updated 9/15/2010 5:49:14 PM ET 2010-09-15T21:49:14

Guests: Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O‘Donnell, Nate Silver, Ezra Klein

           

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST:  My special guests tonight include—

OLBERMANN:  Chris Matthews and Lawrence O‘Donnell.

           

MADDOW:  I‘m trying not to read this because I can‘t remember the guy‘s name—Keith Olbermann and Lawrence O‘Donnell and Chris Matthews all coming up in just a second.  Can you hold on for a moment before I come back to you?

OLBERMANN:  I‘ll just wait here.

MADDOW:  All right.  Good.

Thanks to you at home for staying us for the next hour on what promises to be a very, very busy primary election night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW (voice-over):  The last big night of primaries for this year‘s elections.  Tonight‘s the night we learn the final matchups for the first midterm election of Barack Obama‘s presidency.  With news from New York, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

Will insurgent conservative movement candidates keep picking off the Republican establishment?  Will the Sharron Angles and Rand Pauls of this election year have yet more company as candidates no one can quite believe keep winning major party nominations for major political office?

CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL ®, DELAWARE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  You can‘t masturbate without lust.

MADDOW:  Oh, dear.

Tonight‘s results from the Delaware Senate primary and everywhere else with Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews and Lawrence O‘Donnell, Nate Silver with the steps about what‘s likely to happen next in November.

It‘s all ahead on this primary night hour of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW:  Thank you for joining us tonight.  And welcome to the last major night of primaries before this year‘s midterm elections.

It is now 9:00 p.m. on the East Coast, which means that polls have officially closed in the seven states across the country, holding elections tonight, plus, the District of Columbia.  We are keeping an eye on all of the results as they come in this hour.

Perhaps the biggest single race of the night is the race for Republican nomination for Senate in the great state of Delaware.  It‘s the race to fill Vice President Joe Biden‘s old Senate seat.  Polling leading up to today is suggesting a virtual dead heat between nine-term Republican congressman, Mike Castle, and the Tea Party-backed challenger Christine O‘Donnell.  Right now with 67 percent of precincts reporting, Christine O‘Donnell leads Mike Castle with 55 percent of the vote to Mike Castle‘s 45 percent.  We will have much more on this race in a moment.

Polls have just closed in the state of New York, where controversy-plagued Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel is trying to hold on to his seat tonight that he has held on to 45 years so far.  Mr. Rangel is facing five challengers, chief among them New York State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV.

We are still awaiting results in the race—as well as in the race for the Republican nomination for governor in New York.  The Republican establishment pick here is Rick Lazio, a man who has run for just about everything in New York.  Rick Lazio is facing an unexpectedly strong challenge from a man named Carl Paladino—who was most famous essentially for sending out super pornographic and/or racist e-mails like this one.  That‘s President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dressed as a pimp and prostitute, a PhotoShopped image Mr. Paladino e-mailed out under the heading “White House Ball.”  That was one of the more PG-rated e-mails that Carl Paladino sent out for which he later had to apologize even though explained he didn‘t really mean the apology.

We got zero percent of precincts on that race, of course.  But we will be watching it very closely as results do come in now that polls have closed.

But, again, the most intriguing race of the night is happening at least so far in Delaware, the Republican Senate primary between Congressman Mike Castle and Tea Party-endorsed candidate Christine O‘Donnell.  Since Christine O‘Donnell‘s challenge to Mike Castle has become unexpectedly strong, her background as one of the most extreme abstinence advocates in the country has attracted lots of attention—and I mean abstinence as in sexual abstinence.

We have talked about on the show before the fact that—according to Christine O‘Donnell it is not enough to be abstinent with other people.  You must also be abstinent while you are alone.  Christine O‘Donnell spoke about this to MTV back in 1996.  She spoke about her campaign to prevent kids from you-know-whatting while they were alone.

We have managed to obtain that tape now and we can show it to you tonight for the first time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O‘DONNELL:  My name is Christine O‘Donnell.  I am the president and founder of the SALT.  The SALT stands for the Saviors Alliance for Lifting the Truth.

We choose sexual purity in our lives.  We have God-given sexual desires.  And we need to understand them and preserve them to be used in God‘s appropriate context.

We need to address sexuality with young people.  And masturbation is part of sexuality.  But it is important to discuss this from a moral point of view.

CHRISTINE GEDGAUDAS, MARKETING MANAGER, THE SALT:  Masturbation is a selfish act, and it‘s a lustful one.  And we are to walk with pure hearts, not adulterous lusting hearts.

TODD HITCHCOCK, YOUTH PASTOR:  The Bible is clear in the fact that it says that any sexual act outside of the realm of marriage is wrong.

O‘DONNELL:  The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery.  So, you can‘t masturbate without lust.

The reason that you don‘t tell them that masturbation is the answer to AIDS and all these other problems that come with sex outside of marriage is because, again, it is not addressing the issue.  You‘re going to be pleasing each other.  And if he already knows what pleases him and he can please himself, then why am in the picture?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW:  Ladies and gentlemen, the possible Republican nominee for Senate in Delaware.

Do we have the latest figures on this Senate race in Delaware right now?

Right now, we have 81 percent of precincts reporting in the lead right now of Christine O‘Donnell over Mike Castle is -- 54 percent for Christine O‘Donnell and 46 percent for Mike Castle.

Again, I‘m just getting those in my earpiece right now from the control room, with 81 percent of precincts reporting.  Christine O‘Donnell right now with a nine-point lead—excuse me—an eight-point lead over Mike Castle.  There it is -- 81 percent of precincts reporting, Mike Castle with 46 percent of the vote; Christine O‘Donnell with 54 percent of the vote.

Now to be clear, the controversy about Christine O‘Donnell‘s past is not about religion.  Christine O‘Donnell is, of course, free to practice whatever religion she wants.  That‘s the beauty of America.  Your private beliefs are your private beliefs.

The reason we have tape of her exclaiming about these beliefs is not because these are Christine O‘Donnell‘s private thoughts or beliefs, but because Christine O‘Donnell built her career on doing public national advocacy on abstinence.  She founded this organization SALT in order to promote this idea in public policy and in public life in America, that this is the way that Americans should live.  This is the thing she did before running for office.

Again, that tape you just saw has not been seen anywhere in 14 years.  But if Christine O‘Donnell manages to pull off this upset in Delaware tonight, you can count on seeing a lot of that tape over the next seven weeks.

Joining us now for this big primary night is all of MSNBC primetime:

Keith Olbermann, the host of “COUNTDOWN,” Chris Matthews, the host of “HARDBALL,” and Lawrence O‘Donnell, the host of the soon-to-debut “LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell.

Fellows, thank you very much for joining us this evening.

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, “THE LAST WORD” HOST:  Good to be here.

OLBERMANN:  Always a pleasure.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST:  Hi.

MADDOW:  Keith, let me start with you.  Obviously still awaiting final results in Delaware, but given Christine O‘Donnell‘s now unearthed views on self-abstinence, what would a win for her mean tonight?

OLBERMANN:  Well, we would have to wait a long time obviously for any kind of a result based on what you were just reporting.

One thing that‘s important, quite seriously, is that we are talking about vote totals that in aggregate will still be around 40,000.  It is obviously important for what happens in the Senate race.  It will obviously make another inroad for the Tea Party, which is not necessarily a bad thing in terms of the Democrats‘ perspective.  I think we have been over that, you and I in our respective shows, 10 million times each.

But it is still a very small sample.  And probably, you can find 15,000 people or 16,000 people which is she would need for the nomination, to give you that—

MADDOW:  Keith, let me ask you—let me ask you to just hold your thought on that for a moment just to tell you, and I ask you to return to your thought, because “The A.P.” has just called the race for Christine O‘Donnell.  Christine O‘Donnell, according to “The Associated Press” has won the Republican nomination for Senate in Delaware.

Please continue with your thought there.

OLBERMANN:  Well, what I was saying was exactly correct obviously, because she won the nomination with that small number of votes.  Just—what does it means in terms of a national perspective?  It‘s impossible to say.  It‘s such a small sample that can produce something like that.  It underscores—it‘s a bad year to be an incumbent, even if you‘re an incumbent running for a different job.  If you‘re identified as a politician, you can be defeated by people who act very much and very often like they have never left their own homes before.

MADDOW:  Chris, let me ask you about the Republican reaction to Christine O‘Donnell winning this.  They have obviously been very outspoken in their support for Mike Castle, very worried in an outspoken way about this prospect, of what has happened tonight happening.

How is the Republican Party going to respond to this?

MATTHEWS:  Well, they‘re initially going to embrace her, because she is their candidate.  And they‘re going to have to win with her.  She‘s part of her victory strategy now, Delaware has to hold as a Republican state.  If they‘re to pick up a net 10 seats, they‘re going to need her to win.  So, they‘re going to think, they‘re going to say positive things and they‘re going to get somebody in there to discipline her now and make sure she talks about unemployment and taxes and big spending and the issues that are win for them in Delaware.  The old Henry Roth (ph) or what his name issues.

And I think that that‘s where they‘re headed.  I think they‘re going to do the same thing in New Hampshire, if LaMontagne wins up there.  They‘re going to go around and try to win the—Republicans are pretty mechanical about this.  They‘re not going to sit and worry about what she said about the issues you‘ve been talking about 14 years ago.  They‘re going to get her dressed up and ready to win this thing.

MADDOW:  Lawrence, in terms of Chris‘ point there, do Republicans have to worry about the prospect of a Christine O‘Donnell, like a Sharron Angle, sort of becoming a national figure defining the Republican Party in this race?  Do they have to worry that some of these candidates are so out there, they essentially become an extremism mascot for the campaign?

L. O‘DONNELL:  They have to worry and they have been worried about Christine O‘Donnell.  This is their worst nightmare in Delaware.  Mike Castle would have taken that seat.  No one disputes it.  He would have walked in.

And now, Chris Coons is tonight‘s luckiest man in American politics, county executive in Delaware, who now really has a shot at holding that seat for the Democrats—a seat that more prominent Democrats chose not to run for this time around, you know, feeling that in these midterm elections, they tend not to go for the president‘s party.  So, this would be tough for the Democrat in Delaware.

It‘s now possibly just the kind of reversal that the Democrats needed.  It reminds me of the night that Harry Reid celebrated Sharron Angle winning that Republican primary in Nevada.

MADDOW:  Lawrence, what we‘re look at right there is Christine O‘Donnell campaign headquarters.  You can see the jubilation at the headquarters there in this come-from-behind candidacy.

Keith, what we‘re looking at those scenes—

O‘DONNELL:  It looks like a lot of lust from here.  I‘m not sure, Rachel.

MATTHEWS:  You know—

MADDOW:  It‘s a chaste celebration in Wilmington there as far as we can tell.

But, Keith, what Lawrence is saying, Keith, about this being a huge gift to Democrats, that is certainly quantifiable in terms if you look at what Christine O‘Donnell‘s chances are in this race as opposed to Mike Castle in the polling.  But is there a bigger danger that she ends up and the Sharron Angles and the Rand Pauls and Joe Millers of the world, and Ken Buck, end up defining a new normal for the Republican Party, and thus pushing all of American politics that much further to the kook side?

OLBERMANN:  Conceivably.  Obviously, every time in its history, the Republican Party has gone too far to the far right, 1964 being the primary example, it has gone off a cliff and needed significant repair that has taken at least two years on all occasions.

However, there is one thing to remember about all nominations, and that is that if somebody can win a nomination, they can win an election.  It doesn‘t mean they‘re going to.  It doesn‘t mean that there‘s going to be a Senator O‘Donnell or a Senator Angle or a Senator Paul.  But the nomination is the nomination.  And that puts her on the ballot.  And that makes it a possibility that she could be elected.

So, this assumption—as I was talking about Howard Fineman about 15 minutes ago on COUNTDOWN—the assumption that everybody had was that she couldn‘t possibly knock off this veteran well-liked middle-of-the-road Republican senator—congressman rather—who was attempting to make himself Senator Mike Castle.  That was the assumption.

And now, the assumption is, she can‘t possibly defeat a Democrat who‘s not particularly liberal in Mr. Coons.  There‘s no assumption there are no assumptions left after this because as small a margin as this is in terms of actual votes, so is the vote in Delaware in 49 days.  In 49 days, she could say anything or nothing and ride this momentum.  And, conceivably, if she doesn‘t screw it up, she could get herself elected senator.

MATTHEWS:  Rachel—

MADDOW:  Yes?

MATTHEWS:  -- I have to say the power of women voters, you‘ve got to look at it.  Step back from the ideology here, the cultural issues.  There are an awful lot of women that felt frustrated by Hillary Clinton‘s failure two years ago.  And I‘m telling you, it‘s popping up.  I hear it.  Anecdotally, I admit.

But I really—look at this picture here.  These are women and they may be conservative women, but they‘re women nonetheless.  And they may be joined by other women who just feel it‘s time for more women to win these offices.  And I wouldn‘t put that apart from the general election caucus right now.

MADDOW:  It is impossible for me to imagine, though, that people who are disappointed that Hillary Clinton did not beat Barack Obama in the primaries are voting in large numbers for a candidate as extreme as Christine O‘Donnell.  I mean, yes, chromosomes are there, but the politics are completely opposite.  I just—I mean, I don‘t think women—

MATTHEWS:  Well—

MADDOW:  -- I don‘t think women identity politics and voting could explain two different votes for two different candidates this far apart.

MATTHEWS:  I have spent a big part of my life listening to my fellow liberals tell me, isn‘t it great the Republicans have gone over the cliff again?  Look, they nominated Orrin Hatch in Utah.  He‘s going to be so easy to beat.

Hey, look, they might even nominate Ronald Reagan for president.  He is such a winger.  We can beat him easily.

I‘ve heard this all my life.  And always what happens is the enthusiasm you‘re watching there goes right into the general election.

And I don‘t see Democratic events like this tonight.  I want to look around and see if we see any in the closing hours tonight where Democrats are that happy about anything.

MADDOW:  Well, Democrats—

MATTHEWS:  Enthusiasm matters, Rachel.  And it is—

MADDOW:  Enthusiasm absolutely matters.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  -- politics.

MADDOW:  Are—is it what we‘re seeing here, though, the enthusiasm of a campaign that was never before about five minutes ago expected to get anywhere and had no institutional support?  That dynamic is very minor on the left compared to the right.

MATTHEWS:  What you see in the headlines in the Wilmington paper tomorrow, you‘re going to see a headline as big as you can believe that she won this thing.  It‘s going to create a lot I think this late primaries guys are really important.

Remember when Schumer beat D‘Amato late in the game.  You don‘t have to stop now.  She goes right into the next couple of weeks and just doesn‘t stop.  It‘s great to win in the fall.

MADDOW:  Lawrence—

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW:  Lawrence, let me have you get on this.  Lawrence, by my count, this means that eight NRSC-endorsed candidates, eight candidates endorsed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee have lost this year—eight of them now.  What does this mean for the Republican Party?  Is the party just not actually part of the—not part of the equation now when we figure out whether or not candidates are viable?

L.  O‘DONNELL:  It‘s certainly not in the primary season.  And this does create the only hope that the Democrats had.  I mean, you know, it‘s not to say the Democrats are now going to win Delaware, but it is to say they weren‘t going to win it against Mike Castle.  There wasn‘t going to be any real chance at taking it away from Castle.  So, now there‘s a chance.

Harry Reid now has a real chance.  And Harry Reid‘s poll numbers were the most disastrous incumbent poll numbers I have ever seen, and his numbers have come back to life in viability because this kind of candidate was nominated against him.  That is the only reason Harry Reid is back on his feet, is because of what the Republican primary delivered to the ballot in the general election.

OLBERMANN:  And, Rachel, remember one thing about—we talk about get out the vote on part of the Democrats and the Republicans.  The largest non-voting group in America are the people, how about this for tautology, who don‘t vote, who have given up on the entire process, who are at all kinds of extremes, differences, fringes, however you want to call it, who see standard politicians as useless and would be gravitating.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

OLBERMANN:  And you don‘t need—you don‘t need all 50 percent of them in Delaware to come out to vote for Christine O‘Donnell to put her in the Senate.  You only need perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 of them to make a difference in a close race, and to get 49 days in which to sell those people to come out and re-evolve themselves or perhaps involve themselves for the first time in the political process in a small sample, in a small Petri dish, this is not automatically good news to the Democratic Party, as much as that‘s the likeliest outcome.  It‘s not the only possible outcome.

MADDOW:  As we wait for Christine O‘Donnell to address her ebullient and exuberant supporters in Wilmington tonight with this come-from-behind victory over Mike Castle, we‘re going to have to take a quick break, but we will be back as long as you guys will indulge us, with Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and Lawrence O‘Donnell.

This THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW here on MSNBC.  Primary night coverage, lots going on, big upset in Delaware.  And we‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  MSNBC‘s decision 2010 primary election coverage continues.

Right now with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Christine O‘Donnell, the Tea Party-backed candidate for Senate in Delaware on the Republican side, has defeated long-time Republican congressman, Mike Castle.  Ninety-nine percent of precincts reporting: O‘Donnell with 53 percent of the vote, Mike Castle with 47 percent of the vote.  “The Associated Press” is calling this race for Christine O‘Donnell—a shocker to the establishment Republican candidate Mike Castle.

We‘ll be right back with Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews and Lawrence O‘Donnell here on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW on MSNBC.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Thanks for being with us here on this big primary night.

Joining me now are my friends and colleagues here at MSNBC: Keith Olbermann, the host of “COUNTDOWN,” Chris Matthews, the host of “HARDBALL,” and Lawrence O‘Donnell, the host of the soon-to-debut “LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell.

Fellows, thank you again for very much for helping us out here.  Much appreciate it.

Keith, let me talk to you about this turnout issue.  What we‘ve got right now in terms of the turnout figures out of the Senate race in Delaware is not just Christine O‘Donnell beating Mike Castle, but what seems to be surprisingly high turnout: 57,000 votes roughly counted already with 99 percent of precincts in.  That‘s number—that‘s higher a number that I had seen projected in terms of expected turnout.

OLBERMANN:  By 12,000 or so.

MADDOW:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, it was a significant jump.  Notice, though, that what the margin between the two candidates is—if you show that vote count total again—again, issuing—there is a—there‘s a lot of tea leaves in this cup.  It‘s a question of how big is the cup.  She won that thing by less than 4,000 votes.

And as fascinating an outcome as it is, I don‘t know that it‘s predictive of anything other than the fact that what I referred to before the break which is that in a time of anti-politics, if you can energize people who would not ordinarily vote one way or the other, they can come in and take a nomination away from what would seemingly be a fairly easy bet.  And thus, if you can get all those people and perhaps double that number for the general, you have got a competitive race against the most acceptable and mainstream and non-politicky- looking politician you can find, whether he‘s a Democrat or a Republican.  You can, in fact, beat both of them.

And that turnout number suggests that one of the great get-out-the-vote measures is people who think that they have totally disassociated from our political process who suddenly see one of theirs.  And this could be one of theirs being—it could be as Chris pointed out disaffected women who like to see women succeed in politics when they did not, after the 2008 nomination of Obama over Hillary Clinton, they could be—they could be the anti-pleasure vote that you alluded to earlier.

They could be people who like to see people named “O‘Donnell” do well.

(CROSSTALK)

OLBERMANN:  It doesn‘t matter where you get ‘em, just as long as you get ‘em.  We‘re trying to draw them here at MSNBC.  We get 50,000 of them.  We‘re going to do a hell of a job at 10:00 every night.

MADDOW:  Chris, let me—

MATTHEWS:  There was a time, Rachel, when I would do, I would vote straight Irish, too.  Whenever I looked at the ballot, I didn‘t know the candidates, I would vote for the Irish person.

But, you know, I do think or, you know, I think if you‘re a liberal or progressive, I think you whistle past the graveyard if you don‘t see the pattern here.  Even if she had lost a narrow race tonight, I think it would have been very impressive for her.  And I think that—I think people go into voting, I‘ve thought this for 30 years, and they vote yes or no.  And I think anything beyond that is just the subtlety of the thing.

You vote do you like the way the things are going.  Do you like the officials are running the country, the community are running things, you vote yes.  If you don‘t, you vote no.  In this case she was a “no” vote.

You don‘t have to get in to her cultural details.  You just know that she was running against the establishment.  How many times I‘ve heard the words establishment in the last 48 hours, I think more than I‘ve heard of my life.  Castle was the establishment.  What a great name, by the way, Castle.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  Well, it is interesting.  I think that the mainstream meme about this sort of elections, about the elections this year, has been that it‘s an anti-incumbent year.  But I actually think that however annoyingly vague the word is, it‘s more anti-establishment than incumbent.  Mike Castle wasn‘t the incumbent for this seat.  And a lot of this people who have lost, you know, Sue Lowden were not the incumbent for seat in Nevada, it‘s all these people.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

MADDOW:  The biggest liability, particularly for Republicans in primaries, is being associated with the Republican Party.

And so, Lawrence, how does the Republican Party heading into the midterms now with primary season essentially over now, how do they make sure that a “no” vote against I don‘t—a “no” vote that I don‘t like the way the country is going translates into a “yes” vote for a Republican candidate?

O‘DONNELL:  They need to channel this negative energy toward the federal government right now.  They need to say, this is the way to register your protest.  Christine O‘Donnell is a protest vote.

People aren‘t voting for her because they think she‘s a greatly accomplished person or she is going to be, you know, the star on the Senate floor.  It is, first and foremost, a protest vote.  And if she ends up in the Senate, you know, then the protest vote goes all the way.

So, I think the Republicans are very well-placed strategically to channel these kinds of votes into sending the protest message.  This is the way you do it.  And, you know, this—tonight shows that there‘s a tremendous energy behind that protest.

MADDOW:  Lawrence O‘Donnell, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, my friends and colleagues here at MSNBC.  Gentlemen, thank you for lending me some of your time this hour.  I really appreciate it.

OLBERMANN:  You‘re welcome.

MATTHEWS:  Great report.  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Still ahead: what tonight‘s results tell us about Democrats and Republicans‘ prospects for November elections?  We‘ll be joined by FiveThirtyEight‘s Nate Silver.  We‘re also expecting a lot more results over the next few hours here on MSNBC.  Please stay with us, lots to come.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Thanks for being with us for this primary night coverage.  Tonight already the huge headline Christine O‘Donnell beating Mike Castle in the republican senate primary in Delaware.  Mike Castle, the long-time republican congressman, the establishment choice, seen as a relatively moderate democrat.  Seen as having a very good chance against the democrat in that race, Chris Coons.  Nevertheless, defeated by Christine O‘Donnell, the Tea Party-endorsed very, very conservative candidate in Delaware.  Right now at 99 percent of precincts in, that‘s probably all we‘re going to get.  Fifty three to 47, Christine O‘Donnell over Mike Castle. 

Tonight, the field of candidates for this year‘s elections all over the country is getting that much clearer.  The nominations are nearly all in.  There is one more runoff in Louisiana.  There is one more primary in Hawaii.  But tonight is the last big night of primaries.  After the ballots have been set, we will essentially have both the democrats and the republicans‘ starting lineup, that they‘ll be each sending to the plate in November.  At the start of primary season, republicans were given a not unreasonable, but not sure thing chance of regaining a majority in either the House or less likely in the Senate.  Where does that likelihood stands now?

Joining us now is Nate Silver, the FiveThirtyEight blog which now lives at the “New York Times” website.  Nate, thanks very much for your time. 

NATE SILVER, NEW YORK TIMES FIVETHIRTYEIGHT BLOG:  Yes.  Thanks, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Let me get your reaction first of all to the Christine O‘Donnell win over Mike Castle in Delaware.  Late polls looked like that was going to be the result, but she did come from behind.  

SILVER:  Well, there was one poll that came out and had her about three points ahead.  They did a very good job.  And it‘s hard to forecast these primaries.  But if you would asked even a couple of weeks ago, you know, people kind of thought, oh, just maybe it could happen after Alaska, where Miller beat Murkowski.  But, you know, Mike Castle has been elected by Delaware, I don‘t know how many times, like 20 times or something literally as its representative, it‘s governor, it‘s lieutenant governor.  I mean, he is not the incumbent in this race, but he is, you know, someone who Delaware, you think had a kind of a perpetual relationship with.  Republicans were thrilled when he decided to run for Senate.  He is an old guy.  Thought maybe he‘ll have one more kind of term left for six years.  You know, they were thrilled when Beau Biden did not run.  But they have gone from this being an almost for sure win, a quite for sure to a probable loss. 

MADDOW:  Well, can you quantify the electability difference between Mike Castle, the establishment guy, and Christine O‘Donnell, who did win?  Can you quantify it?

SILVER:  I mean, there is about a 20 point gap between them, right?  Where the democrat Coons was 10 points behind Castle and 10 or 15 points ahead of O‘Donnell.  I mean, you don‘t see that clear-cut case that often.  That‘s why he has always kind of, you know, proper like kind of suit and tie conservative groups like the National Review or the Weekly Standard saying, hey, guys, let‘s think about this here.  We want to take over the Senate, right?  Castle is going to be with us some of the time and not all of the time.  And people kind of ignore the message and voted for O‘Donnell anyway. 

I mean, I do think, and in the phrases overused, but it‘s a little bit of a game-changer.  Maybe not—the democrats back the House which they probably still lose.  But in terms of the Senate, both in terms of the Math now, there is one seat which looked for sure in the GOP column now is going to be leaner even likely democrat.  You know, plus the fact that there is this whole other, you know, kind of hand grenade thrown into the election and democrats are going to be excited about in a really perverse kind of way I suppose.  It‘s not a good night for establishment republicans certainly. 

MADDOW:  Right in terms of the overall impact on the republicans‘ likelihood of taking over the Senate, is—is it—I shouldn‘t say is it mathematic.  Anything is mathematically possible in an election. 

SILVER:  Right.

MADDOW:  But is it—how much less likely it is that the republicans will take the Senate if this seat in Delaware is now that much harder for them to get?

SILVER:  Well, we did make a piece on this a couple of days ago.  And it looks like, you know, if LaMontagne also wins in New Hampshire, then they‘ll have about a 15 percent chance, where as if both the  kind of establishment candidates had won, they would have had about 30 percent chance.  So, they about have their chance tonight of taking over the Senate.  They still could.  

MADDOW:  Let‘s restate that just to be clear.  Nationally in terms of

if you‘re just looking at the republicans‘ chance of taking over the Senate.  

SILVER:  Right.  

MADDOW:  If Castle and Ayotte had won, they had about a 30 percent chance of taking over the Senate.  

SILVER:  Yes.  Now it‘s about one in seven, one in eight.  

MADDOW:  If Ovide LaMontagne wins in New Hampshire.

SILVER:  If he wins and I think he is ahead the last count.  

MADDOW:  I don‘t know.  Do we have a current board right now in terms of the numbers in New Hampshire?  Just coming in.  We‘ve got 14 percents of precincts reporting.  Kelly Ayotte, again, for a luck of the better place essentially the establishment candidate for the New Hampshire republican Senate nomination with 34 percent of the vote.  Ovide LaMontagne with 48 percent of the vote.  Again, this is a small number precincts and only 14 percent in.  But Ovide LaMontagne seen as the outsider candidate there ahead.  And Nate, to your point, if Ovide LaMontagne wins there‘s, along with Christine O‘Donnell, that puts the republicans‘ chance over all taking the Senate at about.

SILVER:  About 15 percent where it could have been 30 percent.  You know, Ovide LaMontagne, I mean, he is a guy who endorse Mitt Romney.  He is not quite in the O‘Donnell category.  But still, you know, Ayotte looked like she was going to be a clear favorite against Paul Hodes.  And you know, so, it‘s just, that‘s a minor risk in New Hampshire, maybe, you know, you‘ll have some momentum behind him if he wins tonight, you know.  But in Delaware, to basically throw away a Senate seat, you know, really rare to see a party kind of walk into that, walk into that trap.  And I think the one thing we learned tonight is that, you know, no one is more unpopular, maybe even not Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid than establishment republicans are right now. 

MADDOW:  Right.

SILVER:  At least hard-core democrats like Nancy Pelosi, most of them do, right.  But, you know, hard-core republicans don‘t like anyone with the establishment tag.  And for someone like Mike Castle to lose who had been elected so many times, it‘s pretty stunning I think. 

MADDOW:  The other e-word that is being overused and rightfully so besides establishment right now is enthusiasm. 

SILVER:  Sure.  

MADDOW:  Can we look at turnout figures today and extrapolate from those to anything important about November, or should we be cautious about that?

SILVER:  Well, I think there are abundant signs that the republicans have a turnout advantage and maybe a substantial one in the election.  I think it might also manifest itself on a case by case basis though where one slight issue they have, it‘s kind of the good problem to have because they have so much momentum I supposed nationally.  But, you know, you‘re going to have a lot of enthusiasm behind a candidate like O‘Donnell among certain parts of the base, right?  But she might not do quite as well with independents and moderates  where someone like a Mark Kirk in Illinois or Rob Portman in Ohio, these, quote, you know, well adjusted kind of candidates I suppose, more moderate.  They might not get that kind of motivational gap from the conservatives as much and from the Tea Party. 

So maybe you kind of, you know, wind up, kind of splitting the loaf in a lot of places.  And I don‘t know.  I mean, I think republicans are probably likely again to take the House and the Senate probably went down, it‘s still possible, I suppose.  But you might see a lot of idiosyncrasy from state to state, well, they had some state were like Scott Brown in Massachusetts.  Like, how did that guy win?  And they had a really blue state, you know, that‘s an incumbent and surprise someone where other cases where they seem to have everything going right they might lose.  I mean, people, candidates still do matter.  You can tell in Nevada, for example, where, you know, Harry Reid was dead meat in that race. 

You don‘t get reelected in a republican year when you‘re a democrat majority leader with an approval rating of 38 percent, right?  In that race, he could still lose, in a toss-up, right.  But the fact that he went from having, from the incumbent 12 points down to being tied or a couple of points ahead, shows you that voters do have some threshold whether or like, I‘m a little bit unsure, I want this person represents me in the United States Senate.

MADDOW:  That Sharron Angle factor.  It matters.  Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog which is at “The New York Times” website now and deservedly so, Nate.  Thanks very much for your time. 

SILVER:  Thanks, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Remember health reform, that thing that dominated every night on this show for approximately an eon?  Well, not every democrat in Congress voted for it.  And there are other democrats who have not forgotten.  Tonight the left tries to punch back at the ballot box.  Again, by recapping what we know so far about tonight‘s primaries, in Delaware, the republican Senate primary is the big news with 99 percent of precincts reporting.  The Associated Press calling the race for Christine O‘Donnell, the insurgent outsider candidate in that race over long-time republican Congressman Mike Castle.  O‘Donnell coming in above Castle 53 to 47 percent of the vote. 

We‘ve also got a close watch on the New Hampshire republican Senate primary.  Right now, just 14 percent of precincts reporting.  So take these numbers with a grain of salt, with that particular grain of salt.  But right now, Ovide LaMontagne, the outsider candidate there prevailing right now, 48 to 34 percent over Kelly Ayotte who is the establishment candidate in that race for lack of a better term.  But again, only 14 percent of precincts reporting.  We will be keeping an eye on that as our decision 2010 coverage continues.  Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  The most interesting thing in American electoral politics this year is not the fake tidal wave of anti-incumbent sentiment spelling doom for all sitting politicians.  There is a little truth to that common beltway wisdom this year, but not all that much.  The most interesting real dynamic this year has been the uprising on the right, the far right in some cases.  Hi, Christine O‘Donnell, against the republican establishment.  That‘s happening in race after race after race.  O‘Donnell defeats Castle in Delaware.  Miller defeats Murkowski in Alaska.  Rand Paul defeats that other guy who Mitch McConnell liked in Kentucky.  It is the big dynamic of this year‘s primaries.  But it‘s also happening a tiny little bit on the left. 

There are two democratic primaries today in which democratic establishment candidates were challenged from the left.  They were in New Hampshire and then Massachusetts.  In the Massachusetts race, it was Congressman Stephen Lynch who is protecting his left flank today.  He is the projected winner with 44 percent of precincts reporting.  Stephen Lynch leads his challenger Mac D‘Alessandro, 65 to 35 percent of the vote.  He is projected to be the winner by the Associated Press.  Mac D‘Alessandro challenged the five term congressman from South Boston in part because of Stephen Lynch‘s vote against the health reform this year.  In that Massachusetts race as well as the one in New Hampshire, pro-choice groups lent a big financial hand to these challengers. 

They and groups like moveon.org and Emily‘s List and the Labor Union FCIU (ph) bundled money and tried to unseat these establishment Dems and to narrow the establishment candidates‘ huge fundraising advantages.  In the New Hampshire‘s case, it‘s Katrina Swett being challenged from the left by Ann McLane Kuster.  Katrina Swett represents multiple political dynasties in New Hampshire, she is the daughter of the late Congressman Tom Lantos and she is married to former Congressman and Ambassador Richard Swett.  When a House seat came open in New Hampshire, it was a forgone conclusion that Katrina Swett would run for it. 

I was up in New Hampshire this past week and then there are Swett for Congress signs everywhere, never using her first name, clear indication that you‘re part of a family dynasty in politics.  But Katrina Swett earned herself a liberal challenger in the democratic primary because she has done things like co-chairing, liberal non-grata Senator Joe Lieberman‘s 2004 presidential campaign.  She also supported the war in Iraq in the course of her failed 2002 campaign for this very same congressional seat.  And of course she supports some restrictions on abortion.  And Kuster on the other hand has made a serious campaign issue of her own support from pro-choice groups. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  New Hampshire‘s Ann Kuster, endorsed by every pro-choice group.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  We‘re going interrupt this coverage now to bring you back to Delaware right now where Mike Castle is addressing his supporters after losing his primary tonight. 

MIKE CASTLE ®, DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE:  As far as my life in government and the public life is concerned, and I‘d just like to thank each and every one of you.  But there is no one I want to thank more than my beautiful wife Jane. 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

None of this would have been possible out her unwavering support in every way.  And for that I‘m extremely appreciative.  We had a long discussion about whether I should run for the Senate or not, and we finally decided together that I should.  We‘ll have a long discussion tonight about whether that was a good discussion or not.  That‘s a whole different story.  I am very proud of the integrity and the honesty of everyone who has been involved in my campaign, many of whom are behind me. 

(APPLAUSE)

And it is with great humility that I stand here tonight to thank all of you for your support in many instances over many years, in some instances more recently.  But I just cannot thank you enough for your support in helping me steer the political waters out there which sometimes can be difficult.  The last several weeks have been spirited, shall we say.  And the voters in the republican primary have spoken and I respect that decision.  I have had the privilege as everyone here knows of serving this state in a number of capacities over many years now.  And I love this state.  We are a community that knows each other, that works well together, and over the years, we have been able to achieve much in this state.  And for that, I can say that it would not have been done without the help of each and every one of you. 

I have enjoyed my time in the Congress of the United States.  That‘s not to say it‘s an easy job.  It‘s a lot of very hard work, but I have enjoyed it tremendously and the opportunity to serve everybody in our state.  And I just want to particularly thank those behind me.  I didn‘t know that they were going to be here behind me on the stage, but this is mostly my staff here on the stage and others who helped in the campaign.  I would like to thank them too.  They have made a great difference.  So, they‘re the ones who served you.  They‘re the ones who answered the calls of Delawareans and said, here is how you can straighten out your problem situation, maybe a mortgage or maybe a job situation or something of that nature. 

I would like to thank the Republican Party for its support.  Obviously Tom Ross and Priscilla and Laird and all those who make up the party.  I would like to thank Tom Wagner who I had the opportunity of appointing many years ago.  He is still there, for God‘s sake.  He is going to go on.  And that‘s extraordinarily important too.  You know, I wish I could go around the room and talk about all of you individually, because of the huge difference which you have made in my life and hopefully in the life of many, many Delawareans.  I believe we have had the opportunity to do that.  And for that I‘m extremely appreciative.  I had a very nice speech prepared here, hoping I would win this race and talked about the things we‘ve been able to do to create jobs and reduce taxes, and those things that will make a difference to Delawareans.  There‘s still long ways to go, by the way. 

MADDOW:  Nine-term congressman Mike Castle of Delaware in his concession speech tonight if you are awaiting a grand statement of Republican Party unity with  him getting behind Christine O‘Donnell ahead of the general election there, Senate campaign against democrat Chris Coons, we have not yet heard it.  Christine O‘Donnell defeating Mike Castle.  We expect to be hearing from her very shortly.  Again, with the 100 percent of precincts in now in Delaware, she beat him 53 to 47 percent.  Our election night coverage continues here at MSNBC.  We‘ll be right back.       

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  In one of the kinds of results that makes politics so much fun to cover, Christine O‘Donnell, a perennial candidate seen by many in her home state of Delaware as a troubled person who is unlikely to be elected in a statewide office, Christine O‘Donnell comes from behind to defeat the perennial incumbent, Mike Castle.  Nine-time congressman from Delaware, in the republican Senate primary in that state.  More results ahead on this primary night here on MSNBC.  Stay with us.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Our election night coverage continues now with updates on all of the major races in tonight‘s primaries taking place in seven states and the District of Columbia.  In Massachusetts, ninth congressional district incumbent Stephen Lynch has defeated his challenger from the left Mac D‘Alessandro, with 56 percent of precincts reporting.  Lynch over D‘Alessandro‘s 66 to 35 percent.  And the New Hampshire, republican Senate primary Tea Party supported Ovide LaMontagne facing Sarah Palin endorsed Kelly Ayotte with—excuse me -- 18 percent of precincts reporting.  Right now, LaMontagne is ahead 45 percent to 35 percent over Ayotte.  Also in the grand state, the House democratic primary for the New Hampshire second district, Blue Dog Katrina Swett facing progressive Ann Kuster with 12 percent of precincts reporting.  Right now, Ann Kuster well out ahead of Katrina Swett, 76 to 25 percent. 

In New York, where veteran democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel is trying to hold on to his seat tonight against five challengers with zero percent of precincts reporting.  We cannot yet give you any results in that race.  But we‘re keeping a close eye on it.  In New York State‘s race for the republican governor‘s nomination.  Perennial republican candidate Rick Lazio facing an unexpectedly strong challenge from Carl Paladino.  The endeavors who sent the welfare recipients to poor farms, so they can learn among other things, personal hygiene.  With just six percent of precincts reporting right now, Carl Paladino well out ahead of Rick Lazio‘s 73 to 27 percent.

But the story of the night, as we‘ve been reporting, Christine O‘Donnell has pulled off the upset in Delaware‘s republican Senate primary defeating veteran Congressman Mike Castle for the republican nomination for Senate.  With tonight‘s win, Christine O‘Donnell becomes a name of which Americans will soon be much more familiar.  Of course tonight, she actually won, which should not be confused with her false claims during the campaign, that she defeated or maybe tied Joe Biden when she ran in the 2008 Senate race in two of Delaware‘s three counties and somehow still managed to lose. 

You might also recall that Ms. O‘Donnell floated the suggestion that her opponent, Congressman Castle was secretly gay.  She defended herself against charges that she had called him gay, by telling Mr. Castle that he should put his man pants on.  But tonight, we can mark the occasion of Christine O‘Donnell‘s man pants victory, a result that is certain to reverberate in November.  Negatively impacting the GOP‘s chances of taking back to Senate.  We can mark that victory with this, Christine O‘Donnell speaking to MTV in 1996 in the capacity of her previous job, which was a national abstinence campaigner.  She‘s now the Republican Party‘s official candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE O‘DONNELL, DEFEAT CASTLE IN DELAWARE GOP:  My name is Christine O‘Donnell.  I am the president and founder of the SALT, the SALT stands for the Savior‘s Alliance for Lifting the Truth.  We choose sexual purity in our lives.  We have God-given sexual desires, and we need to understand them and preserve them to be used in God‘s appropriate context.  We need to address sexuality with young people, and masturbation is a part of sexuality but it‘s important to discuss there from the moral point of view. 

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  Masturbation is a selfish act.  And it‘s a lustful one, and we are to walk with pure hearts, not adulteries lusting hearts.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  The bible is clear in the fact that it says that any sexual act outside of the room of marriage is wrong. 

O‘DONNELL:  The bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery.  So, you can‘t masturbate without lust.  

The reason that you don‘t tell them that masturbation is the answer to aids and all these other problems that come with sex outside of marriage is because again, it is not addressing the issue.  You‘re going to be pleasing each other.  And if he already knows what pleases him and he can please himself, then why am I in the picture?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Joining us now is Ezra Klein, staff writer for Washington Post and MSNBC contributor.  Ezra, thanks very much for joining us. 

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  It‘s going to be hard to follow that, Rachel. 

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  I know.  Does this mean that culture war issues are back in politics, though?  Does that mean that we end up talking about them, even if the republicans don‘t want that to be what we talk about?

KLEIN:  I honestly think anybody who‘s telling you they know what it means tonight is jumping the gun.  But let me give you some numbers, because I‘m sort of shocked by them.  Only 29 percent of people in Delaware have a favorable opinion of her.  Only 31 percent think she is qualified to hold office at all.  And of Mike Castle‘s primary voters, 44 percent of them will back the democrat over her according to the exit polls.  So, more than culture wars coming back and look, this has been a sort of a year of surprises.  So, who knows what happens in November here.  But it looks like republicans just lost what appeared to be a very safe Senate seat by nominating somebody who the people of Delaware just completely, completely have no confidence in. 

MADDOW:  Has this just nationalized the election, though?  Because Sharron Angle isn‘t a one off.  Joe Miller isn‘t a one off.  Ken Buck isn‘t a one off.  This is a full slate of very, very extreme republican candidates now. 

KLEIN:  Well, this gets interesting, right?  Because what you always want to do as the opposition party, is make the primary, make the midterm a referendum and not the choice, right?  And you do that by being gray.  You don‘t have the clear leader.  You don‘t have a clear agenda.  You pretty much keep yourself back, and let people dislike the democrats and vote based on that.  When these candidates start getting in and they are so colorful and they are so sort of unbelievable.  It does become a choice, because people are going to know who Christine O‘Donnell is.  In fact, in Delaware, I bet you that by the end of this, more people know a lot more about her than they know about do the democrat.  That‘s going to be true in other states.  And the question is, whether it bleeds over into states where you don‘t have quite as highly charged a race.  But as far as they‘ve got these folks leading the tickets, this is going to become if the democrat can make it there, a choice between Tea Parties and the democrats.  

MADDOW:  Ezra Klein of the Washington Post and MSNBC, thanks for joining us, Ezra.  I really appreciate it. 

KLEIN:  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  We‘ll be back live at 11:00 with the very latest election results.  COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN starts right now.  We‘ll see you in an hour.   

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