Nov. 11, 2022 US election coverage

By Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer, Elise Hammond, Tara Subramaniam and Seán Federico O'Murchú, CNN

Updated 10:07 a.m. ET, November 12, 2022
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10:36 p.m. ET, November 11, 2022

CNN Projection: Democrat Adrian Fontes will defeat election denier Mark Finchem in Arizona secretary of state race

From CNN staff

Adrian Fontes speaks at an election night watch party in Phoenix on November 8.
Adrian Fontes speaks at an election night watch party in Phoenix on November 8. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Democrat Adrian Fontes will win Arizona’s secretary of state race, CNN projects, and defeat Republican state Rep. Mark Finchem.

Finchem is one of Arizona’s most strident backers of former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Finchem, a self-proclaimed member of the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers, has called the 2020 election “irredeemably compromised,” co-sponsored a bill that would’ve allowed the legislature to reject election results and attended Trump’s speech on Jan. 6 (but he’s denied he participated in the riot).

Fontes had called Finchem’s ideas “dangerous” and shortly after announcing his campaign called the state representative a “traitor clown.”

Arizona’s secretary of state serves as next in line to the governor, as the state doesn’t have a lieutenant governor.

The race had been one of the most closely watched contests for state election chief in the country, and national Democratic groups spent heavily to keep the open seat in their party’s column – as Finchem outraised Fontes. 

The current officeholder, Democrat Katie Hobbs, ran for Arizona governor this year. 

Fontes oversaw the 2020 election in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix. But he lost his reelection bid as county recorder that year after facing criticism for some of the changes he made to the county’s procedures during the pandemic. 

11:26 p.m. ET, November 11, 2022

Arizona Democrat gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs extends lead after latest Maricopa County results

From CNN's Tara Subramaniam

Katie Hobbs, left, and Kari Lake
Katie Hobbs, left, and Kari Lake (Getty Images)

The latest results from Maricopa County are “not what the Republicans needed,” CNN’s John King said Friday night.

Shortly after the new batch was released, CNN projected that Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly will win against Republican Blake Masters.

“When the new votes come in, you have to meet your target because every time new votes come in, there’s a smaller pool left to count. So you need to meet or exceed your target if you’re the trailing candidate,” King said.

In Maricopa County, Arizona's most populated, Democrat Katie Hobbs now has 667,833 votes to Republican Kari Lake’s 607,359 votes.

Lake’s vote count is competitive, King said. “But if you’re trailing you need a bigger percentage than that.”

After the latest batch of Maricopa County votes, Hobbs has increased her lead state-wide, King noted.

But as more vote counts are released, it’s still mathematically possible for Lake to make up the difference, he said.

10:32 p.m. ET, November 11, 2022

CNN Projection: Incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly wins Arizona Senate race

From CNN's Maeve Reston

(Mark Kelly/Handout/Reuters)
(Mark Kelly/Handout/Reuters)

Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly will win a full six-year term, CNN projects, defeating Republican Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who was backed by former President Donald Trump and had repeated some of his falsehoods about the 2020 election.  

The win by Kelly, who was elected in 2020 to fill the term of the late GOP Sen. John McCain, is a critical victory that edges Democrats one step closer to their goal of maintaining control of the US Senate – which would be a stunning feat given the low approval ratings of President Joe Biden and the unfavorable economic climate that seemed to be driving momentum toward the GOP.  

With Kelly’s win in Arizona, Democrats will hold 49 seats and Republicans will hold 49. With the Arizona seat in their column, Democrats would need to notch just one more seat to hold the majority in the upper chamber, following their pickup in Pennsylvania where Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, defeated Trump-backed Mehmet Oz in the contest to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. (The Senate is currently divided 50-50, but Vice President Kamala Harris casts the tie breaking vote).  

Both parties are still eyeing an incredibly close race in Nevada where Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto is trying to fend off a challenge from Republican Adam Laxalt, the state’s former attorney general. Democrats are also defending a seat in Georgia, where Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker are headed to a December 6 runoff, CNN projects.  

Control of the US House still hangs in the balance, but it is clear that even if Republicans win a majority, it will be a far more slender advantage than GOP leaders had hoped.  

Kelly entered the 2022 cycle well positioned to withstand the headwinds facing Democrats -- even in a purple state like Arizona that Joe Biden narrowly won -- because of his formidable fundraising and unique personal brand as a retired astronaut, a Navy veteran and the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords.   

As the votes were counted in Arizona, Masters’ campaign team had hoped that an unusually large tranche of mail-in ballots that were dropped off at polling locations on Election Day would favor Republicans. Those ballots in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, took longer to count than those cast in person on Tuesday because officials had to verify signatures on the ballot envelopes.  

In a call with reporters on Friday afternoon, Masters campaign advisers argued that Masters had a path to victory. “We always knew it was going to be a close race,” one campaign officials said. “Smart observers looking at this race know it is entirely too close to call. It’s probably going to come down to 10,000 votes either way. And we feel good, we have a path.”  

But ultimately as the tallies continued, Kelly opened a lead that Masters could not overcome.  

Earlier in the race, Masters, a first-time candidate, was able to navigate the GOP primary gauntlet with significant financial backing from conservative tech billionaire Peter Thiel, his former boss. He appealed to Republicans by promising to prioritize immigration issues, but also by echoing Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. In one campaign video released last year, he said he believed Trump won.  

Masters then appeared to modulate his tone about the 2020 election results as well as the conservative stances he had sought out during the primary on abortion – in what initially seemed like an effort to appeal to broader swath of the Arizona electorate. (Though Republicans comprise a plurality in Arizona, independents make up about a third of the electorate and often sway close elections).   

After his primary victory in August, Masters scrubbed his website of language that included the false claim that the election was stolen. Under questioning from the moderator during a debate with Kelly, Masters conceded that he had not seen evidence of fraud in the 2020 vote counting or election results in a way that would have changed the outcome. In that debate and on the trail, Kelly had argued that the “wheels” could “come off our democracy” if election deniers like Masters were elected.   

But Masters seemed to reverse course after receiving a phone call from Trump urging him to “go stronger” on election denialism, a conversation that was captured in a Fox documentary. In the final week of the campaign, Masters told CNN’s Kyung Lah he didn’t believe moderates were bothered by his comments about the 2020 election, insisting that voters were far more focused on their concerns about inflation, crime and the border.   

Throughout the campaign, Kelly portrayed Masters as an extremist, who would jeopardize abortion rights, as well as Social Security and Medicare. In a state where lawmakers passed a new ban on abortion at 15 weeks earlier this year – and where there are legal efforts underway to ban abortion in almost all cases – Kelly’s campaign kept a relentless focus on Masters’ anti-abortion stances.   

Masters had said he would support a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks, a proposal that was advanced by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. That bill includes exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother. 

CNN analysts break down the latest numbers:

9:40 p.m. ET, November 11, 2022

CNN Projection: Democrats will win in California's 6th and 26th Congressional Districts

By CNN staff

Democratic Rep. Ami Bera will win California's 6th Congressional District while fellow Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley will win the 26th district, CNN projects.

The victories are a hold for the Democratic Party.

CNN now projects Democrats have 202 of the 218 seats needed to control the House.

CNN projects Republicans have 211 seats.

9:10 p.m. ET, November 11, 2022

CNN Projection: Republican Joe Lombardo will defeat Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak

From CNN's Maeve Reston

Joe Lombardo participates in a debate in Las Vegas on October 2.
Joe Lombardo participates in a debate in Las Vegas on October 2. (Ellen Schmidt/AP)

Republican Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo will defeat Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, CNN projects.

Sisolak issued a statement conceding the race.

"While votes are still coming in – and we need every ballot tallied and every voice heard – it appears we will fall a percentage point or so short of winning," Sisolak said. "Obviously that is not the outcome I want, but I believe in our election system, in democracy and honoring the will of Nevada voters."

In his concession statement, Sisolak also voiced his support for fellow Democrat Catherine Cortez-Masto, who is locked in a tight race against Republican candidate Adam Laxalt.

Nevada has been a battleground state since the early 1990s, but Joe Biden narrowly clinched victory in the Silver State in 2020 despite a significant effort by Donald Trump, particularly in Nevada’s rural areas. Democrats have made gains in competitive races in recent years by relying, in part, on turning out working-class voters and Latinos, two key constituencies in a state that is heavily reliant on tourism as well as the hospitality and service industries.  

But those two voter blocs were among the hardest hit by the economic downturn during the pandemic, which sent unemployment in Nevada soaring to 30% in April of 2020 – the highest in the nation and more than twice the US unemployment rate at that time. The state’s workers then faced a double hit as inflation rose and gas prices topped $5 a gallon in a state where many people must drive long distances to work.  

That created an especially sour mood among voters as Sisolak embarked on his reelection campaign. Though the Democratic governor touted the recovery in the state’s labor market, Lombardo argued that Sisolak was painting a distorted picture of Nevadans’ economic struggles, because many Nevadans are still underemployed, he said. Lombardo also accused Sisolak of crushing businesses in the state with Covid-19 restrictions and onerous regulations. He said Sisolak was too slow to reopen schools and businesses, slowing the state’s recovery. But the Democratic governor pushed back by stating his primary focus was to “save lives.”  

Lombardo was one of the rare GOP candidates backed by both Trump and the Republican establishment. During the general election, he, at times, sought to keep his distance from Trump as he tried to win over moderate and independent voters. During a debate with Sisolak, Lombardo said he wouldn’t describe Trump as a “great” president and said he did not agree with Trump’s false assertions that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.  

But Sisolak suggested that Lombardo was giving different answers to different audiences. He also relentlessly attacked Lombardo’s shifts on abortion, which is protected in Nevada up to 24 weeks by a 1990 voter referendum. Lombardo argued that Nevada’s current law should stay in place, but Sisolak noted that he had changed his position several times during the course of the campaign. In May, for example, Lombardo told a columnist he would support sending voters a referendum moving the 24-week limit to 13 weeks. But he later said he had thought more about that potential change and no longer supported it. Still, Sisolak portrayed his Republican opponent as a threat to women’s reproductive rights.  

Sisolak did not invite Biden to campaign with him in the final stretch, but he also argued the president was being unfairly blamed for inflation, as well as problems that he inherited from Trump.  

8:31 p.m. ET, November 11, 2022

Blake Masters' campaign says tonight's ballot release will be key for the trailing Republican candidate

From CNN's From Kyung Lah

Sen. Mark Kelly and Blake Masters.
Sen. Mark Kelly and Blake Masters. (Reuters/Getty Images)

The campaign of Blake Masters, the Republican Senate candidate in Arizona, says there is a possible path to victory within the batch of ballots that will be released at 10 p.m. ET by Maricopa County.

The campaign, trailing Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, believes if there is to be a tide shift, it will be in the mail-in ballots dropped off on Election Day.

“We have a path,” the campaign said in a background call with reporters ahead of tonight’s election results. 

The Kelly campaign, for its part, told CNN it feels increasingly confident with each passing election result from Maricopa County, believing Masters' path is becoming more challenging.

Some background: Maricopa County, Arizona's largest and home to Phoenix, is expecting to release approximately 80,000 votes around 10 p.m. ET, chairman of the Maricopa County Board Supervisors, Bill Gates, told reporters earlier on Friday. 

More than half of the votes released tonight will be absentee ballots that voters dropped off at polling places on Election Day – and this is the first report to include ballots from this large batch. 

The total will also include a decent portion of Election Day ballots that were not able to be read by tabulator machines due to technical issues that day, and the remainder of early votes the county received before Election Day. 

The majority of the ballots the county releases moving forward will be absentee ballots dropped off on Election Day. 

After tonight’s release, there will be less than 300,000 total ballots left to tabulate in the county.

CNN's Annie Grayer contributed to this report.

8:35 p.m. ET, November 11, 2022

Nevada Senate race tightens to around 800 votes after new tallies from state's largest county

Catherine Cortez Masto and Adam Laxalt.
Catherine Cortez Masto and Adam Laxalt. (Getty Images)

In the hotly contested Senate race in Nevada, Republican candidate Adam Laxalt's lead over incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto has shrunk to about 800 votes – after new tallies were released from Clark County, the largest in the state that includes Las Vegas.

Of those newly reported ballots, about 66% of them were for Cortez Masto, according to analysis from CNN’s John King. He added that most of the ballots yet to be counted are in Clark County.

"This is where the largest number of outstanding votes are still,” King said of the Nevada county. “She needs to do this. This is what she needs to do to catch up,” he said referring to how Cortez Masto is winning the majority of the votes in Clark County.

CNN is yet to project which party will win the House and the Senate as several key races are too early to call — including this one in Nevada. Right now, Democrats have won 48 states and Republicans hold 49.

There are still about 68,000 votes left to be tabulated in Nevada, according to CNN’s David Chalian.

Of these remaining votes, Cortez Masto needs between 50-51% of them to win, while Laxalt needs to get between 49-50% to hold onto his slight lead, Chalian predicted.

Full breakdown: Click below for the full analysis of the Nevada data from CNN's John King.

7:49 p.m. ET, November 11, 2022

Senate GOP leadership elections expected to go on as scheduled despite push for a delay

From CNN's Manu Raju

Despite the push by some conservatives to delay next week’s Senate GOP leadership elections, they are going on as scheduled.

Sen. John Barrasso, who oversees the leadership vote, shared the news in a message to the conference that was obtained by CNN.

"I welcome the questions and points made in the letter circulated by Senators Rick Scott, Lee and Johnson," Barrasso wrote, referencing a message from the three senators that called for "serious discussions" about the party's lackluster midterms showing before a vote.

"I too support a robust Conference discussion about our agenda, federal budgeting and spending, floor procedures, and the other important priorities outlined prior to elections and the beginning of the 118th Congress," Barrasso wrote.

"To help accomplish that, I propose we continue that effort immediately," he continued.

The conference will hold a policy lunch Tuesday and then on Wednesday meet for the scheduled elections, the senator said. Barrasso argued both meetings would provide ample opportunity for debate.

7:41 p.m. ET, November 11, 2022

CNN Projection: Democrat Rep. Susie Lee wins reelection in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District

From CNN’s Maeve Reston

Rep. Susie Lee speaks to volunteers at the Nevada Democratic Victory Southwest Office on November 2 in Las Vegas.
Rep. Susie Lee speaks to volunteers at the Nevada Democratic Victory Southwest Office on November 2 in Las Vegas. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Democratic Rep. Susie Lee will win her bid for a third term in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, fending off a fierce challenge from Republican April Becker, CNN projects, in a race that drew millions of dollars from the super PACs tied to the House leadership.

This win would be a hold for the Democratic Party.

CNN now projects Democrats have 200 seats of the 218 seats needed to control the House.

CNN projects Republicans have 211 seats.