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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/02/12

Guests: Nate Silver

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: It is a real privilege to be able to do this show live just after the NBC Universal telethon for hurricane Sandy relief. Thank you for staying with us for this next hour. On a personal note, I just want to say a personal thing about this crisis. As for myself and those of us who work here on this show, we have been very lucky and very blessed this week as this disaster has unfolded in the communities we all live in. Everyone on our staff is safe. Nobody has been injured. Our families are OK. A lot of us have property damage and no power and no water. Almost all of us, I think, have been living out of suitcases to one degree or another, but we are all safe and that`s what`s important. I want to thank everybody who has been asking, you`re all very nice. But we`re all all right. I do want to show you one thing though. Look at this video. This was taken this morning by our friend Jessica Rodriguez (ph) who is a producer on this show and has been from the beginning. Most nights, Jessica would be responsible on the show for making sure a piece of video like this made it on air. But today, she was at home in Lindenhurst, New York, on Long Island because this is the street where Jessica lives. This is what her neighborhood looks like as of today, four days after the storm made landfall. Jess was at home today working to assess the damage, clean up her flood-damaged home and to help her neighbors. While she was at home, hey, a New York congressional delegation made her way down the block. Jessica, you can see she was wearing her staff sweatshirt from the show, her "TRMS" sweatshirt, when New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand came up to talk to her. In Lindenhurst, Jess`s block, this little flip cam video, this is the best way we know to show you how we all feel about this story that we are in the middle of. This disaster just indiscriminately took lives and uprooted lives and ruined a lot over a huge area affecting millions of Americans, in a big area of the East Coast, but also really specifically in this one part that we all live in, which is the most densely-populated place in this country, which means we`re forced here in this particular part of America to be very interconnected, to be interdependent, to know thy neighbor because thy neighbor is very close to thee. And that is how we like. It`s part of the reason you live and you work in a place like this. Everyday, we strive to take a wide view, a fair view of what`s happening in the world to do our best job at communicating useful information to you about the news and politics and the world that we are in. But if you have been sensing some personal urgency in our telling this particular story, it`s just because we cannot hide it. It`s true, which is why I say it`s a privilege to do this show this night, following the big telethon to raise funds for the hurricane Sandy relief effort. I may never endorse candidates, but virtue of working here, I`m allowed to tell you how wholeheartedly I personally endorse this message, that if you have the means to do so, even at a very small level, if you have the means to do so, you should donate to help the relief efforts for this disaster. If you want to donate by phone, the number is easy to remember. It`s 1-800-HELP-NOW. Online, you can go to redcross.org. Or you can donate 10 bucks by text. Just text the word redcross to 90999 to make a $10 donation. When the power came back on in parts of Lower Manhattan tonight, late this afternoon and early tonight, you could hear the cheering from the lower east side of Manhattan. Sweet relief, it`s been a long week. And I`ll tell you, there was some cheering here at our offices in Midtown, too, when we saw that footage come through, when we saw the live feed come through. Throughout the night, the lights have been coming on in some of our homes as well, which is a cause for e relief and lots of gratitude and, honestly, still lots of worry and consternation over the places that are still a long way out from coming back. So, I think a point of personal privilege, and ask, if you have not donated, think about whether you can. Easy to remember, 1-800-HELP-NOW. All right. I will leave it there. There`s a lot to get to tonight. The New York City marathon was cancelled. The Obama administration has announced plans to distribute up to 22 million gallons of gas and diesel in the recovery zone, which has been hard hit by fuel shortages. And, oh, by the way, there`s a presidential election in four days and, yes, there are some news about that, too. That`s all ahead this next hour. But thank you for indulging here. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It is now four days until the election and we have officially reached the point where the campaigns both start pounding their chests and saying we`re going to win, we`re sure of it. Both sides do this and I`m not exactly sure why they do this, other than the fact that trash talk is always fun in sports and in politics. But, I don`t know, I mean, maybe there`s a sense of people who haven`t decided even at this late point in the game will want to side with the guy who`s going to be the winner. But that`s it, so each side tries their hardest to make it seem like they are obviously going to be the winner. But regardless, both sides do it every year, in the last few days before the vote in particular. So, that`s why you`re seeing David Axelrod making a bet on MSNBC that if President Obama does not win Michigan and Minnesota and Pennsylvania, he, David Axelrod, will shave off his big, famous, cop mustache. He`s betting his face. That`s how confident he is, because this is the time in the campaign when you`re supposed to project confidence. On the Republican side, it`s been a little more complicated this year. After a bad week of polling for Mitt Romney, top staffers from the Romney campaign held a conference call with reporters this week in which they enumerated all of their reasons why they see Mitt Romney as a shoo in to beat the president on Tuesday, despite all the latest battleground state polling. They suggested that their secret sauce that`s more important than the polling is that Mr. Romney is winning independents. So there. Polling smolling, Romney has this thing in the bag. Karl Rove, who is running the biggest dark money operation for the Republicans this year, therefore as influential as ever, Mr. Rove took to "The Wall Street Journal" this week to patiently explain to all these people who don`t understand that these numbers that look so bad for Mr. Romney do not matter or they are wrong, or they are wrong and they don`t matter, because he says Democrats are not winning early voting by enough. And he says the polls make assumptions about turnout that he describes as absurd. He also describes some intangible stuff that makes him believe that Romney is going to win, things like crowd size and closing arguments. According to him, all of that together shows that Mitt Romney is totally, definitely going to win this thing. So, both sides are trying to convince the country that it is obvious that they are going to win. And I think it is worth listening to the arguments and checking to see if these arguments are based in good sense. But honestly, it is also worth recognizing that every campaign on both sides does this every time. For example, here is how this particular phenomenon looked the day before the election in 2008 when this sort of bragging that we get every year was being done by prominent John McCain Republican surrogate named Mitt Romney. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inside a campaign, what do you get on the inside that we don`t get on the outside because you`re doing your own polling? MITT ROMNEY (R), THEN-MCCAIN SURROGATE: You see the widest array of polls. You look at Mason-Dixon, for instance, that came out yesterday. You take that apart, it`s close to the internal polls. It shows that John McCain is leading in the states that he`s got to lead in, like Ohio and Florida. We`re going to pick up Pennsylvania. We think we`ve got a real good shot in Virginia, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada. You know, that`s the pathway to victory for John McCain. We`re excited. We`re hoping to see a lot of people out there in Chicago on election night with Barack Obama experiencing a long, cold night, as they learned that John McCain surprisingly won. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s nice he wishes physical discomfort on his political enemies there at the end, just gratuitously throwing that in even though he wasn`t asked. But notice what exactly he was so confidently predicting there. The day before the election in 2008, it was Mitt Romney. Day before the election, and again, these were his predictions for states that John McCain was definitely going to win. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: John McCain is leading in the states he`s got to lead in like Ohio and Florida. We`re going to pick up Pennsylvania. We think we`ve got a real good shot at Virginia, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada. You know, that`s the pathway to victory for John McCain. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: See how all those states were blue? His confident predictions that John McCain was going to win Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Nevada in 2008 were wrong in every single instance. They lost every single one of those states, even though he seemed like he was going to win all of those states the day before the election. And he didn`t say that he just felt like they were going to win. He said they have the polling data that showed they were going to win in all those states, and they did not win in any of those states. So, this is just part of the way the game is played, right? It`s just bluffing. And that is important context for understanding what`s going on in the last four days of the campaign. There are patterns to how presidential elections end. Some of the same stuff happens every four years. Specifically, in 1992, the Republican candidate was Poppy Bush, George H.W. Bush. The day before the election that year, he went and campaigned in Pennsylvania. And then the next day, he lost Pennsylvania. The next election, 1996, Republican candidate was Bob Dole. Right before the election, Bob Dole went and campaigned in Pennsylvania. And then Bob Dole lost Pennsylvania. In 2004, the Republican was George W. Bush and the day before the election, George W. Bush went and campaigned in Pennsylvania. And the next day, George W. Bush lost Pennsylvania. Last time around as well the Sunday before the election, there`s John McCain campaigning in Pennsylvania. And then John McCain loses Pennsylvania. Right before the election, you can set your watch by it. The Republican presidential contender will go and campaign in Pennsylvania. And every year, the media responds by saying, wow, the Republican is going to Pennsylvania. Maybe the Republicans are going to win Pennsylvania this year. Does this mean the Republicans are planning on winning Pennsylvania this year? And the Republicans say, yes, we`re going there because we`re going to win Pennsylvania and then they lose it every year. The reason they do this every year is because they want to be seen as super confident. They want to be seen as so confident they are expanding the map. They want to create the impression that not only are they going to win, they`re going to win big. So, they don`t even need to go to any of these so-called battleground states. They have locked all those up. They`ve already got the meat and potatoes. They are going for gravy. They go to exotic states that nobody thinks they`re going to win because they are going to win those states too. It`s going to be a landslide. It`s trash talk, right? You can understand why they are doing this, but there`s no reason to pretend that it`s unprecedented and there`s no reason to just write down their spin about what they`re doing, instead of checking the facts about whether their argument actually makes sense. Checking the facts is easy to do. Look at the polling in Pennsylvania. There have been two dozen polls in Pennsylvania since August 1st. Of those two dozen polls, of those 24 polls, how many does President Obama lead in? Twenty-four of the 24, every single one. And look at the rest of Mr. Romney`s campaign schedule. Yes, he`s taking the one trip to Pennsylvania that Republicans always take. But other than that, he was in Ohio and Wisconsin today. He was also scheduled to be in New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado in these final days. And he just spent the last couple days in Florida and Virginia. That means the map is not expanding. Not if you can`t afford to walk away from any of your battleground states to move on to more exotic locales. He`s still slogging it out in the places that he has to win, where he`s not sure he is going to win. All of this "we`re going to win" stuff, it is a fake. It is a fake out, it`s a bluff, it`s trash talk. And there`s nothing wrong with it. It happens every year. You should just know that it`s a dependable part of the end of presidential campaigns. But every once in awhile, at the end of a presidential campaign, this expected feint, this attempt at a fake out, that everybody knows is coming, every once in awhile it`s revealed as a fake out. Every once in awhile, you get from the campaign a little inadvertent admission that they actually know they are going to lose. At least they know they might lose. At least they are making plans based on an expectation that they very well could lose. And when that happens, we know from insiders on campaigns past that it`s very unsettling to the campaign. It makes everybody upset and hope people do not notice it happened. That`s what happened in 2008, right? It was right before the election and pro-Palin conservatives started talking to the press publicly floating her plans for after the election. Not as vice president, but after the election after John McCain and Sarah Palin lost. Their plans for her were published by "The New York Times" seven days before Election Day. "If McCain loses, she could emerge as a standard barer for the movement in 2012. Her prospects in or out of government are the subject of intensive conversations among conservative leaders. They are signs that she too is making sure she`s well-positioned for the future if she and Mr. McCain lose." That was a week before Election Day in 2008, Sarah Palin`s plans for saving her own skin once she and John McCain lost the election were being leaked to the press ahead of the election, by her allies. And we know from people who are inside that campaign, it caused enormous tension inside the McCain/Palin camp. So imagine how this went over this week in the Romney campaign, right? Context here you understand. Publicly, the Romney campaign is on their "we`re going to win" tour. Their "pay no attention to the polls" tour. Their "We`re even going to win Pennsylvania" tour. That`s what they are saying publicly. That`s their public message. But meanwhile, the "Associated Press" publishes a story that`s eerily similar to that New York Times" piece from 2008 about Sarah Palin`s post- election defeat plan. This time, of course, Paul Ryan, whose post-election future is being leaked about by his supporters who are fairly, clearly assuming that Romney and Ryan are about to lose and they need to think of something else for Raul Ryan to do because he`s not going to be busy as vice president. Quote, "Publicly, Ryan and allies maintain that momentum is behind the Romney/Ryan ticket, but Ryan`s biggest boosters realize he can write his own ticket, win or lose on November 6. These Ryan allies spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private proposals they were preparing for him. If Romney loses, Ryan will be seen as a White House contender in 2016, just like Sarah Palin was in 2012. For the next few years, Democrats would lay traps forcing them to take sides on measures that could come back to haunt him during a presidential bid. That`s why some of Ryan`s biggest boosters are considering why it wouldn`t be better for Paul Ryan to resign from the House. He could write a book, saving America is a theme often bandied about -- or he could teach at a university." Days before the election, Paul Ryan`s supporters are leaking their plans to the press for what they want Paul Ryan to do since he`s not going to be vice president. What they want Paul Ryan to do once he and Mitt Romney lose the election next week. I sort of can`t believe it didn`t get more attention when it came out yesterday afternoon. Not only must it have caused some dyspepsia inside the Romney campaign, but it is also the purest and most direct rebuttal of that campaign`s own rather heroic efforts to project some super human confidence about how much they think they are going to win on Tuesday. Joining us is a man who is in the business of knowing who is going to win on Tuesday, Nate Silver, editor of the "FiveThirtyEight" political calculus blog for "The New York Times." He`s the who author of real excellent new book, "The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail, But Some Don`t." Nate, thank you for being here. NATE SILVER, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: A lot of headlines say that since Mitt Romney is going to Pennsylvania, that must mean that Pennsylvania is in play. From the numbers, do you believe Pennsylvania is in play? SILVER: Well, you had the list of 24 polls and none had Romney ahead. There have been some polls done by the state Republican committee in Pennsylvania that had Romney up a couple points there, but no public pollster has had him with a lead all year. So, it`s not just that Obama is up there, but it`s a state where it`s been very stable and very consistent in the polling. I think it might be more in play because I don`t think they are conceding Ohio, but they are worried about it, and they need maybe a better plan B potentially. MADDOW: Have you ever seen -- is there even at least sort of a famous circumstance in which all the polls consistently all yearlong point in one direction and a partisan poll correctly predicted the results? SILVER: Yes, that poll is almost always going to be wrong, especially when there`s a consensus of 15 or 20 polls. Maybe when you`re in a Senate race or something, or a House race, where the public polls aren`t as good. But the public polling is pretty reliable in Pennsylvania. We know what the respected party bases are and where they live. This is a state that teases Republicans. It`s a state where it`s hard to -- they can get up to 49 percent pretty easily, but it`s hard to get to 50 percent, unless there`s some play I should say because of the hurricane and where the power outages might be, that could affect things potentially. But apart from that, I think it`s more sign of a campaign that doesn`t like its electoral map very much. MADDOW: What about this mantra we have been hearing on the right. It really sort of has stopped in the last few day, but we were hearing it in the last couple of weeks, this idea that Mr. Romney has momentum heading into the Election Day. So, you shouldn`t look at the raw numbers. You should appreciate there`s momentum movement in the numbers that indicates that he`s going to win. How do you assess that? SILVER: Well, I mean, today was an emphatic proof that he does not have momentum, there were 19 polls released today in battleground states. And Mitt Romney led in zero of those polls. There were two ties and Obama led in 17. That`s not what we were seeing two weeks ago where Romney pulled ahead in Virginia and Colorado and Florida and had Ohio down to maybe a one-point lead for Obama. So, if anything, Obama has momentum. He was declared the winner by voters of the final two debates. I`m not sure how this hurricane is playing for him, but his numbers seem to have ticked up. And that`s why all these states that seem to very toss uppy couple of weeks ago now seem like they are more firmly in the president`s favor, at least in the polling. MADDOW: Nate, let me ask you, and I didn`t warn you I was going to ask you this, but you have been the subject of a lot of criticism in this last week in particular, as if the polling model that you built at "The New York Times" and the way you explain the polling is somehow biased or wrong or evil. I feel like you are waging a one-man war against innumeracy in terms of explaining to people how polling works and how averaging works. How has this week been for you? SILVER: It`s been -- it`s been kind of a trip in some ways, right, where all of a sudden, you become a subject of conversation yourself and there`s this kind of celebrity level attached to it that`s very new for me. But there are other Web sites that do the same thing that we do, even "Real Clear Politics" and pollster.com and others. And they all show basically the same thing. There`s no way you can slice and dice the data in Ohio or Iowa or Wisconsin right now and say that Romney is winning there. In fact, the polls would have to mess up by quite a bit for that to occur. And that could happen. There have been years like 1980 in which the race went way differently from the polling. But we`re now in the phase where it`s no longer a question of who is ahead in the Electoral College and the polls, so much as will the polls just have a bad year and they could, and we account for that possibility. But that`s why you see some conservatives now, the smart ones, are no longer bothering to say that we`re winning in these states. They are saying that we think the polling is categorically wrong. You never know it`s right, but usually, it`s wishful thinking. MADDOW: Nate Silver, you`re a man at the center of the storm in a way that I bet you did not expect to be. But thank you for continuing to be cogent and rational and patient throughout all of it. I really appreciate it. SILVER: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks, Nate. All right. Nate`s new book is called "The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail, But Some Don`t." All right. Some things do not change. Bruce Springsteen will always be awesome at benefit concerts. David Axelrod will probably always have a giant cop mustache that looks like a push broom. And voting in Florida will always be a mess, apparently. This year, it is already to a degree you will not believe. That is just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Since there`s five minutes between now and Election Day on Tuesday, as best I can tell, and since we`re already not sleeping, we figured why not. Let`s do a brand new live show on Sunday night. Please join us for a special live Sunday night pre-election RACHEL MADDOW SHOW at our regular time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on MSNBC. Sunday night. We`ll reinvent weekends for next year. There`s too much going on for that now. Sunday night, 9:00 p.m., we`ll be here live. Put it in your DVR. Thank you. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK, September 10th, 2002. Florida voters go to the polls for a primary. What they find is a mess. Fancy new voting machines do not work. Poll workers do not show up. Entire polling places do not open. Because voting that day is hard the lines are surprisingly long, Florida`s governor at the time is Republican Jeb Bush. He orders the polls to stay open for two extra hours to help everybody that wants to vote vote. That was in 2002. In 2008, Florida again sees epic lines at the polls. Not just on the day of general election, but even in the days before that during the time for early voting. People waited through lines that stretched for three city blocks. This is what it looks like in 2008 even during early voting, which is supposed to make voting easier and the lines shorter in Florida. Florida`s governor during that election was also a Republican, Charlie Crist. And in the fact of those lines, he declared a state of emergency at the polls. Republican Governor Charlie Christ ordered the polls to stay open longer so people could vote. He said, quote, "I have a responsibility to ensure that the maximum number of citizens can participate in the electoral process and that every person can exercise the right to vote." The Obama campaign thanks the Republican governor when he did that and then with a boost from early voting, Democrat Barack Obama won the state of Florida and he won the presidency. Oops. Last year, Florida`s new Republican governor, Governor Rick Scott decided he was not going to make that mistake again. Rather than expand opportunities for voting, the way Florida`s two previous Republican governors had done, the new one, Republican Governor Rick Scott, decided he would cut the days for early voting almost in half in order to make voting harder. Look, at least that`s how it works. Tada! Long, long, long, long, long lines for early voting in polls places across Florida, except this year, it`s long lines with no relief in sight. We have been getting pictures like this for voters who live in Florida, ever since early voting started in the state. This is how democracy works in Florida this year. Look at this. Get in line. Wait and wait. Wait an hour. Wait four hours. Wait five hours. More. Yesterday, Florida Democrats and the nonpartisan group the League of Women Voters asked Republican Governor Rick Scott to do something about the long lines. They asked him to add a day of voting to open the polls on the last Sunday before the election when many African-Americans usually plan to carpool to go vote after church. Governor Scott said no. Florida`s governor said, quote, "Early voting will end on Saturday night, but I want everybody to get out to vote." Mr. Scott wants everybody to get out and vote. Just get in line, three, four, five hours, let`s see how long we can make you wait. Let`s see if you actually end up voting. Get in that line going out the door, around the block. Governor Scott is looking at five-hour waits for his constituents already, for the people he was elected to serve. Five-hour waits, and he has no sign of any desire to fix it. Listen. The more opportunity people have to vote, the more likely they are to vote. High turn out favors Democrats. Low turn out favors Republicans. This is not rocket science. To the extent that voting in Florida this year is a debacle, it is a manmade debacle. It is a debacle by design. In some towns, the ballot this year in Florida is 10 pages long. And filling it out takes lower and with fewer days to vote, well, yes, magic, you get really long lines. But that`s the way it goes in Florida now. Leading up to the election, Florida Republicans cut the time for early voting in half. So now, Floridians stand in long lines. They pass new restriction on registering voters, so thousands fewer new voters signed up in the state. And Governor Scott has tried to purge the voter rolls in Florida, challenging voter registrations into the final weeks before the vote. In south Florida and Palm Beach County, 30,000 ballots were printed wrong. Clerks have been copying what the voters marked on to new ballots that can fit into the tabulating machines. Dozens asked for absentee ball the lots and still haven`t gotten them days because the election, because Palm Beach screwed up the barcodes that tell the post offices where to deliver them. The situation might be worse in nearby Broward County, the Democratic stronghold where voters have waited for weeks for absentee ballots to arrive in the mail, and 300 ballots got returned to the county as undeliverable. You can say that Florida`s election is another debacle in the making, were it not already a debacle right now. And it is. Joining us is Joy Reid. She`s managing editor of TheGrio.com and an MSNBC contributor who`s been reporting on the unfolding election mess in Florida. Joy, thanks for being here tonight. It`s nice to have you here. JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: Great to be here. Rachel. And yes, all Florida -- Florida will not be moved aside by Ohio as important and crazy. MADDOW: Well, we believe in the power of Florida here because Florida has demonstrated its power in these things. In terms of what I just summarized there, does that all strike you in terms of your latest reporting as what`s most important to keep an eye on right now in Florida? And what is your latest reporting on the missing absentee ballots on some of these other issues? REID: Yes, absolutely, Rachel. So, in the last couple hours, I made a couple phone calls down into south Florida, and discovered that everything you said is absolutely accurate, with one exception, there`s actually one more county. Apparently, Miami-Dade County is also having issues with people who requested absentee ballots. And, you know, keep in mind, some of these people requested that ballot a month ago. They requested it the beginning of October and still haven`t gotten them. And if an absentee ballot is not turned in by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day on Tuesday, that is postmarked that day, that means in the office, in the hands of election workers on that day, it won`t count. And then the next wrinkle, Rachel, is that people who ordered their absentee ballots but then decided to just show up at a poll and try to vote will be made to vote on provisional ballots because there`s no way for the election workers to verify that person didn`t mail if an absentee ballot. And Florida does not exactly have a strong record of counting provisional ballots. MADDOW: Why does the government not do more to make voting easier? I mean, we saw Rick Scott take action here more aggressively than other Republican legislatures did and governors did. He did essentially on his own. He ordered that early voting be cut. Has there been any -- has there been any argument from what they have done that is respectful of voting rights? REID: No. I mean, actually, you talked about Charlie Crist, Rachel, earlier and the fact that he did sign that executive order extending voting hours. That was the beginning of the end of Charlie Crist`s tenure in the party. It was the beginning of the rupture with his party, because Republicans in the state blamed Crist for Barack Obama winning the state. So when I spoke with the former head of the Republican Party of Florida, a guy named Jim Greer (ph) who is now in his own world of trouble over some charges about some apparently illegal sort of money things that he was doing, but when he was running the party, he told me that Republican consultants came to him and said, we want to craft a bill to get rid of early voting if we could or severely cut it because in the worlds of the consultants, according to Jim Greer, all it does is bring every African- American out from under a rock, that is a quote, and get them to vote for Democrats. They don`t for us. It doesn`t help us. So the Republican legislature which in 2010 became more Tea Party, more conservative, there`s no margin in it for them to increase access to in-person early voting. What they did is they passed a law that didn`t touch absentee voting, which Republicans tend to dominate in, but severely limited the early vote period. So just to give you some numbers, you were talking, there were 96 hours -- there are 96 hours this year total to vote. There were 120 hours in 2008. And already in the state, 3.46 million people have voted, and when you looked at the numbers, that`s almost as many votes as Barack Obama got by himself. And in the last presidential election, 4.3 million voters, almost half of the people who voted, voted early. So, this is really a problem. MADDOW: This is a problem and this is a problem not looking ahead to Election Day. It`s a problem already in the way that it`s affecting people who are trying to early vote. I feel like I`m not the "Drudge Report" and I`m not a Web site, but if I could put a siren over my head, I would. Joy -- REID: I`d wear one too. MADDOW: We`ll have to get them, like little hat or something. Joy is managing editor of TheGrio.com, MSNBC contributor, it`s great to have you here. Thank you. REID: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. We got one more big story for you tonight about politics, about something that is essentially trying to be disappeared down the memory hole. Something that is refusing to go down the memory hole even though they are trying to shove it there. Hold on, that`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: A flurry of new polling from the all-important swing states today. All these polls are just released today. In Colorado, President Obama up by four. In Iowa, President Obama up by four. In Wisconsin, President Obama up by seven points. In New Hampshire, the president leading in six points in one poll. Leading by one point in another. In Ohio, President Obama leading by two points in one poll, and by three points in another poll. In Virginia, President Obama leading by one point. In Florida, President Obama leading by two points. One state that`s not a swing state this year but that President Obama made into a swing state in 2008 is the great state of Indiana. That year, Indiana flipped from red to blue in the presidential contest. President Obama is not necessarily expected to pull off the same thing this year in Indiana. But this year there`s a really hot race in Indiana in the Senate, after a Tea Party primary cost longtime Republican Senator Richard Lugar his Senate job, the Republican candidate in Indiana ended up being the guy on the left side of your screen, Richard Mourdock. He`s up against centrist moderate Democrat named Joe Donnelly. He`s the guy on the right side of your screen. Since Mr. Mourdock said that when woman are raped and become pregnant as a result of that rape, that is something God intended. Since he made those remarks at a debate a few weeks ago, in very, very, very, very red state Indiana, the Republican candidate Richard Mourdock is now behind in that state Senate race. He`s now losing the race by double digits. Here`s the interesting thing about that poll though. It`s a poll in Indiana, which almost never happens. It`s really weird, but nobody nationally ever really knows what`s going on in Indiana politics because they don`t really poll in Indiana, at least not that much. In Indiana, it is illegal to make automated calls for telemarketing purposes and for public opinion surveys like polling. You can`t use an auto dialing device unless, one, the subscriber has consented to being contacted, yes, right, or two, a live operator gets right on the line and gets consent that way. And since that makes traditional polling hard and expensive, there is very little polling in Indiana. It`s kind of weird detail about this election, right? But while we`re on the subject of weird details, check out this ballot in North Carolina. North Carolina is one more than a dozen states where they have straight ticket voting. So, that`s where you say, all right, everybody with an R next to their name, or everybody with a D next to their name, that`s who I`m voting for. I want all the Republicans or I want all the Democrats. But there`s a bizarre catch to straight ticket voting in North Carolina. North Carolina is the only state where voting for a straight ticket does not include the presidential race. So you have to vote for the straight ticket and then in addition to that, you also have to cast another vote for president. If you just vote straight ticket Democratic, you do not cast a vote for Barack Obama for president. Counterintuitive, right, but you have to do that separately in addition. So it`s not really straight ticket voting. It`s straight ticket plus the president voting. OK. I said weird details. Here`s something even weirder. Vermont -- this is Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. He`s a Democrat. He`s the hands down favorite to win the most votes in the governor`s race this year, in the since that he leads in the polls right now by more than 30 points. But that may not be enough. The Vermont state constitution requires a candidate for governor to get 50 percent plus one vote. And even though Governor Shumlin is leading by 30 points, he has four opponents. So if those four opponents get a combined 50 percent of the vote between, Governor Shumlin will not be reelected no matter how big the margin he wins by. In that case, with nobody getting 50 percent, it would be the state legislature that would pick the next governor of Vermont. That could happen. It has happened very recently. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Some of the most interesting still undecided races from yesterday`s elections after the governor`s seat, this afternoon, NBC News declaring Peter Shumlin the winner in Vermont, Vermont`s first Democratic governor in eight years. What`s interesting about that is that even though Peter Shumlin, the Democrat, won, he did not get 50 percent of the vote. Under Vermont`s state rules, that means technically, the legislature picks who wins the race. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s how he got elected in the first place. Two months after that, the Vermont legislature did what Vermonters had already done. They picked Peter Shumlin to be governor. The final vote in the legislature was 145 to 28, which means 28 people in the legislature voted to elect somebody who the people of Vermont did not vote for, a gentle reminder that states run elections not the federal government. Elections are sometimes messy and governed by weird rules. But they are always fun and worth whatever efforts it takes, even if that effort this year includes filling out two bubbles, two of them, two. I`m looking at you, North Carolina. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: The question for this election in my view is this. Do you want to stay on the same course we`re on, or do you want real change? Because we represent real change. Paul Ryan and I plan on putting in place real change from day one. Accomplishing real change is something I don`t just talk about. It`s something I`ve done. The question of this election comes down to this: do you want more of the same or do you want real change? And we pick real change. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Spare change? Real change. That was Mitt Romney`s closing argument today in Wisconsin and Ohio. A vote for me is a vote for real change. And tonight, just outside Cincinnati, the Romney campaign attempted to underscore that message by holding a big mega rally in a giant town square in Westchester, Ohio, a mega rally featuring nearly 100 governors, senators, congressmen, mayors and other Republican luminaries, 100 Republican surrogates all there in person, to talk about the real change that you will get if you elect Mitt Romney. So who exactly did Mitt Romney enlist to sell this message of what real change he`s offering America? The headliners were George W. Bush`s secretary of state, George W. Bush`s secretary of labor, George W. Bush`s homeland security director, George W. Bush`s budget director, and last but not the least, the current Republican speaker of the House. Mitt Romney, change you can believe in if you really liked George W. Bush, and if you like the current Republican Congress. Then we`re the kind of real change you`re looking for. Who cast this thing, the Democrats? One of the reasons that the message of real change resonated so much back in 2008, one of the reasons that that actually worked for Barack Obama in that election is because the country writ large had ceased to be delighted by the George W. Bush administration. And it wasn`t just the war in Iraq or the great recession, or at least wiretapping, or torture, or, or, or. It was also stuff like this. This is the U.S. State Department`s annual report on global terrorism from 2003. Every year, the State Department would put together a report like this, detailing incidents of terrorism around the world. And the next report after this one, the one that was slated for 2004 showed that despite the Bush administration`s claims that we were winning the war on terror, despite those constant claims, the number of terrorist attacks had gone up to its highest level in the two decades the State Department had been publishing this report. What was the Bush administration`s solution to that problem? Their solution was to stop publishing the report. The Bush administration just eliminated that annual terrorism report once it included something very politically inconvenient. The Bush administration had a habit of doing this. If you don`t like the data being provided, get rid of the data. A year earlier, the Bush administration, which was a big proponent of charter schools, they were faced with a new report from their own Education Department showing that charter school kids were falling behind public school kids. How do you deal with your own administration`s data on underperforming charter schools? Well, you cut back on the data that you collect about charter schools. The Bush administration just announced they would be collecting less data going forward. In 2003, after the Bush administration Labor Department report detailed mass layoffs in the manufacturing sector, the Bush administration just announced they were going to stop publishing information about mass layoffs in the manufacturing sector. Their approach was essentially, if we get rid of the data pointing to a problem, maybe the problem wouldn`t look so bad. If the report tells you something you don`t want to hear, the obvious move is just to get rid of it. This was just a hallmark of the George W. Bush administration and it appears to be one of the things that Mr. Romney liked very much about the George W. Bush administration, at least appears to be one of the things that he`s promising to bring back. You don`t like the data presented? Then kill the report. After the totally, unimpeachably, nonpartisan and widely respected Tax Policy Center did a report that concluded that Romney`s tax plan would be great for rich people and would hurt everybody else, the Romney campaign`s response to that was to go guns blazing against the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, just attacking them as an institution. You don`t like the message, shoot the messenger. Last month, after the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the unemployment rate was going down, do you remember what the response was on the right? The right started attacking the Bureau of Labor Statistics as if they were the problem because they said the unemployment rate was going down. It used to be that Democrats and Republicans would argue about how best to deal with some factual things, some problem facing the nation. Now, Republicans do it differently. They do it differently than everybody else. This is not a mirror image problem on both sides. Republicans do a specific thing. They refuse to acknowledge that a factual thing is a factual thing. And this phenomenon on the right that we got so familiar with under George W. Bush administration, that they are still doing, it was brought to a whole new level last week when it was revealed by "The New York Times" that a nonpartisan tax report was withdrawn by a federal agency because Republicans protested its findings. The federal agency in question here is the Congressional Research Service. They`re kind of the gold standard. Essentially, Congress` internal think tank. Members of Congress have a question about policy or some issue, it`s the Congressional Research Service that looks into it for them and they issue a report on it in response to a member of Congress asking for that report. The Congressional Research Service is as nonpartisan as it gets in Washington. They are nothing but the facts, integrity is unimpeachable. And a little more than a month ago, they issued a report on tax policy. They found that there is no connection between lowering the tax rates on millionaires and billionaires and creating economic growth. There`s no evidence whatsoever that if you cut taxes on the rich that that makes the economy grow. And that`s a problem, right, because that is essentially Mitt Romney`s whole reason for living. This is the Republican Party`s economic reason for existing. It`s all premise on this idea that if you cut taxes on the rich, the job creators, right, that will jump-start the economy. This is the whole basis of the party` economic philosophy. It`s the entire economic basis on which Mitt Romney is running for president. This is why congressional Republicans pledge their first born children to a man named Grover. And here comes this nonpartisan, highly respected, unimpeachable agency that says, you know what? We look into it, it turns out the whole thing is bunk. Giving rich people a tax break doesn`t help the economy but it sure does help rich people. So, what do you do if you`re the Republican Party? Well, you pressure that agency into burying the report which is exactly what Republicans in Congress did this fall. "The New York Times" is reporting that surely after Senate Republican aides started complaining about the report and its findings, the Congressional Research Service, this august, widely respected institution quietly withdrew their entire report, reportedly against the advice of their own economics experts. This is amazing, right? If a report tells you something you do not want to hear, get rid of the report, especially if that report is coming out on the eve of a big election and it debunks your candidate`s whole economic argument. Luckily, breaking news, the report does still exist. You can find it right now. You can read it right now. It`s not written very long, and it`s written in plain language. You can find it right now at MaddowBlog.com and there`s nothing that Senate Republicans can do to stop that. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Sunday night. Yes, I said Sunday night. We are doing a special live edition of this show on Sunday night, because -- well, isn`t it obvious? Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Thanks for being with us tonight. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END