Tea Party held protests. TRANSCRIPT: 11/5/2018, The Rachel Maddow Show.
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: November 5, 2018
Guest: Patrick Murray
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is ALL IN for this evening here from Dallas.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. I`m excited to see whose
lawn Michael Moore ends up mowing next summer and whose snow he ends up
shoveling this winter.
HAYES: The amount of organizers I know in my life both professionally and
personally and the sort of granularity with which they target voters and
run an operation, the thought of, you know, just going knocking on doors.
But activism, civic preservation is good. Go do it.
MADDOW: And you know what? When it`s down to the last day and you haven`t
done anything yet do, something, you know?
HAYES: Do something.
MADDOW: Anyway, thanks, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Barack Obama was elected president ten years ago last night. His victory
speech at Grant Park in Chicago in front of a quarter million people
actually spanned the midnight hour. So, that victory speech ended ten
years ago today. Ten years.
And he, of course, was sworn into office in the midst of the collapse of
the U.S. financial sector, in the most rapid contraction of the U.S.
economy since the Great Depression, and he and his brand-new administration
did what they could to try to stop the unfolding, the then-unfolding worst
economic disaster in a century. They weighed in directly to save the
American auto industry. And then, with big Democratic majorities in the
House and the Senate that had been elected alongside President Obama, they
started a long, long, long, laborious process of trying to bring about the
first reform of the American health care system since Medicare and Medicaid
were created generations ago.
From almost the outset, they took off the table the most progressive
options for doing that, because they were trying as hard as they could to
make it a bipartisan bill. They spent probably a year, more than they
otherwise need to, trying to accommodate Republicans, to get Republicans on
board. But all Republicans said no, and then in the very end, Democrats
passed it anyway, and conservative media and the Republicans decided they
would then preach all day long every single day that the reform of the
health insurance system that the Democrats had brought about was actually
just a nice way of saying that Obama was creating death squads to come kill
your family, death squads, death panels. You will die because Obama and
the Democrats are coming to kill you, and they`re going to start with the
That was the Republican conservative messaging, and conservative media
messaging in particular on health reform. And then it was time to vote
again. And in history, of course, the first congressional election after a
new president is elected, the pendulum almost always swings back the other
way, against the party of the president.
And with a victory as big and as sweeping as Obama and the Democrats had
had ten years ago tonight, Obama won in 2008 by 8.5 million votes. He more
than doubled McCain in the Electoral College. Democrats had already had a
majority in Congress before that election. They added another 21 seats
that night. They went up to a super majority in the Senate.
When the pendulum had swung that far to the Democrats in 2008, followed by
two incredibly hard years thereafter, and one of the biggest policy lifts
ever with health reform – in 2010, that first midterm for Obama, the
pendulum swung back very, very hard. The Democrats didn`t just lose the
House that year that. They lost 63 seats in the House. They lost six
Senate seats. It was just brutal.
But that shellacking didn`t just emerge from the ether on election night
itself on 2010. There were signs all through those first two Obama years
that it was coming. Even though Obama was sworn in in January 2009 with a
67 percent approval rating, by the following month, by February 2009, there
were little protests starting against him, and starting specifically
against the stimulus bill that he got passed to try to stop the desperate
and historic freefall of the U.S. economy.
He was inaugurated January 20th. By February 16th, there were anti-Obama
protests in Seattle and then protests in Colorado and then in Tampa and
Nashville and Atlanta and little pitiful protests in D.C. And at first,
nobody called them the Tea Party, but by April, by Tax Day 2009, just three
months into the new administration, that`s what they were calling them, Tea
By the summer of 2009, members of Congress were going home for the summer
recess and they were doing town halls, those town halls were all of a
sudden filled with raging anti-Obamacare protesters. The whole political
discussion in the country was about this resistance to the new
administration. This movement that members of Congress were facing at home
and their districts every time they popped their heads up about anything.
This activist Tea Party movement was really fueled by the conservative
media, it gave a ton of energy to the conservative wing of the Republican
Party. It led to Republicans being primaried from the right. It also led
to tons of Republican energy for that first midterm election in 2010.
There is no exact mirror image of that movement this time around in 2018,
as we sit here on the eve of the first congressional election of Barack
Obama`s successor as president. There is no left-wing Tea Party because
the left and the right are different. But shortly after the birth of the
Trump administration, we also saw the birth of Indivisible, focused on
pressuring members of Congress like the Tea Party did back in the early
Also Swing Left, directing activist energy almost as soon as Trump was
elected toward the House districts that would be most flippable in 2018,
most flippable from Republican to Democrat.
We got Run for Something, recruiting progressive candidates to run for
office up and down the ballot. Senate and Congress all the way to zoning
board and dogcatcher.
We also got Flippable, which focuses on state government races to try to
undo the gerrymandering Republicans did after 2010, which has given them an
almost insurmountable structural advantage for keeping control of Congress.
All of these groups, and a bunch more, were all founded by the time Donald
Trump was inaugurated in January of last year. They were founded to
mobilize and channel the energy of people opposed to this new president in
a constructive direction, toward concrete, achievable political aims. Now
as I say, the left and the right are not the same, you might have noticed.
And the Republicans really did get lucky, as lucky as a party can possibly
get in the Senate map this year. The Republicans are only defending one
Republican senator in a state that Hillary Clinton won, while Democrats are
defending ten Democratic senators from states that Trump won.
You cannot get more lucky than that in terms of the Senate map. In
addition to that, the Republicans really did successfully gerrymander the
House so aggressively after that 2010 election, that to win the House of
Representatives this year, Democrats will have to win congressional votes
by almost triple the margin that they would otherwise have to win by if
that gerrymandering hadn`t happened. We`re going have more on that coming
up a little later on in the show tonight.
But even with those factors in the Republicans` favor, tonight on the eve
of the midterm elections, to the extent that Democrats really do now have a
chance of flipping the House of Representatives tomorrow, to the extent
that Democrats are fighting to win that majority on such a wide field
across so many districts that are currently held by Republicans, you really
do need to look at what those activist groups have done. They got nowhere
near the press that the Tea Party movement got in 2010.
But look at the effect of those groups that formed after Trump`s election.
Just look at just Indivisible. We first talked about Indivisible on this
show on January 4th of last year. So, a couple of weeks before Trump`s
inauguration, before the women`s marches, before any of that, we had
noticed these very, very small protests cropping up.
In fact, you might not even call them protests, just constituents showing
up at the offices of the Republican members of Congress to voice their
concerns, like these women who showed up at the office of Congressman Bob
Goodlatte in Roanoke, Virginia. Other people turned up at Senator Cory
Gardner`s office in Colorado. Just ordinary citizens visiting their
representatives, but they were being very deliberate about their strategy
and about getting the word out about what they were doing.
We started following that, and we quickly realized that they were following
this new online guide, the Indivisible guide, which was drawn up by some
former Democratic congressional staffers you`ve never heard of, and they
were putting this document together to give people very practical advise
about how to learn from the tactical success of the Tea Party under
President Obama. It was detailed instructions about how to put effective
pressure on your own member of Congress to block the Trump agenda.
And, again, this thing started just as a Google Doc online. But by January
4th, when we had one of the authors of that guide, Ezra Levin, on this show
– remember, this was two weeks before Trump was inaugurated – we learned
that hundreds of these Indivisible groups had sprouted up around the
country, and more were forming literally as we spoke with Mr. Levin on the
show about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Have you seen in terms of the direct response to this, obviously,
you`ve got this posted online, so you know how many people have downloaded
it, read it. Are you seeing in terms of groups forming or other people
using this work?
EZRA LEVIN, INDIVISIBLE: It`s phenomenal. I`ve got to say, we`ve been
blown away. We put up a Google Doc two and a half weeks ago. Google
We threw up a website, just so people had a way to download it and get the
information. In the last two weeks that we`ve had that up, there have been
over 600,000 page views, there have been 130,000 people who have downloaded
But like you said, the really exciting thing is that there are all these
groups spreading out all across the country and popping up. We`ve had, in
the last 24 hours, since we`ve been collecting groups that are trying to
resist Trump, 350 folks register. My phone –
MADDOW: Three hundred five groups?
LEVIN: Groups, 350 groups, 350 groups all over the country. My phone
buzzes every time a new one goes in, and it`s been buzzing since we`ve been
talking. Every few minutes, more people are coming online.
And what they look like is what the Indivisible Roanoke group looks like.
They`re in Milwaukee. They`re in Florida. They`re in New York. They`re
in California. They`re in Pennsylvania.
We`ve covered just about every single state, and we have subscribers in
literally every single congressional district in the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That night, here on this show, again, weeks before Trump was sworn
in as president, there were 350 indivisible groups already formed around
the country. By two days later, there were 1,500 indivisible groups around
the country. Today, we called Ezra Levin for a check-in. He told us there
were 6,000 indivisible groups around the country. And no, they don`t get
the press of the tea party, but boy, have they been working busily.
And so, I mean, Indivisible is notable for just that alone, right? They`re
broad spread across the country, being super practical, super focused,
showing up at congressional offices and town halls everywhere,
relentlessly, particularly around Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare
And one result of that is that Indivisible actually appears to have
engineered a whole bunch of Republican retirements from Congress. Members
of Congress who looked out the window every day and decided they just
didn`t want to deal with this stuff from their own constituents. This is a
local movement. People target only their own members of Congress.
Indivisible groups again targeting only their own members of Congress.
They held retirement parties outside Republican lawmakers` offices. They
made them retirement cakes.
I mean, one part of the reason Democrats have so much excitement about
potentially winning the House tomorrow night is that in fact a whopping 40
Republicans who might have run for re-election instead decided they did not
want to run again in this climate, 40. Would you?
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Those are members of the Indivisible group in California`s 49th
district. They are all constituents of Congressman Darrell Issa, and that
was them standing out in the rain this past January, serenading Congressman
Darrell Issa, telling him this year you`re going to retire. They made him
a retirement cake.
This is it – look. You`ll wear a Hawaiian shirt. You`ll be so happy in
These guys held more than 50 weekly protests at Darrell Issa`s offices. By
the time they were singing there, they had already held more than 50 of
them. These sort of deliberately cheerful, very jolly protests, even in
the rain, doing everything they could with a smile on their faces to get
Congressman Issa to please quit.
And he did. Darrell Issa quit. He is not running for re-election this
Here were members of that same Indivisible group celebrating Darrell Issa`s
retirement earlier this year, as soon as he announced it, with balloons and
a cake and champagne – sure, why not?
Here are members of the Indivisible group in Ohio`s 12th district high-
fiving each other at their 38th straight weekly protest at Congressman Pat
Tiberi`s office. The reason they`re high-fiving there is because he
announced his retirement.
Here is Darrell Issa`s fellow California Republican Ed Royce. Indivisible
also targeted him with balloon-filled please retire parties, not very
subtly suggesting he should, too, retire. Ed Royce, too, is retiring.
We saw this over and over again over the course of the last year.
Republican members of Congress being relentlessly pushed and pressured, not
by national movements that were getting featured on television all the time
and that were on the cover of magazines, but being pressured by their own
constituents who quietly organized to put pressure where they most could as
individuals. Republican members of Congress being pressured by their own
constituents to defy Trump, to explain themselves, if they weren`t, and to
leave office if they couldn`t.
Forty House Republicans have opted not to run for re-election this year.
And that has created a giant set of what had been Republican-held seats
that are now open seats, which makes them obviously much riper for a
Democratic flip, because there is no incumbent there holding onto the seat
with all of the power of incumbency to try to keep it.
Two of the seats Democrats are trying hardest to flip tomorrow are those
two California seats vacated by Darrell Issa and Ed Royce. We saw
Indivisible giving them their big sendoffs. Those retirements only
expanded the long list of Republican California House seats that are seen
as possible Democratic pickups tomorrow. There are now seven California
Republican-held congressional seats that the Democrats think they might get
A Koch political report rates five of them as toss-ups, which means they
could go either way. The toss-ups include the seat that Ed Royce just
quit, plus the ones held by Jeff Denham, Steve Knight, Mimi Walters, and
Dana Rohrabacher. Darrell Issa`s open seat, the seat that Darrell Issa
quit, that`s rated as a likely Democratic pickup.
That said, I should also mention that the seat held by Republican
Congressman Duncan Hunter, that`s still rated by cook as a lean Republican
seat, even though Duncan Hunter is currently under federal indictment on 60
felony, fraud and corruption charges. Like literally, he has been charged
with 60 crimes. So presumably, that puts that one in reach for Democrats,
no matter how the district leans in general.
So those seven seats are seen as on the bubble for potential Democratic
pickup tomorrow in the state of California. If Democrats got all those
seats in California, that would be almost a third of the total number of
seats that the Democrats need nationwide to win control of Congress.
And so, here is another thing to know heading into tomorrow. I know it`s
just one state among 50, but it`s going to become important national news
tomorrow that California polls do not close until 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time,
which is 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow night. People talk about it`s
going to be a late night tomorrow night, this is part of it.
I mean, when it comes to the overall balance of power in Washington, who`s
going to control Congress, whether or not the Trump administration is going
to have any check in terms of power in Washington, there is a very real
possibility that it`s going to come down to California, to a seat here or a
seat there in California.
And that creates a very specific problem in terms of your stress levels
these days, your schedule this week and those bags under your eyes like
mine that we`ve all been worrying about, right? And that problem is the
“oh my god, when will we know” problem. I mean, polls close in California
8:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. But we very well may not
know at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. We may not know tomorrow night at all.
California is notoriously, even proudly, slow at counting the vote. When
Darrell Issa won re-election in 2016, when he won what would become his
last term in Congress, he won that election the Monday after Thanksgiving,
20 days after Election Day, because California counts that slow.
And remember, after the 2016 presidential election, do you remember how
Hillary Clinton`s lead in the popular vote over Donald Trump just kept
growing and growing every day for weeks after the election? It was like
this incredibly ominous irony, because there is Trump having won the
election, having won the Electoral College. But every day, Hillary
Clinton`s lead in the popular vote got bigger and bigger and bigger and
bigger? Ultimately got up to almost 3 million votes?
The slowness with which we got – the incremental slowness with which we
got that popular vote count after the 2016 presidential election, that was
thanks largely to California, slowly but surely, trotting its way through
its ballots. We finally learned that Clinton had beat Trump by nearly 3
million votes when California`s ballots were all counted and certified, and
that was in mid-December. That`s just how they do it.
So anything can happen. Predictions are often wrong. Polls sometimes go
haywire, don`t we all know it? But be alert to this specific possibility
heading into this epic election that we are about to have tomorrow.
This is politico.com today. Their headline, quote: If the House comes down
to California, get ready to wait. Quote: Forget staying up all night to
find out who won congressional seats here. Strategists and campaign
experts say it could take days, if not weeks, to determine victors in a
series of tight and closely watched midterm races in southern California.
Here is the president of the California voter foundation speaking to
politico.com today. Quote: Elections are a one-month-long activity now in
our state, and certifying the elections are a one-month activity. And it`s
not like they started a month early. No, it`s a month starting tomorrow.
OK. That`s fine. We will all stay perfectly calm and well hydrated.
Fine. We`ll all be fine.
How long is it really likely to take?
Joining us now is Jacob Soboroff, our MSNBC correspondent, who has been
standing in the room where the control of the House could be decided
tomorrow. Four key House races will be tabulated right where Jacob stands
in the registrar`s headquarters in Orange County, California.
Jacob, thank you for being with us.
I`m a California kid, and I grew up thinking of Orange County as the
bastion of the Republican Party and conservatism. Now, it seems like not
only has the politics changed, but we all need to learn the technical part
of Orange County, too.
JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: It`s unbelievable, Rachel. I don`t
think it`s an exaggeration to say that especially if it goes late into
tomorrow evening, this could be the most consequential election
jurisdiction in the country, and that is very specifically because four of
the seven toss-up races in California are actually in Orange County. The
39th, the 45th, the 48th, and the 49th will all be counted here.
And not only will they be counted, they`ve been being counted here for
weeks, 29 days so far, they`ve been doing early voting. What`s happening
right now, Rachel, as a matter of fact, is these are early and absentee
votes that are coming into this location in real-time.
So, you mentioned 30 days as a possibility – that`s sort of the longest
possibility, coming up, you know, if it gets tight, but we could be talking
about at least a day, at least a week, depending on the scenarios. It
depends on the margin of votes when it all goes down tomorrow night.
MADDOW: And so, Jacob, they`re counting absentee and early votes already.
What happens in terms of the collision between the day of votes, too? If
they`re not done with all the votes that have come in already –
SOBOROFF: That`s such a good question.
MADDOW: – do they put that on pause? Or how does that work?
SOBOROFF: Come with me. I got to show you something real quick. So,
what`s happening here – sorry, guys, I want to show Rachel something real
quick. These guys have been here all day. They`re unbelievable.
These are the absentee ballots that are flying in here real-time, 400,000
of them, almost 500,000 of them over the course of the last 29 dates.
Tomorrow, this process essentially grinds to a halt. These things stop and
then they count about 200,000 in-person ballots that are tabulated.
They`re actually brought back here by the sheriff`s department, the Orange
County sheriff`s department. They`re put into a pneumatic tube. They`re
on a chip, because they have electronic voting machines. They`re shot
through a tube in the roof into the room back here where they`re counted in
You could see as many absentee votes come in after tomorrow as in-person
votes. You could have hundreds of thousands of votes cast in person
tomorrow. This process stops, and you still have an additional couple
hundred thousand votes that are coming in absentee and will have to be
counted after the fact.
So, again, tomorrow, starting tomorrow, you`re going to have lawyers
swarming this place. They told me six different law firms are coming into
this building. You`re going to have hundreds of lawyers in this building.
It`s the fifth-largest election jurisdiction in the entire country.
I don`t think there is – there may not be another election jurisdiction
that has two toss-up districts in it, much less four. Neil Kelly (ph), the
guy who is the registrar here, has been on the job almost 15 years. He
says he has never seen anything like it. The turnout is the level of a
presidential, almost three-quarters of a million votes. A million would be
presidential levels. And, frankly, the guy just seems shocked, but he
seems really prepared for what`s going to go down.
MADDOW: That`s actually my final question to you, Jacob, is that given the
four toss-up districts in that one jurisdiction, given the experience and
obviously the infrastructure that they`ve got there to deal with it, given
the influx of lawyers that you`re already hearing about, the prospect that
those could be the last votes that decide the contest for the control of
Congress, do you feel like they are prepared for every eventuality? Does
it seem like a durable system? Does it seem like they`ve got what they
need in place? Does it seem like, you know, if this becomes the national
story over the next few days, are they ready for it?
SOBOROFF: Yes. I think – I get the sense that this guy is ready. You
know, Rick is one of the foremost election experts in the country, he`s
actually here at UC-Irvine. He said he trusts Neil Kelly. He`s a
Republican, appointed by a Republican board of supervisors, but he says
he`s got some of the highest integrity of any election official in the
And then, of course, there`s the ex-factor, which is foreign interference.
Neil Kelly told me, not only does he sit on the homeland security`s
national security election task force, he has worked closely over the two
years with the FBI, he told me straight-up, they have been scanned, they
have been probed by foreign government, including Russia and China. He
feels confident that despite the fact that that is happening here, that the
election is going to be safe. It`s going to be secure.
The votes will be counted. They may not be counted quickly. We may be in
for not just a long night tomorrow night, but a long week, and maybe even a
long month. But he thinks all the votes should be counted and everybody
should feel confident in that fact.
MADDOW: Jacob Soboroff, MSNBC correspondent, reporting live from the very
busy office that could decide who controls Congress this time tomorrow.
Really appreciate you being there for us in Orange County, Jacob. Much
appreciated, my friend.
SOBOROFF: You`ve got it, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got lots and lots of news to get to this
election eve. Deep breath, everybody. Stay with us.
MADDOW: On February 12th, 2013, President Barack Obama had a visitor. And
he greeted her with open arms and a big bear hug. That visitor`s name was
Ms. Victor was 102 years old at that time, she was meeting President Obama.
She had traveled to Washington, D.C. from her home in Miami, Florida. She
had traveled as a special guest as the president and the first lady.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: We should follow the example of a North
Miami woman named Desiline victor. When Desiline arrived at her polling
place, she was told the wait to vote might be six hours. As time ticked
by, her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether
folks like her would get to have their say. And hour after hour, a throng
of people stayed in line to support her, because Desiline is 102 years old.
And they erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read “I
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Desiline Victor was born in 1910 in Haiti. She became a U.S.
citizen in 2005. In 2008, at the age of 97, she cast her first ever vote
for Barack Obama. Four years later, in 2012, Desiline Victor arrived at
her local library to cast her vote again.
That time, things were a little more difficult for people all over the
state. Republicans in Florida had just cut early voting days by nearly
half. Why did they do that? Well, we can see what the effect was. Lines
to vote that year were long.
Desiline Victor showed up on day one of early voting. She was told she
might have to wait six hours to vote. She said, OK, and then she waited
online at the age of 102 for three hours. She stayed on that line until
poll workers finally advised her that she should try to come back later.
So, Desiline Victor left and then she came back. And finally, that night,
she was able to cast her vote. She told the “Miami Herald” later, quote, I
never voted in Haiti. It wasn`t safe. In this country, I have the right
to vote. In Haiti, I did not.
Having earned her citizenship and her right to vote in this country, Ms.
Victor stood in line for hours on end to exercise that right. On State of
the Union night, Republicans and Democrats together stood up and applauded
her determination to stay in line and vote no matter how long it took. She
stayed in line, she got it done, she celebrated it later.
When she got back to Florida from our nation`s capital, Ms. Victor was
greeted at the airport by family and friends. She smiled. She danced in
the airport. And then a few weeks later, the North Miami City council
named a wing of the local library after her, the library where Desiline
Victor had had to wait in line all those hours. It would now have her name
Look, the Desiline Victor Voting Wing. A permanent reminder of what it
means to vote in this country. What it sometimes takes to play your part
in our democracy.
Desiline Victor passed away last fall at the age of 106, leaving behind an
example of Joy and determination in citizenship, right? Even when
citizenship is hard. Also leaving behind the wing of the library that was
named in her honor.
So, yesterday in North Miami, they voted at the Desiline Victor Voting
Wing. It was the last day to vote early before tomorrow`s election. This
is what it looked like at the North Miami library yesterday where Desiline
Victor used to vote in the wing named after her now.
This was shot by the great Doug Hanks (ph) of “The Miami Herald”. The wait
to vote at the Desiline Victor Voting Wing of the North Miami library
yesterday was three hours long.
The reason the lines got so long was that the county ran out of some
ballots for a few hours. By sunset, a line of more than 200 people snaked
around the library, people just waiting. One voter who had waited three
hours on that line told “The Miami Herald,” quote, I would have stayed in
line eight hours if I had to.
Campaign workers for a Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum
handed out water and pizza to voters waiting in line. A local company
provided head phones to help people pass the time. In the end, everybody
who stayed in line yesterday got to vote in the Desiline Victor Voting
It`s easy to see why an hours-long wait would be enraging or discouraging.
It would be easy to get disgusted and quit. But seeing people willing to
wait that wait to get their turn at the ballot box, it is one of the more
heartwarming things about being an American. It`s equally enraging and
Sometimes if you are called on to make that personal commitment, it`s
asking something of you as a citizen. It can sometimes even shade toward
being fun, right? Maybe there will be music. Maybe there will be pizza.
At least there will be your fellow Americans and your shared patriotism and
the surety that your vote is worth it, always, however you vote. And you
do not have to take my word for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DESILINE VICTOR: When I saw the big lines, I thought I was not going to be
able to vote. But I persisted because that day I wanted to vote. It is
not that I wanted to lose all that time voting for a Democrat; it was about
being part of the democratic process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nachos or popcorn? Do you get in, like, a whole spread where
you`re going to have a whole meal that takes a long time, or are you a
graze and gnats person? I sort of become basically an entirely jerky and
chocolate-based person starting about 11:00 p.m. It`s usually my thing,
but every watch night is a little different.
Are you going to a watch person? Or are you the kind of person who likes
to set up your own solo private war room, don`t call me I`m turning off my
MSNBC special election coverage will start here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time
I should also tell you, not just because I want you to watch us, which I
do, but honestly, word of advice, there`s good stuff right at the start.
We`re starting our special election coverage at 6:00. Six is also when the
very first polls close throughout most of Indiana and the eastern half of
Kentucky. So, we`re going to start to see real numbers coming in as soon
as we start during the 6:00 Eastern hour.
Now, one of the very first races we expect to get numbers in for is this
very high profile race for a Kentucky house district that includes
Lexington. This seat is currently held by a three-term incumbent
Republican named Andy Barr, he`s being challenged by Democrat Amy McGrath.
You may recognize her from her campaign announcement, which focused on her
role as the first female are mean to fly in an F-18 into combat.
Results from that Kentucky race will be among the very first things we see
when the results start coming in tomorrow. What will happen in that race,
we don`t know, it`s considered a tossup. But one of the things we`ve been
trying to get our heads around in general is how early we`re going to have
an idea of how things are going around the country.
There are high-profile races, including the Indiana Senate race, including
that exciting Kentucky House race. That`s going to happen right away. But
substantively, when are we going to know which way the night is going
overall? Joining us to talk about some of those early returns, bellwether
races we should be watching is Patrick Murray. He`s director of the
Monmouth Polling Institute.
Mr. Murray, it`s great to have you with us tonight. Thank you for being
PATRICK MURRAY, DIRECTOR, MONMOUTH POLLING INSTITUTE: It`s my pleasure,
MADDOW: What do you think we should watch as early bellwethers?
MURRAY: Yes, well, I mean, the Kentucky race, we`re not sure what that
means, regardless with that outcome comes, happens. So, at 7:00, Virginia
MADDOW: OK. So, the Kentucky race, you`re saying, it`s interesting but it
won`t necessarily point us in one direction or the other.
MURRAY: Right, won`t point us to what the story of the night is going to
MADDOW: So, for the story of the night, you want the Virginia races.
MURRAY: I want the Virginia races.
MURRAY: There`s four races in Virginia that will give us a lot of
information. You have the one in North Virginia. That`s Barbara Comstock,
who`s running for reelection there. Most folks consider a pick up or
Democrats already. If Democrats don`t pick up that, it means it`s going to
be a big night for Republicans.
MURRAY: But let`s say the Democrats pick up that. That`s expected. Let`s
move to another district. Let`s move to Dave Brat`s district.
MADDOW: Who beat Eric Cantor, yes.
MURRAY: Right. He beat Eric Cantor in that primary. That includes some
rural area, but also a lot of urban areas right outside of Richmond.
So, there`s Abigail Spanberger who`ve been running a very strong campaign
there. If she wins that race, that will give us a sense that these
suburban districts, particularly along the East Coast are likely to start
turning blue, and that will put Democrats on the path towards a majority,
not necessarily all the way there. We`ve got two more districts here too.
MADDOW: OK. Let me ask you about that Brat/Spanberger race, because it is
my sense, while demographically and geographically what you`re saying makes
it sound like a bellwether to me, I also get the sense that Dave Brat has
run kind of a lousy race.
MADDOW: And so, with all of these, you get a mix in there terms of the
individual candidates are and how they`ve done. But you think still based
on the character of the district?
MURRAY: Right, that will give us information, because if you can call this
race early, before all the votes are counted, that`s a suggestion that
Democrats are even outperforming in these suburban drink.
MURRAY: And then if they`re going to do well in rural districts, we`re
going to look down to Virginia Beach, Scott Taylor`s district is in trouble
there, the middle of the state district, the 5th which is from
Charlottesville down, that`s an open race between I think Dennis Riggleman
–Denver Riggleman is running there –
MADDOW: Oh, and Leslie Cockburn.
So that will be an indication of whether Democrats can have really expanded
MADDOW: OK. So those four races in Virginia, that`s a good case for those
MURRAY: There is a problem with Virginia, though, because they take a
little while to count their votes. We need to probably look to another
MADDOW: Would that be Florida?
MURRAY: I think it would be Florida.
MURRAY: Florida counts pretty quickly. There is a bunch of things down
there they`re going to look at.
MADDOW: Well, how many Republican seats – Republican-held seats in
Florida do Democrats consider to be in play? Is it like four seats or
something the Democrats –
MURRAY: Yes, four that they think they might have a real possibility to
do. And there are two different types of districts. So, two at the
southern end of the state starting from Miami beach going all the way out
to the keys. These are Republican-held districts that Hillary Clinton won
between 16 and 20 points.
One of those races, it`s an open seat. It`s Democrats, this is Donna
Shalala who is running for this –
MADDOW: Oh, it used to be Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. She is stepping down.
MURRAY: Right, she is stepping down.
MURRAY: Democrats thought they would pick up this.
MADDOW: Well, they freaked out though about Donna Shalala –
MURRAY: They nominated a 77-year-old former Clinton administration cabinet
member who doesn`t speak Spanish in a district that is 60 percent Hispanic,
right? And the Republicans nominated –
MADDOW: She is more charismatic than people give her credit for.
MURRAY: Right, but I think that that race seems to be – the polling is
indicating that she`ll pick it up.
The other race is probably the more interesting one because Carlos Curbelo
stayed in that race. He`s the incumbent. They`re Cuban-American.
MADDOW: Sort of moderate Republican.
MURRAY: Sort of moderate Republican has distanced himself from Trump on
some issues that will be that kind of bellwether district that tells us –
and these diverse districts, I`m going to look to Southern California –
talk about southern California, which we might not know about for weeks.
But this is – this is the kind of districts that will tell us about the
Then we go further north into the state, we`ve got the 5th district there.
That`s – excuse me, the 6th district. That`s an open seat. That`s Ron
DeSantis who is running for governor.
MADDOW: He had to leave that seat in order to run for governor.
MURRAY: So we have Michael Waltz and Nancy Soderberg. There are so many
names up for grabs, right? That is a working class white district.
MURRAY: In the middle of the state, that will tell us whether the
Democrats are going to be able to do well in those types of districts, you
know? So, these are things that we`re going to look – so Florida will
give us a little bit of a sense. They`ll count early. We`ll come back to
Virginia, and we`ll see.
But by that time, we`ll probably know by, you know, 9:00, we`ll probably
know a good bit about Virginia and Florida that should give us a picture of
what the night is going to be.
MADDOW: All right. So even if you cannot imagine what your next month is
going to be like, even if you can`t imagine what ten hours of election
coverage are going to be like tomorrow night, you can definitely imagine
the first couple of hours, and that gives awes pretty good bite sized way
to approach it.
Mr. Murray, director of the Monmouth Polling Institute – Patrick, thank
you very much.
MURRAY: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: Much appreciated.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Chart imitates life. I have a chart for you.
The Brennan Center at NYU put this together. And this isn`t about any one
race you need to watch tomorrow night. This is explaining overall what`s
going to happen tomorrow night and what`s going to happen to the next two
years of the Trump presidency.
The left column here shows the popular vote for Congress. It`s not the way
we usually think about this type of election, but if you add up all the
votes people cast nationwide for a Democratic member of Congress versus all
the votes people cast nationwide for a Republican number of Congress, you
can get a national popular vote for Congress. Are the American people
voting for a Democrat to vote them in Congress or a Republican?
If Democrats nationwide come out on top on that number, and they almost
certainly will, that will be the number on the left column there. So maybe
Democrats will win the overall congressional popular vote by two points or
four points or 16 points or whatever. If the popular vote came in like
that, well, then the middle column shows historically what you would expect
that to translate to in terms of the number of seats in Congress the
Democrats would be expected to gain.
So, if Democrats win the popular vote for Congress by two points
historically you would expect that to translate into Democrats picking up
19 new seats in the House. They win the national popular vote by four
points, you expect them to win 23 seats in the House, and you go on down
But now, look at the column on the right. That shows not the historic gain
that you`d expect, that shows the actual projected seat gain in the House
for Democrats based on how carved up the congressional maps are now to
benefit Republicans. So if you just start at the top there, if the
Democrats win the national popular vote by two points, historically
speaking, you would expect that to result in Democrats picking up 19 seats.
But because the districts are drawn so aggressively now to favor
Republicans, instead of 19 seats, what Democrats would actually pick up
this year with that kind of a vote margin is more like five seats in the
House. Not 19, but 5, and on down the line.
There`s a couple of things to take away from this chart. One is that
Republicans have stacked the deck for control of Congress. That`s what
this is about. After the 2010 census and the 2010 elections, Republicans
won control of so many states all across the country they redrew the lines
to benefit their party in the voting district. They made congressional
districts that they could win so much more easily.
And that`s basically why the Brennan Center created this chart, to show how
hard the Republicans have made it for Democrats to win seats in Congress,
even when they win more votes. How hard the Republicans have tilted the
playing field in their own favor. More votes. How hard the Democrats have
tilted the playing field in their own favor.
I mean, Democrats this year, Democrats tomorrow only need 23 seats to win
control of the House. From a historical perspective, that means Democrats
should only need a four-point is swing in the popular vote to win 23 seats.
But because of the way the map is now, because of how hard the playing
field is tilted towards Republican, that four-point swing in the popular
vote would onto give them seven cements in Congress. That`s not enough.
Instead, thanks to how tilted the field is towards the Republicans,
Democrats would need to win the popular vote tomorrow by more than 10
points, by between 10 and 11 points in order to pick up the seats they need
to win the House.
This is why former President Barack Obama, former Attorney General Eric
Holder, keep talking about this as the one most important thing that they
are now working on in Democratic politics since they both left office.
They want to try to unstack the deck so Republicans no longer have this
structural advantage that makes it almost impossible for Democrats to win
The other thing to take away from this chart is that now since we are on
the eve of the election, we`re trying to figure out if Democrats can
actually pull it off. Can Democrats win the popular vote for Congress, big
enough that they can actually get those 23 seats? Can they?
Well, here`s the last four big national polls on this. Yesterday`s NBC
News/”Wall Street Journal” poll has Democrats up generically by seven
points. CNN poll has Democrats up by 13. ABC News/”Washington Post” has
Democrats up by eight. NPR/PBS/Marist has Democrats up by nine.
Those are the last four big national polls. And the spread between those
last four national polls is the reason why there`s so much suspense about
what`s going to happen tomorrow, because if the Brennan Center is right
about how gerrymandered the House is now, if you go by the low end, by the
NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll, that`s only got Democrats up by seven.
Based on that, Democrats will not pick up enough seats tomorrow to take the
That said, if you go to the other end of the range, go to the CNN poll,
that has Democrats winning the popular vote in Congress by 13. Well, then,
yes, they would pull it off, with a cushion.
That`s the kind of range we`ve been looking at. Those are the factors that
are driving everybody`s anticipation about what`s happening tomorrow.
Anybody telling you they know what`s going to happen tomorrow is not
telling you the truth. There really is a whole range of possibilities.
Even with the deck totally stacked in Republicans` favor.
MADDOW: Big night around here, I know. Few things, election coverage
starts tomorrow night here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. There is actually quite a
bit of interesting stuff that`s going to happen relatively early on. So,
you probably want to be here early on.
That said, you do also need to know that we`re going to be here all night
long. I want to give you one little incentive to stay with us late into
the evening tomorrow. Little known fact, Brian Williams and I both have
really bad backs. So, by the truly, truly late hours, like the daylight
hours, we`re going to have live chiropractic adjustments here on the set.
So, you want to see us destroyed, it`s worth staying late.
Also, one other note, I wanted to let you know, I`m going to be on “The
Tonight Show” tonight with Jimmy Fallon, tonight on NBC.
And one last thing, I`ve got this podcast, it`s called “Bag Man.” First
two episodes came out last week. It`s been really popular. People really
seem to like it. I`m super grateful to everybody who has checked it out.
But I`m here to tell you tonight that we are posting episode three, like,
right now. It`s seven episodes altogether. One in two went up last week.
Episode three is up right this second. You can get it on the podcast app
on your phone. You can also just go to MSNBC.com/bagman. You get it there
Episode three, I will tell you, it`s about a criminal politician who is
under federal investigation, he responds by attacking the Justice
Department and attacking the press and his base and congressional
Republicans totally back him up on that. It is a true story from American
history. Episode three of “Bag Man” drops tonight. MSNBC.com/bagman.
OK. Programming note over. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: I have a small election eve present for you. Behold, TRMS bingo.
We made you this bingo card for tomorrow night`s election coverage to help
you keep track of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country, people who
are up for re-election tomorrow night but who really might lose. This card
has slots for the top five senators who are considered to be in most
trouble tomorrow, and the top ten members of the House who are most likely
to lose their seats.
We consulted the data gurus over at fivethirtyeight.com in order to build
this. We posted it tonight to MaddowBlog.com, so you can you print it out
and play along tomorrow night, if any of these incumbents ends up getting
turfed out tomorrow, you just, you know, mark the box, X out their face or
whatever. Don`t forget the free space.
We will be live here on MSNBC all night, helping you keep track. TRMS
bingo. Who knows, you might even win a prize. Boy, we`re prohibited.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow at 6:00 p.m.
Eastern. Vote tomorrow. Be here with us tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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