Final polls show Joe Biden with solid lead over President Trump.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I will be checking in from time to time tomorrow night with special concentration on the Senate races which are going to be very important.
And, Rachel, thank you. And by that, I mean thank you for the last four years, because I will never forget at 10:00 p.m. on election night, I was at an anchor desk with Steve Schmidt and James Carville and they knew what was happening 25 minutes before everybody else did. I was sitting in that room and I kind of knew what was happening.
I realized 24 hours from now I'm going to have to do a show. And I don't know how to do it, but I also knew Rachel was going to have to go first, and so I -- I saw you go out there. I saw you go out there and do it.
And when the time came, you turned and smiled to me, and that smile got me through that night and that smile has gotten me through four years and you've gotten a lot of people through four years, Rachel. Thank you very much for getting us to where we will be tomorrow night.
MADDOW: You are very kind to say so. I don't deserve one iota of any of that, Lawrence, but it's very kind of you to say. And I do, you know, I do feel like -- I know you feel this way, too, it is an incredible honor to be able to be covering something this big and this important -- particularly with the colleagues that we have and the organization that we're in with all of its resources.
But it does, you know, we're citizens, too. We're voters and we're citizens and we have feelings about all of these things. And there are moments like this when whatever is going on in terms of partisan division in the country, it does feel like we are better when we pull together, both as colleagues and as citizens and as people who are scared about the next 24 hours. And being kind is one way to do that, so thank you.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. See you tomorrow night.
MADDOW: Oh, yeah.
O'DONNELL: Well, I've been -- I've got a sleeping pill for you tonight, and that comes in the person of Charlie Cook. Charlie Cook is the most careful, most respected election analyst in Washington. Everyone in Washington always wants to know what Charlie's thinking. He's been doing this since 1984.
And because I respect his judgment completely, I am going to sleep very well tonight because Charlie is now saying that it's not a question of will Joe Biden win? Charlie Cook is saying of, will it be a narrow margin or will be a landslide? Charlie Cook is saying Nancy Pelosi will add ten seats to her majority in the House of Representatives and Charlie Cook is saying the Democrats will indeed win control of the United States Senate. It's just a question of how big that majority will be.
And so, because I trust Charlie Cook's judgment completely, I'm going to sleep very well tonight. I recommend you make exactly the same choice.
There is more that we will be getting to in this hour tonight. We have a lineup of experts beginning, of course, with Steve Kornacki, who will begin for us at the big board tonight. We'll have John Heilemann joining in tonight. We also have Yamiche Alcindor who will be considering later in the hour the threshold, the threshold of history, where Kamala Harris stands tonight.
And we'll also be joined by the Harris County clerk Chris Hollins. He won a lawsuit today in federal court in Texas in which the Republicans were trying to throw away over 127,000 ballots that were cast in Harris County in drive-thru voting locations that Chris Hollins set up as a safety measure during this pandemic. Chris Hollins set up safe practices in the face of the pandemic and that got him dragged into court by Republicans in Texas. Chris Hollins will join us later in this hour.
And so here we are, finally. This is like the closing night for a long-running Broadway play or the final episode in a TV series, a series that began the day after election day four years ago when I began speaking to an audience who had watched the will of the majority overruled by a minority in this democracy that allows democracy to be perverted by the Electoral College.
I didn't know how to do this show four years ago on that Wednesday night after Election Day. I just knew I had to do the show. I didn't know how I was going to get through four years of doing it. I didn't know how we were going to get through four years of Donald Trump in the White House. I didn't know how this country was going to get through four years of Donald Trump in the White House.
And we did it. We did it here, one show at a time, one week at a time. And I for one never looked up to see how far away we were from this night. And here we are.
And we got here together, and we have now arrived here with hope. And I am here tonight with optimism about what tomorrow will bring and the days of vote counting that will follow tomorrow. There is no suspense, absolutely none at all. We all know, and everyone in the Trump campaign knows that Joe Biden will get millions more votes than Donald Trump, millions -- millions upon millions. Joe Biden will get millions more votes than Hillary Clinton got.
The only suspense is what will happen in that one institution that does not exist in any other democracy on Earth, the Electoral College. The Electoral College is slavery's revenge on the 21st century, and it has been used twice now to defy the will of America's voters who have twice given more votes to a Democratic candidate for president, only to see the Republican candidate for president move into the White House.
That is what Donald Trump is trying to do once again. Donald Trump has no hope of and is making no attempt to win more votes than Joe Biden, who is now running ten points ahead of Donald Trump in the final NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 52-42. And 11 points ahead of Trump in the final Quinnipiac national poll, 50-39.
Joe Biden went to Ohio today trying to block a Trump Electoral College victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: One more day, one more day. Tomorrow. Tomorrow, we have an opportunity to put an end to a presidency that's divided this nation. Tomorrow, we can put an end to a president that has failed to protect this nation. And tomorrow, we can put an end to a president who has fanned the flames of hate all across this country.
Millions of Americans have already voted. Almost 100 million have voted so far, 100 million voted already. And more are going to vote today.
And my message is simple. The power to change the country is in your hands. I don't care how much Donald Trump tries. There's nothing, nothing he's going to do to stop the people in this nation from voting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Donald Trump continues to campaign for president like a revengeful juvenile delinquent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Fire Fauci. Fire Fauci. Fire Fauci. Fire Fauci. Fire Fauci. Fire Fauci. Fire Fauci.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I appreciate the advice. I appreciate it. No, he's been wrong. He's a nice man, though. He's been wrong on a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Someone will have to tell the president that he does not have the legal authority to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, but Joe Biden responded to the Trump threat against Dr. Fauci.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I'm serious, matt. This guy is a disgrace. The people of this nation have suffered. They've sacrificed for nine months, not more than those doctors and nurses and those health care workers.
And this president is questioning their character, their integrity, their commitment to their fellow Americans? As I said, it's a disgrace. And last night Trump said he was going to fire Dr. Fauci. Isn't that wonderful?
I've got a better idea. Elect me and I'm going to hire Dr. Fauci. Not -- and we're going to fire Donald Trump.
Donald Trump waved the white flag of surrender to this virus. We're going to beat this virus and we're going to get it under control. I promise you.
Look, the first step to beating the virus is beating Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: And here is President Obama in Miami today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Last night, just last night on his COVID-spreader tour -- I mean, he's a super spreader. He just goes around -- because nothing is more important to him than crowds to make him feel good as opposed to trying to keep the American people safe. Last night he told his supporters, don't tell anybody, but I'm going to fire Dr. Fauci after the election.
Don't boo, vote! You know.
And just in case you were worried he was taking COVID too seriously, now we find out his intention is to eliminate from his administration one of the world's leading experts in infectious disease, the one guy who has taken it seriously all along that he hasn't been paying attention to. He's been listening to the guy apparently who thinks injecting bleach might be a good idea, but not the actual expert on infectious disease.
So they want to move out the scientists and the doctors who understand this disease and put in people or maintain folks who don't know what they're doing. Essentially, their closing argument when it comes to COVID, you ain't seen nothing yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: And, yes, we've got Steve tonight. We begin tonight at the big board with MSNBC's Steve Kornacki.
Steve, what are you looking for, what should we be looking for?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Well, you mentioned it's all about the Electoral College. Let's take a look here at the battleground heading into tomorrow.
The story is the president is playing defense in the Electoral College. The battleground you see here, the battleground states shaded in here, these are all states Donald Trump won in 2016. They are states where he either trails right now or the polling is very close, very competitive.
His goal is to hang on to as many of these as he can to stay above 270 electoral votes. So, we've talked about the importance of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, this being the most direct route for Joe Biden to the presidency simply because, look, if he wins, Biden does, Wisconsin, if he wins Pennsylvania, puts him over 270.
And the polling in these three states, these are the biggest polling deficits in the swing states, the battle ground states that Donald Trump faces. That is particularly true in Wisconsin, in Michigan. Of all the battleground states, Trump faces the biggest polling gaps in those states.
That's why Pennsylvania, you hear is the must-win state, a must-win state for Trump, a must-win state for Trump, one his campaign talks so much about. If -- our poll today, by the way, in Pennsylvania has Trump down five points. So, this is a huge if right here. But if Trump is able to pick off Pennsylvania, win come from behind there, still fall short in these other two.
Let's take a look at it from that perspective. From that perspective, let's talk about the early hours of tomorrow night because that's when some states we expect we're going to get a lot of vote. The lions share of the vote, particularly Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. Each one of these, again, a Trump state in 2016, each one where the polls suggest he's got some degree of trouble.
Florida is the state, 7:00, all but the panhandle of Florida is going to start reporting. And if past is prologue, Florida is actually very quick at getting their results in. So within a few hours, we may have a very good sense of what's going on in Florida. Possible if Biden were to win this tomorrow night, just to show you, again, if he's getting Wisconsin and Michigan, that's how devastating a loss of Florida would be to Donald Trump.
You know, if not Florida, Georgia could do that. North Carolina could do that. Ohio could do that. Texas could do that.
What I'm saying is in those first few hours tomorrow night, Donald Trump is facing five must-win tests. He's got to sweep those five states to have a chance to get to the Midwest, pull out Pennsylvania, survive in a fight for 270. So, we're going to get some really early read-outs early for states that are absolute must-win for Donald Trump.
O'DONNELL: And, Steve, Florida gets a head start on counting mail-in ballots. So they're going to be among the fastest reporters.
KORNACKI: That's the key to all these states, why I single these out, because they can process, they can get these ballots done ahead of time. They've been counting ballots in Ohio for weeks now. You know, Florida, again, I think within about 30 minutes, 45 minutes of poll closing time, 7:00, we're going to start getting a ton of votes from some of these counties.
O'DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
KORNACKI: You got it. Thanks.
O'DONNELL: We are joined now by David Plouffe. He served as campaign manager and White House senior adviser for President Barack Obama. He's host of the podcast, "Campaign HQ". He's also an MSNBC political analyst.
David, the question for the pros when they get down to the final hours is, what do you know? I'm just giving you the wide open, what do you know, what do we need to know?
DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, Lawrence, I think be what Steve showed -- you mentioned Charlie Cook's analysis. He thinks Biden is going to win.
Is it a narrow win? A narrow win means Trump holds on to Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, and Biden then wins Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania. But if Biden starts cracking in those southern states and into the Sun Belt, then you're heading to landslide territory.
Secondly, we know a lot about the early vote. There's no question that Donald Trump has to win Election Day decisively. Now, he did that in Florida in 2016 where Hillary Clinton did quite well in the early vote.
So if you're the Biden campaign and Democrats, you can't let up the gas. They won't. You have to have good enough Election Day turnout tomorrow.
But Donald Trump enters Election Day in almost all the battleground states significantly behind. What's curious to me, Lawrence, is he seems like he thinks he's going to lose the election. He's saying the only way I can win is to steal it and ask the Supreme Court to stop counting votes.
I can't imagine that's a huge amount of incentive for the people. He needs a massive turnout tomorrow. And that's what I'm going to be -- you know, you really won't know what happens there until, as Steve Kornacki said, we start seeing real votes being counted in North Carolina, in Georgia, and in Florida.
And once we see the results in those counties, we compare them to 2016. Is Biden doing better in suburban counties than Clinton did? Is he doing better in urban and rural counties? But then just as importantly, what's the turnout?
And again, based on what you're seeing in the early vote, there's a lot of pressure on Donald Trump tomorrow to basically have a black swan event. Now, he had one in '16, but it requires a couple things, the polls to be off dramatically.
That happens sometimes. I saw that in New Hampshire in '08 we were up against Hillary Clinton and she won. So, it happens. And I think a massive turnout differential.
But my sense is the enthusiasm we've seen in the early vote will continue. And I think Democrats are going to have a strong election day tomorrow.
O'DONNELL: Now, Pennsylvania is going to be one of the slower reporting states, isn't it?
PLOUFFE: Well, it is. So, first of all, if you look at the battle ground states, it's probably going to have the lowest percentage of early vote. So, you may have up to 60, 65 percent of Election Day, number one. Number two, by state law -- by the way, this includes a lot of Republican votes, a lot of military votes, overseas votes. They can't start counting till the day after the election. That's exactly right.
I will say there's a lot of people freaking out in the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania. You know, some polls, your showed NBC's poll, Joe Biden up 5. Some people think that's too close. You see the poll average of four.
Listen, it's Pennsylvania, OK? We won it by five in 2012. You're not going to win Pennsylvania by eight or ten points. So, if I were Joe Biden, I'd feel very confident heading into tomorrow.
But, again, that is one state of all the battleground states that you're going to have the highest percentage coming in Election Day. So, the GOTV operation in Pennsylvania for the Biden campaign, you know, has to be super strong.
O'DONNELL: David Plouffe, thank you very much for starting us off on this final night of campaign coverage. Really appreciate it.
PLOUFFE: Thanks, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
Up next, and so it ends as it began. Donald Trump is still complaining about inauguration crowd size, and President Obama had something to say about that today. That's next. And John Heilemann is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is, this is his last chance to explain why we should give him four more years, and what you hear him talking about is his inauguration crowd being smaller than mine. After four years, that's what he's still worrying about. Let it go.
What is his obsession with crowd size? Does he have nothing better to worry about? Did no one come to his birthday party when he was a kid?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Joining us now, John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He's executive editor of "The Recount", and co-host of Showtime's "The Circus."
And, John, with lines like that, it makes me wonder was Mary Trump feeding him those lines, did anyone come to his birthday party?
John, I'm jealous of you because you've been having different hotel background shots as you've been moving around the country.
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yeah.
O'DONNELL: I haven't been out in the campaign trail since March when I interviewed Joe Biden in Michigan.
HEILEMANN: I remember that.
O'DONNELL: You've been all over the battleground states recently. What are you -- what are you finding as one of the very few campaign reporters who is able to get out there in the battleground states?
HEILEMANN: Yeah, Lawrence, it's true. I mean, look, we decided to put "the circus" back on the air 12 1/2 weeks ago. It's our 13th week since August and we've covered a ton of ground. To amplify that, I decided to spend the last 72 hours before Election Day hitting not battleground states, but kind of like second tier battleground states.
So, in the last three days, I've been in Texas, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio and now I'm in Georgia, talking to you from Atlanta tonight.
And I think -- there are a couple things that really stood out. First of all, and, obviously, turnout -- we know turnouts it's bonkers. But in certain places, it's really bonkers.
And Texas, I have a -- I having been in Texas and having seen the level of enthusiasm there and the level -- I mean, the off-the-charts numbers there, and then talking to a lot of my usual sources of people who are very wired into data in the campaigns and outside the campaigns, I think the biggest headline I can bring you is that the possibility of Joe Biden winning Texas is real. That doesn't mean he's going to win Texas. It's going to be very close.
But this could be the year where Texas goes blue. And that would be a stunning thing. It would change the contours of our electoral map for nations to come and certainly put a different light on the events of tomorrow night because it would make it literally impossible for Donald Trump, just that one victory would put the race away.
I think the other thing is, sitting here in Georgia, where there's been -- I mean, the biggest story of the last week has been Georgia becoming a battleground state. The six core battleground states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, went six (ph) all year, those six states, both campaigns spending money in them, advertising in them, doing ground operations in them, those six all year.
In the last week, Georgia became a battleground state. Donald Trump came here, Joe Biden came here. And the race got very tight.
And it's another situation where on the basis of being here and talking to people with a lot of data, I think it's fair to say that it's more likely that Joe Biden wins Georgia that he wins Florida, which I think it's still very much a toss up, as is Georgia. But I think, right now, you have to give Donald Trump the slight advantage in Florida. I think right now, you give Joe Biden a slight advantage in Georgia. And that will also be an enormous thing.
This is not a competitive state at the presidential level since Bill Clinton in 1992. So, this is the state going blue with those Senate seats, also a state could be -- a political action here, and a very big source of Democratic -- Democratic triumph if all of that comes in blue tomorrow night.
O'DONNELL: Well, you have just swerved us right into the Senate discussion because that's where Georgia is so unique. They've got the two Senate races. And if there's enough momentum in Georgia for the Democratic candidate for president to win, that would make winning Senate seats in Georgia easier. I mean, winning Senate seats in Georgia is theoretically easier than a Democratic presidential candidate winning Georgia.
HEILEMANN: Yes, yep. Well, you know, Barack Obama, again, as you know very well, when you get down to the final days of the campaign, the most important thing to look at, where are candidates spending time and where are the top surrogates spending time.
So, like I told you where the races being joined, and Barack Obama deciding to spend his last two events for Joe Biden in Atlanta this afternoon and in Miami this evening tells you a lot about the fact that the Democratic side thinks those races are within their grasp. I was at David Perdue's last event tonight at an airplane hangar here in Atlanta. I have to say having seen some Jon Ossoff events in this cycle and going to this David Perdue event, he feels his back is against the wall, feels the race slipping from his fingers, this event is desultory to say the least.
And, you know, maybe 200 people, and this is a Republican event, right, where they're not as worried COVID. A couple of hundred people, an airplane hangar, at the very end of the campaign, like the concluding event for David Perdue, all the energy is with Jon Ossoff. I will say having spent time also here in Atlanta with Killer Mike who is one of the most important activists in this community, he is very keen that Warnock could also, maybe not outright win the race, it's unlikely, but Warnock could come out of this race with big ahead of steam, and could end up being the top vote getter tomorrow night, and then put himself in a very good position in that runoff that's going to happen in January for that Kelly Loeffler seat.
O'DONNELL: Yeah. Raphael Warnock is in a race with over 20 candidates. One of them, a Democrat who's siphoning about 5 percent of the vote. And so, that's a struggle for him.
O'DONNELL: John, the thing that struck me in the travel schedule, the most actually was Joe Biden going to Ohio. I mean, everything else I saw coming. I didn't -- I didn't see that one coming.
HEILEMAN: Yeah. Well, you know, what happened there, it's been reported that I saw Senator Sherrod Brown today and his wife Connie Schultz. They both were really at hitting with the campaign for weeks saying, you know, Ohio is closer than you think. Don't you know -- Ohio has been the ultimate battleground state in American politics for most of my career. I've been to more events in Ohio over past cycles than any other states. In 2004, it decided the election.
In 2016, the Republicans held their nominating convention or the one that picked Donald Trump. But the fact he won by eight points in 2016 meant that people didn't think it was a battleground state, you look at Sherrod Brown's victory two years later and you look at some of the data in the state, you had Sherrod Brown saying you can pull this off.
On top of that, the data wizards around Mike Bloomberg weighed in and said, we see it, too. It's not going to be easy. Trump still has an advantage, but with some money and some time, you might be able to get this done. And as you -- as Bloomberg it's been reported, Bloomberg people poured in millions of dollars into the state in the closing week or ten days. I still think it's going to be tough for Joe Biden to win that state. But, man, I think it's going to be a lot closer than anybody thought it was going to be a couple weeks ago.
And if you look at the situation in Iowa where almost certainly Trump is going to win. But the smartest people in Iowa say he's going to win by two or three points. To win that state by nine -- that is probably a similar thing is going to happen in Ohio. The only question is whether he can actually get -- eke it across the finish line.
That's how close it's going to be there.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: John Heilemann, thank you very much for joining us on our final night of campaign coverage and for joining us throughout the campaign. Really appreciate it.
HEILEMANN: We'll see you later, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
Up next judges in Texas have repeatedly refused to throw out 127 (SIC) ballots that Republicans are trying to block. The Harris County clerk who is at the center of those lawsuits and has been fighting with those Republicans and winning will join us next.
O'DONNELL: Texas has gone from being a solid Republican state to being a toss-up in the presidential election. Donald Trump and Joe Biden are now tied in Texas. And so Republicans are trying to win Texas by throwing away votes cast by Democrats. That is the only purpose of two lawsuits brought by Republicans in Texas.
The Texas Supreme Court, which is filled with nothing but Republican judges, rejected the first case on Sunday.
Then the Republicans filed essentially the same lawsuit in federal court where it was considered today by Federal Judge Andrew Hannan, who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush. Judge Hannan also dismissed that Republican lawsuit today.
Each case was filed against our next guest, Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins who set up drive-thru voting as a COVID-19 safety precaution. At least 127,000 early voting ballots were cast in the drive-thru voting locations in Harris County, Texas which includes part of Houston. It is the biggest county in the state of Texas and it usually votes Democratic.
Joining us now is Harris County Texas clerk Chris Hollins. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Was there any indication in these lawsuits that the Republicans will be back in court making the same claim after election day?
CHRIS HOLLINS, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS CLERK: Well, if the past has shown us anything, it means they're going to be relentless in doing their best to suppress votes here in Texas. And so I wouldn't be surprised if there are more lawsuits after this.
The one that got rejected today was one of at least ten filed by the same plaintiffs. They have lost every single one, fortunately, but they haven't shown any sign of giving up.
O'DONNELL: Did the judges involved indicate that the posture of the case changes after election day and might become more favorable to them to be able to disallow the counting of those votes?
HOLLINS: Not at all. The judge today was exceedingly clear that there were 127,000 votes that have already been cast here and those are Republican votes and Democratic votes just to be clear. But those are going to be counted and we're thrilled about that.
My job is to protect the right to vote for all Harris County voters. And we're so glad that the 1.4 million votes that have been cast already are safe. And we're looking forward to hundreds of thousands more coming in tomorrow.
O'DONNELL: Now, the votes coming in tomorrow, are they going to be held apart and separate from the other votes in case there is litigation about the way votes were cast?
HOLLINS: Well, we always preserve all of our votes for any sort of audit or investigation. And so we preserve them in the same way that we always have. But again, the law is on our side there. We don't expect there to be any meritorious claim made against these votes. And we want to make sure that every resident here in Harris County who's registered to vote has the opportunity to have their voice heard this November.
O'DONNELL: What is you legal authority to decide to have drive-thru voting?
HOLLINS: So, I make a recommendation to our Commissioner's Court, which is bipartisan to determine the locations of voting. And those locations include our drive-thru voting locations and they were approved unanimously a couple of months ago.
O'DONNELL: And in tomorrow's voting, does the early voting indicate that then tomorrow's voting won't be such long lines because the early voting has taken so many people out of those lines?
HOLLINS: Almost certainly. We expect somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 votes to come in tomorrow, but we have over 800 voting locations across Harris County. And so I'm going to knock on wood but, you know, we're expecting it's move day tomorrow. We look forward to making sure that voters can cast their votes safely and conveniently and with the peace of mind that their votes are going to be counted.
O'DONNELL: Harris County clerk Chris Hollins, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
HOLLINS: Thanks, Lawrence.
Coming up, the best election analyst in the business -- it's as simple as that. Charlie Cook joins us next.
O'DONNELL: On nights like this, everyone in Washington wants to know what does Charlie think. Charlie Cook is Washington's most experienced election analyst who always has the sharpest focus on the balance of power in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the individual elections that can change those balances of power.
Charlie Cook is a meticulously careful analyst whose judgments are never influenced by partisanship, just the facts that he finds in the data.
On the presidential race, Charlie Cook is now saying with something close to certainty that Joe Biden will win the election and the only question now is whether it will be a narrow win or a landslide. Charlie Cook says a landslide is more likely.
He expects Democrats in the House of Representatives to pickup more seats to strengthen their majority by about ten more seats.
And on the United States Senate, which will be my focus of coverage tomorrow night, Charlie Cook says the Senate is increasingly less a case of whether Democrats will take a majority but how large it will be.
And the reason I'm going to have a perfectly good sleep tonight is that I have always trusted the judgment of Charlie Cook and I recommend you do the same.
Joining us now is Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of "The Cook Political Report" and columnist for "The National Journal". He is an NBC News political analyst.
And Charlie I'm recommending to all viewers that they read your article in "The National Journal" for the full analysis that you're going to sketch out for us here. Take us straight to the Senate races tonight, Charlie, and how you see that unfolding.
CHARLIE COOK, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure Lawrence.
Between you and what Plouffe said, geez, I wish my parents were still around to hear this. They're getting better in this.
I think we're looking at, you know, on the low side two or three-seat gain for Democrats; on the high side, five, six maybe seven. You've got a lot. You've got nine Republican seats that are just right on the nice edge, you know, minus one from Alabama that will be going the other direction.
And one of the things that's interesting about the senate races is the toss up at the end. Over the last 11 elections, close to 70 percent have broken one way or the other each year. They've either all -- 70 percent have gone Democrat, 70 percent go Republican. The highest was like 89 percent, the lowest was like 59 percent.
But the close ones, it's like the little -- of air just sort of knocks them. So these things can get really explode, particularly when you're seeing as parliamentary a voting that we're having now where people are just -- they're just voting red or they're voting blue. And it's quite something.
O'DONNELL: So in terms of most likely flips from Republicans to Democrat, you're looking at the most likely are I believe Colorado and Arizona in your view?
COOK: Yes. I would throw North Carolina in. I mean this has got to be demoralizing for Republicans is that when a Democrat is ahead by 5 to 7 points and has a sex scandal in a southern state and it knocks maybe two points off. I mean that tells me that things are parliamentary that the names on the jersey are less important than what color is the jersey.
And you know, for parties -- sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug. And this year, just like in 2006, it looks like Republicans are the bugs.
But that North Carolina seat I think it's going to be -- it's sort of in Gardner and McCally territory. And so that lives us with the next four which would be, you know, Maine, Iowa and both Georgias. Although I'm not sure I'd stop there. Because Montana is awfully, awfully close and South Carolina may be a point or two behind.
So these things can -- they're really, really stacking up and you know, there's sort -- these things are not, I mean when you have a presidential -- when you have a presidential camp that's ten points ahead and you're trying to -- you're trying to like stay above water, you have to be like a Michael Phelps or Johnny Weissmuller because the undertow is so great.
And that's what these Republicans are facing in a lot of these states with big suburbs. This is a tough, tough, tough place.
COOK: -- and then four, five, just teetering right there.
O'DONNELL: And the total in play is up around nine or ten?
COOK: Yes, I'd say nine -- those and then there's Alaska, Texas and Kansas open. And those I would not put in the same category, but they're not that far off.
And we're -- this is, this is looking -- I tell you what, Lawrence, you remember 1980. 6:30 at night. Birch Bayh, Democratic incumbent from Indiana, he loses at 6:30 and Democrats did lose a Senate seat every half an hour for six hours.
And this is what happens. And this is the rarest of all things where it's a wave election in a presidential year because usually they're midterms and one that ends in a zero so it's leading into redistricting.
Wow. So we'll see soon.
O'DONNELL: All right. We will be watching.
Charlie, thank you for that guidance. That's invaluable on the last night of our coverage of the presidential campaign. Really appreciate it. Thank you Charlie.
COOK: See you tomorrow night.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
COOK: Thank you.
O'DONNELL: And when we come back, Senator Kamala Harris has made history before, and she's on the verge of making history again. Yamiche Alcindor will join us.
And tonight's LAST WORD will go to Ray Charles.
O'DONNELL: Tonight Kamala Harris stands at the threshold of history. The polls indicate that when all the votes are counted Kamala Harris will become the first woman vice president of the United States, the first black woman vice president of the United States.
She began her career in elected office at age 39 when she won her first campaign for San Francisco district attorney. As she moved up in California politics, she never lost an election. She won state-wide office as California's attorney general in 2010. She was elected to the United States Senate exactly four years ago on the same night that Donald Trump was elected president.
There was immediate speculation that California's new charismatic senator would run for president, which she did. But like Joe Biden before her in 2008, a campaign for president led to the Democratic Party's nomination for vice president of the United States.
Here is Kamala Harris in Pennsylvania today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: They know our power. They know when we vote things change. They know when we vote we win.
So let's not let anyone take our power from us. We will not be sidelined. We will not be silenced. We know our power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Joining us now Yamiche Alcindor. She's the White House correspondent for PBS Newshour and an MSNBC political analyst. And Yamiche, we're just going to throw up on the screen the list of firsts that Kamala Harris would represent as a vice president of the United States.
She's already the first black woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket, first Indian American to be a candidate for vice president on a major party ticket, first graduate of a historically black college or university to run for president or VP.
She's the first member of a black sorority to run for -- by the way, Yamiche that's your sorority, I believe -- to run for president or VP.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is my sorority.
O'DONNELL: And this is the one that I kind of guessed at. And when we fact checked it turned out to be true. First California Democrat on a major party presidential ticket. The Democrats have never gone farther west than Texas for their presidential ticket.
Yamiche, this is a candidacy unlike any we've ever seen.
ALCINDOR: That's right. And no matter what happens tomorrow night, she has solidified her place in history as the first black woman on a major party ticket to be a vice presidential nominee.
And I can tell you from the reporting that I've been doing all over this country some virtually but also on the ground in places like Florida and Wisconsin. People especially African-Americans are so proud to see someone that looks like them on a major party ticket.
African-American women in particular are the backbone of the Democratic Party. And they've been saying for years that they want to see themselves represented in a major way, in a principle way. And that's what they got in Senator Harris.
I should also know that when you look at a study in 2009 at Tufts University among college graduates, African-American women in particular had the highest voting rates of any race, of any ethnicity.
So black women have -- are active, they're plugged into elections for a long time. And Senator Harris is representing them in some big ways.
Another thing to know is I remember interviewing Senator Harris before she became the nominee, and she told me her mother always told her be the first but don't be the last. So she is someone who has told me that she's very much invested in making sure other women, other people of color, other Asian women, other people that have diversity, that they also see themselves reflected and also have the support to go to the places where she went.
O'DONNELL: Yamiche, clearly she knows -- she's a role model and she knows that all those little girls dressing up as Kamala Harris for Halloween. But she seems to wear it effortlessly. She rarely even comments on it. She just seems to take for granted her position in a way that does not need to refer to this.
ALCINDOR: She doesn't need to refer to it. And I think what's heartening especially for black women Democratic voters she's someone who went to an HBCU as you said. She's someone who really exudes the culture of African-American women. She's someone who African-American women relate to without having to overtly have her talk about her blackness.
She's someone who understands really what it takes in some ways to succeed as a person of color in this country. And that's why you see so many of those little girls dressing up. Because they see themselves reflected in here.
There are a lot of times where African-Americans when they're first in all sorts of positions, they might want to not talk about it all the time. But just her being there, her physical presence on this campaign trail is history making. And she has the real cultural swagger is the way I'd put it when you think -- when you see the way that she refers to herself.
But she also has been overt about the fact that she wants to talk about being a member of the Divine Nine African-American sororities and fraternities in this country that don't always get a lot of political attention. So I think the nation has also learned so much about sororities and about black culture through her.
O'DONNELL: There was -- I know there were some people who thought at the beginning of the campaign that first debate when it got tense with her and Joe Biden that that would rule her out, but that didn't look like anything was going to rule out her possibilities as VP.
ALCINDOR: No, she was someone who obviously knew what she wanted and knew that she had to go there and knew that he was someone who was a big opponent. So she didn't feel at all that she had to back away from that. And I think a lot of black women were proud to see her do that.
O'DONNELL: Thank you very much, Yamiche. Really appreciate it.
Ray Charles is going to get tonight's LAST WORD. The Ray Charles estate has never allowed his music to be used in any political advertising until today.
Here it is.
O'DONNELL: Ray Charles gets "THE LAST WORD" on the four long years America has been waiting for this election.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.
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