All-Star Panel: Looking ahead at midterm races to watch

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 6, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Obama's statement that his policies are on the ballot is reverberating around the country, as you can imagine, for Republicans.  Gallup has a new poll out, if this vote for the candidate sent is a message to President Obama, a message to support, 20 percent, message to oppose 32 percent. You can see the breakdown from 2010, which obviously was a big Republican pickup.

That phrase, that sound bite from President Obama is now used in a couple of ads, prominently featured, one in Kansas. And you look at the Real Clear Politics average of polls there. The independent Greg Orman is still leading Pat Robertson, you can see there the breakdown. And then the other place this ad is hitting hard is Kentucky with the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell running as you can see in the average of polls about four points up.

We're back with the panel. OK, A.B., you look at that Gallup poll, what message does that send to you?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, it's not going to be like 2010 because all those seats were won by Republicans. There are not that many that they can win again. If you look at the Senate, which is where they pick up a majority again, all year and particularly through the summer those Senate Democrats who represent states where Mitt Romney easily won in 2012 against President Obama, those candidates held leads through the summer, which was pretty significant. All of the durability of those leads is disappearing and the Republican candidates, the challengers, are now taking a good solid lead.  That's a very bad sign, because what it says when President Obama in those very red states is now 12 points less popular than he was when he was re-elected is that Democrats are not going to get on the card on the vote. You see that in the polls, they're not motivated by any one issue. And they are all scared, they're all anxious, that vote is going to be depressed.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Can you imagine if you are a Democratic candidate running in a tight race and your one great theme is "I'm not Obama," and trying to make the race a local race. Republicans of course are trying to nationalize it because of the unpopularity of Obama. And he comes out and he makes this statement. Alison Grimes in Kentucky has been saying over and over again, "I'm not Obama," and now of course he says this election is about my policies. So there now is the worst thing that could have happened to them when they are trying all to hang on.

And when you see the numbers you showed, in 2010, which was, as Obama said, a shellacking for Democrats, there was eight-point advantage for sending a message against Obama over sending a message in support. And now it's a 12-point advantage. This is a very bad environment. It's bad enough that Obama's presence would hurt these candidates. He never shows up in any of these states because no candidate wants him there. But now he has imposed himself with that statement in his speech. And I can only attribute it to a matter of pride on his part. It makes no political sense.

BAIER: Steve, what's not in these polls, we should point out, is the Democratic advantage in money and also in ground game in a lot of these states. And that doesn't factor in a lot of times when we look at these polls, and that's the real question mark as we come closer and closer to Election Day. As you look at these races, any race stick out to you?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think we are seeing, just as a general point, we are seeing the Democrats' advantage on money erode somewhat. It's tightening up.  Republicans, but outside groups and the party structure is actually spending more money, raising more money. That gap is narrowing.

I think the race that strikes me as particularly interesting in light of our first discussion, first panel tonight, is in Arkansas where Senator Pryor thought that national security was going to be his ace in the hole against Tom Cotton, Representative Tom Cotton in trying to portray Cotton before he was really well known to voters across the state as this uber- hawk, somebody who was irresponsible. You had Harry Reid spending a ton of money in the state. And now, of course, the issue of environment has entirely changed where being a hawk in this environment when people are looking at beheadings on their evening news is a good thing, and you are seeing Pryor scramble to portray himself now as more hawkish.

BAIER: One place the Democrats have managed to take on that foreign policy challenge is North Carolina. A.B., Kay Hagan, it seems like she is kind of becoming the hawk in that state. Military votes aplenty. That's significant.

STODDARD: But she is also benefiting from the fact that her opponent, Thom Tillis, is the House speaker of the legislature there and it is wildly controversial in its record in the last year, 18 months. And so that's playing for her in a way, while these other Republican candidates really eclipse these Democratic incumbents, she is the one who was written off months ago as the one who was going to lose. And now she seems like the one who might hang on the best.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned to see a meteorologist and her visitor.

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