All-Star Panel: Will balance of power shift in the Senate?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 8, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MICHELLE NUNN, D - GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I have the experience, the values, the aspiration to bring people together and to get things done in Washington.

DAVID PERDUE, R - GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: If you like what's going on in Washington, vote for my opponent, because she'll be nothing but a rubber stamp for Barack Obama and Harry Reid.

PAT ROBERTS, R - KANSAS SENATE CANDIDATE: In fact, a vote for Greg Orman is a vote to hand over the future of Kansas and the country to Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

GREG ORMAN, I - KANSAS SENATE CANDIDATE: Pat Roberts will repeatedly tell that you President Obama and Harry Reid are the reason Washington is such a mess. And you know what? He is half right. But the other half of the mess, Mitch McConnell and Pat Roberts.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Kansas and Georgia, two of the debates, Kansas happening today. Let's take a look at the new Fox polls and the RCP average of polls in these races. Alaska first of all, you see the Republican Dan Sullivan up four. The RCP average of this race has it a little bit bigger spread than our poll. Let's go to Arkansas. Our new poll, the Fox poll, Cotton widening that lead over Pryor. The RCP average here is also a little bit tighter than in Arkansas.

Let's go to Colorado. We were just out there yesterday. Gardner in our poll widening his lead. The RCP average closer, but with our factored in has increased Gardner's lead in the average.

Then have you Kansas. This is a big change, actually, in this poll.  And you can seat RCP average has now been affected by this, but still Greg Orman is leading in that. There is another poll out today that puts it very tight. And there you see McConnell and Grimes. It's at four points and the RCP average is also, I believe, at roughly four points -- right at four points.

We're back with the panel looking at this race. Mara?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, the race still looks like it's the Republicans to lose. And even if they got Kansas and if Orman caucuses with the Democrats, those are a lot of ifs, it would still be Republican because they are going to get Colorado and I'm assuming you have Iowa in there trending Republican, too. Plus, Alaska, plus Arkansas, Louisiana and the other three open races, that's it. That's well over six. Now, if the Democrats hang on, I think it will be because of their field operation.

BAIER: Which we were just in Colorado yesterday, and we can tell threw is a big Democratic operation there.


BAIER: And they get out the vote, and the money spent on the ground is going to be significant.

LIASSON: They are spending tremendous amounts of money on this. Guy Cecil who's the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee guy, he is a field person. That's what he does. He said, told NPR today, he can sit at his computer. He knows what volunteer Steve Jones in the Arctic Circle has done today, you know, how many people he has registered, how many doors he has knocked on. They have a great, sophisticated operation. And I guess the theory would be from the Democrats that it is not showing up in the polls. But I still think the polls show a very, very strong chance that the Republicans will take the Senate.

BAIER: Here is another interesting thing from our Fox poll, Charles, and that is President Obama's approval rating in these five states. It's stunning if you look at these approval ratings. 36 percent is the highest approval in any of the five states. You can see them in just a second, all five. And 31 percent is the lowest in Kansas. But you look at those numbers and can you see why these ads include President Obama saying every one of my policies is on the ballot.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look the fact that those numbers, which are historically low, are the fact of life in those states. And yet the races are all pretty close is a tribute to the local regional strength of the Democratic candidates, some of whom have great family names, like Pryor in Arkansas, Landrieu in Louisiana, Begich in Alaska.

Nonetheless, I think what is interesting is you can see sort of a separation beginning to open here. The most stunning result you showed, of course, was you pointed out was Kansas, where Orman, the so-called independent who is a closet Democrat, was in front. I have always thought that he couldn't keep that up. The reason is he has to act like a chameleon and pretend that he is on the fence. He could go either way. He is obviously a Democrat, and you can't pretend for a month.

The other two races that are widening and really interesting are Cotton in Arkansas and the race in Colorado, Gardner and Udall. If those are spreading, trending Republican, it's going to be a big Republican night.

BAIER: Let me put this on the board. South Dakota, there is a new poll out today, it's being called on the ground an outlier, but take a look at this. Independent Larry Pressler 32 percent. Mike Brown, the Republican, is expected to run away with this looking like is he polling very bad. This is not being said to be the best of polls according to people on the ground. But it raises the prospect of South Dakota somehow coming in to being a Kansas situation.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, and there is talk that Democrats are going to put in as much as $1 million in television in South Dakota. And if that's actually true, $1 million in South Dakota buys quite a bit of television. So if that's true, it would be yet another example of state that Republicans sort of counted on or thought was likely in the bag that ends up maybe being competitive. And I'm thinking of other ones like Kansas, maybe Kentucky, like Georgia, where Republicans didn't think that they would be fighting at this point.

But as Mara points out, on the other hand you have states that thought were either going to be highly competitive or likely Democrat, like Iowa, maybe Colorado, Alaska, Louisiana, where Republicans are doing at least as well as the Democrat and potentially doing better.

BAIER: We should point out in South Dakota Mike Brown has not really campaigned that much. He didn't show up for the last debate.

LIASSON: No. Everybody thought he had it in the bag. Larry Pressler, let's just remind our viewers, Larry Pressler is not a Greg Orman. We don't think he would caucus with the Democrats. He is a former Republican senator, so we assume that that would be Republican.

There is one other scenario we should talk about at some point, which is Greg Orman might not be the only one deciding who to caucus with. If the Republicans almost had a majority, had a small one, maybe Joe Manchin would decide to change his party. Maybe other independents would flip, too. So it could be very fluid.

BAIER: He could be the Jim Jeffries of the next Senate, the late Vermont senator who switched parties and changed the control.

KRAUTHAMMER: He was once here on Center Seat, and I asked him why don't you go straight and become a Republican.

BAIER: Joe Manchin, you mean.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes. And he kind of danced around it. He may not dance next January.

BAIER: Well, if the chairmanship is on the board you never know. It will be fun.

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm sure it can be arranged.


BAIER: We'll be following all of this, as you can imagine, every step of the way. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned to see one local anchor apparently in need of a caffeine fix.

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