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Special Report

Is Republican electorate energized?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Tomorrow we have three contests, two caucuses, Minnesota and Colorado, and a nonbinding primar y in Missouri. Looking back over the weekend Saturday, the Nevada caucuses, these are the final numbers. We actually didn't get them until this morning, believe it or not. Mitt Romney was the big winner. Newt Gingrich pulling off second here, Ron Paul in third, and there you see the breakdown both in raw total and in percentage.

Now, the delegate count, here is how it stands right now, this is after Nevada. And this is also including super delegates which basically they pledge their allegiance to a candidate. But this takes all that into account. You look at the overview, Needed 1,144 for the nomination. So far about seven percent allocated, 93 percent left on the table. So a long way to go if all of these candidates continue to battle.

Now turnout, this has been the big discussion, Republican turnout. Just a take a second and look at this. These are all the states so far and you can see a big turnout plus in South Carolina. But overall a turnout, as you see the bottom number, the raw vote total from 2008, 2012, down 4.3 percent. Some of the states like Nevada down significantly.

With all of that data, we're back with the panel. Steve, thoughts?

HAYES: I think the turnout numbers are significant. If you want to look at the most important two states in terms of the general election, of the numbers that you just showed there, Florida down 14.2 percent, Nevada down 25.8 percent. That's a smaller number in Nevada, smaller number of total votes. That's a problem. Those are swing states, those are states Republicans are going to need to win or do very well in if they're going to be competitive.

South Carolina, where there was a surge, up 35 percent, if the Republicans don't win South Carolina, this is the landslide of 1984 proportions. So in the states where Republicans need to do better, need to have an energized election, they're not doing that, at least thus far.

It will be interesting to see what the turnout numbers are, in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri, which are also, I think competitive states that will to a certain extent determine the outcome of the election in fall.

BAIER: And just so everyone knows, the nonbinding part of Missouri is that they don't tie delegates to this essentially a straw poll, a primary that's a straw poll that doesn't really have delegates tied to it. They get a portion, then tied to it later on, Mara, in the weeds there explaining it, but there'll be these caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Look, Colorado is particularly one of the Obama campaign's top targets for putting together the map they need. Look, I think the turnout numbers are really eye-popping. This is the year when Republicans were supposed to have a huge enthusiasm gap over Democrats. In 2008, they were de-spirited and demoralized, and here their turnout is down.

Florida in particular, which is a really important state, big battleground state, it suggests that the negativity of the race might have depressed the turnout. It was really a scorched earth campaign. The Romney campaign spent $15 million on ads. Only one was positive, it was a Spanish language radio ad that ran 15 times. I don't know what other explanations there are, but that's not a good sign.

BAIER: Charles, I want to quickly go to the polling that's out there for these three states tomorrow. First Missouri, there is only very few polls. In fact PPP is the only poll, respected, right now, that we look at. And here is Missouri that's out, Newt Gingrich with a slight lead over Rick Santorum. But here's the key, Newt Gingrich isn't on the ballot in Missouri. So that is really an interesting development.

And then you have Minnesota, Santorum doing well there, 29 percent to 27 percent. And you see pretty close across the board in Colorado, Romney with a sizable lead over Santorum in second and Gingrich in third. There's no Real Clear Politics average. There just isn't a lot of polling out there. PPP was pretty close in their Nevada polling ahead of the caucuses on Saturday. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: If you are assuming in Missouri that Santorum will pick up the bulk of the Gingrich percentage and he's not on the ballot, that gives Santorum a real shot at a significant win in Missouri. Now, as you say there are no delegates at stake, but it's a big state, it's a microcosm of the country and I think it would be the Santorum claim, I'm the anti-Romney, I'm the real one who can do it.

I think that Tuesday is his one shot at becoming, at changing the story of this campaign. If he does well in Minnesota and Colorado, if he beats Gingrich in both and then he comes out ahead of Romney in Missouri, I think he makes s case that Newt isn't the one. I'm the one who can go head to head, as the true conservative, the one who has the record and has shown here that he can do it. Now, he doesn't have a lot of money. I'm not sure how he makes it. But, I think if there's going to be a change in the story it's gonna happen here.

And just a word on the turnout. I think this is a real argument for Gingrich's statement. The only state where the turnout is up is the state he won. Every state where Mitt either won or tied, the turnout is down, and that's a real statement about enthusiasm.

BAIER: Ron Paul is trying to organize these caucus states, he historically has done better in caucus states, although Nevada had to be a disappointment for the whole campaign to come in third there, Steve. Santorum today, is noting that the Romney campaign is out attacking him and sending surrogates out to attack Santorum. They say that's a signal.

HAYES: Well, I think it is a signal. I don't think there's any question that it's a signal. And if you look at the poll that we've seen and there are internal polls that we've seen showing Santorum doing quite well in Minnesota. I think the Romney campaign doesn't want Santorum to come out of Tuesday with, you know, a win, even if it's a beauty win in Missouri, a win potentially in Minnesota, a good showing in Colorado and then this narrative, it flips yet again. Newt Gingrich has been struggling I think for the past couple of weeks and Rick Santorum has been doing well and getting pushes from people like Rush Limbaugh. Not the narrative the Romney campaign would want.

BAIER: That is it for the panel, but stay tuned to see one effort to show off Detroit's latest products.

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