All-Star Panel: Handicapping key Senate races

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 18, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: OK, we do a lot of talking about the presidential race, but of course the balance of power in the dome behind me, Congress. The Senate side, a lot of races up. There you see the balance of power, Democrats 51, Republicans 47. But the two I's there, those are independents who caucus with the Democrats, so really it's D - 53. So let's go down the row with some interesting Senate races. First to Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Massachusetts, Scott Brown. He won a miraculous victory in 2010 against Elizabeth Warren, professor -- Harvard Law professor, liberal lion. This race has attracted enormous -- it's the glamour race of the year.

BAIER: RCP average has it at Warren 50.5, Brown 46 percent.

KRAUTHAMMER: Right. She has been -- each of them have raised $50 million, which is an amazing amount. 60 percent of her money is from out of state. She is sort of the icon for liberalism in the country. Brown is suffering from the fact it is not wave election as it was in 2010. He does not have a weak opponent as he did in 2010. And he has a presidential ticket at the top, which for a state that is three to one Democratic hurts him.

However, one thing that happened is Romney has better. He was down 30 in the state, he is now down 14. He is not going to win the state. But the closing of that gap helps Brown to the extent that it was a Boston Globe poll a couple of days ago that has them dead even. So I think he is gaining. Still behind, the odds are she wins. But it could be a Brown upset.

BAIER: Alright Chuck?

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: I just want to say this is going to be a great year for Senate races. There are ten tossups in the RCP. Raising the prospect of multiple recounts like we had with Norm Coleman and Al Franken. So I just want everyone looking forward to that. My favorite one is in Virginia. George Allen, the Republican, against Tim Kaine, the Democrat. Both of these guys are very, very familiar to voters of Virginia.

BAIER: Put up the RCP average, it's very tight. Kaine with a slight lead, 48.7 to 46.7.

LANE: They are both former governors. And George Allen, of course, was the senator until he was beaten by Jim Webb in 2006. This is a kind of redemption effort by George Allen. He has kind of been through the ringer, he got a lot of heat the last time for associating with the confederate flag and for making some purportedly racist comment on the campaign trail. He is a more subdued, cooler, less fiery George Allen. And I would say that if Mitt Romney runs strong in Virginia, he could tug George Allen first over the finish line here.

BAIER: Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: In Montana, the incumbent Democratic Senator John Tester is challenged by the state's only Congressman Denny Rehburg. This should be a pretty easy race for Republican. Tester barely beat Conrad Burns six years ago. But the Republican is being hurt by an independent candidacy. A guy named Dan Cox, who's a libertarian. Interestingly, this week, we reported, that a group called Montana Hunters and Anglers has come out with spots attacking Denny Rehburg for not being sufficiently conservative. The surprise here is this group of so-called "hunters and anglers" is being supported and funded entirely by Democratic operatives. These are guys who wouldn't know the right side of fly rod to cast, wouldn't know where to put a shell in a shotgun. These are not hunters and anglers? And yet it looks to me like this race could go Tester's way because of this third-party challenge.

BAIER: I want to put up the RCP average in that one. That is really tight with Rehberg at 46.3 percent and Tester --

CARLSON: Just flat-out tied.

BAIER: Really just tied. OK Charles, you have a second round?

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, Missouri. Amazingly close. You wouldn't have expected.  Claire McCaskill, incumbent, very unpopular, it was going to be the easiest for Republicans to knock off, running against Todd Akin, who was ahead of her, and then he made the gaffe of the century. It's early in the century but none will surpass the gaffe he made about forcible rape. He sunk in the polls. He was ostracized by Republicans. And yet, he is only two points behind.

BAIER: The average of polls includes some earlier polls. That includes about, I guess four or -- four and four.

KRAUTHAMMER: Latest he is up to, the latest has him two behind. In part that is because Romney is running so strong. He is up 13 in the state. At the beginning, people had thought that Akin slipping and bringing the Republicans down would put the Missouri in play in the presidential election. It's not. But that Akin is even in the race is simply astonishing.

BAIER: Lightning round. Real quick, last two.

LANE: I just want to remind everybody of Nebraska, which was thought to be a sure thing for the Republican candidate Deb Fischer running against old Bob Kerrey, who is trying to get a second or another shot at the Senate seat he used to hold. She was ahead by double digits. The last poll has her up only three. And she is polling below 50 percent at 49 for the first time. That one could be a surprise.

BAIER: If Nebraska goes Democrat though, that is a bad thing for Mitt Romney overall.

LANE: It could be, yeah, although, Kerry because he is a relatively conservative Democrat and has a long history in the state may not necessarily be a leading indicator.

BAIER: Tucker?

CARLSON: The saddest race in the entire country is Indiana. There is an open seat and a race between Joe Donnelly -- who's the congressman, one of the congressman from the state and Richard Mourdock the state treasurer. This was a seat occupied by Dick Lugar who was so popular in Indiana he was not even challenged in his 2006 race. He lost in the primary and now it looks like that seat may go Democrat. I know this is a talking point on the left. I don't care. It's true. This race ought to make the Republicans rethink how they do their primaries because this is just a waste of the seat for the Republicans, period.

BAIER: But you think that there is a chance that Mourdock could even pull that off?

CARLSON: Oh yeah, no of course Mourdock could pull it out. But my only point is this wouldn't be a race if Lugar was there. That's just a fact.

BAIER: Alright, we went around the horn pretty quick there. That's it for panel. But stay tune for some more images from Hurricane Sandy.

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