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Election Night Results; Interview With South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint
Aired November 2, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And we can make these projections.
In Missouri, Roy Blunt, the congressman, longtime congressman from Missouri, he wins. He beats Robin Carnahan. Roy Blunt will become the next United States senator from Missouri.
In Louisiana, David Vitter, a controversial incumbent Republican, we project he will be reelected. He beats Charlie Melancon, the congressman from Louisiana. David Vitter will come back for another six years in Washington.
No great surprise in Arizona. John McCain, he had a tough primary battle, but he easily gets reelected in Arizona for another six years. Congratulations to John McCain as well. We project he wins, and the same for Chuck Grassley in Iowa, not a huge surprise. We expected that Chuck Grassley would easily be reelected, and he is easily reelected in Iowa.
So, these are projections that we're making right now. Let's take a closer look at the raw data that's coming in, these -- exit poll information.
In Arizona, for example -- this is raw exit poll data, and it could change, obviously, as we take a closer look. It's a -- a fierce battle for governor of Arizona. And Jan Brewer, the incumbent, 53 percent, Terry Goddard, the Democrat, 44 percent. But that's raw data coming in.
As far as Nevada is concerned, look at how close this is. These are the raw exit poll numbers that we're getting. We asked people as they emerged from voting how -- how they feel, where they're going, Harry Reid, with 48 percent of the raw exit poll numbers, 47 percent for Sharron Angle.
It doesn't get a whole lot closer than that. It's very, very close in Nevada, obviously, right now. It will be a while before we can make a projection, I assume, but this is a close race.
And, Anderson, the stakes for the Democrats and the Republicans are enormous -- Sharron Angle a huge favorite of the Tea Party movement.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And it's been a fascinating race to watch, though we have heard, though, from some Tea Party candidates who have won, Marco Rubio and obviously Rand Paul. Candy, you in particular wanted to talk about what Marco Rubio said, because both he and Rand Paul kind of going broad and talking about that this was not a Republican or a Democratic win, and the message that Republicans should take from this as well.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I -- I think that you will be hearing the Rubio message from some of the leaders later tonight, the -- the existing leaders on Capitol Hill, which was basically: We understand this is not an embrace of Republicans. This is a second chance to be what they thought we were.
I mean, I think that is the exact right tone, and I think it's a tone that they have been signaling on Capitol Hill, John Boehner and the rest, that they wanted to take tonight, that this is not a big, "Let's all get up and party" night, that this is a, you know, now...
COOPER: Although Christine O'Donnell said they do have the room for the night.
CROWLEY: But that's kind of the loser party, right? I mean, because she...
KATHLEEN PARKER, CO-HOST, "PARKER SPITZER": Candy -- I think Candy's exactly right.
And that -- it's real important, too, I think, that the American people understand that the Republicans do not take this as a mandate or a popularity contest for them. They know very well that they have -- they have -- they're fairly disliked, along with the Democrats.
So, a pox on everyone's house. But I have an e-mail from John Boehner's command center tonight, and -- and they're saying that their tone is going to be one of seriousness.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Of humility.
PARKER: No big balloon drops, yes, exactly.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Marco Rubio had the perfect, really, model I think for anybody else who is going to get up tonight and give up a speech. It was exactly what he said, very calm, very thoughtful, and ended it nicely with a little shout-out to his parents, who were -- left their country of Cuba. And he ended it. It was very solid.
BORGER: But Rand Paul was a little more separatist, I would have to say, from the Republican Party...
BORGER: ... essentially putting the Republican Party on notice, as did Jim DeMint, who is separating from the establishment, and the Republican Party saying, if you don't do what we want to do -- we need to cut the budget. We need to cut spending. We need to cut government.
And candidates like Rand Paul, if the Republican Party establishment doesn't work with them, they will run separately in 2012. That's what Sarah Palin's all about.
CROWLEY: I don't know what they have got -- I mean, listen, the night is yet young when it comes to the Tea Party. We don't know what's going to happen in Nevada.
CROWLEY: We don't know what is going to happen in Colorado. We don't know what is going to happen in Alaska. And we may be here, you know, Christmas wondering what happened in Alaska.
CROWLEY: But, nonetheless, those Tea Party candidates have yet to be tested against state -- you know, statewide voters.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There's -- my sense is that there are conflicting lessons in this, and there's lessons -- different lessons for each party.
The Republicans look like they're going to come up well short of 10 in the Senate. Right now, you know, in the raw vote -- we will have to wait and see, but Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Colorado, the Democrats are running very strongly in those three states for the Senate, which says, Republicans, you have got to put up some reasonable candidates if you want to win these big races.
On the other hand, in the House, what we're seeing is -- is very important historically. You have this young president come in. People said conservativism was dead. The Democrats were going to form a -- build a majority that was going to go on for some decades.
And, two years later, we have got this huge loss in the House. It's a serious wounding to the president. And this has only happened -- a new first-term president has only lost the House twice in 60 years.
COOPER: Remember all that talk about the e-mail list that President Obama had that was going to change everything moving forward, that they would be able to rally folks behind any initiative they had... BORGER: Young voters.
COOPER: ... and get young voters out? Clearly, it doesn't seem like...
PARKER: The young voters graduated from college.
BORGER: Yes, but...
PARKER: That's the problem. And they couldn't find a job.
BORGER: But, if you look at Barack Obama, young voters disappointed in him and older voters are disappointed in him...
BORGER: ... but for different reasons.
ELIOT SPITZER, CO-HOST, "PARKER SPITZER": This is a schizophrenic night. The Senate, as David points out, clearly not going to change hands.
And the sort of far-right Tea Party Republican candidates basically got washed out, with a few exceptions. The more important question -- and I want to come back to our philosopher here, Bill Bennett's point -- there is going to be a change in philosophy in the House.
The little-known fact people are not focusing on, Congressman Ryan -- and -- and Bill Bennett focused on him -- he wants to raise taxes. He has an 8.5 percent value added tax, a sales tax, that is going to hit the middle class and the poor. And that's the Republican agenda. They want to...
COOPER: I want to get some Republican...
COOPER: I want to...
COOPER: Wait. Stop.
COOPER: I want some Republicans to respond to that, but Jim DeMint is standing by.
COOPER: Wolf, let's...
SPITZER: This is his document.
BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Nonsense.
COOPER: Guys, let's go to -- let's go to Wolf.
SPITZER: What do you mean no? Have you read it?
BLITZER: All right, guys.
I will ask Senator Jim DeMint to respond to that.
Senator, thanks very much for joining us.
Congratulations on your reelection. I don't think it's a big surprise.
Do you have any idea how many votes your opponent, Alvin Greene, actually got in South Carolina?
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, it concerns me that I think he got about 29 percent, at least the last I -- I looked.
But I do need to correct what was just said. Paul Ryan's not raising taxes. If we adopted his road map to the future, America would be the best place in the world to do business. We would fix Social Security. We would fix our health care system. Folks need to take a look at what he's done. He's probably one of the brightest minds in the Congress today.
BLITZER: And he's going to be a leader. We have projected that the Republicans will be the majority in the House of Representatives.
It's much more difficult for the Republicans to be the majority in your body, in the -- in -- in the Senate, in the chamber that you represent.
The Tea Party -- I just spoke to Rand Paul. He's just been elected in Kentucky. He's going to be coming to Washington as a senator. He says he wants there to be a Tea Party caucus in the U.S. Senate. He wants to be a key member.
What about you? Are you in favor of some sort of Tea Party caucus now in the Senate?
DEMINT: Well, I'm -- I'm chairman of the Conservative Caucus already.
And I think one mistake we're making in this election is to suggest that it's all about the official Tea Party movement. For everyone who goes out to a rally, there are often hundreds, even thousands, of people who feel the same way who don't consider themselves a part of the Tea Party movement.
I think there is an awakening going on in our country. There's a beginning of a process. It's not finalized tonight. I mean, you still see some states struggling. You see the Republican Party struggling to select candidates that reflect a limited government philosophy.
So, this is the beginning of a process that I think you're going to see grow between now and 2012.
BLITZER: So do you think there will be a real Tea Party Caucus in the Senate? Or are you opposed to that?
DEMINT: Well, no, if there is one, I will join it. But I think what we'll probably do in the Senate is just expand the Conservative Caucus and reflect the Tea Party ideas.
The good thing about the Tea Party is 40 percent of those who call themselves Tea Party members are Democrats and independents. And what's happened in Washington has really united America around a simple platform of less spending, less borrowing, less debt, let government takeover. That's what we need, and if we can bring those ideas to Washington, I think we can turn our country away from a cliff.
But, Wolf, the big problem we have in Washington right now is the Democrats are so tied into union bosses and some special interests, they cannot move back to the center. They can't work with us. I mean, we can't work together on ideas of how to cut the budget, how to cut spending. They're dissatisfied with what Obama has done because he hasn't spent enough money.
So we've got a problem now that we don't have a functional two- party system. The Republicans are trying to regain their senses, their principles, but we don't have a Democratic party to actually work with.
So I'm not sure how this is going to sort out, but fortunately, with the Republicans in charge in the House, they can initiate legislation that we can say yes to, that we can debate in the Senate even if we can't pass it. I don't want to spend six more years saying no to everything that's coming through. Fortunately now, I think we can say yes to a lot of good legislation.
BLITZER: One final question, Senator.
Are you thinking about running for the Republican presidential nomination?
DEMINT: No, I'm not.
BLITZER: All right. Well, that's a direct answer. Maybe you will one of these days because, as they used to say, every senator wakes up every morning, looks in the mirror and sees a future president of the United States. But you're saying you don't necessarily see that.
DEMINT: I haven't...
DEMINT: I haven't seen that reflection yet.
BLITZER: All right. Congratulations on your win in South Carolina. We'll stay in close touch.
Senator DeMint, thanks very much for joining us.
DEMINT: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, we have got a lot more coming up. We're going to go back to John King. He's over at CNN Election Matrix. We're taking a closer look at some of these House races. Nevada, the polls have just closed in Nevada, Sharron Angle and Harry Reid. It's close, neck and neck right now. We will tell you what is going on when our coverage continues.
BLITZER: Former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon, she's conceding in Connecticut. She lot her bid to become a United States senator to Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general of Connecticut. There, you see her. She is surrounded by her families and her friends.
She's smiling. She spent millions of dollars of her own money trying to capture this Senate seat in Connecticut. But she loses. Right now, with 25 percent of the actual vote counted in Connecticut, Blumenthal with 52 percent, McMahon with 46 percent. But we project she loses, Blumenthal wins. He will replace Chris Dodd in the United States Senate.
Let's go over to John King. He's over at the CNN Election Matrix for us.
The House, we have projected already, will become the majority, the Republican majority, the House of Representatives. They needed 39. They're probably going to wind up getting a net gain of more than 50 seats in the House of Representatives.
Senate, a different story right now, but it's a very dramatic win for the Republicans in the House of Representatives.
JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": It looks like a significant and huge win for the Republicans in the House. You just mentioned that Connecticut Senate race. Again, that's one of the ones the Republicans needed to get to 10.
If you are looking behind me, if you have been with us throughout the night, this is the CNN 100, the 100 most competitive House races. We started the night, 91 of these slates were blue, because those seats were held by Democrats. You're seeing more and more red. And if it's flashing at you at home, that's because that seat changed hands.
And I want to give you a sense of how deep so far -- and we have a long way to go -- how deep so far the Republican victory is. Here's Florida 2. This is Allen Boyd. He was the Democratic incumbent. He will be a former congressman. He will be a congressman until January, of course, but he will now be a former congressman.
He was elected back in 1996. This is not a new Democrat who just came to Washington in the last couple of elections. This is a veteran incumbent. In fact, if you go back and look at his race in 2008, he got 61 percent of the vote last time. So, he won with 61 percent of the vote in a presidential year.
But, tonight, he's losing 55 percent to 40 percent, as you see Democrats being rebuked there. That's the class of 1996. Let's move over here and come a little closer to more of these other classes. You come through 2002, 2006, this is the class that made Nancy Pelosi speaker in 2006, the huge Democratic wins, the last midterm of the George W. Bush presidency.
Mary Matalin is over there at the table. She will cringe just at mention of that. But you look now at what is happening. You come into 2006 and 2008 and you see right in here, you get over here to these Indiana races. Again, you see them flashing because they changed. This was a bellwether race for the Republicans all night long.
Baron Hill, he's on the bottom now, because he will soon be former Congressman Baron Hill. And, again, when you go back in time, this is the shift that's happening in the country. And do not underestimate the drama, especially in the Midwest in the Rust Belt states, the big shift that is happening between '08, when Baron Hill won 57 percent of the vote, and 2010, when he's getting 42 percent of the vote.
That is a dramatic shift. And one of the things -- one of the reasons is, this was a district carried by John McCain, one of the top targets for Republicans, where -- look at the map -- where did John McCain win or where did Barack Obama just barely win, and in this tough unemployment, high -- economy, especially in the Rust Belt states, go back in and get them. So, you saw Florida, Republican gains, in the Midwest, like Indiana, Republican gains. And if you keep going, Wolf, through this technology, these races, you see some Pennsylvania races we have called here. Kathy Dahlkemper, this is a seat up in Erie, Pennsylvania. It is Tom Ridge's old district in the House. He went on to be the homeland security secretary in the Bush administration, a swing district.
Tom Ridge was more of a moderate Republican. He went on to be governor of Pennsylvania. Kathy Dahlkemper had that seat. And, again, go back in time, 2008, she won pretty handily, 51 percent, not hugely. But this was a classic swing -- watch this -- 49-49 McCain vs Obama in this district, again, a working-class area.
And I will go to the map later to show you some of the breadth of this. I was just having a conversation with Paul Begala about this. And one of the things that will worry this White House, Wolf, when you look at more of these seats, if we look at these Republican wins tonight, and we go back on the map and look at those areas in 2008, most of them, Barack Obama carried in the general election. That's why those Democrats came to Washington with him, especially this class, 2008.
But if you go back to the Democratic primaries, a lot of the places Democratic House candidates are losing tonight are places Barack Obama struggled during the Democratic primaries. It will be something the White House will be watching as they try to peace together what happened, what whacked us tonight, and what lesson do we need to learn heading into 2012.
BLITZER: And when you say what whacked the Democrats in the House of Representatives, let me just point out to you, John, and to our viewers, right now, our statisticians our experts are going through all these 435 House races.
And CNN now projects that the Republicans will actually carry more seats, have a net gain of more than 52. That's the number that the Republicans won back in, as you and I remember, 1994, when Newt Gingrich became the speaker, had the Contract With America.
Right now, we're projecting not only the 39 net gain that they needed to become the majority, not only 50, but more than the 52 that the Republicans won back in 1994.
KING: And that comparison is a -- is a very important point, because President Clinton -- took him a while, but he moved to the center. He found out how to deal on some issues with the Republicans, and he learned to square off vehemently and fight them off on others And he positioned himself for his reelection campaign and ended up winning quite handily.
The question is, how will this president react, number one. And a bigger question for the Republican group over there maybe is, how do the Republicans act? All of these House members I just pointed to here, the Republican winners, they want to repeal the Obama health care plan. Guess what? Even if they win those 52-plus seats, even if they win 70 seats tonight, they will be able to pass repeal maybe in the House, but they can't get it through the Senate, which is going to be probably likely narrow Democratic majority. And even if they could, the president has a veto pen.
So, how does this new Republican majority in the House deal with frustration and setback? That is a question -- will -- will be a question for them soon. But, tomorrow, it's a question for the president of the United States.
BLITZER: And we will see what Democrats do about Nancy Pelosi. Will she be the minority leader in the House, or -- or not?
All right, stand by. We have a lot more to go through. John's going to be back here. We're going through all of these numbers. Anderson Cooper is here with the best political team on television.
We're watching Nevada very closely right now. The polls have closed in Nevada. Will Harry Reid win or Sharron Angle?
Stand by. Our coverage continues after this.
BLITZER: We're back in the CNN Election Center.
Just to recap, we have projected the Republicans will become the majority in the United States House of Representatives. They needed a net gain of 39. We project now they will have more than 52, a net gain of more than 52.
The Senate, more problematic for the Republicans. They need another seven, win -- net gain of seven right now in order to become the majority. They started the night with 10. That's much more problematic. As far as the governor's races are concerned, there are some tight ones out there right now.
In Florida, for example, 77 percent of the vote is now in, the Republican, Rick Scott, with 50 percent. Alex Sink, the Democrat, she has 46 percent, a 175,000-vote difference, 77 percent of the vote in, and Rick Scott ahead as of now in Florida, but we cannot yet project a winner.
In South Carolina, 68 percent of the vote is in, Nikki Haley, the Republican, with 51 percent, Vincent Sheheen 48 percent. She's ahead by 22,490. We can't project a winner in South Carolina yet either.
In Colorado, look at this, John Hickenlooper with 53 percent, the Republican, Dan Maes, with 9 percent, only 9 percent, Tom Tancredo, the former Republican congressman, 37 percent. Only 36 percent, a third of the vote, is in.
By the way, if Republicans don't get 10 percent of the vote in this governor's race, they're not going to be certified as the major party next time around. So they need to get 10 percent in order to be certified as a major party in Colorado.
In Ohio, it's a very, very close race right now -- 60 percent of the vote has been counted, John Kasich, the Republican, the former congressman, with 49 percent, Ted Strickland, the incumbent Democrat, 47 percent. It's a difference of about 67,235 right now. But, once again, 40 percent of the vote has not yet been counted.
These governor's races very important looking towards 2012 and the presidential race, especially in Ohio, a key battleground state.
Lets go back to Anderson and the best political team on television, lots to assess right now, the Tea Party, the Republicans, the Democrats.
COOPER: And we're obviously watching the situation in Nevada very closely between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle.
Kind of embarrassing for Republicans, if they don't get certified as a major party in the state of Colorado.
BENNETT: Yes, they will have to come back. That's my former employee, Tom Tancredo, who used to be my state rep when I was secretary of education.
Pat Schroeder complained -- complained about him every single day...
BENNETT: ... as you might imagine.
Also who worked for me was Paul Ryan, the aforementioned Paul Ryan. He's going to be the focus of a lot of attention. People should read the road map. And if people want to suggest that Paul Ryan is a tax-raiser, they should read the road map. Dramatic cuts in spending, he calls for, dramatic cuts in taxes, such as the elimination of the corporate tax.
But let's make it a document and let's have a good debate on it. But I -- I wanted to make a civics lesson, if I could. With all this, gains for the Republicans, very important, big, significant, there are three branches of government. There's the courts. We're not talking about that. There's the presidency and there's the Congress. And that has two houses, the House and the Senate.
They will control, if you will, one-sixth of government. They won't have majority control of anything, except the House of Representatives. And that's not a majority of government. But, inside of that, I think, before we start talking too much about rifts inside the Republican Party, not -- no one I know inside this party is -- is -- is not for cutting spending, balancing the budget, and trying to get some reform on this Obamacare, trying to repeal some of that Obamacare.
Those, I think, will be the three dominant issues, and you will have virtual unanimity about it among the Republicans.
COOPER: Well, Rand Paul talks about cutting spending across the board. I assume that means defense spending as well. How popular is that among Republicans?
BENNETT: Well, among some Republicans, it won't be popular, but...
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Sarah Palin is a fan of that.
BENNETT: But -- exactly right. These things, they will have to work out.
But it is the -- it is on those thing that's there is deep and broad consensus. I think there will be less disagreement than you think on the big and broad issues that the people are saying are of top priority.
COOPER: But how -- I mean, will things get accomplished in Washington, if you have -- you have these folks coming in now who talk about no compromise whatsoever?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it depends.
I think it's highly unlikely. First off, this system is designed for gridlock. That's what the founding fathers wanted, OK? That's why the Senate is so hard to pass anything through.
But, also, these folks who have a cast of mind very unwilling to compromise. There's huge percentages of the Republican base, huge, like a third, who believes the president is an antichrist, who -- believe me, they really hate him. And -- and it's hard.
But it's -- he's going to have to move to them as well. And I think they could. I mean, if it was me, I would move right away on things like a payroll tax holiday, not cutting taxes for the rich, which Republicans like, but not big spending programs, which like Democrats like.
That can create jobs. I mean, they have got to move the needle on jobs -- frankly, both sides -- or -- or -- you know, that's more important even than the politics here. And I think -- hopefully, you are going to see, at least from my party's side, lots of new ideas on creating jobs that maybe can have some Republican appeal.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson -- Anderson, keep in mind, you saw a ton of bills passed by the House. House Democrats often complain, they did a lot of work, and it went to the Senate, and it absolutely died.
So, you tell me, if you have 51, 52 Democrats in the Senate, as opposed to 59, a GOP-controlled House, whatever they pass, do you actually think it's going to get through the Senate? And so -- and so you're -- so you have Democrats complaining about the very same problem Republicans are likely to face.
And that is, it will stop in the Senate. Plus, the president has the veto power. You can forget this -- pass it all you want to. You can forget the president signing anything when it comes to health care reform...
MARTIN: ... you can't get to two-thirds. It's not going to happen.
BENNETT: But will -- but will the president move? Will the president move, your president move? Will this president move?
COOPER: Right. Right. Bill Clinton triangulated, passed welfare reform.
MARTIN: He's -- he's also your president, Bill.
BEGALA: He did a couple of things, which is, this is the art of leadership. He knew when to cut a deal, which he did. He cut capital gains taxes, which Democrats don't like to cut.
He signed a welfare reform bill that wasn't particularly a Democratic bill. But, when the Republicans wanted to shut down the government in order to cut Medicare, he said, no, and he stopped them. And he won. So, you -- it's a difference between when to compromise and when not. That is the art of leadership.
BEGALA: We will see how Mr. Obama does.
ERICKSON: The benchmark...
BORGER: ... government shutdown issue actually happen again, because you have got to decide whether to raise the ceiling on the -- on the debt some time this spring. And the question is going to be whether Republicans are going to do that.
You also have another thing coming up, which is a budget. President Obama has to send a budget up to the Congress, right? And the Republicans are going to say in the House, that's dead on arrival.
BORGER: So, what are they going to offer? Will it be Paul Ryan? And I -- I might say, Paul Ryan is a brilliant thinker, but he got 18 Republican co-sponsors on his budget, right, on his -- his road map.
COOPER: And do you see...
BORGER: So, it's not like he's leading.
SPITZER: I know. I agree.
COOPER: Mary Matalin, do you see President Obama doing what Bill Clinton did in '94?
MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No.
We're -- we haven't talked about this much tonight, the governor's races. And we have been talking about it relative to reapportionment -- very important.
When we went -- started tonight, eight of the 10 swing governors were held by Democrats. And we're going to come out of this night nine out of those 10 being held by Republicans. And there's an apportionment.
Significantly it matters on health care. We're talking about repealing it and who -- where does it go, to the Senate. Not a stitch of health care, Obama care, can be instituted without the signature of governor. And so that's going to have -- the policy implications of the victories of the governors is going to be very significant. And not just on reapportionment in 2012, but on real policy.
But these governors, Chris Christie in New Jersey and the new one in Virginia, they are really making the changes that the people want. So if Washington continues to be dysfunctional and in gridlock, this kind of (UNINTELLIGIBLE), because the governors are going to get the job done.
ERICKSON: There's a benchmark here for the Republicans, just for perspective. In 1994, when they came in, they proposed cutting 94 specific agencies, departments or other entities within the federal government.
By 2000, those 94 agencies were more than 100 percent larger. None of them had been cut.
There's a real benchmark for the Republicans this time around, as to whether or not they actually go in and can work with the Democrats to cut agencies that both sides say are duplicative, repetitive, wasteful. Will they be able to do that? I think we're going to see that the issue is with the Senate and the gridlock in the Senate, there are a lot of conservative Republicans coming in who -- they're not afraid of a shutdown. And hen you ask them about shutting down government, their response is, well, yes, Bob Dole lost, but we still kept Congress.
MARTIN: But your major budgetary changes will not come as a result of cutting agencies. ERICKSON: It's a start.
MARTIN: Look, you can call it a start, but if you don't deal with the reality of Social Security, Medicare and the defense, you're not going to have a real conversation about cutting. So the question, will they go after those three issues? And I say they won't.
COOPER: James? I want James to come in.
CARVILLE: I'm a little bit -- because I'm such a political guy, we've got all these races that we don't know the results of and everything. And everybody's going to talk about what's going to happen when we cut the budget, what's going to happen in January, what's going to happen in March. I'm kind of curious as what's going to happen in the next couple of hours.
I guess, you know, I'm not a government guy. I'm a politics guy. We've got some big races out there.
COOPER: I did want to talk about, because we're going to lose Bill Bennett in just a few minutes. As a former drug czar, Proposition 19, what do you think is going to happen?
BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know. It's very close. I heard they ran out of ballots at the University of California, San Diego.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were rolling them and smoking it.
BENNETT: What do people pay for CNN's correspondent is at Hoekstra University. This is still mostly a joke with a lot of people, except people who have had marijuana problems in their families. More kids are addicted -- are in treatment for marijuana than all other drugs combined. It's a serious drug, 20 times more powerful than the stuff in the late '60s. It's a serious matter. I hope it goes down. I don't know what will happen.
California does not need to get dopier.
CARVILLE: I will say this, people watching, the Democrats are actually kind of optimistic about the Illinois Senate race in Nevada. We'll see if that optimism...
COOPER: That's what you're hearing?
CARVILLE: That's what I'm hearing. I'm not ready to call that, but I...
COOPER: I see you on your cell phone back and forth. I always wonder what you're doing.
COOPER: We've got to -- we've got to take a break. We'll have a lot more coverage, and I'll be right back. Following the Nevada race very closely. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Welcome back. We now have four more projections to make. Governors' races, important governors' races. Let's go through them.
Susana Martinez, a Republican, she will be the next governor of New Mexico, succeeding Bill Richardson, the current governor of New Mexico. It's a Republican pickup. She's a Latina, and so this is historic in New Mexico right now.
In Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, another Republican. He'll -- he's the attorney general. He'll -- he'll become the next governor of Pennsylvania. Tom Corbett will win that race, Republican governor of Pennsylvania.
Rick Snyder, another -- another Republican, he comes -- will become the next governor of Michigan. It's another pickup for the Republicans in these gubernatorial races. Very interesting.
In Maryland, Martin O'Malley, the incumbent Democrat, he is re- elected. He beats Bob Ehrlich, a former governor. Martin O'Malley will stay on as the governor of Maryland.
Let's took a look at some other races that we're watching very, very closely right now. We'll go back -- we'll go back to Illinois right now. We haven't been able to make a projection in the Senate race in Illinois yet, but looking at 65 percent of the vote in.
Look how close it is between the Democrat, Alexi Giannoulias, and the Republican, Mark Kirk. It's -- Giannoulias is ahead by 34,438 votes. So that's not much when you think about more than 2 million votes have already been cast and counted in Illinois. Thirty-five percent of the vote still outstanding. So that's a close race. We have not yet been able to make a projection.
Illinois, that's the seat that Barack Obama held before he became president of the United States.
And look at how close it is in Pennsylvania right now. Seventy- three percent of the vote has been counted. The Democrat, Joe Sestak, slightly out of the Republican, Pat Toomey, 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent. Three million votes have been counted -- have been counted already, and Sestak is ahead by 18,092. Look at how close it is. So they still have another 27 percent of the vote to count, but it is exceedingly close.
Let's get some more results that are coming in right now. Colorado, look how close it is here in Colorado. Forty-two percent of the vote counted. The incumbent, Michael Bennet, he was appointed to fill out Ken Salazar's seat, 49.8 percent to Ken Buck, the Tea Party favorite, 45 percent. It's a difference of 37,000 votes out of what, about nearly 800,000 that have already been counted. Only 42 percent of the vote there.
And look at this in Wisconsin. Incumbent Russ Feingold not doing so well. With 29 percent of the vote counted, 42 percent, Ron Johnson, the businessman, 56.7 percent. It's almost 92,000-plus difference. Twenty-nine percent of the vote counted. Not necessarily looking all that great so far for Russ Feingold.
Let's go back to John King. He's taking a closer look at the state of Pennsylvania, John, and what are you seeing there?
KING: It's fascinating, Wolf. Just since you've given the results, it's back to 50/50 now, Sestak/Toomey. This one is a -- we talked about being a toss up. This is about as toss up as you get.
I just want to show you something that's fascinating. If you look across the state, you see all this red, and you say, "Wow, why isn't Pat Toomey, the Republican, winning more?" Well, because there are a lot more votes where the people live, including right down here in the Philadelphia area.
Look at this. Look at this. This is the Philadelphia County, which is essentially Center City Philadelphia. Ninety-five percent of the vote counted; 84 percent for Joe Sestak, 16 percent for Pat Toomey.
If Joe Sestak wins this race tonight -- and we're not saying that; we're still counting the votes. This one is 50/50. But if he wins this race tonight, he will owe Mayor Michael Nutter a big thank you, because that is a huge difference in Center City Philadelphia. And it suggests that all the effort by the president, by the mayor, and by others to gin up African-American turnout in the city, especially in Center City Philadelphia in recent days, had some success, Wolf. That is a huge thing there.
If you go out to the more rural areas, you see Pat Toomey is winning in the more rural Republican areas but not by such a huge margin, and there are a lot more people. If you click around, this looks like a 50/50 race in the state of Pennsylvania. If you go back to some of the great races in history, the Democrats need to win in Philadelphia. You have many people at the table over there who know this state very well, including Mr. McAlley (ph).
You come over here to Allegheny County there. That's probably not -- Joe Sestak, like a little bit more than 10 points now in Allegheny County, but that's about what the Democrats need. And the Republicans win is huge in the middle of the state.
This is a classic, and this one's going to go down. We're going to count the race.
One more quick thing, Wolf. I want to come back to our House races. And I just want to show people, come out to the national map. We know the Republicans are going to take the House tonight.
This is where we started the night in America. Look at all this blue here. Look at the blue through the Midwest, down through the heartland. Remember all this blue. Up here, Wisconsin and Michigan, look at all this blue. Now, we haven't called all these races yet, but we do know the Republicans will win. We do know they will win more than 50 seats.
Watch this. When I take away from how we began the night to where we are now, there is a blood bath going on right out here in the industrial heartland of America. And there are many veteran Democratic incumbents who are being toppled tonight, who are -- at the moment are losing.
This is a hugely significant shift in the House of Representatives in some incredibly important states when it comes to the manufacturing economy, the heartland states, and as many have been talking over there, about the governors' races, about 2012 politics.
BLITZER: Yes. It's fascinating stuff, and we've already projected that the Republicans will more than gain the net gain of 39 they need to become the majority in the House. They'll even get more than the 52 the Republicans got back in 1994.
Look at this Pennsylvania race, how close it is right now between Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey. More than 3 million votes have been counted already; 76 percent of the vote has been counted. Toomey is now ahead by 2,171. It's 50.0 percent to 50.0 percent. This is about as close as it can get. This is going to be a night. They're going to be counting and counting these results in the state of Pennsylvania.
Sestak, slightly behind by 2,171 votes, to Pat Toomey. Twenty- four percent of the vote still needs to be counted. We're watching Pennsylvania closely.
We're watching Nevada closely. There are a bunch of states that are about to close, including California, Oregon and Washington state. At the top of the hour, much more of our coverage right after this.
BLITZER: All right. We have another projection. Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, the mayor of Denver. We project he will be the next governor of Colorado. Right now with 44 percent of the vote in, 53 percent for Hickenlooper.
Look at the Republican nominee, Dan Maes, only 9 percent. Tom Tancredo, the former Republican congressman from Colorado, running as an independent with 36 percent. A lot of our viewers will remember Tom Tancredo. Very, very fiercely opposed to illegal immigration in the country, but he does not win.
Hickenlooper, we project, will be the next governor of Colorado.
Ali Velshi is here. He's got some more numbers, exit poll numbers...
BLITZER: ... telling us what the American people are thinking on this day. VELSHI: We know that the Tea Party has been a major influence on this election. How much of an influence has the Tea Party been? We have asked that question in our exit polls, including one reason for your vote today was to send a message to the Tea Party.
Twenty-three percent said that they were trying to send a message to the Tea Party. Eighteen percent said they cast their ballot against the Tea Party to take a message, that they were against the Tea Party. Fifty-six percent of respond ants said the Tea Party was not a factor in their decision, when they were casting a ballot.
Now, one of the things that we've talked about, as well, Wolf, is to what degree have independents played a role in -- how did they break, basically? That's what we're looking for.
Forty-five percent of independents broke toward the Republicans; 45 percent of independents support the Republicans. Take a look at this. Twenty-four percent are neutral toward the Tea Party. Twenty- eight percent of independents oppose the Tea Party in this election.
Now, who are these people who are supporting the Tea Party? Let me give you a sense of how they break down with respect to age. A little while ago we were talking about where older voters are going. Well, look at this. Twenty-eight percent -- 26 percent of 18 to 29- year-olds say that they support the Tea Party. Thirty-eight percent of 30- to 59-year-olds say they support the Tea Party. Forty-seven percent of those 60 and older say that they support the Tea Party.
So very clearly in our exit polls, the older you get, Wolf, the more likely you are to cast your ballot for the Tea Party. But the question about where independents went in this election, very clearly they broke for the Republican Party as opposed to the Democrats.
BLITZER: And you heard Rand Paul tell us just a little while ago -- he's the newly elected senator from Kentucky -- if there's a Tea Party Caucus, he wants a Tea Party Caucus in the Senate. And you heard Senator Jim DeMint re-elected.
VELSHI: That's right.
BLITZER: He'll be a member of that Tea Party Caucus, as well. The Tea Party a factor...
VELSHI: A factor.
BLITZER: ... on this day in the United States.
All right. It's 11 minutes before the top of the hour, and states will be closing their polls at the top of the hour, including California, Oregon, Washington state.
Anderson, we're going to be watching those very closely, especially Washington state. That battle for the U.S. Senate is very, very close.
COOPER: And we continue to follow the race in Nevada, probably one of the most interesting racing we've been covering.
What impact does the Tea Party have, come -- come the next year?
GERGEN: Anderson, it's going to come out of this election. Yes, they've taken some losses tonight, but they've also had a number of significant wins.
I don't think there's any question that if it were not for the Tea Party, the Republican margin in the House of Representatives would not be as high as it's going to be. They gave a lot of enthusiasm and fuel to the Republican Party.
Now, when they come to Washington, try to figure out the agenda, I think Bill Bennett had a point, and that is that the Republicans are largely supportive of much of the Tea Party agenda, especially when it comes to cutting spending, and when it comes to, hopefully, cutting taxes, from their point of view, trying to get the deficits under control. We clearly see throughout the country now a concern about where we are on deficits and the debt, and the Tea Party has -- you know...
COOPER: But there are those who say the Republican establishment is going to try to co-opt the Tea Party.
GERGEN: Well -- but they'll have to give them some seats on key party -- on key committees. It looks like the vote, looks very much like the Ross Perot vote. Remember, he got 19 percent? It looks like they had about 23 percent of people who were supporting them, and...
COOPER: You said they already have co-opted?
PARKER: No. I think the Tea Party is going to be enveloped in the Republican Party. Yes, you know, as David says, they're going to have to have some key appointments.
But I think one of the things that's going to come out of this is the Tea Party has been -- I'm going to get killed for this, but a little bit naive about what they can actually accomplish once they get to Washington. I mean, some of these candidates have to be reminded, as Bill said, that there are other branches that have to be dealt with. And, you know, you've got some -- some -- John Boehner is going to run, I think, a fairly orderly ship in the House and -- and incorporate some of these people.
BORGER: But I think they're going to have to make a splash, don't you? I mean, they have to come in and say, "This is what we were elected to do. We were elected to cut the budget deficit. We were elected to make government smaller. So maybe we want to, across the board, 2 percent freeze. Maybe we want to, you know, shut down the Department of Education. We want to play guerilla warfare on health-care reform. We don't want to fund health-care reform." They'll try and repeal it, but they won't be able to.
But they're going to have to take a stand. And in the end, if the Republican establishment doesn't go along with them, I think they split off. You know? SPITZER: The Republican establishment spoke in the weeks leading up to this election. Mitch McConnell said defeating President Obama was mission No. 1. Every other Republican said no compromise on any issue.
We asked leading Republican after leading Republican, where will you cut the budget? Nobody had a specific, meaningful answer. They came up with "We'll cut the National Endowment of the Arts. One ten- thousandth of one percent of the budget. Nobody said anything about Medicare, Medicaid, defense, Social Security. Nada, nothing. Their answers have been meaningless. So unless they come...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what they do, you really...
SPITZER: They said, "We will raise the age of retirement. We have had meaningful answers from private-sector voices, from leading Democrats." The Republicans are going to have to come to the table...
COOPER: Let me get Erick Erickson from RedState.com.
ERICKSON: The issue here is, by and large, the Tea Party movement has -- has banked on the Republicans being the party of no. And it's worked quite well for the Republicans this year. I've heard a lot of people say the Republicans could not win.
In fact, I read the transcript from this night in 2008, and every single person at 1 a.m. in the morning, other than yourself, said the Republicans were going to have to work with the Democrats or they were going to have greater losses in 2010. They've benefited from being the party of no.
The Tea Party activists, they really don't care when they get to Washington what they cut, as long as they start cutting something. And the big fight is going to be about, for the Tea Party activists, believe it or not, because it's not a sexy issue, is going to be earmarks and whether or not the Republicans will block earmarks, because they view earmarks as the gateway drug to bigger government. Because every major piece of legislation the Republicans and Democrats have passed in the past ten years has been loaded up with earmarks to get the vote to various members of Congress.
That will be the fight they have with the Senate Republicans more than the House Republicans, because the House Republicans are already signaling, OK, this is going to be a bigger fight for the Tea Party.
COOPER: You think that's something they're going to do early on.
ERICKSON: I think they'll do it -- I think they'll do it before January.
MARTIN: I would like to see all those Tea Partiers go to Senator Thad Cochran and say, since you're the biggest receiver of earmarks in the country, why don't you give them back? Watch what the Republican... (CROSSTALK)
ERICKSON: And you're going to see people like Corker and Hatchett and others challenged in two years if they don't do anything about it.
BEGALA: Earmarks don't cause the federal budget deficit. Almost nothing to do with it. Let me go back to what the Tea Party is doing politically tonight. They are increasing Republican gains in the House, but they're limiting Republican gains in the Senate.
They nominated candidates in some of these states. Obviously, Delaware was one of them, perhaps in Nevada, Colorado. They're in tough races in lots of places that they should be winning pretty easily in a wave election when they've taken back the House.
And in Colorado, in the governor's race, if in fact Dan Maes, the Republican, falls below 10 percent because of the Constitution Party, which is sort of Tea Party type, Tom Tancredo candidate. Then the next two election cycles, 2012 and 2014, Republicans will not be at the top of the ballot.
You know, in Colorado, usually it's Republican, Democrat, Democrat, Republican, and then it's all the other cats and dogs. It will be Democrat and American Constitution Party, and then way down there somewhere, you know, with the Rent's Too Damn High Party will be the Republican nominee for president.
ERICKSON: Paul raises a valid point that, when you look at the Republicans across the country, particularly in the statewide races, what you're seeing are the Republicans in Washington saying, "We like this guy." And you're seeing at the state level Republican activists saying, "But we don't." And they have these fights.
If you look where they've come together, in Wisconsin with Ron Johnson or in Washington state with Dino Rossi, even against the Sarah Palin-picked candidate, they've done fairly well. It's in the states where the D.C. guys -- and it happened with the Democrats, as well -- are dictating who the guy should be. That's where you're seeing these fights.
COOPER: We've got another projection we can make. I want to go to Wolf for that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Major projection, a major pickup for the Republicans in the United States Senate. CNN now projects that Ron Johnson, the Republican challenger to Russ Feingold, the long-time Democratic senator from the state of Wisconsin, Ron Johnson will be the next senator from Wisconsin. Russ Feingold will lose.
Right now, with 39 percent of the actual vote in, Johnson has 54 percent, to Feingold's 45 percent. Eighty four thousand votes ahead. Nearly a million votes cast. But still, based on the exit polls, based on all the information we're getting, this is a big, big loss for Russ Feingold. He hoped to come back and to win this contest, even though polls in Wisconsin showed him behind. He was refusing to accept outside PAC money. He did have a record of voting independently on many issues, but he did vote with the president on health-care reform. That probably hurt him in Wisconsin right now.
Feingold will not be returning to Washington as a United States senator. Ron Johnson will be coming to Washington. That means there's another net pickup for the Republicans. They now need six more, a net gain of six more in order to bump the majority in the Senate. That's very, very difficult for them.
Let's go to Dana Bash, our senior congressional correspondent, looking at this closely.
Dana, you're in Washington. You're watching this unfold over at the Republican headquarters there. I'm sure they're thrilled that Feingold loses to Ron Johnson.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are. They're absolutely thrilled. They heard the news, and there was cheering here. There's no question about it.
And it really is -- this is somebody who covers the Senate, Wolf, it is stunning to see that. It wasn't unexpected, but it is still stunning to see. Because watching Russ Feingold, he was legitimately somebody who could tell voters back home that he told both parties to take a hike, that he was independent. Yet it doesn't matter, and it didn't matter for him in this overwhelming atmosphere against Democrats, against incumbent Democrats like him.
One other thing I just wanted to tell you, Wolf, and that is about the discussion about the Tea Party and the Tea Party's effect and influence, particularly in the new House majority.
We were told that John Boehner, who is in the building and he's making calls, he did a Skype call with Tea Party activists in his home district in Liberty Township. And we're told from a Boehner aide that they gave him a standing ovation.
And he said to the Tea Party activists on that Skype call, "I'll never let you down." And again, the crowd, we're told, was very happy about that.
Very noteworthy, I think, that the Boehner staff made sure that we knew about this call early on, that he was reaching out to Tea Party activists, making very clear that he hears them and that he's going to be with them when he goes forward in his agenda.
BLITZER: All right, Dana, thanks very much. We'll check back with you.
I want to check in with Shannon Travis, our CNN producer. He's with some Tea Party activists in Washington, D.C.
Shannon, I assume they're happy, even though some of their candidates lost.
TRAVIS: They're absolutely happy. We're here with the Tea Party patriots here at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, Wolf, and the Republicans -- they're obviously celebrating the Republican wins, but get this. They are telling Republicans, "Not so fast. Don't party so fast, that you are on probation."
I spoke with Mark Meckler. He's one of the co-founders of the Tea Party Patriots. He said, "Listen, Republicans, if you think that you can skate for the next two years, you can't. We'll be watching you." And that their victories tonight should send a resounding message to the Republican establishment, that either get on board with the Tea Party message, or possibly face targeting yourself in the next two years.
BLITZER: Shannon, Shannon Travis over with these Tea Party activists. We're watching closely with you. Let me just reset what's going on.
The Republicans, we project, will be the majority in the United States Senate [SIC] in the new Congress. Not only that, not only will they have the net gain of more than 39 seats that they needed to become the majority, but they will have more than that. We are even projecting more than the 52 net gain that the Republicans had back in 1994, when Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America, when they defeated the Democrats to became the majority in the House of Representatives.
The Senate, a very different story. But the Republicans are making gains in the United States Senate. They needed a net gain of ten in order to become the majority in the Senate. So far, they have not gotten that close. There are still some very, very close races out there. They are -- they did get a net gain in Wisconsin, as we just projected, when Russ Feingold, we project, will lose. And that will be a net gain for the Republicans in the Senate. Ron Johnson will be the next U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.
Let's make some more projections.