UP with STEVE KORNACKI
November 2, 2014
Guest: Leslie Sanchez, Norm Ornstein, Jarvis DeBerry, Al Cross, Tim
Galloway, Lizz Winstead, Mike Pesca, Jessica Taylor
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBCC ANCHOR: Is it slipping away for Democrats?
All right, good morning. Thanks for getting up with us this Sunday. Two
days now, two days to go. Just 48 hours until Election Day. We`ve reached
the home stretch of the home stretch and it comes with some late-breaking
signs that control of the Senate may, may be slipping away from Democrats.
That`s the headline of the crucial battleground state of Iowa this morning.
Overnight the "Des Moines Register" released its final poll of that state
Senate campaign. And it shows the Republican Joni Ernst ahead by seven
points over Democrat Bruce Braley.
"Des Moines Register" poll is considered the gold standard poll in Iowa.
Every four years, presidential campaigns wait with bated breath for its
release just before the caucuses and the pollster who conducted it told
"The Register" last night that "This race looks like it`s decided, but at
the same time, the average of all the polls in Iowa has urged ahead by less
than two points." And that`s even factoring in this new poll. Raising the
possibility of an outlier. The importance of the outcome of this race in
Iowa for the battle for control of the Senate is being driven home this
morning by Harry Reid who says in a new interview that if Iowa does go to
the Republicans, he`s out as his job as majority leader. "What Joni Ernst
would mean coming to the United States Senate is that Mitch McConnell would
be the leader of the Senate? Someone who agrees with her on virtually
everything. Think what that would mean for our country." These are Harry
Reid`s words there.
At a campaign rally in downtown Des Moines yesterday, the Democrat Bruce
Braley and former President Bill Clinton spoke of Ernst defining ad in the
campaign, one in which she boasted over ability to castrate hogs. Clinton
described that as both a positive and a negative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON: Said she wanted to take her pork cutting skills to
Washington and make them squeal. Now, that sounds good.
BILL CLINTON: But in order for it to work, you have got to know the
difference between pork and people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Ever former President George H.W. Bush, the first President Bush
is now weighing in with a last-minute endorsement of Ernst saying he`s been
impressed by her dedication and service to the country. And meanwhile, the
current president, Barack Obama is hitting the campaign trail, as well,
this weekend including in Michigan, at an event for Democratic Senate
candidate Gary Peters and the "Wall Street Journal" not alone this morning
in noticing it`s the first and only time the president has campaigned in a
Senate race. We`ll be talking more in a little bit about reports he`s
already planning for when this election is over.
For now, though, Obama as well as Democrats overall still working to boost
turnout in the final days. Aggressively targeting women. At an event for
Alison Grimes in Kentucky, Hillary Clinton highlighted the minimum wage
issues, calling it not just the women`s issue, but a family issue, and in
New Hampshire, Senator Jeanne Shaheen campaigned with the president of
Emily`s list. Paul released just last week. So, the two parties in a
statistical dead heat among women. 44 percent for Republicans and 42
percent the Democrats. Just a month ago, those numbers favored the
Democrats by seven points.
So, we`ve got lots to discuss this morning. For that, I`m joined by our
panel. We have Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez, NBC News senior
political reporter Perry Bacon Jr. and from the American Enterprise
Institute Norm Ornstein. So, let`s start in Iowa and with this news out of
Iowa. It`s one of those things we always say look at the average of all
polls and the average of the polls shows Ernst ahead, but shows that, you
know, more competitive race than this. At the same time this is considered
the gold standard poll, so some people are looking at this and they are
saying, you know, Republicans have been talking all year that wave will
come at the last minute and this is what it looks like. That`s what we
see. How do you read it there?
PERRY BACON JR. NBC CORRESPONDENT: When you think of this poll
individually, all the polls recently shown - really want, it will be very
surprising at this point. And Harry Reid`s right. If the Democrats don`t
win Iowa and I would add in Colorado, both states where they`re trailing
right now, it`s very hard to see how the Democrats keep control of the
Senate at that point.
KORNACKI: Are you saying Colorado and Iowa?
BACON: Iowa. If they lose both of those stakes, it`s very hard to see how
they keep control of the Senate. There`s almost no math, in which they win
the Senate without winning Iowa and Colorado.
KORNACKI: Yeah. How - as a Republican, how are you feeling about this one
LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Very, very positive. I think Joni
shown a couple of things. One, she didn`t run as a woman. I think that
that was a very interesting difference from what you are talking about.
You are seeing in Kentucky. She was saying, I`m working for the middle
class. She would make history of being one of the first women from Iowa to
go to Congress. But I think what`s interesting about her, she always did
very well with independents and independents can`t be independently
conservative women. And I - you see that gap closing across the country
and it`s not on necessarily women`s issues, but economic issues.
KORNACKI: Well, so Norm, you`ve actually written about this race. We put
the headline up here, you have the headline from your column, is when
conspiracy theories don`t fit the media narrative. Why haven`t Joni Ernst
flirtations with the gender 21 or Tom Cotton`s ideas about ISIS got more
attention? So, you think Joni Ernst is sort of getting a free pass here.
NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, Joni Ernst has
expressed some things that are really wacky and extreme. It`s not only
flirting with the gender 21. Which is a sort of bizarre theory that the
John Birch Society has belonged - to his well, but basically says the U.N.
is going to turn America into a country where you can`t keep your cars,
can`t keep your guns, can`t leave your homes. But she has also basically
said - made comments about people being dependent on government that make
Mitt Romney look almost like a socialist. And of, course, has also said, I
pack a 9 millimeter, and if the government ever infringes on my rights, I`m
going to use it. Now, those are things that have basically been downplayed
in a campaign because the narrative this year, Steve, is the Republicans
finally nominated mainstream candidates. The mainstream candidates that
have been nominated, ha e basically adopted most of the Tea Party
positions. She`s run a very folksy, good campaign outside of these
positions. Bruce Braley has run a terrible campaign. Those things
combined with what is a backlash, I think, against Democrats, which happens
in midterm elections. Put her in a position of being a favorite. But, you
know, we shouldn`t think that this is some centrist.
KORNACKI: I wonder, is this a race where - would Braley be winning right
now, would we even be talking about this if he hadn`t - had that video
about - He`s talking to the trial lawyers, he`s trying to raise money and
talking - but you don`t want some farmer from Iowa chairing the judiciary
committee. Is that - has that defined this campaign fair or not?
BACON: It has. When I was out in Iowa, when you saw a lot of coverage of
that, a lot of - they believe that it is an attack line, as well. I do
think it`s also the fact that Braley is non-incumbent. Obama won the state
by about six points in 2008, so Iowa, you could see - you think of as a
more liberal leaning state and they have Republican - base, really have
been a close state most of the time. Braley is - Just like Hagan did it or
Shaheen has, so I think he also was hurt by that. Ernst and he, so the
both sort of undefined. Braley is a congressman, well he did not have much
name I.D. outside of his district. And Ernst has done a great job with the
ads, she`s very folksy, she has run a better campaign than he did.
KORNACKI: Maybe I`ll ask you this, Leslie. Because I saw an article
yesterday, it was by Nate Cohn in the "New York Times." And he was
basically talking about - this is shaping up potentially as a pretty good
day Tuesday for Republicans, they could, you know, very plausibly win back
the Senate and that seems more likely than not at this point. But he`s
saying, have they - when you look at all of the issues that were raised
about the future of the Republican Party and the 2012 election. Any of the
successes that they`re poised for in 2014, have they addressed any of those
core, underlying issues about - you know, for instance nonwhite voters
bringing them over the party. When you`re winning the Senate by, you know,
winning Kentucky and winning Georgia and winning places like that, have you
really addressed any of that? I wonder how do you look at it. The
Republican Party right now. Do you see a party that`s changed from 2012 or
just an electorate that`s changed from 2012?
SANCHEZ: I think it`s a combination of both. I think there`s some - some
- very fair points that need to be addressed. I think ever since 2008, and
in Iowa propelling President Obama, I think you are seeing a lot of
Democrats come back and even independents that say, well, I didn`t
necessarily think that - I didn`t0 get what I bargain for. And ever since
that you saw it in 2012, more of that - Mitt Romney won more of the
precincts that Obama had won in 2008, so the Clinton - the slide has been
moving to the right for Republicans. And I think this is kind of like the
final test to for that. You have a better candidate who`s running in
middle class, kind of everybody - empowering everybody campaign. She`s
closing the gap with women, though she didn`t run on reproductive rights or
women`s necessarily issues. I think those were very important things. And
also, if you want to talk about Republicans, they put more boots on the
ground and they spend more money and investment in technology, the
convergence of technology and kind of door-to-door canvassing and some of
where they`ve been very deficient, and those anemic trends that we saw in
2008, 2012 have been closed.
KORNACKI: So, Norm, what do you see? If Republicans do take the Senate
this week, we see, President Obama is in Michigan, that`s - is he pushing
on an open door, politically speaking, as candidates go in by 20 points
KORNACKI: And otherwise, he has not been campaigning for these candidates,
he`s trying to keep himself on the back of it as much as he can for Senate
races. What should Democrats take out of the - if they come up short of -
if they lose the Senate? What is the lesson of the last two years for
ORNSTEIN: You know, I think part of it depends on whether it`s 51 seats or
53 or 54 seats, which potentially could happen. If you get that level of a
wave, then Democrats have to do some serious rethinking. But this has been
largely an issueless campaign, Steve. You know, we went into it, I think,
with Republicans believing it would all be about Obamacare. It has hardly
been about Obamacare. There are almost no issues. It`s true that Joni
Ernst ran on a middle class campaign, but mostly it was about how send me
to Washington and I`m going to cut some testicles off. It had little to do
with, here`s the agenda that we`re going to push forward. And I think for
Democrats recognizing that there may be a few things where Republicans will
work with them on, but were largely going to have two more years of
dysfunction and the question becomes not just what can the president do by
executive order, but as you head towards 2016, how do you address the deep
seeded public unease the government can`t do anything right?
BACON: I do think the war on women issues which worked really well in 2010
and the pioneer Republicans, is the party of Todd Akins appears not to have
worked this time. The gender gap is Obama won women by 11 points in 2012,
it looks like that gap will be much smaller.
KORNACKI: So, what happened?
BACON: It looked - the Republicans did a good job this time, where they
really trained their candidates early on. When asked about abortion, don`t
talk about rape, don`t talk about, you know, think about how you talk about
that. And you saw a little change where Republican candidates like Thom
Tillis in North Carolina start to say, I am for contraception over the
counter. They still switched, they (INAUDIBLE) instead of oppose
contraception in some ways, and they switched that issue, and really sort
of downplayed that as well. They talked about issues of abortion much
less, more about the middle class. They did - you know, Cory Gardner
avoided that personhood, you know, attack pretty well in Colorado. I think
that issue - those issues around gender, I think, they handled better.
They had better candidates who were a little smarter, who are more
experienced. It was not as many ken bucks and - sure angle (ph) before .
KORNACKI: Yeah. No, I .
SANCHEZ: Those were the disasters of .
SANCHEZ: 2010 and 2012. By far. And I think to that point, yes it was
economic issues. Yes, they were better prepared candidates, yes, they
learned not to touch those lightning rod issues of immigration and
reproductive rights and things that are going to take - they can get lost
or - lost in the discussion. I think immigration, of course, is going to
be one of the issues that comes back around. But part of the interesting
thing about picking these non-traditional candidates, even if they are
women, because there are not that many women in Congress, is that women are
seen as people who come in and work across the aisle and get things done.
And historically, Dick Morris used to report on this years ago, that that
was one of the appeal of these nontraditional candidates, so to speak. Is
that hopefully they have the chops to go in, work across the aisle and make
KORNACKI: Well, let`s - so, let`s see what happens on Tuesday. Obviously,
we see the Democrats right now sort of the underdogs on Tuesday. But who
knows. I mean when the things come certainly at the midterm elections,
even way, though, the government will go on for two years until the next
election. That`s what we want to talk about in the next break. What
happens after Tuesday? You mentioned immigration and a lot of other
issues, too. What happens after Tuesday, we`ll talk about that next.
KORNACKI: All right. Welcome back. Now to the question of what happens
after Tuesday. Peter Baker writing in this morning`s "New York Times" that
President Obama is already preparing for a Democratic defeat. He and his
aides are adjusting their policy agenda for the final two years
"anticipating a less friendly Congress, remapping possible compromises with
Republicans to expand trade, overall taxes and build roads and bridges."
Still, with or without partners on Capitol Hill, Obama will continue to
exercise his executive authority on climate change, immigration, energy,
gay rights and economic issues. Reporter of "The New York Times" also
suggests that the unilateral overhaul of immigration rules will happen in
the days to come.
So, Norm, you started to set this up in the last box, you`re not optimistic
that, let`s say, the Republicans have control of the Senate, you`re not
optimistic that there is any more compromise happening in the next two
years than we`ve had in the last two.
ORNSTEIN: No, I mean I think we will see probably trade move forward, much
more readily under Republicans than if there is a Democratic Senate. It`s
a slam dunk for Republicans. Most of the base doesn`t care much about the
issue. If Obama has the signing ceremony, it divides Democrats. So,
they`ll move forward with trade. There`s a slimmer chance, I think, of a
broad infrastructure bill. But on other issues, there is one thing we have
got to remember, Steve. Starting on Wednesday, even before. We move right
into presidential politics. It`s a different Iowa, it`s an Iowa dominated
by an extreme group in the caucuses, then you move on through New Hampshire
and into the south and we`re going to have three to five Republican
senators who will be spending most of their time out there on the campaign
trail, which is a problem for McConnell getting 51 votes even. But it also
means that it`s going to pull the party further away from compromises. If
I were Obama on immigration. Perry and I were talking about this before we
started. Rather than move immediately towards a broad fix through
executive power, which will give Republicans basically not only drive them
crazy, but give them an excuse to say we can`t work with this guy. Do
something small, but then say, you know, we`ve been dealing with this issue
for years, I`ll give the Republicans in the House until the end of January
to pass a comprehensive bill and move on. And if they can`t do it, we know
what all the issue are, then I`m going to act. Put out an olive branch of
sorts, but then we`re going to have very little done, regardless.
KORNACKI: So, how would something like that go over? How would a
challenge like that go over? Because we are - after 2012, everybody was
saying the Republicans recognize now the problem they have with Latino
voters, this is an issue. If they don`t move on anything else, they`re
going to move on immigration. And here we are two years later, they didn`t
move on it, but also if they win on Tuesday, if they win the Senate on
Tuesday isn`t the lesson that the Republican Party takes out of this, hey,
we don`t have to if we can still win.
SANCHEZ: Well, I don`t want to kind of confuse the two different things.
Latinos aren`t sitting around looking, oh, wait, we need immigration
reform, so we decide which candidate to vote for, but it is the lens by
which they view the party. More so in terms of are they passing, are they
working together, is there cost - kind of white hawk rhetoric on the issue
of amnesty or the degradation of how we talk about immigrants coming across
KORNACKI: But it seems like every time immigration comes up as a major .
SANCHEZ: It`s a hot issue.
KORNACKI: Then, you know, the Steve Kings of the world come out and .
SANCHEZ: It`s an issue, but you`ll even see Rand Paul makes a movement on
this area. There`s a lot we agree on in terms of border enforcement,
border control, knowing who is here, why are they here, what is their
intent, are they paying taxes. I think nefarious characters are never
going to want to get legalized in the system. We can all agree on that.
So, the resources can be spent, what is the best way to match employers
with labor. And there is compromise on that. I think the president, it
would not behoove the president to move forward and do some executive order
efforts. It`s going to ignite the base, it`s going to ignite Republicans.
They`re going to spend a lot of time arguing about that and it will be a
big issue. Some Democrats will argue that`s a great thing. I don`t have
to make - I don`t have to take a position on it. It can be another hotbed
issue in the 2016 and Republicans are going to lose on that issue if they
don`t take a step forward. I think smaller increments whether they`re
looking at in-state tuition for undocumented - finding a way to address
with what the president did earlier and finding small things enforcement on
the border and resources and that path to legalization, not necessarily
citizenship. That is a place to start.
KORNACKI: Harry, there is also an argument in this article according from
"The Times" this morning, that basically says, look, Harry Reid as the
majority leader and President Obama obviously working very closely with
him. But Harry Reid was worried every day about getting Democratic
senators re-elected in all of these key states. That was the main driving
concern for him. If Harry Reid is no longer the main person he has to deal
with in the Senate, he`s no longer the majority leader, it gives Obama more
latitude potentially to work with McConnell, to work with Republicans. Do
you buy that at all?
BACON: A little bit. But I think the core challenge here is, what bills
will a majority of the members of the House Republican caucus and Barack
Obama agree to. I think when you think about those - that question, the
number gets very close .
BACON: . to zero very quickly. So, my sense is, whatever happens in the -
well on the way here, eventually, he`s going to do this executive order on
immigration and it will legalize between one and four million people and
then all bipartisanship will be over that afternoon.
ORNSTEIN: You know, Steve, the Republican dream is that the House and
Senate Republicans get together if they both have the majority, pass all
kinds of bills that Obama has to veto or has to swallow. And what we know
is, that Kevin McCarthy and the majority leader in the House has said we
have got to have a positive agenda, we`ve got to move forward and I`m
talking everyday with John Thune, a major figure Republican in the Senate,
so we`ll be in sync. What we also know is the House and the Senate are
never in sync. When Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole took the reins of the
majority with Bill Clinton as president, and they were going to follow the
same strategy, within a couple of months Gingrich was complaining privately
and publicly that he had far more trouble with Dole in the Senate. He
called Dole the tax collector of the welfare state and that is just not
going to work very well for the reasons that Perry suggested. At the same
time, the idea that Barack Obama and Mitch McConnell are going to get
together and work on a lot of things, just doesn`t make a whole lot of
sense. McConnell is going to try and protect his members the way that
Harry Reid did.
Because remember next time, lots of vulnerable Republicans up. Many of
them in blue states. That`s the nature of the cycle. And McConnell has
said I`m going to restore the old Senate with open amendments and the like.
Just wait until the first bill comes up and Democrats try to use the same
gotcha amendments against Republicans from Pennsylvania and states like
that and you`re going to see the Senate shut down.
KORNACKI: Shoe is on the other foot. And of course, as we say, look,
funny things can happen and it looks like the math favors Republicans on
the service right now, but if one or two of these states surprise you on
Tuesday night, which is not at all out of the question, then we are talking
next week about how the Republicans blew it. And how you are dealing with
that, nerve combination from that. Anyway, lot of suspense still on
Tuesday night. I want to thank Harry Bacon Jr. for joining us this
morning. Leslie and Norm, we will talk with you again a little bit later.
That is the Senate for right now, but what about the House of
Representatives? Yes, it`s pretty much a foregone conclusion that
Republicans will still control the chamber. But there is a lot about the
race for the House. Still very surprising. Two very important numbers to
keep an eye on. We`ll go to the big board and we`ll tell you what they are
and why, next.
KORNACKI: All right, so we`ve talked an awful lot this year about the
battle for control of the Senate. A lot of suspense there. A lot of - you
know, we don`t know which party is going to end up on top after Tuesday.
There`s also another battle in Washington that is going to play out on
Tuesday and that is for control of the House. You haven`t heard as much
about it because the Republicans are in very good shape to retain their
majority, but there are two very important numbers to be looking at here.
It will be pretty consequential for the next two years. So, we want to
take you through what the battle for the House looks like right now. We
start with the current balance, Republicans, obviously, the majority party.
Remember, it takes 218 to have majority in the House. Those three you see
at the bottom, those are vacant seats. So, Republicans, that`s the
majority they start with.
Now, let`s take a look at who is defending what and what is up for grabs on
Tuesday. So, we have right here a list of this is 30, 30 in total. There
are Democratic held seats that are in danger of being won by the
Republicans on Tuesday. Some of these are seats that Democrats are almost
certainly going to lose on Tuesday, a lot of these are seats that could go
either way. But this is - you have to understand, we just want to make
clear these are the seats that are in some danger and there are 30 of them.
We want to take a closer look at a few of them to give you a sense of what
the battleground looks like out there. This is New Hampshire. This may be
the most interesting congressional seat in America. This is the third time
that these two candidates have faced off against each other. Carol Shea-
Porter, she won the seat in the Democratic wave in 2006 when George W...
Bush was president, she lost it to Frank Guinta, the Republican in 2010 in
a Tea Party backlash year. She won it back in 2012 and President Obama at
the top of the ticket actually carried this district by two points. And
now in 2014 Frank Guinta is back running against her, again. This is a
test of, you know, sort of the national - you know, national climate,
national shift to Guinta campaign basically thinking, hey, look, 2014,
better year for Republicans than 2012, this district will swing back. This
district has been swinging all over the place. Keep a close eye on this on
Tuesday night. Both in terms of battle for the House, but also this will
tell you something about the Senate race in New Hampshire between Jeanne
Shaheen and Scott Brown moving along here. Another key race to be looking
at on Tuesday.
This - one of the most expensive congressional races we`ve seen in the
country this year. Nick Rahall, this is a coal country Democrat, he`s been
in office since 1976. And this district, more than maybe any other
district in the country has moved farther to the Republicans in the Obama
era because of the issue of coal. If you went back to the year 2000, Al
Gore actually carried this district running for president. By 2012 when
Obama ran for re-election, Mitt Romney got about 65 percent of the vote
here. Nick Rahall in very serious danger of losing the seat. And more -
to keep a close eye. This is very interesting. This was the one, this is
a race where a Democrat Jim Matheson is retiring. It`s an open seat. It`s
the fourth district of Utah, Mitt Romney got well over 60 percent of the
vote here in 2012. Everybody said, the start of this campaign at Mia Love,
who would be the first African-American Republican woman ever elected to
Congress. Everybody said, well, obviously, she`ll win this district.
National Republicans very interested in this campaign. There has been some
polling out, little suspect people think in terms of methodology meaning,
but there`s been some polling out in the last week that suggests she may
actually be in a much closer race than people realize. So, keep a close
eye on this one on Tuesday, because this is one Republicans very much want
to win. Now, there are - we said there are 30 Democratic seats in pretty
serious jeopardy here. There is 12 Republican seats that we will put in
that same category. So, that`s why people, you know, keep saying the
Republican majority is so safe. They simply - they are on offense. Much
more than Democrats.
Let`s take a close look at some of the Republicans there who are in the
most danger. Lee Terry. This is Omaha, Nebraska. This is the district,
this is the best Democratic district in Nebraska and the reason Lee Terry
is in trouble as he really is, during the government shutdown last year,
when all those government employees were out of jobs temporarily, out of
paychecks temporarily, they asked Lee Terry, are you going to keep your
paycheck or give it up? He said, hey, I`ve got expenses, I`m going to keep
my paycheck, I can`t afford this. That didn`t go over well. He`s in
serious danger there in the second district of Nebraska. The second
district of Florida, this is sort of the eastern panhandle and this is
Steve Sutherland. He was elected in that Republican wave in 2010. He has
gotten into trouble for some things he said about women. He had a men-only
fundraiser. He was asked about it and he made comments about it that some
people took as disparaging to women. This is the daughter of former
Democratic Senator Bob Graham who is running against him. Keep a close eye
on this one on Tuesday night.
And one moral academy - this is the most, maybe the most interesting House
race. This is Michael Grimm who is facing a 20-count federal indictment
relating to business practices when he was running a restaurant in New
York. He`s also famous for threatening to throw a reporter over a balcony
earlier this year. Domenic Recchia. That`s the Democrat running against
him. There was a poll out in this district this week, this should be a
quintessential tossup district. A poll this week put Michael Grimm ahead
by 19 points and that caught a lot of people by surprise. He may actually
survive this election. He then faces a trial starting in early December.
So, those are some races to keep an eye on in the House, again. The key
here is that Republicans are trying to get that majority as high as they
can this year because they are anticipating a tough year maybe in 2016.
So, they want - want what they call a weave-proof majority. Democrats
meanwhile are looking to keep their losses to as small as they can because
they think with Hillary Clinton on the top of the ticket in 2016 and maybe
a better climate then if they can get close enough, be within striking
distance this year and maybe they could have a wave in 2016 that would put
them over the touch. So, that is what to look for in the House on Tuesday.
And checking in with the reporters on the ground in some of the tightest
Senate battle ground races. Still waiting for the new poll and numbers on
that. And Chris Matthews, an exciting morning here and up. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: The plan was ambitious. We wanted to take you on the ground to
all ten of the Senate battleground states this weekend and we are right on
track. Yesterday we hit five of them and today we`re going to hit five
more. And the next three that we`re going to get to right now may be the
three tightest races of all. Starting in Kansas. Right now Republican
Senator Pat Roberts is locked in a virtual tie with Independent challenger
Greg Orman. Chris Christie and Bob Dole joined Roberts on the campaign
trail in recent days and there is Georgia. I mean Georgia Republican
businessmen David Perdue enjoys a razor-thin edge over Democratic non-
profit executive Michelle Nunn. She is the daughter of former Senator Sam
Nunn. In Georgia, of course, if no one gets 50 percent of the vote on
Tuesday, the top two candidates will head to a runoff and that runoff
wouldn`t be held until January 6, 2015. And both of these places Democrats
are trying desperately to pick off seats currently held by Republicans.
Then there`s the third seat, the third race we`re going to take you to in
just a minute. That`s Iowa. Where Democrats are hoping to hold on to a
seat that has been held by Democrat Tom Harkin for 30 years.
As we mentioned earlier, though, a new poll out overnight from "The Des
Moines Register." That is the gold standard poll in Iowa. It shows Bruce
Braley, the Democrat trailing Republican Joni Ernst by seven points. So
now, without any further ado, joining us to discuss these three nail biters
on the ground we have MSNBCC political reporter Kasie Hunt live in Atlanta,
NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Luke Russert is in Des Moines, NBC News
correspondent Kelly O`Donnell in Shawnee, Kansas. Just outside Kansas
sitting in the crucial swing county of Johnson County.
But we`ll start with you, Kasie Hunt, in Georgia. So, the talk from
Democrats for the last week has been, you know, boy, they think they have
momentum here and they`re talking about trying to get to 50 percent on
Election Day and they don`t want to deal with the runoff. How is it
looking on the ground there?
KASIE HUNT, MSNBCC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Steve, as you say, this is the
real test for whether or not Democrats can remake the electorate. This is
a state that is changing in their favor and they have two really strong
candidates, both in the Senate and running for governor. Michelle Nunn and
Jason Carter. And for both of them, I mean even Republicans will say that
Michelle Nunn in particular is one of the strongest candidates on the map,
bar none, this cycle. Now, so far, they are having more success here than
they`ve had in past mid-term elections. About 33 percent of voters in
early balloting are African American, and that is the kind of number that
Michelle Nunn would need if she were going to win this outright.
Now both sides acknowledge that that number is going to come down on
Election Day. That you are going to see a higher percentage of white
voters on Election Day, but that`s really the number that you want to
watch. If you`re trying to figure out whether this is going to go to a
runoff or whether Nunn is going to pull this out or whether David Perdue
will win with 50 percent, it`s that tally of African-American voters.
KORNACKI: And just quickly, I mean the conventional wisdom seems to be if
this does go to a runoff, the Republicans are favored and it seems to be
basically the old turnout argument. Are basically more motivated in their
base. Is that your sense of it?
HUNT: Republicans will say, hey, we`re eight for eight in runoffs here in
Georgia. But I think that you really have to think about how that`s going
to play out in context. If this is the Senate seat that control of the
Senate hinges on, which very well may be the case, then I think that you`re
going to see Democrats really fighting very hard down here to the point
where it could be unpredictable.
KORNACKI: All right now, let`s move a little bit across the country to
Iowa. Luke Russert live on the ground there. So, look, overnight, I mean
this poll, "The Des Moines Register", gold standard poll in Iowa, puts Joni
Ernst ahead by seven. As we said, if you do the average of all polls in
Iowa, still a closer race. But, obviously, there are shock waves from this
poll. Tell us what the reaction is to Iowa and what the Braley campaign is
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reaction is, Steve, from
Democrats, is a little bit of dismay and a lot of worry. And the worry is
as you mentioned, this is the gold standard of polling. But if you dig
into this poll, there are two things that are very alarming for Bruce
Braley. Number one, in his own congressional district, in eastern Iowa,
he`s losing by three points. That`s all is something that can be taken to
account in a race like this. If he`s the congressman there running for
Senate and he`s behind with his own people, that`s a problem.
Number two, on the issue where Democrats usually pull away from Republicans
on. Does the person who is running care about me? Joni Ernst is actually
beating Bruce Braley and that goes back to a few things. Number one, his
comment about Chuck Grassley just being a simple Iowa farmer. If he - if
Ernst would have win and Grassley becomes chairman of the Senate Judiciary
Committee. That has resonated deeply here in this deep agriculture - rich
state. Not in a good way.
Also this question about Bruce Braley and whether or not he may have sued
his neighbor over some chickens going into the yard. They seem like
trivial issues to a national audience, but here in Iowa, they`ve really -
the GOP here has been successful and sort of casting him as this out of
touch, Washington lawyer against Joni Ernst who is a farmer, a combat
veteran. And if she were to win, would be the first female senator from
This race has been rich with the surrogates, Steve. We had Bill Clinton in
here yesterday doing two events for Bruce Braley, Marco Rubio and John
McCain here for Ernst recently. Michelle Obama did a surprise stop at the
Democratic field office. For Democrats to win this and turn back those
poll numbers you saw there from the "Des Moines Register" poll, they really
have got to bank on their early vote margin and they have got to bank on
turnout. They say they have the superior ground model, they`ve won every
presidential election race here going back to 1998, with the exception of
2004. They know how to get out their voters. Republicans say they`re
matching them with that sort of intensity. The question is, the Republican
early votes which are bigger now than they were in 2010, are those newer
voters or is this Republicans voting more early now than they have in the
past? That`s the question. But as of right now, I think it`s safe to say
the momentum is with Ernst and Braley faces an uphill battle here of the
last two days.
KORNACKI: All right, and as we say, this is such - such a crucial state,
too, for overall control of the Senate, another obviously crucial state, we
move a little further west now to Kansas. And that`s where Kelly O`Donnell
is standing by for us. So, Kelly, obviously, a unique race here because
there is no Democrat on the ballot. Pat Roberts has, he was trailing by a
more significant margin about a month ago. He`s polled almost even, he`s
slightly behind in the average of all polls. In terms of Roberts getting
over the top and winning it, what does he need to do in the next two days?
KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is crucial. And to have some
perspective, Steve, I`ve been covering campaigns a long time, I have not
been in Kansas this close to Election Day since 1996 when I was with Bob
Dole as he voted for himself for president and Bob Dole will be here today.
The icon of Kansas stumping for Pat Roberts. It has been a case where
Republican big names from around the country have tried to flood to zone to
help Pat Roberts. Because this is a state that should be easily
Republican, they`ve only sent Republicans to the Senate since the 1930s.
But frustration over Washington, public fatigue over long-term incumbents
has made this a much tougher road for Pat Roberts.
When I talk to people here, they basically like him, they`ve grown tired of
him and the critique has been, he`s too much of Washington and not enough
here. How do you overcome that? Well, there`s the space for a new kind of
candidate, Independent Greg Orman, self-made multi-millionaire businessman
and he has been saying what voters want to hear right now. He is on what
they call a breaking the gridlock tour this weekend trying to say to
voters, you can change Washington by not sending back someone who has been
there a long time. The hard part has been in talking with voters they`re
not sure about Greg Orman. He says both parties have got it wrong, but
they`re not entirely sure what kind of senator he would be. Republicans
say he is much closer to Barack Obama than most Kansas voters are. So, the
main argument here is to say, if you want a Republican Senate and you want
Kansas to be a part of that story, send Pat Roberts back to Washington.
But you can`t really get a sense of how this is going to play because
someone like Orman doesn`t have the party infrastructure. How do you
mobilize the troops and get the vote out when you`re an Independent? And
that`s something very interesting to watch unfold right here, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. Yeah, it`s been my favorite Senate race to watch
this year. Kelly O`Donnell in Kansas, Luke Russert in Iowa, Kasie Hunt in
Georgia. Appreciate all of you joining us this morning. Good luck, this
will last two days.
Lots more news and politics ahead, including brand-new poll numbers in
three key battleground states and Chris Matthews, too. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Something that is going to come back into sharper focus once the
midterm elections are over. It`s not that ISIS went away as a foreign
policy challenge for the U.S., it`s really that national attention has
shifted back to domestic politics in the home stretch of the campaign. But
this morning there are reports of a mass killing by the extremist terror
group. 50 people in Iraq`s Anbar province shot in the head, including
women and children. The AP saying this has become almost a daily
occurrence. Various officials telling the news agency that the militant
group killed another 50 members of the same tribe on Friday and at least 48
other people on Thursday. Again, this is something we`ll be hearing plenty
about in the days and weeks to come. Stay with us this morning. More news
and politics ahead.
KORNACKI: See how stores start putting out the Christmas merchandise
before they`ve stopped displaying the Halloween candy? And Starbucks is
already serving drinks in its red holiday cups. Before Christmas is over,
we`ll be faced with racks of Valentin`s day cards. That works well. The
same kind of holiday creep exists when it comes to politics. 2014, midterm
elections aren`t even here yet, still 48 hours away, despite that, the 2016
presidential election really has officially begun. The first Republican
primary debate to be scheduled is now on the calendar. Circle the date,
September 16, 2015. Not only that, but all week long potential Republican
candidates have been showing signs, clear signs, even if unofficial signs
that they are getting ready to run. Jeb Bush, he lashed out at Hillary
Clinton when he was campaigning for other Republicans in Colorado and his
son, George P. Bush told the reporter that his father would be running.
And Jeb himself said this to our own Kasie Hunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Can I ask you about what your son said this weekend on NBC? Is that
where you headset - on running for president?
JEB BUSH: No, he`s got on opinion, he didn`t talk to me. You know, when
you have kids, you probably have the same frustration. You love them to
death and they have their own opinions but I`ll make up my mind just as
I`ve said at the end of the year.
HUNT: OK. And you said that`s - about you. You are going to consider it
with your family over the holidays. That`s the plan.
BUSH: The same as I`ve always said, there is nothing new here.
HUNT: And while Jeb Bush is saying that, Pau Ryan told Robert Costa of
"The Washington Post" that he`s playing to take a little longer to decide.
He boasted that as the former vice presidential nominee, for his party, he
could afford to wait. "I already know a lot of people in these key states
well. They call me up so I don`t feel the need to have to chum." Chris
Christie shouted down a heckler at a town hall who tried questioning how
his government has allocated Hurricane Sandy fund this week, and he told
Kasie Hunt, yes, Kasie Hunt again, that Americans should expect the same
Chris Christie, if he were elected president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: What happened yesterday with the Sandy protester? Is there any
downside to that politically?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R) NEW JERSEY: Listen, I don`t think about it that
way. I am who I am. My view has always been and I told people in New
Jersey this, (ph) public events. You`re giving- you`re getting it back.
If you give respect, you get that back. If you don`t give respect, I`m
going to take it out on it. And that`s just the way it goes. I don`t
calculate these things politically. This is who I am and I think most
people understand that. You know, someone stands up and is yelling and
screaming and, you know, it`s just not appropriate to do and I`m not going
to sit there and be a heavy back.
HUNT: And would you continue - conduct yourself that way if you were
CHRISTIE: Oh, gosh, I don`t even know if I`m running for president.
CHRISTIE: So, that is really speculation on speculation. But this is the
way I am. It`s (INAUDIBLE) as governor. I think the people in my state
like it and I make no apologies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right, joined now by Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez
back at the table. Jessica Taylor from "The Hill" and Norm Ornstein from
"The American Enterprise" and Chris Christie has no idea if he`s running
for president in 2016.
KORNACKI: I`ll tell you what, though, we`ve been talking about Jeb Bush
and we`ll start on Jeb here maybe because I had the sense for a while, you
know, maybe six months ago, a year ago that Jeb Bush wasn`t that into the
idea that maybe there was some reluctance there and some hesitance. Here
is the thing that strikes - it`s not what he said this week that jumped out
at me. It`s the fact, and we reported it at the top of the show this
morning, in that key Senate race in Iowa who came in with an endorsement
late last night? George Bush Sr. in Georgia. Michelle Nunn is running.
She was - she ran on the points of Light Foundation, the George Bush Sr.
Group, she`s been mentioning that to people. George Bush Sr. puts out a
statement saying, stop saying that. I`m absolutely - I don`t think George
Bush Sr. at age 91 or whatever he`s up to right now is doing things like
this unless Jeb is running for president.
JESSICA TAYLOR, THE HILL: I think that, you know, Jeb, if his last name
weren`t Bush, I think he would definitely be running and some of the Bush
fatigue seems to have faded. So I think - I mean this is his shot. You
know, I mean we talked about him in 2012 as a possible candidate, but his
time is now and I think he clearly is giving it more thought. Now, what I
mean like the Bush network is deep and, like you said, I think that there
is some strategy behind his father playing in Iowa and what he is doing to
help other candidates. You have seen him active more behind the scenes.
He has this sort of his flash, he has Rand Paul or Chris Christie on the
trail, but he`s helping strategically in places and I think that, you know,
even if he doesn`t run, he wants to be a part of this. I think he could be
a potential kingmaker. I mean, and the Republican establishment who is
just so hungry for a candidate. They would love to see a Jeb Bush run.
Because he can appeal to sort of more centrist and also - especially,
Hispanic voters and things, too, he`s talked about immigration and
education reform, you know, which certainly will hurt him in a Republican
primary. Listen, I think if he makes it through a Republican primary, it`s
going to be a very tough general election.
KORNACKI: So, that issue of Bush fatigue. Because - what Jessica said,
you strip me, you go back to the end of the Bush presidency and obviously
you can look at where the Bush and Republican Party poll numbers were. How
much of that exists within the Republican Party from the standpoint of, is
this risking some kind of backlash with general election voters if we
nominate another Bush?
SANCHEZ: I don`t think so. I think this country that would be a big case
if you had Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush of Groundhog Day all over again.
And I mean, is there clean fatigue, Bush fatigue. We have a legacy in this
country of like liking family legacy.
KORNACKI: I guess what I`m saying is when Clinton left office he`s sitting
at 65, 70percent in the polls and when Bush left office, he`s barely hit at
30. If he`s hitting 30.
SANCHEZ: Sure, no. It was different circumstances, different times, I
think especially coming out of the Obama presidency, people were ready for
someone who was known to have - to hear points of education reform work
across the aisle on these kind of empowerment issues of bringing people up
the rung of the ladder. You know, economic opportunity, building and
reducing tax structures and balancing a budget. A lot of things that are
very important, I think, right now, and that`s one difference I would say
for somebody like Obama who`s an outsider coming from the Senate. I think
there`s going to be an appeal of governors, again. It`s somebody who`s had
kind of success on that level and I want to replicate nationally. That`s a
very big positive for Bush.
KORNACKI: So, Norm, because you`ve been talking about your sort of
pessimism about where the Republican Party is going in the next few years.
I think back to George W. Bush in the late `90s when Republicans turned to
him at that point and he kind of pulled the party towards the middle. That
was the idea of compassionate conservatism near more federal involvement,
education and things like that. When people talk about Jeb Bush as maybe a
moderating force right now, or Chris Christie as a moderating force,
somebody like that. Do you see any potential for somebody at the
presidential level to take leadership in the party and move it more towards
the middle and away from the right?
ORNSTEIN: One thing to keep in mind, Steve, is that the results Tuesday
night or maybe January 6th are going to make a difference here. If
Republicans win the Senate, and let`s say they win 52, 53 seats, the
attitude in the party is going to be, boy, this hard right obstruction
ORNSTEIN: And at the same time, I`m just a skeptic about either Bush or
Christie. With Jeb Bush you have somebody who has said that the people who
came across the border undocumented, it was an act of love. That goes so
against where the center of gravity in the party is now. He`s the
strongest supporter of the common core. Which has become anathema. In
fact, enough anathema to the right that Bobby Jindal, who is aiming at this
nomination looked at where his party was going and went from being as
strong and enthusiastic supporter of common core as Jeb Bush to being the
most ardent opponent undercutting his own commissioner in the state and his
own legislature. This is a guy who hasn`t run for anything in 12 years.
So, I`m a little bit of a skeptic. With Chris Christie, if your campaign
theme is, America, sit down and shut up, and if you`re running on a record
that in New Jersey is actually a pretty crappy record. You know, he`s
raiding the pension funds, which he said he wouldn`t do. The economy
hasn`t done well, or jobs compare to the rest of the country. You have got
these other problems that you have uncovered and covered as well as anybody
else. And he`s from New Jersey. I just I am a skeptic that that`s where
the party is heading. Now, if the Republicans lose the Senate, then you`re
going to see it rethinking.
KORNACKI: He`s reshuffling. Say, he`s from New Jersey thing, Woodrow
Wilson is spitting in his grave somewhere.
KORNACKI: There`s a lot of question marks with Christie. My thanks to
Leslie Sanchez for joining us this morning. Jessica and Norm, you will be
back a little bit later in the next hour.
Three new polls, three key battleground states for the Senate. We will
have the latest numbers for you. We will unveil them next. And also
coming up as promised, Chris Matthews, he will be here on set in his debut
on offense, coming up, stay with us.
KORNACKI: Brand-new Senate poll numbers from three key states.
All right, thanks for staying with us. We have been waiting for these all
morning. We are the first to have them and we can finally bring them to
you now, right now. Brand-new polling data in three key Senate
battleground states. And we have three journalists who are on the ground
covering these three races. To talk about them with us, we`ll get to all
three of you in just a minute, but first, we will unveil the numbers for
you. We start in Louisiana and those survey say, this is an NBC Marist
poll, by the way, say that Mary Landrieu is likely to come out on top in
Tuesday`s election. She has 44 percent there. Republican Bill Cassidy at
16 percent, Republican Rob Maness at 15 percent.
But this is a jungle primary. Every candidate on the ballot, regardless of
primary, the key there is that if nobody actually gets the 50 percent, then
there will be a runoff in Louisiana on December 6 and in that scenario,
poll here as well, voters would favor either of Landrieu`s Republican
challengers. You see there both of them leading her in this poll.
We move on then to Kentucky and more straight forward race here. Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be expanding his lead over
Alison Grimes as the electorate - 50 to 41 percent now, in the new
NBC/Marist poll. That is one-point higher than the eight-point lead that
McConnell held in the NBC/Marist poll two months ago.
And finally in Georgia, Republican David Perdue now has a four-point lead
over Democrat Michelle Nunn. No candidate there hitting 50 percent yet, as
you can see, as a runoff, as well, in Georgia. If nobody gets 50 percent,
there`s a libertarian there who is gobbling up three or four percent right
now. And there`s barely any difference in the runoff scenario there. You
could actually - you are looking at Kentucky there, I`m not sure why, but
you can see in Georgia a very similar result in a runoff. That`s the
Anyway, the governor`s race in Georgia has Nathan Deal who seems to be
holding President Carter`s grandson Jason Carter at bay. A five-point lead
there. Barely standing ahead of the margin of error. We have a lot to get
to in all of these races. And we say, three journalist on the ground
joining me. Jarvis Dewberry of "The New Orleans Times-Picayune", Al Cross,
columnist for "Louisiana Courier" of Louisville. Too much Louisiana here.
And director of the Institute for Rural Journalism at the University of
Kentucky and Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
So, Jarvis, I`ll start with you and that poll sums up the dilemma, the
problem for Mary Landrieu in a nut shell. In this jungle primary on
Tuesday, she looks well positioned to come out on top and people look at
Louisiana, they look at sort of political, Republican, right wood drift of
Louisiana and they say, in a one-on-one race with the Republican in the
runoff, how could she get over the top? Is there a road map? Is there a
path here to a victory in a runoff for Mary Landrieu?
JARVIS DEBERRY, NEW ORLEANS TIMES PICAYUNE: That is the million dollar
question, Steve. You know, she has had a tough go. Every election she`s
been in with the one notable exception of 2008 when she was on the ballot
with Barack Obama and she got, I think, 52 percent of the vote in 2008.
And that was her easiest goal of all - that she`s ever had. She had a
tough, tough battle in 1996 when she won by about 5,000 votes and had a
very tough battle in 2002 when she ran against another Suzy Haik Terrell,
who was another New Orleanian here. And so, this is more of the norm. And
she has defied gravity for three, two elections with the exception of the
Obama election and now she has to see if she can defy gravity, again. All
of the energy in the south is going towards Republicans and she has to
demonstrate, once again, that she can be that outlier. The one Democrat
who can get elected in an overwhelmingly red state. So, it`s the million
dollar question. Can she do it? I don`t know if she can. But she has
done it before.
KORNACKI: And is the key to strategy more than ever, you look at New
Orleans itself, it looks like she got about 100,000 vote plurality - that
was the last time around. She just has to drive up the turnout and drive
up the number in New Orleans as much as possible.
DEBERRY: That is exactly how she overcame Susie Haik Terrell. All of the
news on the street on that Election Day was that Terrell folks thought they
had it in the bag and it was a massive, late-day push that she had in 2002
that allowed her to get over the hump. It was a massive get out the vote
campaign that was late on Election Day, itself. So, New Orleans is
absolutely going to be critical, if she can motivate people to get out.
The early voting returns were very encouraging here in New Orleans. But
they weren`t as high in Baton Rouge where she also needs a strong showing.
KORNACKI: OK, now moving on to Al Cross in Kentucky. So, Al, these are,
this new NBC Marist number, obviously, not good news for Alison Grimes.
Not the only bad news, she`s gotten 50-41, again, in the new NBC/Marist
poll and I think back a few months to win this race sort of took shape
after the primary. The polls were tighter then, it looked like Grimes was
sort of on offense. McConnell doesn`t have a great history of winning the
landslides in Kentucky. He always wins, but usually he seems at least a
little bit vulnerable. When you see numbers like this, "A" is that your
sense that that`s where the race stands right now and, "B," is this Grimes
blowing an opportunity or is this just McConnell running a really good
campaign in the right year?
AL CROSS, LOUISVILLE COURIER JOURNAL: Well, that`s not exactly any of
those. I think that poll probably overstates the margin of it. This poll,
likewise, overstated where I think the margin was earlier. But, I do sense
something of a Republican trend here. And it`s not so much McConnell
running a great campaign, which he has, as usual, but the ancillary
campaign run by his allies. About $20 million worth of ads supporting him
and primarily attacking Grimes. I think that she peaked around the first
of August, around the fancy farm picnic and since then we`ve seen her side
outspent considerably by McConnell and his allies and I believe that is the
primary reason that she`s fallen behind. The other reason is, she really
hasn`t made that good a case for herself. You know, supposedly one of her
great advantages was she had no voting record. She would be hard to
attack. But she was an Obama delegate and she got caught in the trap of
whether or not she voted for Obama and, you know, when you have been in
office a short time, people really don`t know that much about you. That`s
the disadvantage of not having a record. She was pretty thin and it was
easy to break through with this avalanche of attacks.
KORNACKI: All right, and then Jim Galloway in Georgia, this is actually
Georgia number ten of our ten battlegrounds we`ve hit on the ground this
weekend. So, you`re sort of bat and clean up first, Jim. But so, these
new poll numbers, Perdue ahead short of 50 percent. Nunn, you know, pretty
close behind him. Again, I guess the question here is, is there going to
be a runoff? First of all, your sense of are we headed towards a runoff in
Georgia or do you think one of these candidates can get over 50 on Tuesday?
JIM GALLOWAY, ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: I think if you see a candidate
get over 50 on Tuesday, it`s going to be Governor Nathan Deal, the
Republican incumbent. My guess is David Perdue and Michelle Nunn are going
to have to go for another nine weeks.
KORNACKI: And what are you .
KORNACKI: We were talking with Casey Hunt about this a little earlier in
the show, your sense of how that runoff would go. Because she says
Republicans look at the runoff in Georgia, and they say, hey, we`re eight
for eight. What`s your sense?
GALLOWAY: Yeah, we`re eight for eight, but the thing to keep in mind is
those eight runoffs have been within, say, three to four weeks after the
general election. The first Tuesday after Thanksgiving and Democrats have
found it very, very hard to motivate their base. But because of a federal
lawsuit this Senate runoff would be January 6. Nine weeks. Now, depending
on what the makeup of the Senate chamber is, you could see a whole new
campaign form itself in those nine weeks. And in that sense, I think
Michelle Nunn would have something of an edge.
KORNACKI: That`s really interesting and, of course, the key date there,
January 6 would be the runoff in Georgia. January third right now is the
day when the Senate would reconvene. So, literally all eyes in Washington
could be on Georgia. Anyway, Jarvis DeBerry in Louisiana, Al Cross in
Kentucky, Jim Galloway in Georgia. Really appreciate all of you getting up
this morning. That completes our ten-state tour. We hit all the
battlegrounds this weekend. It does not complete the show. Because when
we come up, we come back next, we`ll play hardball with Chris Matthews.
He`ll be here, right after this.
KORNACKI: All right. When you want to know what`s happening in politics,
the first place to turn, the best place to turn is to Chris Matthews. He`s
been part of the NBC and MSNBC families for two decades. Host of the
iconic "Hardball" show since 1997 and it was called "Politics with Chris
Matthews" before that. I remember watching that. I was growing up - but
he sometimes even allows me to sit in for him when he`s away. In short,
CHRIS MATTHEWS: That is my prime .
KORNACKI: Very flattering. There`s no one I would rather talk to ahead of
the election. He`s also going to be co-hosting MSNBC`s coverage on Tuesday
night. The one, the only .
MATTHEWS: Thanks, Steve.
KORNACKI: Chris Matthews.
MATTHEWS: You are really good. I really love the way you handle those
reporters, because they know so much more than we know. They`re on the
ground and just listen.
KORNACKI: You just want to hear what .
MATTHEWS: Just listen.
KORNACKI: Absolutely. So, what do you think of this? We - this morning
the headline news out of Iowa, suddenly, this poll has Ernst ahead by seven
points out there, the new NBC/Marist poll, Grimes falling behind in
Kentucky, and Landrieu behind in a runoff in Louisiana. A lot of people
saying, you know, maybe these are signs that that wave we have been hearing
about all year, maybe is forming, but how are you feeling right now?
MATTHEWS: I`m good - I mean I don`t know. You know, I think there is, I
was just in New Hampshire. So, I know a bit about that. Good ground game,
I`m really - street 01 (ph) ground game, I would say over and over to Scott
Brown. But Brown`s very - started looking at the biggest search items in
Google, right up to the last 30 days where Hillary is the big question they
want to ask about with Shaheen.
KORNACKI: Push Shaheen`s name in Google.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, they want - they want t - because certainly it`s up there
today, and Hillary is going to have some impact out there. There`s a state
that all women delegation right now, you know, for Senate and the House and
governor. And so, it`s - she could actually have some real impact with the
women voters - to the liberals. And then on the other side, it`s the
center fold that is real worth. It`s net worth. So, they want to know how
rich he is, and they also want to - and they want to go back and look at
the center fold. So, he`s got sex appeal of that kind. She`s got sex
appeal of the other kind. Gender appeal. So, it is fascinating. I would
say she wins. I think she`s a popular figure. I think the one year at
corporate banking, she wouldn`t have, I asked her, she had corporate
banking, she wouldn`t say it, but he is.
KORNACKI: Here`s the - here`s the other thing, in Massachusetts right now,
the Republicans on the verge of maybe winning the governor`s race, that
could have been Scott Brown. If he stayed in Massachusetts.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, but I think he went .
MATTHEWS: I think you have to think long term with him, Steve. I think he
wants a longtime career in politics. If he gets into New Hampshire, he
could still do it, who knows? If he gets that seat in Harvard for life,
that`s what he wants. He wants to be a figure.
KORNACKI: So, outside New Hampshire then, how do you - how are you
MATTHEWS: Well, I think the Tillis race with Hagan. I was there two weeks
ago. I mean I have to admit it, I`m rooting for her. I think North
Carolina is a much more moderate state than Tillis. And I think that - I
went to a graduate school there and I have to tell you I think that Tillis
has negatives because of the state legislature there. They really have a
big prom. That state was built by modern education. You know, going back
to Frank Graham. I mean building up the University of North Carolina,
fabulous school that it was. And it`s deteriorated. They`ve been cutting
the spending, they`ve had that recent scandal there. They need that
university that research triangle with Duke and NC State that make that
state as modern as it can be. And I think they know it. I think even the
KORNACKI: So, what do you - so much can get - If the Republicans end up
taking back the Senate on Tuesday night, we are going to here .
MATTHEWS: I think they will, by the way. I mean everybody thinks they
KORNACKI: Yeah, I know certainly that`s what, you know, the polls are
MATTHEWS: You`ve got to - by the way, I would add almost three points, 3.5
points to all the Republican numbers. I think their energy, their anger,
their even hatred of Obama is a driving force. And I`m not saying there is
nothing wrong with it, objectively, I don`t agree with it. But there is a
real anger about it. I think people get angry when they get scared.
MATTHEWS: You`re afraid of getting mugged. You get angry at the guys
coming up to - or in the middle of the night, or something. So you get
scared. And when you get scared, you get angry. And that`s where the
country is right now.
KORNACKI: Yes, so they`re scared ..
KORNACKI: Do you think - is it the Republican base and they`re just
turning out because they`re scared? Or is it broader? Is it the country
turning on people in power?
MATTHEWS: There`s a sense of loss and control over government spending,
over too much taxes, over immigration out of control and now over ISIS. We
don`t have (INAUDIBLE). And certainly, Ebola, the fact that these tough-
guy governments are taking the tougher stand. They know what the politics
is. People want somebody to grab control. And Obama doesn`t say they want
to be an executive. He`s a thinker, he`s a speaker, he`s the senator. Is
he a chief executive? They don`t feel it. I don`t think - and I think - I
think it`s so much ideological, but if you are the government party, which
the Democrats are, you believe in the federal government, better make it
KORNACKI: So, what do you - the two years in, two years less in the
MATTHEWS: That`s .
KORNACKI: The Republican House, the Republican Senate.
MATTHEWS: But here`s a question.
KORNACKI: So, what happens?
MATTHEWS: Well, the Republicans could go, if they win big like they win
nine-seat, say, or something, even ten, who knows. They may feel, this is
their winning ticket. And so, for the next two years, they just bash
Obama. You know, you win the war, you play by the rules the way you want.
So you keep doing.
KORNACKI: It`s all .
MATTHEWS: Keep bashing him. They did this back after they get rid of -
after the new deal was over in `46. They went big - then they blew it to
Truman. So, it could be they`ll go that route. They do have a new power.
The Senate, I told you during the break, the Senate has the power of
subpoenas. So, the permanent investigating subcommittee is the only panel
in either house that has one party control over it. The chairman of that
committee, John McCain is going to be chair. John McCain is an incredible
guy. He`s not like Darryl Issa. If he spends the next two years
investigating things, like - whatever he wants to investigate, it will be a
serious problem. They could go that route and just investigate.
KORNACKI: You - McCain investigating the Obama administration.
MATTHEWS: Yeah. Can you think about that?
KORNACKI: There`s a headline.
MATTHEWS: Just think, you have to study these things. So, Nixon after he
won the presidency with that big upset and that big landslide, rather, in
1972, middle of the night, he calls - oh my god, I lost the subpoena power,
again. And if you look at what happened to him, you look what happened
with the Iran Contra with Reagan. And look at how - the impeachment of
Clinton. It always comes down. The other party having the subpoena power.
Because something they can wreak havoc on the coming administration. They
don`t have anything on Obama. Of course, if he tries something big on
immigration, you don`t know how they`re going to play that by executive
order. But that`s one big thing. But I`m hoping they cut deals on.
There`s real deals to be made on infrastructure, on corporate tax reform.
There`s a lot of things they could do to stimulate growth - they can have a
growth agenda that both parties agree to.
KORNACKI: Well, and there have been a lot of things where the compromise
is just sort of sitting there for the last few years and you get it there a
little bit. It`s like what lesson does the Republican Party take if it is
a successful Tuesday night. Because you can look at all the problems we
identified in the 2012 election, especially with like this shrinking base
not reaching out to non-white Americans or .
MATTHEWS: OK, what would you do?
KORNACKI: By themselves.
MATTHEWS: Steve, what you do? Suppose you`re a Republican leader right
now, and you say, OK, we are the white party, basically, it`s got - I don`t
want to be crude about it, but they are diminishing in their natural base,
right? Conservative white people.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t they cut a deal on immigration?
KORNACKI: That`s right question, right.
MATTHEWS: But it has to be a real deal - it can`t be one of these jokes
like - they have to really stop illegal hiring. Now, you have to ask, do
the Republicans want to stop illegal hiring? Businesses? That`s the cut.
Are they willing to say .?
KORNACKI: Yeah, but is it the pathway to citizen .
MATTHEWS: No, no, no.
MATTHEWS: You are talking like a liberal. That`s not the answer.
KORNACKI: Was the base .
MATTHEWS: No, the country is concerned about out of hand immigration flow.
They limit - they know there is always going to be some people desperate to
cross the border, they`re not stupid.
MATTHEWS: But they don`t want the natural flow of people coming across the
border. Because this where all the jobs are. Stop the illegal hiring.
And it`s in the Senate bill, by the way.
KORNACKI: So, do you - I mean .
MATTHEWS: The Senate bill is really tough.
KORNACKI: Do you think if they did that then, do you think that you could
get Republican support for an actual pathway to citizenship?
MATTHEWS: If they`re convinced we`re going to stop the illegal immigration
flow and we are going to start doing it by regular papering people coming
in and it`s going to be done the normal way, like from Europe. You have to
come in, you have to go through paperwork. If they believe that`s the
future, then they`ll compromise on the other because they don`t want to
deport 11 million people. That`s just - that`s posturing. But I tell you,
it still comes down to the fact that you want to deal with immigration. I
always say this to my progressive friends, don`t ever vote for an
immigration bill as long as you live unless you believe and are proud of
enforcing it. If that`s not the bill you`re not proud to enforce, don`t
fall for it, don`t do another joke like they did before.
KORNACKI: How much ..
MATTHEWS: And that`s why the Republicans don`t trust them. Because they
think the Democrats will sign some bill, find some loophole in it and ten
years from now there will be another ten million illegal people in the
country, and the Democrats have more votes and they have been screwed
KORNACKI: Right. I`ve heard Rush Limbaugh say that a few times.
MATTHEWS: By the way, it`s true.
MATTHEWS: Look what happened in 1986, they passed the immigration bill and
then Pete Wilson and some other people took all the teeth out of it so all
it had was the path to citizenship. It didn`t have the immigration control
on it. Why would any Republican or anybody support a bill like that,
unless you`re pandering?
KORNACKI: Let me ask you this quickly in the time we have left, President
Obama`s legacy, he did some big things, especially in the first two years,
he still got two years left. How much of his legacy do you think is set
MATTHEWS: Well, historically, he`ll look all right ten years from now.
But right now, the next two years don`t look good. I think he has a real
problem the way he takes the office, the way he fills the office. There`s
only two role models for running the country. Chief of staff, strong chain
of command, you know who the boss is, they can hire and fire right down the
line. Everybody - they don`t have little White House pip-squeaks stopping
on Secretary Kerry, accusing something of Sandra Bullock, that kind of
Mickey Mouse stuff going on right now. So, you have a boss that would know
who -- who did that and would find out in a few minutes who did it, they
would be out. Obama doesn`t do that. This whole thing with Netanyahu.
You think (INAUDIBLE) who did it? And then he got down - oh, you have folk
in the way, but the president loves the game so much, he gets up in the
morning and has hundred calls he can make that day. They are all push
buttons. I get him, I get him. Kennedy used to do it before the push
button. He could - he would talk the captain in the military during the
Cuban missile crisis, Obama is neither. He neither has a strong structure
of commands, right? Was that chief of staff really that chief of staff?
Really? Or does he have the sense of, I want to talk to everybody. So,
nothing gets controlled. People can feel that lack of control and that`s
what I think. I wrote it down here. Loss of control. That`s why the
people are going to vote overwhelmingly against him this Tuesday.
KORNACKI: All right. Chris Matthews, you`re "UP" debut. Next time, tell
us what you think maybe. But I appreciate .
MATTHEWS: What else are we doing here?
KORNACKI: Stick around if you want. You have an open invitation.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I know what you`re up to.
KORNACKI: Chris will be co-hosting our election night coverage here on
Tuesday night and I`ll be waving to him from the big board. We`ll have
that out there as well. So, make sure to tune in on Tuesday night. And
it`s not just the 2016 presidential election, there`s the question of how
the battle for the Senate now will affect the battle for the Senate in
2016. I`ll be back at the big board, that`s next.
KORNACKI: All right. So, we`ve been talking all show about how there are
some late signs that maybe, maybe the final momentum, the final wave here
is with Republicans. Republicans, of course, battling to get back control
of the Senate. Something they haven`t had since 2006. They are in better
position now heading into this election than they have been in those eight
years. Still, certainly a chance that Democrats can put the right
combination together on Tuesday night and hang on. But Republicans in a
very good position. But, there`s something interesting here. If the
Republicans end up winning the Senate, it`s probably going to be by a small
margin. And we want to show you what that means going forward. So, first
thing we want to do is, take a look at the battleground right now. Because
this is something I think you`ve heard from Democrats a lot right now, and
if they do lose a Senate, you will hear a lot from them. And that is,
Democrats simply saying, look, this is the battleground for 2014. This is
the battleground we`ve been fighting in this year. This is the very
unfavorable battleground for Democrats. This is not a level playing field.
We came into this year, 21 Democratic held seats up, 15 Republican held
seats up. You can see them all on the map right here. So, Democrats
already were playing more defense than Republicans were this year. And
then you start to look at some of the states that were up. For instance,
you know, Montana. This isn`t a state we haven`t talked about all year.
Max Baucus, longtime Democratic incumbent retiring, very Republican state
in the open seat environment. Republicans pretty much a shoo in there.
Same thing in West Virginia. There was a lot of noise in South Dakota
about a month ago, but again, it looks like the Republicans very well
positioned there. These are three very red states that have been
represented for a long time by Democrats and now those seats have all come
open because of retirements this year. So, those have been three almost
automatic pickups for Republicans that have been on the board all year.
That`s the kind of - for Democrats.
Again, Democratic incumbents defending seats in Arkansas, Louisiana,
Alaska, even North Carolina. What do these states have in common? They
all voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. Some of them by extremely large
margins. Conversely, there`s only one seat on this entire map, Maine,
right there. That is up this year, that a Republican holds that President
Obama carried in 2012. That`s the only Republican defending an Obama seat.
So, this has not been what you would call a level playing field. That
happens in politics. We have sort of an uneven Senate elections every two
years. But if Republicans, let`s say Republicans were to get the majority
on Tuesday, they get 51, 52 seats, something like that. The thing that
Democrats will immediately begin talking about and Republicans will begin
preparing for is what happens in 2016. Because this is what the Senate map
will look like in 2016. And it is sort of a mirror image of what we have
been looking at in 2014. It`s a lot more friendly for Democrats. So, what
you see is, Democrats will only be defending. This says nine, it should
really count Hawaii. So, Democrats will probably be defending ten seats in
2016. And again, this is 22. These are interim senators here, but this
will probably - it will be Republican seats. So, Republicans will be
defending 24 seats in 2016. Democrats only ten. Think about that
difference. It`s 21-15 this year. 24-10. 24 Republican seats. And look
at some of these Republican seats that are going to be up in 2016. You`re
talking about Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, a state that President Obama
won twice. Talking about Toomey in Pennsylvania. Obama wanted twice, you
are talking about Mark Kirk in Illinois, Obama`s home state, Obama want
twice. Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, that`s another state that went for Obama
twice. You have a number of states like that on the map, even have a state
like North Carolina. You know, Obama won it in 2008 and did not win it in
2012 and in the presidential year in 2016, say Hillary Clinton is the
Democratic candidate and she does better, well, that`s how Kay Hagan, the
current embattled Democratic senator in North Carolina got elected in the
first place. It was in 2008, it was in that strong year for Obama and she
was running, as well. So, there are a lot more, there are going to be a
lot more opportunities on the map in 2016 for Democrats than there are for
Republicans. It`s the opposite of what we`ve seen this year. So, I know
this seems like a long way off, but it is something to keep in mind because
Democrats are saying, look, if we don`t have the Senate for the next two
years, there`s obviously, consequences there especially when it comes to
nominations and things like this. But if we`re only at, if the Republicans
are only at 51 or 52 or something like that, then we can get it back in
2016. We can get a Hillary Clinton wave at the top of the ticket, we
talked about the house earlier and the Democrats have a scenario in their
minds already. I know far out, already though, where they think they can
get the White House in 2016, the can get the Senate back if they lose it
and maybe, maybe the House, too, and maybe have one of those sort of two-
year periods like they did with Obama in 2009 and 2010.
Anyway, a little look ahead to something. We are going to start to hear
about after the election, but it`s one way of keeping in context on what is
about to happen on Tuesday in the Senate. Is what`s going to happen in
2016 as well. Back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is coach Bill Snyder supporting for the U.S.
BILL SNYDER: My good friend Pat Roberts, of course. I`m Pat`s dear friend
and a great friend of the state of Kansas. I care about him a great deal.
I think his track record speaks for itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder
endorsing Pat Roberts in Kansas`s razor thin Senate race this week. In
Kansas Bill Snyder is pretty much a legend. He essentially created the
Kansas State football program out of nothing and it`s now in contention for
a national championship. He is far more popular in Kansas than any
politician. So, that endorsement is a coup for Pat Roberts. Of course, at
the same time, Kansas State is a big public university with fans and donors
especially, who are both Republicans and Democrats. So, the school`s
president apparently asked the Roberts` campaign to pull the ad, which it
didn`t do. And Snyder`s hardly the first sports figure to make a statement
politically, former Major League pitcher Curt Schilling campaigned with
John McCain when he ran for president in 2008 with Scott Brown in
Massachusetts in 2010. Another Boston sports hero, Bruin goalie Tim Thomas
skipped his team`s trip to the White House after winning the Stanley Cup in
2011, because of political differences with President Obama. So, should
sports figures think twice before wading into politics or do they have an
obligation to use their platforms to speak their minds?
Joining me now is friend of the show, host of the Slate - or, the Gist
podcast, Mike Pesca out in Chicago. Mike, let me ask you first about, the
Snyder endorsement is so interesting to me because some of the P, P, P,
which -it does interesting poll questions like this sometimes, polled his
favorable, unfavorable score in Kansas. And I believe it was 84-1. There
is no politician who is going to have a number like that. So, it seems to
me like an endorsement from a respected sports figure like a Bill Snyder is
going to matter a lot more in election than, you know, a Bob Dole
endorsement or something like that.
MIKE PESCA, SLATE`S "THE GIST": The other way of looking at it is, if Pat
Roberts doesn`t already have the kindly senior citizen making a million
dollar bald guy vote, Orman is doing a lot better than we thought. But
yes, he is very popular, and Snyder has, you know, he is a very decent
seeming man and he actually has apologized and said he didn`t realize the
ad would be used like that. But yeah, the other thing, is it really breaks
through the normal type of endorsement. So, even if a huge political
figure endorses you, that`s in the realm of politics, this might get the
guy who is not even paying attention to the race who reads the sports page
before the political page. So, yeah, I do think it can be a useful
KORNACKI: It`s also - but it raises, and as we saw from the university`s
reaction here. There are obviously some sensitivities that this touched
and my guess is what is behind that is, you know, these are major
universities that rely on, you know, gigantic, you know, generous
donations, probably a lot of Republicans donating in Kansas, but there`s
probably plenty of Democrats, too. And when a sports figure or university
figure goes into politics like that, it probably causes a negative reaction
among some of those donors.
PESCA: That`s true. But a lot of times the very big sports figures on
campus, the coaches, are actually often tenured professors, so they`re
allowed to do whatever they want with their vote, and most other tenure
professors do, and sometimes they campaign. One of the most interesting
examples was in North Carolina where Dean Smith was a lifelong Democrat,
coach of UNC Chapel Hill and Mike Krzyzewski, a Republican who went and
coached the Army. So, you know, there was a dichotomy, there was also a
public/private school difference there. But, yeah, there are sensitivities
and I think Snyder wanted to back away from it just because of who he is.
If he really wanted to press the issue, he probably would have been allowed
KORNACKI: Yeah, and I guess it`s the other question, too. I mean so,
Snyder spoke out in this campaign and there are examples as you say, of
sports figures and coaches who do get very political. At the same time, it
just seems from their own standpoint of being sort of - having fan bases
that are equally Democratic and Republican and in the marketing stuff that
comes with that, it seems like I would imagine there is a lot of hesitancy
among most people in sports to speak out politically for that reason.
PESCA: I think that, actually, it`s not so evenly split. I think big
time, especially football, is much more Republican. But I think that what
politicians do is they use sports to get popular and what sports people do
is they use politics to get unpopular. But that might be OK. You know, a
sports figure might say, look, it`s so worth it to me. Tim Thomas, I don`t
care, I`m just not going to see Obama in the White House. I remember when
Bruce Springsteen did some campaigning for John Kerry in 2000. This was
the first political stance he ever took. And he said, you know, I built up
a lot of credibility and now it`s time to spend it. And so, maybe sports
figures should think of it that way, that if they want to endorse and they
want to be so associated with a political figure, some fans aren`t going to
like it. And there are instances where sports figures kind of, you know,
they don`t know much more than anyone else, especially someone with a busy
job who is not really paying attention. But there are a lot of
interesting, subtle examples where, I remember Al Leiter was on the Michael
Bloomberg band wagon early, and that seemed weird but, you know, Leiter
stuck with him for years, he`s a very smart guy. I think it`s as useful as
any public figure, and it`s - and politicians love it because if they can
associate themselves with a winner or with a hero, with someone who is, you
know, not seen as behold into politics, politicians will always go for it.
KORNACKI: Yeah, actually, I was covering New Jersey politics when Al
Leiter, Bloomberg stuff was going on and I remember the Al Leiter for
Senate talk that that kicked off in New Jersey. And obviously, the
tradition in New Jersey with Bill Bradley going from the Knicks to the U.S.
Senate. Sometimes these athletes do it in a very deliberate way, I guess.
But anyway, my thanks to Mike Pesca for getting up early for me in Chicago,
and joining us. We really appreciate that.
PESCA: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All weekend and all fall for that matter we`ve been trying to
answer one question. Which party is going to win control of the Senate?
No real answers until Tuesday, maybe until well after Tuesday, but that is
not going to keep us from trying to guess every one of the key Senate
races. The panel is out here, surprise guests, our prediction panel for
the elections all coming up Tuesday, it`s next.
KORNACKI: Ten battleground states, two days, four hours of show this
weekend, we have hit every one of those ten states. We`ve heard from
candidates, we`ve analyzed the polls and we have got new polls today and
there is still one thing we don`t know. There is still one thing we can`t
know and that`s who is going to win all these races. So, we`ve assembled a
correct team to give their best predictions of who is going to merge
victorious on Tuesday night in each and every one of the races that is
going to decide the Senate, maybe a few others, too. It`s almost game
time. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: All right. Back to predict the ten most crucial Senate races.
These are the ones that are going to decide control of the Senate on
Tuesday, at least we think so. We`ll find out about them. But anyway,
here to help us do some prognosticating, our own version of college game
day of NFL count - whatever you want to call it, we have Lizz Winstead co-
creator of the "Daily Show," founder of the reproductive rights advocacy
group Lady Parch Justice, Jessica Taylor, campaign editor for "The Hill"
and Norm Ornstein from the America Enterprise Institute. So, ladies,
gentleman, thank you for being part of this. We have been talking about
all of these races all year. We`ve got the battleground down to ten. It
was 11, about a week or two ago with South Dakota, and we took that one off
the board, and we got ten left and I just want to go around each state, ask
each one of you what you think is going to happen on Tuesday night.
So, we`re going to start in Arkansas. Tom Cotton, Republican congressman,
challenging Pryor, the incumbent senator and, Liz, we`ll start with you.
How do you see this race on Tuesday night?
LIZZ WINSTEAD: Sadly, I see Cotton. All of a sudden we learned about Tom
Cotton and Mark Pryor is nobody anyone was talking about, and I think that
his fear tactics are working.
KORNACKI: All right. And Jess.
TAYLOR: I think it`s a testament to Pryor that this has been so close, but
ultimately, I think Tom Cotton is going to win here. The red lean of the
state, the way that Arkansas has moved is just going to make it too much
and he is going to be the next senator.
KORNACKI: All right, Norm?
ORNSTEIN: And I think that is exactly right. This was just a year where
the wind blowing in Mark Pryor`s face was so strong. A bad year for
Democrats. Arkansas changing the way it has that it would be quite
remarkable if he pulled it out.
KORNACKI: All right, Mark Pryor. I`ve got some bad news for you. You`re
0 for three on the panel of predictions here on "UP". I`d disagreed with
it, if I could. But I think that probably sounds right. But we`re never -
we are going to the next state here, Louisiana. And this one is a little,
little tricky because of the potential for a runoff. So, you have a number
of candidates in this race. We have Mary Landrieu, you have Bill Cassidy,
likely to be the Republican opponent if there goes to a runoff. So, Lizz,
what do you see happening here?
WINSTEAD: I see Mary Landrieu. She has a lot of money and she has a lot
of name recognition and I think people don`t want to change. I think they
like her and I think - I think that corporate Democrats in Louisiana like
KORNACKI: So, going with the Landrieu family name there. Jess?
TAYLOR: I think that, you know, again, much like Pryor, she has kept it
close because of her name. And I think she`ll finish it up on Election
Day, but I think the runoff is a completely different poll game that is
just going to be too much for her to overcome in the red lean of the state
and Republicans are going to turn out and I think that Cassidy wins it in a
KORNACKI: All right. Cassidy in a runoff, and Norm?
ORNSTEIN: I think it`s probably Cassidy in a runoff. But I want to do a
big asterisk here for this one and looking ahead to Georgia as well. And
that`s one word, Ferguson. We are likely to get the grand jury coming back
with no indictment in November and the key to both of those states in the
runoff is the African-American turnout. That may generate enough African-
American turnout that could change both of those races in a different
KORNACKI: In December 6, if there is a Louisiana runoff, it`ll be December
6 in North Carolina, Lizz. Kay Hagan trying to hold on against Thom
Tillis, the Republican challenger. Who is going to win it?
WINSTEAD: Well, I was just in Greensboro three days ago. And the early
voting machine, I didn`t even have to ask about it, I saw it as I was
driving the car everywhere. So, I`m going with Hagan. I really
KORNACKI: All right, Jess.
TAYLOR: This was maybe the toughest one for me to predict and I waivered
back and forth on it all weekend. I give a very, very slight edge to Hagan
here. I think Democrats have a really great ground game, they`ve been
assisted by other progressive groups that have been building in this for
years for over a year and I think that Hagan has a very slight edge on
Election Day. But this is going to be very, very close.
KORNACKI: And Norm?
ORNSTEIN: I go with Hagan who started out as one of the really vulnerable
ones. But in a year where people don`t like government much and there`s
been tribal politics and confrontational politics in North Carolina, Thom
Tillis was not the best candidate for Republicans to put up, because he`s
the face of that confrontation.
KORNACKI: Right. Face of the state legislature, face of the Republican
class of 2020. There are New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen, Scott Brown, former
Massachusetts Senator. Lizz Winstead, is Scott Brown going to become a New
WINSTEAD: Not even - not even a little bit. New Hampshire does not want
to have anything to do with Scott Brown. I think it seems close, but I
think we are going to see a wider margin on election night. I`m completely
convinced it should change.
KORNACKI: Shaheen is pulling away, do you agree with that?
TAYLOR: This is tightened up, and it`s going to be closer than Democrats
would like, but I think she ultimately pulls it out. But, if we do see it,
much closer on election night or if somehow Brown does pull the upset, I
think we`re looking at a really good night for Republicans, but ultimately,
I give the edge to Shaheen.
KORNACKI: It is a bell weather. Norm, Senator Scott Brown, again?
ORNSTEIN: Well, you know, if he could count on writing votes for
ORNSTEIN: He`ll do just fine. But .
KORNACKI: Do you think Massachusetts wants to vote anymore?
ORNSTEIN: He might get enough. But absent that, I don`t think so, but
this is one that we should watch on election night because it will tell us
something about whether the polls are tilting in one direction or another
or pretty close on.
And that will help us, I think, to interpret what may happen in some of
these races that won`t be decided until later on.
KORNACKI: All right, moving to Kentucky, Mitch McConnell`s dream, we keep
hearing about it all year. He`s spent his whole life trying to become
majority leader of the Senate. He thinks the Republicans get the majority
this year, he needs to win his own seat in Kentucky. Will he do that?
WINSTEAD: I think he will win, but it`s not a testament to him how close
it is. Especially with the last gap from Grimes. I mean the whole
(INAUDIBLE) is resonating big time. But I think that Mitch McConnell
should be way ahead all things considered and he`s not. So, and I don`t
think he`s going to.
KORNACKI: All right, Jess Taylor.
TAYLOR: This has been a very bitter expensive Senate race. I think when
it all comes down, he`s still going to win. And it doesn`t seem like it
has changed much from where it began. I think he still has the edge, the
GOP lean of the state overcomes. And he has been successful in painting
her as tied to Obama, especially in a state where coal and energy is so
KORNACKI: All right, Norm, do you want to go out on your own here family
feud style and say this is going to be a Grimes upset?
ORNSTEIN: No, it`s such a Republican state. But I did write this week in a
column that if Mitch McConnell gets his life`s goal of being majority
leader, it`s not going to be quite as wonderful as he thinks it is.
KORNACKI: He`ll get the title, I guess.
KORNACKI: If nothing else. All right, here`s a state I think this might
be the toughest one to predict on the board here. But Alaska. Mark Begich
running for a second term out there. Polling has been sort of sparse.
Nobody can interpret it. So, Lizz, tell us, what`s going to happen in
WINSTEAD: Well, first of all, I think predictions are so scary anyway and
then predicting Alaska is, you know, I don`t know who you think you are or
who I think I am, but I`m going with Begich only because - actually, I
don`t know why. Because I think he`s the incumbent. I think he`ll pull it
out. They have got a really good ground game. But, you know, if it snows,
I don`t know.
KORNACKI: 5O percent chance you`re right. Taylor.
TAYLOR: This is another one I just went back and forth on. I think that
polling is so hard here. We`ve seen it this so often in the primary and in
the past, and, you know, ultimately again, I think if Democrats ground game
can save them, I think it`s going to save them in North Carolina and it may
save them here. But this is a very late close on Election Day, tough to
count all of these votes. We may not know this until for another couple of
days if it is as close as they expect.
KORNACKI: Yeah, it took two weeks in 2008 to declare a winner there.
ORNSTEIN: You know, I knew Begich`s father who served in Congress and died
in a plane crash a long time ago. The son has political skills, he
understands the state. He`s also developed a very good turnout machine in
a state where it`s very hard to deal with. So, even though I think a lot
of people say it`s tilting Republican. I give it to Begich a little edge.
KORNACKI: All right. That`s three for Begich. So, the Rocky Mountain
State, Colorado, Mark Udall, this one, three-four months ago people thought
it was in great shape. And now you are looking at it, and he`s fallen
behind in the polls. And Lizz, who are you picking in Colorado?
WINSTEAD: I`m picking Udall. The polls in Colorado have been
inconsistent. It feels like they`re always underestimating the Latino
vote. I think that when they look at Gardner, they`re going to say an
extremist. And I think it`s Udall.
TAYLOR: Al right, polls, the Democrats keep saying they`re off here.
They`re under estimating the Hispanic vote. The Republicans got very good
early vote and they are most coming out of here this week. This is the
first time they`ve had an all-male in ballot. That`s going to be very
tough to predict. Gardner has been ahead. I think he`s run probably one
of the smartest campaigns of the Republican, He`s been very successful. I
think painting himself as a centrist. Even if he - some of his policies
may be different, but you know, I think it goes to Gardner.
KORNACKI: Udall, Gardner. Break the tie, Norm.
ORNSTEIN: I`m thinking Udall even though "the New York Times" prediction I
think gives Gardner a 72 percent chance of winning for whatever that`s
worth. For a couple of reasons. I think the vote by mail may help the
Democrats a little bit in the end, push turnout for an un-unenthusiastic
electorate. But also, if you look at what happened a couple of years ago,
Michael Bennett going into that contest the weekend before, it looked like
he was going to lose. And he had an impressive turnout which has become
more impressive under Udall. So, wouldn`t be surprised at all.
KORNACKI: History could repeat itself. Moving on, Iowa. Here, Joni Ernst
began to poll this morning. Joni Ernst or Bruce Braley?
WINSTEAD: Well, I`m from Minnesota and in farm states, we have a slogan in
front of the Farmer First. And I think when you are a friend of the Farmer
First, then you can push their progressive policies. Second, but she came
out strong - friend of the farmer, people love it. And she`s trying
against all of those - things like trial lawyer, and they ..
KORNACKI: Tatiana. Ernst.
TAYLOR: I think it`s Ernst as well, she`s run - she`s made herself - like
very farm girl, soldier image. And one thing that`s telling for here here,
too, is not only Democrats worry about losing even Braley`s House district.
And they think that he`s a dragon - on the District. And things do, so
that tells me how really, how much he`s struggling in the polls.
KORNACKI: All right. Ernst, Baley.
ORNSTEIN: This is a classic case where candidate quality matters. So, you
have a Republican candidate who performed really well and a Democratic
candidate who was awful. And his mistakes resonated even more and so I
think you would have gone into this saying Democrats should hold this seat.
And it`s very, very unlikely they will.
KORNACKI: All right. Three for Ernst. We`ve got two left. We are a
little short on time. So, we are going to combine them here. Georgia,
first of all, Michelle Nunn and David Perdue in Kansas, as the Pat Roberts
running against grand woman Georgia in Kansas, Lizz. Who are you going
with in those two?
WINSTEAD: Georgia. And Orman. I`m not even going to explain, because we
are short of time.
KORNACKI: Wait, wait, Orman- you said Georgia and Orman.
ORMAN: And Georgia.
KORNACKI: You know, candidate in Georgia.
WINSTEAD: Yeah, I think Georgia Nunn.
WINSTEAD: And it`s not.
KORNACKI: OK. None - and she is speaking-.
WINSTEAD: Yeah, I`ve been wasting my time.
KORNACKI: It`s predicting there will be an election in Georgia. I agree
OK. And .,.
TAYLOR: If Nunn wins on Election Day, it`s under 50 percent it goes to a
runoff. I think the dynamics there favor Perdue. Even though, you know,
he`s made some mistakes, so we`ll see if he can sort of sustain that. In
Kansas, I`m actually thinking Pat Roberts. I think that the Republican
lean of the state ends up helping him. He`s made some reach-outs to faith
voters. To very conservative. Evangelicals in the state. I think that
could be the deciding factor in that race.
KORNACKI: All right, Norm, Georgia and Kansas.
ORNSTEIN: I`m going to go with Orman, I think there`s a backlash against
the very conservative Republicans under Brownback, although it will be
close. And I think in a runoff Perdue has the edge. But again, Ferguson
could make a difference.
KORNACKI: OK, yes, it`s a very interesting wildcard.
OK, we got through all ten of them. We got them all. They`re all on the
record. We`ll have you back next week and see .
KORNACKI: This tape will be destroyed as soon as the show is over.
KORNACKI: We didn`t even get to predict some of the other exciting races
out there, like my favorite, the Providence mayor`s race. Anybody want to
take Buddy Cianci in this thing?
ORNSTEIN: I don`t think Buddy Cianci .
WINSTEAD: It`s going to be an exciting election night. I think, you know,
the fact that we`re so undecided on this, I think it`s going to make for no
political junkies like ourselves, it`s going to be - I mean I`m excited
about Tuesday night. But there`s a lot of things that I`m excited.
KORNACKI: Suspenseful election in a long time. Norm Ornstein, Lizz
Winstead, Jessica Taylor. Thanks for getting up, thanks for getting along.
And thanks to all of you for joining us. I`ll be back here on Tuesday
night with Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, the entire MSNBC election team.
And coming up next, Melissa Harris-Perry. Stick around.
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