The latest on the 2022 midterm election

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer, Elise Hammond, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 9:51 PM ET, Sat November 12, 2022
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2:20 p.m. ET, November 10, 2022

Official: Arizona's Maricopa County hasn’t started counting 290,000 early ballots dropped off on election day

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

A voter drops off a ballot Tuesday outside the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix.
A voter drops off a ballot Tuesday outside the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP)

Arizona's Maricopa County has not started counting 290,000 ballots that were dropped off at voting sites on election day — a critical batch of ballots that could help determine who wins the uncalled Senate and governor’s races in the state, Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County board of supervisors, told CNN Thursday.

Maricopa County has about 400,000 ballots left to count, and 290,000 of those are early ballots that were dropped off at voting sites Tuesday, Gates told CNN’s Sara Sidner.

The 290,000 ballots that were dropped off on election day “was a record,” he said.

About 70% more people chose to vote by dropping off their early ballots on election day than they have at any point in the past, breaking the previous record, Gates said. 

Those ballots must have signature verification review before they can be counted he told CNN.

“If you drop off an early ballot, it means it has to come in on Wednesday and start the process of being signature verified,” Gates said, which is a process that takes longer than voting in person on election day and having your vote counted through the tabulator immediately.

“We have experts here who go through, compare the signature on the outside of the ballot envelope with the signature that we have in our voter registration file, so that takes a while, cause we gotta get that right,” Gates said.

Maricopa County had “big voter turnout” throughout the whole election, with about 230,000 people voting in person on election day, in addition to the ballots that were dropped off, Bill Gates, Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said. 

1:39 p.m. ET, November 10, 2022

Kevin McCarthy moves to secure potential speakership as hard-right group weighs a long-shot challenge

From CNN's Melanie Zanona and Manu Raju

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks at an election night event in Washington, DC.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks at an election night event in Washington, DC. (Alex Brandon/AP)

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is moving swiftly to lock down the votes to claim the speaker’s gavel as a hard-right faction of his conference discusses whether to mount a long-shot challenge to complicate his bid and force concessions in the process, according to multiple GOP sources.

McCarthy privately spoke to his closest advisers and confidantes in a Wednesday morning phone call just hours after his party appeared on track to take the House but fell short of their bullish expectations of a massive GOP landslide. The California Republican tapped a group of members to be on his whip team that will help him secure the 218 votes in order to win the speakership in January, with GOP lawmakers on the call promising to “work hard to get him elected,” according to a source familiar with the matter. And several allies were seen popping in and out of McCarthy’s office on Wednesday as they started to hash out and execute their game plan.

“Yes,” McCarthy said confidently Wednesday night as he left the Capitol and was asked if he had the votes to assume the speakership.

A source familiar with the House Freedom Caucus’ deliberations told CNN on Wednesday morning that there are around two dozen current and incoming members who are willing to vote against McCarthy if he doesn’t offer them concessions. They are actively discussing putting up a nominal challenger to face McCarthy in next week’s leadership elections in an effort to force the GOP leader to give them more influence in how the House operates, the source said.

McCarthy, who sent a letter to the conference Wednesday afternoon officially declaring his bid for the speakership and asking members for their support, spoke with some potential GOP holdouts behind closed doors throughout the day, including Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the controversial conservative who was booted from her committee assignments by Democrats – and a number of Republicans – over her past incendiary rhetoric. Greene has pushed for a spot on the powerful House Oversight Committee in a GOP majority.

Leaving McCarthy’s office, Greene would not say if she’d get what she’s been seeking.

Next week’s leadership election is just the first step in the process. McCarthy would need to win a majority of his conference’s support next week to be nominated for speaker before a January vote when he would need 218 votes of the full House to win the gavel.

1:05 p.m. ET, November 10, 2022

Catch up: What to know as states count votes and key races hang in the balance

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

An election worker arrives with ballots Wednesday inside the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix.
An election worker arrives with ballots Wednesday inside the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP)

Key races to determine control of the Senate in Arizona and Nevada have yet to be called as both states race to count hundreds of thousands of ballots that have yet to be processed.

It still may be hours – or days – before enough ballots are counted in those states to determine who won the Senate. There are also many uncalled congressional races that will determine what the House looks like when the new Congress is seated.

The unofficial results – and lingering uncertainty about who will control Congress next year – hasn’t prevented Republican apprehension about the election results, where an expected Republican wave never materialized. 

Here’s what you should know as the counting continues:

Where things stand in Arizona and Nevada — and why it's taking so long to count ballots: The biggest reason for the delay is the way that each state handles the ballots outside of those cast at polling places on Election Day, including both early votes and mail-in ballots.

In Arizona, for instance, there are still roughly 600,000 ballots to be counted. The majority of those, about 400,000 ballots, are in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county that includes Phoenix.

Of those ballots, about 290,000 were dropped off at vote centers on Election Day, Bill Gates, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chairman, said on CNN Thursday. Those ballots have to be processed before they can be counted, leading to a lag time in tabulating.

In addition, the county has about 17,000 ballots that were attempted to be counted on Election Day but were not read by the tabulator because of a printer error, and those ballots still need to be counted, too.

In Nevada, state law allows mail-in ballots to be received through Saturday, as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. That means counties are still receiving ballots to be counted.

Clark County, the state’s largest that includes Las Vegas, received more than 12,000 postmarked ballots from the post office on Wednesday, Clark County registrar Joe Gloria said.

In addition, counties in Nevada have tens of thousands of mail-in ballots that were dropped off on Election Day in drop boxes located at polling places. Clark County said that its Election Day drop boxes contained nearly 57,000 mail ballots.

Trump vs. DeSantis: The lackluster performance of several candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump has cast new doubts on his expected 2024 campaign.

At the same time, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ resounding reelection victory is fueling calls for him to capitalize on his momentum and challenge Trump for the 2024 nomination.

The Trump-DeSantis showdown has been simmering for months now, but it could burst into the open as the primary season officially gets underway.

After "red wave" washes out, McCarthy faces tougher path: Republicans are still closing in on a majority in the House, even after Democrats had a better-than-expected night Tuesday.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is moving swiftly to lock down votes needed to claim the speaker’s gavel in the next Congress. CNN has not yet projected a Republican takeover of the chamber.

But the ultimate size of a Republican majority could determine how difficult it will be for McCarty to become speaker, as a narrow majority could prompt the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus to stand in the way of McCarthy’s leadership ambitions.

A source familiar with the House Freedom Caucus’ deliberations told CNN on Wednesday morning there are around two dozen current and incoming members willing to vote against McCarthy if he doesn’t offer them concessions.

CNN’s Ellie Kaufmann, Bob Ortega, Gary Tuchman, Paul Vercammen, Kristen Holmes, Gabby Orr, Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.

12:39 p.m. ET, November 10, 2022

Biden "will do whatever is helpful" for Warnock as he faces runoff in Georgia, White House says

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

White House communications director Kate Bedingfield told CNN that President Biden will do “whatever is helpful” to assist Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock as his midterm race is projected to head to a runoff against Republican Hershel Walker this December.  

“The president will do whatever is helpful to Sen. Warnock, whether that’s campaigning with him, whether that’s raising money, whatever Sen. Warnock would like the president to do,” Bedingfield told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “At This Hour.” 

Following Biden’s Wednesday evening call with Kevin McCarthy — the House minority leader running to be the next House Speaker should Republicans take the majority — Bedingfield reiterated the president’s efforts to work across the aisle. 

Bedingfield said that “the intent of speaking with Kevin McCarthy … (was) to continue to build a relationship should we need to work together which, you know as the President has said, he is certainly open to.” 

“He's shown he's been able to do it. The purpose of the conversation was to continue that open line of communication but in terms of sharing details of their private discussion, and I'll leave their private discussion private,” she added. 

12:36 p.m. ET, November 10, 2022

Counting is ongoing in Lauren Boebert's Colorado district. Here's how redistricting shaped the district.

From CNN's Chandelis Duster and Ethan Cohen

Ballots are still being counted in Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert's Colorado district, where she is in a tight race against Democrat Adam Frisch.

CNN has not made a projection in the race yet, but Frisch was ahead of Boebert by just 386 as of 12: 30 p.m. ET Thursday.

The boundaries of the 3rd Congressional District shifted after Colorado added a new district because the 2020 Census showed population growth, with the state’s independent redistricting commission creating a map that added an eighth seat in the northern suburbs of Denver. 

Encompassing the western and southern portions of the state that includes Grand Junction, the majority of residents living in Boebert’s district are White and many residents have traditionally registered as Republican. 

As of Sept. 1, nearly 31% of registered voters were Republican, nearly 24% were Democrat and 44% were unaffiliated with a political party, according to the state’s independent redistricting commissions.

Boebert won the county in the 2020 election with 51.4% of the vote, defeating Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush who had 45.2%. Under the new redrawn district, former President Donald Trump would’ve won the district by nearly 8 percentage points but would’ve won by about 5.5 percentage points under the older map.

On Wednesday night, Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz told CNN that Pueblo County, another county in Boebert’s district, was expected to post more votes that night and they would pick back up tomorrow morning at 11 a.m ET (9 a.m local time)

Here is what the state's map looked like before and after redistricting:

12:20 p.m. ET, November 10, 2022

House Democratic leadership elections announced for Nov. 30

From CNN's Daniella Diaz and Clare Foran

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in Egypt on Thursday attending the COP27 climate conference.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in Egypt on Thursday attending the COP27 climate conference. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

House Democratic leadership elections have been officially announced for Nov. 30.

Speculation over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s future atop the House Democratic caucus has intensified in the aftermath of the midterm elections. CNN has not yet projected which party will control the House, but Republicans appear to be inching toward picking up the number of seats needed to win back the majority.

CNN reported in September that in interviews with more than two dozen House Democrats, a consensus began to emerge: If Democrats lose the majority, there would be overwhelming pressure for Pelosi to go, a prospect that Democratic sources said the powerful House speaker is keenly aware of.

Pelosi recently told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview that the violent attack on her husband Paul would have an impact on her decision making over her political future, though she did not say what the decision will be.

The elections will be secret ballot using a web-based application.

12:12 p.m. ET, November 10, 2022

McConnell mum on Trump's impact on midterm results

From CNN's Ted Barrett and Clare Foran

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would not directly answer when asked by CNN if he blamed former President Donald Trump for the less-than-robust results for Republicans on Election Day. 

Instead, he said, “Well, I’m just like all of you, I’m watching and waiting for them to finish counting the votes."

Remember: CNN has not yet projected which party will control the House or the Senate. Republicans appear to be slowly inching toward winning back the majority in the chamber, but many races are still too early to call, and the GOP fell short of what many expected to be a "red wave" of victories in Tuesday's midterms.

As McConnell entered his US Capitol office, he also declined to answer if he was confident he will be the majority leader in the new Congress. 

In the past, McConnell has raised concerns about “candidate quality,” in reference to some of the candidates Trump backed for the Senate who struggled to gain wide support.  

11:48 a.m. ET, November 10, 2022

Nevada’s Washoe County has about 20,000 ballots yet to be counted

From CNN's Paul Vercammen

Election officials sort mail-in ballots Tuesday at the Washoe County Registrar of Voters Office in Reno, Nevada.
Election officials sort mail-in ballots Tuesday at the Washoe County Registrar of Voters Office in Reno, Nevada. (Trevor Bexon/Getty Images)

Washoe County — Nevada’s second most populous county which encompasses Reno — still has about 20,000 ballots that it still needs to process. 

“We still have about 20,000 votes in our possession that need to be counted. More mail-in ballots will arrive today, but we can’t estimate how many,” Bethany Drysdale, spokeswoman for Washoe County, tells CNN.

The outstanding ballots include both mail-in ballots and ballots that were dropped off on Election Day. 

Like all counties in Nevada, Washoe is likely to receive more ballots by mail today, after receiving 4,000 yesterday. Ballots that arrive by Saturday will be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

11:35 a.m. ET, November 10, 2022

House Freedom Caucus "working" on their McCarthy strategy today

From CNN's Melanie Zanona

The pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus is currently meeting near Capitol Hill for their new member orientation.

Heading into the meeting, GOP Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia told CNN, “we’re working on it” when asked whether he’ll support House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy for speaker. Most other members declined to comment.

Their strategy in the speaker’s race – including what demands they will try to extract and where they will draw hard lines – is expected to come into sharper focus today and tomorrow.

Later Thursday night, the group will hear from Fox News Host Tucker Carlson, who is the keynote speaker at their dinner reception.