Oct. 31, 2022 US election coverage

By Maureen Chowdhury and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 2:01 p.m. ET, November 1, 2022
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2:01 p.m. ET, November 1, 2022

A couple of swing voters in Pennsylvania discuss their choices

From CNN's Kit Maher

Election Day is next week and key races in Pennsylvania are expected to be close. CNN spoke to voters about the issues and the candidates.

Bruce Ershler, 68, who lives in the Philadelphia suburbs, was in the city on Monday to watch Game 3 of the World Series between the Phillies and the Houston Astros, along with his friend Mike Rogal, 70, who had driven from Pittsburgh.

(Unfortunately, the game was later postponed due to the weather and will be played Tuesday.)

Both identify as swing voters, making them hugely important in a state which is widely regarded as one of the handful that will determine the control of the US Senate.

Mike Rogal, left, and Bruce Ershler, right.
Mike Rogal, left, and Bruce Ershler, right. Kit Maher/CNN

Ershler said he's voting for Democrat Josh Shapiro for governor, despite being a registered Republican. He described GOP candidate Doug Mastriano as "quite a bit extreme for my views, and I think he would not be good for Pennsylvania."

Specifically, Ershler said he's fearful of Mastriano being an election denier.

"He thinks that the results of 2020 were not valid. I totally disagree with that. And I think that he would tilt things much more to the right wing on a lot of different issues, as opposed to being more moderate. Shapiro is not what I would consider far left, he certainly is — he leans left, but I think he presents a much more moderate view," Ershler said.

On the Senate race, Ershler said he's not a fan of either Democrat John Fetterman or Republican Mehmet Oz.

But, "I think my vote would probably end up being that I'd like to see the Democrats hold or win the Senate. And therefore I would, by default, probably end up voting against Oz. I can't bring myself to say I'm voting for Fetterman, because I really don't like him. But I am really worrisome of it being a Republican House and Republican Senate because I don't think it's good for the country."

Rogal is also voting for Shapiro for governor. "The reason I am is he's a moderate Democrat. I think he does a great job. I think he's a straight shooter. And I don't think he's a radical left.”

Rogal echoed Ershler's sentiments about Mastriano. There are things about him that "seem to be a little bit far right," Rogal said.

However, unlike Ershler, Rogal said he's voting for Oz for Senate. Rogal said his own background as a former surgeon and having acquaintances that know Oz influenced his vote.

“He's an intelligent guy. I think that he expresses himself articulately. I think he's thoughtful. I can obviously relate to somebody who was also in the business, so to speak," Rogal explained.

Major Small.
Major Small. CNN

In West Philadelphia, Major Small, 67, said he's voting for Shapiro and Fetterman.

"I love Democrats. Republicans aren’t for the people. And plus, Fetterman wears a hoodie. I like that," Small said.

“He seems down to earth. He seems like he knows what we’re going through," Small added, speaking about Fetterman.

Small explained that gun violence is a key issue for him and he feels that Shapiro might have a plan to combat it:

"Dealing with the gun violence. People killing people for no apparent reason. It’s senseless. And I don't know, I just hope – sounds like he might have a plan."

2:01 p.m. ET, November 1, 2022

Wisconsin voter says "defending our democracy" will be top of mind while casting his ballot

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi in Beloit, Wisconsin

Lifelong Democrat Jack Macpherson from Janesville, Wisconsin, said the biggest issue in the midterms is “defending our democracy.” 

“I'm really worried that if the wrong people get into office, they're going to undermine the principles that were the founding principles for our country. To decertify an election that was properly done,” Macpherson, who supports Democratic Gov. Tony Evers for reelection, told CNN.

“If we lose our voting rights, and our ability to decide for ourselves what is right and what's wrong, and how the country is going to be run. We're in deep, deep trouble. So this election is very important in that respect,” he added.

Macpherson, 74, was a school custodian and meat cutter before he retired. He said he is also concerned about Republican gubernatorial nominee Tim Michels' proposal aimed at "privatizing the schools, which is something near and dear to my heart because we are a family of teachers. My wife and my daughter and my son are all involved very strongly in the school system," he said.

Michels wants to allow public dollars to follow students to private schools, while Evers advocates for more funding for public schools.

7:40 p.m. ET, October 31, 2022

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers tries to appeal to college voters in his push for reelection

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi in Beloit, Wisconsin

Daniel Steinle/Reuters
Daniel Steinle/Reuters

Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers made a pitch to college students to support him during a campaign stop at Beloit College Monday as part of his “Doing the Right Thing” bus tour.

“This is a close election and for any of the college students out there, you, you make up 7% of the voting people in the state of Wisconsin. Seven percentage. And that may sound a little, but compare that to this: I won by 1.1% last time,” Evers said Monday. “Suddenly that 7% looks pretty big, doesn't it? We must – if you're a student or you're connected with a college student — we need to get college students to vote.”

He said that college students have been concerned about the environment and climate change, as he accused his Republican opponent Tim Michels of being a climate denier. 

Michels said at his October debate with Evers:

"The temperature has always fluctuated throughout the history of this world. And we can’t just say it all happened because of man’s actions in the last 100 years. But we should all be responsible like we are at Michels Corporation and do everything we can to make sure we have a healthy planet for future generations."

Evers is in a close race with his Michels, who has run on school choice, tax cuts and promises to cut down on crime.

7:11 p.m. ET, October 31, 2022

Arizona GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake appears to joke about Paul Pelosi attack

From CNN's Kate Sullivan


The Republican nominee in Arizona's gubernatorial race appeared to joke about the violent attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul.

Kari Lake was asked at a Scottsdale campaign event about her plans to increase school safety and she said:

"It is not impossible to protect our kids at school. They act like it is. Nancy Pelosi, well, she’s got protection when she’s in D.C. — apparently, her house doesn’t have a lot of protection."

The crowd burst into laughter and the moderator was laughing so hard he covered his face with his notes. 

During her campaign for governor, Lake, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has echoed the former President's lies about the 2020 election being stolen, come out against vaccine mandates and said drag queens are dangerous to children. 

Mixed response from Republicans: Several prominent Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have condemned the attack, though some others, including Trump, have offered a more tepid response.

5:04 p.m. ET, October 31, 2022

Senate control is likely to come down to 4 states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania

Analysis from CNN's Harry Enten

A voter receives an "I Voted" sticker after casting their ballot on the first day of in-person early voting in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 22.
A voter receives an "I Voted" sticker after casting their ballot on the first day of in-person early voting in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 22. David Becker/Getty Images

It is pretty clear from the polling that control of the Senate will likely come down to four races: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

The math is simple. Democrats need to win three of these four races to maintain control of the Senate. For Republicans, it’s a slightly easier climb as they need to win only two of these four races.

But despite the ease of the equation, solving it is anything but easy. All of these races are well within the margin of error. Moreover, the states aren’t all that similar in demographics, which means that it’s plausible that any late movement or polling error could affect the states in different ways. Each state has unique issues affecting them, too.

Arizona, is the easiest race to understand. Democrats have won the last two Senate races in the state, after not having won one since 1988. They’re powered by increasingly strong performances in the Phoenix suburbs among White college-educated voters and a reliable Hispanic base. They’re also helped by one of the largest Native American populations in the country.

Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly hasn’t trailed in any poll released publicly. His advantage has slimmed in some recent surveys, though many of those are from outfits that don’t meet CNN’s standards for publications.

On average, Kelly has been up by about 3 points over Republican Blake Masters. A New York Times/Siena College poll published Monday gave Kelly a 6-point lead over Masters.

Masters’ problem is fairly simple: His net favorability (favorable - unfavorable) rating is underwater. Unpopular Republican candidates are an issue that has plagued Republicans across the board. Meanwhile, Kelly’s net favorability (and approval rating) has been positive.

This has allowed Kelly to overcome President Joe Biden’s own unpopularity in the state.

Nevada, is the most favorable for Republicans. The Times poll and the average have the race tied between Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Adam Laxalt.

Nevada seemed to be trending toward Democrats 10 years ago, after Barack Obama won it with ease in two consecutive elections. Republicans have lost the last two presidential elections in the state by decreasing margins, including a 2.4-point loss in 2020.

Republicans have been helped by a movement toward them among Hispanics, as well as a large base of White voters without a college degree. The state’s economic base of tourism was hurt during the Covid-19 pandemic, when national Democrats were far more likely to push for Covid precautions.

Cortez Masto, unlike Kelly, has not carved out a base of popularity, according to the polls.

The final two states to the Senate math are the hardest to figure out. Georgia and Pennsylvania couldn’t be more different in terms of their demographic math.

Pennsylvania is a Great Lake swing state in which Democrats must win a healthy share of White voters without a college degree. That’s a group that has been running away from Democrats, which is why Hillary Clinton in 2016 became the first Democratic presidential candidate to lose the state since Michael Dukakis in 1988.

If border issues play an outsized role in a state like Arizona and a recovering gaming industry are pivotal in Nevada, the big non-inflation story in Pennsylvania is crime. Philadelphia, the most populated city in the state, has seen a jump in its crime rate over the last few years.

Republican Mehmet Oz has used the crime issue to close what was once a large advantage for Democrat John Fetterman in the Senate race.

Fetterman, though, has seemed to persevere, despite a stroke that left him off the trail for a period of time. He continues to nurse a small lead in the area of 2 to 3 points. The Times had Fetterman up 6 points, though much of that polling was taken before a debate last week that many viewed as a weak one for him.

Additionally, Republicans have tended to outperform their final polling the last few cycles.

Oz, for his part, has had a negative net favorability rating throughout the campaign, as he’s had to fight off charges of being a carpetbagger.

Georgia is unique amongst the four races in that the candidate with the most votes needs a majority to win. Otherwise, there will be a runoff in December.

At this point, a runoff seems quite plausible. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker are in a tight race. Neither one of them is anywhere close to 50% in the average of polls, with Libertarian Chase Oliver pulling around 3% of the vote.

The potential for a runoff isn’t the only thing that makes Georgia unique. The Peach State has, by far, the largest Black population of any of these pivotal races. Democrats have made a comeback in this deep Southern state because of a growing Black population, and the movement to Democrats among White college-educated voters in the Atlanta area.

Ultimately, Georgia may come down to the same thing that is occurring in most swing states this year: A Republican candidate in Walker who sports a net negative favorability rating with the backdrop of a deeply unpopular President.

Whichever matters most to the rare swing voter will probably decide the winner in Georgia and who wins control of the Senate.

4:50 p.m. ET, October 31, 2022

With just days until the midterms, Democrats believe this message could make a difference in close elections

From CNN's Edward-Isaac Dovere

As Election Day quickly approaches, a collection of Democratic candidates and supportive groups are willing to try a strategy that several party strategists acknowledge has not been very successful so far.

They’re hoping a late rush of targeted ads and direct door-to-door outreach focused on Jan. 6, 2021, and the threat to democracy can anger and scare enough of their own base and peel off still undecided voters to counter the momentum they sense moving toward the GOP.

A dozen panicked top Democratic strategists and party leaders acknowledged to CNN that the party has largely failed to get voters to think of GOP candidates’ election denialism as disqualifying or to convince Americans to prioritize democracy when they cast their ballots. What Democrats haven’t done, these strategists said, is connect that argument to voters’ more immediate concerns about the economy and rising costs.

“Normal everyday Americans, it’s hard to care about this big existential thing called democracy when you’re worried about making your next rent payment or trying to buy your kids shoes,” one Democratic strategist told CNN.

The Friday assault on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband by an alleged attacker who posted memes on Facebook and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and Jan. 6, among other things, has heightened concerns about the state of democracy. But though the attack has Democrats from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris making newly urgent warnings in stump speeches – “authoritarianism is on the rise, from Moscow to Mar-a-Lago,” Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen said at a Democratic campaign event in Baltimore on Saturday – the insurrection and the prospect of former President Donald Trump’s return to power still won’t be the main focus in any key race in the closing week.

But in close elections, some Democrats believe this late push may be enough to make the difference, even as they worry that voter intimidation, takeovers of local election authorities and expected legal challenges may have already put them behind.

Several Democrats have been running ads that, directly or indirectly, try to tie their opponents to Jan. 6 or the kinds of election conspiracy theories that led to the mob of Trump supporters storming the US Capitol. But those haven’t been the focus of any 2022 campaign, even as some GOP nominees across the country have embraced those kinds of election falsehoods.

Some groups, however, have been taking the democracy message to the streets. BlackPAC, a Democratic-leaning political group, says it has already knocked on 2 million doors of Black voters over the past year across Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada – all states with pivotal statewide and US House races – with a not-at-all subtle line.

“Even though we turned out in record numbers in 2020, they still tried to throw out OUR votes in places like Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta,” reads the script, given to organizers and shared with CNN, referring to Republican challenges in certain areas to the 2020 presidential election results.

That message will be amplified in the next two weeks online and on radio stations catering to Black audiences.

4:33 p.m. ET, October 31, 2022

Trump endorses Bolduc in New Hampshire's Senate race but notes his shifting answers on election denial 

From CNN's From Dan Merica

Don Bolduc speaks with supporters at a town hall event on Sept. 10 in Laconia, New Hampshire.
Don Bolduc speaks with supporters at a town hall event on Sept. 10 in Laconia, New Hampshire. Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump endorsed New Hampshire’s Republican Senate nominee Don Bolduc in a Truth Social post early Monday morning, while noting Bolduc’s shifting answers around the 2020 election.

Trump posted: “General Don Bolduc has run a great campaign to be the U.S. Senator from the beautiful State of New Hampshire. He was a strong and proud ;Election Denier,' a big reason that he won the Nomination, but he then disavowed. He has since come back, at least on busing, but that is only a small part of N.H. Election Fraud,” Trump wrote in a post that published at 2:57 a.m. on Monday morning. “Nevertheless, Don Bolduc has asked for my Endorsement, and he’s got it, Complete & Total. His opponent is a disaster on Crime, the Border, Inflation, & all else. Vote for Don Bolduc!"

By focusing on Bolduc’s history with falsehoods around the 2020 election, Trump is highlighting an area that has proved difficult for Bolduc since he unexpectedly won his party’s nomination in September. 

Bolduc made election denial central to his primary campaign, saying in an August debate, “I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying Trump won the election, and damn it, I stand by [it].”

But once he won the primary and the electorate, he faced was more politically diverse, he tried to fully walk back this position, telling Fox News that he had “come to the conclusion… the election was not stolen.”

But that walk back has proved difficult, as Bolduc has continued to push some election denial in his race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan.

And in his second debate with Hassan, Bolduc raised the unsubstantiated claim that “school buses loaded with people” who are not allowed to vote in New Hampshire are brought to polling locations in the state. 

“I am claiming that is what Granite Staters tell me,” Bolduc said. “And I am saying we need to respond to that.”

When pushed on his claim about buses of people and whether he needed to verify that claim, Bolduc said, “I think we need to verify that. That is what I just said. Can you listen to me here for a second?” But he added later, “I think it is valid.”

Hassan used the moment to brand Bolduc an election denier.

“What you just heard from Don Bolduc is his continued attempt to stoke the big lie, he has traveled around this state for over a year now, stoking the big lie that 2020 was stolen,” Hassan said. “Here is the reason why having free and fair elections matter, it is because it is the way people in New Hampshire hold us accountable. Don Bolduc can ignore where most granite staters are… because he thinks he doesn’t need to accept election results.”

4:46 p.m. ET, October 31, 2022

Watch Don Lemon's interview with Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman tomorrow on CNN This Morning

Just days until the high-stakes midterm elections, CNN's Don Lemon interviewed Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman about his closing pitch to voters and his campaign against Republican Mehmet Oz.

The interview will air Tuesday during the debut broadcast of the new show CNN This Morning.

In advance of the full interview, CNN aired a portion of the conversation with the candidate. He spoke about Paul Pelosi's attack and Elon Musk's Twitter takeover.


3:25 p.m. ET, October 31, 2022

Trump’s new super PAC has been spending money in 5 key Senate battlegrounds 

From CNN’s Gabby Orr 

Nick Wagner/AP
Nick Wagner/AP

Former President Donald Trump is wading deeper into the midterms as several key Senate battlegrounds tighten, with his new super PAC pouring nearly $4 million into several races on Wednesday.  

The latest spending spree by MAGA Inc. comes on the heels of contentious debates between Senate candidates in Ohio, Arizona and Georgia that saw Trump-endorsed candidates battle with their Democratic opponents over topics ranging from abortion and guns to the economy and election integrity.  

According to AdImpact, the former President's group has placed another $3.8 million in television ad buys in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona, all home to Trump-backed Senate candidates. 

A person familiar with the matter said Trump's group may make additional investments before the Nov. 8 election if public and internal polls show different races tightening as Election Day gets closer.  

Trump has spent the past several months facing intense pressure from fellow Republicans to boost his financial investments in critical midterm races amid frustrations that he was sitting on a mountain of unused cash that could make a difference in races that are likely to be won on the margins. It wasn't until his new super PAC released a series of campaign ads earlier this month that GOP allies finally had their wish granted.  

All together, Trump's allies expect his midterm spending to stretch into the tens of millions by Election Day, including the $8.4 million his Save America leadership PAC has previously given to candidates and committees this cycle.  

However, that would still be a fraction of what other Republican groups have committed to spending in the 2022 cycle. For contrast, the Senate Leadership Fund, a group linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is on track to spend more than $196 million in digital and television advertising this cycle, according to data from AdImpact.