PA special election too close to call. TRANSCRIPT: 03/13/2018. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams

Guests: Ashley Parker

Show: 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS Date: March 13, 2018 Guest: Ashley Parker

BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR, HOST: And without delay tonight, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. We should tell you what the outset we`re going two hours because of the pace of news tonight. While this was day 418 of the Trump administration, we are following, if you`ve been following it along with us, you know a barnburner in Western Pennsylvania, an extremely close special election in the 18th Congressional District.

Right now, the race is too close to call. It`s been too close to call with the Democrat Conor Lamb leading the Republican Rick Saccone by just 95 votes. This is a congressional district, as we`ve been saying for days and weeks, President Trump carried by nearly 20 points back in 2016. That`s why tonight`s race has been viewed as a bellwether for things to come, potentially in the midterm elections.

If you`ve been watching our coverage, you know that Steve Kornacki has been manning the big board tonight. And Steve, the takeaway from watching your coverage is that this may turn out to be an absentee race decided -- absentee vote-decided race, correct?

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We`re basically there. Here is what`s left. You said if he`s 95 votes right now -- 95 votes is the lead for Conor Lamb. I`m trying to write that. Here we go, 95 votes. I finally got it. It only took me three tries. Ninety-five votes is the lead.

Here`s the deal right now where we stand. Every Election Day vote is in in Allegheny County. That`s the heart of sort of Conor Lamb`s base there.

Every Election Day vote is in in Washing County, Republican area. Saccone maybe have some late ground there. Early on, every vote was in in Greene County.

So now, what do we have left Election Day? We have two precincts left in Westmoreland County. Here`s the thing that`s killing me right now. Every other one of these counties has been releasing their vote by precinct tonight.

Westmoreland, now it`s just a torture as I guess, they announced a few hours ago no precinct reporting. I can`t tell you exactly what those precincts are like. I can tell you this is the most Republican part of the district. This is -- you know, Donald Trump won this thing by in excess of 30 points.

Saccone has been doing well here. So you probably expect those are going to be Saccone precincts, those two that are left. So that makes it possible if they are Republican precincts that Saccone is going to erase that 95-vote Conor Lamb lead. That would do it then for the Election Day vote.

What would then be left? As you said talk about drama, the absentee ballots. Here`s what we know about the absentee ballots and what is out there. I`ll give you the numbers very quickly.

Here in Allegheny County, 3,500 absentee ballots were requested. In Westmoreland County, that Republican area we were talking about, 1,800 absentee ballots were requested. In Greene, not many people here in terms of the demographics, but 203 absentee ballots, and over here in Washington, 1,140.

Now, what we can tell you about these absentee ballots that might be of interest to you is that you can see 18, 11, 203, more than half easily coming out of Allegheny. That`s much more than the Allegheny share of the Election Day vote. So the Democratic area of the district overrepresented, you might say, in terms of the number of absentee ballots that are out there. That would be an encouraging piece of news for the Lamb campaign.

The other encouraging piece of news for the Lamb campaign would be that the history in Allegheny County is that Democrats do a little bit better on the absentee ballots than they do on the Election Day. Hillary Clinton won the absentee ballots here by four points a couple years ago. She lost the Election Day by four. So there was a swing of eight points in the Democrats` favor. So, we`ve got --

WILLIAMS: What just happened?

KORNACKI: This might be it. They might have been Democratic precincts. Look at this. We`ve got Conor Lamb sitting here. His lead just went up.

We said we didn`t know where the precincts where from. It`s a Republican county. There are Democratic areas there. You take 28 off the, 75, 47, 847 votes.

Let me see if I got a message if this is it for the Election Day. Somebody going to tell me, do we have a word on that?

WILLIAMS: Steve, these are votes en route by car?

KORNACKI: Yes. So no, that was Washington County.

WILLIAMS: OK.

KORNACKI: So Washington County, we knew came in Allegheny we knew came in Greene, we knew came in -- were waiting on two out here, we said in Westmoreland. I believe that`s what we just got.

I see the other possibility here -- I`m trying to get word as fast as I can. The other possibility here is that Westmoreland and Allegheny are going to be counting their absentee vote. So, you know, there`s a possibility we just got something from the absentees but I think that might have been those last two precincts we were talking about. That might be the Election Day vote.

If that`s the Election Day vote, then what we were just talking about goes doubly as we move in to these absentee ballots because you would expect based on history that there`d be a Democratic advantage in those absentee ballots, just based on Allegheny having the lion`s share of them. The Democrats doing well in that county and Democrats doing especially well in the absentee ballots.

WILLIAMS: Now, I have to ask you graphically over your other shoulder the viewers can see, it says 98% in. Is that us? Will that automatically update? And is 98% kind of the dead top of Election Day are the others absentee?

KORNACKI: Yes. I think we`re looking at a total here, just some quick math, 53, 55. We`re looking at about, you know, about 6,700 absentee ballots here. So you look at that relative. That would get that number up there.

So you`re looking at that close to 7,000 absentee ballots are going to come in and be counted here. You`re getting close to 99% of all the vote. We add the absentees in, that`s pretty much going to be what we`ve got.

And then I got to say, we teased this possibility earlier. We have to check the decimal point. If it ends up within half a point, if the margin between, let`s say, Lamb and Saccone, if Lamb have a lead here, if the margin is 0.5% or less, then we go to a recount.

So, you know, Lamb right now, I think that`d be less than half a percentage point. If he got that up in the absentee ballots, then you`re not talking recount anymore. If it stayed in that range, we would be talking recount.

WILLIAMS: So if Steve is correct and if our computers are correct, and we will allow Steve to check both, this is very close to the election night total of votes cast. What`s outstanding, and we`ll know some of it but not all of it tonight, are the absentee ballots. We`re going to keep Steve. He`s 15 feet from me. We`re going to keep him within shouting distance.

We want to check in with Kasie Hunt who is at Conor Lamb headquarters tonight where it`s been something of a roller coaster.

Kasie, I`ve got to tell you, watching cable news tonight, depending on whether it was a Democrat talking or a Republican, the Democrats late in the evening started saying things like, well, this guy had a huge mountain to climb. Donald Trump took this district by 20. But I heard Trump surrogates tonight just after the polls closed, trashing their candidate as weak thinking this thing was going down by them for, you know, three to six point differential.

KASIE HUNT, NBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brian, I think the reality here, and you`re right, it`s been a totally wild night here at Conor Lamb H.Q. Beer bottles are pilling up here and people leave that and watch these results anxiously coming in.

I think the pundits on both sides are essentially right here. I mean, this is a situation where the Democrats should never have had a shot here. This is a place that voted overwhelmingly for Trump, and, frankly, it voted overwhelmingly for Romney before that. It was not as though, you know, Trump was necessarily one fluke in an area that`s, you know, he`s reliably Democratic --

WILLIAMS: Hey, Kasie, I have to stop you. Steve Kornacki has a piece of paper in his mouth and he`s playing with a hard paw. So, Steve, do you have anything? And I will go back to Kasie.

KORNACKI: We do. I`m sorry to interrupt. I would never do it, expect for this. We have the absentee ballot count from Allegheny County.

It`s now, and we`ve been talking about this, here are the totals. Conor Lamb gets 1,930 votes. These are the absentees in Allegheny. Saccone gets 1,178. So that`s the difference right there, 752. That is the difference. A margin of 752.

So that`s what just happened when we were standing here. I`m like an idiot trying to figure out where they came from, that`s where they came from. They counted the Allegheny vote.

So here`s where we stand, basically. Allegheny, the Election Day vote is now in. No more votes.

Now, the absentee vote, the largest share of the absentee vote in the district, that is now in. It netted a 7200-vote gain for Conor Lamb. That`s why he`s sitting there right now ahead by -- boy, I don`t know what`s wrong with this, 847 votes districtwide. He gets that courtesy of the absentees in Allegheny.

So what is left? I think we still have two precincts sitting here in Westmoreland and then it`s the absentees. We have absentees in Republican areas. This becomes critical now. The margin is 847.

Lamb is now down with his base in Allegheny. How many absentee ballots are left in the district? If 847 is the margin, we`re sitting here -- I got the wrong one. Here it is. We`re sitting here looking at 1,800 ballots. These were the ballots that were requested.

If you keep in mind, the number returned will probably be a little south of that. That`s what we just saw in Allegheny, it could be 1140 down here in Washington and only -- yes, 203 down here in Greene, 3,143. So 3,143 absentee ballots requested in these Republican areas trying, Rick Saccone is, to make up a gap of about 847 votes.

What would he need to do to win that? You can do the math. I`m going to try, too, right now. But that`s where we stand. The big headline now, Allegheny all in.

WILLIAMS: All right. Steve Kornacki, thank you. I`m already getting comments from people about your hurt paw.

Let`s just put it this way. Steve came out on the winning end of a bicycle versus pavement contest here in New York. You should see the other guy. We appreciate him playing hurt.

Now, to Kasie Hunt back at Lamb headquarters. Please forgive the interruption, Kasie. Continue.

HUNT: Of course I can forgive you. I like the rest of the America and riveted by Steve Kornacki. And I hope, Steve, that your hand heals very quickly.

But, Brian, back to the point the point you were making, we were talking about how Democrats can rightly say that this was never supposed to happen. They were never supposed to win a district where Trump won by 22 points. That`s true.

But for Republicans, you know, they never should have lost it. And their candidate is part of the reason why that`s the case for sure. They were essentially sleeping when this candidate ended up running against Conor Lamb, and this is something we`ve seen in the past sometimes when, you know, there is a wave coming, and quite frankly, the party that`s in power gets caught a little bit by surprise. And that`s what happened here.

And Rick Saccone never -- and Republican operatives are right, he never really built a volunteer network, he never activated grassroots fundraising. All these committees had to come in from the outside. You know, it costs much more money for an outside group to air ads on behalf of a candidate than it costs for a candidate`s campaign to do themselves.

So Conor Lamb was relying on money that he raised himself, and that, you know, gave him an advantage. Rick Saccone wasn`t able to do any of that. So, all of those factors have combined.

And one thing I think that we can take away from this race, no matter which way this kind of nail-biting contest ends up is that Conor Lamb has given Democrats a blueprint for potentially winning back the House. And he took the enthusiasm of, you know, the Democrats in this room, the resistance movement across the country that helped him fund-raised and funded all of those ads he was able to put on T.V., but he stayed true to the swing voters in this district.

And I spent yesterday talking to a couple, Dan (ph) and Elkie Miller (ph), and he was a coal miner for 30-plus years. He`s a registered Democrat. They have been, you know, a very active in the steelworkers union for all of those years, and they vote, you know, a lot of times the way the union votes. And they voted for Trump in 2016 but they`re voting for Conor Lamb this time around. And that`s the kind of voter that, you know, it doesn`t make sense for Conor Lamb to go out there and say, oh, I think the President is wrong on everything.

He needs to try and not necessarily offend those voters while at the same time, you know, reassuring Democrats that at the end of the day, he is going to put their priorities first as well. That`s a careful line to walk, and it does take, you know, sometimes we use the word talented to refer to a politician who doesn`t make a lot of mistakes. And Conor Lamb has not made a lot of mistakes.

I asked him today, for example, the news of the day was the Secretary of State being fired, and Conor Lamb was in the Marine Corps, so I said, do you think the President is a stable commander-in-chief, you know, you`re a veteran? And he said, you know, I don`t really have a comment, I haven`t really thought about that particular question, and that was kind of the theme throughout this election. And instead he would say, but, you know, I`m going to work with the President where I can. That`s what my voters want me to do. So being that kind of a candidate who fits the district but still manages to capture and capitalize on the enthusiasm, I think, is going to be -- if Democrats are going to win back the House, that`s how they`re going to do it, Brian.

WILLIAMS: All right. Kasie Hunt at Conor Lamb headquarters where it`s could be a long night just as it`s turning out to be in our studio. If you saw the movie "A Beautiful Mind," then the Steve Kornacki portion of your picture will look familiar to you.

Steve, I keep wondering if you`re looking for my attention. Are you OK? Pen, pen. OK.

KORNACKI: Yes.

WILLIAMS: There we go.

KORNACKI: We`re going to just -- let`s go to math class here and let`s try to figure this one out together. Here`s what we know right now. There are two precincts -- on the Election Day vote, there are two precincts left in the district that are going to report. They are both in Westmoreland County.

We believe they are Republican counties. We believe that Saccone is going to net some level of vote out of there.

So, let`s do the math right here. You`re sitting at 847. That`s Lamb`s lead right now. OK, 847.

Let`s say, you know, 200 votes comes off that lead with what`s left. Then we knock it down to 647, let`s say 650 so it`s easy. Six hundred fifty. Let`s estimate that that`s where we`re going to end up on Election Day. That then brings us to what`s left of the absentee ballots.

Now, what`s left of the absentee ballots -- here`s what`s interesting. We know most of them were cast in Allegheny County. What`s left are Washington, Westmoreland, and Greene.

Now, we know about 3200 ballots are out there. We also know not all of them are going to be returned. The rate in Allegheny County was about 90%.

So if we extrapolate that -- again, this is an if, but if we extrapolate that, we`re sitting at 2,600 or so absentee ballots. So then if you`re going to make up 650 votes, well, we split that. Now we`re 1,300. We split the 650 into 320, 1,625.

You`re probably going to get -- let`s say you`re going to get 1,625 out of 2,600, OK, you probably need about 63% of the vote. That`s probably what Saccone would need to get if these estimates are right. Sixty-three percent.

Now, how did he do? Could he get 63% in these remaining absentees? Fifty- three is what he got in Election Day, 57 is what he got Election Day, 58. He`d have to overperform what he got on Election Day in these absentees if that series of calculations I just went through is right. And keep in mind, those are estimates.

WILLIAMS: Now, one more question, Steve, while you retrieve your pen, about the automatic trigger of a recount.

KORNACKI: Right.

WILLIAMS: I suppose to know that, do we have to wait for the absentees, or is that a raw vote trigger?

KORNACKI: No, we`re going to need the absentees and that`s the other thing. We are not -- that should be up there. We`re not getting, you know, all the absentees tonight, so that`s the other thing.

We may not actually get to a -- boy, I`m just realizing this now, what a sad thing to -- we may not get to a clear verdict tonight unless they do get these absentees counted. But the last we checked, we are not going to get absentee ballots that are counted in two of these counties tonight. And let me see if have a note here that tells me otherwise, but that`s where we stand right now.

WILLIAMS: All right. Steve, thank you. Literally wave if you need our attention because I want to go back out to Southwestern Pennsylvania. Vaughn Hillyard is at Rick Saccone`s headquarters where I imagine, Vaughn, it`s been the same kind of up and down. Though, their fortunes increased, got so much better as this night wore on.

VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC JOURNALIST: First, I can only hear, Steve, but I`m visualizing what`s going on in that studio right now. Over here, though, Brian, this is a room that a lot of these people coming in, as Kasie was alluding to, national Republicans were not looking at race confidently, and even in this campaign apparatus here.

It was pretty much -- this idea and this concept that they put in an effort. The Democrat Conor Lamb was an exciting figure, right, the 33- year-old former prosecutor, former Marine, and that this was a just a Democratic race. Rick Saccone didn`t have much of an operation.

There was no volunteer apparatus. They were relying on more than $10 million in outside groups. They were having paid doorknockers from the congressional leadership fund, which was the Paul Ryan super PAC.

So but what do we find ourselves in this room now? I talked to a campaign official just a few moments ago and I asked and I said, did you have any conversations under the scenario in which a race that`s close tonight? And he just shook his head and he said, to give you an idea, I have a trip booked to Abu Dhabi tomorrow.

This is a place -- and, you know, I was talking to a lot of these individuals, and they were -- of course these are some of Saccone`s closest friends. You know, Kasie was talking about the Democratic miner that she was talking to down from Washington County. I want to bring up from Allegheny County, right? There were also Republicans that came out and voted for Conor Lamb, and could make a difference ultimately in this race.

Morton (ph) and his wife Eileen (ph), he was a long-time mayor of Pleasant Hill, one of those suburbs just outside of Pittsburgh. And he told me two days ago, ultimately, he had voted for Republican Congressman Tim Murphy, who represented this district in the past, Mitt Romney, McCain, and all the way back to Reagan, right? And he said that he voted for Conor Lamb because he needed a change in Washington to kind of correct the course in which his own vote for Donald Trump went.

This is a place when you -- you know, this is what`s fun about this, Brian, right? It`s being on the ground and that every vote, I know it`s cliche, but then every vote matters, every voice matters.

When we talk about these issues, when we were talking about, you know, the coal miner`s pension fund, right, there`s legislation that has held up in Congress in which a great number, thousands of residents here are questioning whether, you know, their pensions that they thought that they had obligated to them are going to be up in the air. These are issues that are very local, but ultimately it can change the outcome of a race like this when you`re down to just 1,000 votes, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Four hundred thirty-five congressional districts in this country. All of them fascinating, all of them unique. One of them is our focus tonight.

Vaughn Hillyard, thanks for that. I just got the high sign from Steve Kornacki. What do you have?

KORNACKI: Yes. So a little more information in those calculations I was just running. I think that might be about where we`re heading in this because I think we`ve now identified those two remaining precincts. Remember, Westmoreland, the Republican county.

There were two precincts that we weren`t sure which ones they were. We think we know now. We think Trump won one of these things in 2016 by about 20. He won the other by 40.

Now, you have to keep in mind, Saccone has been running south of those numbers, so we`d expect his margin to be a little bit short of that. But that is consistent with the calculation I was doing, that if those are the two outstanding precincts, then yes, I think we`re probably going to trim about 200 votes from Lamb`s margin.

When you get all the Election Day vote counted, that`s going to leave them at 650 and then you`re just going to have absentees in Washington, Westmoreland and update there. We didn`t think this before. We are now expecting they`re counting the absentee ballots in both of these counties, so we do now think we`re going to get absentees out of here tonight.

Greene, we`re not sure if that`s tiny. Remember, there`s only about 200 absentees there. But basically what that means if those indeed are the precincts, to make up 650 in those absentees, Saccone has to pretty dramatically overperform what he did on Election Day in these Republican areas.

I like to tell people we live in the age of surprises. Maybe he`ll surprise us here, but it looks like he`s got the tall order of the two candidates that are left.

WILLIAMS: And, Steve, along the way, we like to teach folks about these districts that`s important. When we look at Greene County, you can`t get any more south or any more west in the State of Pennsylvania. In a way, it`s kind of Northern West Virginia. Very rural and tends to be very, very red.

KORNACKI: That`s why I always tell people to try to think about and understand Pittsburgh. We think Pennsylvania, we lump it in with Philly. You know what Pittsburgh is? Pittsburgh is the capital of Appalachian. Culturally, that`s what it is.

WILLIAMS: All right. Steve Kornacki at the big board. Steve, thanks.

Veteran Journalist, our own John Heilman is going to be here with us for much of the evening. You`ve been taking this all in. Your reaction to where we stand right now at 11:21 Eastern Time.

JOHN HEILMAN, NBC NATIONAL AFFAIR ANALYST: Well, I think it`s obviously worth noting but that this is a purely symbolic exercise. I mean people -- we`ve been saying this all night on television in the sense that this district is going away, it`s a special election. The person who wins is going to serve for a few months and then we`re going to have a new election in November, not in this district. There are going to be new lines that are drawn.

So what we`re doing here is we`re looking at this and taking a temperature of the electorate and trying to draw some lessons and conclusions about what it means more broadly for the country. And all that -- and then for the votes in midterms in November. And all of that refracted through the lens that Donald Trump has placed upon it, by going to the district and nationalizing the this race, not just with his presence, but what the arguments the Republicans have made to try to drag their candidate, Mr. Saccone, across the finish line.

And I think, look, it`s been said on every five minutes on this network all night long. This is a Republican district. It`s a district Donald Trump won by 20, that Mitt Romney won by 17, that before that, Republicans won in this district in some cases unopposed going back sort of some decades, right?

So, in terms of the national swing, the fact that this race is super close, it doesn`t matter who wins this race. Twenty points have swung in less than a year and a half off of Donald Trump`s vote total towards the Democrats. That is consistent with what we have seen in special elections and in off-year elections, in places like Virginia, in New Jersey, in Alabama. This is illustrating and deepening our sense of the trend, which is that there is a giant swing happening in this country towards Democrats.

And I think the other thing that`s important here is that what has been happening in this district with the race that Saccone has run and that Republicans have run on his behalf has been a race that`s been notably not what you would have thought it might be about. It`s not about the Trump economy and how well the Trump economy is performing. It`s not about the Trump tax cuts, which is the biggest achievement for Donald Trump.

What this race has come down to in the final days that has become nationalized is Republicans trying to run against immigration, crime, and Nancy Pelosi. That is the arguments that you would have expected in any normal midterm year where the President has the kinds of accomplishments he has on the economic side. You would have thought that would be the central argument.

Republicans don`t think they can win with that argument. Even though the tax cut is getting more popular, they don`t think that`s how you win right now. They think you have to go to a cultural base argument to try to rile up the Trump vote. And what we`re seeing tonight is there`s not enough of it out there to push across a Republican candidate in what should be an easy Republican win district.

WILLIAMS: Hold that thought. I want to talk about Nancy Pelosi when we next get the chance. But, Steve Kornacki, we have a note from Washington County.

KORNACKI: Yes. Just filling in the blanks here on the absentees. Here`s what we can tell -- two things we can tell you. Remember that the lion`s share of the vote that has now left two counties absentee vote, we`re looking at Washington County. There is 1,195 that`s sitting here in this county outstanding absentees, we think. In Westmoreland County, we`re looking at 1,800 absentees.

Now, here`s what I can tell you. Remember what Saccone has got to be dealing with. We talked about the challenge of getting basically two- thirds probably or maybe even more of the remaining absentee vote? Well, here`s the history on this. In 2016 in Westmoreland County, in 2016, Donald Trump won the county. It`s not quite the district, but almost.

Donald Trump won the county with 66%. Then they went kind of absentee ballot, so that`s 66% that Trump got on election day, it fell. It fell to 59. That`s kind of the history on these absentee ballots. They tend -- look, it`s still a Republican win, not as big.

They tend to favor Democrats versus the Election Day vote. So, again, if that past holds that Trump got 59, and remember that Saccone has been underperforming Trump, you know, by eight points or so tonight. So, again, if that pattern holds, you`re really looking at about 51 in the absentee for Saccone. You`re not making up that kind of gap.

Washington County, it`s very Republican but not quite as Republican as Westmoreland, Trump, 66% here. He was about 61.5% here trying to get the absentee numbers. But if that actually -- if that same thing happened with the absentees, then there even be a chance that Lamb could gain on the absentee votes in Washington County.

So, again, where we stand right now, we talked about this recount, it`s 49.88 for Conor Lamb right now, 49.51. That is a difference of 38/100 of a point. If it`s under 0.5, it`s a recount.

Look, I mean, if Lamb were to gain votes here in Washington, if it would be a loss in Westmoreland, he could still push that over 0.5. Saccone could be in that range. I`m not sure I see Saccone actually catches him in this vote tally, though.

WILLIAMS: All right. Steve Kornacki, that`s why we`re asking that don`t leave the big board, and we`ll continue here.

John, just to take up a point you made about Nancy Pelosi. This young, would-be member of Congress had to make a commercial to say he wasn`t going to go with Nancy Pelosi.

HEILMAN: Right.

WILLIAMS: Do the Democrats in Washington understand that every Republican who is up for election in this midterm is going to run against Nancy Pelosi?

HEILMAN: Yes, they do. And I think there`s no question about that, and you`ve seen Nancy Pelosi demonize in past Republican campaigns in a race, especially when that has become so much about Donald Trump.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

HEILMAN: And Nancy is so unpopular that they`re going to try to make this -- to demonize here in the same way the Democrats tried to demonize Trump. I think what we`re seeing, though, in this district, Brian, is the fact that when you have someone who`s so dominant in our politics the way Donald Trump is and someone who is so unpopular in so many places, you can get away -- the argument that might have been enough to make the difference with a more popular President, with a more anti-Dem President, with a President who doesn`t generate so much enthusiasm on the other side, the Pelosi argument has been enough for Republicans in some races in the past.

But I think Democrats look at it right now and say, yes, Nancy Pelosi is a little bit an arbitrage around our neck. We know that. The reasons why we stick with her, that have to do with fundraising, that have to do with legislative tactical skills or whatever, but she might be an arbitrage around our neck. But Donald Trump is a bigger arbitrage.

In their view, a bigger arbitrage around the neck are Republicans. I`m just saying, you know, you look at the thing we`re just talking about a second ago, this is not a moderate district. This is not a swing district, right?

You know, you`ve got those 23 congressional districts in which Hillary Clinton won, the Republicans are incumbent and Hillary Clinton won the vote in 2016. In all of those districts, the arguments the Republicans feel compelled to make in this district about crime and immigration, Nancy Pelosi as opposed to the positive arguments about the economy were tax cuts. Those arguments are only going to alienate middle of the road voters, swing voters, more than they do here.

So if these are the arguments Republicans think they need to use to win in this district, what are arguments, you know, tax cuts don`t work here? These are the arguments that we had to deploy to win here and they`re not working here, apparently. It looks like they`re going to lost this race or at least they tossed up and they`ve still swung 20 points.

What arguments do you deploy in genuine swing districts, in one of those Hillary Clinton districts? It puts Republicans in terrible bind when they come out of this and say what is the roadmap for us after what happened tonight?

WILLIAMS: You`re familiar perhaps with "The Washington" journalistic term of Parker and Rucker?

HEILMAN: I know those two very well.

WILLIAMS: We have them both with us tonight both from the "Washington Post." Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, good evening to you both. Thank you for being so patient with us. I want to get to you both on the record.

And, Ashley, I`ll start with you. I mad this point to Kasie Hunt tonight. It has been fascinating night to watch the timeline of cable news, to hear Trump surrogates coming out and really letting Saccone have it. They were -- some of them were really vicious, thinking he was going to have a very bad night.

And then later in the evening, to hear the Dems come around and say, you know what? No one really expected that this was going to be close, even in a district that Trump took by 20.

ASHLEY PARKER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, to hear the spin now that it looks closer than their initial spin, it`s not even really, at least, form the White House about Saccone at all. It`s of course all about the President. And it`s always about the President.

And their argument is that right now when the result is out, win or loss, it is victory for President Trump, because they`re saying that they do this race not as between the Democrat and the Republican but between an insider, and in this case, they`re saying the insider is Saccone and an outsider, Conor Lamb, which is some ways is true. He is the Democrat in this bright red district. He is a fresh face. And so, when they cast in those terms, they can sort of argue that a Lamb win is not horrible, I`m not saying possibly necessarily, but there`s been, is it a Lamb who win. Potentially, it`s not horrible for the president because he`s also an outsider, and they also said that it showed that as close as it is, it means that president can appear in a district, hold a big rally and drag a candidate even pour one like Saccone, an insider, you know, a typical political either across the finish line or just up to us. So that is the White House spin right now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: All right. Philip Rucker standby one second because I just got the bat signal from Steve Kornacki. Steve?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Quick one here as the night wasn`t complicated enough. Here come the lawyers, maybe. Here`s what we`ve been saying all night, we`ve been talking about this automatic recount being triggered at 0.5 points. It`s 0.38 right now. That would fall in the range.

Now, the question is, what is the law really say? Because the law that`s on the books says, statewide race in Pennsylvania. Is that going to trickle down to a district race? Does that preclude it being in a Congressional district as opposed to a statewide race? Is this something where the recount were denied? Saccone would want sue Republicans and want to sue? They would to claim that the language means all elections for state ministers? That becomes the question, but the language says statewide, so maybe no recount.

WILLIAMS: If you`re running a Hertz Rental Car Franchise, expect several lawyers to be coming your way with plans to drive to Western P.A., you just can`t have a close election without lawyers.

Philip Rucker, I want you to listen and watch with us. This was Donald Trump campaigning for Saccone. At least he started out that way this past weekend, we`ll talk about on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Go out on Tuesday and just vote. Like, you got to get out there. The world is watching. This -- I hate to put this pressure on you, Rick, they`re all watching. Because I won this district by, like, 22 points. It`s a lot. That`s why I`m here. Look at all those red hats, Rick. Look at those all hats. That`s a lot of hat.

And we just had a poll. We`re more popular now than we were on election day. This guy should win easily, and he`s going to win easily.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So, Phil, you see what he did there?

PHIL: It`s all about Trump as Ashley was just saying. And look, what we saw last Saturday night at that rally, it was boisterous. It was kind of classic Trump flashback to 2016. That`s what the president wants to be doing the rest of this year.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Phil, I have to interrupt you for Rick Saccone who is at the podium.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RICK SACCONE (R), PENNSYLVANIA: -- all the way to the end. You know I never give up. You know my first race went into the night and we won that, and my second race was the same way. We`re kind of used to this now, right?

So that`s it, we`re not giving up. But I wanted to come down and thank you all. And I know you, you know, you got to go to work tomorrow and everybody got things to do and I didn`t want to keep you here later than, you know, than you really need to be, because we`re going to be working late into the night, and tomorrow and -- but I wanted to thank you all because I know how hard you work.

And I was out at some of the polls today. I know how cold it was. And I know you spent all those hours out there for us, for our family and for all of you, and for the agenda that we`re working on. And you never gave up on us, you never gave up on me. And I thank you, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

You guys are amazing. I`m not kidding. You`re always so upbeat. You`re salt of the earth. You`re the best people in the world. I couldn`t ask for a better blessing than have supporters like you. And I`m pleased that you`re still here. And again, I don`t want you to try to hang on too much.

I know many of you have to go, but I definitely wanted to come down and say to you that I thank you ever so much. And we`re going to keep fighting. And don`t give up and we`ll keep it up. We`re going to win it. God bless you all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: That was about as animated as we`ve seen Rick Saccone, neither a victory nor concession appearance. Just one of those, as you heard him say, it`s a working class district, a lot of folks have to work in the morning. And this, by all accounts, is going to go late/early tomorrow, perhaps beyond that.

Before we go back to Steve Kornacki, I owe Philip Rucker an end to his thoughts. Phil?

RUCKER: Yes, Brian. We were talking about that rally last Saturday night, and I was just making a point that, you know, White House officials say the president wants to be out on there on the trail like that every time, all the time, every week, criss crossing the country, going in the districts. They actually say that they think those rally performances are his special sauce and that that`s going to help Republicans carry in the midterms.

I did not appear to help in Pennsylvania that much because this is a nail- biter of the race in a district he should have won. But perhaps, it will be different down the road, we`ll have to see.

WILLIAMS: All right. Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, will be with us for our coverage tonight. Over is to Steve Kornacki at the board. Steve?

KORNACKI: Yes. I mean, look, it`s just sort of the weirdest land that it is kind of coming into pretty clean view right now. It`s what we`ve been saying. We are going to get absentees from Washington, from Westmoreland. We still think we`re going to get green tomorrow. Remember, there`s only about 200 absentee ballots that were requested there.

Now, look, if Saccone were to shave off a big part of his lead in Westmoreland and Washington, those could become critical. But if past this pro log on how these absentee ballots go, then here`s what we`re looking at over the next few minutes, hours, whatever ends up taking. We`re looking at Westmoreland, a country where Donald Trump run with 67 percent on election day in 2016. But in the absentees, he hit 59 percent.

And Rick Saccone has been running 8 points under give or take, under Trump. So this is very rough but you might expect Saccone`s absentee number to be a lot closer than a 51 than to that 67. So if that`s the case, if it`s anything like that, he`s not yet in the numbers he need.

If you do the same thing in Washington County, where you`re looking at like 61.5 for Trump. We`re tying to gets these absentee numbers. If the same thing happen or if it was the same draft and you`re looking at 53 in the absentee, and then, he point drop from there, you`d be looking at 45. So there`s even a chance, just based on how he`s going in the past.

There`s a chance that Lamb gains votes in this Republican county, in the absentees, wipes out whatever Saccone takes from Westmoreland and renders green meaningless. Now, again, that`s based on how these things, you know, have sort of gone in the past, we already saw Lamb over performed this election day, in Allegheny. So if that continues, that shuts off that sort of Hail Mary pass.

I mean, he understand from Saccone`s standpoint, why he is saying the night is not over, go home, let`s talk more. I`m not going to see, yes, and he understand because funny things happen.

I stood on this set, and watch the election go away that a lot of experts didn`t think it would go. That is kind of where Saccone need. He needs some kind of like totally unforeseen thing in these absentees I think.

WILLIAMS: You mentioned Washington County and I may be able to help. Because with us on the phone is Melanie Ostrander, Assistant Director of Washington county for the Pennsylvania Elections Department. Melanie, thank you very much for being with us.

MELANIE OSTRANDER, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, WASHINGTON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA ELECTIONS DEPARTMENT: You`re welcome.

WILLIAMS: And let`s start out by confirming some number, how many absentees do you have out and outstanding?

OSTRANDER: We have 1,195 absentee ballots to count.

WILLIAMS: And you have officially changed your mind and you`re policy for the night. We received your announcement. You`re going ahead and count them, is that by hand or by scanner.

OSTRANDER: Combination.

WILLIAMS: OK. And that process is officially underway?

OSTRANDER: Yes, yes. And it should take at least three hours.

WILLIAMS: OK. And what tells me you don`t release preliminary totals, you wait until it`s all in.

OSTRANDER: Yes, yes. We will wait until we have counted all of the absentee ballots before we release the number.

WILLIAMS: OK. But, you`re able -- you have the staff on hand, you have the machinery, you`re thinking -- you started this approximately when?

OSTRANDER: We started opening the actual envelops at 8:00. We have just finished and we`re going to begin counting them.

WILLIAMS: All right. Melanie Ostrander, I know you`ve got a lot on your plate tonight. We -- thank you so much for calling in to us. Steve Kornacki, do you have any questions for Melanie before we take that on the job she has to do?

KORNACKI: Yes. Melanie, this is Steve Kornacki if you can hear me. Look, I`m sorry for this, but I`m curious. Do you know in 2016, were you guys and your county counted the presidential election absentee ballots? Do you know what the results was, what percentage Trump got and what percentage Clinton got roughly?

OSTRANDER: Not offhand, I would have to look at our report which would take a while -- take me a few minutes here to poll. But offhand, I do not know what the results were.

KORNACKI: OK. I appreciate you. I just put you on the spot there.

WILLIAMS: Melanie, you get points for Valor for joining us on the busy night. We really appreciated sharing.

OSTRANDER: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: The drama of the count with the national audience. Our thanks to Melanie Ostrander, Assistant Director of Washington County, PA for the Pennsylvania Elections Department, it`s where all the work is always done. We always say no matter what election night we`re covering, elections are a series of local events.

There is no overarching federal authority for this kind of thing. The same argument can be made for protecting the Integrity of our elections.

John Heilemann is here with us in the studio. John, this was an interesting race. We just saw Mr. Saccone, again, more animated than some of his campaign appearances.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes.

WILLIAMS: Up against this --

HEILEMANN: Looking positively lifelike.

WILLIAMS: Yes. This young Democrat, I heard a Democrat say tonight that they have gotten smarter that they had a Democrat tailored to the district.

HEILEMANN: Yes.

WILLIAMS: Western P.A., pro gun Democrat. He is a Catholic who is personally opposed to abortion. He`s a marine captain, former prosecutor, Western Pennsylvania born and bred.

HEILEMANN: When someone who defy the party`s orthodoxy on trade, and on some other matters. And again, it`s one of these things where, again, the Trump factor or any race in which you have a dominant incumbent president who is notably unpopular.

It gives you a lot of leeway, because in a race where -- where you don`t have that factor, the internecine fight over party orthodoxy suddenly become really important, and people start getting upset when you run a candidate who isn`t the perfect embodiment of what the Democratic establishment want or what the Democratic base wants.

Suddenly, everybody is like, all we really want is the guy who could win. And the tolerance for apostasy and for deviating from the orthodoxy is suddenly as much wider and you`ve got all your rallying around right now, is what do we to put somebody on the board who works on this district, who can help us get into Congress and help to (inaudible) to Donald Trump. And that gives you a lot more attitude than a lot of Democrats would have in other circumstances

WILLIAMS: I always get a kick out journalist who for no follow their own, are limited to working in New York or Washington and go out to Greene County, P.A.

HEILEMANN: Yes.

WILLIAMS: And discover what Americans already know that the best-selling vehicle is the Ford F150 and the numbers two and three are Chevy and Dodge. And that a big local issue is farm runoff. And a really big local issue is steel and our coal mines really going to spring back to life in that part of the world.

HEILEMANN: OK.

WILLIAMS: And that`s what makes up for 435 congressional districts.

HEILEMANN: Yes, it`s big. And it`s, of course, the big discovery about Pennsylvania in general, because we think that Pennsylvania, you know, Donald Trump want it in 2016. We`ll think of it as a blue state. It`s been a realizable blue state at the presidential level until 2016 for quite sometime.

Republican pools gold famously. But you get out there and you discover that famous James Korbel Maxim (ph) which is right, which is Pittsburgh and then Philadelphia are like New York City and the rest of the state is like Alabama or like Louisiana, whatever your analogy is, that Pennsylvania is complicated. And it`s not that all with a lot of people who stereotype in the certain way, only looking at presidential election results.

It`s big part of why Donald Trump is able to surprise, so many people win it, and it`s also why races like this, you said, we start to learn about counties like Greene County and you realize, hey, that`s a little different. Even close to Pittsburgh.

WILLIAMS: Yes, that`s right.

HEILEMANN: It`s not -- it`s nothing like, you know, what you think of when you think of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

WILLIAMS: Steve Kornacki has that look in his eye.

KORNACKI: Yes. Well, that question I just ask the county clerk, I think we`ve got it answered, at least as clearly as we can be. Now, remember, we just heard it`s going to take a few hours to get the absentee ballots here in Washington County counted. We`re looking at 1,195 that were requested. The question here is how many of these are going to be for Saccone? Is it going to help him into this lead at all?

Here`s what we know from the past. Remember, we`ve been saying we think the absentee ballot tends to favor Democrats, so here we go. In 2016, there 42,000 votes that were counted after election night. Now, the county is not is not sure at least in these numbers, how many of those were absentee versus oust sanding precinct votes.

But I think it`s probably, it`s consistent with this that a lot of these were absentee ballots and here`s what we know. On Election Day, it was 63 percent Trump, give or take, here in the county. In the absentee, it went down to 56. So it did shrink.

We said Trump did seven points worse in the absentees in Westmoreland. We said, jeez, I think that`s probably about what it`s going to be in Washington. And the best numbers we have say, that`s basically what happened in the Washington, so the thing we were just playing out would then hold up, where you say, you know, look, excuse me, Saccone has been doing eight points worse than Trump.

So if that were to hold up, that 60 for election day for Trump goes to 56 in the absentee. If that gets knocked down eight points, that`s a big if, we haven`t established that yet. But that`s consistently on what we`ve seen in the district. Then you got a scenario where Lamb gets more absentee votes out of Washington than Saccone, so we`re (inaudible) Wright Counties. Saccone, maybe he can make it up.

Got to say, possibilities Saccone makes up a small amount in Westmoreland losses ground in Washington and that leaves the 200 points in Greene, so there`s a will, maybe they are not going to count for as much.

WILLIAMS: Steve Kornacki at the board. Before we go back to the Saccone headquarters, if 30-second rest, just so I can`t get a reality check from my friend, John.

HEILEMANN: Yes.

WILLIAMS: Can you believe, here we are, 11:44 p.m. on the East Coast. We`re 44 minutes into this broadcast.

HEILEMANN: I know what you`re going to say. I know where we`re going.

WILLIAMS: A job once occupied by Jefferson, Madison and Adams, was vacated today by the president of United States. We`re about to get a new secretary of state.

HEILEMANN: And we haven`t mentioned it, you know, the show.

WILLIAMS: What is going on here?

HEILEMANN: Well, what`s going on here is, well, obviously, what`s going on here is we`re all obsessed with election results and we`re focused on the contest were in front of us. We`re going to get to this story later.

But what`s going on here -- what happened today? An extraordinary thing in which Donald Trump -- in some sense extraordinary for the reasons you just said, in greatest form of context. But in some sense, totally unextraordinary and the sense that this is the way that Donald Trump treats people.

The notion that Rex Tillerson got the high sign, the end of last week, from John Kelly that he might want to get back because there were some foot that might not be so good. And he cut his trip short, it came back here, arrived here, arrive in Washington at 4:00 a.m., was in town instead being summoner to the White House, given the dignity discussion with the president about how his 10-year was ending.

He found himself few hours later fired by tweet. And if it weren`t for the fact that this is the way for the president has handled so many firings, so many dismissals, so much of his presidency. It would be sort of horrifying and shocking. It is though so horrifying and shocking but it is par for the course with this president who, for all "you`re fired" bluster, that the star of "The Apprentice" apparently can`t sit down like an adult in front of people who gave up big jobs to go serve him and the country, and can`t sit down in front of them and give them the dignity of a goodbye, a thank you and treating him like a peer or like a man.

WILLIAMS: Among the issues, we`re covering tonight, let`s not forge the trip to Africa on the part of Secretary of State of design in large park to cleanup the damage for what the president called those countries in Africa.

Back to the issue at hand, we`ve been focusing a whole lot on a corner of Southwestern Pennsylvania looked a little bit like you spilled ink on it and formed a Congressional district as many of our Congressional districts look. That`s because we`re too close to call at this hour.

Vaughn Hillyard, may be among the last inside Saccone headquarters. Not that you`re candidate has come out and said, look, I understand everybody has to work in the morning. I understand they are skedaddling except for some holdouts, right?

VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly. Rick Saccone came and he said, everybody, go home. We know you have work and we know you have school tomorrow. But cake has been eaten here but what he said up on the stage. He said, multiple times was, "We will not give up." He said, "We will take this to the end." And when he walked up to stage, he -- folded his fist up in the air, pumped it up into the air, and then Eminem`s 2010 single came on "Not Afraid".

So that`s a tone for what we go and see and tomorrow. I actually just asked a campaign official, what does tomorrow look like? And his response is this. So whatever that means, we`ll be around, we`re sticking around for and it`s funny how you say is just one little corner of, you know, Southwestern Pennsylvania and all the state over the last week that I`ve been here, Brian.

It`s been a tight to watch particularly on the Democratic side. It reminded me a lot of be in Alabama three months ago. The amount of energy on the ground and places like Carnegie, right? These are smaller towns of a couple of thousand people in which they were showing up off the streets of the VFB to go canvass. That nobody had called to come volunteer but they were rolling into these places and they are going out there.

Rick Saccone`s operation did quite look the same. This was the biggest event that I`ve been to for Rick Saccone. Two other events had maybe a couple dozen people at them. So this was a site I think if you`re the Rick Saccone campaign, knowing what national Republicans were saying about your campaign, and what reportedly own friends of United States going in week.

Candidate was saying, I think that tonight, I don`t know if understanding that a Republican has held this seat, a Republican presidential candidates are going for this song. You can call this a success at this point, but the fact that this is going to at least Wednesday, I think for them in this campaign as something to at least be noted. Brian.

WILLIAMS: Vaughn Hillyard, out of Saccone headquarters. And before we take a break and just kind of take a breath and reprioritize our coverage and see what it is we`re covering here in Southwest Pennsylvania, something else has happened. That often happens when a lot of other news stories are breaking and demanding our attention.

From the Press Association in the U.K, which is, I guess, the British equivalent of the Associated Press here in this country. This is being disseminated on social media so there`s every chance you would see this on your own device.

Comes word from the U.K, that professor Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. This is according to a spokesman for the Hawking family. This is according to the Press Association in Great Britain, obviously one of the greatest minds of our time. Again, a family spokesman saying, Professor Stephen Hawking has died on this Tuesday night at the age of 76.

A break for us, we`ll be right back.

(BREAK)

WILLIAMS: On a busier than normal Tuesday night, a special election night in Southwest Pennsylvania, in the parlance of the newsrooms of old, an editor would ask a reporter to give a situationer.

This is what we call a situationer. It`s now too close to call between Lamb and Saccone vying for this Congressional seat, in a special election. A seat that is likely to die as they redraw the map of Pennsylvania. And we are, of course, have been on and off worried about the physical health of Steve Kornacki, who is still standing at the big board, still crunching the numbers.

Steve, a situationer from you, if you please.

KORNACKI: Yes. Basically, here is where we`re stand. I`ll give you all the outstanding things and what we`re looking at here.

The margin we`ve been sitting on this for a while, if you`ve been looking at the screen, that is a gap of 847 votes. That`s the lead for Conor Lamb, 847. So what is left to happen here? There`s a couple things.

First of all, all of vote, that is the Election Day vote and the absentee ballots. They are done. They are in. They`re counted. We can take Allegheny off the board. That leave to the rest of this battle in Republican turf.

But here`s the thing. We`re talking absent -- we`re basically talking absentees. We`re talking two precincts, two election day precincts have still yet to report from Westmoreland. We think we know which ones these are. We think these were pretty big for Trump in `16. We think they will recede a little bit, that has been the trend all night in terms of Saccone`s margin.

But we do think that will probably knock a couple hundred off this lead of 847. Then that will do it for the Election Day vote. What will be left after that, we`ll be looking at absentee ballots in Westmoreland, Washington and Greene.

And, again, what we know here is the history, the history is that a couple things. First of all, we know Trump won like (inaudible) we know Trump won this district -- excuse me, this county with 63 percent in 2016. We know, though, that when they counted the absentees only, they only got 56 percent of those. That`s typically what we see the Republican kind of drops off.

We know that on top of that, Saccone has been running south of Trump`s number, pretty much across the board in this district. So, I need to say, he knock that down to 50 percent and you say it`s a 50/50 district here. You`re not looking at much in terms of a gain there for Saccone. You`d see even -- you`d see the same thing in Washington, maybe even see Lamb getting extra votes out of Washington and Greene. There`s only 200 ballots there that we`re talking about

So, you know, the bottom line here is, we think Saccone is going to eat into this Election Day margin a little bit, I don`t know if he gets much out of the absentees, maybe a little. The question then becomes if, let`s say, he ends up tonight 350 votes behind, let`s say it was something like that, he`d be within this half a point margin we`re talking about where now there`s some discrepancy in how people interpret the law.

Some people say half a point, the law says it`s an election in Pennsylvania, they`re go to a recount automatically. Others are looking at the statute saying statewide election, does that the mean not a Congressional district election.

WILLIAMS: All right, Steve Kornacki, usual rules apply, flap your arms if you need to get back on the air and we`ll get to you.

Because we are juggling so many different topics, because this day the president decided to make a change at secretary of state, we have our -- we`re very lucky to have as many journalists on air with us as we do. From Washington, Josh Lederman is with us from the Associated Press who covers foreign policy, national security and the state department. Notably, Josh was on the plane with the secretary of state overnight as he flew back to the U.S. from Nigeria.

Josh, did you have a heads up? Was there any tea leaves to read on the tail end of this trip that this was coming?

JOSH LEDERMAN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I got to tell you, Brian, we were totally unaware of that dynamic, if it was occurring. And I`ve been racking my brain all day trying to see if there was something I could go back and pick up on, some facial expression or thing that the secretary would have said or some indication from his staff. There`s chief of staff or others who were on that plane with us that there was a huge bombshell about to drop.

And if there was, that they are really, you know, had the best poker face of anyone in Washington. Because this was an uneventful flight, the secretary came back. He spoke with us on the record about Russia, made some news, talked about North Korea, the kind of things that you do when you`re the secretary of state and you`re traveling.

We stopped. We refueled in Cape Verde, we saw the secretary having a chitchat with some of his staff, laughing, very casual, no indications that just within a few hours after we landed back at Joint Base Andrews, the secretary of state would be unceremoniously fired by tweet.

WILLIAMS: Unbelievable. And you were, without knowing and witness to that story, I`ve also been on that flight and refueled in the Canary Islands, which can be a weird stop in the middle of the night, especially body clock time.

It was a fraught relationship between the former head of Exxon Mobil and the president of the United States now coming to an end. Josh, thank you and thank you for your patience tonight. Mr. Kornacki at the board needs our attention. Steve.

KORNACKI: Sorry about that, but we just got -- I think we just got a major piece of this in now, the lion`s share of what was left. You can see the numbers have changed here.

WILLIAMS: Oh, look at that, OK.

KORNACKI: I`ll show you. What you had here, we were talking for a long time, Lamb was sitting there at 748, that was his margin. You look at this right now, 468, 579, you`re down to 579. What just happened to account for this?

So we were talking about it. Two things we think just happened, Westmoreland, this is the biggest outstanding piece of the puzzle. We said there were two precincts left where Trump had done really well in 2016, we expected that 748 to erode a little bit. Looks like that happened, those two precincts are in now, every Election Day vote in the entire district has been counted. That was all that was left Election Day.

But we also now have the absentee ballots for Westmoreland. And we think that`s here too. Now, remember, of the 3,000 absentee ballots that were still out, 1,800 of them were from Westmoreland. And remember, what we were telling you that when you look at, you know, Saccone`s running less than Trump, Democrats do better in the absentee, maybe Saccone wasn`t going to get much, doesn`t look like he got much maybe anything.

He had those two precincts, no real ground made up in the absentee, still sitting 579 behind. Now, in these two counties, all that`s left, 1,200 absentee ballots and just based on what you just saw in these absentee ballots in Westmoreland. Oh boy, how to make up five -- I mean, that`s -- come on. The question is recount. Is there going to be some kind of recount?

WILLIAMS: Well, you`ve been saying all night long, he had to over perform to prevail. And again, by your math and by those ratios, it has not born out yet.

Steve Kornacki is not going to move an inch. It`s just that we for purposes of bookkeeping are coming to the end of this hour, welcoming a new one.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END

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