This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, October 26, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.
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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Joining us to give his last-minute and hopefully final election day predictions is University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato, America's favorite academic. His political Web site, called The Crystal Ball, of all things, is a must-stop site on the Web for all the latest political news and predictions.
Welcome back, Larry.
LARRY SABATO, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Thanks so much, Fred, appreciate it.
BARNES: Good. Give me your overall predictions, Senate, House, governors.
SABATO: Right now, I think the House is very definitely staying Republican. In fact, I see Republicans gaining at least three seats. I've got them up three net...
SABATO: ... to 226. On the Senate side, I was once where you all are, at 50-50. I've shifted slightly to 51-49 Democratic. I keep going back and forth. New Hampshire is the main reason why, by the way.
And in the governorships, that's a big night for Democrats. I'm calling this the Something for Everybody election. Democrats will be very pleased with the governorships. They will gain five net governorships.
BARNES: Yes, Larry, let me ask you one question about your possibility of changing your predictions. Do you see anything, any wave, any last, last minute tilt for either party that might change what happens?
SABATO: It's really interesting, because believe me, I've been searching for a wave. Frequently we have them in midterm elections. There isn't one. In some places it's tightening for -- in the Republican direction, in other states and districts it's tightening in the Democratic direction.
I don't see any uniform wave across the country.
MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, let's start with, with Minnesota, which is, you know, the target of everybody's attention. How do you see that? I mean, Mondale and Coleman?
SABATO: You know, when the tragedy happened on Friday, the first thing that I said and many people said was, Hey, this is Missouri 2000 all over again with the death of Governor Carnahan in the plane crash. I thought it would create a sympathy wave that would elect not only Mondale but some other Democrats.
And I think that was happening until that memorial service, the memorial service for Paul Wellstone that turned into a political pep rally and was really inappropriate in lots of ways. That has caused a backlash, and it's actually put Norm Coleman back into the game. It's a close race, it's within a couple of points. I still give a slight edge to Mondale, but boy, I'll tell you, that one's worth watching.
KONDRACKE: You said that you, that New Hampshire was, had changed your mind about how the, the whole Senate was going to go. So, so now I take it you think Shaheen is going to win? And why?
SABATO: I think, I think Shaheen is ahead. The one thing that could save Sununu is if Bob Smith either comes out at the last minute and says, Don't write in my name, or those backers of the write-in movement cease and desist.
I'll tell you, if Bob Smith had handled this correctly, the senator Sununu defeated in the Republican primary, if Bob Smith had handled this correctly, he could have had any ambassadorship he wanted. Now he's going to be lucky to get a passport.
SABATO: It's that bad. Or get let back into the country, anyway. So I think Shaheen is ahead there.
BARNES: What about South Dakota, the state where President Bush has spent more time than, than anywhere else? I mean, not many voters, and yet an important race.
SABATO: Should have been a slam-dunk for Thune, as far as I'm concerned, but I think Johnson is going to eke it out. It's the way it's looking to me, and I think, like Mort, I think Daschle is going to trump Bush.
BARNES: Let me ask you about a race that we didn't talk about, and that's the Texas Senate race, where ex-Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, an African- American, is running against John Cornyn, the Republican. What about that race? Is there a chance? A lot of Democrats are talking about a possible upset there by Kirk.
SABATO: The Democrats had a great theory, that double-minority theory, you nominate a Hispanic for governor and an African-American for Senate, and then minorities carry them both to victory. It's a terrific theory for the year 2020. I think it'll work by then. I see both Republicans winning in Texas, Governor Perry being elected to a full term, and John Cornyn winning the Senate race over Ron Kirk.
KONDRACKE: Now, I believe at one point in your crystal ball-gazing that you thought that Allard was going to lose to Strickland in Colorado. You've changed your mind on that one?
SABATO: Slightly. You know, it's another one I just keep going back and forth on, because he's such a weak incumbent. The guy can't seem to break 42, which is awful. But I'll tell you, he's got two big things going in his favor. One is Governor Owens, the Republican incumbent, who's going to win with 70 percent, and President Bush, who seems determined to pull Senator Dullard across the finish line.
So with that, he ought to be able to eke out a narrow victory.
KONDRACKE: OK, and Missouri. I mean, Missouri is obviously the, the Republicans' favorite target for a pickup. What do you think's going to happen?
SABATO: I think they're going to win it. I think there is a limit to sympathy. The sympathy worked in 2000, the sympathy is over in 2002, and Jim Talent, I believe, is going to pick up that seat for the Republicans.
BARNES: All right. We're going to get more picks from Larry, and we're going to hold him accountable for them, so stay with us. You're watching a special edition of The Beltway Boys.
KONDRACKE: We're back with our all-time favorite political science professor, Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia.
OK, Larry, what does this election mean for George Bush in 2004? And why has he spent so much energy campaigning? This, this is, I, I think he's beaten the Bill Clinton record in 1994 for, for energy expended on, you know, getting his -- the Congress his way.
SABATO: Well, he's got a lot of energy. Remember, he works out an hour and a half a day. I'm going to try it, it may work.
Look, what does it mean for him? If he wins both the House and the Senate, he can actually get a big chunk of his agenda passed that's been stymied, not just the judicial nominees but other tax breaks, making the tax breaks permanent, that, that kind of thing, so he can build a record for 2004.
However, I would argue that if he loses the Senate, he's actually in a better position for 2004. He has someone to blame. In American politics, you need a devil figure. If he has Democrats in control of the Senate, he has his devil figure.
KONDRACKE: Well, I dispute your, your idea that you can get, that he can get his whole program through the, the, the Senate, because you tape -- does take 60 votes. But let me, let me follow up one, one other thing. The, the governors, you know, having the, the Democrats controlling the majority of the governorships, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, the -- some big ones, does that help Bush in, in, in 2004 in any material way?
SABATO: No, it doesn't help him, it hurts him...
KONDRACKE: I mean, does it hurt him in any material way?
SABATO: Yes, that was a gimme, that was a gimme, Mort. Let -- no, it hurts him...
SABATO: ... you know, because -- but I tell you...
SABATO: ... he's an, he's an incumbent now. You know, you, you don't have to have governors in those states to win the states if you're an incumbent, because the election's about you automatically. Believe me, Bush would not be president today if he didn't have so many Republican governors helping him to get the nomination and win some of those key states in fall 2000.
But I think he can survive in 2004 even without them. Where it's going to help the Democrats is 2008, when the presidency comes open again.
BARNES: Larry, I've been searching for a broad theme to this campaign. I haven't found one yet. But there are a couple of political ads I want to show you and see what you think about them here. The first one is from the Democratic National Committee. Watch this, and, and give me your comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DNC AD)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: So first day on the new job, you ready for the big adventure?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Ready as I'll ever be.
ANNOUNCER: One hundred and seventy-five billion in savings gone, over 2 million jobs lost, many seniors starting over, looking for work.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: So, first day on the new job. Ready for the big adventure?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Ready as I'll ever be.
ANNOUNCER: For eight years, Democrats led America to the strongest economy in history. And in two years, Republicans have brought us the weakest economy in a generation.
Vote Democratic. A strong America should be strong for all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Well, is that a winner for Democrats?
SABATO: It might have been without Iraq or the Washington snipers. If this election had focused around those issues, mainly the economy and also a special appeal to seniors, then Democrats would be winning both houses of Congress easily.
But the election didn't focus on that. It didn't because people were focusing on Iraq, they were paying attention to the sniper story. And the Democrats got approximately one week to carry out the economic theme.
So no, it's not going to work.
KONDRACKE: Well, you know, there's a John Zogby poll that shows that, that even on the economy, which party do you trust to, you know, restore prosperity, et cetera, the Democrats are only up by 2 points. I mean, they, they didn't even get through on their own message, it looks like.
SABATO: Well, and also people remember several things. The recession, or at least the decline of the economy, began six months before Clinton left office. This is a bipartisan recession. Also, they do recall September 11, 2001. That had a lot to do with the downturn in the economy.
BARNES: All right.
SABATO: They don't blame Bush for that.
BARNES: Yes, no. I want to show you this other ad. It's from the free market conservative Club for Growth. Look at this one, Larry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CLUB FOR GROWTH AD)
ANNOUNCER: This is Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. Tom Daschle and the Daschle Democrats like to say no. No to President Bush on job- creating tax cuts, no to President Bush on homeland security, no to President Bush on eliminating the unfair death tax.
But the Daschle Democrats say yes to Ron Kirk for U.S. Senate, and that's bad for Texas.
Call Ron Kirk, tell him to say no to the Daschle Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Hey, you like those bobblehead dolls?
SABATO: Well, the bobbleheads were interesting. And it may work in Texas. That's President Bush's state.
SABATO: And I think it will hurt Ron Kirk there.
But look, nationally, Tom Daschle has a name recognition factor of about 40 percent. Most people don't even know who he is, and they don't know what Daschle Democrats are. So I don't think that theme worked either.
How do you demonize Tom Daschle? He is a nice guy.
BARNES: Yes, well, that is a...difficulty. Mort's trying to horn in here, Larry, but we don't have enough time.
KONDRACKE: Right, thanks, Larry.
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