The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/05/14

Guests: John Hickenlooper

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Last night was a ton of fun. CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: Great job last night. I thought you were fantastic. MADDOW: You too. Thanks, man. Oh, mutual appreciation. All right. Thanks to you at home who I also appreciate for joining us this hour. Have a seat. Take a deep breath. Let it out. OK. Let me tell you a story. This man is named Tom Butt, Butt with two T`s. If part of your mind is permanently 8 years old like mine is, the fact that his name is Tom Butt is a constant source of delight when Tom Butt is in the news. You know, if that is your last name and you choose a life that`s going to keep you in the public eye, having a giggle-inducing last name like that is probably both a blessing and a curse. I mean, sure, just like they have since elementary school, people make fun, they point it out to their friends when they see your name, right? But it`s also a very memorable name. They also remember your name. And when you`re running for public office people remembering your name is a really important thing. I would say name recognition in this case is an asset but his name is Mr. Butt, so I don`t want to say asset. Sorry. In any case, nobody has to call him Mr. Butt any more because now what you should call him is Mr. Mayor. Last night, against all the odds in the world, Tom Butt was elected mayor of Richmond, California -- working class, blue collar city just northeast of San Francisco where the oil company Chevron has operated a huge and sometimes troubled refinery for over a century now. A couple years ago there was a huge explosion and fire at the Richmond refinery that sent more than 15,000 local people to the hospital. And if you didn`t like the time in 2012 when it caught fire and blew up, there was also the time it caught fire and blew up in 1999. And if you didn`t like the time in 1999 when it caught fire and blew up, there was also the time in 1989 when it caught fire and blew up. That Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, has been kind of a nightmare. When the latest explosion and fire and thousands of people going to the hospital disaster happened there a couple of years ago the city council and the mayor in that little city, in the more impoverished part in of the San Francisco Bay Area, folks in that little city, their elected officials decided they wanted more assurances from Chevron. They wanted more safety precautions. They did not just want to wait for this refinery to catch fire and blow up again in their little town. The mayor and the city council started pushing Chevron. And so, Chevron decided that they would buy themselves a new mayor and a new city council in that town. Buoyed by the Supreme Court`s decision that corporations can spend infinitely not only on federal elections but also on little local elections anywhere in the country, the giant oil company Chevron decided that they would spend infinitely in Richmond. They would spend infinitely to elect their own preferred slate of pro-Chevron city counselors in Richmond and a new pro-Chevron new mayor in Richmond. They dumped more than $3 million into the little local elections in this town to try to elect three new city counselors and to elect their own preferred candidate over Tom Butt. Tom Butt raised something like $40,000 total for his campaign as of mid-October. Chevron dumped more than $3 million into that town to defeat him. And last night, Tom Butt won. He beat Chevron. All three of the city counselors who Chevron spent all those millions of dollars to defeat, they all won. Chevron had more than $220 billion in revenue last year. They`re one of the largest and richest corporations ever in the history of corporations. Chevron spent millions of dollars to buy themselves their own little city government in this small town. Last night, their opponent has no way to compete monetarily with that, and nevertheless, those little Davids fighting that Goliath, they whomped Chevron in every single race in the city that Chevron was trying to buy. And now, Richmond is going to have a mayor who, one of the richest companies on the history of the Earth, has emphatically not bought and paid for -- and his name is Tom Butt. And that happens last night. That happened last night. A lot happened last night. Last night voters the deep, deep red state of Nebraska, they had a chance to vote on whether to raise the minimum wage in that state. They voted yes by an 18-point margin in Nebraska. In Alaska they voted to raise the minimum wage there by a 38-point margin. It was on a ballot in Arkansas, too, where it won by 32 points. Even in South Dakota, voters choose to raise the minimum wage, and they chose that option by a double digit margin. There were states where personhood was on the ballot last night. This is the pretty radical anti-abortion legislation that is favored by a whole bunch of the new Republican senators who are elected last night -- Joni Ernst in Iowa, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Steve Daines in Montana, they all support personhood, this radical anti-abortion approach which would ban all abortion in every circumstance and some popular forms of contraception as well. But voters last night were asked directly in two states if they wanted to vote for a personhood law statewide. In North Dakota, it lost by 28 points. In Colorado, the numbers are still coming in, but so far it is losing by 30 points. Personhood lost by a huge margin in both states where people had a chance to vote on it last night. Last night, voters in two states and in Washington, D.C., also had a chance to vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use, like Colorado and in 2012 and Washington state. In Oregon they voted to legalize pot in Oregon and it won by 12 points. In Alaska, they voted on it there and it won by 4 points. In Washington, D.C., legalizing pot won by 37 points. In four places last night, there was a measure on the ballot to give people paid sick leave from work. It was on the ballot statewide in Massachusetts, it was also on the ballot in Oakland, California, and in Trenton, New Jersey, and in Montclair, New Jersey -- passed in all four of those places. When Rhode Island elected Gina Raimondo to be their new governor last night, it was first time ever that Rhode Island had elected a woman governor and it was the first time that Rhode Island had elected a Democratic governor in two decades. In Massachusetts, when the congressional results came in last night, Massachusetts hit 100 straight congressional elections in which the state has elected Democrats to go to Congress. The Massachusetts Democrat who had the hardest fight on his hand last night but he still won was Iraq war veteran Seth Moulton who volunteered for multiple missions in Iraq despite his opposition to the Iraq war. During his campaign for Congress, "The Boston Globe" caught Seth Moulton not being fully truthful with voters about his war record. What he didn`t tell voters was about the medals he had won for bravery and heroism during his time in combat. He didn`t think that`s the sort of thing you should brag about, so he didn`t bring it up. Seth Moulton is now a congressman from Massachusetts`s 6th district. In Washington state last night, voters decided they would not be bamboozled by the gun lobby. They voted in Washington state last night that you should have to have a background check if you want to buy a gun. They voted for background checks and they voted against another measure that was purposely put on the ballot to confuse people which would have banned the same background checks that the state just agreed to pass. Washington state voters were not bamboozled. Remember our old friend Scott Brown? He lost the Massachusetts Senate seat to Elizabeth Warren two years ago then he moved north to his vacation home to try to run again for the Senate from a different state. He lost last night. He`s the first person in U.S. history to lose two United States Senate seats to two different women, Scott Brown, feminist icon. New Hampshire re-elected Senator Jeanne Shaheen over Scott Brown last night. At the same time, they re-elected their Democratic governor who is also a woman, Maggie Hassan. After some of the worst gun massacres in our nation`s history, after Newtown and after the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater massacre, the governors in the two states where those tragedies happened, the governors in those two states, in Colorado and Connecticut, they defied the gun lobby. Those two governors after those incidents they stepped up to create background checks for gun sales in their states and to pass other sort of lowest common denominator gun safety laws. And, of course, the gun lobby went nuts. This gun lobby swore revenge. It screamed that it would be the end of each of those governors. Last night, even on a huge night for Republicans including in the governor`s races, last night, both that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and that Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, who the NRA said they would have for lunch, both of those governors were re-elected last night. In Colorado, incidentally, who John Hickenlooper beat was the guy who said he wanted to ban the IUD, because in his mind, certain kinds of birth control make you basically a walking, talking abortion clinic. You`re having abortions constantly. And so, Bob Beauprez wanted to ban the IUD in Colorado, Bob Beauprez lost. John Hickenlooper beat him last night. In Alaska in an effort to beat Republican incumbent Governor Sean Parnell, the Democrat and the independent who had been splitting the vote against Sean Parnell decided in September that they would set aside their differences and instead run together as a unity ticket, a unity independent and Democratic ticket against the incumbent Republican. Now, NBC News has not yet projected a winner in that Alaska governor`s race. But with 73 percent of the vote in, the independent and Democrat unity ticket is ahead there by roughly 1 percent at this point. For first time ever last night, the Republican Party elected a black Republican woman to go to Congress. For first time since the post-civil war reconstruction era, a state in the Deep South voted to elect an African-American senator in South Carolina, Republican Tim Scott. West Virginia sent its first ever woman to the United States Senate last night. Iowa sent its first woman to either House of Congress last night. Seriously, Iowa? Seriously? 2014? In San Francisco last night, they voted to raise the local minimum wage to $15 an hour and the sky did not fall. In Nebraska, the aforementioned deep, deep red state of Nebraska, a Republican incumbent congressman there ran an ad that blamed his Democratic opponent for the murders committed by this tattooed face guy. It was the Willie Horton ad but worse. That Republican congressman who ran that ad in Nebraska, he lost his seat last night in Nebraska. Republican Lee Terry lost his seat, he`ll be replaced by a Nebraska Democrat named Brad Ashford. Here is my favorite what does that mean development from last night -- if Rand Paul wants to run for president in 2016, Rand Paul better be sure he`s going to win because apparently he`s going to have to give up his seat in the United States Senate if he wants to do that. Republicans in the last few years have taken over basically all of the state legislative chambers in the South except for Kentucky. In Kentucky, the House is still held by Democrats. Kentucky state law right now says you can`t run for two federal offices at the same time. Rand Paul was first elected to the Senate in 2010. That means his seat will be up in 2016. 2016 is also the year he wants to run for another federal office. He wants to also run for president of the United States. Under Kentucky law, he cannot do both. Can`t run for both at once. The Democrats in charge of the Kentucky state house have said they have no intention of changing that state law just so Rand Paul can have the job security of keeping his Senate seat while he also runs for president. Republicans thought they would win that last state legislative chamber in the house last night. They thought that they would take the Kentucky house away from the Democrats. They want to do that for a million reasons. But Rand Paul needs them to take the house in Kentucky. But last night, the Kentucky house stayed Democratic. Part of the makeup was unchanged overall in last night`s elections. The Democrats are still in charge of that chamber. And however much you agree or disagree with all the Beltway gushing over how interesting Rand Paul is, the decision that Rand Paul now has to make about giving up his Senate seat if he really does want to run for president, that really is the first truly inarguably interesting thing about the prospect of Rand Paul running for president, or maybe not running for president. And that just happened last night. That all just happened last night. And I think that`s it, in terms of straws to grasp. Silver linings to spy in the clouds if you are not a Republican and you`re trying to figure out what those election results mean last night. I think what I just gave you is the entire universe of things that just happened in the election last night that are not about the Republicans winning almost everything and everywhere they wanted to win. I mean, it is possible there`s like a Democrat somewhere who got a nice call from her mom last night or maybe somebody somewhere found a dollar on the sidewalk. It`s possible. I might have missed a micron of the non-Republican silver lining in last night`s election results, but really, what I just ran down, I think that`s it. Well, I should say there`s this. Look, these three panda siblings did just turn 100 days old today. That happened today, too. And look, they`re really sleepy, and they love each other and they`re -- look, they`re touching. They`re bushy little hundred-day-old pandas now. Look, that happened. That`s true. Aside from that, which has nothing to do with politics, you know exactly what happened last night. A big Republican single-note win in the midterm elections. Yes, there were a few things that broke pattern. Tom Butt in Richmond and all the rest of it, right? But aside from that list that I just did, what happened last night is clear and it`s big. And now is when the really fun part begins because it is all change in Washington as of last night. It is all change for the Republicans. And it is all change for the Democrats. It is all change in terms of what we have been watching unfold and covering here in the news business for the last several years, all change. And there are a million different ways this could go from here. It`s about to get very, very unpredictable in our national politics. And unpredictable is always fascinating to watch. And the first surprise has started already happening today. And that story`s next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, listen, the party of the president in power always does terribly in midterm elections. These are the average losses for what happens to the president`s party in sixth year midterms. In the second midterm election when you have a two-term president. On average since World War II, in midterm elections like the one we had last night, the president`s party on average loses 26 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate. The results from last night are not totally in yet. But at this point, the Democrats are projected to lose at least 14 seats in the House and they have lost seven seats in the Senate. So Democrats did al little worse than the historical average in the Senate last night. And thus far a little better than historical average in the House. Still, though, with or without that historical context, this was obviously a big loss last night for the president`s party, for the Democratic Party. And Republicans are going to have a small majority in the Senate and a big majority in the House with which they can do whatever they want in Congress. What are they going to do with it? In "The New York Times" today, presidential historian Michael Beschloss wrote about what happens to other presidents whose parties have big losses in Congress in midterm elections. In 1994, Republicans in Congress took over during Bill Clinton`s presidency and then they decided to work with him on issues like the budget and welfare. In 1986, when Democrats took over Congress during Ronald Reagan`s presidency, Democrats decided to work with Reagan on issues like arms control. After World War II, when Republicans took over Congress during Harry Truman`s Democratic presidency, Republicans in Congress worked with Harry Truman on lots of different foreign policy issues including the Marshall Plan. There`s lots of precedent for the opposing party taking over Congress during midterm elections, and then deciding to work on stuff with the serving president even though he`s from the other party. That has happened. That has happened a lot in our country in the past. Who thinks that`s what`s going to happen now? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: It is rare that a political party running for office in a midterm election not standing for anything ends up with a mandate, and they have one, and it is the biggest and perhaps the most important mandate a political party has had in the recent era. And it is very simple what that mandate is. It is to stop Barack Obama. It is to stop the Democrat party. There is no other reason why Republicans were elected yesterday. Republicans were not elected to govern. How can you govern with a president that disobeys the Constitution? How can you govern with a president that is demonstrably lawless when he thinks he has to be? The Republican was not elected to fix a broken system to make it work. The Republican Party was not elected to compromise. The Republican Party was not elected to sit down and work together with the Democrats. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was the tone on conservative talk radio today. Republicans didn`t get elected to govern. They got elected for one reason and one reason only -- to destroy Barack Obama! That`s the one thing Republicans stand for and the only thing they need to do. This was the front page of one of the representative conservative blogs today. This was on the front page at "Red State" today. "Dear Republicans, no one elected you to work with Democrats." And sure, yes, I know, that`s the conservative media. There`s no reason to think that the Republican Party proper, the Republican Party itself, shares that view, right? If you listen to the Beltway, the Beltway is sure that Republicans getting big majorities in Congress means that the Republican Party will now be ready to govern. They will be ready to forget all that past nonsense about just stopping anything President Obama might want to do, just because President Obama wants to do it no matter what it is, they`re just against him. They`re going to stop all that, they`ll govern now. They have to. There`s no reason to keep focusing now on just stopping Obama. That`s over now. That`s what the Beltway said all last night and today. Did you see the Republican Party`s official press conference today? That they called to talk about election results? Not did you see that they did it or did you read about what they said, did you actually see what it looked like? This was their press conference about the election today. They gave their press conference about what they were going to do now with their new majority in Congress in front of a giant screen, a giant red screen that says, "Stop Obama. Fire Harry Reid!" They did get Harry Reid fired as majority leader, so they can get do the real business of stop Obama. That`s their reason for existing. That`s what they chose as the backdrop for their announcement about winning the election. Anybody who`s expecting that this Republican Party has a grand bipartisan policy idea for what they want the do in Washington now as a governing party is smoking something that`s now legal in a lot more places. You as the Republicans as ready to compromise, ready to work together, over it how much they hate Barack Obama, it`s just not based on the visible truth of what`s going on. And now, it is already getting its first test, today. I did not expect this, but on day one in this new era in Washington, the Beltway wakes up saying, oh, now the Republicans are going to work with Obama. The Republicans wake up saying, no, we will finally destroy Obama. But Obama himself, President Obama woke up today and decided that he was going to call the question. This was a fascinating move. I mean, everybody has been talking about immigration, right? Will the president follow through and do something on immigration without Congress? What will he do on immigration? When will he do something about immigration? The Republicans are talking about trying to impeach him if he does anything on immigration? Last night, as soon as it was clear that Republicans are going to win control, that`s the first thing everybody wanted to talk about -- immigration. But the White House instead said, hey, actually, if you really want to talk about policy in this new Washington, in this new Congress after this big election, let`s do something about specifically what just happened in this election, because this is how Republicans ran for office in this election all over the country. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) AD NARRATOR: Look around -- open borders, threats of terrorism, Ebola. Obama has no plan. Pelosi just points fingers. This election is about our safety, our future. AD NARRATOR: These are serious times. REPORTER: That ISIS can`t be defeated without hitting it -- BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don`t have a strategy yet. AD NARRATOR: In Kentucky, we have a proven leader. When so many in Washington can`t do the job, shouldn`t Kentucky have a senator who can? SCOTT BROWN (R), NH SENATE CANDIDATE: Radical Islamic terrorists are threatening to cut the class of our country. President Obama and Senator Shaheen seem confused about the nature of the threat. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the Middle East, radical terrorists are on the march destabilizing our allies, beheading Americans and crucifying Christians. President Obama admits he underestimated them. AD NARRATOR: ISIS gaining ground. Terrorists committing mass murder. Ebola inside the U.S. Americans alarmed about national security. What`s President Obama doing? Ignoring the Constitution, Congress and the American people. November 4th, Obama`s policies are on the ballot. Vote to keep terrorists off U.S. soil. Vote Republican. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: That last ad ran in eight battleground states. And this is by no means an exhaustive list of states where Republicans used terrorism, ISIS, right, and disease, Ebola specifically, as campaign issues. This is a teeny smattering of states where Republicans made the case, because they did it all over country. Vote for us because Ebola. Or vote for us because ISIS. Or vote for us because ISIS Ebola, are they two different things? So, the president walked up to the podium today and he called the question. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: First, I`m submitting a request to Congress for funding to ensure that our doctors, scientists and troops have the resources that they need to combat the spread of Ebola in Africa and to increase our preparedness for any future cases here at home. Second, I`m going to begin engaging Congress over a new authorization to use military force against ISIL. The world needs to know we are united behind this effort, and the men and women of our military deserve our clear and unified support. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Call the question. This is the test. Day one of the new Washington, if the Republicans want to do something other than stop Obama, right, if they really do want to make policy, here`s a chance to actually make policy, to fund a response, to decide on a response, to the two things you just spent months terrifying the country about. Telling them that if they felt scared about ISIS or Ebola they should vote to send Republicans to Washington. Call the question on day one in the new Washington. Did Republicans go there to make any sort of policy, make any sort of decisions or did they just go there to destroy the president? This is a test. This is the first test. And it arrived early on day one. Joining us now is NBC News presidential historian, Michael Beschloss. Mr. Beschloss, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here. MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Great to see you, Rachel. I can`t wait to see how this is all going to turn out. MADDOW: Well, I wonder if -- I mean, reading your historical analysis about this today, I felt like, oh, there`s some consistency when you look at different historical eras at least over the past century in terms of ways that parties out of power have come to power under a president they might disagree with. I just don`t feel like this moment matches what history teaches us is likely to happen. BESCHLOSS: No, I agree with you. And this is a meaner time than it was the last time. You have that kind of cooperation, which was probably the mid-1990s between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich. But there are a couple reasons why it actually might be better than it may seem. One of them is, I thought Mitch McConnell was fascinating today because that was a little bit more of a restrained press conference than some people were anticipating. You know, he said there are not going to be any more shutdowns. I`m not going to contest the national government debt limit. He`s got some interest in keeping a little bit of a lid on this because he and John Boehner would presumably like to see a Republican president elected in two years. And they know that is not likely to happen if the House and Senate seem so extreme because of Republican control that Americans are going to be afraid of letting there be a Republican Congress and a Republican president. MADDOW: One of the things that you wrote about today in "The Times" but I`ve heard you talk about before is that sort of strategy as it played out during the Gerald Ford era. So, when Gerald Ford lost Congress to the Democratic party in `70s, he vetoed everything nine ways to Sunday because he thought that would make the Democratic Congress look radical and it would make him look resolute. He thought that would help him get elected in 1976. He did not get elected in 1976. BESCHLOSS: He didn`t but he came pretty close. Harry Truman in 1947 and 1948 tried to and in some cases did veto a number of Republican domestic bills. He talked about at his convention in 1948 on campaigning against that good for nothing 88th Congress, that`s what we`ll remember, but at the same time he was having that confrontation behind the scenes in many cases he was cooperating with Republicans on things like the Marshall Plan and NATO. So there was this odd bifurcation between domestic and foreign. We might see that the next two years. MADDOW: Is there anything to -- is there anything to watch for in particular in terms of how President Obama behaves and how he treats this Congress in terms of setting up not himself for a re-election effort but somebody from the Democratic Party to, in his mind, hopefully take over the White House in 2016? BESCHLOSS: Sure, he`s got an interest in cooperating and getting some things done that helps his legacy. But if he`s doing this with an eye to helping his Democratic successor, whether Hillary Clinton or someone else, to some extent, he`s got an interest in vetoing bills, making this Republican Congress look extreme just as Harry Truman did in 1947 so that the predicate for 2016 for a Democratic nominee is you got to put a Democrat in the White House to restrain this Republican Congress. MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, I was really looking forward to talking to you all day today. BESCHLOSS: Me, too. MADDOW: I`m so glad you could be here. BESCHLOSS: It`s going to be so fascinating to watch. Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Appreciate it. Thanks. All right. Just ahead, one of the last night`s Democratic success stories which wasn`t clear it would be a Democratic success story but it turned into one today. We`ve got a very interesting case on the interview tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Here live for the interview tonight is a Democratic governor who went to bed last night not knowing if he held on to his seat. He found out today he had by a whisker. And he joins us live next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Did you stay up for the Alaska returns last night? I stayed up for Alaska. It closed at 1:00 a.m. Eastern. We were on the air until 2:00 a.m. Eastern. Then I hung around here talking about people and the election. I was here about until 2:30 or so. I got home by 3:00. And I was still so wired from the election results and I couldn`t go to sleep, and I knew I couldn`t go to sleep for hours. I stayed up until after 5:00 in the morning binge watching the whole second season of "Alpha House" on Amazon until I could finally fall asleep. Woo-hoo, election night! Election night is always very exciting and it`s very bad for your sleep patterns particularly because of Alaska. But honestly, none of us had it as bad as John Hickenlooper and Bob Beauprez had it last night, the two candidates for governor in Colorado. Polls closed at 9:00 Eastern Time in Colorado last night. But even with staying up all night we still had no idea who won that governor`s race last night. It wasn`t until 7:30 this morning local time that "The Denver Post" called the race. They called it for Governor Hickenlooper. They said he had been reelected. Even then, it wasn`t until two hours later that NBC News called the race for Governor Hickenlooper as well. And it wasn`t until about five hours after that, the middle of this afternoon, before Governor Hickenlooper`s Republican challenger Bob Beauprez finally conceded the race. So, yes, election night is always very exciting. But it was nowhere near as exciting for any of us as it was for our next very tired guest. Joining us now for the interview is the newly reelected governor from the state of Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper. Congratulations, Governor Hickenlooper. How are you feeling today? GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: I feel great, Rachel. I mean, to be sleep deprived always puts you a little bit in that kind of special zone. But when you win, the zone is much nicer. MADDOW: It`s better lit at lease. HICKENLOOPER: Exactly. MADDOW: So, your race was particularly tight right up until the very end. The other statewide race in Colorado saw the defeat of your friend Mark Udall, the Democratic congressman, incumbent congressman from Colorado. Were you expecting that it might be a split result? Was your internal polling telling you an optimistic story, or did you know it was going to be this tight? HICKENLOOPER: Well, we know it was a tight race in both cases. And it`s interesting, the rural rates, their votes coming sooner. If you look at the vote counts now, Cory Gardner and I have almost exactly the same number of votes. Just his came in a lot sooner than mine did. And so, Mark Udall`s vote comes back up, I think in the end that race will be decided by probably about 3 percent which my race will probably be 2 1/2 percent. MADDOW: In terms of what`s going on in Colorado in the big picture, I was interested -- I went out last week to talk to Senator Udall and Senator Bennet and some other people and think about what`s going on in that state, from 2004, starting about 2004, Colorado Democrats have been running the board. Before that Republicans were winning all the top of the ticket race, winning the governorships, running those Senate races, starting about 2004, about 10 years ago, Democrats started winning everything, up to and including your race that got you into the governor`s seat in the first place. It seems now like Colorado is now either a more balanced place or tilting back towards the Republican Party. What`s your view of where your state is at both ideologically and in partisan terms after what happened last night? HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think we`re an interesting test case for the country. Colorado`s almost exactly even, you know, one-third Republican, one-third Democrat and one-third independent, and really I don`t think it ever tipped so much. It kind of trended a little bit. But those were a lot of close races, just like last night. And I think it depends on the candidates and you get better candidates one year than another, or in this case there was a head wind, anybody connected with Washington both Republicans or Democrats, had a certain -- to a certain degree a head wind. And I think that hurt Mark a little bit. MADDOW: In terms of what happens now with this next term that`s ahead of you, obviously, you had a bit of a national target on you in part because the gun lobby was so angry about the gun safety measures that you were willing to see put in place in your state, particularly after the tragedies you`ve had in the state around gun violence. That gave you a little bit of a national gloss to your race if only by your enemies. Now, you have this very tight re-election effort. What do you think you`re going to be able to do? What`s most important to you to try to do in your second term now that last night`s clear? HICKENLOOPER: Well, just like in first term, we tried to manage from the middle, and we`re going to keep doing that. Colorado has always been the thinnest state but we haven`t been the healthiest state. And I think we`re coming close to that in the last four years. We cut teenage pregnancy by 40 percent, we reduced prescription drug abuse by over 20 percent, we added 411,000 people to the rolls of people who have health insurance, and yet the same time, our average premium increase a few weeks ago was a little over 1 percent. So, we`re controlling the cost curve. I think that`s a big push. Obviously, the economy is big out here. We have one of the fastest growing economies in the country. And that helped me probably more than it did Mark just because I`m here every day and, you know, when Forbes rates you the number one work force, things like that, local officials I think probably get a little more credit. MADDOW: Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, thanks very much for your time tonight. Congratulations again. And I do hope you`re able to get some rest. You got a lot of work ahead of you, sir. Thank you. HICKENLOOPER: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Coming up next, I kid you not, the single-best thing about MSNBC right now. He`s here and that`s next, and you should stick around. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Well, let`s talk about Mitch McConnell for a moment because that`s a big victory for the Republican Party to have him as the Senate majority leader if they get to a majority. The question is, will he change? We were just talking here off the air about a lot of us, all about 2016, about how they get to the White House the next time. That`s the big prize in Washington. And there have been a lot of Republican senators who have hoped that Mitch McConnell will -- could that be me? MADDOW: No, it`s not you. It`s something ambient. BROKAW: No, I`m afraid it is, unfortunately. The alarm goes off and there you are. MADDOW: I thought -- I thought you were a fire. (LAUGHTER) BROKAW: Yes, I will remember to bring home the milk and don`t worry about it. And I`ll feed the dog in the morning. Just sleep in. It`s going to be OK. I`m sorry about that. At any rate -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: There were a lot of weird things that happened last night. Who knew Tom Brokaw`s cell phone alarm sounded like that? Amazing. One of the weirdest things that happened last night was the complete and utter wrongness of the polls. Look at this, this is the Real Clear Politics average heading into Election Day, heading into yesterday, for the Iowa Senate race. The final poll average predicted a dead heat in Iowa, maybe a slight edge for Republican Joni Ernst, but it was be a nail-biter or actually maybe a landslide. Turns out, Joni Ernst didn`t just win, she won by almost nine points. The polling was way off. This was the final average in Kentucky. The polls had Mitch McConnell beating Alison Lundergan Grimes by seven. Mitch McConnell actually won last night not by seven points, but by nearly 16. OK? How about Arkansas? Final polling efforts predicting a win for Tom Cotton over Senator Mark Pryor by seven points. Actually, Tom Cotton beat Mark Pryor by 17 points. There were a ton of these. Look, this was the final average heading into the Virginia Senate race last night. The polls had Senator Mark Warner beating Ed Gillespie by double digits, and then, oops, turns out it was more like half a point. Ed Gillespie hasn`t even conceded that race yet. The poll just missed it. Kansas as well. Last night, it was supposed to go down to the wire for the most vulnerable Republican in the Senate, Pat Roberts. The polls for the last few weeks consistently showed Greg Orman beating Pat Roberts, right? Greg Orman had a lead of about a point heading into Election Day in the polling. But then last night look, Pat Roberts run away with it. He won by nearly 11 points. What explains this? There`s only one person I can think of who could conceivably know the answer to this and could explain it in a way that doesn`t make me grind my teeth. Joining us, the breakout star of MSNBC`s election coverage, the great Steve Kornacki. Steve, why were the polls so wrong this year? STEVE KORNACKI, UP: I have no idea. MADDOW: OK. Thank you. (LAUGHTER) KORNACKI: I think we can start to answer that question. So, let`s use this big board we`re having some fun with last night. Let`s look at Kansas. You set it up there. I think as you said, this is one we were expecting. We thought this was going to be a late night in Kansas thinking maybe there`s a recount or something and it ends up 11 points. So, what happened here? I think part of this, is this is a trend, this is a story, this is something that really accelerated in American politics in the last six years or so, and that is that voters, when they`re in the voting booth, when they`re forced to finally decide an election, when they have to decide an election, they have to stop thinking about, gee, I like this candidate better personally, this candidate ran a better campaign, I kind of like this person`s style better and they think much more in terms of party, in terms of national party. When you think about Kansas, I think it`s the perfect example of that this year because the entire Pat Roberts campaign was "don`t vote for Greg Orman because he`s going to put the Democratic Party in charge of the Senate." And Roberts even had ads up that were saying, hey, I may not be perfect, you may not even like me that much, but you don`t want a Democratic Senate. And what you had in Kansas was a candidate here Greg Orman who people liked a little bit better. They liked the message of independence better, but ultimately, they wanted the Republican Senate. So, the effect of that campaign that Pat Roberts ran, we can illustrate that for you. I`m going to show you -- this is the map of Kansas in the 2012 presidential election. Obama/Romney, we didn`t pay much attention to it, why? It`s Kansas, of course. Romney won easily, right? So, this is -- hang on, it`s coming up right now. Here it is -- this is what it looked like 105 counties in Kansas, and 103 is Republican red. MADDOW: Wow. KORNACKI: That`s what happens when a national Democrat runs in Kansas. So, the Roberts people ran that campaign against Orman. Hey, don`t give the national Democrats the Senate. What happens? What does the map look like in Kansas last night? Well, check this out, after this razor thin campaign that`s coming down to the wire, it looks exactly the same -- 102 counties in Kansas go Republican red. In three counties go for Orman, two are the same that went for Obama. There`s essentially no difference there. So, that`s the story in Kansas. The other big surprise, Mark Warner ends up a surprise, but this was shockingly close. Why was it shockingly close? Because Mark Warner we know is a guy who is a very popular governor in Virginia and when he first ran for the seat in 2008 got 65 percent of the vote. Now, when you actually look at this number in Virginia and you think back to 2012, the Obama/Romney race, it`s not that different. Obama won Virginia, he won it by four points. Mark Warner won it by a point last night. So, if you take a look at the county map in Virginia, this is what it looked like last night. This is the red/blue scheme. Big Democratic county is up here, we get a lot of the vote from, you know, the Richmond area and a few scattered areas that are blue, otherwise a big sea of red. Now, take a look -- 2012, Obama/Romney in Virginia, the exact same thing. Mark Warner before the last six years or so, before the Obama era, where I think this polarization has accelerated, Mark Warner could run in Virginia, and win down here. He could win in south Virginia. You look at the counties last night Ed Gillespie is performing exactly the same as Mitt Romney did. This is something for Democrats to be thinking about as they go forward, which is -- you know, you can win in Virginia, for instance, you can win with the so-called Obama coalition but you also end up writing off big chunks of the state. Democrats have to think about a way to get those voters back who were willing to vote for them not that long ago. MADDOW: And it means, in terms of the polling, I mean, bottom line, people are lying to pollsters or at least they`re telling pollsters something they think they`re going to do that they don`t end up doing, when they go into -- KORNACKI: Yes, I`m not sure if it`s lying as much as they think again. So you`re in the voting booth, I wonder, and you just say, you know what, I like Orman in Kansas, but you know what? I don`t want Harry Reid running the Senate. I don`t want Obama`s party run the Senate. MADDOW: They revert to their partisan lizard brain. KORNACKI: Right. MADDOW: Got it. See? You didn`t make me want to grind my teeth. Thank you. Steve Kornacki, the single best thing about MSNBC right now, I`m telling you. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In January 2002, the Winter Olympics torch relay went to 46 out of 50 states including Alaska. That day in Alaska as the torch was being run by a high school in Juneau, a bunch of kids from the school unfurled the sign that said, "Bong hits for Jesus. Welcome Olympic torch, bong hits for Jesus." The principal of the school tore down the sign. She suspended the kid who made it. When that student, Joe Frederick, defended his sign as free speech, the principal doubled his punishment. He then fought for the right to his "bong hits for Jesus" sign all the way to the Supreme Court. In 2007, he lost his case there when the court ruled his free speech wasn`t protected because he was promoting illegal drug use. Well, not anymore. Today ought to be Joe Frederick day in Alaska because Alaska just voted to legalize bong hits for everyone. Washington and Oregon legalized pot in 2012. Alaska and Oregon did it last night. And also D.C., Washington, D.C. But now, this now becomes one of the next things to watch in a new Washington, this new Congress elected in this big Republican election last night. Last night, as the people of D.C. were voting overwhelmingly to legalize pot, a Republican congressman named Andy Harris from the eastern shore of Maryland threatened that he will get Congress to stop D.C. from implementing this new law. Republicans love doing this to D.C. In 2009, the D.C. city council voted to legalize same-sex marriage and then two Utah Republicans introduced bills in Congress to try to block what D.C. had voted to do. In 2010, Congress decided to take D.C.`s locally passed gun laws away. In 2011, Republicans in Congress blocked D.C.`s own locally decided, locally funded abortion policies. Now they`re doing it again. D.C. votes to legalize pot just as Republicans sweep to power in the Senate and expand their majority in the House. Remember the whole Republican mantra about local control getting the boot of federal government off our necks? Butt out, federal government? This is the test. Does the new Republican majority in Congress let D.C.`s new pot law stand or do they try to undo it? D.C. officials are going to have to send this thing to Congress for a review very shortly. And that will be yet another test of what this new Washington is going to be like. Today is day one. This is going to be fascinating. Watch this space. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. 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