The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/05/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Last night was a ton
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Great job last night. I thought you were
MADDOW: You too. Thanks, man.
Oh, mutual appreciation. All right.
Thanks to you at home who I also appreciate for joining us this hour.
Have a seat. Take a deep breath. Let it out.
OK. Let me tell you a story. This man is named Tom Butt, Butt with
two T`s. If part of your mind is permanently 8 years old like mine is, the
fact that his name is Tom Butt is a constant source of delight when Tom
Butt is in the news.
You know, if that is your last name and you choose a life that`s going
to keep you in the public eye, having a giggle-inducing last name like that
is probably both a blessing and a curse. I mean, sure, just like they have
since elementary school, people make fun, they point it out to their
friends when they see your name, right?
But it`s also a very memorable name. They also remember your name.
And when you`re running for public office people remembering your name is a
really important thing. I would say name recognition in this case is an
asset but his name is Mr. Butt, so I don`t want to say asset. Sorry.
In any case, nobody has to call him Mr. Butt any more because now what
you should call him is Mr. Mayor. Last night, against all the odds in the
world, Tom Butt was elected mayor of Richmond, California – working class,
blue collar city just northeast of San Francisco where the oil company
Chevron has operated a huge and sometimes troubled refinery for over a
A couple years ago there was a huge explosion and fire at the Richmond
refinery that sent more than 15,000 local people to the hospital. And if
you didn`t like the time in 2012 when it caught fire and blew up, there was
also the time it caught fire and blew up in 1999. And if you didn`t like
the time in 1999 when it caught fire and blew up, there was also the time
in 1989 when it caught fire and blew up.
That Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, has been kind of a
nightmare. When the latest explosion and fire and thousands of people
going to the hospital disaster happened there a couple of years ago the
city council and the mayor in that little city, in the more impoverished
part in of the San Francisco Bay Area, folks in that little city, their
elected officials decided they wanted more assurances from Chevron. They
wanted more safety precautions. They did not just want to wait for this
refinery to catch fire and blow up again in their little town.
The mayor and the city council started pushing Chevron. And so,
Chevron decided that they would buy themselves a new mayor and a new city
council in that town.
Buoyed by the Supreme Court`s decision that corporations can spend
infinitely not only on federal elections but also on little local elections
anywhere in the country, the giant oil company Chevron decided that they
would spend infinitely in Richmond. They would spend infinitely to elect
their own preferred slate of pro-Chevron city counselors in Richmond and a
new pro-Chevron new mayor in Richmond.
They dumped more than $3 million into the little local elections in
this town to try to elect three new city counselors and to elect their own
preferred candidate over Tom Butt. Tom Butt raised something like $40,000
total for his campaign as of mid-October. Chevron dumped more than $3
million into that town to defeat him.
And last night, Tom Butt won. He beat Chevron. All three of the city
counselors who Chevron spent all those millions of dollars to defeat, they
Chevron had more than $220 billion in revenue last year. They`re one
of the largest and richest corporations ever in the history of
corporations. Chevron spent millions of dollars to buy themselves their
own little city government in this small town. Last night, their opponent
has no way to compete monetarily with that, and nevertheless, those little
Davids fighting that Goliath, they whomped Chevron in every single race in
the city that Chevron was trying to buy.
And now, Richmond is going to have a mayor who, one of the richest
companies on the history of the Earth, has emphatically not bought and paid
for – and his name is Tom Butt. And that happens last night. That
happened last night.
A lot happened last night. Last night voters the deep, deep red state
of Nebraska, they had a chance to vote on whether to raise the minimum wage
in that state. They voted yes by an 18-point margin in Nebraska.
In Alaska they voted to raise the minimum wage there by a 38-point
It was on a ballot in Arkansas, too, where it won by 32 points. Even
in South Dakota, voters choose to raise the minimum wage, and they chose
that option by a double digit margin.
There were states where personhood was on the ballot last night. This
is the pretty radical anti-abortion legislation that is favored by a whole
bunch of the new Republican senators who are elected last night – Joni
Ernst in Iowa, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Tom
Cotton in Arkansas, Steve Daines in Montana, they all support personhood,
this radical anti-abortion approach which would ban all abortion in every
circumstance and some popular forms of contraception as well.
But voters last night were asked directly in two states if they wanted
to vote for a personhood law statewide. In North Dakota, it lost by 28
points. In Colorado, the numbers are still coming in, but so far it is
losing by 30 points. Personhood lost by a huge margin in both states where
people had a chance to vote on it last night.
Last night, voters in two states and in Washington, D.C., also had a
chance to vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use, like Colorado
and in 2012 and Washington state. In Oregon they voted to legalize pot in
Oregon and it won by 12 points. In Alaska, they voted on it there and it
won by 4 points. In Washington, D.C., legalizing pot won by 37 points.
In four places last night, there was a measure on the ballot to give
people paid sick leave from work. It was on the ballot statewide in
Massachusetts, it was also on the ballot in Oakland, California, and in
Trenton, New Jersey, and in Montclair, New Jersey – passed in all four of
When Rhode Island elected Gina Raimondo to be their new governor last
night, it was first time ever that Rhode Island had elected a woman
governor and it was the first time that Rhode Island had elected a
Democratic governor in two decades.
In Massachusetts, when the congressional results came in last night,
Massachusetts hit 100 straight congressional elections in which the state
has elected Democrats to go to Congress. The Massachusetts Democrat who
had the hardest fight on his hand last night but he still won was Iraq war
veteran Seth Moulton who volunteered for multiple missions in Iraq despite
his opposition to the Iraq war.
During his campaign for Congress, “The Boston Globe” caught Seth
Moulton not being fully truthful with voters about his war record. What he
didn`t tell voters was about the medals he had won for bravery and heroism
during his time in combat. He didn`t think that`s the sort of thing you
should brag about, so he didn`t bring it up. Seth Moulton is now a
congressman from Massachusetts`s 6th district.
In Washington state last night, voters decided they would not be
bamboozled by the gun lobby. They voted in Washington state last night
that you should have to have a background check if you want to buy a gun.
They voted for background checks and they voted against another measure
that was purposely put on the ballot to confuse people which would have
banned the same background checks that the state just agreed to pass.
Washington state voters were not bamboozled.
Remember our old friend Scott Brown? He lost the Massachusetts Senate
seat to Elizabeth Warren two years ago then he moved north to his vacation
home to try to run again for the Senate from a different state. He lost
last night. He`s the first person in U.S. history to lose two United
States Senate seats to two different women, Scott Brown, feminist icon.
New Hampshire re-elected Senator Jeanne Shaheen over Scott Brown last
night. At the same time, they re-elected their Democratic governor who is
also a woman, Maggie Hassan.
After some of the worst gun massacres in our nation`s history, after
Newtown and after the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater massacre, the
governors in the two states where those tragedies happened, the governors
in those two states, in Colorado and Connecticut, they defied the gun
lobby. Those two governors after those incidents they stepped up to create
background checks for gun sales in their states and to pass other sort of
lowest common denominator gun safety laws.
And, of course, the gun lobby went nuts. This gun lobby swore
revenge. It screamed that it would be the end of each of those governors.
Last night, even on a huge night for Republicans including in the
governor`s races, last night, both that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
and that Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, who the NRA said they would have
for lunch, both of those governors were re-elected last night.
In Colorado, incidentally, who John Hickenlooper beat was the guy who
said he wanted to ban the IUD, because in his mind, certain kinds of birth
control make you basically a walking, talking abortion clinic. You`re
having abortions constantly. And so, Bob Beauprez wanted to ban the IUD in
Colorado, Bob Beauprez lost. John Hickenlooper beat him last night.
In Alaska in an effort to beat Republican incumbent Governor Sean
Parnell, the Democrat and the independent who had been splitting the vote
against Sean Parnell decided in September that they would set aside their
differences and instead run together as a unity ticket, a unity independent
and Democratic ticket against the incumbent Republican.
Now, NBC News has not yet projected a winner in that Alaska governor`s
race. But with 73 percent of the vote in, the independent and Democrat
unity ticket is ahead there by roughly 1 percent at this point.
For first time ever last night, the Republican Party elected a black
Republican woman to go to Congress.
For first time since the post-civil war reconstruction era, a state in
the Deep South voted to elect an African-American senator in South
Carolina, Republican Tim Scott.
West Virginia sent its first ever woman to the United States Senate
Iowa sent its first woman to either House of Congress last night.
Seriously, Iowa? Seriously? 2014?
In San Francisco last night, they voted to raise the local minimum
wage to $15 an hour and the sky did not fall.
In Nebraska, the aforementioned deep, deep red state of Nebraska, a
Republican incumbent congressman there ran an ad that blamed his Democratic
opponent for the murders committed by this tattooed face guy. It was the
Willie Horton ad but worse.
That Republican congressman who ran that ad in Nebraska, he lost his
seat last night in Nebraska. Republican Lee Terry lost his seat, he`ll be
replaced by a Nebraska Democrat named Brad Ashford.
Here is my favorite what does that mean development from last night –
if Rand Paul wants to run for president in 2016, Rand Paul better be sure
he`s going to win because apparently he`s going to have to give up his seat
in the United States Senate if he wants to do that. Republicans in the
last few years have taken over basically all of the state legislative
chambers in the South except for Kentucky. In Kentucky, the House is still
held by Democrats.
Kentucky state law right now says you can`t run for two federal
offices at the same time. Rand Paul was first elected to the Senate in
2010. That means his seat will be up in 2016. 2016 is also the year he
wants to run for another federal office. He wants to also run for
president of the United States. Under Kentucky law, he cannot do both.
Can`t run for both at once.
The Democrats in charge of the Kentucky state house have said they
have no intention of changing that state law just so Rand Paul can have the
job security of keeping his Senate seat while he also runs for president.
Republicans thought they would win that last state legislative chamber in
the house last night. They thought that they would take the Kentucky house
away from the Democrats. They want to do that for a million reasons.
But Rand Paul needs them to take the house in Kentucky. But last
night, the Kentucky house stayed Democratic. Part of the makeup was
unchanged overall in last night`s elections. The Democrats are still in
charge of that chamber.
And however much you agree or disagree with all the Beltway gushing
over how interesting Rand Paul is, the decision that Rand Paul now has to
make about giving up his Senate seat if he really does want to run for
president, that really is the first truly inarguably interesting thing
about the prospect of Rand Paul running for president, or maybe not running
for president. And that just happened last night. That all just happened
And I think that`s it, in terms of straws to grasp. Silver linings to
spy in the clouds if you are not a Republican and you`re trying to figure
out what those election results mean last night.
I think what I just gave you is the entire universe of things that
just happened in the election last night that are not about the Republicans
winning almost everything and everywhere they wanted to win.
I mean, it is possible there`s like a Democrat somewhere who got a
nice call from her mom last night or maybe somebody somewhere found a
dollar on the sidewalk. It`s possible. I might have missed a micron of
the non-Republican silver lining in last night`s election results, but
really, what I just ran down, I think that`s it.
Well, I should say there`s this. Look, these three panda siblings did
just turn 100 days old today. That happened today, too.
And look, they`re really sleepy, and they love each other and they`re
– look, they`re touching. They`re bushy little hundred-day-old pandas
now. Look, that happened. That`s true.
Aside from that, which has nothing to do with politics, you know
exactly what happened last night. A big Republican single-note win in the
Yes, there were a few things that broke pattern. Tom Butt in Richmond
and all the rest of it, right? But aside from that list that I just did,
what happened last night is clear and it`s big.
And now is when the really fun part begins because it is all change in
Washington as of last night. It is all change for the Republicans. And it
is all change for the Democrats. It is all change in terms of what we have
been watching unfold and covering here in the news business for the last
several years, all change.
And there are a million different ways this could go from here. It`s
about to get very, very unpredictable in our national politics. And
unpredictable is always fascinating to watch. And the first surprise has
started already happening today. And that story`s next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, listen, the party of the president in power always does
terribly in midterm elections. These are the average losses for what
happens to the president`s party in sixth year midterms. In the second
midterm election when you have a two-term president.
On average since World War II, in midterm elections like the one we
had last night, the president`s party on average loses 26 seats in the
House and six seats in the Senate.
The results from last night are not totally in yet. But at this
point, the Democrats are projected to lose at least 14 seats in the House
and they have lost seven seats in the Senate. So Democrats did al little
worse than the historical average in the Senate last night. And thus far a
little better than historical average in the House.
Still, though, with or without that historical context, this was
obviously a big loss last night for the president`s party, for the
Democratic Party. And Republicans are going to have a small majority in
the Senate and a big majority in the House with which they can do whatever
they want in Congress. What are they going to do with it?
In “The New York Times” today, presidential historian Michael
Beschloss wrote about what happens to other presidents whose parties have
big losses in Congress in midterm elections.
In 1994, Republicans in Congress took over during Bill Clinton`s
presidency and then they decided to work with him on issues like the budget
In 1986, when Democrats took over Congress during Ronald Reagan`s
presidency, Democrats decided to work with Reagan on issues like arms
After World War II, when Republicans took over Congress during Harry
Truman`s Democratic presidency, Republicans in Congress worked with Harry
Truman on lots of different foreign policy issues including the Marshall
There`s lots of precedent for the opposing party taking over Congress
during midterm elections, and then deciding to work on stuff with the
serving president even though he`s from the other party. That has
happened. That has happened a lot in our country in the past.
Who thinks that`s what`s going to happen now?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: It is rare that a political party running
for office in a midterm election not standing for anything ends up with a
mandate, and they have one, and it is the biggest and perhaps the most
important mandate a political party has had in the recent era.
And it is very simple what that mandate is. It is to stop Barack
Obama. It is to stop the Democrat party.
There is no other reason why Republicans were elected yesterday.
Republicans were not elected to govern. How can you govern with a
president that disobeys the Constitution? How can you govern with a
president that is demonstrably lawless when he thinks he has to be?
The Republican was not elected to fix a broken system to make it work.
The Republican Party was not elected to compromise. The Republican Party
was not elected to sit down and work together with the Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the tone on conservative talk radio today.
Republicans didn`t get elected to govern. They got elected for one reason
and one reason only – to destroy Barack Obama! That`s the one thing
Republicans stand for and the only thing they need to do.
This was the front page of one of the representative conservative
blogs today. This was on the front page at “Red State” today. “Dear
Republicans, no one elected you to work with Democrats.”
And sure, yes, I know, that`s the conservative media. There`s no
reason to think that the Republican Party proper, the Republican Party
itself, shares that view, right?
If you listen to the Beltway, the Beltway is sure that Republicans
getting big majorities in Congress means that the Republican Party will now
be ready to govern. They will be ready to forget all that past nonsense
about just stopping anything President Obama might want to do, just because
President Obama wants to do it no matter what it is, they`re just against
him. They`re going to stop all that, they`ll govern now. They have to.
There`s no reason to keep focusing now on just stopping Obama. That`s
over now. That`s what the Beltway said all last night and today.
Did you see the Republican Party`s official press conference today?
That they called to talk about election results? Not did you see that they
did it or did you read about what they said, did you actually see what it
This was their press conference about the election today. They gave
their press conference about what they were going to do now with their new
majority in Congress in front of a giant screen, a giant red screen that
says, “Stop Obama. Fire Harry Reid!”
They did get Harry Reid fired as majority leader, so they can get do
the real business of stop Obama. That`s their reason for existing. That`s
what they chose as the backdrop for their announcement about winning the
Anybody who`s expecting that this Republican Party has a grand
bipartisan policy idea for what they want the do in Washington now as a
governing party is smoking something that`s now legal in a lot more places.
You as the Republicans as ready to compromise, ready to work together, over
it how much they hate Barack Obama, it`s just not based on the visible
truth of what`s going on.
And now, it is already getting its first test, today. I did not
expect this, but on day one in this new era in Washington, the Beltway
wakes up saying, oh, now the Republicans are going to work with Obama. The
Republicans wake up saying, no, we will finally destroy Obama.
But Obama himself, President Obama woke up today and decided that he
was going to call the question. This was a fascinating move.
I mean, everybody has been talking about immigration, right? Will the
president follow through and do something on immigration without Congress?
What will he do on immigration? When will he do something about
immigration? The Republicans are talking about trying to impeach him if he
does anything on immigration?
Last night, as soon as it was clear that Republicans are going to win
control, that`s the first thing everybody wanted to talk about –
immigration. But the White House instead said, hey, actually, if you
really want to talk about policy in this new Washington, in this new
Congress after this big election, let`s do something about specifically
what just happened in this election, because this is how Republicans ran
for office in this election all over the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
AD NARRATOR: Look around – open borders, threats of terrorism,
Ebola. Obama has no plan. Pelosi just points fingers. This election is
about our safety, our future.
AD NARRATOR: These are serious times.
REPORTER: That ISIS can`t be defeated without hitting it –
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don`t have a
AD NARRATOR: In Kentucky, we have a proven leader. When so many in
Washington can`t do the job, shouldn`t Kentucky have a senator who can?
SCOTT BROWN (R), NH SENATE CANDIDATE: Radical Islamic terrorists are
threatening to cut the class of our country. President Obama and Senator
Shaheen seem confused about the nature of the threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the Middle East, radical terrorists are on the
march destabilizing our allies, beheading Americans and crucifying
Christians. President Obama admits he underestimated them.
AD NARRATOR: ISIS gaining ground. Terrorists committing mass murder.
Ebola inside the U.S. Americans alarmed about national security.
What`s President Obama doing? Ignoring the Constitution, Congress and
the American people. November 4th, Obama`s policies are on the ballot.
Vote to keep terrorists off U.S. soil. Vote Republican.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: That last ad ran in eight battleground states. And this is
by no means an exhaustive list of states where Republicans used terrorism,
ISIS, right, and disease, Ebola specifically, as campaign issues. This is
a teeny smattering of states where Republicans made the case, because they
did it all over country.
Vote for us because Ebola. Or vote for us because ISIS. Or vote for
us because ISIS Ebola, are they two different things?
So, the president walked up to the podium today and he called the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: First, I`m submitting a request to Congress for funding to
ensure that our doctors, scientists and troops have the resources that they
need to combat the spread of Ebola in Africa and to increase our
preparedness for any future cases here at home.
Second, I`m going to begin engaging Congress over a new authorization
to use military force against ISIL. The world needs to know we are united
behind this effort, and the men and women of our military deserve our clear
and unified support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Call the question. This is the test. Day one of the new
Washington, if the Republicans want to do something other than stop Obama,
right, if they really do want to make policy, here`s a chance to actually
make policy, to fund a response, to decide on a response, to the two things
you just spent months terrifying the country about. Telling them that if
they felt scared about ISIS or Ebola they should vote to send Republicans
Call the question on day one in the new Washington. Did Republicans
go there to make any sort of policy, make any sort of decisions or did they
just go there to destroy the president? This is a test. This is the first
test. And it arrived early on day one.
Joining us now is NBC News presidential historian, Michael Beschloss.
Mr. Beschloss, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Great to see you,
Rachel. I can`t wait to see how this is all going to turn out.
MADDOW: Well, I wonder if – I mean, reading your historical analysis
about this today, I felt like, oh, there`s some consistency when you look
at different historical eras at least over the past century in terms of
ways that parties out of power have come to power under a president they
might disagree with. I just don`t feel like this moment matches what
history teaches us is likely to happen.
BESCHLOSS: No, I agree with you. And this is a meaner time than it
was the last time.
You have that kind of cooperation, which was probably the mid-1990s
between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich. But there are a
couple reasons why it actually might be better than it may seem.
One of them is, I thought Mitch McConnell was fascinating today
because that was a little bit more of a restrained press conference than
some people were anticipating. You know, he said there are not going to be
any more shutdowns. I`m not going to contest the national government debt
He`s got some interest in keeping a little bit of a lid on this
because he and John Boehner would presumably like to see a Republican
president elected in two years. And they know that is not likely to happen
if the House and Senate seem so extreme because of Republican control that
Americans are going to be afraid of letting there be a Republican Congress
and a Republican president.
MADDOW: One of the things that you wrote about today in “The Times”
but I`ve heard you talk about before is that sort of strategy as it played
out during the Gerald Ford era. So, when Gerald Ford lost Congress to the
Democratic party in `70s, he vetoed everything nine ways to Sunday because
he thought that would make the Democratic Congress look radical and it
would make him look resolute. He thought that would help him get elected
in 1976. He did not get elected in 1976.
BESCHLOSS: He didn`t but he came pretty close. Harry Truman in 1947
and 1948 tried to and in some cases did veto a number of Republican
domestic bills. He talked about at his convention in 1948 on campaigning
against that good for nothing 88th Congress, that`s what we`ll remember,
but at the same time he was having that confrontation behind the scenes in
many cases he was cooperating with Republicans on things like the Marshall
Plan and NATO. So there was this odd bifurcation between domestic and
foreign. We might see that the next two years.
MADDOW: Is there anything to – is there anything to watch for in
particular in terms of how President Obama behaves and how he treats this
Congress in terms of setting up not himself for a re-election effort but
somebody from the Democratic Party to, in his mind, hopefully take over the
White House in 2016?
BESCHLOSS: Sure, he`s got an interest in cooperating and getting some
things done that helps his legacy. But if he`s doing this with an eye to
helping his Democratic successor, whether Hillary Clinton or someone else,
to some extent, he`s got an interest in vetoing bills, making this
Republican Congress look extreme just as Harry Truman did in 1947 so that
the predicate for 2016 for a Democratic nominee is you got to put a
Democrat in the White House to restrain this Republican Congress.
MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, I was
really looking forward to talking to you all day today.
BESCHLOSS: Me, too.
MADDOW: I`m so glad you could be here.
BESCHLOSS: It`s going to be so fascinating to watch. Thank you,
MADDOW: Appreciate it. Thanks.
All right. Just ahead, one of the last night`s Democratic success
stories which wasn`t clear it would be a Democratic success story but it
turned into one today. We`ve got a very interesting case on the interview
tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here live for the interview tonight is a Democratic governor
who went to bed last night not knowing if he held on to his seat. He found
out today he had by a whisker. And he joins us live next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Did you stay up for the Alaska returns last night? I stayed
up for Alaska. It closed at 1:00 a.m. Eastern. We were on the air until
2:00 a.m. Eastern. Then I hung around here talking about people and the
election. I was here about until 2:30 or so.
I got home by 3:00. And I was still so wired from the election
results and I couldn`t go to sleep, and I knew I couldn`t go to sleep for
hours. I stayed up until after 5:00 in the morning binge watching the
whole second season of “Alpha House” on Amazon until I could finally fall
asleep. Woo-hoo, election night!
Election night is always very exciting and it`s very bad for your
sleep patterns particularly because of Alaska. But honestly, none of us
had it as bad as John Hickenlooper and Bob Beauprez had it last night, the
two candidates for governor in Colorado.
Polls closed at 9:00 Eastern Time in Colorado last night. But even
with staying up all night we still had no idea who won that governor`s race
last night. It wasn`t until 7:30 this morning local time that “The Denver
Post” called the race. They called it for Governor Hickenlooper. They
said he had been reelected. Even then, it wasn`t until two hours later
that NBC News called the race for Governor Hickenlooper as well.
And it wasn`t until about five hours after that, the middle of this
afternoon, before Governor Hickenlooper`s Republican challenger Bob
Beauprez finally conceded the race.
So, yes, election night is always very exciting. But it was nowhere
near as exciting for any of us as it was for our next very tired guest.
Joining us now for the interview is the newly reelected governor from
the state of Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper.
Congratulations, Governor Hickenlooper. How are you feeling today?
GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: I feel great, Rachel.
I mean, to be sleep deprived always puts you a little bit in that kind
of special zone. But when you win, the zone is much nicer.
MADDOW: It`s better lit at lease.
MADDOW: So, your race was particularly tight right up until the very
end. The other statewide race in Colorado saw the defeat of your friend
Mark Udall, the Democratic congressman, incumbent congressman from
Colorado. Were you expecting that it might be a split result? Was your
internal polling telling you an optimistic story, or did you know it was
going to be this tight?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, we know it was a tight race in both cases. And
it`s interesting, the rural rates, their votes coming sooner. If you look
at the vote counts now, Cory Gardner and I have almost exactly the same
number of votes. Just his came in a lot sooner than mine did. And so,
Mark Udall`s vote comes back up, I think in the end that race will be
decided by probably about 3 percent which my race will probably be 2 1/2
MADDOW: In terms of what`s going on in Colorado in the big picture, I
was interested – I went out last week to talk to Senator Udall and Senator
Bennet and some other people and think about what`s going on in that state,
from 2004, starting about 2004, Colorado Democrats have been running the
board. Before that Republicans were winning all the top of the ticket
race, winning the governorships, running those Senate races, starting about
2004, about 10 years ago, Democrats started winning everything, up to and
including your race that got you into the governor`s seat in the first
It seems now like Colorado is now either a more balanced place or
tilting back towards the Republican Party.
What`s your view of where your state is at both ideologically and in
partisan terms after what happened last night?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think we`re an interesting test case for the
country. Colorado`s almost exactly even, you know, one-third Republican,
one-third Democrat and one-third independent, and really I don`t think it
ever tipped so much. It kind of trended a little bit. But those were a
lot of close races, just like last night.
And I think it depends on the candidates and you get better candidates
one year than another, or in this case there was a head wind, anybody
connected with Washington both Republicans or Democrats, had a certain –
to a certain degree a head wind. And I think that hurt Mark a little bit.
MADDOW: In terms of what happens now with this next term that`s ahead
of you, obviously, you had a bit of a national target on you in part
because the gun lobby was so angry about the gun safety measures that you
were willing to see put in place in your state, particularly after the
tragedies you`ve had in the state around gun violence. That gave you a
little bit of a national gloss to your race if only by your enemies. Now,
you have this very tight re-election effort.
What do you think you`re going to be able to do? What`s most
important to you to try to do in your second term now that last night`s
HICKENLOOPER: Well, just like in first term, we tried to manage from
the middle, and we`re going to keep doing that. Colorado has always been
the thinnest state but we haven`t been the healthiest state. And I think
we`re coming close to that in the last four years. We cut teenage
pregnancy by 40 percent, we reduced prescription drug abuse by over 20
percent, we added 411,000 people to the rolls of people who have health
insurance, and yet the same time, our average premium increase a few weeks
ago was a little over 1 percent.
So, we`re controlling the cost curve. I think that`s a big push.
Obviously, the economy is big out here. We have one of the fastest growing
economies in the country. And that helped me probably more than it did
Mark just because I`m here every day and, you know, when Forbes rates you
the number one work force, things like that, local officials I think
probably get a little more credit.
MADDOW: Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, thanks very much for
your time tonight. Congratulations again. And I do hope you`re able to
get some rest. You got a lot of work ahead of you, sir. Thank you.
HICKENLOOPER: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Coming up next, I kid you not, the single-best
thing about MSNBC right now. He`s here and that`s next, and you should
stick around. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Well, let`s talk about Mitch McConnell for a
moment because that`s a big victory for the Republican Party to have him as
the Senate majority leader if they get to a majority. The question is,
will he change? We were just talking here off the air about a lot of us,
all about 2016, about how they get to the White House the next time.
That`s the big prize in Washington. And there have been a lot of
Republican senators who have hoped that Mitch McConnell will – could that
MADDOW: No, it`s not you. It`s something ambient.
BROKAW: No, I`m afraid it is, unfortunately. The alarm goes off and
there you are.
MADDOW: I thought – I thought you were a fire.
BROKAW: Yes, I will remember to bring home the milk and don`t worry
about it. And I`ll feed the dog in the morning. Just sleep in. It`s
going to be OK. I`m sorry about that.
At any rate –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There were a lot of weird things that happened last night.
Who knew Tom Brokaw`s cell phone alarm sounded like that? Amazing.
One of the weirdest things that happened last night was the complete
and utter wrongness of the polls.
Look at this, this is the Real Clear Politics average heading into
Election Day, heading into yesterday, for the Iowa Senate race. The final
poll average predicted a dead heat in Iowa, maybe a slight edge for
Republican Joni Ernst, but it was be a nail-biter or actually maybe a
Turns out, Joni Ernst didn`t just win, she won by almost nine points.
The polling was way off.
This was the final average in Kentucky. The polls had Mitch McConnell
beating Alison Lundergan Grimes by seven.
Mitch McConnell actually won last night not by seven points, but by
nearly 16. OK?
How about Arkansas? Final polling efforts predicting a win for Tom
Cotton over Senator Mark Pryor by seven points. Actually, Tom Cotton beat
Mark Pryor by 17 points.
There were a ton of these. Look, this was the final average heading
into the Virginia Senate race last night. The polls had Senator Mark
Warner beating Ed Gillespie by double digits, and then, oops, turns out it
was more like half a point. Ed Gillespie hasn`t even conceded that race
yet. The poll just missed it.
Kansas as well. Last night, it was supposed to go down to the wire
for the most vulnerable Republican in the Senate, Pat Roberts. The polls
for the last few weeks consistently showed Greg Orman beating Pat Roberts,
Greg Orman had a lead of about a point heading into Election Day in
the polling. But then last night look, Pat Roberts run away with it. He
won by nearly 11 points.
What explains this? There`s only one person I can think of who could
conceivably know the answer to this and could explain it in a way that
doesn`t make me grind my teeth.
Joining us, the breakout star of MSNBC`s election coverage, the great
Steve, why were the polls so wrong this year?
STEVE KORNACKI, UP: I have no idea.
MADDOW: OK. Thank you.
KORNACKI: I think we can start to answer that question. So, let`s
use this big board we`re having some fun with last night.
Let`s look at Kansas. You set it up there. I think as you said, this
is one we were expecting. We thought this was going to be a late night in
Kansas thinking maybe there`s a recount or something and it ends up 11
So, what happened here? I think part of this, is this is a trend,
this is a story, this is something that really accelerated in American
politics in the last six years or so, and that is that voters, when they`re
in the voting booth, when they`re forced to finally decide an election,
when they have to decide an election, they have to stop thinking about,
gee, I like this candidate better personally, this candidate ran a better
campaign, I kind of like this person`s style better and they think much
more in terms of party, in terms of national party.
When you think about Kansas, I think it`s the perfect example of that
this year because the entire Pat Roberts campaign was “don`t vote for Greg
Orman because he`s going to put the Democratic Party in charge of the
Senate.” And Roberts even had ads up that were saying, hey, I may not be
perfect, you may not even like me that much, but you don`t want a
And what you had in Kansas was a candidate here Greg Orman who people
liked a little bit better. They liked the message of independence better,
but ultimately, they wanted the Republican Senate. So, the effect of that
campaign that Pat Roberts ran, we can illustrate that for you.
I`m going to show you – this is the map of Kansas in the 2012
presidential election. Obama/Romney, we didn`t pay much attention to it,
why? It`s Kansas, of course. Romney won easily, right?
So, this is – hang on, it`s coming up right now. Here it is – this
is what it looked like 105 counties in Kansas, and 103 is Republican red.
KORNACKI: That`s what happens when a national Democrat runs in
So, the Roberts people ran that campaign against Orman. Hey, don`t
give the national Democrats the Senate. What happens? What does the map
look like in Kansas last night?
Well, check this out, after this razor thin campaign that`s coming
down to the wire, it looks exactly the same – 102 counties in Kansas go
Republican red. In three counties go for Orman, two are the same that went
for Obama. There`s essentially no difference there. So, that`s the story
The other big surprise, Mark Warner ends up a surprise, but this was
shockingly close. Why was it shockingly close? Because Mark Warner we
know is a guy who is a very popular governor in Virginia and when he first
ran for the seat in 2008 got 65 percent of the vote.
Now, when you actually look at this number in Virginia and you think
back to 2012, the Obama/Romney race, it`s not that different. Obama won
Virginia, he won it by four points. Mark Warner won it by a point last
So, if you take a look at the county map in Virginia, this is what it
looked like last night. This is the red/blue scheme. Big Democratic
county is up here, we get a lot of the vote from, you know, the Richmond
area and a few scattered areas that are blue, otherwise a big sea of red.
Now, take a look – 2012, Obama/Romney in Virginia, the exact same
thing. Mark Warner before the last six years or so, before the Obama era,
where I think this polarization has accelerated, Mark Warner could run in
Virginia, and win down here. He could win in south Virginia.
You look at the counties last night Ed Gillespie is performing exactly
the same as Mitt Romney did. This is something for Democrats to be
thinking about as they go forward, which is – you know, you can win in
Virginia, for instance, you can win with the so-called Obama coalition but
you also end up writing off big chunks of the state. Democrats have to
think about a way to get those voters back who were willing to vote for
them not that long ago.
MADDOW: And it means, in terms of the polling, I mean, bottom line,
people are lying to pollsters or at least they`re telling pollsters
something they think they`re going to do that they don`t end up doing, when
they go into –
KORNACKI: Yes, I`m not sure if it`s lying as much as they think
again. So you`re in the voting booth, I wonder, and you just say, you know
what, I like Orman in Kansas, but you know what? I don`t want Harry Reid
running the Senate. I don`t want Obama`s party run the Senate.
MADDOW: They revert to their partisan lizard brain.
MADDOW: Got it. See? You didn`t make me want to grind my teeth.
Steve Kornacki, the single best thing about MSNBC right now, I`m
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: In January 2002, the Winter Olympics torch relay went to 46
out of 50 states including Alaska. That day in Alaska as the torch was
being run by a high school in Juneau, a bunch of kids from the school
unfurled the sign that said, “Bong hits for Jesus. Welcome Olympic torch,
bong hits for Jesus.”
The principal of the school tore down the sign. She suspended the kid
who made it. When that student, Joe Frederick, defended his sign as free
speech, the principal doubled his punishment. He then fought for the right
to his “bong hits for Jesus” sign all the way to the Supreme Court. In
2007, he lost his case there when the court ruled his free speech wasn`t
protected because he was promoting illegal drug use.
Well, not anymore. Today ought to be Joe Frederick day in Alaska
because Alaska just voted to legalize bong hits for everyone. Washington
and Oregon legalized pot in 2012. Alaska and Oregon did it last night.
And also D.C., Washington, D.C.
But now, this now becomes one of the next things to watch in a new
Washington, this new Congress elected in this big Republican election last
night. Last night, as the people of D.C. were voting overwhelmingly to
legalize pot, a Republican congressman named Andy Harris from the eastern
shore of Maryland threatened that he will get Congress to stop D.C. from
implementing this new law. Republicans love doing this to D.C.
In 2009, the D.C. city council voted to legalize same-sex marriage and
then two Utah Republicans introduced bills in Congress to try to block what
D.C. had voted to do. In 2010, Congress decided to take D.C.`s locally
passed gun laws away. In 2011, Republicans in Congress blocked D.C.`s own
locally decided, locally funded abortion policies.
Now they`re doing it again. D.C. votes to legalize pot just as
Republicans sweep to power in the Senate and expand their majority in the
Remember the whole Republican mantra about local control getting the
boot of federal government off our necks? Butt out, federal government?
This is the test. Does the new Republican majority in Congress let D.C.`s
new pot law stand or do they try to undo it?
D.C. officials are going to have to send this thing to Congress for a
review very shortly. And that will be yet another test of what this new
Washington is going to be like. Today is day one. This is going to be
fascinating. Watch this space.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.