Election Predictions

This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, October 31, that has been edited for clarity.

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TONY SNOW, GUEST-HOST: Will the Republican Party pick up governor seats next week in Kentucky and Mississippi? Will FBI eavesdropping help or hurt Philadelphia's incumbent Mayor John Street (search), and what about the especially intriguing election next month in Louisiana?

Here with answers, our resident sage, Michael Barone, co-author of the Almanac of American Politics and a FOX News contributor.

Michael, first let's run through the races. Mississippi, a well-known figure here in Washington, Haley Barbour (search), former chairman of the Republican National Committee, former White House chief of staff in the Reagan years has taken on the incumbent Governor Ronnie Musgrove. There you see the latest polls, 47-43, pretty tight within the margin of error. What is going on?

MICHAEL BARONE, SENIOR WRITER, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: What's going on there? Well, this is -- Ronnie Musgrove is a guy who won by a 50 to 49 percent margin; he actually didn't get an absolute majority and was elected by the legislature.

SNOW: By the legislature, that's right.

BARONE: Strong support from trial lawyers; and they are a major force in the Democratic Party, particularly in the south where unions are not nearly as important as they are in many other states. Musgrove had to seek some tort reform. There was a big issue in Mississippi about doctors leaving the state because of malpractice, and the fact that court verdicts were not appeal able as a right to the appeals court. So some a jury in a little small county would hit you with millions of dollars and you couldn't actually get an appeal on it.

Obviously when an incumbent governor is behind or even with a poll -- with a challenger in a poll, he's got some problems.

SNOW: All right. There are two things going on. You've got that. He's got some problems. Haley Barbour is -- they're trying, essentially, to paint him as a carpetbagger, even though he's maintained a residence in Mississippi. The president is going to be coming to Mississippi. Where is he going and why?

BARONE: Well, the president is going to two counties, Desoto County in northern Mississippi and that's the suburbs of Memphis, Tennessee, it's a heavily Republican area, 71 percent for Bush in 2000. And he's also going down to Gulfport on the Gulf Coast there in Harrison County, which is the second largest county in the state.

That county was 61 percent for George W. Bush. And obviously, this is part of Karl Rove's strategy that he's talking about for the 2004 presidential election. Elections are less about convincing the diminishing number of undecideds, more about ginning up turnout from your base. So they're going to those two locations with the hope of sweeping a lot of people to vote in Desoto and Harrison County especially, and places like that in Mississippi.

SNOW: I was born in Kentucky. My family is from Kentucky. Something almost unthinkable, which is a Republican has a pretty sizable lead going into an election. Now, the candidates are Ernie Fletcher, the Republican, versus Ben Chandler.

BARONE: Ah, yes. Ben Chandler is the grandson of  A.B. Happy Chandler, who was first elected governor of Kentucky in 1935. He was baseball commissioner from 1945 to '50, elected governor again in 1955, defeated in the Democratic primary in 1963 by Ned Breathitt.

In a way, it's sort of the Democratic politics is kind of the old-time politics. They won every governor election since 1971. Ben Chandler has tried to make this a referendum on the Bush jobs issue. He's saying that trade treaties, and Bush's economic policies has cost Kentucky manufacturing jobs. And there's some significant manufacturing base if Louisville and northern Kentucky just south of Cincinnati and in places like...

SNOW: But northern Kentucky, those are auto companies that are not American in origin.

BARONE: Well, in any -- Georgetown, Kentucky you have, you know, the big -- what is it?

SNOW: The Toyota plant.

BARONE: Yes, the big Toyota plant. That doesn't seem to have worked for Ben Chandler. He has got one major problem; which is the incumbent Governor Paul Patton had a sex scandal, where he had an affair with the woman and then he sicked the state inspectors on her after she broke off the affair or so it is alleged. That's obviously hurt the Democratic Party.

And Ernie Fletcher, the Republican congressman has said let's, you know, clean up. He's also made a no new taxes pledge, which the Democrat has declined to do.

So George W. Bush is going to be there tomorrow. He's going to Paducah in McCracken County that is a county that historically in western Kentucky heavily Democratic, part of the Democratic base. It went 55 percent for George W. Bush in 2000. They want to keep it in the Republican column. And he's also going to Laurel County; this is in the mountains in the south central. This is an area that stayed Republican and pro-union during the civil war and they're still voting for the party of Lincoln, 71 percent for Bush.

SNOW: Cleaning up Frankfurt, they had a big sting a couple of years ago that erupted a bunch of members of the legislature.

OK, let's go to Louisiana. That's not next week, but it's Bobby Jindal versus Kathleen Blanco. Now, that's an especially interesting rate. I'm just going to tee it up for you.

BARONE: Well, Bobby Jindal is sort of an amazing candidate, this man is 32 years old, he is the son of immigrants from India. He's graduated from Brown University and Rhodes scholarship at Oxford. He has been director of the John Breaux Medicare Commission, the bipartisan commission that issued a report in 1998. He was head of the Louisiana State University system, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush administration. And he's gone back to Louisiana.

He's running on a hard shell, conservative platform, no new taxes. Bring about regeneration in Louisiana, a state whose economy has been doing badly.

Kathleen Blanco, 60 years old, lieutenant governor for two terms. She's a Cajun. Blanco is her married name. And she's hoping to get support from traditional Democrats. Jindal's boss, John Breaux has cut a spot for her. But she's been trailing in recent polls. Some of them have been Republican polls, but there's also now an independent poll coming out showing Jindal ahead. That's Saturday November 15.

SNOW: We mentioned Philadelphia. You've got 15 seconds, so all you have time is for a prediction. Who's going to win?

BARONE: I'm going to predict Mayor John Street will win as he did four years ago, narrowly over Sam -- Republican Sam Katz.

SNOW: All right. And there you see the numbers in the recent poll. Not all that close according to the most recent polls.

Michael Barone, thanks.

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