PA special election too close to call. TRANSCRIPT: 03/13/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: March 13, 2018
Guest: Kasie Hunt, Vaughn Hllyard, Steve Kornacki, Cornell Belcher, Jonathan Alter, Ron Klain, Kimberly Atkins, McKay Coppins
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
I just had to put on my election night glasses –
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: Yes.
O`DONNELL: – because I realized when I saw you reading those numbers at
the bottom of the screen, that I`m going to be doing a lot of that and
trying to figure out what the margin is between these two. This looks like
a count every vote situation.
MADDOW: Yes. I mean, we`ll see as it comes in. When we were planning for
our production planning for tonight, we though, ah, we`ll probably have 10,
12, 15 percent of the vote in by the end of the 9:00 hour. You know,
Lawrence will really be doing the heavy lifting, probably Brian doing will
be doing the heavy lifting.
We`re down to 95 percent of the vote in already. And that is a very, very
tight margin. Obviously, Conor Lamb was out by a big margin with the early
vote coming, but now, it`s very, very tight.
O`DONNELL: Well, we`ll see if they have to get to those absentee ballots.
This is going to be really, really a squeaker all the way.
MADDOW: I`m glad you got your glasses.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, as you can see, we`re watching this special election in
Pennsylvania tonight where Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone
are facing off. The race obviously is still close to call.
Ninety-five percent of the vote in, and still too close. Lamb has 50
percent of the vote. Republican Rick Saccone has 49 percent of the vote at
this minute. It`s going to change in another minute. Conor Lamb leads by
just over at this moment a thousand votes. But that`s been changing by the
Steve Kornacki has been watching the returns covering this. He`s been
covering the race for weeks. He has been waiting for night. He has been
waiting for this minute.
Steve, what`s going to happen?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the number
right now, Lawrence, 1,132. That`s the difference right now separating
Conor Lamb who is leading with all these votes and Rick Saccone who is
trying to catch him.
Let me show you the lay of the land as we look for the final precincts.
First of all, this big chunk of real estate here. Take it off the board,
Green County. It`s tiny in terms of the number of voter there, 100 percent
in. So, take that off the board.
Westmoreland, this is a Republican bastion, it came in late. But then it
came in fast. So, Saccone, if you`re watching the returns all night and
saw that lopsided lamb lead early in the returns, that was deceptive
because Westmoreland always comes in late.
It came in late, fast and for Saccone. Almost all of that it seems is in
right now. So, really the action is we`re looking at this gap of 1,132
votes the lead for lamb right now. It`s right here in this part of the
district, Allegheny and Washington.
And you see from the color coding, the difference between these two
counties. Allegheny County, you are talking about the Pittsburgh suburbs.
We`ve talked in the age of Trump about those college educated voters, a
little more economically upscale, white collar professionals, more moderate
maybe culturally, may be turned off a bit by Trump`s style.
This is the part of the district where Lamb needed to run up the score
tonight. Well said early on the question is how much. Obviously, he is
right at the cusp of what he needs to do there.
There are some precincts left in Allegheny, probably going to be for Conor
Lamb. That`s probably going to boost him. Though the question becomes
this part, the red part, the other big outstanding county, Washington
County, Republican bastion.
Again, we talked about that contrast, culturally, the white working class
suburbanites up here in Allegheny. You get more into what you would
traditionally associate with this district, older, more blue collar, less
economically upscale. That`s what you start to talk about in Washington
County. That`s red, that`s where Saccone has been doing well. There are
precinct there as well.
So, Lawrence, that`s what we`re looking for. As soon as these numbers
update, we`ll start to see how it shakes out. But again the question here
is, can Lamb squeeze enough votes out of Allegheny to offset what`s left in
Washington, and probably a sliver or two.
I`ve got to look closer, a sliver or two in Westmoreland. Can Lamb hold
off Saccone in that part of the district?
O`DONNELL: Steve, this district is normally so hopeless for Republicans
that in the last election, the Republican – hopeless for Democrats, the
Republican ran unopposed. Before that, Murphy ran unopposed. And the two
years before that, but the last time there was a candidate against the
Republican, Tim Murphy won by 28 percent. 2010, Tim Murphy won this
district by 35 percent. Donald Trump, of course, won it by 20. Mitt
Romney won it by 17.
We`re not supposed to be here tonight, Steve, talking about a real
competition in a district like this.
KORNACKI: Right. There are two things we can say. First of all, the
story of this district, it brings us tonight to put this in some kind of
context. This is going way back. You talk about a generation or two ago.
This was ancestrally a Democratic district. But it switched to becoming a
Republican district before Donald Trump.
This is not one of the districts we talked about in 2016 that just flipped
because of Trump. It was for Trump by about 20. It was for Romney by
basically the same margin in 2012. The big turn happened about the turn of
the century. It`s really become increasingly Republican since then.
So, this would not be just a drop-off from Trump`s levels. This would be a
drop-off if there Republican levels in the 21st century.
The other thing, as we wait for the final votes that we can say with
certainty right now since basically almost all the votes, almost all the
votes are in, is that this continues a trend and a pattern that we`ve been
seeing in these special elections that goes all the way back to April of
2017 when we had the first congressional special election of the Trump
presidency. In that election, a Wichita based district in Kansas, it was
Trump plus 27 in 2016. They held the special election. The Republicans
won, but they won by 7. That`s a swing you can see of 20 points.
They went up to Montana a couple months later. Trump 21 became a six-point
margin. Went to South Carolina 5, the Rock Hill area, 19 went down to 3.
Same day, Georgia – Georgia is one of the outliers here. It actually went
from one to four. That`s one that Republicans point to.
Again, you see the trend here. You saw it in Alabama that was Trump by 28
points, ended up going to for the Democrats.
So, you see this swing. And again, here, this was Trump by 20 points.
Whatever happens tonight, maybe it ends up being Lamb by a point. Maybe he
ends up losing by a fraction of a point game. But that is Democrats
shaving off 20 points from that Trump margin.
We saw something like that here. We saw it here. We saw it here. We saw
it here. We saw it in Alabama. That starts to look like a trend.
O`DONNELL: Steve, we`re going to widen out the discussion here with our
panel. But please stay with us and feel free to shout in whenever there is
something we need to know from these results.
We`re joined by Cornell Belcher, Democratic pollster, Jonathan Alter,
columnist with “The Daily Beast”, Ron Klain, former senior aide to
President Obama, and Kimberly Atkins, chief Washington reporter and
columnist for “The Boston Herald”.
And, Ron Klain, I want to go to you first, because you`ve been in the room
with the Democrats in the Senate and in the Congress after they`ve had a
bad night at the polls where they have lost ground substantially or
actually lost a seat. What is that discussion like tomorrow for the
Republicans? Because no matter how this comes out, they`ve just lost a 20-
point advantage in that district.
RON KLAIN, FORMER SENIOR AIDE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes, that`s right,
Lawrence. I mean, look, obviously, it`s better to win than it is lose. I
hope Conor Lamb wins. This is a tied election in an overwhelmingly
So, what Democrats will be talking about tomorrow is this: they need to win
26, 27 House seats to take back the House. There are 112 congressional
districts better for Democrats than this district currently being held by
Republicans – 112 districts in Republican hands that are more favorable to
the Democrats than this district.
O`DONNELL: OK. Ron, I just want to – I just want to stop there and
double underline this point for the audience. Here we have an election
tonight that might be decided by one point or less – basically, the
elimination of the Republican advantage in this district in Pennsylvania.
And you`re saying that the Democrats look at the congressional map, and
they see 110 districts where it would be even easier for them to win than
in this district?
KLAIN: That`s right, based on the outcome of the 2016 election, prior
congressional races. Again, it is better to win. I hope Conor Lamb wins.
All the Democrats are rooting for Conor Lamb to win.
But whatever happens with the final few votes here, this has been a
devastating setback for Republican efforts to hold the House in 2018, a
huge momentum boost for Democratic efforts to take the House in 2018.
O`DONNELL: Cornell Belcher, as a pollster, when you look at this, what`s
the lesson it teaches Democrats?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, a couple of lessons. One
Democratic enthusiasm is important. But also, look, I was a pollster for
Howard Dean in 2006 when we took back the House. And I got to tell you –
O`DONNELL: Cornell, we`re going to have to go to Steve Kornacki. He`s got
more for us.
Steve, go ahead.
KORNACKI: Well, it`s going to sound like small potatoes, Lawrence, but
when you`re down to –
O`DONNELL: Every potato counts tonight, Steve.
KORNACKI: Every potato is a big potato. So, I was telling you when we
came on, the margin has gone up here every so slightly, but maybe ever so
critically for Conor Lamb now sitting here at 1,238. It was about 100 less
when we came on, almost exactly 100 less.
I can show you what happened was we said, he is going to get a little bit
more in from these Pittsburgh suburbs, from Allegheny, there are still a
few precincts to squeeze out of there. That`s what happened. A few more
And Conor Lamb, he squeezes out, basically pads that margin by 100 votes.
And that`s critical for him, because, again, the more he gets out of here,
the more he can withstand what`s left in that Republican part of the
O`DONNELL: Steve, would you call that over-performing the expectation or
underperforming the expectation for Lamb in that particular spot.
KORNACKI: It is exactly where he needed to be. That`s what we`ve been
seeing all night. He is right on that cusp. And that`s why it comes down
O`DONNELL: Steve, no potato is too small. Jump back in whenever you need
KORNACKI: Got it.
O`DONNELL: Cornell, go ahead.
BELCHER: Let me pick up on that point that Steve making. We typically see
a 15, 16-point drop off in Democratic precinct turnout in midterms versus
Republican precinct turnout. We`re not seeing this across the country in
these elections. We`re seeing, in fact, Democrats overperforming
Republican precincts, which is part of that sort of Trump effect we see
And what I was saying earlier is, even in 2006, I did not – we did not see
college educated white women breaking away, which is why the suburbs are
becoming so competitive, breaking away from Republicans and what they see
around Trump the way we saw them breaking away from George Bush. It is
And if I was Republican, I would be most concerned about what college white
women are doing in the suburbs.
O`DONNELL: Jon Alter, all politics is local, but there is a trend. There
is a trend for Republicans and the Trump effect in that trend is not good.
JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: That`s right. And it`s only
16 months after Trump carried that district by 20 points. That in itself
actually has a little, you know, word of warning for Democrats, because
there is still a long time to go before the November election, and a lot
can happen in American politics.
And you see some of these Republican voters who kind of came home to
Saccone after not being at all clear –
O`DONNELL: We`ve got to go back to Steve Kornacki, see if it`s a French
fry. Go ahead, Steve.
KORNACKI: We`re trying to make French fries here. Again, this is just
what we know now is we think there are a grand total of about 9,000
uncounted votes left.
Oh, we just had an update here. Let`s do a little bit of quick math here.
OK. You see here the margin now is inside of a thousand. That goes to
918. The gap now Saccone within 918 of Lamb. I am going to check this.
Let me see if I can do this on the fly right here.
It actually – I got to check if this came from – we thought there might
be a few precincts left here in Westmoreland, or if this was in Allegheny.
But you see you got a little bit. Just ever so slightly came in there.
And the gap now again, it is within a thousand. So, a little bit closer to
Saccone right there. As I said, we think we have 9,000. Now a little bit
less than 9,000 votes to be counted. And there is Saccone trying to
basically make up here a 900 vote gap.
O`DONNELL: Steve, how long is it going to take them to count those 9,000
KORNACKI: At this rate, it might be a while. But no, it really is –
Westmoreland came in real fast. Let me see if I get them up on the screen.
Westmoreland came in real fast. I got to see if it`s the last remaining
precincts here. That`s what we were looking at.
If that`s the case, that would limit us. We`d be down to Allegheny,
Washington. Remember, Greene is off the board.
O`DONNELL: And, Steve, we will come back to you whenever you say.
Jon Alter, anyone who is watching this who has ever sat at home thinking
I`m not sure if my vote counts. Tonight is one of those nights.
ALTER: We`re talking 100 votes – in November, 100 million people are
going to vote in these midterm elections. So, we shouldn`t read too much
into any of this, even though it`s a good night for the Democrats because
they used to say almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenade, well,
if Conor Lamb falls short, almost counts also in overwhelmingly Republican
But having said that, Democrats need to understand that one of the things
that helped them here is they had a really good candidate. And if they go
into some of these races with the wrong candidates, they`re not going to
flip these seats. So, it`s not enough just to have an anti-Trump tide.
You`ve got to have the right candidates.
O`DONNELL: Kimberly Atkins, since the last congressional election, the
Democrats went from not being able to find a candidate to having a
candidate with 9,000 votes uncounted and almost a thousand votes ahead.
KIMBERLY ATKINS, CHIEF WASHINGTON REPORTER, THE BOSTON HERALD: Yes. I
mean, look, special elections are very local. I always give that caveat
for all of this.
But there is lessons here that can go forward looking forward and
predictive of what other elections will be. And it`s about the candidates,
as you pointed out. It`s about issues. It`s about how people connect.
And it`s about Donald Trump.
I mean, remember, Donald Trump campaigned in this district, although at
that rally, he talked more about himself than he did about Rick Saccone.
But he was there. Is it that Donald Trump`s appearance in that district
helped the Democratic get out the vote effort? It`s quite possibly true in
You also had these candidates. I mean, the former – the former candidate,
Congressman Murphy, was able to get – he was a Republican. But he got the
support from unions, which Rick Saccone isn`t doing. It`s showing the
power of unions here. It`s showing how voters in this very Rust Belt place
are not lockstep with Republicans. It depends on the message that is being
So I think Republicans and Democrats have a lot to learn about this race
and a lot to dissect from it moving forward.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, the Republicans watched the president go into this
district on Saturday night, deliver an absolutely crazed performance.
We`re going come back to that in a moment, though, because Steve Kornacki
KORNACKI: Sorry to interrupt. I can give you a little more on the votes
we`re looking for. We can break them down a little bit what`s left. We`re
look at about 3,000 votes that are left in Allegheny County. Now,
remember, we`re saying this is where Lamb has been sort of running up the
score tonight. Overall, across the county, Lamb is running at 58 percent.
Now we don`t know if that`s going to hold for each one of these remaining
precincts that is out. But again, Lamb has been doing better in Allegheny
than anywhere else. About 3,000 votes from Allegheny still to come. Then
about 6,000 total.
I said we weren`t sure if the final precincts from Westmoreland were in.
They are still to come. So we`re looking for more precincts from
Westmoreland. We expect those to be Republican, to be Saccone.
Also from Washington, we`re expecting of the 6,000 probably more from
Washington than from Westmoreland. But what we`re seeing tonight in the
two counties, again, you`re looking at about 53, 57 percent that Saccone
has been running at.
These interest Republican areas, but again, we don`t know if the
percentages are going to hold in each of these precincts. But is there
enough if you`re getting 53, 57, whatever percent of that 6,000 versus what
Lamb is going to get out of that remaining 3,000 or so in Allegheny. And
again, you do the math right there, we did a minute ago, 918 votes. That`s
the margin right now, 918 votes is the lead. That looks like a 4 – 918
for Conor Lamb.
O`DONNELL: And, Steve, imagine it matters how many of these unreported
precincts in Washington County are right along that border with Allegheny
County, because there you might start to see more sympathies for Lamb the
closer you get to Allegheny County.
KORNACKI: No. There is definitely that. We`re also hurt a little bit by
the fact that Westmoreland decided tonight, I`m not sure why. They decided
not to report these out by precincts.
So, we`re already ready to go and get you a better read on that. But, yes,
and the other wild card in this too to keep in mind tonight is that Rick
Saccone is an elected official. He is a state legislator in Pennsylvania.
Remember, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. A lot of that
district is in Allegheny County.
He is not winning – excuse me. He is winning that district, not
surprisingly. The key there is in that part of the district his falloff
from Trump not as severe. So, that might have boosted ever so slightly.
Again, we`re talking microscopically here, ever so slightly in Allegheny
County, which otherwise, you know, a Lamb county.
O`DONNELL: Thanks. We`ll come back, as you say we have to.
Ron Klain, the Democrats looking at this have to be thinking that they`re
looking at those 110 districts that you mentioned where they`ve got 110
districts as you said where the climb up to close the gap of the Republican
is not as difficult as it is in this county and in this district.
KLAIN: That`s right. And, Lawrence, as you mentioned, President Trump
came in last weekend to campaign for Saccone with an absolutely wild and
insane performance. So, the president says he is going to go around the
country and campaign in districts all over the country this fall.
And I think the Democrats are basically saying is that a promise? Please.
Because I think there a lot of Republican districts where the airports will
be closed when Air Force One flies over. They`re not going to want Donald
Trump to come in and do in their district what he did in Saccone`s
Again, whether Saccone wins or loses by a hair, there is no question that
Trump is dragging him down. It`s a Democratic change.
Look, I think Alter is right. It is a big change. Things could change
back. But it is a Democratic change in the period of the Trump presidency.
That`s telling you something about how voters feel about Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Kimberly Atkins, in Massachusetts, the place where your paper
is located, “The Boston Herald”. Ted Kennedy, I remember used to tell
Democratic senators in the South and early `90s they had Democratic
senators in Georgia, in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and he would say to
them listen, I`ll come – I`ll come down and help you, or I`ll stay away,
whichever will help you more.
And people have always known that within a party that not everyone within
the party can help everyone else within the party. And there is a question
in the Republican Party now about how much do you really want Donald Trump
to come to your district and help with your reelection.
ATKINS: And that`s a real big question. I think the problem for some of
these Republicans who may not want the president to come is that he is
vowing to come anyway. This is about him. He is making his own decision
about campaigning. He likes being out on the stump.
And he thinks he is the being helpful for the Republican Party and bringing
it to a place where he is, even in these districts where we`re seeing
individually that might not be the case. So, it`s going to be a problem
for Republicans who don`t want him. I can`t see him being persuaded to
say, hey, can you sit this one out?
O`DONNELL: Cornell, it`s not just this one. It`s not just the president
about coming to the district and coming – go out on the campaign trail.
It`s about what did you do in Washington today?
Because this is – when you`re voting for a member of the House, you`re
voting for someone to go to Washington to help Donald Trump or to resist
Donald Trump. And if what you`re seeing in the Trump White House every day
is a chaos, it`s another fired secretary of state, if it`s another White
House staffer being dragged out of the building because they are suspected
of violate laws, as we had one yesterday, all of that affects these
BELCHER: And one of the things that we`re picking up in polling now is the
question whether you want a candidate who is going to go work with Donald
Trump or a candidate that is going to be a check on Donald Trump. And
Democrats have that advantage of check on Donald Trump, which is important.
But I also say from a technical standpoint why this district is so
important, this district is so important, Republicans had spent a lot of
money. And this is a district they don`t normally have to spend money in.
And when you look at that playing field, one of the things about 2006, we
competed in more places and make Republicans spread their money around. If
Republicans had to compete this way in a 20-point Republican, this is not a
swing district, right? There is 100 some district more competitive than
this. At some point, you run out of – you literally run out of money and
ability to compete in all these districts.
O`DONNELL: We`ve got to go back to Steve Kornacki.
KORNACKI: All right, Lawrence. Here`s what I got. I`ve got the list
here. I think this is current of the outstanding precincts in Washington
Remember, a lot of vote relatively speaking still there were saying the
Republican area, can Saccone collapse that margin of 918 votes? Basically,
I`m going read you a series of numbers here. And what you got to – I`m
going read you what Trump did in these precincts in 2016.
And then you got to keep in mind that on average in this county tonight,
Saccone is running eight points lower than Trump. So that might give you
an idea what to expect as these remaining precincts come in. So here we
go. I got 60. So again, if form holds, that would probably come down to
52. That`s very rough, though. Don`t quote me on that.
I`ve got 60, 61, 77 – keep going. Sorry, it`s a long spreadsheet, 64, 64,
65, 62, 65, 65, 61, 65, 64. You see it landing in a similar place here,
Those are the outstanding precincts. So, again, if form holds, you`re
knocking eight points off those roughly that would be about Saccone`s take.
So, again, if form holds, he is getting probably in about the mid-50s in
what`s left in Washington county, needing basically to erase a thousand
Again, I`m just going to look at my spreadsheet and make sure I`m right on
this. Let`s see if there`s` anything – in Allegheny, I`m looking at the
Trump total in what`s left in Allegheny, 57, 52. And remember, Saccone is
underperforming this – 57, 52, 55, 48, 61, 62, 62, 69.
What I`m seeing here is some of Saccone`s legislative district is left.
Some areas Trump did better in Allegheny that are still left. But overall,
again, Lamb, you`ve got to keep in mind, vastly over performing what
Hillary Clinton did in 2016.
O`DONNELL: Steve, as I look at those numbers and track them, and you look
at how many votes are left to be distributed between these two candidates,
what you just gave us is extremely helpful in information that tells us
yes, this is too close to call. And it keeps it close to call, as I stare
at those numbers when you do that subtraction that you suggested.
KORNACKI: And we just got another. We`ll check to see where these came
from. Look, here is the margin. It`s come down a little bit more, 540
votes. I`m going go check and see exactly where this leaves us with what`s
But again, what we were saying, all a dozen of those precincts when I
started, they were outstanding in Washington. You expect to go to Saccone.
That`s not the question. The question is do they go to him by a big enough
margin to erase that 900. It looks like he got it down to 540. I`m going
to go check and see what`s still left.
O`DONNELL: OK, thanks, Steve.
Jon Alter, this is going to be a constant revote situation obviously. But
as Steve was just pointing out, this trend, you can look at the Saccone
candidacy and say, OK, how was he supposed to do better? What could he
possibly have done to do better? The only thing you can think of is maybe
not have Donald Trump come to town.
ALTER: Well, you got to understand that Saccone is a right to work
candidate in a district that has a lot of union membership. So, that
already put him at a little bit of a disadvantage in this race.
Murphy who would have been the incumbent had more labor support. So, this
is just an indication of how the particulars really matter.
So, to take Conor Lamb`s position on the issues, he is no liberal, you
know. This is something that American liberals should understand that in a
lot of these districts, the best way to take it back, to flip it and hold
Donald Trump accountable with a Democratic Congress is with a more
conservative candidate who is more in tune with the district.
He is not for gun control. And there are a series of other issues where he
agrees with Trump. So, he would not have even been, if he were elected
necessarily a reliable vote for the Democrats all the time. He called for
Nancy Pelosi not to be reelected speaker if the Democrats take control.
So, the point is that Democrats in these other races, if they`re going flip
the House, they need to think seriously not about which candidate most
agrees with them, but about which candidate can win in a particular
O`DONNELL: And we`re going to go right back to Steve Kornacki.
KORNACKI: OK. A few more votes coming in, and again, that little drop we
saw stabilized. The margin now sitting at 585 votes, see if I get that
right. Lamb up 585 votes.
The other piece of news, though, is this. We`re getting word there are
some absentee ballots that are going to need to be counted here. And it
looks like we have in two of the counties, it`s Greene.
And this note was handed to me. The total, though, the total number of
absentee ballots from two of these counties we`re see is 1,400, that there
are an additional 1,400, at least. There might be more from the other
counties. We`ve got to check, but at least 1,400 votes that will need to
be counted again. If form holds from the past, these might, might skew a
But, again, there will be some absentee ballots here as well. Obviously, a
number like 1,400 comes into play with 585 as the margin.
O`DONNELL: Steve, will they count those absentee votes tonight?
KORNACKI: That is what we`re trying to find out right now. I expect so.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, what were you saying?
ALTER: There is a tendency in these situations to draw too many lessons.
We`re talking about precinct level politics.
O`DONNELL: Right, right.
ALTER: This is why all three of us love politics, because it does go down
to the precinct level. But you just have to be careful about extrapolating
too much. The politics of Pennsylvania, western Pennsylvania, they have
their own peculiarities. And so do all of these other districts.
And so – and Democrats need to be careful not to be overconfident about
retaking the House. I hear a lot of that confidence out there when I talk
to Democrats. And it`s really not merited yet.
O`DONNELL: We`re going go to Kasie Hunt at the candidate headquarters.
Kasie is at Lamb headquarters.
Kasie, what`s the feeling there?
KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence, so far,
as you can see, it`s been a real party, especially for a House race. I`ve
been to a lot of these events. Most advertisements go you`ve go to a House
race party and it`s significantly smaller.
However, the mood has modulated through the night because as you all have
been talking about and Steve Kornacki has been tracking so intensely, this
has narrowed. And at this point the crowd does not know what to expect. I
think at the end of the day, it`s important to underscore what your panel
is just talking, that this is still an incredibly dramatic swing.
And when we talk about what this means for the midterms in the fall, and
when you hear the words Democratic enthusiasm, that`s what you`re looking
at here in this room. I mean, these are people who are incredibly invested
in a house race that, remember, this district is not going to exist in
November, because of gerrymandering. And the court decision that threw out
the gerrymandered districts here in Pennsylvania.
But this is and has laid the groundwork for Democrats to be able to run a
playbook in the Trump era. And it`s a combination of factors. Clearly,
it`s the enthusiasm. But it`s also the candidates.
And, you know, Conor Lamb quite frankly fit this district. He was very
careful. You know, I talked to him today. I asked him about the Tillerson
news of today.
And – forgive me. The crowd boos when Rick Santorum appears on our rival
cable network. It has happened several times this evening. So just by way
of explanation for what is going on.
But, again, Conor Lamb very careful not to criticize President Trump,
instead saying he`ll try to work with him. So he has tried to navigate the
enthusiasm of the resistance movement, taken a lot of the money, put a lot
of TV ads up on the air. Very slickly done TV ads while at the same time
telling people in this district that he is going to walk that center line.
He took moderate positions on guns, for example. And like I said, did not
necessarily criticize the president.
Meanwhile, Republicans were kind of asleep at the wheel when they selected
a candidate. They`re not happy with Rick Saccone. He is essentially the
most conservative person they could have nominated.
And again, this district, yes, it is the heart of Trump country. A corner
of it is steel mills. And we saw a lot of that driving around on the roads
the last day or two. But a big chunk of it is the Pittsburgh suburbs. And
it looks like we`re getting a little bit more cheers. Perhaps some good
news here at Conor Lamb headquarters. So that suburban outside of
Pittsburgh, that`s the more populous part of the district.
And I think that`s what you want to focus in on when we`re trying to answer
the question. OK, what does this mean. Does this mean anything when it
comes to taking back the house in 2018. And as much as Republicans, and I
will say there was some pretty aggressive expectation setting going into
this evening. They were saying oh, it`s going to be an early night. It`s
going to be Conor Lamb by 3 to 6 percentage points. When you say that going
in before the polls close, you are able to say what is the close rate.
Hey, this is better than what we thought it would be. The reality is this
is was plus 20 Trump district. And they are very close to losing it tonight
that is a fundamental reality to focus on, Lawrence.
LAWRRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thank you, Kasie. Now we`re going to
Vaughn Hillyard at Saccone headquarters. Vaughn, what`s the situation
VAUGHN HILLYARD, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: There are a lot of expectations
coming into the night around they hype of Conor Lamb that this wasn`t going
to be a good night here at this headquarters. And when the first numbers
were coming out with Conor Lamb with that percentage of 8 percent, people
were back here eating and drinking. And people over the course night made
their way up. But they just made the announcement in here that there are
those precincts that are outstanding, that they don`t expect those votes in
tonight in those absentee ballots.
I actually want to take you back if I can. I was with Rick Saccone in
Washington County yesterday, in Cannonsberg. He was there over with Don
Jr. and I was speaking with the man there, Anthony Ross was his name. He
worked for 42 years at a steel facility that closed back in 2008. At that
point when it closed, he left the workforce. And he said that he was
undecided at that point.
I just got off the phone with him. And I said ultimately, how did you make
your decision? He said he voted for Conor Lamb. he said if this goes for
Conor Lamb, the reason why Washington County will have gone for Conor Lamb
is ultimately because Rick Saccone failed to take a true position on where
he was with not only the unions at large, but particularly with coal
miners. The coal miners pension benefits. This is what we`re talking about
with a congressional race like this.
Despite all the nationalizing with Donald Trump, this is what it comes down
to in a place like Washington County. In a lot of the boroughs, it come
downs to people like Anthony Ross. And he told me ultimately while
convinced that Donald Trump – he was a Donald Trump voter, ultimately was
in his corner, he did not get that same assurance from Rick Saccone. When
you`re looking at races across the country like this, this is going to be a
real test, particularly where the open Republican seats are here.
Rick Saccone as a general Republican candidate should have had this race in
a bag. But when you`re looking at there is about 15 other Republican open
seats heading into November at this point, coming from republicans that
have decided to retire and so what those individuals, that whose
Republicans – remind you, last Tuesday was the first primary that was in
Texas. So we this spring are beginning the primary season that will roll
through the summer and into the fall.
And which Republican voters will ultimately pick candidates like they chose
Rick Saccone to be their candidate. And if Democrats are able to field
these types of candidates, I think that particularly those 15 open seats
like Rick Saccone faced here today are going to be the seats we play extra
attention to because regardless whether Rick Saccone wins tonight or not,
the fact that Rick Saccone, a local entity was this close is something to
O`DONNELL: Vaughn Hillyard, great analysis of the situation in that
district. Thank you for joining us. And now we`re going right back to
Steve Kornacki who has more.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: OK. I`m going to throw a bunch of
numbers at you here. But basically you`ve reset first of all Conor Lamb is
clinging to that lead at 6 now – at 600 and actually 700 votes exactly.
700 votes right now is the lead for Conor Lamb in this election. Now what
do we have left out is there?
A couple of things. We think we have about 3,000 votes that are left here
in Washington County. Again, this has been a Saccone county, Republican
county. We still think there are about 700 that are left here in
Westmoreland there is also this. So look, if these areas, if you just do
the quick math of how this thing has been going, you look at that gap, you
factor in that these are Republican areas, you look at the clip that
Saccone has been winning, boy, that eats into a lot of the 700.
And that makes this thing really, really coming down to the wire on that.
But then the wild card emerges if Saccone eats into that Lamb lead and we
basically end up in a push situation here. There are the absentee ballots.
And those are going to be counted. Not tonight. I`m not sure in every
county. At least two of the counties will not be counting them tonight. But
here is what we have on absentee ballots.
It looks like more than half – there is going to be about 7,000 of them
total, total about 7,000 absentee ballots it looks like in this district.
More than half of these are going to come from Allegheny County. Now you
can figure this out if you`ve been following along. Allegheny did not
account for half the vote in this district tonight. It accounted for less.
a little over 40 percent.
And yet more than 50 percent of the absentee ballots are from Allegheny
County. And Allegheny County is Conor Lamb sort of bedrock basis support in
this district. So that you would say is good news for Lamb there is also
this. How do the absentee ballots usually go?
Well, we can tell you in 2016 in Allegheny County, Hillary Clinton won the
absentee ballots by four points. She lost the Allegheny County portion of
this district to Trump by four points. So those absentee ballots in 2016
were a little bit more friendly to Clinton than the election day votes. And
more than half of the absentee ballots that are going to be counted come
from Allegheny County.
So we`ve got two things that are in motion right now. Number one, the
outstanding Election Day vote. Is that going to get Saccone to Lamb`s
number? Is he going to catch him? Is he going to come up just short?
Then two, the absentee ballots. And we`re going to find out the exact
procedures entire district and when and how we will find out about these.
But that`s the thing we know. It looks like the lion`s share of these are
in Allegheny. There are plenty that are in the rest of the district. But
disproportionately, I think that`s the word, disproportionately they`re in
O`DONNELL: That is the word, Steve, disproportionately. Thank you very
much, Steve. We`re going to come back to you as soon as you say we should.
Cornell Belcher, if this comes down to the absentee votes, that looks like
a very positive possibility for Conor Lamb.
CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Lawrence, let me get into tactics
here. Hats off to the Lamb campaign because that doesn`t happen by
accident, right? That many absentee votes are from a democratic area is
about good old-fashioned campaign work, right. And that good old-fashioned
campaign work may – up to this moment, I actually thought that lamb was
going to lose. If half of those absentee votes are from that democratic
area, I think he squeaks it out. Either way, recount lawyers, get ready.
But that is a good campaign work.
O`DONNELL: The recount situation – we`re going to go back to Steve
Kornacki right now.
KORNACKI: Just quickly to complete the thought there. We said when will
the absentee ballots be counted. Greene tiny part of this in terms of vote
but Greene and Washington counties will not be counting their absentee
ballots tonight. Allegheny and Westmoreland say they will get their
absentee counts done by midnight. So that`s a key thing to keep in mind.
Again, because we just said if it comes down to absentee ballots, how
critical Allegheny is to Lamb. And it looks like we`ll get a readout from
Allegheny by midnight tonight.
O`DONNELL: And Jonathan Alter, for people who didn`t think they planned to
watch cable news until midnight tonight, what they need to know is that the
Allegheny absentee ballots are going to be counted before midnight tonight.
And that is a reason to keep your TV on.
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: And they look like they`re going to be
decisive because Greene County, it`s a cow county. There are very few
people who live down there. And all of the population in that district is
up in those Pittsburgh suburbs where people are in business, and maybe
they`re out of town on business. So they vote absentee.
And then as Cornell indicated, you get better organization by the democrats
of the absentee ballots. That`s very much like the early voting you see in
other states. A lot of that is about elbow grease. It`s about who is out
there organizing on the ground old-fashioned field organizing. For all the
talk of, you know, social media campaigns and television advertising, which
is in some ways becoming old-fashioned, a lot of this is ground out on the
ground, at the door, you know, the canvassing. And so that`s where the
energy that the democrats have really comes in handy.
O`DONNELL: And Ron Klain, it seems that both Democrats and Republicans
will take strategy lessons out of this tonight.
RON KLAIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think they will, Lawrence. But I think
there are a couple big picture lessons, especially for the Democrats. I
agree with Jonathan Alter. I don`t want to be overconfident about 2018 but
three really great things here. One, as Cornell mentioned, it`s unusual for
Democrats to so outperform in delivering absentee ballots. That is a sign
of democratic enthusiasm.
And that`s the thing we`ve seen across the country. That matters. That`s a
trend that matters at Election Day, right? The second thing is a lot of
Trump voters coming back to the Democratic Party. That`s a trend that is
going to count this election. In the third, we talked about Trump
campaigning in this district for the republican.
We need to mention the one national Democrat who campaigned in this
district for Conor Lamb, my former boss Joe Biden who went into this
district, was welcomed by Lamb, rallied the troops and I think made a big
difference for Lamb. We`re going see him all over the country this fall.
O`DONNELL: Kimberly Atkins the enthusiasm that we`re seeing tonight in the
democratic vote can be reinforced by a win in this district. That kind of
enthusiasm gets contagious. Winning is the contagion that spreads it
around. It`s hard to make the argument to nonprofessionals in politics that
coming in close and losing by half a point is hugely impressive. If the
democrats come out of this with an actual win. That seems to be contagious.
KIMBERLY ATKINS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It is. While even a close race is
some good news for the democrats, a loss will still give President Trump
and other republicans a chance to celebrate. And that could dampen that
You want to keep that momentum going. And I think another point in terms of
how Democrats if they want to make the kind of gains they want to see in
the mid terms have to keep that enthusiasm going. Is that you`re talking
about these absentee ballots and how it is similar to the early voting
you`ve seen. In a lot of states, early voting has been rolled back.
The state legislatures have made moves to shorten the length of time and
reduce how much early voting counts. So the democrats are going to need
even more enthusiasm going to overcome some of those changes that we`ve
seen in recent years in the voting law that had been implemented by the
O`DONNELL: And to Kimberly`s point, Cornell, that seems to be precisely
the driving force in so many Republican efforts to basically restrict voter
BELCHER: Right. Because what we see, Lawrence, is when you have a younger,
more diverse electorate, it benefits Democrats. America is not getting
whiter. It`s getting browner. As America gets browner and republicans
refuse quite frankly to compete, they`ve got to block off the access. It is
a recipe for Democratic disaster. Democratic not party but as in our
O`DONNELL: And Jonathan, you were going to the point that this is not –
this democrat running is somewhere between a Hillary Clinton democrat and
the Joe Manchin democrat. But we`re going back to Steve Kornacki at this
Kornacki: I haven`t added enough wrinkles into this situation yet
Lawrence. I`m going to add one more. We said there`s things right now, two
X factors. One is the remaining outstanding vote. No change in that since
the last time I came on. Two, then, the absentee situation. Now let me
give you three, State Law in Pennsylvania calls for a recount if the final
margin in a race is within half a percentage point. 0.5.
Well, these are not the exact numbers. The exact numbers right now are
Conor Lamb, 49.9 percent and Rick Saccone, 49 percent. So right now a gap
of .4. .5 allows for a recount. So there is a possibility here that this
ends up with a recount. there is also the possibility of course that the
absentees are really good to Lamb and that obviates the situation there is
also the possibility the remaining vote is strong for Saccone and he ends
up winning this thing. That`s the other thing to keep in mind, within half
O`DONNELL: And we`ve got the recount music ready to go if it comes to
that. Jonathan Alter, this is one of those nights where the Democratic
Party has to look at itself and say – and recognize what they – what they
always recognized in years past is that a Democrat who wins in Alabama is
going to be very different from a democrat who wins in New York.
ALTER: Right. Right. This is the key thing, to not form the circular
firing squad that Democrats often do, where they have very bloody
primaries, and they challenge each other`s motives. And say that the other
candidate isn`t pure enough on a particular issue.
They have to set that all aside. The stakes are too high. And I think they
will. There is some real signs of maturity on the part of a lot of voters
and organizers. The big thing I`m looking for when we see if there are exit
polls or when we get some breakdowns from Cornell and other pollsters is
what happened with these republican women outside of Pittsburgh in the
Did they peel off Trump in greater than usual numbers? This district is
only 7 percent black, which normally is bad news for Democrats. If you
don`t have minority voters in those districts so they`re clearly the
Democrats are clearly getting a lot of suburban women. And they will hold
the key. White suburban women will hold the key to whether the democrats
regain control of congress.
O`DONNELL: And joining our conversation now is McKay Coppins, a staff
writer for the Atlantic Magazine. He is the author of the Wilderness Deep
inside the Republican Party`s combative, contensious chaotic quest to take
back the White House. And McKay, you have great sources on Republican side
of world and in Trump world. It seems that a few hundred voters in this
district may be the ones who decide whether Donald Trump condemns the
candidate that he backed in this election or takes full credit for the win.
MCKAY COPPINS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, that`s absolutely right. We can
basically guess what the early morning Tweets from the President are going
to be tomorrow morning depending entirely on the outcome of the election.
The question for me is, you know, if this is actually – if tonight is
actually about politic al narratives going into the previous midterms,
given all the peculiarities of this district, the question is – Jonathan
was getting at it earlier. What are Democrats willing to do in other races?
Are they willing to let candidates like Conor Lamb, a pro-gun, anti Pelosi,
relatively moderate candidate win in primaries where they`re going to need
to be like that to win general elections.
I think it`s possible. The thing that`s struck me the most about his
campaign is the degree to which Lamb has not talked about Trump on the
campaign trail. My colleague Ellaine Godfrey was there just last week I
believe and she was covering this. And she was saying you know he might be
the only democrat in the country who doesn`t want to talk about Donald
Now he is benefiting from the anti-Trump energy that`s in the Democratic
base. But he is talking about issues, kitchen table issues that his voters
care about in the district. He doesn`t want to make this a referendum on
Trump. And I`m curious to see if other democrats in red districts are
willing to follow that playbook the rest of this year.
O`DONNELL: Well, they always were in the past and especially when they
had the big, big margin in their favor in the House of Representatives and
the Senate. But McKay, I want you to tell us what happens inside the
Republican Caucus Room in the House of Representatives tomorrow. No matter
which way this goes, they`re professionals. all those Republican House
members in that room with Paul Ryan tomorrow, they know what happened here
if their guy squeaks it out by a couple of hundred votes, there is going to
be a tremendous worry in that room tomorrow no matter who squeaks out this
MCKAY: The worry has already settled. In talking to Republican strategists
the last couple of days, they`re all pointing to this race, regardless what
happens. They know it`s closer than it should be. They know that their
candidate is severely underperforming. And for whatever weaknesses Saccone
has, he is a relatively standard Republican Candidate. And so running on
the issues he is running on, being a Republican this year and
underperforming to the extent that he is, you talk to Republican
strategists, and they`re saying we need to figure out almost on the fly if
there is a new message we should be adopting as a party, how we`re going to
handle the Trump factor.
You know it`s interesting because you hear from these Republicans. And
they`re basically talking about pressing the panic button and figuring out
how to recalibrate their whole midterm strategy. And we`re only months away
from some of these races unfolding. So it is – it`s something the
republicans are already aware of. And regardless of what happens tonight,
this is only another kind of element of the general crisis that they could
be facing in the midterms.
O`DONNELL: I can now tell when Steve Kornacki has something to say,
simply by the way he moves toward the camera. Steve, go ahead.
KORNACKI: OK. Let me set the situation for you. a couple new things to
say. The margin, Conor Lamb leads by 755 votes over Rick Saccone. Saccone
is trying to make this up first with the votes that are left. First of all,
we can tell you, Allegheny County, this is sort of the heart of Conor Lamb
Country. All of the election day vote, that`s it.
And the only thing left out of Allegheny County right now is going to be
the absentee ballots. We talked about those a little earlier. So Conor Lamb
getting no more Election Day votes out of Allegheny. The other big thing
we`ve been looking for in terms of the remaing Election Day vote is right
here in Washington county.
There are nine, we believe nine precincts left in Washington county that
have yet to report. How is this for drama? They are in transit and expected
to be known in the next 20 minutes. so in the next 20 minutes –
O`DONNELL: Transit to where, Steve? Where are they going with the votes?
KORNACKI: Hopefully right here in 30 rock. Here is what I can tell you
about the nine precincts that are left in Washington County. Remember,
Saccone got to run up the score to make up the 755 votes. I`m going give
you the Trump percentage in these remaining precincts. And remember,
Saccone has been trailing that by about 8 points. Here we go. 65, 65, 61,
65, 61, 64, 62, 65, 62. pretty consistent. low, mid-60s.
If the law of averages holds on this, you would knock eight points off
that. is that going to be enough? These are pretty small precincts here. is
that going to be enough to knock 755 off the total? That`s the drama in the
next 20 minutes, we think.
O`DONNELL: And the question then becomes, Steve, as all the third grade
math students out there know is how many votes are in that pile that we
just talked about in those precincts.
KORNACKI: If maybe they – I got my little thing set up here. I can give
you a couple of examples. This is what we`re talking about. we`re looking,
for instance, one where trump got 61 percent. We expect about 350 – this
is rough, about 350 give it to you in five seconds, put me on the clock.
You know – yeah. 800, 700, maybe about 400. you`re talking hundreds of
votes in these precincts. Some are closer to 500, some are closer to 200 or
300. But yes and if you`re looking a clip there about 56, 57 percent maybe
a little less for Saccone, and you can start doing the back of the envelope
O`DONNELL: And the back of my envelope says maybe he could pick up
Saccone if he performs according to the formula you`re suggesting could
pick up maybe 50 votes in one precinct, 100 votes in other precinct and
maybe another 100 here and there. And it get to 700 or it could come in
shy of 700, we don`t know.
KORNACKI: Yes. And then we go of course as we said the absentee ballots
and then of course all the action there would be shifting to Allegheny
where by midnight tonight we expect to know.
O`DONNELL: Yes and so there Steve if we were to project some kind of tie
coming out of the little package we just talked about in those precincts
tonight, we would not be projecting a tie coming out of those 1400 absentee
ballots in Allegheny. That`s would projecting very much in favor of lamb.
KORNACKI: Yes and we`re looking at more than 1400, I think, out of
Allegheny. Now look this is – we`re getting what the past usually is.
The world is full of surprises from the era of Trump, but what we know from
past experiences and certainly what we know from the 2016 election is that
Hillary Clinton performed better in the absentee votes in Allegheny County
than she did on Election Day. Won the absentee by four, lost Allegheny by
four, a swing of eight points there.
We also know just based on the number of absentee ballots that are out
there, more than half are going to come out of Allegheny County. So
certainly if you`re a Democrat, that`s encouraging news, but we`re getting
into that territory here where funny things can happen.
O`DONNELL: Steve you`ve given the viewers every single number Twenty
Eighty need to carry themselves through.
KORNACKI: We`ll have more.
O`DONNELL: You`re going to have more and we all now pretty exactly where
we stand. Ron Klain I want to go to you as this hour approaches a close
obviously. We`re not going to have a winner in this hour. We might have a
winner tonight. we might have something of a de facto winner if all that`s
left to count are those Allegheny absentee ballots since we could safely
project something that would favor Lamb in that outcome.
This is the election that was slow to grab public attention but finally
did, especially did on Saturday night when Donald Trump went to the
district and tried to push this candidate over the top. and here we are
KLAIN: Yes. I mean, I know a thing or two about recounts and they`re not
fun, but that could be where we`re headed here.
O`DONNELL: Are you available, Mr. Klain, for a recount? Given your former
experience, would you like to –
KLAIN: You might want someone who wants a recount this time. But look one
last – one observation though Lawrence I`d like to make which is 2018 is a
midterm unlike any other because it`s the first time you had a record
number of retirements by the party that`s in power. And what that means
is, we talked a lot tonight about who the Democrats will select to run in
2018. The Republicans are going to have to nominate a lot of new candidates
in 2018. And if they add candidates like Rick Saccone, they are going to -
- that`s going to further add to their difficulties in the house.
So the Democrats have to be careful about who they nominate, the
Republicans have an unprecedented challenge. And so far they`re picking
very well. Roy Moore, not a great candidate. Rick Saccone also not a
O`DONNELL: Kimberly Atkins, the reaction in the – among the professionals
if we an call them that in the Trump Administration since the President`s
reaction is not that interesting. It`s just going to be an emotional
reaction and self glorifying or condemning of the Republican loser if he`s
loser. But within the Trump administration is there any one who will react
to this as an adult?
ATKINS: I think that remains to be seen. I mean I think the President`s
voice is the one that sort of drowns out everyone else`s, but the people
within the White House should be very concerned by this wave. Look as
difficult as it is for the President and the White House to get anything on
its agenda done. Now it`s going to be that much worse with a split house
if the Democrats take back the house. it will be near impossible.
It would ratchet up talk of impeachment since it`s the House that can bring
articles of impeachment if it comes to that. it will be a much bigger
headache than they have now, so they should be doing everything that they
can to try to get a Republican message, try to help vet out potential
candidates and whatever they can do to hold onto the house because that`s
absolutely crucial to the White House agenda.
O`DONNELL: McKay Coppins, if you were for candidate Saccone, the one thing
you wanted for the Trump White House today ON Election Day, the one thing
you wanted was stability. You would have liked to have one day where it
looked like an actual white house. Instead you wake up to he has fired the
secretary of state who has called the president a moron in the past.
You have scandals around Kellyanne Conway`s use of private aircraft similar
to what brought down one of the cabinet members. You have the story of a
white house aide being basically dragged out of the building yesterday
because he has problems with on-line gambling and possibly tax crimes.
that`s just today in the trump white house, and the question in that
district tonight is, do you send someone to Washington to support Donald
Trump and what`s going on in that white house, or do you send someone who
might just resist it a little bit?
COPPINS: That`s right. you know, one of the most common complaints, maybe
the most common complaint you hear from Republicans on Capitol Hill when
you have conversations in private or off the record or in the background is
that this PRESIDENT does not care about the party. He does not care about
the Congressional majority, or at least doesn`t show that he cares with the
way that he acts. Every time they`re on the brink of a major legislative
O`DONNELL: McKay, I have to go to Steve Kornacki. I can tell he`s got
something for us.
KORNACKI: Yes, I think we got something significant here. I would say
look out for 20 minutes. It might have bee a little sooner. You can see,
first of all, in the overall count in the district right now, Look at that
margin. We`re inside 100 votes. It is 95. And remember, we`ve been talking
about 5, 6, 700. It`s shrunk. Why has it come down?
I believe and bear with me because I`m going to through it right now. I am
checking the precincts – we said Washington is where we`re looking for
that Trump District so there`s Trump precincts. I believe we`ve got them in
from Washington right now. I am looking at my list and I am not seeing an
outstanding precinct in Washington.
So I believe we now have the answer about Washington County. I got to see
if we`ve got anything left here in Westmoreland tonight, but otherwise we
know Allegheny is in. I believe Washington is in. we know Greene is in. I`m
going to get you the final here on Westmoreland.
And yes, we`re sitting there at – we`re going to check that – we`re
sitting here at 49-7, 49-7. As you can see 95 vote. We may have another
precinct or two. I got to check. But I think we`re basically looking at
the Election Day total here with Conor Lamb the Democrat leading by 95
votes, and remember, we then go into absentee ballots.
O`DONNELL: Steve, in my calculations here, I actually wrote 95. before
when you told me all that stuff about the precincts, Cornell Belcher – the
numbers Steve laid out for us before, if you were doing it in your head it
was something like that or a tie. That`s why I kept saying a tie. There you
are at a statistical tie. The Allegheny absentees look like they`re going
to decide this, and they will probably decide this in favor of Conor Lamb.
BELCHER: And some young man or woman in the Lamb campaign who works the
field and is in charge of absentee ballot probably won that district
O`DONNELL: Yes, Jonathan Alter.
ALTER: Well yes, just every generation has to learn anew that every vote
counts. It`s almost 18 years now since the 2000 election where Ron McClain
was involved and the presidential election came down to just two votes. You
have the Millennials in the election now, and they need to learn this anew.
So many say, my vote doesn`t count, who cares if I show up? This is real
proof that it really does matter if you get out there and vote.
O`DONNELL: We are approaching our last minute of coverage here. I just
want to thank Steve Kornacki. Steve I want to thank you directly. I would
say take a break but I know you won`t. I know Brian Williams is going to
use you most minutes in the next hour. But Steve thank you very much for
getting through this guiding us through it mathematically to where when we
got to 95, it wasn`t so much of a surprise because you had led us right up
to it. Really appreciate it. Last word, Steve, before you go.
KORNACKI: Yes. No and thanks for letting me ride along by the way. I love
getting to do this stuff. Yes, I mean look we`re just checking on final
precincts, but the last thing quickly here, 3700 requested ballots out of
Allegheny, 1,800 out of Westmoreland, 203 out of Greene, about 1,140 out of
Washington. So this is the entire election vote, that`s what`s left.
O`DONNELL: And that is the Last Word. Steve Kornacki gets the last word.
I want to thank Ron Klain, Cornell Belcher, Jonathan Alter, McKay Coppins,
Kimberly Atkins. Thank you all for joining for this extraordinary hour.
Coming up, much more special election coverage in Pennsylvania. The 11th
hour with Brian Williams starts right now.
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