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JOHN KING, USA

Midterm 'Shellacking'; A Divided Congress

Aired November 3, 2010 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN KING, HOST: Good night my friend. Get some rest and thanks everybody and good evening. Tonight a midterm in-depth look at what the president calls a midterm election shellacking, a devastating night for the Democrats that fundamentally changes American politics, now and in the already-beginning run-up to the 2012 presidential cycle. Look around. At this time last night, all of these 100 most competitive House districts in our CNN Electorate Matrix, 91 of those 100 were blue, held by Democrats.

Now more than 60 are flashing Republican red, the new color of political change across America. It is hard to overstate what your votes have done. Near-historic gains in a new Republican majority in the House, at least a six-seat Republican pickup in the United States Senate. Democrats will remain in charge, but will have virtually no prospect of passing major legislation without Republican help.

And Republicans gained at least nine governorships and now add Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa to the presidential battleground states they control. Plus, the election produced an enormous next generation Republican bench, a gain of more than 500 state legislative seats. Check this out.

Republicans seized control of 19 legislative chambers across 13 states. It is a breathtaking Republican reset after two cycles of major Democratic gains. And it is a defining challenge for Democratic president, who was somber and sad during an hour-long session with reporters at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like I did last night. You know, I'm sure there are easier ways to learn these lessons. But I do think that, you know, this is a growth process and an evolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: An evolution, you heard the president say, so will his policies evolve or just his political operation? Dan Lothian live for us tonight at the White House. Dan, what should we expect?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you're going to have to wait and see, but the president clearly making a case that it's going to be tough going forward. That the compromise is going to be the key word over the next couple of months between Republicans and Democrats in order to get anything moving.

But he's being very blunt here, that it won't be easy. Today, though, was a time for the president to really talk about how difficult last night was. And as you talked about at the top of the show, there, that he did go through a shellacking last night. That's the words that the president used today, talking about how he's second-guessing, thinking about what he could have done differently.

But, you know, I think going forward, what I took from today's press conference is that the president doesn't plan to make any big and bold changes. He does think that there is a lot of room for improvement, but it doesn't appear that there's going to be a major shake up, John.

KING: Dan Lothian at the White House saying, don't expect a major shake up. Many Democrats wish there would be one, but Dan signals not to expect it, at least not yet. That's the president's take.

The midterm's campaign biggest winner is Republican John Boehner of Ohio. He will be the next speaker of the House, third in line to the presidency. Cutting spending and creating jobs are Mr. Boehner's priorities, but he also suggested there are significant limits to this new majority's powers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: We must remember it's the president who sets the agenda for our government. The American people have sent an unmistakable message to him tonight. And that message is change course.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, has more on the Republican game plan. Dana, what's next?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it was not unexpected at all, John that Republicans were going to take the House. But the degree to which they won, they won so big, and the fact that reality set in here really did mean that the atmosphere change in the halls of Congress where I am overnight. Whether it was the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, whose office is right down there, whether it was questions that we were hounding her with today, about whether or not she's even going to stay here in Congress, or whether it was sitting at a press conference with the presumptive speaker, John Boehner and the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, listen to them try to answer that question of what's next -- didn't get a lot of specifics.

Did talk in generalities about cutting costs, cutting the deficit, cutting spending and taxes, but they also did kind of give mixed messages on one of the open questions, whether or not there's going to continue to be gridlock here. They said, look, if the message that Democrats are sending, which we kind of heard from Dan, what they're getting from this election is Republicans just need to stop saying no and they're getting the wrong message and that is going to make it very difficult for the two parties to get along.

KING: Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, we'll see you a bit later. New relationships, they're just getting to know each other. So did the president set the right tone and will divided government meet gridlock in a media 2012 posturing or is some consensus possible?

Let's ask -- what a happy looking group today after the election -- Democrats Cornell Belcher and James Carville, John Avlon, our contributor with us, and the Republicans on the right here, Ed Rollins and Alex Castellanos. Let me start with the basic question and I'll start with the Democrats first since you suffered the shellacking. Was there anything missing from the president's tone today? Like the Republicans he was not very specific. Everybody seems to be wanting to let the dust settle and feel this out.

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, James, if I can go first. I mean I think he said he was humbled by it. He accepted responsibility for hit. And he said he was open for compromise and even talk about some areas of compromise around that they can work on.

However, I think we're getting ahead of ourselves. You know only 37 percent of the electorate actually said they were expressing opposition in their vote for President Obama. So this wide sweeping narrative that Republicans want to say that this is all against Obama doesn't actually sort of measure up with the actual numbers.

KING: But that's the impact. Whether it was meant that way or not, that is the impact. I want you to listen to something the president said. He was talking about his sadness that so many friends, so many people he campaigned for, so many people who cast tough votes to help him would be disappearing come January. The president said that made him sad and it made him ask himself a question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There is a -- not only sadness about seeing them go, but there's also a lot of questioning on my part in terms of, could I have done something differently or done something more so that those folks would still be here? It's hard. And I take responsibility for it in a lot of ways.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So here's the question. Could he have done more as a campaigner or should he have done less, I guess, as a president. Meaning, not proposed this, that, or the other thing?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know what; I completely sympathize with what he said. And unless you've been hit like that a shellac like that, it's hard to understand. And he looks at the names of people, he talks to people, and he sure, he said well maybe I should have gone with a smaller health care thing or maybe I should have had a different message, or maybe I should have had -- well he's a human being.

How can you not have something like this and not -- you're human. He might be president of the United States, and, you know this normal, absolutely normal thing that one would ask. An absolutely normal thing that you would ask publicly when you go through something like that. I didn't find that shocking in the least.

KING: Was anything missing? You're the Republicans, you're partisans, you're programmed to come here and whack the guy. He just lost a big election. His party just lost a big election. Help him out.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I'm willing to give him time. I think he's got until the State of the Union to look the American people in the eye and say, you've told me that we haven't been listening to you. You've told me that we've spent too much and that we've gone too much in debt and that that has scared you.

And you know what; we're going to do a course correction. We're going to work here with Republicans. It's not a coincidence that we sent 60-plus Republicans to Congress. It is a reaction to the Obama agenda. What was missing? He took responsibility for everything but his agenda at this press conference.

KING: That's an interesting point. I want to bring everyone else in the conversation, but first here, the president spent months going across the country, and we did this almost every night on the show, because he'd refine it as he traveled. Every news conference, it was the ditch. It was the slurpies (ph). It was the Republicans. But the central theme was, if you want to put -- go back, vote "R". Put the car in reverse or "R" or Republican and go back, if you want to go forward, put the car in "D" for Democrats or drive. The president suggested today that he did not lose. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think it would be hard to argue that we're going backwards. I think what you can argue is that we're struck in neutral, right? We are not moving the way we need to, to make sure that folks have the jobs, have the opportunity, are seeing economic growth in their communities the way they need to. And that's going to require Democrats and Republicans to come together and look for the best ideas to move things forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, I understand the politics of the moment and the president not wanting to give up too much on the morning after, but can you say "we're in neutral" when you lost 60-plus seats in the House, a half dozen in the Senate. The Republicans picked up huge industrial state governorships, held on to Florida and 500 state legislative seats across America. That's not neutral.

ED ROLLINS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He can only say it's in neutral if he realizes he's been run over. We put it in neutral to run him over one more time. Either he's listening to Cornell's polls over here or he just doesn't get it. This is a slaughter. This is not a slaughter just at the congressional level.

This is deep down in state legislatures, governors, what have you. And I defy him to try and put 270 electorals (ph) on a piece of paper today. He's got to do a lot to get this game moving. And unlike the last time, we don't have to ask him to bring us in the meeting --

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: American people said they wanted it in reverse. They wanted less -- back up on spending, back up on debt, back up on expansion of government.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Let's get rid of this car metaphor. I don't think it's helping at this point.

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: The American people were sending --

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: -- a very clear message on this election, right? I mean Independent voters ended up swinging 18 percent towards Republicans this year. That's more than they swung towards Democrats in 2006. He needs to show voters in the center, Independents, as well as the reasonable edge of the Republican Party that he understands their concerns and that it's overwhelmingly about spending.

That it's about the change that a lot of Independents voted for when they voted for him, was about turning the page on the polarizing politics of the past. Now that is clearly a two-way street and Republicans haven't exactly been meeting him, but they've got to start forging common ground and he's got to lead in that regard.

CARVILLE: First of all, I think he was talking about the economy, not his political prospects. But at any rate, we can take anything he says, because he's lost an election. Look, we had the largest -- the biggest recession, largest crisis -- economic crisis since the great depression as a result of unregulated corporate speculation and greed.

That is why the Democratic Party exists. That's our role. And why he didn't come in and run this campaign and why he didn't hold these banks' feet to the fire, and why didn't he say look what they've done to you, and why didn't he say, I am the person between you and them --

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: -- as opposed -- of course he didn't. He was sitting there saying --

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: -- good guys, it was a tepid thing. Corporate greed and speculation cost this. If he would have got in the middle and said, we're going to stop this --

CASTELLANOS: He ran against the Chamber of Commerce.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: He ran against the banks --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's all he did --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: A quick time-out -- a quick time-out, but they debate during the breaks, you know they do. We should actually bring you that. It would probably be a better program. We'll be back with more debate ahead, including a stunning look at America's overnight shift from blue to red.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: More debate and discussion just ahead, but first, let's take a close look at just how dramatically American politics changed overnight. If you look closely at the map here, this was the map coming into last night's election. The blue is Democratic House seats coast to coast. The red, Republican House seats coast to coast. This is where we started, this is where we ended.

Look at all that red, especially out in Middle America as we head west. Boom, that's last night. That's before, and that is after. Now that's the House. Let's move on to the Senate races. We began the night with these 37 Senate races on the ballot. Look at all this blue right up in here. Now watch what happened.

That's where we end. Huge Republican gains especially across the heartland right here -- Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and over and the governorships, big, big stakes in the governorships implementing health care, 2012 politics. Look at all that blue, especially again across the Rust Belt, the industrial heartland and look at all that red now. A dramatic shift as you head into 2012, Republicans will control Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and on and on we go.

And these states matter not only because of their role in presidential politics, but there are Democratic incumbent senators up in 2012 in Florida, in Pennsylvania, in Ohio, in Michigan, in Wisconsin, in Minnesota, out in Montana and beyond. Here in Missouri as well. One conservative who worked tirelessly to help reshape this map is Senator Jim DeMint. South Carolina voters just gave him another six years to be a thorn in the side of liberals, and occasionally, his own Republican Party's establishment.

After what he calls an earthquake election and the biggest Tea Party to date, DeMint will have more like-minded colleagues in the Senate. He joins us now from Greenville. Senator DeMint, a question first on what comes ahead. Many have said now that the Republicans have a majority in the House, more conservatives in the Senate, where will we know -- when will we know if you're serious about keeping your promises about spending and the debt. If there is a vote in the Congress on raising the debt ceiling so that the government can continue to print money and spend money, should Republicans say no?

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think Republicans will say no. Unless that raising of the debt ceiling is accompanied by some dramatic spending cuts, something that would direct us towards a balanced budget in the future, Republicans will not support an increase in the debt limit. What I hope you'll see from Republicans right out of the box, as soon as we get back, is a moratorium on earmarks.

Americans have connected the dots. They realize if we're all up there trying to bring home the bacon, we're going to bankrupt our country and if Republicans in the House and the Senate both take a pledge to not ask for earmarks and to have a moratorium on them in the Congress I think it will show Americans, at least at the beginning, that we're serious. So there are a number of other things we need to do to demonstrate that we're serious and one of those is to defund Obama care. And as soon as we can, hopefully have a vote on balancing the budget.

KING: With a Democratic majority in the Senate, though, do you have a prayer at defunding Obama care? Yes, you have a big majority in the House now, but you have Democrats still controlling the Senate, narrowly, but they're still in charge and the president has a veto pen. How can you defund the health care bill?

DEMINT: Well we don't have to defund it; we just have to not pass the funding for it. The majority in the House can control our appropriation bills. And we can just not include in those appropriation bills the funding for the implementation of Obama care. The president may fight us on it and it could be a very tense showdown, but Republicans are in a position now to make sure no funding goes forward for Obama care.

KING: Do you think that will happen? Because you, clearly, there are trust issues both ways in your relationship with your own Republican Party. I want to read something. This is what you wrote in "The Wall Street Journal" today reflecting on this election.

"Tea Party Republicans were elected to go to Washington and save the country, not to be co-opted by the club. So put on your boxing gloves. The fight begins today." Senator DeMint, sounds like you don't trust your own leadership to keep its campaign promises.

DEMINT: Well, there's a Washington establishment that's much bigger than any of us in the Congress. It includes the media, the lobby community. It's a system that pushes us to spend more. Every time we say no, we have people complaining. That's why after several years in Congress most people start voting for more spending, more borrowing, and more debt.

We've got to change those ways. I think everyone who campaigned in one as Republicans this time understands that we've got to do what we promised. And that means less spending, less borrowing, less debt. So I think you're going to the see a new Republican Party that will re-earn the trust of the American people.

KING: Let's talk about your role in this campaign, because it was controversial at times. You backed some big winners, including getting involved in some primary campaigns that upset the Republican establishment. You backed Mike Lee in Utah, he won, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, he won, Marco Rubio in Florida, he won, Rand Paul in Kentucky won, and Ron Johnson in Wisconsin won.

But candidates you backed who lost included Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, John Raese in West Virginia, and Ken Buck in Colorado. I want to focus for a moment on Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, and Ken Buck. And Senator, this is I want to do this. I want to come up here on the map and come over here to the Senate balance of power.

This is where we began the night. I want to come now to where we ended the night right here. This is where we are at the moment -- Washington State, the only uncalled Senate race. Too close to call. The Democrats have 52, the Republicans have 47. Here Senator DeMint is what a lot of your friends say. That if you had not backed Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, that Mike Castle would have won that race, if he had won the Republican primary.

And that that one would be a Republican. That if you had not gotten involved in the state of Nevada and anybody but Sharron Angle had won the Republican nomination, the Republicans would have won that state and that would have gone over that way, and that if Jane Norton had won the Republican primary, not the Tea Party candidate you backed, Ken Buck, that that seat they believe would have been in Republican hands.

That would have been 50 to 49 for the Republicans with Washington State still in the balance. Many of your fellow Republicans, Senator DeMint, suggests perhaps your activities cost them a chance at the majority.

DEMINT: Well, I haven't heard that from any of my colleagues out here --

KING: Trust me --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Trust me they're emailing -- they and their staffs are e- mailing around grumbling about this.

DEMINT: Well, they're all unnamed. But I didn't get involved in the primary in Nevada. The people in Nevada picked Sharron Angle to be their Republican nominee. But just like every Republican who was nominated, I worked as hard as I could to get them elected. And I'm glad some of my colleagues think I have the power to come in a few days before the primary of Christine O'Donnell and make a difference in that race, but she won by six points and she was going to win whether I was involved or not.

I worked to elect Republicans all over the country. Anyone who says that the Tea Party was detrimental is so completely out of touch that they represent the problem in Washington. The Republicans won victories from the local levels, state level to federal level, historic victories. And it was because of the activism led by Tea Parties all over the country, and of course, we didn't win them all, but we won a lot more than any party has won in many, many decades.

KING: Let me ask you, lastly. How does Jim DeMint go forward from this campaign? What did you learn in this campaign that you'll apply come 2012? And I ask this specifically -- excuse me -- in the context many of your fellow Republican senators are now concerned that you will support challenges to Olympia Snowe, moderate Republican from Maine.

I was told today by somebody close to you, look for a challenge to Bob Corker, the Republican senator in Tennessee. And Orrin Hatch, his colleague Bob Bennett, of course lost to a Tea Party candidate Utah, the nomination there and he already seems a bit nervous he may face a challenge. Would you support Republican challenges to any of those Republican senators in 2012?

DEMINT: Well, I have no intentions, at this point, of having -- supporting primary challengers to any of my colleagues. I think you may see primary challenges if our colleagues don't do what we've promised as Republicans. And that's to support constitutional limited government.

I didn't recruit any primary challengers this time and -- but the people, I believe, will help us make those decisions. And you know I've heard that rumor that I'm going to put incumbents up in primaries, but folks are just trying to do that to marginalize what the Tea Parties have done for the Republican Party.

What we need to realize is that the Republicans embrace the energy and the ideals of the Tea Party movement across the country, that we will have a big tent that will help us turn our country away from economic disaster. We've got 40 percent of the people who call themselves Tea Party members, who are Democrats and Independents. And they're saying they want less government, less spending and less debt.

That's what Republicans are all about. So there's no reason for there to be any disunity in the Republican Party. I think you're going to see a Republican Party that's bold and more unified than we've seen in years. I look forward to working with our leadership team. I have no plan to challenge any of our incumbents. But the Senate conservatives fight (ph) will continue to help identify conservative challengers out across the country and give Americans a chance to help those challengers win elections like we did this year.

KING: I want you to listen to one of your current colleagues in the United States Senate, Lisa Murkowski, who may well be back as a future colleague in the Republican Caucus. Joe Miller, of course, beat her in the primary. She ran as a write-in candidate. We don't know the results in Alaska yet. But there is a growing sense that perhaps she will come back. Your conservative fund, as you just noted, supported Joe Miller. Lisa Murkowski didn't like it. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: The fact that Jim DeMint from South Carolina is playing in this race in Alaska, I think Alaskans are looking at that and saying, you know what, this is our state. This is our race. We will be the ones who chooses who will represent us in Washington, D.C.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: If Lisa Murkowski comes back to the Senate as a Republican next year, can I be invited to the first Tuesday lunch to watch how that one goes down?

DEMINT: Yes, we'll have some making up to do, but that's another primary I wasn't involved in. I had nothing to do with Joe Miller winning the primary. But once he became the Republican nominee, I gave him 100 percent of my support, which I think every Republican should have done. So Lisa had been a friend of mine, again, we have some making up to do I'm sure if she comes back, but I'm still hopeful Joe Miller will pull off a miracle there in Alaska.

KING: Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, a growing power in the conservative movement. Senator we appreciate your time today on the day after this big election. We'll talk to you in the days and weeks ahead as well.

And winning means growing and growing means managing often competing interests. Can resurgent Republicans keep both Tea Partiers and Independent voters happy? The debate starts there in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: So what do the big Republican wins mean for the big policy debates in Washington from tax cuts to health care and spending and deficits? Let's get back with our feisty little group here. They've been debating, even when they're not on TV. Cornell Belcher, James Carville, John Avlon, Ed Rollins, Alex Castellanos --

ROLLINS: We have not been debating. We're giving our friends over here alternative job suggestions. He should give up his polling business, get a little moving van and move some of these congressmen that are going back home.

KING: There you go. There are opportunities here. One of the big questions, and a lot of the Republicans in the campaign ran on repealing health care. Now, the Democrats still control the Senate, a narrow majority. The president has a veto pen. So it's not going to happen. You heard Senator DeMint just say maybe we can try to defund it. Some Republicans have talked about even shutting down the government.

But what was interesting today is the president of the United States said at his news conference, no, they're not going to repeal my health care bill, but if they've got some tweaks, I will listen. Harry Reid, who will come back as the Senate Democratic leader and the majority leader said the same thing. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The health care bill is very important. I wish the Republicans had worked with us when we did the health care bill. If there are some tweaks -- if there is some tweaking we need to do with the health care bill, I am ready for some tweaking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Realistic to do tweaking?

ROLLINS: The idea of tweaking is to take about the first 1,500 pages of the 2,000 bill and just cut it up.

(CROSSTALK)

BELCHER: Here's the problem, John. Here's the problem --

(CROSSTALK)

BELCHER: The first thing I did this morning was I went to the exit poll data and I looked for these vast majority of voters who are looking for the repealed health care reform, and you know what, they're not there. There's no vast majority of voters dying to sort of repeal health care --

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: There were a billion ads attacking the health care plan and said, vote Republican. Guess what happened?

BELCHER: You know here's the thing. The pendulum swung your way this time and it swung because of Independent voters were looking for change, just like they swung our way last time looking for change. Hubris (ph) is going to be the downfall of the Republican Party --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It always is. It always is.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, this election --

ROLLINS: We have not been hubris. We have tried to be -- we have sat at this table and had our teeth kicked in for about four years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

ROLLINS: We had a big night last night --

(CROSSTALK)

ROLLINS: -- and all we're trying to do is analyze the big night --

CASTELLANOS: Excuse me, John. The Republicans actually carried seniors last night, which is something Republicans never do. Why? One big reason is because of the health care. In addition to Ed, is because of the health care --

ERICKSON: But the pendulum swings because of overreach, right? One of the reasons that independents like to vote for divided government is because of checks and balances. Because they feel that unified control of government leads to ideological overreach and legislative overreach. This is a correction of that. The whole idea about repealing health care is not realistic. Making improvements, there's a lot of room for improvements. Deal with the debt and independent voters will be very happy. But if they go on an ideological debating hunt and end up polarizing things even further, they're going to get a blowback.

CARVILLE: As the pendulum swings, the fact of the matter is, there's just a lot more Republicans in Washington than there were before. President Obama and Senator Reid are just sort of acknowledging the fact that the Republicans are going to have to go back and said we did something about health care, they're going to have a thing, as we were talking on Saturday, about the debt limit. They'll tweak here and there. But Democrats control the Senate. So you have to be careful about what you do.

KING: He said, absolutely, a one-word answer. You don't get that often from politicians. He said absolutely if he's willing to compromise, negotiate on the Bush tax cuts. He said keep them at $250,000 and below, repeal them for everybody above that. He made clear today he's going to move up and so Democrats think they'll move up to somewhere around $1 million. Reasonable? Do you accept that?

CASTELLANOS: I think Republicans start with a much tougher position than that, how far they go -- but of course they'll start with tougher position.

KING: Don't the Republicans take away that argument if they say, all right, fine, we'll give you $1 million for now and then we'll fight this out in 2012.

CASTELLANOS: But at the end of the day there are also a lot of Republicans who think it's not just about the politics. They actually think the country needs policy that will help the economy, and unless there's some certainty in tax policy that stretches beyond a year or two and some certainty that says, look, you know, rich people don't have their own separate economy. They actually invest and create jobs, so there's actually principled reasons why Republicans have trouble with this.

CARVILLE: Why do you want to extend the Bush tax cuts? They didn't work. Median income went down. We gave the rich a tax cut. Median income went down $2,000 between 2002 and 2007, the height of the recovery. Why would you keep in place something that didn't work?

ERICKSON: All of a sudden, the whole argument that you're taking the working wealthy -- no, that becomes a superrich issue and much more polarizing and much more popular.

KING: I want to thank everybody for keeping their energy and stamina up. As you can see, they were up all night, but still got a feisty mood. 2010's almost over, a few more to count --

ROLLINS: 432 days until --

KING: It's 700 and some days.

CASTELLANOS: Rand Paul just filed for president.

KING: We'll wait on the Rand Paul filing.

When we come back, the latest headlines. Plus, some lessons learned in this campaign and the most memorable moments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. Let's check in with Joe Johns for the latest news you need to know right now. Hi, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. This just in. A suspicious package prompted the evacuation of a DHL cargo facility at New York's JFK Kennedy Airport this evening. Police and FBI officials are on the scene and we stress this is being done out of an abundance of caution.

Today, the Federal Reserve stepped up efforts to stimulate the economy, keeping interest rates low and announcing a $600 billion buyback of government bonds, which it hopes will boost lending and create jobs.

Federal mining authorities want a judge to shut down a Kentucky coal mine because of unsafe working conditions. It's owned by Massey Energy, the same company that owns a West Virginia mine where 29 miners died last April.

More trouble for Haiti. Tropical storm Tomas is gaining strength and should be there on Friday.

And U.S. authorities in San Diego confiscated 30 tons of marijuana and shut down a smuggling operation that included a 600-yard tunnel under the U.S./Mexico border. It connected warehouses and had a rail system and lighting and ventilation. Another one of those incredible super tunnels, John. They just seem to keep coming.

KING: Maybe we can get those guys out of the drug smuggling business and put them to work on say a subway in a major city or somewhere.

JOHNS: That would be a great idea. The one here in town could use some help. KING: There you go. Joe Johns, we'll see you a bit later. Thank you very much.

When we come back, some lessons learned and some memorable moments in a big, big midterm campaign year.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The election was a cross-country rebuke for the Democrats and a dramatic rebirth for the GOP. It involved more than $4 billion. That's billion with a "b" dollars in campaign ad spending so you could see demon sheep, learn about the aqua Buddha and hear one now-infamous candidate promise "I am not a witch." In the pursuit of breaking news, we often forget to pause and reflect on the lessons learned or the most memorable moments. Let's take a moment to do just that with two of the best political reporters in the business. Dana Bash is in Washington, Jessica Yellin still on the campaign trail out in Nevada. To Dana, as you await Nancy Pelosi outside her office, let's forget about the news of the moment for a minute and step back and reflect on something that strikes you that maybe you haven't been able to pull out of your notebook.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What strikes me is in all of this discussion of the tea party and what kind of influence they're going to have here and, of course, the influence during the campaign as it moves forward, and something that has happened is Michele Bachmann, who as anybody who has been following the tea party is sort of the darling of the tea party movement, she has officially been sort of a backbencher Republican Congressman here, but she says she wants in. She wants to be part of the Republican leadership and she's actually going to challenge an establishment Republican, who's got backing from a Republican leader. So that is fascinating in terms of the dynamics of the campaign, the biggest dynamic of the campaign, frankly, the tea party and how it's going to play out and into how they actually govern here in Congress.

KING: Tea party turmoil, perhaps. A little tempest in the teapot. We could have a lot of fun with that. That's a thought from Dana. Jessica, you're out in Nevada, but you've been across the country in this campaign. What's the evening-after lesson that jumps out?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the most under-covered story today is the state legislatures. Republicans have 680 seats in state legislatures across this country. They have picked up control of 19 new statehouses, bringing their total to 54. Why does this matter? Because next year, we begin redistricting, where the state legislatures get to draw the Congressional outlines and Democrats have lost control and they will not be able to have a say in the map drawing very much -- very much say, I should say, for a total of 190 different Congressional districts. For Democrats to win in state races for so many years and then lose this year is a bit like acing all your practice exams and lose on the SAT. This could have far-reaching effects for the next decade. KING: An excellent point from Jessica Yellin in Nevada. And Dana, as I start working over this way, in a word or two, do we know about Nancy Pelosi, is she going to stay as Democratic leader or take this thumping and retire?

BASH: We do not know. She's made clear after we caught up with her that she has not decided. She has not made that decision, not even the announcement. Talked to some people, they say that they think she is going to stick it out, but others say they're not so sure. So in the next few days, we'll probably find out, John.

KING: All right. Jessica Yellin, Dana Bash, thanks so much. Let's continue the conversation with Erick Erickson, our contributor and the editor in chief of the influential big year for RedState.com, Gloria Borger, our senior political analyst, and Roland Martin is with us as well. Let's continue on that theme, just in the sense of, what is it on the day after when you think, huh, okay, now it's settling in?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What jumps out at me, what we're not talking about?

KING: Whatever you want to talk about. The floor is yours.

MARTIN: Ballot initiative in Florida. Where you had Congresswoman Corrine Brown who was against this initiative, where you could have these impacted districts, where you couldn't have these districts that snake. You have the NAACP, the league of women voters, who were for it. It actually passed. So how they re-draw the district there is will be huge. That will be a thing to look out. You're not going to have those snakes again.

KING: She may regret that with a Republican governor and a very conservative Republican legislature. That may come back. But if any politician in America can bring logic to the redistricting process, amen. Democrat or Republican, if they can bring logic to redistricting --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: How about changing it?

KING: -- amen. What jumps out?

BORGER: Three change elections right in a row. It hasn't happened since 1880, and the public is saying something here. They're saying, you guys haven't gotten it right and we're going to keep changing parties until someone figures out exactly what we want. And if I were, right now, a part of Washington --

KING: You're not?

BORGER: No -- let's just say this -- let me say that again, if I were an elected official in Washington, I would be listening to that and when everybody says, okay, we don't want to get together, I would say, you know what, we're going to have to do something together, a few things. MARTIN: Tapping into that real quick, to the point Gloria just made, Democrats made a hard choice. The president alluded to it today on health care. We often talk about wanting politicians to make hard decisions on big substantive issues. I think what we saw yesterday will impact immigration reform, social security, and Medicare. The bottom line is, these politicians are not going to touch the tough issues, because they're afraid of what happened yesterday.

KING: You're talking about Washington. At the state level, all that stuff.

ERICKSON: Going back to Jessica's point, look at what happened. And it's not just at the state legislative level, it's down to the county municipal level that Republicans picked up big seats. If you look at that map over there, you se this little band of blue blotches along the south. Those are the majority/minority districts, where if they didn't exist, the Democrats would be much more competitive in the south.

MARTIN: You know what Howard Dean is saying right now? I told you about a 50-state strategy --

KING: We're going to take a closer look at the map in just a minute. Everybody hang right here. One election almost immediately gives way to the next election. And this one has some very important lessons for 2012 and not just for the presidential contenders. We'll map it out for you, just ahead.

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KING: So here's the next challenge for our guests. How do the 2010 results impact the 2012 maneuvering? Let's use the map to make a point. There are Democratic senators up for re-election in Florida next time, just elected a Republican governor. Pennsylvania next time, just elected a Republican governor. Ohio just elected a Republican governor. Michigan and Minnesota, all the way out we go. Montana as well. Also, there are Republican senators in Maine, up for re-election, in Tennessee, up for re-election. I want to start with Erick Erickson. To the question, Jim DeMint said he was not challenging any incumbent Republicans. When you look at the 2012 map and you see Bob Corker, Olympia Snowe and Orrin Hatch, will one, two or maybe all three of them face a tea party or internal Republican primary challenge?

ERICKSON: You know, I don't know that they will, particularly Olympia Snowe. I think conservatives realize that she can't really be beaten in the general election. They may want to beat her. I don't know they really want to lose that seat. Someone like Corker I think does have to worry because he's in a seat where conservatives say we've got a chance of winning the general and beating him in the primary. Orrin Hatch, I think you're going to probably see him become the most conservative United States senator over the next two years.

BORGER: I was just going to say about Orrin Hatch, he voted against supreme -- Elena Kagan --

ERICKSON: Yeah, he did. After the buzz started about maybe Jason Chavis running against him.

MARTIN: I get this whole deal in terms of targeting. But they have to understand, this electorate is so fickle, you've got to have people in the Senate who have the ability to get some things done. If you move corporate try out on financial reform, Hatch has a history of also working with the other side.

BORGER: Not lately.

MARTIN: Not lately.

KING: If you're the Democrats and you listen to the president today who was trying to buy himself some time. Let's not put too much on the president today. He wanted to say let's figure this out. He's probably a little tired up watching the election. But if you're the Democrats and you're looking, Bob Casey is up in Pennsylvania. His state just went red in a big way, including the Congressional district where he grew up in Scranton. You have Claire McCaskill in Missouri. The Republican Ron Blunt won there, going away. A state that was not kind to Obama last time.

BORGER: And he's an insider.

KING: Michigan, Ohio, Jim Webb in Virginia, Jim Nelson in Florida, out in Montana.

ERICKSON: There's a big difference. You have Obama on the ballot in 2012 and a huge African-American turnout that you didn't necessarily have this time. So Republicans have to be careful.

KING: You think Republicans should be more nervous than the Democrats?

ERICKSON: I think Republicans have to be nervous in 2012 because some of seats they were saying two days ago, yeah, we'll be able to pick them up in 2012, when you factor in black turnout, probably not.

BORGER: It depends on how Barack Obama decides to behave, doesn't it? And how they deal with the Republicans --

MARTIN: It also depends upon the adjustments they make when it comes to their base. Young voters, Latinos. What happens on immigration reform? That's going to critical.

KING: Here's one last question. We got to do it quickly. Did Karl Rove and American Crossroads get a good return on their investment? They invested in 26 races total, 11 Senate campaigns, 15 house campaigns. They won 17, they lost 7, including that Colorado Senate race when that went Democratic today. Two of them still undecided. Democrats are looking at the Senate races and saying, you know, California, Colorado, saying, we beat Karl Rove, but is 17-7 a good return on the investment?

ERICKSON: Not only good but it was necessary because the Republican National Committee did not fund the get out the vote program this year. BORGER: That's what I was hearing. I was hearing there were a lot of complaints among Republican candidates, no get out the vote effort. That's why one of the reasons Crossroads, Karl Rove's group was formed, was to help the RNC because it was not -- and the Republican Governor's Association did a lot of work.

MARTIN: There was a great return on the investment because it reminds me of 1988 after the Democrats couldn't figure out what they were trying to do, they say the DOC comes in and at some point you have an outside group who says we need to take control of the messaging of this whole deal, to right the party.

KING: Quick time out. You guys get a little rest, okay? Roland Martin, Gloria Borger, Erick Erickson, thank you so much.

You know, we love our groundbreaking technology here. It helps us tell you not only what happened but why. Still ahead, Pete Dominick. He's here. He's got some questions. We're going to search the matrix and more.

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KING: Now, Pete Dominick's often out on the street for us but we thought we'd bring him into the matrix post election. You know Pete if you look around, these are the 100 most competitive House races. 91 of them were blue when we started last night. More than 60 of them are now red. Flashing red. That's Republican. That is your new Republican majority. That is at least temporarily the collapse of the Obama coalition.

PETE DOMINICK, OFFBEAT REPORTER: He put together -- they put together this huge coalition of kind of -- not diverse groups but not necessarily classically Democratic voters. That was in '08. In '10, not so much. What happened?

KING: Let's walk down. I'll show you a look at what happened. Number one, Republicans did better among women voters. Number two, they did much better than they usually do among senior voters. But union voters are usually traditionally a Democratic constituency. Look at this as it flies in for you here. This is nationwide among union voters. If you watch this play out, you're looking right here, 60 percent of union voters voted for the Democrats, 37 percent for the Republicans. I'm going the wrong way here, but if you look at that, you think, OK, that's pretty good, right? Except 60 percent, Pete Dominick, for the Democrats, you're getting blocked by the Chiclets there, 60 percent union vote for the Democrat. That was the lowest number in House races since 1984. So that dropped down there. That's one reason that happened.

DOMINICK: You have to explain it to me, union voters --

KING: They're mad at the economy. They're mad at the economy, some of them don't like the president. You don't want to get hit by these when they come in. Here is something else here. This is House. These are Obama voters. We're going to continue this out. People who voted for Obama, right, look at that. Now 13 percent of the people who voted for Obama -- you having a workout behind those Chiclets? You might think that's not so bad, right? Take that away. 13 percent. Now we'll bring in this number. These are McCain voters nationwide. How did they vote? Let's continue this one through Pete. Watch this. Only 8 percent of McCain voters defected. See, I'm blocked by that stack.

DOMINICK: They like the bald head.

KING: Only 8 percent of McCain voters -- where am I hiding, where am I hiding?

DOMINICK: Where's John, John King?

KING: So Obama lost 13 percent of his voters. McCain lost only 8 percent of his. Republicans were more loyal. Small percentage of union members, small percentage of other Obama voters, they defected away. That loses you a house seat there, a house seat there, in a very close Senate race.

DOMINICK: You explained that so well and yet I'm still confused on how this all happened but obviously these graphics help us understand. Will we be able to use these in 2012 and can I get a rotary dial phone on here?

KING: You want to hide behind the wall? Watch this. Sorry. There you go.

DOMINICK: Pete on the street is back.

KING: Pete's going to keep studying. Come back and see us tomorrow. We'll explain more of the election. We'll have a little bit more fun. For now, "PARKER SPITZER" starts right now.