Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 5, 2018 Guest: Jennifer Palmieri, Sully Sullenberger
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, you just got the highest of compliments.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: What do you mean?
O`DONNELL: And the highest -- well, you know, the highest of compliments in this little trade of ours is laughter in the studio to something you have said. But you got it in the studio here in Los Angeles, Rachel. In Los Angeles.
MADDOW: Thanks, you guys.
O`DONNELL: I just want to let you know it`s working.
MADDOW: Tell everybody their $5 is in the mail.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, it`s all over. It is all over but the voting. And on the final day of the midterm election campaign today, Donald Trump revealed that he had no idea midterm elections even existed until he became president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The midterm elections used to be, like, boring, didn`t they? Do you even remember what they were? People say mid-terms, what is that, right? Now it`s like the hottest thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Midterms, what is that?
So, apparently, in the Trump family, if anyone overheard someone saying the phrase midterm elections, a Trump would say what is that?
Donald Trump`s ignorance of the process has given experienced Republicans even more to fear tomorrow. "Politico" reports that House Speaker Paul Ryan got President Donald Trump on the phone Sunday for one final plea on behalf of anxious Republican, please, please talk up the booming economy in the final hours before election day. But Donald Trump has not done that. Instead Donald Trump has talked about the things that get the biggest cheers from his true believers on the campaign trail -- hatred and fear.
Some analysts make the mistake of using the word "strategy" when talking about what comes out of Donald Trump`s mouth. Strategy actually requires cognitive processes that the president does not possess, and so he always says whatever occurs to him in the moment he is speaking. And when he`s questioned about things that he says and does, his replies are rarely better than the petulant 4-year-old.
Today, a reporter asked the president about a campaign ad launched by Republicans that is so racist -- don`t take my word for it -- so racist that even Fox News, yes, Fox News, refused to run that ad. The ad is a hysterical hateful attack on people who have been slowly and harmlessly walking north through Mexico.
The question to the president was, a lot of folks have said that ad was offensive, why did you like that ad? What were you trying to say? And the president of the United States said, well, a lot of things are offensive. The president did not deny that his ad is offensive. Not a bit. He embraced the offensiveness of the ad and defended the offensiveness of the ad by saying, a lot of things are offensive.
That is exactly the way the country feels about Donald Trump. A lot of things about him are offensive. The final NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll of the campaign shows that 54 percent of voters say the country is on the wrong track. Only 38 percent of voters say the United States is on the right track. And the wrong track that the country is on is the Trump track, the offensive track that is the daily history of the Trump presidency. And tomorrow is the day America will have its first chance to change that track.
That final NBC poll shows that Democrats hold a 7 point national advantage over Republicans. Fifty percent prefer a Democratic controlled Congress, 43 percent want Republicans to stay in charge. So, who`s going to win tomorrow night? The polls seem to be telling us that the Democrats have a better chance of winning the House of Representatives tomorrow night than the Republicans do, but they still both -- both parties have a chance. And the polls seem to be telling us that the Republicans have a better chance than the Democrats do of winning the Senate. But both parties still have a chance.
And so, the truth is we`re not going to know what happens tomorrow night until it happens tomorrow night. Can you wait? Can you wait the 24 hours? We will proceed with this program`s final hour of discussion before the votes are cast with the Goldman principle as our starting point. William Goldman is the two-time Oscar winning screen writer for "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid" and "All the President`s Men". And in 1983, William Goldman published what remains, the single best volume ever written about show business and how it works, "Adventures in the Screen Trade".
The most profound line of William Goldman`s book is also the most memorable, nobody knows anything. You don`t have to be in show business very long before you realize that statement actually is. Nobody knows anything.
Here is the full context, the full statement of the Goldman principle by William Goldman. Nobody knows anything, not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for certainty what`s going to work. Every time out, it`s a guess, and if you`re lucky and educated one.
And so, we will proceed to our educated guesses of what we will be seeing 24 hours from now when the votes are being counted.
And leading us off tonight, Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor, Michael Steel, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and MSNBC political analyst, Jennifer Palmieri, former White House communications director for President Obama, and a former communications director for the Hillary Clinton campaign.
And, Jennifer, let`s start with you. What -- we know what the polls are indicating based on everything you were seeing. What -- where do you think we will be 24 hours from now?
JENNIFER PALMIERI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: So that`s 10:00 Eastern tomorrow night.
PALMIERI: I bet you`re going to have -- we`ll be close to having a Democratic House declared, but you`ll be -- you won`t have it declared but you`ll be close to having it declared. And I suspect you`ll have a Democratic governor in the states of Florida and Georgia at that point.
O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, we had the Washington Republicans and the person of Paul Ryan calling the president saying please, could you please mention the economy? It`s the one thing where our numbers look pretty good, but the president doesn`t have any fun apparently mentioning the economy.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, of course not. Three-point- one percent unemployment, and, you know, wages going up and all that good stuff. Why talk about that when you can talk about scaring people and really pushing the party and its leadership to the brink of a complete collapse tomorrow.
And that`s not an exaggeration. The internal polling that a number of Republican organizations and campaigns are seeing, they`re nervous. It`s why the speaker made the phone call on Sunday. He doesn`t make that phone call out of the blue, Lawrence, as you know having worked on the Hill. You know when a call like that goes from the capitol to the White House, there`s something afoot as they say.
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, economic statistics look really good. They look as good as the comparable period in the Trump presidency, the last 20, 21 months -- I`m sorry, the Obama presidency, the last 21 months of the Obama presidency. They`re very good numbers. The president doesn`t talk about them much.
And even with those economic statistics, you have 51 percent of the country saying the country is on the wrong track. It certainly isn`t because of the economy they`re saying that.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO PRESIDENT: It has everything to do with the president. And as an example, when Conor Lamb, the Democrat who won a special election in the district of Pennsylvania where Trump won by 20 points and the opponent was running on tax relief, that didn`t stick. What stuck was anti-immigration. So once that happened, they pivoted after Conor Lamb and ran over 14,000 anti-immigrant ads to rally up their base when it came to the midterm primary elections.
And that is exactly what they realized that stuck. It wasn`t the economy, it wasn`t jobs. And so that is one of the reasons why the Trump administration is going after really cold-heartedly anti-immigrant, because they recognize that the economy is not turning people on. It`s this idea of fear.
That is all they have to offer and unfortunately, it`s making people not only uncomfortable but it`s also making some of these communities under fire insecure. And that is something they`re going to have a hard time reconciling regardless of what happens tomorrow with the rest of the country.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Beto O`Rourke in that closing case in that Senate race in Texas where a Democrat hasn`t been successful since Lloyd Benson`s re-election to the Senate in Texas. Let`s listen to the O`Rourke closing statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BETO O`ROURKE (D), TEXAS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: We have decided as a campaign we will organize not against someone else, not against another political party, not against anything. We are organized for one another, for this great country, for a future that includes every single one of us, making sure that we can all live to our full potential.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jennifer, the O`Rourke campaign is now the dictionary definition of positive campaigning.
PALMIERI: Yes, it`s -- I mean, I wish he can pull it out. I have been. If you check my Twitter feed, I`ve been predicting for close to a year that he will win -- that he will win Texas because you did see such a new style of campaigning. Not just that it`s positive but that he sort of threw out the playbook about where Democrats are supposed to go in Texas and went to every single county and, you know, was very ground up in his strategy.
And I think that that has served -- for many, many months it didn`t look like he was getting any traction, and eventually that kind of enthusiasm gets reflected in the voters that you talk to and kicks them that way. And I hope he`s able to get over that finish line. It`s a really, really difficult state.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Democrat Stacey Abrams today in her final day of campaigning for governor of Georgia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Let`s be clear, I don`t want anyone to vote for me because I`m black. And no on one on the ballot needs a vote because we`re women, and I don`t want you to vote for us just because we`re Democrats. You need to vote for us because we`re better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PALMIERI: She`s great.
O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, you`re reaction to that.
STEELE: That`s a good -- it`s a good message, Lawrence. It`s a positive message, but it`s Georgia. And so, there are a lot of currents that run beneath that surface that she is very aware of, which is why she framed her closing and has been framing her closing argument that way. Don`t do this because I`m black, because she knows there are a lot of people going to play that in a way they may wink and nod about her ascendancy to governorship. Don`t do it, same reason.
She`s aware of her backyard and how the intrinsic elements of race still permeate throughout campaigns like hers. So, her final argument is none of that matters. What matters is I`m good. I`m good for the people of Georgia. I`m good for this community.
And the test will be in this new south whether in a place like Georgia a black woman can awaken this new fire, this new brand of politics regardless of whether it`s progressive or conservative, Democrat or Republican. And people buy it because they see the public servant as someone who`s good for them.
O`DONNELL: And Andrew Gillum is facing a similar test in the bordering state of Florida to Georgia. Let`s listen to what Andrew Gillum said today as the Democratic candidate for governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ANDREW GILLUM (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The reason why we`re going to red areas and blue areas and purple areas is because I want them to know that I want to be their governor, too. And when you`re governor of Florida, you`ve got to be the governor for all of the people of the state of Florida. And so, while I greet you as Tallahassee`s mayor, it is my hope that the next time we share the same air, that the next time we are in community together, that the next time I visit the city beautiful, I will greet you as the governor of the great state of Florida. Let`s bring it home, y`all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, your reaction.
KUMAR: What is interesting about Andrew, what is amazing also about the other two candidates, whether it`s Beto, whether it`s Stacey Abrams is that they have basically identified their base saying, yes, you are coming along with me but I am going to be the governor, the senator for everyone.
And that is what Donald Trump has failed to do as president. He`s continued to campaign only for the base and has failed to unify the American people. But what these three candidates have demonstrated is what the Americans are craving for. This idea of unity, that, yes, I may be different -- I may not agree with you on all policies but you`re representing me at the best of our ability, and that is what the American people are looking for.
When I look at Texas, I have to say, we at Voto Latino in Texas since 2010, people were saying that we were wasting our time. In 2014, Lawrence, we registered 10,000 folks. This past midterm election, over 58,000 people, just in Texas alone. And that`s because there`s a renewed enthusiasm where people feel they`re finally identifying with someone that will not only legislate for a few but for many. And that is the exact same thing that we`re seeing, whether we`re talking about Georgia or what we`re talking about right now in Florida.
And that is what is going to be the narrative coming out of this midterm election is that the Democrats actually finally have a slate of new energized talent that they didn`t before. So, wherever we end up on Tuesday night, what the Democrats coming out, are who is the new slate of reinvigorated base that they could have only dreamed of before.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to President Obama`s closing case today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: The character of this country is on the ballot. Who we are is on the ballot. What kind of politics we expect is on the ballot.
How we conduct ourselves in public life is on the ballot. How we treat other people is on the ballot. And the good news is that all across the country what I`m seeing is this great awakening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jennifer, he`s campaigning as if the name Obama is on the ballot.
PALMIERI: Well, I think if you compare the two presidents, you compare Obama and Trump, Obama`s taken it to a very high concept, of the kind of country that we want to be. And Trump has zeroed in on, you know, the most divisive issue he can find to divide us and to scare us and with immigration.
It`s interesting, you know, you talked about this in your opening, he seems to be having some regrets how he`s engaged in the midterms. I guess it was news to him that they existed, and apparently, he did a very -- he handled it in a very different way than most presidents, which is they kind of go in tepidly understanding they can do a lot of damage. Midterms are hard for presidents, and they might not be that popular, they got to stay away from places and be careful about the issues that they raise.
And instead, he decided I`m going all in and I`m going to focus on an issue that excites my base and turns off everyone else. And what I`ve heard a lot from pollsters that are working on these races is that, yes, it`s motivating Trump`s base, but it is really turning off independent voters and maybe softer Republicans that are uneasy about the way the president approaches these issues.
And it`s hurting him, and I think that`s what you saw -- that`s why Paul Ryan (AUDIO GAP) you know, not just make the call down to the White House and ask the president to talk about the economy but make sure all of us know that he made that call to the White House telling the president to talk about the economy. So, when they lose big, people will know that they should blame the White House and not the former speaker`s office.
O`DONNELL: All right. We have Jennifer`s prediction for a Democratic win tomorrow for the House and parenthetically a Beto O`Rourke win.
Michael Steele, can`t let you go about your educated guess about what we will see tomorrow night.
STEELE: Thank you, sir.
Democrats, 27 to 35 seat majority. The Senate held by Republicans by one, maybe two.
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, your educated guess.
KUMAR: My educated guess is that polls suppress the vote. So, don`t take anything for granted. Keep your head down and go vote tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: And that is my educate guess.
Thank you very much, Maria Teresa Kumar, Jennifer Palmieri, and Michael Steele. Thank you all for joining us. I really appreciate it.
And when we come back, my exclusive interview with Captain Sully Sullenberger. He`s a lifetime, almost lifetime Republican voter. But now, he says he feels an obligation to become a defender of democracy and that is why he is voting for Democrats this year.
And Steve Kornacki will, of course, join us at the big board with his last word hour about what to expect tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: We are seeing something in this midterm election that we have never seen before in a midterm election -- Republicans urging voters to vote for Democrats. There were some Republicans who urged voters to vote for Hillary Clinton two years ago while still voting for a Republican Congress.
Now, there are even more Republicans who are urging voters to vote Democrat, but this time they are urging them to vote against all Republicans at very level, not just against Donald Trump as some of them did two years ago.
Robert Kelly, a political science professor at Pusan University in South Korea, tweeted: I`ve been a registered Republican my whole life but just voted for a straight Democratic ticket for the first time ever, including for a candidate I thought inferior to his GOP opponent. Trump is a huge threat to U.S. liberalism and constitutionalism.
Captain Sully Sullenberger has been a registered Republican for most of his life, but now he`s urging Republicans to vote Democrat. Captain Sullenberger instantly became regarded as a hero worldwide after he safely landed a passenger aircraft on the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 people onboard. And since then, he says that he feels an obligation to use his celebrated status for good.
And in an op-ed piece in "The Washington Post", he said: I feel now that I now have yet another mission as a defender of our democracy. The fabric of our nation is under attack, while shame, a timeless beacon of right and wrong, seems dead. This is not the America I know and love. We`re better than this.
Captain Sullenberger joined me for an exclusive interview in our special coverage on Saturday night. Here is some of that.
O`DONNELL: What moved you to write this op-ed piece?
CAPT. SULLY SULLENBERGER, "MIRACLE OF THE HUDSON": How could I not? I felt an intense obligation to act, not just to watch. To put my voice out there, to vote, to try to make a difference. I think that`s an obligation each of us has in this critical time.
We can`t just yell at the TV. We have to do something. We have to vote.
O`DONNELL: You say in the piece that for most of your life you were registered Republican, but you always voted as an American.
O`DONNELL: What does voting as an American mean to you now?
SULLENBERGER: It means not in a partisan fashion, but in a fashion according to our values, in a fashion according to the threat that we`re facing.
This is not normal. What is happening in this country is not normal. My original title for the op-ed was "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday," which, of course, is the international signal for distress about a grave and imminent threat that requires immediate assistance.
I`m as concerned about the state of this nation as I have been in a half century, since the turbulent year of 1968. And in some ways, even before that. It`s reminiscent in some ways of Friday November 22nd, 1963, and October 1962.
I learned from my father, a naval officer in World War II, and in my military service, the responsibilities, the awesome responsibilities of command that with great authority comes great responsibility. I learned that a leader leads from the front. The leader should be the first to face the threat and the last to safety, not the reverse.
A leader leads by example, according to core values that frame ones decision, that serve as guardrails to prevent ourselves and our organizations from making egregious errors. A leader leads with respect, and in an environment of mutual respect, where respect must be earned.
But most important, a leader helps everyone serve a cause greater than themselves. It can`t just be inwardly focused. Right now, that`s not happening. This is one of the greatest threats this nation has faced in my lifetime.
O`DONNELL: The things you just cited historically by date were the Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, 1968, which saw the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, assassination of Martin Luther King.
SULLENBERGER: The height of the Vietnam War.
O`DONNELL: Yes, height of the Vietnam War, 16,000 dead in Vietnam that year -- American soldiers. The darkest experiences, the darkest experiences of your lifetime and mine.
SULLENBERGER: And we can all remember where we were when we first heard about them.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and you`re comparing this period to that kind of darkness?
SULLENBERGER: That is the threat that we face, and people who know me or have heard me or seen me know that I do not exaggerate. I don`t need to.
O`DONNELL: I want you to listen to some people like you who have been -- in their case lifelong Republicans, actively working in the Republican Party to elect Republican presidents and other Republican candidates, and see if you share their feelings.
Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE SCHMIDT, GOP STRATEGIST: The party of Trump must be destroyed politically.
MAX BOOT, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I am urging everybody to vote straight ticket Democrat in November, because I think it is imperative to get some checks and balances.
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER GOP CONGRESSMAN: I left the party about five weeks ago. I think Democrats should take the House. I think we`ll be safer in a divided government.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: I think it`s really important that Democrats take over the House and/or the Senate. I think that any White House is improved by having a check and a balance -- this White House more than any other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And those are people, Nicolle Wallace, Steve Schmidt who tried to elect John McCain president. They all worked for the election of Republican presidents, prior to Donald Trump getting that nomination. When you hear those people talking, are they speaking to you? Is that your experience as a voter?
SULLENBERGER: They`re speaking with me.
O`DONNELL: With you.
SULLENBERGER: That is my experience. Right now, the majority party in the House and Senate are not fulfilling their oath of office. They are not acting as a check and balance. We must replace with those who will.
O`DONNELL: There`s another line that you have in your piece, where you say, all leaders must take responsibility and have moral compass grounded in competence, integrity and concern for the greater good.
The moral compass seems to be absent. I can`t find it, when I look at the Republican leadership in Washington now.
SULLENBERGER: If it is there, they`re not listening to it, they`re not looking at it.
O`DONNELL: What do you -- what do you think, if you could have a moment with the president of the United States, if you could have a minute with him, what would you want to tell him about the way he does his job?
I don`t think he`s either capable or willing to change. I think he is remarkably incurious and doesn`t value learning.
Instead of talking to the current occupant of the office, I am talking to the American people. I`m saying, you are the ultimate check and balance. It is up to us, as I said in my piece, we cannot wait for someone to rescue us, we must do it ourselves. Everyone, everywhere must vote in massive numbers.
O`DONNELL: That was part of my interview with Captain Sully Sullenberger. You can watch the entire interview with Captain Sullenberger online at MSNBC.com/thelastword.
And when we come back, Ezra Klein will join us with his take on the final days of the campaign.
O`DONNELL: In "Vox" today, our next guest Ezra Klein writes the emphasis on the caravan reflects Trump`s political choices, of course. But it also reflects the fact that the Republican party is increasingly organized around a defensive version of white identity politics anti-immigrant, anti- Muslim and a whole lot more interested in protecting its numbers and borders than celebrating tax cuts.
One Republican campaign source said this about the Trump anti-immigrant campaign message, said this to "Politico". His honing in on this message is going to cost us seats. The people we need to win in these swing districts that will determine the majority, it`s not the Trump base, it`s suburban women or people who voted for Hillary Clinton or people who are not hard Trump voters.
Joining our discussion now, Ezra Klein, editor at large at "Vox" and the host of the podcast The Ezra Klein Show.
Ezra, the attachment by Donald Trump to this argument is one that is infuriating apparently the establishment Republicans in Washington.
EZRA KLEIN, EDITOR AT LARGE, VOX: And it`s endangering them. I think it`s easy to forget that Donald Trump, he`s been in politics like 10 minutes, right? His first campaign was a couple of years ago.
O`DONNELL: He expresses surprise today, Ezra at the very existence of midterm elections.
KLEIN: Yes, midterms, who knew? How do they work? But the thing I think that`s interesting about that is that he ran a campaign in 2016 that was all about recognizing the way the other Republicans didn`t, that the core of the Republican base, the issue that animated them most was immigration. The Republican party in that post-2012 autopsy, they were trying to moderate on immigration and all of a sudden they said, "No, we`re going to build a wall. We`re going to make sure this country becomes more like it was, not more like the thing that you believe or you fear it`s becoming.
Donald Trump, he knows one thing. And so it`s not all that surprising to me that in a moment of danger for him, for his party that he`s returning to that one thing, that one thing that he knows works and that`s immigration.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Beto O`Rourke said today about this. And here is someone who`s running for Senate in the state where Donald Trump wants to build most of that wall that he`s been dreaming about. Let`s listen to Congressman O`Rourke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT O`ROURKE (D), TEXAS SENATE CANDIDATE: This community especially, which bore witness to parents with their young children fleeing the deadliest countries on the face of the planet today, making a 2,000-mile journey on foot atop a train known as the beast or La Bestia. And if they survive coming here to the front door of a country comprised of asylum seekers and refugees and immigrants the world over, whether they came to the harbor in New York and saw the Statue of Liberty, whether they first set foot in (0:00:20) (35), that is who we are as a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And Ezra, he`s delivering that message in Texas to Texas voters.
KLEIN: Yes. I think there`s something you`re going to be seeing here. And you see it with Obama and Trump. I thought the clips you played of Obama earlier were speaking to this and you`re seeing it with some of the Democrats who are rising up like Beto, like Gillum and many others.
There`s going to be a fight for Democrats to define a version of national identity that acts as a counterpart to Donald Trump`s sort of cramped defensive version of national identity. Donald Trump is saying there`s an America we were and that is the America we should be. And Democrats are going to need to find a message and a story about who we are, who we can be that manages to absorb who we`re becoming without arousing those fears.
Look, the Republican party is increasingly a white identity politics party. That`s what it has become, it`s what it is doing, it`s what works for its base. And it`s not just Donald Trump at this point. It`s what they`re all doing, it`s what they`re all buying into because the other thing doesn`t work. They`re not being able to change. They`re not being able to grow.
But we`re in this sort of moment of demographic tipping in this country. It gets to this remarkable statistic that under Obama I think it was 2013 was the first year that the majority of infants in America were non-white. And so we`re in this period where the nature, the composition of the country and then of its political power is changing but it hasn`t yet changed. We`re not -- like in the new space, we`re in this period of transition.
And so there are these stories that are fighting each other out. Donald Trump came in with this very pure but very defensive and very angry story. I think you see Democrats like Beto trying to create a story that`s more hopeful, more inclusive, that can speak about an America that`s diversifying in a way that doesn`t make people who have been here, people who are afraid of it, that doesn`t bring them in as opponents. It manages to bring them in as allies.
O`DONNELL: And Ezra, you also wrote about a possible anti-Democratic outcome when the votes are counted in the House races where the Democrats could get more votes than the Republicans but fewer seats. And this is something we`ve seen occur before. It could occur again. And you made a point about how the news media will react to that, that if the Democrats, even if they win millions more votes than the Republicans and do not get control of the House, the news media will react as if this is a Trump triumph.
KLEIN: Yes. I think there are two levels to this. One is that it`s entirely possible we`re going to be in January and Republicans would have lost the popular vote at the House, in the Senate and in the presidency in control of three. And I think you`re going to see a real legitimacy crisis beginning if that happens. I think Democrats are getting more and more fed up with winning the vote in elections and not winning power. And they`re feeling increasingly the system is actually rigged against them because actually, it is.
But what you`re pointing out is true too. Look, you can imagine a world where Democrats win the popular vote in the House by six points and they win the majority and a world where they win it by seven points and they don`t win the majority, right. It`s all about where those votes are, whether or not they`re distributed efficiently, how the gerrymandering breaks down. Like there`s a lot that goes into it.
But if Democrats win that seven percent gain but don`t win the majority, it will be seen as a huge defeat for the party. Where if they win the six percent that do win the majority, it will be seen as a huge win. In terms of power distribution, that`s completely true. There`s a legitimacy to that narrative. But in terms og what the American people are actually saying, it`s not true and it speaks to the problem of trying to understand what is a voice of the American people through elections that have become as distorted and strange as our midterm and gerrymandered election process has become.
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
KLEIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, it is Kornacki time. Of course, Steve Kornacki will join us with what to look for tomorrow night.
O`DONNELL: Twenty-four hours from now, the polls will be closed across half of the country, and we will start to see if this is a wave election. Today the "Cook Political Report", the most authoritative analysis of House races, issued its final analysis on the fight to control the House of Representatives. "Cook" changed their ratings for 10 House seats, giving Democratic candidates a better chance in nine of them. The "Cook Report" now lists 75 competitive House races to watch in tomorrow night`s election, returns, 70 of which are currently held by Republicans.
Joining our discussion now David Wassermann, political analyst for the "Cook Political Report" and MSNBC`s national political correspondent Steve Kornacki at the big board.
David, let me just start with you on the "Cook Report`s" analysis. You just moved -- the last movement you made was of House seats trending more in the Democratic direction. Is that the general momentum, you would say, of the last week?
DAVID WASSERMAN, HOUSE EDITOR, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Well, we`re going to be busy bees at the NBC decision desk tomorrow night because we`ve got 75 competitive races, which is the most we`ve had in eight years. And we`ve seen two offsetting trends in the past couple of weeks.
We have seen Republicans come and closing Democrats` enthusiasm gap they enjoyed for much of the year. But we`ve also just seen this staggering financial advantage for Democratic candidates. They`re raising unprecedented sums of money. And that`s allowed them to control the narrative in the band of most competitive districts.
So remember that Jon Ossof race in Georgia last year, well he fell short, but because of Democrat`s momentum at the top of the ticket in Georgia right now, Democrats have a reasonable chance of winning that district. And I would look to some of the unsung districts like Pennsylvania`s 10th and Central Pennsylvania for surprises.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, you have the floor. You have the big board. Tell us what to watch tomorrow night.
STEVE KORNACKI, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, MSNBC: Yes. And Lawrence, about 24 hours from now this thing is going to be alive with activity.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it is.
KORNACKI: We`ll give you a sense of what you`re going to see get filled in tomorrow night. But first of all, on the House side here, this is -- you`re talking about those vulnerable Republican seats. Think of this as sort of the battlefield. These are all Republican seats where the Democrats have a shot of getting flips. And, of course, they need that net gain of 23. That would get them the House.
Think about this in terms of early on tomorrow night, the first clues we`re going to get really of when the -- that`s the wrong screen right there. How did that get up there? When the first polls close at 6:00, we`re going to get our first readout in the State of Kentucky. This is the 6th District in Kentucky. This is in and around Lexington, Kentucky.
Think of the University of Kentucky, go Wild Cats. It`s going to test a couple of things we`ve been talking about a lot all year. First of all is that Democratic energy sort of with younger voters, with college-educated voters, with sort of upper income, well that`s the Fayette County, Lexington, that area, we`re going to see is their surge Democratic energy right there.
The other thing we`re going to see in this district is this is a Republican district, this is a Trump district, the roro (ph) outlying areas which were overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, have the Democrats made any inroads there? Is the margin for Republicans a little bit less? Is the Republican enthusiasm there a little lower relative to the Democratic party? If this race, McGrath versus Barr is tight as those numbers come in, that`s a very good early sign for Democrats.
And then we get beyond those 6:00 poll closing times, 7:00 Eastern Time, Virginia. Virginia becomes ground zero for this thing I think. Give you a couple of examples right here. This is the 7th district. Think of the Richmond suburbs. Dave Brat. Remember, Dave Brat caused a political earthquake four years ago when he took out Eric Hunter in a Republican primary. Well, Dave Brat now fighting for his political life. If Dave Brat loses this race, Republican district traditionally Richmond suburbs, that could be a sign, not only big things for Democrats in Virginia but much bigger things for the nationally as well.
O`DONNELL: Dave Wasserman, the races that Steve has just pointed to, which will -- which might be among the earlier ones that get a call, wins for Democrats in some of those seems to me would indicate a wave.
WASSERMAN: Yes. Look, Lawrence, if Democrats are picking up Kentucky`s 6th district, the district that Trump carried by 15 points, watch out.
WASSERMAN: Now, if Republicans hold on to that district, I wouldn`t be terribly surprised. Democrats probably need to win two seats in Virginia. They`re likely to pick up the 10th district in Northern Virginia where Barbara Comstock sits in a district Hillary Clinton carried by 10 points.
If Democrats don`t win that district, that will be a terrible sign for them. They likely need either the Richmond district that Steve mentioned, the 7th, or the Virginia Beach district, the 2nd. And I would watch those on election night. But the irony is we`re seeing a lot of these suburban, supposedly moderate Republicans who have been personally popular for years, they`re tailing right now because of Donald Trump. Particularly, his unpopularity with suburban college-educated women.
And if they go down to defeat, and we think a lot of them will, then the president in all likelihood could blame those members for being insufficiently supportive of him, when in fact he`s the reason they`re losing.
O`DONNELL: David Wasserman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And Steve Kornacki, please stay with us for one more round because you need to tell us what to watch in California tomorrow night. And California could decide the House of Representatives.
We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: Today, Jacob Soboroff is in the building in California where control of the House of Representatives might be decided. That is the building in Orange County where the votes will be counted in four competitive congressional districts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB SOBOROFF: I don`t want to overstate it but where I am right now could potentially, in the case of a close election tomorrow night, become the most consequential building, the most consequential election official administrator in the United States of America. Orange County is home to one million different registered voters. Here`s one of the machines when they count them out but also not just all those registered voters, four different toss-up districts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Democrats have been targeting seven Republican House seats in California. If control of the House is still undecided when the polls close in California tomorrow night, then that`s where the drama will be. And that is why I am in California tonight and will be contributing to our election coverage tomorrow night from California.
Back with us is MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki. Steve, what should I be watching for in California?
KORNACKI: Hey. Yes. Maybe the better question, if it comes down to California is, what shouldn`t you be watching for, because there are so many targets there for Democrats for the reasons you`re just saying. But let`s look at what looked like the ripest targets for Democrats if it comes down to it. You got them here.
These are the districts in yellow. And let`s just take them from north to south here in the state. Start here with Jeff Denham in the 10th district, the Central Valley here, Republican incumbent. The wild card in this race, we`ve talked so much about what is the enthusiasm level among Latino voters going to be. There have been some indications in our NBC poll a couple weeks ago that there had been a surge in Latino interest in this midterm election.
If that`s the case, if that translates into additional Democratic strength, then watch out, Jeff Denham, because he`s exactly the kind of Republican given the demographics of this district who could be vulnerable to that. Take a look here. Steve Knight, big part of Los -- part of Los Angeles County I should say in this district wherein the last Republicans left there a vulnerable Republican in a district that Hillary Clinton carried.
Keeping an eye on that, the 39th district, this is an open seat. You had a Republican retirement here. Hillary Clinton won the district by eight points, Democrats targeting it. That`s the 39th. The 45th -- see, I changed the color. I was wondering what just happened. The 45th district, again another of those Clinton districts. Mimi Walter is the Republican incumbent.
The 48th, here`s a name I think a lot of people know, Dana Rohrbacher, 30- year incumbent. Now, very controversial obviously. He is in a district, Orange County. Think of it as the cradle of Goldwater, Nixon, Raegan, conservatism. This district actually voted for Hillary Clinton by two points in 2016. The polls are very tight here. One of the most closely watched races in the nation.
There is also the 49th district, the 50th district as well. Duncan Hunter Jr., is he going to be in trouble in the 50th because of the scandal, Lawrence?
O`DONNELL: And Steve, if there is a wave -- and Democrats have been heavily targeting seven districts, if there is a wave, how many more districts in California could be in play for Democrats?
KORNACKI: Yes. And I mentioned Duncan Hunter at the end there. That probably falls more in the wave category. But look at this, we can go to our sort of -- this is sort of our wave watch screen, I guess, around the country, additional districts.
Here`s some more in California. Tom McClintock in a real wave scenario. Keep an eye on this. I would keep an eye on this district because David Valadao, a Republican. This is a Clinton district. Again, this is one of those where if you have surge Latino turnout, if it breaks heart for the Democrats, Valadao thought to be safe but that would be one you keep an eye on there.
And, of course, this name again, controversy around Devin Nunes. His district looks pretty safe for him, but if he won to the controversy and if there a big wave, maybe start to take an eye on that one, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And today Andrew Jens reported at the last minute they changed his polling place, his own polling place and in that challenge campaign he`s running.
Steve Kornacki, thank you very much for that guidance. We`re going to need that tomorrow night.
Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: And we have breaking news at this hour. Facebook has just issued what they call an election update, a post which says in part, on Sunday evening, U.S. Law Enforcement contacted us about an online activity that they recently discovered which they believe may be linked to foreign entities. Once we know more, including whether these accounts are linked to the Russia-based internet research agency or other foreign entities, we will update this post.
That is tonight`s last word. Tomorrow is election day. MSNBC`s election night coverage will begin at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
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