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Special Report

All-Star Panel: Obama hurting Democrats' chances in midterms?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 9, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: This was a shocker today. Stuart Rothenberg, a lot of people look at what he writes about the races coming up, said this. "While the current Rothenberg political report ratings don't show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November with a net gain of at least seven seats. But I wouldn't be shocked by a larger gain...With the president looking weaker and the news getting worse, Democratic candidates in difficult and competitive districts are likely to have a truly burdensome albatross around their necks."

We're back with the panel. Mara, that raised some eyebrows today.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Raised some eyebrows, but you know what, this is the conventional wisdom. There is a sense that the math is just too hard for Democrats to overcome this year. Don't forget, no president has ever hung on to the Senate in a sixth year midterm except for LBJ in the modern era. It is really hard to do.

However, when you look at what the Democrats would have to do to hang on assuming Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia are already gone, they would have to keep two of the four red state Democratic incumbent seats, Alaska, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Arkansas. You look at the polls, look at any of those poll, North Carolina, there's no place where the Democrat is ahead in the polls in those four states. Now, of the four, I think North Carolina is the best chance for Democrat only because it's the only one where the president actually won there. He won in 2008. He narrowly lost in 2012.

BAIER: We should point out that these are the Real Clear average of polls, recent poll, and that's essentially tied. I mean, it's plus or minus three. Dana?

DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS CO-HOST, THE FIVE: I think that two of the races show some major overreach. There's a lot of overreach by Democrats. But the one in Alaska where the Senate incumbent, Begich, went after the challenger Dan Sullivan on a trumped up murder investigation, trial. He had to pull it back. He had to apologize for it. But then he has continued to talk about it. That actually has allowed Dan Sullivan to pull ahead in that race.

And then in Arkansas where you have Mark Pryor, again, the incumbent Democrat, going after Tom Cotton, suggesting that he wanted to spread Ebola in America, that again is overreach. There's other examples of that.

And I thought there was one surprise in this that people aren't talking about. It's actually in Virginia. I think that Ed Gillespie is the tortoise of that race. In the poll for the first time Warner is below 50 and Ed is up, Ed Gillespie is up with independents. That was in a plus 10 Democrat poll. And that won't be the same on Election Day. So there are some sleepers, including Minnesota and Oregon. I think that's why Stu Rothenberg has those stats.

BAIER: Yeah, because all of these folks with the crystal ball and Larry Sabato and The New York Times, they're all looking at the map expanding, not shrinking, for Republicans, fighting battles on a lot different states.  The interesting this is immigration and how the president's decision plays in to any of these races.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, that's one of the more radical changes in this election. And it happened as a result of what happened at the border, southern border, an issue that has been assumed since the election of 2012 to be a slam dunk for Democrats has now shifted around. The poll shows that if you ask people are you more or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports a path to citizenship -- more likely to support the candidate 27 percent, less, 36 percent.

Now, except for Colorado, where it plays to the Democrats, a larger Hispanic population, all of the other endangered or in-play states are states where that issue is going to be, extremely important and it's going to hurt the Democrats.

Now you add on to that health care, which a lot of us are ignoring because it's sort of a constant, but nothing has really changed in terms of how people are perceiving it, but it's a negative. And then you layer on to that the drag of the presidency where you've got a sense of the country -- there's sort of a malaise, to use an old word, which is a sense of a country in decline, in withdrawal and retreat and being humiliated abroad, an economy that is sluggish, general incompetence of the government and corruption here and there, and the polls showing huge numbers saying that the country is headed in the wrong direction. That's a terrible undertow, and that's going to accentuate all the particular issues, immigration especially.

BAIER: Mara, you talk to Democrats and Republicans, and they both will tell you that it's local races in each of these states. Yet, the president, while he is not on the ballot, he really is. If you look at the Washington Post-ABC poll, his approval rating's at 42 percent, at CNN-ORC, 43 percent, and not going up. He is on the ballot.

LIASSON: Of course. The president's approval rating in a midterm election is one of the most important political indicators of how his party is going to fare. Now of course, these are individual races, and one of the reasons that the Democrats have held on as long as they have and this thing has been broken wide is because you people with names like Begich and Pryor and Landrieu running. It is hard to unseat an incumbent. And I think that Republicans have only beat two Democratic incumbents I something like 50 years. It's hard. But these are red, red, red, red states. It's very tough landscape.

BAIER: We'll follow it all. Dana, as always, thanks for coming.

PERINO: Thank you. 

BAIER: That's all for the panel, but stay tuned, some of these ads on late night TV.

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