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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

ELECTION NIGHT AMERICA With Chris Cuomo; Closing Moves Of The Campaign: Where They Were Today; Trump Describes PA Supreme Court Decision As "Dangerous"; Trump's Reoccupy White House Through Small Town Rural America; Pennsylvania: Trump's Path To 270, Then And Now; Election Day in America; Nearly 100 Million Americans Have Already Voted; Five Things to Watch for Tonight. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 3, 2020 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[01:00:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR, CNN "ELECTION NIGHT IN AMERICA:" Welcome to election day in America, certainly if you're on the East Coast. I'm Chris Cuomo and we're back with continued live coverage here on CNN. This is the big day.

If you're on the West Coast, I'll give you a little cheat on what's been going. We're watching the final steps of this campaign.

Biden is done. Trump is holding his final rally in Michigan, Grand Rapids, same place he wrapped up in 2016. And he was making a very direct message about success breeds success.

Now Biden ended his campaign in Pennsylvania.

In fact, he and Harris were going around a lot of these different counties that Clinton got killed in four years ago. It's an interesting strategy play, we'll talk about that more.

Now, it certainly as a state is going to be one of the closely watched occasions tonight.

And you're not probably probably -- we'll discuss this also -- but we probably shouldn't know the result in Pennsylvania tonight. And we'll discuss why.

As for the president, he's not letting up on Pennsylvania as a problem when there is absolutely no proof of that.

The supreme court took a look at what was happening in Pennsylvania and they took a pass.

They allowed ballots there to be counted if they are received up to three days after election day as long as they were stamped as mailed by election day. OK. Legal ballots.

But this president is trying to make it sound like it's something nefarious.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the Pennsylvania decision by the supreme court is a very dangerous decision. I think it's a decision that allows tremendous cheating to go on after the fact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: First of all, how, how? How does it allow cheating to go on after the fact? If anything, the reason that you would want to err on the side of letting votes being counted later rather than earlier is that you're going to have more attention to it.

You're going to have more staff that are able to do it because the other counting is done, there's no preparation, nobody's early, nobody's getting a jump. It doesn't make any sense.

But more important than the empty suggestion of cheating is the implication of what he sees happening which is violence in the streets because of what was done in Pennsylvania.

That's what he tweeted.

This is my suggestion, I would never say anything like that.

But this president says that the decision in Pennsylvania by the state supreme court

-- "will induce violence in the streets."

No, that's not what a court decision does because we have seen none.

And if it were the decision that had done it, it would have happened.

What might induce or incite violence in the streets is exactly what this president is doing on the eve of an election. "Something must be done," he said.

Something was done; it went through the process of justice in this country.

Now what does it mean?

Well, it certainly means that the president is trying to be misleading about election and participation and the legitimacy of this election. And that is a form of really just non-democratic thinking.

Elections shouldn't be violent. The president running for reelection shouldn't be inciting violence, and you know who knows it? His opponent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT AND DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The power to change this country is in your hands. In your hands.

(Cars honking, people cheer)

BIDEN: I don't care how hard Donald Trump tries, there's nothing, nothing that's going to stop the people of this nation from voting. Period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Let's bring in Astead Herndon and Ron Brownstein. It's good to have you both, it's nice to be sharing history with you. Here we are on election day --

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Election day.

CUOMO: -- at least on the East Coast, right? We're a couple of hours early for the West Coast but we'll give it a cheat.

Dixville Notch went five nothing for Biden.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: Millsfield, which has a few more voters right next to it, went sixteen five for Trump.

The other place, what's it called, Hart's Location -- they didn't do it this year because of COVID.

All right. So we got that out of the way.

Now it's about how things look today. Astead, let's start with where Trump was on Monday and where they'll end today -- of Michigan, all these multiple stops. What's the theory of their closing case?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The Trump theory of the case is to bring back that midwestern coalition that we saw in 2016.

Now the polling tells us that Michigan, Wisconsin, even places like Pennsylvania are harder for him than it was in 2016. But he's still trying to play those same kind of cards, right?

And so Michigan has been a place where he has tried to say that -- he's tried to link back to Joe Biden's trade deals, he's tried to link back to kind of a fear of kind of a rising progressive tide.

But we haven't seen it play out in the same way.

[01:05:00]

I was in Detroit, I was in Lansing, Michigan for the last -- a couple of days ago for the president's rally. And the thing that you feel there that's different than four years ago is a kind of attention paid by the Democratic Party to that part of the country.

You have to remember that the Clinton campaign, for its own fault, did not invest in those places, did not actually kind of see those places as a part that was necessary for that strategy.

That has been night and day for the Biden campaign.

They have looked very, very clearly at those places and also in 2018, they've gotten good encouragement.

You had the governor's race, you had the state house race, you had the actual statewide races to say that Democrats have a path back to victory that's through kind of persuasion of those suburban counties.

And that's what Biden's relying on tomorrow.

CUOMO: So, Ron, pick up on Astead in terms of do you agree with the analysis of what is happening in the Midwest?

And then fold that into why Biden and Harris are so many counties that Clinton got clobbered in --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: -- in Pennsylvania?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. First of all, where the president is is very revealing. The county that Grand Rapids is in he won in 2016 by 10,000 votes roughly which was his margin of victory in the state.

But as Astead was kind of alluding to, in 2018 it snapped back. Gretchen Whitmer won that county.

As part of a general pull back from the president across the Upper Midwest both in suburban white-collar neighborhoods like Oakland County in Michigan, which is one to watch tomorrow where Whitmer doubled Clinton's margin. But also in a lot of blue-collar places.

Now the blue-collar places are particularly interesting about the ending of the Biden schedule.

Because, I think, Chris you could say that almost any Democratic nominee running against Donald Trump with all the provocations he creates would improve on Clinton's margins in a lot of the big inner suburbs and metro areas.

But what Biden is doing -- and throughout, really -- has been focused also on trying to sand down those Trump margins in Trump country, in blue-collar places. Like he was in Beaver County, Pennsylvania today. Clinton lost it by 20 points.

Kamala Harris was in Luzerne today that Clinton lost by 20 points. You don't usually see candidates the day before the election in a place that they lose by 20 points.

Usually they're waving the flag in a place where they know they're popular.

But a big part of the theory of the case on the Biden Campaign is that his unique value is sanding down, reducing, diminishing those Trump margins in those blue-collar places.

And you add that up with what's happening on the other side of the ledger, inside the metros, and it makes a very tough combination for the president in those Rust Belt states.

CUOMO: Astead, what do you think about Trump's play in Pennsylvania. Which is to say it's not legitimate, that what the state supreme court was dangerous, it's going to incite violence.

Is that his way of basically just doing the best he can to upset any result that doesn't go in his favor?

HERNDON: Look, it's telling that the Trump Campaign and the president himself is not going about this to say oh, I'm going to win more votes, oh, I'm going to convince more people of my message but that I'm going to try to rig the rules of the game.

I'm going to try to shift the idea that the person who gets the most votes in those states is going to be the winner.

And I think that's what Democrats are scared about and that's what Republicans are playing into, particularly in Pennsylvania.

Now we have to note that Pennsylvania will only be a tipping point state if all those places before that goes in the president's favor, right?

If North Carolina, if Florida, if Georgia, if Arizona go in Biden's favor then Pennsylvania becomes less important.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

HERNDON: What we see here though is Donald Trump's campaign placing a bet on these tipping point states.

To not say that we're going to convince more people to vote but to say that we are going to try to shift the kind of basic idea of democracy in these places.

And that I think is a kind of fundamental question that we're going to have to ask ourselves if it gets to that point.

Is it that every ballot counts either in mail or in person or absentee or the like --

CUOMO: Right.

HERNDON: -- or are we going to let the Trump Campaign get away but the idea that something after the election day doesn't count ? When we know that that's what happens every election day, ballots are certified after the actual of (inaudible).

CUOMO: That's how he won Arizona and Michigan.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: He won it days and weeks after the --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

HERNDON: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: Some populist he turned out to be, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: So he doesn't want peoples voice to count, he wants lawyers and judges to decide the election for them. That's some populist right there.

Let me ask you something --

BROWNSTEIN: And military ballots.

CUOMO: Yes, military ballots also.

BROWNSTEIN: I mean, what about military ballots that come in after election --

CUOMO: Of course.

BROWNSTEIN: -- that come in after election day?

CUOMO: All the time.

BROWNSTEIN: To this point. Everybody needs -- should have a proper humility about the polls after 2016.

And even if you believe the polls, Biden is still short of being safely ahead in states that add up to 270.

But having said that, Biden is in a very strong position in all of the 20 states that Hillary Clinton won and he's also in a strong position in Michigan and Wisconsin.

They are in a different category than the other battleground states.

[01:10:00]

And what that means, Chris, is that if he wins all 20 Clinton states, Michigan and Wisconsin, Trump has to win everything else that both sides are contesting.

He has to win Pennsylvania and North Carolina and Florida and Ohio --

CUOMO: But he could.

BROWNSTEIN: -- and Arizona and Georgia and Texas. He could.

CUOMO: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: But I'm just saying -- just saying to make the point that he could but he has to run the table. He is operating on a very narrow ledge.

And yes, he can make it work but that is a lot of dominoes that have to fall in his direction.

CUOMO: You know, what -- well, there's no reason to prognosticate --

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

CUOMO: -- but this president could definitely win this election.

Now let's talk about why in terms of looking beyond this huge headline that I am so proud of just as an American.

Having 100 million people just about --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: -- come out and vote early.

HERNDON: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: I have to be honest. When we were talking about early voting -- I talked to Ron about this a couple of times but never with you -- I didn't think people were going to do it.

It's hard, nobody trusts. It's like what am I even doing this early for, I don't want to vote at all and now I'm going to vote early? In a pandemic?

Yes. It was scaring some people but then he was saying not to do it. So maybe the strong move was not to do it.

A 100 million people saying I want a hand in my own fate I think is beautiful.

Now do you believe that there are as many votes -- there can't be another 100 million votes, we'd have 200 million votes in election -- but how many votes do you think you have today at the top side, Astead? Like what would be a boffo turnout?

HERNDON: I think that we are likely to see a turnout that we haven't seen in modern times, right? And so when we get past the kind of 160- , 180- point, I think that that is something that's unique.

But I think what Republicans are betting on, right, is they're going to have a better in-person election day turnout --

CUOMO: Right.

HERNDON: -- than democrats have, right, who have been voting early, who have been voting by mail.

But I think that that's still a very risky strategy. What we know from polling, for example is that older black voters prefer to vote by mail.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

HERNDON: And so in places in Florida and places like Pennsylvania --

BROWNSTEIN: (Inaudible).

HERNDON: -- that have not had early voting before this year, we're actually expecting a Democratic turnout in some of those places.

And so that speaks to the kind of narrowness of the Trump strategy.

Certainly he can win, certainly we're expecting Republicans to come out on election day. Specifically because of the way the president has kind of said -- has kind of cast out (ph)on mail-in balloting specifically.

But what we do know also is that there are also going to be Democratic constituencies that do that also -- that do that as well. And that is going to make the path even more narrow for the president.

CUOMO: Right.

HERNDON: And that's frankly what we have at this point. Is kind of one set of strategies that allows Donald Trump to win and kind of multiple path for Joe Biden.

That does not make it impossible --

CUOMO: Right.

HERNDON: -- it just makes it more narrow.

CUOMO: That's one more path than he had in 2016. As many people thought.

HERNDON: Certainly.

CUOMO: And he wound up winning.

Ron, you've never covered one like this before, brother. You know I call Ron "The Professor," because he like seems to know everything. But we've never had this kind of early vote turn out --

BROWNSTEIN: No.

CUOMO: -- where you'd be dealing at a discount on election day and what that looks like in terms of who votes early and who shows up today? What's your best reckoning?

(BEGIN SPLIT SCREEN VIDEO CLIP - "YMCA" PLAYS AT RALLY)

BROWNSTEIN: Well, yes. Right. And as Astead was saying, if 160 million people vote, it'll be the highest turnout since before women had the right to vote in a presidential election.

So to me, I think the key question about the turnout is the underlying geographic divide that Trump has deepened. He really has exiled the Republican Party from the big metros in

America. Not only on the coast and in the Upper Midwest but now we are seeing it through the Sun Belt whether it's Atlanta, Houston, Dallas or Phoenix.

The big population centers I think are going to vote against him in historic numbers.

He lost 87 of the hundred largest counties in America by a combined 50 million votes, I think he's going to lose over 90 and it's going to be more close to 20 million votes.

I think voters in those places look at the way he talks about race, the way he talks about women, the violence that he has promoted. And they just say I am not part of this coalition anymore.

So to me, the question is are there enough votes in small town and rural America to keep up with the kind of surge in turnout we have already seen in places --

CUOMO: Look, Pence is dancing.

BROWNSTEIN: -- and Houston, Dallas and Austin? And that is going to be, I think, the critical question.

Because win or lose, I think Trump is going to be weaker inside of the big population centers driving the economy. For example, I think the counties he wins are probably going to account only about 30 percent of the total GDP.

His path is massive turnout, small town, rural, white blue-collar America. And are there enough voters out there to keep pace to what is going to be , I think, some historic levels of Democrat turnout and margins.

What is going to be, I think, some historical levels of Democratic turnout and margins.

[01:15:00]

Again, not only in Northern Virginia and New Jersey and California --

CUOMO: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: -- where we've seen it before. But Atlanta and Gwinnett and Cobb and Houston --

CUOMO: I --

BROWNSTEIN: -- and Travis and Maricopa. And so forth.

CUOMO: Yes. That's going to be the interesting part of the analysis.

But again, you don't have a Republican in almost 100 years winning the presidency without Florida.

So the president is ending here with his recent kind of -- his famous end of "YMCA."

I got to say. Astead, all these people are digging this song. And I wonder if they are aware of who was singing this song --

BROWNSTEIN: The provenance.

CUOMO: -- and what this song was about. The provenance of the song. Well said, Ron Brownstein.

It's just so ironic to hear President Trump -- and there's Kayleigh McEnaney doing a little dance to "YMCA."

The idea of -- the most benign reading of this song's lyrics about inner city needs and desperate people doing whatever they can and believing in themselves and working. In a situation where he says systematic inequality doesn't even exist.

Help me with the irony here, Astead.

HERNDON: Listen, I did a story last year about the different campaign playlists between the candidates.

And one of the most like provocative parts of that was the president.

You talk about the "Village People," you talk about Pavarotti, you talk about the voices you hear.

You look at "Fortunate Son" by "Creedence" there.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

HERNDON: And that's a song specifically about --

CUOMO: He won't even let him use it.

HERNDON: -- a rich person who --

CUOMO: He won't even let him use it anymore --

HERNDON: I know. But that's still --

CUOMO: -- because he says you're the guy I was writing it about.

HERNDON: Exactly. But as I'm saying that is something that you would for a while hear at the president's rallies.

And I think that from what we know from that it's just the kind of jam playlist that's completely removed from the kind of meaning and the spirit of those song lyrics.

And frankly, I think that that's indicative of a larger theme within the Trump Campaign.

Which is that you have a kind of specific relationship between the president and his base and completely oblivious from the kind of larger question of this and the kind of larger implications that, frankly, might be a reckoning tomorrow.

CUOMO: Listen, again, we all grew up with the song, we all loved -- I grew up in Queens.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: This was like our anthem.

BROWNSTEIN: I grew up in Queens.

CUOMO: You know what I'm talking about.

BROWNSTEIN: (Inaudible).

CUOMO: So just -- "no man does it all by himself. "Put your pride on the shelf." "Just go to the YMCA." "I'm sure they could help you." "They have everything you need. "You can get yourself cleaned, you can have a good meal, you can do whatever you feel."

"I was once in your shoes" --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: -- "I was down and out with the blues. "I felt no man cared if I were alive, I felt the whole world was so jive."

This is about systemic inequality and people who are relegated to less. And there are so many who have tried (inaudible) testimony to understand that they don't have to be with people think they can be. That they can be more than that.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. And --

CUOMO: And this is what the song is that Trump plays where he says this problem doesn't exist?

BROWNSTEIN: And it may have -- it was even more specifically gay liberation in the seventies.

CUOMO: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: So that specifically. And it ends up in Grand Rapids, kind of a heartland of Christian conservatism -- and look, irony is way past dead with Donald Trump and his playlist and many other aspects.

The way in which his personal life clashes against kind of all the values --

CUOMO: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: -- that his most religiously devout supporters claim to uphold.

CUOMO: I was giving him a break on the gay thing, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: I was giving him a break on that.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know it's --

CUOMO: I was just talking about it at its most benign. You know.

BROWNSTEIN: It's election day on America. All the truths are finally coming to -- one last point on that. It's really -- I've been thinking about this.

The incredible -- like all the stuff that Taylor Swift has done for Biden.

CUOMO: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: The Springsteen ad that he's narrated. He's never done anything like that.

CUOMO: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: My hometown. About Scranton. John Legend, Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt. The number of contributions that Biden has had from small donors, the amount of -- like blue America is leaving everything on the field.

There's no institution it feels like in kind of blue America that is not all in on this election.

And if, in fact, it is not enough it is going to be quite a moment in kind of all of the population centers of the country about what America really is and what America really wants.

Because if you go from like Brad Pitt and Bruce Springsteen to the 500 former Republican national security officials, and the two dozen former Republican elected officials, and the staff of Romney and Bush and McCain and Cindy McCain, and the FBI head for Reagan, and the CIA head for Bush, W. Bush -- it is an extraordinary outpouring, Chris.

CUOMO: Well, listen --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. But --

CUOMO: I got to go. Astead, I'll give you the last word.

BROWNSTEIN: And if that is not enough -- if that is not enough, I think it is just going to be an amazing moment of looking in the mirror for America.

CUOMO: Astead.

[01:20:00]

HERNDON: I'm just saying quickly. As a newspaper reporter we have to write multiple sides of what's going to happen on election night.

And one of the things that you ask Democrats right now is what if Joe Biden loses? And that question to them is unfathomable.

It would spark a soul-searching that is not comparable to what we even saw in 2016.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

HERNDON: They cannot think about the prospect of a loss. And I think that speaks to Ron's point.

CUOMO: We will see. But you know what? Everybody he identified as somebody who could be an influencer in Trump's America, they go like this (gestures). The elites and the insiders.

HERNDON: Yes. Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: To hell with all of them. So we'll see. This will be a very important day, it will last a few days. And it will be talked about for decades.

Astead Herndon, Ron Brownstein; brothers, thank you for sharing history with me. Appreciate you for it.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, all right. See you later.

HERNDON: Thank you.

CUOMO: Two seventy, 270, 270, 270. It's the only number that matters.

You will hear about 100 different numbers and data points between now and anybody who's seriously talking about 270.

But it's all that matters.

And that's why I'm saying you've got to ignore the noise as much as you can. And remember your poise.

Stay open, stay balanced. Stay ready and curious.

We will map out the possible paths. It's not to going to be like spaghetti strings with a hurricane.

But just which way it could go and why different states matter and timing as well. OK.

Let's get after it. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:25:00]

CUOMO: In the final hours of the 2020 race, both the president and Joe Biden barnstormed one state in particular. Pennsylvania.

Why? 20 electoral votes, it made the race for Trump in 2016, he won by 44,000 votes. The state could make or break the path to 270.

Again, the president flipped it, it went from blue to red, it was part of the wall.

No more.

Where do things stand now? Phil Mattingly is at the magic wall. Phil.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT:. Chris, finally, mercifully, this map is going to start to fill in over the course of the next 24 hours.

Little bit of red here, little bit of blue here.

But really what I think everybody knows going into this night is this map, what people are looking for going into this map largely reflects what we saw back in 2016.

It's not the same race, not the same candidate on the Democratic side; so many differences about it.

But the map, the goals, particularly for the Trump Campaign are the same. And that focuses on one state in particular.

You've seen it in the spending, you've seen it in the travel. That is the state of Pennsylvania.

Now here's where things stand in Pennsylvania at the moment.

Pull up the CNN Poll of Polls. And you see Joe Biden has opened up the lead in Pennsylvania. It's actually been pretty steady throughout the course of the campaign.

50 percent to 44 percent when you average the polls together right now.

However, the Trump Campaign believes that they have momentum right now. And why does that matter?

Well, take a look at what happens if Joe Biden wins Pennsylvania and then goes on to win Michigan and Wisconsin. All he needs to do is restore the blue wall and he's back over 270 electoral votes.

So let's dig in a little bit about what happened in 2016 that allowed President Trump to burst through that blue wall.

Flip back to the 2016 map, pull up the state of Pennsylvania. And here's what you need to watch for.

It wasn't in 2016 like some other blue wall states that Hillary Clinton didn't get a big vote in the urban areas and in some of the surrounding suburbs as well.

In the Philadelphia area, Hillary Clinton did great by all accounts. In Allegheny County, the home of Pittsburgh, Hillary Clinton did great by all accounts.

If Joe Biden can match those numbers or get a little better, Democrats are probably be happy.

Their issue, the Clinton Campaign's issue, and where the Trump Campaign stunned the world was here; Western Pennsylvania, was here, in northeastern Pennsylvania.

When you look at the margins, not at these huge counties but in smaller counties.

You go up here into Warren County, this is a tiny county. President Trump netting only 12,477 votes. And then you start going back into 2012, Mitt Romney was polling 10,000 here. That's an extra 2,000 votes.

And you could basically go through the map in western Pennsylvania. And in county after county after county throughout the west Donald Trump was running at margins Republicans didn't even think were possible.

That is what his campaign says he's going to do again. Not beat past margins but beat the 2016 margins.

That includes in a place like Westmoreland County. Look at the margin there; 116,000 votes t0 59,000 votes.

They think they're going to do better this time around. And to be frank, they need to do better this time around.

And that is where the Biden Campaign thinks they can come in. Again, they expect to do well in Philadelphia and in the collar counties. They expect to do well in Pittsburgh and Allegheny county.

But where they think Biden's real strength is holding down margins. He's from Scranton.

Hillary Clinton won Lackawanna County back in 2016 but just narrowly, perhaps Joe Biden spreads it out a little bit.

Go down one county here into Luzerne County. This was a county President Obama won back in 2012. Look at what Donald Trump did in 2016.

Now the Biden Campaign who has sent Joe Biden to Luzerne County doesn't necessarily expect to flip Luzerne County back to blue but what they want to do is start to shrink those margins.

You shrink those margins in Trump counties, in Trump counties where he ran up the types of margins that nobody had seen before, found voters that nobody knew existed before, at least that didn't vote.

You shrink those margins and you run up your totals. Not just in Philadelphia but into the collar counties and out, and do the same thing that they did back in 2016 in Allegheny County, maybe spread it out a little bit. All of a sudden not unlike what happened in 2018 during the midterms,

Pennsylvania looks much more comfortable for Democrats.

That said, I don't know any Democrats that are comfortable right now. Republicans think Pennsylvania is very much in play.

Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you, Phil Mattingly. And they could be right.

Look, that's why you have the election. Polls are done.

The only poll that matters now are the votes that came in early, the votes that'll be counted after this election that made it by election day is what you do today.

We are in store for hours and days -- maybe even weeks ahead.

Ignore the noise, remember your poise. No election is decided today.

So let's go through what today really holds and what we'll be waiting for. We're just getting started.

Next.

[01:29:46]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: We're not supposed to editorialize but I can't not say this. I am so proud as an American that nearly 100 million of us have voted already -- left, right, reasonable, all of you. Whatever your reasons, you came out, and you had a hand in your own fate. We've never seen anything like it. And I think it's a beautiful expression of our democracy.

Where it leads us, all right, let's get after that right now. 18 states and D.C. are already over 50 percent turnout. Keep in mind we have -- we haven't topped 60 percent as a nation in terms of participation since the 60s.

Now, I've always found that very embarrassing and you hear all the time from our veterans, hey, you want to thank me? Vote. Well, this time you're actually fulfilling your thanks to them in that way.

Let's discuss what this means. We have Jennifer Granholm and Scott Jennings. Thank you for sharing history with me that we're living together. The best to you and your families. Thank you for all you've done in helping the country through our reporting get to this point.

[01:35:03]

CUOMO: Jennifer Granholm, Governor, do you think that your vote is in and today is all about Trump and whether he can meet or beat what has been put in already?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, are you talking about -- you mean do I think Biden's vote is in and --

CUOMO: That the early vote is your vote.

GRANHOLM: Yes. I do think --

CUOMO: And you know, by a majority and today is now about whether Trump can meet or beat.

GRANHOLM: Yes. I mean I think that in a way, although I will say that I think there's a lot of just people out there who procrastinate. And so whether they're Democrats or Republicans, I think Democrats are still going to show up tomorrow.

I was talking to my son who is 22 years old, and he was saying, you know, he's a total political junkie, but he's also a procrastinator. He says, yes mom, people my age, we're going to go to the polls. I'm taking my buddy tomorrow. He's never voted, but that's just us.

So who knows, Chris? But to your point about the number, I'm just over here grinning because it makes me feel so proud of America as well.

And I think that honestly, you know, I looked at the last Gallup poll, for example, where they had people say whether they're satisfied or unsatisfied with the direction of the country.

80 percent of Americans have been unsatisfied with the direction of the country. So I think what you're seeing is the people are taking the wheel. The people have decided they don't want any more of this. They want this country to go in a different direction.

CUOMO: Well, you've got Republican early voters too, especially in Florida.

GRANHOLM: Of course.

CUOMO: They've been seeing a robust --

GRANHOLM: Of course.

CUOMO: -- there, Scott. A question I have about how to handle tonight as the president. If the president is going to have four more years, does he really want to start with controversy on election night?

I mean doesn't it behoove him as well to let this process play out because it's what he's going to inherit in his second term? I mean he doesn't want to have to deal with one more thing coming right into his second term, does he?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean I had to chuckle at your question. Does Donald Trump want to have another day of controversy? I mean we've had a day of controversy every day since he took office. I'm not quite certain that one more day is really going to change the trajectory of what will be regarded as the most controversial presidency we've ever had.

I mean look, I think what's going to happen tonight is we're going to know some states and we're not going to know others. And whether those states add up to 270 or not, I don't know yet.

And like you, Chris, I think what is the most refreshing thing about this, I feel better about this election day. I've been at this for 20 years. I feel better about this election day than I have any one because of the durability of American institutions.

A lot of folks wrang their hands over the last four years and they were saying we're never going to make it to the next election because of this guy.

Well, here we are. And everybody's voting and everybody's going to get their say. And we're going to -- someone's going to win and someone's going to lose. But no one will be able to say the American people, as Jennifer just said, didn't let their full voice be heard so --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Well, except for the -- except for the president, Scott.

JENNINGS: Whatever Donald Trump does tonight isn't going to change that.

CUOMO: But what he's saying about, you know, hey, this is going to incite violence what the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania did. And you know, there's so many chances for fraud. We both know if you want to worry -- and again, you know, we've been through this many times.

Proving the case of widespread fraud in any election in American history is a very slim proposition. But if you are going to mess, you'd mess early. People aren't ready. You don't have the same scaled resources. You could get ahead of the game. You could literally get a jump on it.

You count after election day, you have all eyes on you. You have all the apparatus in check. For the president to suggest otherwise, I just don't see the percentage for him.

JENNINGS: Well, I actually think this is the greatest argument for not having federalized elections. The fate of our elections are in the hands of the hardworking county clerks and secretaries of state in all these states. And it's not centralized.

And so the point you're making is what if the head of our government, our entire government, were to try to mess with the outcome of an election.

CUOMO: He is.

JENNINGS: But because of the decentralized nature of our voting and the way we count the votes, that -- that's a good thing. And so some people --

CUOMO: I agree.

JENNINGS: -- have actually suggested lately that we need a federalize the election system. That's wrong. These local officials know what they're doing and they need to be allowed to do what they do.

And by the way, it doesn't matter what Trump or Biden says tonight. They do what they do according to their local and state laws anyway.

CUOMO: Right. I'm just saying, you know, Jennifer -- it's just a weird brand of populism that the president is saying that he doesn't want votes to count and he wants judges and lawyers to decide the election in Pennsylvania.

GRANHOLM: Yes. Yes.

CUOMO: I mean it's just a weird swing.

GRANHOLM: It's a -- it's the sign of somebody who is afraid he's going to lose, so he's going to go -- he's going to really attack the election itself. But I feel like I have to check myself because I'm agreeing so much with Scott.

[01:39:59]

GRANHOLM: I think, you know, this demonstrates -- and we'll see what happens tomorrow -- but the volume of votes and these local elected officials working and toiling to make sure they're all counted and the fact that this year more than any other year, despite the volume, everybody has a barcode.

I mean this is all checked. You can't double vote. It's all assigned to you. You can track your vote. You know -- I mean it just -- this fraud issue kind of completely eviscerates in light of how many systems are in place right now to make sure that this is done right.

So it's -- and the other point is that even up to tonight, less than half a percent of votes have been discarded. So I'm -- you know, I think this is a real exciting moment for expansion of voting now that we have this vote by mail and people have become hopefully are getting used to it. The clerks are getting used to it, and maybe it will be a sign that voting will actually be made easier in the future.

CUOMO: I'll tell you what. You know why I'm voting tomorrow? Because I don't trust anything else. And I think there are a lot of voters like me. I want to be there in person. I want to look at this guy or this woman who is going to be looking through that stupid book and find my name, you know, if I get lucky. So I don't have to fill out another provisional ballot, you know, because of this great system we have.

But it would be interesting to see today -- and again you can't have complaints with turnout. That's why, you know, I'm giving the frown to the president about questioning what's happening in Pennsylvania. It's been reviewed.

The Supreme Court there reviewed it in the state. It went to the Supreme Court. It was held in abeyance. We'll see what happens afterwards if they're going to take up it as a theory. But let it lie, man. Let the people have their say.

Let me ask you something else, Scott. Just while we're kind of musing on how things ended here.

Help me understand the draw of the Trump crowd to the song YMCA from The Village People.

JENNINGS: You know, truthfully I don't know. Every campaign has their own --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Even Pence was almost dancing to it tonight. He was hand dancing.

JENNINGS: Yes.

CUOMO: I mean I don't even know if he's allowed to do that at his church, but he was hand dancing. What is that supposed to -- like why this song?

JENNINGS: I don't know. Every campaign -- I've been part of putting together playlists for campaigns before. And we had our own playlist in the Bush/Cheney years and in the Romney years as well.

CUOMO: Was YMCA in there?

JENNINGS: Campaigns have their own playlist. I will say the Trump playlist is among the most eclectic but also, you know, dance-worthy playlists out there. So I assume it has something to do with the fact that Trump likes it.

GRANHOLM: He's got Pavarotti. He's also got the theme to "The Titanic".

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Listen, I'm ok with having eclectic musical tastes. I'm just saying that, Jennifer, when you have a campaign that is based on the cornerstone that there's no such thing as systemic inequality, and you've got The Village People singing about a young man's battle to be himself and to be gay and be open and how hard it is for people in the inner city and what the YMCA can provide. For Trump to be dancing to it is a little bit of an irony sandwich, no?

GRANHOLM: Yes. I don't think they're reading too much into the lyrics of any of those songs. I mean I was just saying they also have the theme to "The Titanic" I think on there too.

So I'm just saying I think that they're -- like Trump's playlist is what it is. He's got the Pavarotti -- not Pavarotti. He's got, you know, he's got opera singers. He's got -- he's got a whole array of things. I just think it's the music that he likes. I think he's not thinking at all because the symbolism is really too --

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: Chris. Chris.

CUOMO: Go ahead, Scott.

JENNINGS: I think -- Let me do a little third shift punditry. It reflects that the president is putting together a broad coalition of supporters.

CUOMO: Broad coalition. Finally. I've been waiting for this.

JENNINGS: And his playlist is reflective of the broad coalition.

CUOMO: I like it.

JENNINGS: And I think you're going to see that manifest itself on election day. There you go.

CUOMO: Hey, do you want, Scott, for the president --

GRANHOLM: Ok. Well, we'll see about those coalitions.

C4: -- do you want the president to play it cool tonight? This controversy about declare or not declare. Do you see any need to push the process?

JENNINGS: No, I don't. And I mean, look, it doesn't really matter whether he declares victory or not. It's actually irrelevant legally to the process.

CUOMO: Right. Good point.

JENNINGS: I mean I think it would make him look dumb if you declared victory and then it turns out, you know, six hours later you didn't win or 12 hours or 24 hours later.

So yes, I don't think it would be appropriate for anybody to go out and declare victory in an individual state when you don't have a majority of the votes counted.

CUOMO: Jennifer, last word to you.

GRANHOLM: I mean you have Joe Biden going out tonight and declaring victory after Dixville Notch. I mean it's ridiculous. Candidates are done having their say. It's the voters' turn to have our say.

CUOMO: It's true, especially when that (INAUDIBLE) came in and he lost 16-5. So you never know, you always have to watch the next one.

GRANHOLM: You never know.

[01:44:43]

CUOMO: But here's what we know for sure. You Jennifer, you Scott and I, we have never seen the kind of activism on the part of the American people that we've seen already going into this.

So thank you for living history with me.

GRANHOLM: It's a pleasure. CUOMO: We don't always agree. Sometimes I push too much. But I think the process is a good one for this audience. And I appreciate you both being a part of it. Take care. Jennifer Granholm and Scott Jennings.

GRANHOLM: All right. Thank you.

JENNINGS: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. No one knows what lies ahead. I certainly don't. I don't even have a good feel for this race because even though I have a radio show every day and I get to talk to dozens of states, I haven't been out on the hustings. And this is just a weird time in this country.

I don't know that, you know, a registration advantage really is going to play through with the early votes. A lot of people who back this president believe they do have something to fight for and they do see it as change. They still see him as change.

So let's bring in Chris Cillizza for some insight on what to watch tonight, not just now but just hours away. This is it, baby. Game on, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:49:45]

CUOMO: This is often said but not always true. But it is today and tonight. An election like no other will bring an election night like no other. We've never seen this kind of participation in an early vote. We've never seen this kind of toxic division amidst a major crisis. We're literally living a pandemic.

So, what do you watch? What do you focus on when the results start? And, of course, as my daughter Bella, Chris Cillizza loves to say, you have to ignore the noise and focus on your poise. Stay balanced. Stay in control and filter what's coming in because a lot of it won't mean what it suggests. What do you say, sir?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: All right. So, I want to start, Chris, with a race that I'm pretty sure most people aren't watching. But remember, we're looking -- like you said -- we're looking for the signal in that noise, right? We're looking for something that actually tells us something.

And that's why I want to go to Indiana's 5th congressional district. This is an Indianapolis suburban district. It's an open seat. A Republican named Susan Brooks is retiring. This is a seat that if the political landscape was relatively even between Republicans and Democrats, the Republican would win and we wouldn't be talking about it.

So why are we talking about it? Well, it's a really, really close race. It's not just that, though, Chris. Remember, polls close at all different times, throughout the country. In Indiana and Kentucky but Indiana, in this case, they close very early. We're going to see that race. If that moves, good for House Democrats and good for Joe Biden.

North Carolina's number two. I mentioned this earlier in the show but I want to come back to it because this is a double whammy. It's both a presidential race which is very close, remember, Donald Trump won North Carolina. The data suggests that it's basically a tossup. Almost an exact tie, at this point, between Trump and Biden.

And there is a hugely important Senate race there. Thom Tillis, first- term incumbent, Republican running behind a former state senator named Cal Cunningham. He's had some personal controversy in the last month. Doesn't appear to have affected his poll numbers.

If Cal Cunningham wins and Joe Biden wins North Carolina big deal. Again, an early close, 7:30 on the East Coast.

Let's keep going.

CUOMO: And the early-vote count, right?

CILLIZZA: Yes and a quick vote count, which is important, as you say.

CUOMO: Go ahead. Florida.

CILLIZZA: Florida. I'm not going to spend a huge amount of time on this because anyone who knows anything about politics knows that Florida is important. But I will say this, I said it in the last hour. I'm going to say it again because it's that important.

No Republican has been elected president of the United States in 96 years without carrying Florida. That's a heck of a lot more than a coincidence and it's true in this election, too.

If Donald Trump does not win Florida, you can get there. You can get him the 270 electoral votes in the rest of the country but, man, does it require a lot of heavy lifting in places where he's not polling all that well.

He needs this state, again because some of the state is in the central time zone, it's a 9:00 p.m. close. But it is one to keep an eye on.

CUOMO: They do early-vote count, also.

CILLIZZA: Who knows how fast they count? I'm always weary after -- after the year 2000.

All right. Let's keep going.

Iowa. Another one like North Carolina, that I don't think that many people understand why it's a big deal for two reasons. Yes, very close presidential race. This is a state that Donald Trump won relatively easily four years ago, Chris. But it is a state that is competitive.

I still expect Donald Trump to win it but the issue may be his margin because if his margin is small, then I think you may see Joni Ernst, who won overwhelmingly in 2014, she was one of the most high-profile senators to win that year on the Republican side. She's in a very, very competitive race against a Democrat named Theresa Greenfield.

That's the race right there, circle it. If Democrats win that race, I think they retake the senate majority. They need three seats if Biden wins. Four if Trump gets re-elected.

If they win Iowa, I think that's going to suggest they're going to win it. So keep an eye on that. Not just for presidential implications but also for Senate implication.

I'm going to end on a gigantic state, mostly in the central time zone, little bit in the mountain time zone up there in El Paso, Texas. Look. Democrats have -- since I started covering elections -- Democrats have been telling me that Texas is moving their way.

And I'm not as young as I once was, Chris, so it's been a while. Two decades, I've heard this. Is this the year? Is this the year that Joe Biden can change the map?

We have seen Texas be Republican since 1976. Jimmy Carter is the last Democratic presidential nominee to carry Texas, more than four decades ago. Can Joe Biden be the next one?

And important, Chris, I started on a House race. I want to end on House races. In Texas, Democrats have huge pickup opportunities in the House, which is a remarkable thing. We could be looking at somewhere between 5 and 15 Democrat net pickup in the house. You add that to the majority they already have.

If they retake the Senate, if they retake the White House, obviously, those are big ifs, it will be the first time they have complete control since 2008 -- 2009 really, when Joe Biden was that vice president of the United States.

That's where I am looking, at least at the start.

[01:55:01]

CUOMO: That was a brilliant list of the five things to look at, especially, how you broke down Texas and Indiana. I'm wondering, though, by looking at that district in Indiana, did you pick it because it looks like a hand puppet?

CILLIZZA: Yes, absolutely. That was most --

CUOMO: The shape of the district looks like a hand puppet.

CILLIZZA: Yes. Sure. I can do the barking dog. Barking dog.

CUOMO: Little bit. If you look at it.

CILLIZZA: Yes, a little bit. Sure. Also looks like a dinosaur head but I've never really gone through that.

CUOMO: Or some animal without ears.

Thank you Chris Cillizza.

CILLIZZA: Thank you my friend.

CUOMO: And appreciate you listening to Johnny Cash earlier. Very strong.

All right. Thank you very much for watching. History is being made. We are living it together.

CNN will be here for you and with you all day long.

Poppy Harlow, Jim Sciutto continue our special live coverage of election day in America. Let's get after it.

Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:00:02]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: A very good, early Tuesday morning to you. Have you voted, yet, America?

I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: We're so glad you are with us. Hi, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.