmen of the Oversight Committee, a thorn in the Obama administration's side. He is retiring. Why we care about this district? Number one, because it's an open race. Number two, Hillary Clinton carried this Republican-held district. So it's one of the Democrats' top targets.

It looks like it's only getting four percent of the vote. Right now, a Republican in first place and a bunch of Democrats competing for the second spot. This is going to take a while. Again, that number hasn't changed in a while. Let's move up the coast again, a race we are watching nationally.

Again, Dana Rohrabacher, close to Vladimir Putin, gets a lot of controversy even from his fellow Republicans, running for reelection. This is another one of those seven Clinton districts. Democrats think they have a chance here along the coast. Right now, you have a Democrat in second place, a Republican close behind.

Republicans think this is possibly one of the races where the Democrats get locked out. We're only at 16 percent. We're waiting for the votes there as we watch this play out. Another one I mentioned earlier, Devin Nunes. Again, Democrats dream because of his prominence in the Russia investigation, of knocking off the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

This is a pretty solid Republican district. Devin Nunes winning comfortably or leading comfortably. Only five percent in. We will see who his Democratic opponent is. One last quick point, Anderson. This is why this matters. These are the seven districts Clinton carried, now represented by Republicans.

Democrats think they can have. Here's the problem. They're worried that in three of them, three of the seven, because of this jungle primary, it is possible -- we're going to count the votes, could take several days.

But Democrats are worried in three districts they could win in November. If they have a strong candidate, they might not have a candidate because of this jungle primary. That's the big drama in California tonight.

COOPER: Unusual primary in California. John, thanks very much. We will be right back with more.


COOPER: That is all time we have for tonight. Thanks very much for watching this special edition of "360." Our primary coverage continues. However, CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon starts now.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT HOST: Anderson, thank you very much. I appreciate it. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. Just about midnight here on the East Coast. We're live with all the information for you on this breaking news on election eve here. On the election night, I should say.

It's election night in America, the biggest primary night of the year so far. Votes being counted right now from coast to coast. And what we learn tonight could tell us a lot about whether there will be a blue wave in the midterms come November. So, eight states voting. But California is really make or break. Take a look at your screen right there. Democrats are going to have a shot at taking back at the House. It could all come down to really the golden state here. So tonight's vote really, really matters nationwide.

We have a lot to get to in the coming hours here on CNN. I'm going to go straight though to CNN's chief national correspondent, Mr. John King. He is at the magic wall for us this evening, this morning, in just a couple minutes, couple seconds depending on where you are. Hi, John. Eight states with primary races including a state that likes to be a thorn in Trump's side.

[24:00:00] I am talking about California. What do you know? Give us the very latest.

KING: No question about it. It's such a blue state, Don, and presidential politics. Blue state, blue governor. Blue state with House delegation.