All-Star Panel: 2014's midterm races to watch

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 24, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. MARK PRYOR, D-AR.: He has voted against our seniors. He has voted against our students. He has voted against our women. And he has also voted against working families all over the state of Arkansas. And at the end of the day, that's for one simple reason, so that he can give his billionaire backers enormous tax breaks.

REP. TOM COTTON, R-AR.: A vote for Mark Pryor is a vote for Barack Obama. Mark Pryor votes with Barack Obama 93 percent of the time. I don't know how many Arkansans who agree with Barack Obama 93 percent of the time.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: That's the Arkansas race. The two candidates there, you can take a look at the Real Clear Politics average of the latest polls, and you can see it's essentially tied in Arkansas. And there you see the Republican Tom Cotton in the RCP average. There is a new poll "USA Today" poll out that has Mark Pryor up slightly but essentially tied again. We are back with our panel. We ask the panelists to choose one of these races that intrigues them to talk about. George, we will start with you.

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: There are Senate races and five purple states this year, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Iowa, and much the closest is Iowa. Braley and Ernst are the Democrat and Republican, one-tenth of one percent apart the Real Clear Politics average of polls. It shouldn't be this close really. Granted Iowa has voted Democratic in six of the last seven presidential elections, but Barack Obama's approval rating is only 38 percent in Iowa.

The Democrats have two ideas this year and they're the same two in Iowa. One is that the Republicans are waging a war on women, two, which Joanie Ernst is a five foot, two inch, 44 year old grandmother who packs a pistol, rides a Harley, and served in Iraq and Kuwait, says I'm a woman and I have been in war and this isn't war, which is a pretty good answer.

And with regard to the idea -- the other Democratic idea is the Koch brothers, the big money. Well, Tom Steyer, who opposes the Keystone pipeline, is running ads named Braley but supporting Braley by attacking Joanie Ernst, Braley who has changed his position in the last two years on the Keystone pipeline, and Steyer has run $2.6 million of negative ads against Joanie Ernst which is a lot of money in the Iowa media market.

BAIER: Speaking of Iowa, so the FOX poll is tied at 41 percent. The Rasmussen poll is tied at 42 percent. OK, Mara, your choice?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I pick North Carolina. The Democrats have to hang on to North Carolina. If they lose Arkansas, Alaska, and Louisiana, in addition to the three open seats, they have got to hang on to North Carolina and get one other seat. The interesting thing about North Carolina, unlike these other states, it's truly purple. Barack Obama won it in 2008, narrowly lost it in 2012. And the Democrats have spent tremendous amount of time and money building an infrastructure to get out the vote there. And I think North Carolina will be a great test of the vaunted Democratic field operation to see if they can get all those newcomers to North Carolina, educated, young, upscale whites and African-Americans to the polls. The polls there are very close. I think this is a race that this year the Democrats should lose. I mean in North Carolina.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm choosing New Hampshire. We have Jeanne Shaheen, the incumbent, the Democrat, a popular governor, still ahead of Scott Brown, the former senator of Massachusetts. But he has gained a lot. He was way behind a few months ago. The interesting thing, and he is probably still a long shot here, but the polls, he's only two points behind. On the RCP average he's behind by about five, but on one of the late polls, two behind. He isn't only relying on the anti-Obama sentiment and on the lousy economy, but he has pioneered for Republicans attack ads on two issues. Immigration, he jumped on that, which is an issue that has flipped. It was a Democratic issue. It now works against them. And he's also begun running ads on ISIS, the war on terror, the general sense Americans have of weakness. It will be interesting to see how much that's going to help him. He has sort closed the gap, again, tough to win. He is from out of state. He isn't exactly their cup of tea, and Shaheen is inherently popular. But he may have latched on to the issues that might swing this.

BAIER: We will take this show on the road to Louisiana talking to Senator Mary Landrieu the incumbent, Bill Cassidy, the Republican, Rob Maness, another Republican in that race. Quickly, George, a few seconds here, Kansas -- the FOX polls in Kansas have Orman up on Roberts. Orman is the independent, and it looks like that could be a race that decides the whole thing.

WILL: The Democrat has dropped out. It's a two-person race and Orman is probably up by about five right now. He is 45. Pat Roberts, who has been in Washington as a staffer or something else since the 60's, is 78. And it's now probably Orman's to lose.

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