Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: November 6, 2018 Guest: Gadi Schwartz, Chris Jansing, Yolanda, Amy Klobuchar
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: That`s all for this special election edition of MEET THE PRESS DAILY.
Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow, pick up our special coverage right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A nation divided.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A blue wave would equal a crime wave. And a red wave equals jobs and security.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president not on the ballot but he`s made this election all about him.
TRUMP: A vote for Steve is a vote for me. A vote for Cindy is a vote for me. A vote for David is a vote for me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats fighting for control.
ROBERT O`ROURKE (D), TEXAS SENATE CANDIDATE: Are you all ready to win this election and take this country into a far better direction?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their magic number, 23 seats to win back the House. An electrifying night and the chance to make history. The first results just moments away.
Live from Democracy Plaza, THE VOTE, AMERICA`S FUTURE.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: On a Tuesday night in November of 2018, good evening from our election headquarters live from 30 Rockefeller Plaza here in New York, renamed Democracy Plaza for the midterm elections. The first polls have closed moments ago. We are awaiting our first results. The first official referendum, really, of the Trump era. And President Trump himself, who may not be on the ballot tonight, but whose political future is very much on the line.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Happy election day, everybody. It is something I feel like we`ve been waiting for even longer than we usually wait for elections. But in part, it`s because the early vote for this election was so huge and it started right off the bat. It feels like election night has been here for a few weeks already but now it really is.
I`m Rachel Maddow here with Brian Williams. We have never seen this many races this close. Not just in the House, but also more key races in the Senate. Tonight, some of the most exciting races and surprising results may also come from the governors` races, 36 governors` races tonight including historic ones in Georgia and Florida.
And we here at MSNBC, we all love sleep and family life as much as the next guy. But if there are enough too close to call races tonight, we may not know who controls Congress until the wee hours if then.
WILLIAMS: This midterm election packs the punch of a presidential race. Over 38 million of our fellow citizens voted early in this. Whatever the outcome tonight, 2018 midterms may be remembered for images like this across the country. Americans starting early this morning, standing in long lines, some of them for hours to cast their vote.
Here in the studio, we are joined by our panel. And in the field, of course, our rogue warriors have fanned out across this country. But you know what`s coming next.
MADDOW: That`s right. We, as you do, we need to get right to MSNBC National Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki for a look at where we are starting tonight. As Brian mentioned, we do have some polls closing already. Steve, I understand first results we`re going to get in tonight are from the parts of Indiana and Kentucky that are in the Eastern time zone. How soon are we going to get some indication of how this night may go and how the big races are going to go?
STEVE KORNACKI, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I believe we just got our very first votes. We do. The very first votes of the night are now in, in the critical 6th district of Kentucky. Republican-held seat. Democrats are trying to pick this one up. And there you go. We`ve got 479 votes here. Andy Barr is the incumbent Republican here. Amy McGrath challenging. This is a district Donald Trump won 55 to 39 percent in 2016.
Why are Democrats interested in this race? They`re interested because you see the red, this is the rural part. You`ve got some votes in a very rural part of this district, small county, Menifee County. The Democrats are interested because this area around Lexington, about half the population in Lexington, in Frankfurt nearby, the types of voters who Democrats think are particularly motivated for them in the Trump era, younger voters, college- educated voters, white-collar professionals, that sort of thing.
You`ve got an abundance of them around Lexington. You`ve got some around Frankfurt. You also have Trump country in this district. It`s sort of a mishmash of both. So this is going to be a test of that democratic energy. It`s going to be a test of the Democrats` ability to make inroads into Trump country. It`s also going to be a test of whether that Republican energy that was there for Trump two years ago is still there.
So again, all we have right now, this is a county for what it`s worth, in fact, I can tell you in 2016, this is a county Donald Trump won with 72 percent of the vote. The early returns we have here show 57 percent. We`re going to get probably about 2,000 votes here. This is probably about 20 percent of the vote coming in in this county.
If the Republicans are significantly under 60 percent here, I think they`d be in trouble. We`ll see where that lands. We`re going to check right now. We`ve got a little bit more coming in. But we`re going to check Indiana because the other big thing closing right now is the Senate race in Indiana.
Let me go back and just see if we`ve got some returns there. This is a -- it`s the wrong one. Sorry. I`m going to learn this before the end of the night, I promise you. Let`s check in in Indiana. Do we have any votes here? We do not.
So the other thing is there`s a lot of early voting in Indiana, about 33 percent in 2016. The entire vote in the state was early so they tend to report that out fast. We`ll start bringing that to you. Not the entire state is closed now but a significant chunk of it. So again, any minute now we`re going to get a readout here in Indiana. As soon as we do, I`ll let you know. But Indiana and Kentucky 6th, at this hour between 6:00 and 7:00, that`s where all the action is here, a key House race, a key Senate race.
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, thank you very much. It`s very exciting to have first votes on the board even if there`s only like four of them.
WILLIAMS: Busiest man in show business.
MADDOW: Yes, exactly. And it will be a busy night for Steve tonight. We do have some exit polling data. This is NBC News national exit polling. We`ve got a couple of big top lines. and I want to put these to our panel, to our friends here in studio.
One of the first things that we have learned tonight is Trump job approval rating. According to the exit polls tonight, we`ve got Trump with a 44 percent approval rating, a 55 percent disapproval rating. Within those numbers, we`ve got some finer lines, including the president`s strong disapproval rating at 47 percent which is very high. We`ve also got voters telling the exit pollsters that the most important issue for them is not the most important issue that you see in every other election. It`s always the economy.
But look at this. Exit polls nationwide, they`re saying that healthcare is the most important issue. And the economy isn`t second. The economy is third. So that tells you a few different things. Number one, it tells you that this election is happening in a good economy. Number two, it tells you that the Democrats were right when they said that healthcare was going to be the most important issue in this election. And it tells you that the Republicans were right that they could elevate immigration to a place it almost never is in order to try to motivate their base voters heading in.
NICOLLE WALLACE, POLITICAL ANALYST, NBC NEWS: It also tells you that the rap that the Democrats got for not having a message was wrong all along. It was sort of one of those things that the national media, sometimes we get wrong. The Democrats had a message. It was healthcare. They never blinked, they never strayed from it, and it looks like they got their message through.
I think the evidence of that was about six weeks ago, you saw Republicans lying about their positions on pre-existing conditions. So it`s not surprising to see that big number on healthcare. And it must be rewarding for the Democratic candidates who picked that and stuck with it.
MADDOW: At the same time though, seeing the immigration number pop above the economy has got to be seen as success by the president, in particular by the Republican party that went along with him on this really strongly anti-immigrant message.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, ANCHOR, MSNBC: Well, you know, also, if we had a functioning government, and if we have one after this election, which would be ideal, if the government is split and more important that it be functioning, they will address the healthcare issue next year. The president will have to take the lead on pre-existing conditions. He`s made claims that he`s as good as the Democrats. He`ll have to prove that.
On immigration, another chance for accommodation by both parties. We shouldn`t have to face these same two top issues two years from now. If our government works, if our Republican form of government works, they should address those two issues in a divided government.
MADDOW: But Trump sees immigration as the ultimate wedge issue. He sees immigration not as a policy issue that`s designed to be solved. He sees it as a casting issue for picking villains and for riling up the worst in people.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
MADDOW: And so do you really think that Trump, no matter how good the rest of the government --
MATTHEWS: I am offering a normative value here. All right. Rachel, you know that works. A normative value. What I`d like to see is a government respond to the electorate. If the electorate says healthcare is the number one issue, pre-existing issue, come up with a modification of Obamacare that the Republicans can vote for and get 218 votes in the House and move it.
The same with immigration. They had a really good comprehensive bill in 2013, bring it up to the floor. Boehner wouldn`t bring it up last time. Bring it up and pass it. I`m sorry. I`m a positive person about elections. They should lead to, we have engagement, time for the marriage. OK. A lot of people voting. Let`s get married. Let`s do something.
MADDOW: Eugene, when you look at those --
MATTHEWS: I know --
MADDOW: -- what are you seeing?
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I also see that Democrats did connect with the healthcare issue. I think that`s the headline from that. Immigration is really interesting because we have a president who doesn`t want to solve the immigration issue because he wouldn`t have -- that`s the wedge. He wouldn`t have the wedge. So I can`t be as optimistic as you are that anything is going to get done as long as Donald Trump is president, on immigration.
What those numbers don`t yet tell us is who connected with Independents? And I think that`s -- we`re going to talk a lot about that tonight. Democrats connected with their base and Republicans with their base but there are a lot of Independents.
WALLACE: And as I say, I mean the immigration number to me isn`t about whether or not it works. It says that Donald Trump drowned out every Republican candidate`s message because the Republican candidates, they didn`t lead Donald Trump to a message about immigration for the midterms. The midterm candidates running under the banner of Republicans didn`t choose to run on immigration. They followed Donald Trump there.
The Democratic candidates running in this midterms chose to run on healthcare, and their surrogates who are normal, like former President Obama and Biden, followed them on their issues. So the difference on the immigration issue is this was not something that Republicans running for Congress chose to run on. This is something Trump drowned out everything else.
MADDOW: And this -- and that`s -- I mean Trump is within the Republican party, right, is that I know best, you`re all dumb, I can tell you how to do your jobs better than you ever have.
WALLACE: And it swamps --
MADDOW: I pick immigration for you.
WALLACE: Yes. And it swamps everything else. I mean there`s been some reporting in the last week that Paul Ryan pleaded with the White House, please let s talk about the economy, which doesn`t stink for everybody. And you know, no go.
MADDOW: Yes. But then his PAC runs on anti-immigrant ad.
WALLACE: Right. Because (INAUDIBLE) no one can air it.
ROBINSON: Meanwhile, good economy, it`s issue what? Number three, way down. It makes no sense.
WILLIAMS: So before we`re done tonight, this could turn out to be the election of pre-existing conditions. It could be the election of new voters. Very much will be some sort of referendum on Donald Trump. One of the western Senate races we`re going to be waiting for into the evening is in Arizona. That`s where correspondent Gadi Schwartz is waiting for us in Tempe tonight. Hey, Gadi.
GADI SCHWARTZ, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Hey. Yes. Whoever said that the youth were not going to turn out for a midterm election did not come to ASU. You`ve got basically what`s an impromptu party out here. You`ve got people giving out pizzas, ice creams. They`re giving out waters. There`s some DJ that`s about to start playing some music.
And this is why -- over here, this is where the voting is happening. This is a line going in. And I want to show you something that is jaw-dropping. We just talked to somebody that was here for 2016. They said during the presidential campaign, during the presidential election, that right there was about where the line stopped.
Now check this out. We`re going to take a little walk here. Look at all these people that are voting and in line here. Many of them have been waiting for over an hour. How long have you guys been waiting here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About an hour.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
SCHWARTZ: Hour. We`ve heard people waiting as long as two hours. And the line just continues on. These are all young voters. That stretches all the way over there to where those dorms are. The enthusiasm our here, extremely high.
This is a state that usually does a lot of early voting. We know that the electorate has already turned out about 75 percent to 80 percent here in Arizona. We know that about 41 percent of them are Republicans. We know that about 33 percent, 34 percent are Democrats. But the majority of them are Independent voters. And that`s what we`re seeing here, a lot of the independent voters.
And we`ve talked to -- they`re fluctuating between Martha McSally and her challenger, Kyrsten Sinema, who has somewhat of a home field advantage here in ASU. She used to be a student here. She was also a professor. But a lot of these students say that this is the race that they`re looking at, a Senate race. So we`re on a college campus, we`re at a university, and this is how engaged a lot of the youth are. Back to you guys.
WILLIAMS: That`s fantastic. Gadi, thank you for that. Speaking of the power of television, one of the chants during the Women`s March, "This is what democracy looks like." And that is what --
MADDOW: Yes. And it`s actually great work by the crew there in being able to see from perspective so you could see how many people were in line there. While we were talking to Gadi, we got a little bit more news out of the exit polls. Again, these are early NBC News national exit polls.
And this number sticks out to me. Look at this. According to the early NBC News exit polls, 16 percent of voters nationwide are first-time midterm voters.
MADDOW: People who have never, ever voted in a midterm election. Among those voters, this is the Democrat/Republican split, 61 percent of them supporting a Democratic candidate, 36 percent of them supporting a Republican candidate. Now, 16 percent may sound like a sliver of the electorate but turning out for the first time to vote in a midterm, that`s the kind of -- those are the people that Democrats were targeting.
WALLACE: That is how the Democrats are going to have a very good night. That`s how they`re going to do it, by changing the makeup with the electorate. That`s how President Obama won. When Democrats prevail in states like Georgia and battleground states like Florida, it`s because they changed, they turned out bigger parts of the Democratic coalition that typically just turns out in presidential years.
ROBINSON: And that was a figure that Chuck Todd gave us. When we first got the exit polls, 72 percent white, 28 percent nonwhite, the overall electorate according to those early exits. That`s more like the 2008 election, presidential election, than subsequent elections.
MADDOW: Yes. And, you know, it`s interesting too, when you think about the anecdotal experience of voting in an election like this. If it`s the first time you`ve ever voted in a midterm election, either because you never voted before at all or it`s because you only think of ever voting in a presidential year, turning out to vote this year for the first time, A, means you`re motivated. B, means you need to figure out how to do it.
And that`s why the voter suppression story ends up being super important. If one party is counting on turning out people who are not used to voting in elections like this, who`ve never voted in an election like this before, the more barriers you can put in place, the more complicated you can make it, the longer and more arduous you can make the process, the more you can winnow down that number.
MATTHEWS: You`re so right because there`s a culture to voting. And once you get into it, you`re into it. You go to the community center, the local church. Young people don`t go to those places. They go to Starbucks. They go on campus. They`re on the street. They`re in all kinds of places they go but it`s an unusual step to go back to the old neighborhood.
In this case, it`s great because you can vote on campus. That`s cool. I thought that report was fantastic. I`m with Brian on that. That`s the kind of thing we can do in this meeting we can`t do in the press and print press is show people doing it. I remember being with Mandela in South Africa when they voted in `94. You actually saw voting happening for the first time and it`s thrilling.
WILLIAMS: I was there for that election. That was an election. We might see something tonight but that was an election. I am keeping one eye on the man I affectionately call Coach K over in coach`s corner tonight.
We`re going to go to a break. And when we come back, we`ll get an update on the numbers. Look at those little squares. Oh, there we go. Look at that. That`s all we`re going to say. A few squares filled in on the map of Indiana. We are just getting underway. Please stay with us. Our live coverage continues after this.
WILLIAMS: The outside view of our building. The Vote 2018. The midterm elections. Over to the board we go. Steve Kornacki, I have watched your map of Indiana populate with a few colors. What does it all mean?
KORNACKI: It`s starting to fill up. So you see here again, only about 20,000 votes, a little bit more in statewide. You see Braun the Republican out to the early lead. Look, it`s Republican country that`s coming in very slowly right now. Here`s the interesting thing we can tell you about Indiana. Hillary Clinton got blown out in this state two years ago. The margin, she lost by almost 20 points. She won four counties in this state two years ago.
Now, Donnelly also managed to win this state six years ago when he ran for the U.S. Senate. So obviously, we`re going to see here how much is Donnelly improving off Hillary Clinton`s numbers from two years ago and how close is he getting to the numbers that he posted when he won this state six years ago? So let`s take you through to give you a sense of what we`re seeing in these counties.
So again, these are Republican counties coming in. Pulaski County though, right here you see the result right now early, a 55-42 margin for Braun. Now, when Donnelly ran and won in 2012, he got 44 percent of the vote in this county. So he`s a little shy of that. But look how Hillary Clinton did here in 2016. He`s 20 points north of what Hillary Clinton got here in 2016.
Let`s go to Miami County. Again, Republican territory. Look, he`s eight points north of where Hillary Clinton finished, 21 percent for Clinton in 2016 tonight, Donnelly running at 29 percent. That is not where he finished though in 2012. In 2012, he did manage to get 39 percent of the vote in Miami County. But again, you see an improvement there.
How about this one? This one, we might need some explanation. Whitley County, Republican territory, 62 percent in the early going for Donnelly. This was a 73 percent Trump zone. So we`re going to see as more vote comes in there.
But this is the trend we`re seeing in these Republican counties so far for Donnelly. We know he`s going to be behind when you add these together. These are some of the strongest areas for Braun. But look, Hillary Clinton got 38 percent of the vote here in 2016. There is an Independent and Libertarian candidate who`s going to get a couple of points. So Donnelly needs to be running kind of about 10 points plus better than Hillary Clinton.
So those early numbers you see, he`s down statewide but it suggests a competitive race. We`re going to see though the big thing for Democrats when this Marion County, Indianapolis come in, when this Lake County, Gary comes in, South Bend, St. Joseph County, and the wild card tonight, Southern Indiana. This is an area that swung hard to Donald Trump.
But as recently as 2008 with Obama, and 2012 with Donnelly, Democrats could compete and win counties down here. If you see any blue popping up in this southern part of the Indiana tonight, that is a very encouraging sign for Democrats.
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, thank you very much. We`re going to now take a look at the race tonight in Tennessee. Tennessee Senator Bob Kocher decided he did not want to stay in the Senate anymore. The race to replace him has been interesting. Marsha Blackburn. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn running essentially as a very Conservative Republican for that Senate seat against Phil Bredesen, the Democrat who`s running as essentially a Conservative Democrat, a moderate in that race.
Chris Jansing is in Antioch, Tennessee which is outside Nashville. Chris, what are you seeing tonight?
CHRIS JANSING, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Incredible lines, something we have not seen as we`ve been going around Tennessee. Take a look at this. People have been coming in after work, they wind around, they have a voter I.D. here. You have to show a photo I.D. First, they have to do that.
And then take a look at this line. It`s been running, Rachel one to two hours all day long. Voters patiently waiting. When I talk to poll workers, they told me frankly nobody`s been leaving. Maybe a handful of people and then they asked how late the polls were going to be open and that they would come back.
There is here a big change that is happening. This used to a pretty rural area. Now, it`s suburban. One of the fastest growing areas of Tennessee and key for Phil Bredesen. It`s majority minority and a lot of immigrants are here. I want to talk right now to Yolanda. People have been waiting in line so long, including you.
YOLANDA: Yes, ma`am.
JANSING: Why wait so long?
YOLANDA: Just wanting my vote to count especially with the healthcare because I work in the healthcare field. And I`m also concerned with just the quality of life for not just me but senior citizens as well.
JANSING: Are you settled on the Senate race?
YOLANDA: Yes, ma`am.
JANSING: Who are you voting?
YOLANDA: Just healthcare issues and the constant appeal of Obamacare. We deal with patients every day. They don`t have healthcare insurance. Luckily, our institution has other funding that`s available to cover the deficiency with the patients. Just concerned with it, not only for them but myself as well.
JANSING: I know we had somebody standing in line for her so she could come out. We`re going to let her go back into line. But they are going to keep this open as long as they can. Most importantly, maybe, there have been lines like this, I am told by the Bredesen campaign in both Memphis and Nashville.
They`re encouraging people to stay in line. Obviously, they need to win these kinds of districts if they`re going to win this race. And the pizza has arrived. So some of these workers have been here 10 hours now. So we`re happy to know they`re finally going to get fed, Rachel.
MADDOW: Chris Jansing in Antioch, Tennessee. Chris, thank you very much for that.
I got to say, seeing all those people turning out, those young adults turning out, and Chris is saying that`s been a one and two-hour line all day long and everybody`s there with their kids, with their little kids and kids in strollers and babes in arms. And that is a lot to do in seeing people do that, knowing they`re going to be there an hour or two, people not leaving. It makes you feel good. I mean also it`s frustrating but also makes you feel good.
WALLACE: Plus another voter voting on healthcare.
MADDOW: Yes, exactly. All right. We are waiting on the news right now out of one of the tightest races in the nation and one of the most closely watched. It`s the battle for governor in Georgia. The Democrat is Stacey Abrams, former Democratic leader in the legislature. The Republican is Brian Kemp, who has a dual-hatted role. He`s also secretary of state which means he`s running the election in which he is competing.
This is a race that has had a lot of national news, ups and downs. We`ll be going to Georgia next. Stay with us.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back as we cover the live votes coming from this Midterm Election night 2018. And we are joined by a Democratic incumbent in the U.S. Senate Amy Klobuchar of the State of Minnesota. Senator, for most generalist viewers -- thank you for joining us first off -- they are seeing you for the first time perhaps since the Kavanaugh hearings, and before we talk about the politics of tonight, I`m curious have you been surprised to see how much traction the other party has gotten out of the Kavanaugh hearings, every night rally after rally we hear the President`s talking point that a good man was mistreated?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Well, rallies are one thing, Brian, but votes are another. And it is true that they have been trying to play this issue out, but what I hear from Minnesotans is they want to talk about people getting kicked off their insurance for pre-existing conditions or the price of prescription drugs. And as you`ve seen over time, the people of America has realized whether they agreed or not, he got on the court. And for them to keep using this as an issue I think you`re seeing with Independent voters especially in a lot of our Congressional District votes in Minnesota, this issue is not determinative. You could see it in your own exit polls.
WILLIAMS: Senator, it`s what struck me a couple weeks ago was how the Midwest is really in play this time. States like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan voted very narrowly for a total of like 70,000 votes in total for President Trump. This time around it seems like the Midwest is moving into the Democratic column right across the board for governor, senator, and probably House as well.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, we don`t want to take anything for granted but I am wearing my purple dress for a reason besides prince and the Vikings and that this is the moment where the Midwest and a lot of our states that as you recognized either voted for Trump or in Minnesota barely did Hillary win. It`s a change these governor races. I talked to our candidate Fred Hubbell down in Iowa and it is -- he`s feeling good down there. You look at in Illinois, you look at how well Tammy Baldwin is doing. I talked to her this morning over in Wisconsin and then these incredible congressional races in the suburbs where I think we`re going to take back two seats in two congressional races in Minnesota both currently held by Republicans was we look at I think our projections may be that two-thirds of eligible voters may be voting in a Midterm in Minnesota despite flurries of snow.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: You know, I think this whole campaign tonight we`re going to be covering here is in a Republican territory. It`s an offensive for the Democrats because I can`t think of -- or you can tell me this. Do you know a single Democratic incumbent in the Senate or the House that`s worried about reelection?
KLOBUCHAR: You`ll have to talk to them but I think what -- you know those numbers where we have 35 Senate seats up and I think 22 of them are Democrats that are running. I mean, those are extraordinarily difficult odds and we know that going into it. But we have such great candidates like Claire McCaskill still fighting it out. Heidi, I just talked to her. Remember last time, she held up the paper that`s at her opponent one and she won. So I think we got to give these guys tonight and also we`ve got the House and then these Governor`s races and it is really all about turning out but it`s also about independent voters and what they think of the President`s behavior over the last year.
WILLIAMS: From the Twin Cities tonight, our thanks to Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Thank you very much for making time to talk with us.
KLOBUCHAR: It`s great to be here.
WILLIAMS: Back to the board we go because I have -- I`m told we have an update on Kentucky Sixth, though I see Indiana.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Where we`re toggling between the two of them let me give you a little bit more coming in Indiana. Now, what`s going on here as we said about a third of the vote in Indiana is early vote. That`s the first thing that comes in. Then you start getting more of the same day vote. So I think the county where we got the best read now in terms of most vote in right down here, this is Lawrence County.
Now again, you see, Brian, this is a Republican County, 65-31 over Donnelly. The numbers we`ve been keeping in mind, when Donnelly won in 2012, in this county, he got 40 percent of the vote. So right now he`s running that. However, when Hillary Clinton got clobbered in Indiana two years ago, she got 22 percent here. So we also might be seeing a different vote distribution pattern sort of a merge here. Again the benchmark for Donnelly it`d be great for him if he`s running at his 2012 levels certainly but also if he`s running consistently double digits close to double digits ahead of Hillary Clinton. That would also put him in the game.
Moving over to India -- to Kentucky Six, that congressional race we`re watching at this hour, very early but again we can just show you a little bit what`s happening here is the absentee ballots are coming in these rural Trump counties. For example, this is a county where Donald Trump got 72 percent of the vote, we showed you a minute ago, you got 72 percent of the vote here in 2016 in this county, 57 42 in the absentee. The margin district-wide for Donald Trump it was 55 to 39 so running you know, 15 points off his number here. That`s an encouraging sign for Democrats. This is a county where Trump got 66 -- this is a county where Trump got 66 percent of the vote. I should say in 2016 running at 59 right now so some early indications there. Democrats expected to do better. We`re going to find out as more of this comes in especially around Lexington if it`s better enough for them here.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Steve Kornacki for us with the data. I want to tell you though, I said a moment ago that we were going to get to Georgia, we are about to get to Georgia. We`re not only looking at what`s going to happen there with that race, we`ve also got some exit poll data showing voters` concerns about voter suppression and whether or not eligible voters will have their votes cast and counted. We`ve got interesting anecdotal information about how that`s been going in Georgia today and new raw data about voters concern as they head to the polls in that critical and could be historic race. That`s when we come back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Election Day began today with reports of mechanical glitches and human errors leading to long lines and frustrated voters in precincts all around the country. Look at this line in Gwinnett County Georgia today in Greater Atlanta, the batteries inside a polling machine there had died. It took nearly two hours to find a power cord to charge up that machine. So for what of a single power cord, all these people gave up all this time today just trying to vote.
Storms overnight caused power outages in Knoxville, Tennessee at one polling location. Voters literally had to cast paper ballots by lantern light which doesn`t make for great T.V. but is a great story. Chandler, Arizona though, just outside of Phoenix wins for the weirdest voting problem of the day. This morning when poll workers showed up just before 6:00 a.m. local time to open up, they discovered that the landlord had foreclosed overnight on the office where people were supposed to be voting. Foreclosing on the office, locking the poll workers out, locking voters out, and locking the voting machines inside where no one could get to them. It`s been that kind of a day.
Trymaine Lee is at a polling place now in Atlanta Georgia. Trymaine, thanks very much for joining us. What have you been seeing today?
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: Hey Rachel, thank you very much. Here in Atlanta, Georgia where voters may be poised to make history by possibly electing the first black female governor in the United States. But this race has been controversial from the very beginning. Concerns about voter suppression efforts especially coming down from Brian Kemp, the Secretary of State who is also running for governor. But and also not the least of which is the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. You talk to folks around here who have been around the block a few times and they say they saw this coming a mile away. But today even though there`s excitement at long lines everywhere you go, there`s also concerns about voter suppression efforts and things going wrong at the polls.
I want to bring in Derrick Johnson, the head of the NAACP. Derrick, what have we been seeing out there? There have been some concern across counties and across Atlanta that these voter suppression efforts are actually working, some funny business at the polls.
DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT, NAACP: Well, we`re preparing a lawsuit right now to extend the voting time for a precincts in Gwinnett, County with the lawyer committee because you had voter standing in line for over four hours because they didn`t have power cords. We`re finding the same stories in Fulton County, and we`re standing outside the Morehouse precinct where students are being turned away because of the exact match. It is unfortunate that Brian Kemp did not step down as Secretary of State to ensure we had a fair election.
LEE: How much of this do you think is just mismanagement of the polls and how much of this might be nefarious?
JOHNSON: Whether it`s malicious intent or benign neglect, it is something that should not take place for this election cycle. We should have a transparent and fair system. He should have stepped down. In fact, I wish we could bring criminal charges against how he`s treating our democracy during this election cycle.
LEE: Is there concern that any of this, the swirl of controversy, what we`re seeing at the polls will impact voter behavior, has vote -- impact the voter behavior at all today?
JOHNSON: Well, I am excited with the level of enthusiasm, the determination of voters to stay in line and I`m encouraging voters to stay in line whether you in Georgia, whether you`re in Florida or Maryland and any other states because no matter what, don`t leave the polling place unless you cast the ballot whether it`s provisional ballot or an actual ballot.
LEE: Inside this auditorium in Morehouse College there are still over a hundred people still waiting in line. So students all day, the line stretch down the block a little bit. I talk to volunteer, you see behind me they`re a whole bunch of poll watchers said that at every hour of every the moment today, the line stretched to 150 people or more. There are still young people in their ready to vote. There`s excitement but also a lot of concern.
MADDOW: Trymaine Lee for us in Morehouse -- at Morehouse, I really appreciate you being there for us, Trymaine. You`re mentioning there about concerns about voter suppression. We do actually have some new exit poll data. NBC News was able to do exit poll data at Georgia voters in terms of their concerns about voter suppression. And look at this, the concern that people who aren`t eligible to vote will nevertheless be able to vote, that`s 41 percent. But the concern that eligible voters will be prevented from voting that beats it by double digits. That is at 51 percent and if you break it down by race among Georgia voters, you`re going to see why the numbers shake out that way.
The concern that people not eligible will vote is a concern of a majority of white voters 54 percent, but among African-American voters, look at the concern, that eligible voters will be prevented from voting. 73 percent of black voters in Georgia are saying they have concerns that eligible voters will be blocked.
I have concerns that there`s an extra L and the first mention of eligible on that screen but that`s the sort of thing that I`ll have to take up during the commercial break. For now we`re going to go to Ari Melber who`s the Host of "THE BEAT" who`s actually been monitoring stories like this, concerns like this and the anecdotal evidence, the statistical evidence that were seeing tonight that there may be worries about the vote across the country. What do you got, Ari?
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That`s right, Rachael. Focusing in on Georgia whereas you say this has been an issue from the start. To put it in context, Brian Kemp purged triple the number of voters that made the margin of re-election in the last governor`s race. So we are talking about something that could decide this race tonight, everyone fired up about it. The news I have for you is a late-breaking lawsuit here just within the last two hours that is trying to remove Brian Kemp from overseeing the rest of this election. That`s something that a lot of people have been talking about. We just heard Derrick Johnson from the local NAACP talking to Trymaine Lee about similar efforts.
So this is something that could also matter tonight or going forward if there`s a runoff or certification. All this relating to issues you`ve been covering when you look at the attempted cyber hack information that was put out that many people saw as basically lacking evidence as an effort to intervene the voter purges in some places we`ve seen today, lines of hours in Georgia. So we`re tracking all of this and it`s the kind of thing that like so many other races tonight if it`s tight these things could decide it, if there is a blowout in one direction or another, these issues tend to fade into the background on election evenings.
MADDOW: Now, Ari, let me ask you just about that lawsuit that you said was just filed. Obviously, this is election day, this is election evening. Polls are about to close and closing all over the country. I know from covering these issues as you do that the courts are always very reluctant as a matter of Supreme Court precedent to get involved in election matters too close to an election. I mean, what do you -- what does it mean to have an election to have a lawsuit filed on election night trying to get Kemp out of the middle of the election that he`s running in?
MELBER: Well, you`re exactly right. The courts generally want to avoid anything that would look like them getting involved in the politics, but they also have a countervailing obligation to defend voter`s rights. What this is specifically and we just got off the phone with Larry Schwartzman in Georgia, is several voters saying remove Kemp.
MADDOW: Ari, thank you very much. Much appreciated, my friend.
WILLIAMS: We`re going to go to a break which will be our last break before we reach the top of the hour. Just a reminder, there are seven o`clock closings include Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia. Just over 12 minutes away this break and then we`re back with live returns.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back. Just about eight minutes before the hour. That means eight minutes before some of these reportable poll closings we`ll have for you. And our promise to your all evening long is when Steve Kornacki gets enough numbers to report to us, we will go to Steve Kornacki. In the coach`s corner, hey Steve, looking at you, you`ve got something from Kentucky.
KORNACKI: Yes, we`ve been talking about that key House race there around Lexington so let`s take a look here. And first of all, I`ll give you in a second. I just want to explain, if you`re seeing this for the first time, what you`re looking at here. Maybe I should just set this up. You know, 435 districts out there, a lot of them we know going into the night. It`s going to be Democratic, it`s going to be Republican. So the gray here kind of represent the noncompetitive districts. And as they`re called officially throughout the night, they`re going to fill in red and blue. You see the couple of expected Republican ones have already been called.
What you see in yellow, though, we think that`s the battlefield tonight. We think that`s where control of the House is going to be decided. We have 66 of them highlighted here. What they are, are 66 Republican-held districts where Democrats we think have the best chance of getting pickups. And what Democrats need to do, the name of the game for them tonight, is net gain and net pickup of 23 seats. So we think this is going to be the heart of it here for Democrats. There could be surprises. There could be districts off the list that pop up, if they are. We will get them to you. But we think the action is mainly going to be concentrated in here so that`s why we`ve set it up this way.
And of all 66 of these districts, exactly one of them has votes coming in right now. It is that Sixth District of Kentucky we`ve been talking about. Now we can now give you an update and you see it is nipping Andy Barr, the Republican incumbent by a fraction of a point now leading Amy McGrath still in the early going. This is mainly absentee vote that`s coming in. but what happen here, if you remember in the very early vote, Barr was leading by a lopsided margin. What`s happened here as we said, sort of McGrath is going to sink or swim based on what happens right here. This is Fayette County. This is Lexington. This is University of Kentucky. This is -- this is one of only two counties in the State of Kentucky that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
She won Jefferson County where Louisville is and she won Fayette County where Lexington is and she won nothing else. So she got 51 percent of the vote here in 2016. McGrath running at 59 percent, the benchmark I kind of set in my head for this is 60 percent. McGrath wants to be on the north side of 60 percent. She`s on the cusp of that. This looks like the absentee vote. We will see what happens when more comes in but you can see that she`s going to sink or swim on that. Because if you go to outlying areas, you got very Republican areas in the outlying parts of this district. You see a lot of red there. You probably see blue around Frankfort, but McGrath getting a lead there.
And again, to go back to the big board here, we say only one district where we`re getting action right now. In less than ten minutes that`s going to change in a big way. All these districts in Florida, we`re going to start getting results. Four competitive districts in Virginia, we`re going to start getting results too right here, small geographically but big in terms of the stakes right outside Atlanta. The sixth and the seventh are going to start getting results so things are going to really be picking up here in the next couple of minutes.
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, thank you very much. One of the big Senate races that has received more than outsized national attention is the Ted Cruz reelection Senate race in Texas. He is running against a National Democratic phenom named Beto O`Rourke. No Democrat has won a statewide race in Texas in oh say, 25 years, but better O`Rourke has become a national story for a reason.
The numbers say that Ted Cruz should have no problem but this race has taken on a bit of a sort of a life of its own. And now I`m going to say a word that you didn`t expect to hear tonight on our broadcast. Chris Hayes tonight is at the Southwest University ballpark which is in El Paso. It is the home of the El Paso Chihuahuas. Who had Chihuahua in their election night words, Rachel might say bingo card. Chris Hayes is there for us with the different kinds of campaigns that Democrats are running in statewide select -- statewide elections tonight in Texas. Chris, what do you see in?
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: You know, it`s -- first of all, it`s a gorgeous ballpark and it`s a gorgeous town. Look, this is the sight I think of one of the most interesting experiments, the most interesting experiments of Democratic politics happening in the nation. It`s connected to things happening in Georgia and Florida. The numbers don`t work for Democrats in this state statewide for 25 years as you said. They have been running candidates from Houston and from Dallas, mayors, you know, statewide figures, it hasn`t worked.
Beto O`Rourke on to this race, low name recognition. He`s from El Paso. No one has ever been elected statewide from El Paso. People didn`t know who he was. He rejected PAC money. You can`t do that because he need to raise money. Throughout the old playbook went to all 254 counties raised enormous sums of money nationally and in small-dollar donors and became a phenomenon. And here`s why tonight is going to be interesting.
In 2014, there were 4.7 million votes cast and the election year in 2016 8.9 million. The Cruz people came in thinking it was going to be a six million vote night. Right now, all the politicos and the most sophisticated data folks say it`s going to be an eight million vote night. That`s a two million vote miss for the modelling for the Cruz campaign.
So the question becomes, who are those voters and where did they come from? But I can tell you, I spent all day talking to Texas politicos on both sides the aisle and there is a palpable sense of uncertainty about this and it`s because O`Rourke chose to do something bold and different than what others have done before. He did not tack to the middle and you`ve seen Stacey Abrams and Georgia do that and you`ve seen Andrew Gillum do that in Florida in states where they went out and said we`re going to go find the votes because the math, the way that we`ve been doing the math in these states as statewide Democratic candidates has not been working.
And one thing is clear, this way of doing it I think at the end of the night is going to end up with Beto O`Rourke outperforming a lot of those candidates who went with the traditional approach in the last 25 years
MADDOW: Chris, one of the things that matters a lot when you take that kind of approach, when you try to get people out voting who haven`t voted before who aren`t used to participating particularly in non-presidential years is you have to start thinking about how hard it is to vote or how easy it is to vote in that state. One of the things that we hear nationwide about why Texas won`t budge even as its demographics keep changing in what looks like a democratic direction is because it`s hard to vote in Texas, that it`s hard to register, it`s hard to vote, they go out of their way essentially to make it as arduous as possible -- as arduous as possible a process. How is the Beto O`Rourke campaign dealt with those just logistical issues that are specific to that state?
HAYES: Well, you`ve got the Texas Civil Rights Project just in the last hour has successfully petitioned to have Harris County which is where Houston is and went actually Democratic in the last presidential election for the first time in a while to have a bunch of polling locations stay open there. You`re exactly right. The Republican legislature in this state along with the governor have put through a raft of restrictive laws from a voter I.D. as well as other obstacles that have been put in place and it has been a low turnout state. It was even a low turnout state before those obstacles, it has been a low turnout state then.
The alert campaign really has just been trying to sort of sheer brute force. I mean, they built this machine with $75 million they`ve raised. They`ve hit a ton of doors and the idea is you get as many people to the polls, you have lawyers there to protect their vote, and you hope for the best.
MADDOW: Chris Hayes for us in El Paso. Chris, thank you my friend. Much appreciated.
WILLIAMS: We are now under a minute away from the top of the 7:00 hour Eastern Time. As you heard Steve Kornacki say, this will the hour that our board will start to light up. The competitive house races will start to reflect themselves on the board. On the right, you see the states that are a half a minute away from closing, Georgia, Indiana, all of Indiana, all of Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. And in the lower right- hand corner of your screen you see what the stakes are tonight.
There is not a candidate, a single national candidate as there would be in a presidential election, but for many of the Democrats many of the Republicans watching, that candidate is named 23. The 23 seats the Democrats need to take control of the House.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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