What to expect from the Iowa caucuses

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 1, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.




CLINTON: I know we've got to get back out there and do the work, but I am so excited about tonight. I'm feeling so energized because of all of you.

BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What is our job today? It's to make sure we have the highest voter turnout possible. That happens, we win. Let's go get them.

SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, good afternoon. God bless the great state of Iowa.

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And to have a crowd like this on our final day, can you believe it? This is the day. This is the day we take our country back. Remember that.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The sights and sounds on the trail today. We don't deal with averages of polls this close to the actual voting. The latest poll just out today was the Quinnipiac poll. We'll put that up for you. And it shows Donald Trump here in Iowa still leading over Senator Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in third. Inside that poll you see first time caucus goers going to Trump 40 percent to 22 percent. And previously attended caucus goers, Cruz, Trump essentially tied, Rubio very close.

Also in this Quinnipiac poll, voter certainty -- mind made up, 72 percent, might change your mind, 28 percent. We're looking at the Sanders/Clinton numbers. We'll talk about that as well.

Let's bring in our special expanded panel: Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume; Tucker Carlson, host of "Fox & Friends Weekend"; Kirsten Powers, USA Today columnist, and Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard. OK, Brit, a sense going into this and what we can expect.

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Now we have these two polls, the respected Des Moines Register poll which we got yesterday morning. And this Quinnipiac poll, and they are pretty darn consistent. And basically what they show in both cases is this lead order, Trump, Cruz, Rubio, same in both polls.

Both polls also show with slightly different numbers that although Trump does the best by far of anybody with first time voters he does respectably well with mainline Republicans, which tells us, I think, that if there's a great big surge, which the polling hasn't yet picked up, a great big surge of new voters, he will win very handily. But even if there's not, there's a very great likelihood he'll win anyway. So that's my takeaway from what we're getting from the polls the last two days.

BAIER: And we'll get a sense, Tucker, early on about these crowd sizes at these caucus sites.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Either way, no matter what happens I think we know we don't know very much. Having covered this for 20 years, more than, I thought money was the key factor. You know who raised the most money in the last quarter? Ben Carson did. The frontrunner spent a lot of his money on hats. I thought you had to spent a lot of time in the state. Mike Huckabee did that. Trump is flying, giving rallies in states that don't even have primaries, it seems. I thought you had to pander to the voters. The frontrunner called the stupid and the guy in second place attacked ethanol. If Trump and Bernie win this thing, it's going to be an earthquake for both parties, but it's also going to reveal that a lot of us, we have no idea what the relevant criteria were for calling a race.

BAIER: And what is the thing, Kirsten, that's going to unlock the 28 percent that haven't made their mind up. Is it electability? Is it sticking to principles?

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY: On the Democratic side they have a real caucus where people are persuading people. It could be just who has the best surrogates who are there moving people. And I think that -- we were talking about this before. On the one hand, maybe everything has changed or maybe everything has stayed the same. We don't really know.

What could end up happening is you could have Hillary winning because she has the best organization and she reached the most voters, and you could end up having Cruz winning because he had the best organization and the best voters. We don't really know yet. The polls are suggesting Trump. But at the same time we don't see it. There's no new surge of registration. We have same day registration, that's true. But do we know where these people are going to show up in the past? Typically, no, first time voters do not show up unless they have an organization that a Barack Obama organization getting them there.

BAIER: I tried to get some nuggets of information from Senator Rubio, whether his team thought he could maybe get to second. He knows it's not going to be first. They're not, obviously, showing their cards tonight. Do we know anything about where the rest of the field stacks up?

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: We really don't. To underscore what Kirstin and Tucker said, this is nice commentator humility here. There's so much we don't know.

BAIER: So just tune in tonight.


HAYES: Well, look, it's better that we pretend we know everything. I was out last night and talked to several senior Clinton campaign officials and folks with Ted Cruz's campaign and the Rubio campaign. They all have their numbers and they believe in their numbers, but they all say the same thing we're saying. We have no idea. The cliche is it depends on turnout. And that's obviously true, but nobody even knows what to expect with turnout. There's talk of greatly increased turnout but nobody can say that.

BAIER: Let's say what we know. We know the weather's not an issue.

HAYES: Correct.

BAIER: We know the drive to get people to these caucus sites has been intense and some GOP leaders are predicting the highest turnout ever. If that's the case Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, one would think, surge.

HAYES: They have to do well. There's some polling that shows that Marco Rubio would do well with an influx of new voters. But just to underscore how crazy this past year has been, think about where the Republican field was a year ago today. Huckabee was leading, Carson, Paul, Walker, Christie. And then at the bottom, Cruz, Rick Santorum, Rubio, and Trump. So the people at the very bottom a year ago today are now among the top three and expected to finish in the top three.

BAIER: Brit?

HUME: I was just going to say that there's one issue that emerges in all this polling, and it has to do with how people feel before the nation's economic system. And on the Republican side in the "Des Moines Register" poll, something in the mid-30 percent felt the system was rigged against the little guy. That's a lot of Republicans in that field, and it's fair. On the Democratic side, the number approaches 70 percent.

Why is that? The reason for that is a protracted and anemic economic recovery. I would say it's very clear tonight as we sit here that the Sanders candidacy, and I think the Trump candidacy as well, would not have gotten off the ground had it not been for how long it's been since we've had robust economic growth, how many people are out of the kinds of jobs they want to have and too many still out of any job. That drives this sense.

There's an old saying in the legal profession, that hard cases make bad law. Well, bad economic times spawn bad ideas. And Bernie Sanders' socialism and a lot of this economic populism, these are bad ideas, but they are riding high.

BAIER: But Tucker, if there's a state that is a sweet spot for Bernie Sanders, Iowa would be it.

CARLSON: It would definitely be it. I think if he wins here tonight, you really need to rethink, again, your assumptions about what happens next. We're all assuming that there's this firewall in the SEC primaries, that the southern states are never going to go for Bernie. Keep in mind a little over eight year ago in the race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton was leading among black voters. Once Obama won Iowa, people began to see him as a real candidate, someone with promise who could actually be president. I have no idea what the future holds but it's possible something similar will happen with Bernie. There's a reason that Des Moines is crawling with Democratic lobbyists and lawyers tonight. They've been called in by the Hillary campaign. They understand this is the first in the presidential race and it could define for subsequent months. They're really, really concerned, and they ought to be.

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