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Americans Head to the Polls, Nearly 100 Million Already Voted; Pandemic Rages Across U.S. on Election Day. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 3, 2020 - 05:00   ET




JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My message to you is simple: the power to change this country is in your hands.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was elected to fight for you, and I fight harder than any president has ever fought.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Biden campaign says their easiest path to the nomination is through that blue wall that President Trump broke through back in 2016.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNBITED STATES: We're going to show America that Michigan is Trump country.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: After four years of failure and division, we have the power to change America.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, November 3rd, 5:00 here in New York. This is a special edition of NEW DAY, the final day of voting in America.

In exactly one hour, polls open in eight states. We've all waited a long time for this. And by this time tomorrow, we might know who will be president come January 20th. Or we might not.

But we do know is that this election has already exploded all precedent, nearly 100 million ballots have already been cast. That is a record. And frankly, bonkers.

It is hard to wrap your heads around that. We're getting new information and analysis on each candidate's path to 270 electoral votes. Remember, that is what determines who wins. Joe Biden closed out his campaign in Pennsylvania just where it began

more than a year ago. He blasted the president's handling of the coronavirus pandemic which is spiraling out of control this morning.

While President Trump threatened legal action to stop vote counting in Pennsylvania beyond today, he ended the night in Michigan.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And there is an extra layer of fencing around the White House this morning. The president plans to host hundreds of people at an election night party there, all of this against the backdrop of a pandemic.

Another 84,000 new coronavirus cases were reported overnight. That's the 4th highest day since the pandemic began.

More than 231,000 Americans have died. And there is new reporting that Dr. Deborah Birx is reportedly pleading with the White House for much more aggressive action.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Jessica Dean. She is live in Philadelphia where Joe Biden holds an event today.

What's happening at this hour, Jessica?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Alisyn, and we made it.

Election Day is here. The voters finally get to have their voices heard in all of this, the months and months we have been following it. Vice President Biden and President Trump making their closing arguments to voters yesterday. Both of the men here in this critical battleground state showing just how important Pennsylvania is in this road to 270.


DEAN (voice-over): On an Election Day where nearly 100 million Americans have already cast their ballots early, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden making their closing arguments to voters.

TRUMP: You have the power to vote. So go out and vote. Unless you're going to vote for somebody other than me, in which case, sit it out.

BIDEN: The power to change this country is in your hands. And I don't care how hard Donald Trump tries, there's nothing, nothing he can do to stop the people of this nation from voting no matter how he tries.

DEAN: Trump wrapping up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, just hours ago.

TRUMP: This is not the crowd of a second place finisher.

DEAN: In five rallies across four states, the president repeating some of his biggest complaints, including casting doubt about mail-in voting. This time falsely implying there would be election fraud in Pennsylvania, following the Supreme Court decision to allow the counting of ballots received up to three days after the election.


TRUMP: We're going to win Pennsylvania. It's a great state.

That's a very, very dangerous decision by the Supreme Court. I guess it was a political decision. I don't know what it was. I don't know what they were thinking.

DEAN: With Pennsylvania as a key state to win the White House, the president holding a rally in his rival's hometown of Scranton.

Biden closing his campaign in the Keystone State, too. But in Pittsburgh, where he pitched a message of unity.

BIDEN: The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself. No one else can challenge us. And that's exactly what Donald Trump has been doing. Folks, it's time to stand up and take back our democracy. We can do this. We can be better than what we have been.

DEAN: The event, the last of three in western Pennsylvania where the former vice president was joined by Lady Gaga. The Biden campaign splitting up the battleground state with Senator Kamala Harris rallying voters in Philadelphia, and stretching its ground game down south to Georgia and Florida with the help of former President Barack Obama.

OBAMA: The answer is not to stay home. It's to turn out like never before.

DEAN: This all in Biden's push to build back the blue wall Trump knocked down in 2016. That hope evident in Biden's stop in Ohio, a state the president won in the last election.

BIDEN: It's time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home. We're done. We're done with the chaos.


DEAN: Vice President Biden closes out this 2020 campaign season right here in Pennsylvania today with an event his hometown of Scranton and another here in Philadelphia before traveling back to where he lives in Wilmington, Delaware, to await election results. President Trump is scheduled to visit his campaign headquarters in Virginia before holding an election night party with hundreds of guests in the East Room of the White House -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Jessica, thank you very much for that.

So what is the latest path to victory for Trump and Biden to reach that magical number of 270 electoral votes?

CNN's Phil Mattingly breaks it down for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, Alisyn, here we go. This gray finally mercifully is about to turn into red and blue, the states coming out as data comes in over the course of Tuesday into Wednesday, even longer than that. I think one of the big questions is going into this night, what is this actually going to look like. This is the 2016 map to some degree.

Let's pull out right now where things stand currently if you look around the map. You have where the toss up states are. You imagine that Minnesota, not totally a safe seat for Democrats right now. We'll go ahead and put that in the Democratic column, Colorado as well. Trump campaign making a play for Nevada, Democrats feel like they have locked that up over the course of the last several cycles. That will be able to be maintained.

So, where does that leave things? Everything you see that's not colored in are states that could be in play, could be tossed up states.

Now, Democrats feel like they will be able to lock in New Hampshire, they feel like they will lock in Maine as well. What happens to the rest? You look at the electoral maps, 233 electoral votes for Biden, 125 electoral votes for Trump.

There's one clean and easy pathway for the Biden campaign to 270, it goes like this, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. That's the blue wall. You put that back together. You do -- undo essentially what President Trump was able to ride to election back in 2016 and Joe Biden is the president of the United States.

Now, the big question right now, why you're seeing everybody just flood Pennsylvania over the course of the of the last couple of weeks, what if President Trump wins Pennsylvania, and he holds on to Ohio which he won pretty handily in 2016. Joe Biden made a trip there. Republicans feel like they're in good shape, holds on Iowa as well.

Where are the pathways for Joe Biden? What happens if even, maybe, Wisconsin goes Republican as well? That is why you have seen a focus for Democrats down here. North Carolina, Georgia, obviously Florida, always a toss up, and Arizona, a state that Democrats finally believe is ripe to come their way.

So, Joe Biden, 249 electoral votes, win the state of North Carolina, win the state of Georgia, over 270. What happens if president Trump wins Florida, wins Georgia, well, Democrats win North Carolina, win Arizona, over 270.

Now, there's one state I haven't filled in yet, and frankly it's because nobody knows what's happening there. You have seen over the course of the last several weeks, the state of Texas with an early vote that has surpassed by a substantial margin, their 2016 total vote.

Now what does it mean? You have had several election analysts put this in a toss up column. We don't know right now. We can't break down in a bipartisan manner the way the early vote is going. All that is known is that President Trump didn't win Texas by as much as Republicans traditionally.


Democrats believe Texas may actually be in play. If Texas is in play, the entire map changes. Joe Biden has rewritten what a Democratic pathway is to the presidency. So, pay attention to all of these things.

Make something very clear here -- Donald Trump has a clear pathway to 270 electoral votes and reelection. But Joe Biden also has a pathway to a huge electoral win, one that might actually rewrite the map entirely. Wins Texas, flips Georgia from a red state to a blue state, wins back Florida, wins the state of Pennsylvania. All of a sudden you're rolling up a huge electoral victory for Vice President Biden.

Not to say it's going to happen. Not to say any combination is going to happen. What it underscores, going into this day, going into these final votes being cast, there are any number of combinations on the table. There's as very clear pathway for President Trump to be reelected. There are multiple pathways for Joe Biden to win reelection, and that, of course, is why we play the game, why they cast their votes, and why we wait and see what happens over the course of the next 24 hours -- guys.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Phil Mattingly, hanging on every word there. I dream of magic walls these days. That's what I see --

CAMEROTA: I thought you were going to say, I dream of Phil Mattingly. I mean, you're not alone.

BERMAN: Phil Mattingly and the magic wall. It's like that's a special kind of dream.

Joining us, CNN political commentator, Errol Louis. He's a political anchor for Spectrum News.

Also with us, CNN political analyst, Margaret Talev. She is the politics and White House editor at "Axios".

And, friends, what I want to ask you what you were looking for today. But before we get to that, I'm going to start with me. I want to put on the screen a number which I just can't wrap my arms around. This is the number of people who have voted already, 99-1/2 million Americans have voted.

I have covered elections for 25 years. We have never seen anything like this. I don't know how to factor it in to what I'm watching today, because I'm sitting here doing math, what does that mean, how many votes are left, how much would Donald Trump have to bring in to win now.

What are you watching?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. Listen, it's very important, not to skip over that point because it blows out everybody's expectations. All of these carefully crafted models based on past elections. You have to throw a lot of that out the window, because not just Texas but also I think Hawaii, Montana. They have exceeded all of the 2016 vote.

So, people are doing that in a way we don't understand -- we don't necessarily understand why. What I'm going to be watching for, John, is this has all the makings of what could be a wave election, similar to 1980, similar to 1994, we're not sure exactly what is going on here, and frankly, that's a wonderful thing for those of us year of year have tried to push for people to participate more, here's their answer, and we're going to find out what it all means.

CAMEROTA: Or, Margaret, that huge number has cannibalized what we'll see today and people did it early because of the pandemic, and because of whatever else is happening in the world, and as Errol and John have said, we just don't know, and we also don't know about new voters.

You know, when you take a poll, it's of likely voters, and there may be an influx in young voters or newly registered voters and we don't -- we don't have them as part of the calculation necessarily either.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Alisyn, and happy Election Day.

I think that's all completely true. And you know, for sort of an average voter sitting at home, I think sometimes you feel detached from the process and you look at the modeling and predictions and you extrapolate, you think, I don't really have to vote today or if I vote it's not going to matter where I live, and the truth is that that's just not true.

Even as much early voting as there has been, the outcome in all of these key battle states absolutely depends on who comes out today to vote in person as well. And so, the models are only as good as the assumptions they make, and it's extremely hard to make assumptions when so many parameters are out of whack, when the pandemic has changed people's behavior, when the candidates themselves are behaving as candidates never normally do.

You're watching a sitting president attacking preemptively the Supreme Court as part of the closing round of electioneering. And so, it's an extraordinary year. But -- but I think it's important for people who are still thinking about participating to understand that none of these models can be predictive without understanding what people will actually do today with their masks on, standing in line in the polls.

BERMAN: Just one more, more people have voted in Texas already than voted in 2016. What does that mean? Who knows? That's why we're not going to leave our TV for a minute over the next 14 or 20 hours.

Errol, Margaret brought it up, so let's talk about it. The president's closing message seems to be a threat of violence against Americans based on the Supreme Court. This tweet I'm about to read you, Twitter has already taken it down because it is spreading misinformation, they say. The president said the Supreme Court decision on voting in

Pennsylvania is a very dangerous one. It will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire system of laws.


It will also induce violence on the streets. Something must be done.

To be clear, all the Supreme Court did is said that Pennsylvania, which decided it wants to accept ballots postmarked by today for three more days. He's saying somehow that will lead to cheating. Twitter thinks that's a lie, and then there's the idea the president says will incite violence, though I don't think he knows the word incite. He said induce violence.

Why is he making this threat, Errol?

LOUIS: It's good that twitter took that down. There are 21 states, plus Washington, D.C. that allow for mail-in votes to be counted after Election Day. Military ballots, absentee ballots, the Postal Service takes a couple of days, and different states, half the states have figured out how to do it.

And Pennsylvania says three days. There are other state says ten days. Other states say seven days. And so, for the president to say this, and he knows it's not true, he's trying to sow confusion. He's trying to create the legal base and shift the terrain on a more favorable ground on the assumption that he loses and will need the electoral votes of Pennsylvania. That's all this is about.

BERMAN: All right. Errol, Margaret, we're not done with you.

CAMEROTA: Oh, no, far from it.

BERMAN: Stand by. Much more to come.

A federal judge ruled in favor of more than 100,000 Texans who have already cast their votes. He said their votes will count. This has to do with drive-through voting locations in Harris County, the biggest county in Texas.

What does this mean for the votes already cast? What does it mean for today?

That's next.



CAMEROTA: Overnight, the biggest county in Texas decided to close all but one of its drive through voting locations. The Harris County clerk said he does not want ballots cast at those locations to be jeopardized.

Back with us, Errol Louis and Margaret Talev. Errol, let me make sure I have this right. So, a judge decided or the Supreme Court decided that the ballots cast through drive-in locations do count. But as of today, you drivers and voters have to get out of their car and walk those ballots into a building.

And I guess the bigger question is this just somehow a sign of the challenges and counter challenges that will be happening elsewhere outside of Texas on other issues?

LOUIS: Yeah, it's a real shame, and a number of states, Texas of course being exhibit a, what you're finding is what are purported to be legal challenges are really about power, about who thinks they can get an advantage by tweaking the rules in this direction or that direction.

So, get out of your car or into your car, Harris County tends to skew Democratic, and so, you have Republican lawyers pushing in that direction. We may see something similar going on elsewhere across the country. It's really unfortunate.

The judges, though, if you read the tone of their rulings and actions they have taken, they have been admirable, they have been saying, this is about the law. We're not going to look to who appointed us or which party might get an advantage. We're going to follow the letter of the law, the spirit of the law, which is toward participation.

As long as everybody does that, I think we're going to be fine.

BERMAN: Yeah, I actually think the important thing that happened in Texas just so we're clear is the Texas Supreme Court first ruled and then federal judges there agreed not to disenfranchise 120,000 voters who have voted. If you voted in a drive-through location in Harris County, your vote counts. That's the major story here.

Now, as for the drive-thru locations today, they will not be open but you can get out of your car and go vote inside. There isn't any reason to believe that will disenfranchise voters. So, your vote counts if you voted through a drive-thru. That's what everyone needs to leave here with going forward.

Margaret, "Axios" has some new reporting on how the vote will come in tonight. Obviously, we know some states will count more quickly. Some states will count the early vote first. Some states will count the votes cast today first.

The words we choose to use here are shifts. Other people use words like barrage. We're going to use shifts because these are real votes, not fake votes.

TALEV: Well, that's right.

But a number of months ago, a Democratic firm called Hawk Fish, this is a Michael Bloomberg funded firm, came up with a model, they called it the Red Mirage, you're calling it the Red Shift, to model what could look like a really big lead for President Trump on election night, and could shift more towards Joe Biden, and they say ultimately deliver Biden the victory in the days after.

They have new updated modeling that we're reporting first this morning that still shows an ultimate Biden victory as they model it but shows that mirage or that appearance of what it could look like tonight, actually much tighter for President Trump. They still say, they still warn that if it looks like he's leading tonight, it doesn't mean anything, but the margin by which they think it might look that way is much tighter than just in August, and the reasons why are quite interesting.

One reason is that many states did scramble in the last couple of months to try to figure out can they actually process ballots faster. You know, what mechanisms do they have under state law and local election regulations to do that, and another reason is because Vice President Biden actually gained in many of the polls that the modeling is built on since this summer.

The third reason is interesting and it's that many Republicans, although Democrats and independents by far are more afraid of the coronavirus and more inclined to mail in votes, many more Republicans than they initially predicted did go ahead and early vote, whether in person or by mail. So, that's changing their modeling dynamics.

Again, when we talk about the modeling, it doesn't mean something is going to happen. It means some of the assumption all fall into line, that's what could happen.


And even their modeling really shows this massive fluctuation in what could look like is happening, and what could actually happen based on that thing that we have been talking about all morning, what we still don't know, which is who's going to turn out in person, and who's going to those early votes which will be counted in the coming days.

CAMEROTA: Errol, this is your wheel house. This is what you live for every four years, how are you spending tonight.

LOUIS: How am I spending tonight?

CAMEROTA: And when do you think that you'll know something conclusive? You'll see some sign that tells you what's happening?

LOUIS: I will be co-anchoring our broadcast out of New York, like a lot of other Spectrum News channels around the country, one of the things I'm going to be looking for are the early results that come out of North Carolina and that come out of Florida. These are southern swing states that could make it an early night if Florida, say, goes to Joe Biden.

If Trump fails to carry that important state with 29 electoral votes, it becomes very hard to see how President Trump gets reelected. That's one of the early things I'm going to be looking for.

And then the rest of it is just going to be a long slog, and there will be lots of questions like states like Arizona that might flip, and the big question of Texas that was identified earlier, that's also something all of us will be watching.

CAMEROTA: Errol Louis, Margaret Talev, thank you both very much. Great talk to you, and be sure to join us for CNN's special coverage of "ELECTION NIGHT IN AMERICA". It begins today, 4:00 p.m., Eastern.

All right. The coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force contradicting President Trump quite forcefully, warning that the U.S. is entering the most concerning and deadly phase of the crisis.

We have the latest on the pandemic, next.