This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," November 5, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: Welcome to the “Journal Editorial Report.” I'm Paul Gigot.
We're live this final weekend before Election Day, as both presidential candidates make their closing arguments to voters in battleground states.
We begin with Donald Trump, who is making the campaign stops in Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, and Colorado today, hoping to close the deal with undecided voters with his message of change.
Here he is in Tampa, earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In three days, we are going to win the great state of Florida.
TRUMP: And we are going to win back the White House.
TRUMP: Real change begins with immediately repealing and replacing ObamaCare.
TRUMP: Real change also means restoring honesty to our government.
TRUMP: Hillary created an illegal server to shield her criminal activity. That's why. There's no other reason. And then she -- and she figured she was above it, because she figured that the Department of Justice will never do anything to get in her way. OK? It's a rigged system. When we win on November 8th --
TRUMP: -- we are going to drain the swamp.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; columnist and Manhattan Institute senior fellow, Jason Riley; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.
So, James, what do you make of Donald Trump's closing argument? Is that the right one for him?
JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: I think he's right by leading with ObamaCare. It's a disaster. That call to repeal and replace, I think, resonates with a lot of voters. So basically, we've seen it all year, voters think the country's on the wrong track. The Obama economic program has failed. So I think if Trump wins, it's because he emphasized a change in direction, a change away from taxes and regulation, and reinvigorating the U.S. economy.
GIGOT: If you look at his final ad, it doesn't have those issues. It focuses on Hillary's corruption and trade, Jason.
JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST & SENIOR FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Right. It's the play for his core supporters. He's still playing for the base, even in the closing days, when he should be expanding his appeal. And that's -- that's part of the problem. He is -- you know, he's only got about 88 percent of the Republican vote wrapped up. 88 percent of --
GIGOT: 85 in the FOX poll. I mean --
RILEY: At this point, though, Mitt Romney four years ago at 93 percent. That's a big gap there, even in enthusiasm for Donald Trump among Republicans.
GIGOT: Versus 90 percent for Democrats, for Hillary Clinton, right now, in the Fox poll of where he is trailing the by two in the four-man race.
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Yeah. And the polls have tightened up. He's practically got a toss-up going into New Hampshire and Colorado. North Carolina's gotten very tight. It's fascinating.
This final add, though, that Jason is talking about is intriguing. He's not just talking about a corrupt Hillary Clinton. he's talking about a corrupt establishment. He's talking about corrupt corporation. In many ways, an anti-trade, that ad could have been run by Bernie Sanders.
GIGOT: Let's give a -- let's show a bit of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people.
The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election.
For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don't have your good in mind.
The political establishment that is trying to stop us is the same group responsible for our disastrous trade deals, massive illegal immigration, and economic and foreign policies that have bled our country dry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Well, James, what do you think of that? My argument would be that he's got every vote that he's going to get from people who are against the globalist system and trade. That doesn't help him get anymore of the people for whom that is not a priority.
FREEMAN: OK, I'm not sure he doesn't have a little room to grow his vote in the final days. You look at that number where he doesn't quite have the number of Republicans that he wants and you look at the Gary Johnson, I think there may be a few of those votes that he could pick up. Now, I would have preferred a little more sunny, Reagan optimism in the closing days here? Yes.
But, look, is anyone going to say that the establishment has not failed? That Hillary Clinton is not corrupt? I think that he is giving a message here that's going to resonate with a lot of people.
GIGOT: Kim, is this message reinforcing his play to try to go to the upper Midwest states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and maybe Wisconsin, manufacturing states where trade is a priority? And then, Bernie Sanders snuck up on Hillary Clinton and won Michigan. It's closing in Michigan for Donald Trump. Is that what he's doing here?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Yeah, and you know, by the way, he's now making a stop in Michigan, which was unexpected. He's trying to make a real play for the state.
STRASSEL: Look, I think what Donald Trump is trying to do here -- and I vary with Jason a little bit. I'm not quite sure this message is only meant for his base. He's trying to reach out with these swing messages of trade, but also the establishment and corruption to a lot of Independents, for instance, and also blue collar Democrats. And you know, this "drain the swamp" message that he has had up there, it does resonate, because this is for the wide swath of America, for whom they have come to believe that dysfunction is endemic in Washington, but also that they're the ones left out.
And one thing that's interesting, Donald Trump changed this around a little bit. The left likes to say that all the problems are because of wealthy Americans. He's making the message, no, it's because of Washington.
GIGOT: All right, Dan, if Donald Trump wins, why will he win?
HENNINGER: He will win because the desire for change in this country after eight years of Obama's presidency was simply overwhelming. We have known that from the beginning of this campaign. People want a change of direction.
And the second reason he will win is because people cannot bring themselves to vote another Clinton presidency into office. Enthusiasm for him is so low.
GIGOT: And if he loses, Jason?
RILEY: If he loses, well, he has challenged the norms in terms of how to run a campaign. The organization, the money -- he has not spent the money that he said he would spend --
GIGOT: That's going to be one of the fascinating questions to see.
GIGOT: If he loses, how much money has he really spent? He promised he would spend a bundle. And if Mike Bloomberg had been running, he would have spent $1 billion.
RILEY: He's really challenged this notion that organization matters, knocking on doors matters. He's come in, held big rallies, endowed the enthusiasm, and then swooped away. We'll find out if that kind of campaign can work nationally.
GIGOT: Kim, what do you think Donald -- Why will Donald Trump have won if he does?
RILEY: He'll have won in part because he's also focused on this issue about the problems of Washington. I think that's going to be a really key thing.
And also, not just change, but immediate change. People are tired of waiting around for Washington to get its act together.
And so, it's the argument, I think, that has been very helpful to him in the last week, which also corresponds with his time in the poll, is this contract that he's made and the promise that what he's going to do is going to be made immediately in terms of executive orders, and ObamaCare repeal, and also some of these anti-corruption measures he's proposed.
GIGOT: All right.
James, just quickly, if he loses?
FREEMAN: If he loses, it's because he got distracted too often during the race and got into kind of petty disputes. When he's been on message, as he seems to be lately -- I think he's closing strong -- I think he can win.
GIGOT: All right, thank you all.
Hillary Clinton is making her closing argument in Florida and Pennsylvania today. We'll look at her message to voters heading into the campaign's final days when we come back.
GIGOT: Hillary Clinton making her closing argument today in the battleground states of Florida and Pennsylvania, where the polls have tightened heading into the campaign's final days.
Here's Clinton in Pembroke Pines, Florida, earlier today, driving home her message of experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As your first lady, I hope to create the children's health insurance program, which insures eight million kids a year.
CLINTON: As Senator, I work to rebuild New York City, make our country safer, and get our first responders the health care they need.
CLINTON: As your secretary of state, I traveled to 112 countries. I've stood up for human rights, women's rights, worker rights and LBGT rights.
CLINTON: I have spent my career fighting for kids and families. And if you elect me, that's what I'll keep doing!
CLINTON: Here's what I want you to remember. I want to be the president for everybody! Everybody who agrees with me, people who don't agree with me --
CLINTON: -- people who vote for me, people who don't vote for me!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Jason, the crowd is enthusiastic. Are you as enthusiastic about that message?
RILEY: Well, I think it's a truthful message. She is trying to appeal, expand her appeal in these closing days. And you can see that in her reaching out. But like Trump, she's also got some issues with her base. Black voter turnout is down, for instance, so she's trying to shore that up. Young people are not as enthusiastic about her. So you see her campaigning --
GIGOT: But how does that -- how does that message get the black vote out? I mean, I understand why Jay-Z and Beyonce --
RILEY: That's it --
GIGOT: She's bringing in Obama.
RILEY: Obama appeared on a black radio talk show, Tom Joyner, huge black audience, saying to blacks, you've got to get out. I know I'm not on the ballot, but you've got to come out. They've realized they have a problem with certain voters.
She's also, though, still focused on Trump's character, Paul. She is hammering this home. She's still campaigning with the Miss Universe that she got into the spat with. She's still hammering away, women's minorities, comments about those groups, and she's staying focused --
GIGOT: Just to put a number on that black vote, there was 13 percent of the overall turnout of African-Americans in 2012. Before Obama ran in 2004, it was 9 percent. That's a huge chunk of the electorate.
RILEY: She's also up, though, among Hispanics.
RILEY: But there's --
GIGOT: That's right.
You agree with Jason, this is --
HENNINGER: By and large. I mean, leaving aside whether the American people want to listen to what we just listened to for another four years, which I think is a big question, that would be tough to take.
Her final ad, her closing ad is a kind of generic sentimental ad about faces and little kids and so forth. Here's one of the things about Hillary Clinton. She is not the candidate of change. Why? Because she's running to secede Barack Obama, and she can't run out there criticizing the incumbent president of the United States, who's out there on the stump, actually telling people to elect her because you'll be extending my presidency. He is literally telling black voters, do this for me.
GIGOT: Yeah, that was a biographical spot for her. It wasn't really defending the last eight years, James.
FREEMAN: No. And she doesn't -- by the way, she doesn't want to talk about the Obama record. She also doesn't want to talk about her record. She glosses very quickly over this resume. And as you heard, there's not a lot of achievement in there. Just to translate for people, when she talks about standing up for children and families, she worked for a group that worked very hard to prevent school systems from suspending disruptive students and also to help make public education much more expensive. So there's really not a great record to run on there.
GIGOT: If she wins, Kim, why do you think she will win? What are her strengths?
STRASSEL: If she wins, it will be because she made this entirely about Donald Trump. And she somehow managed to get across the message that he's not fit to hold the office. Because one thing that's notable here in the closing days is how substance-free she is on her own agenda. She is talking about a happy message of unity and she's talking about the problems with Donald Trump, but she's not talking about her own policies and what she plans to do. I think that's because she knows that they wouldn't necessarily be very popular with a lot of the people that she needs to turn out.
GIGOT: Let's get a chunk of that Katy Perry ad for Hillary Clinton here, this last ad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATY PERRY, SINGER: Hear my voice you hear that sound like thunder gonna shake the ground you held me down, but I got up get ready because I've had enough I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter dancing through the fire because I am a champion and you're going to hear my roar"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Kim, that kind of proves your point about substance-free. That's a lot of generic respect, courage, all good things, we like them. But doesn't tell you what she's going to do in office.
STRASSEL: No. Beyond reminding us that Katy Perry has endorsed her, there isn't much that you get out of that ad.
So, again, if she wins, it's because she will have pounded relentlessly in these last months about Donald Trump and his issue with women, Donald Trump and whether you can trust him with nuclear controls. She's preying off a lot of fears out there, in particular, among more-educated white voters and some traditional Republican voters.
GIGOT: And if she loses --
HENNINGER: If she loses -- I want to focus on something Jason raised here, which is the black vote. We know the percentage will be high. The question is, what will the numbers be. What will the turnout be? They're very worried. If black turnout is low in Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Trump could carry those states and change the electoral map. Keep an eye on the black vote Tuesday night.
GIGOT: But, ultimately, isn't this, if she loses, it will be about her? Because she has not -- because of the ethics and the scandals and the idea that, do we really want to go another four years with the same policies?
RILEY: She represents the establishment. And the question is whether, you know, people want predictability over more risk and what they're getting with Donald Trump. That's --
GIGOT: And she has tried relentlessly to make Trump too risky.
GIGOT: You seem like -- OK, you may not love me, but I'm a safe pair of hands, basically. I've been on a lot of the jobs. And Donald Trump is just a bridge too far, James.
FREEMAN: Yeah, it's an issue in this campaign other than attacking the opponent. But this safe pair of hands, people have to wonder, do you want another Clinton year of scandal, of questions about the leadership of the country. And we're reminded again, this weekend, news of $1 million from the dictatorship in Qatar, when she was secretary of state, to her foundation that was never reported, she should have, to the government.
GIGOT: All right, when we come back, the race for the White House continuing to tighten in the campaign's final days. So which states are must-wins for each candidate on Tuesday? And how are they shaping up? We'll ask pollster, Ed Goeas, next.
GIGOT: With just three days to go, the race for the White House continues to tighten within a brand-new FOX News poll showing Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by just two points in a four-way matchup. But Tuesday's results all come down to the Electoral College math and a handful of battleground states that still remain too close to call.
Republican pollster, Ed Goeas, is here with a closer look at the number.
So, Ed, good to have you here with us. Thanks for coming in.
ED GOEAS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Glad to be here, Paul.
GIGOT: OK, so, the conventional wisdom is it's a tight race, but Hillary Clinton has a narrow one to three-point lead. Is that how you see it?
GOEAS: I think that's basically where it is. I would put it more three to four points in looking at the polls. In the FOX News poll you just mentioned, came down from a three-point lead to a two-point lead, but the sample weeks ago was seven points net Democrat, the sample this week was even between the two counties. And that's not accounted for the numbers. So I don't know that the numbers would be moving away from Trump, as opposed to towards him looking at that sample.
But I think the key thing in looking at the data, and this is what I've seen this entire campaign, is that both these candidates have extremely high negatives, and the only thing that has really moved is the strongly unfavorable on both of these candidates, moving up almost to the 50 percent mark. So I think everyone keeps looking for big movement in the ballot, when in fact, it's almost like a governor on a car, it's holding one down, someone starts to break loose and it pulls them back to reason.
GIGOT: Doesn't that mean there could be some volatility at the end? If people are unsatisfied with both candidates, couldn't they throw up their hands and say, we're willing to go with one or the other and move?
GOEAS: I think that's what you saw on the last couple of weeks. As you saw after the "Access Hollywood" tape, you saw Hillary Clinton jump in the numbers. That was not coming from people coming from Trump and moving to her. That was from Johnson to her. And you saw Johnson come down from nine to six points. In this most recent FBI, you didn't see Hillary come down, you saw Trump go up, again, from taking more votes from Johnson. I think that was always the question mark, what were those voters that dislike both of these candidates that were parked with a third party candidate going to do? And I think they've now come home. And that's why you have a much closer race.
GIGOT: Where do you think Trump stands, vis-a-vis Clinton, at the stage of the race, the weekend before the election, compared to where Romney stood with Obama four years ago?
GOEAS: Well, we had going into that last election, the race, basically even, between both candidates.
GIGOT: That was long. I mean, they were -- that was way off.
GOEAS: Well, and that's a key point, though, in terms of the real question now, as you see all these individual battleground states get very close, is polling only predicts where the race is if everything else is even. But as you move into this weekend, you're moving from moving the ballot to moving to the polls, to actually vote. And that's where you start looking the at who has more money, who has more ground game, who has more good surrogates out there, driving that vote to the polling place. And as we saw on election day in 2012, that if one campaign does not have the quality ground game that the other campaign does, it can make a two or three-point difference at the end of the campaign.
GIGOT: The promise of the Trump campaign -- and the Cruz campaign also promised this -- is that they would drive a higher percentage of white votes than Mitt Romney got. Mitt Romney got 59 percent of the white vote in the end, but they think they could drive that higher and a higher share of the electorate that was 72 percent last time, and make it even higher, 73, 74, or 75. Are we seeing any evidence that that's taking place?
GOEAS: You don't. And what you see, quite frankly, inside the white vote, is that Trump is not doing as well with college-educated white females, and even college-educated white men. He's far behind the margin where he needs to be on that. And that's kind of coming into play in this election. They may turn out, but they're not necessarily voting for him.
GIGOT: But, Ed, look, you're seeing -- let's take states like Iowa and Ohio, right? Romney lost both of them. Trump is up in both of them. And they have a relatively smaller share of the minority vote than some of the other states. And Trump's lead in those states is often attributed to those voters.
GOEAS: Well, they are attributed to those voters, and particularly in Iowa. I think Trump is going to win Iowa. I think if you look at the numbers today, assuming that the ground game is even between both those campaigns, I think Trump wins Ohio, come Tuesday night. But that's kind of where the story ends.
GIGOT: You don't think Ohio is within reach for Trump?
GOEAS: No, I think -- I think Trump does win Ohio, assuming everything is the same. But you look at Pennsylvania, you look at North Carolina, you look at Florida, you look at Nevada, all states that Trump probably has to win to get over that 270 mark, those states are a real question mark. They have closed, but the real question is going to become ground game, who does a better job of turning out your vote, on whether he squeaks through on some of those states or, in fact, loses those states.
GIGOT: It's been fascinating to see. Could this be the year where you have a different kind of map, where Trump breaks through in one of these Midwestern industrial states, for example, like Wisconsin or Michigan? Michigan's close to even and Hillary Clinton campaigned there on Friday. It was a surprise to me for her to go there. He sneaks through with one of those states, surprisingly, and then could lose a state where Romney won, like North Carolina or, you know, perhaps Florida. Romney lost that, but it was close.
GOEAS: Well, I think both of those -- both Florida and North Carolina are on the cusp. I think the -- it's kind of a false lead in terms of Michigan, and in Wisconsin, quite frankly.
GIGOT: So you don't think he's going to make a breakthrough in any of those. You think he's got to go basically to all the Romney states and then sneak in with Iowa, Ohio, maybe sneak in with a New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, something else?
GOEAS: I think he needs Nevada. I think he needs Iowa. I think he could do New Hampshire. He has to win North Carolina. He has to win Florida. He has to win Ohio.
And I think the real question mark right now is Pennsylvania. The polling is showing it closing there, but because Pennsylvania doesn't have early voting, there's no real feel for, is there a ground game there. Quite frankly, on either campaign's side. So Pennsylvania is going to be the race to watch. It's probably one he needs to win. Because just having Iowa, and even Nevada, doesn't get him over the top. So watch Pennsylvania on election night.
GIGOT: All right. Thanks very much, Ed. Appreciate your coming in.
GOEAS: Thank you.
GIGOT: Still ahead, Democrats ratchet up their criticism of FBI Director James Comey amid new reports of tensions inside the bureau and the Justice Department over how to investigate the Democratic nominee.
GIGOT: Top Democrats have ratcheted up their criticism of FBI Director James Comey for going public with a decision to revisit the Hillary Clinton email probe, just days before the election. House seniority leader, Nancy Pelosi, suggested this week that Comey may not be right for the job or may be in the right job, while New York Senator Chuck Schumer called his actions appalling, adding that he had lost confidence in the director.
President Obama weighed in on the controversy once again in an interview yesterday on MSNBC.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Historically, both under Democratic and Republican administrations, our goal has been and should be that our investigators and our prosecutors are independent of politics, that they're not politicized, that they're not used as a weapon to advantage either side in partisan arguments. And I want to make sure that we continue with that tradition and with that norm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: We're back with Dan Henninger, Jason Riley, James Freeman, and Kim Strassel.
So, Kim, you wrote about it this week. The president is -- the Justice Department works for him. These people have to make decisions based on facts. To have your boss weigh in and suggest that James Comey was in the wrong here, that's putting your hand on the scales.
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Of course, it is! And of course, the entire joke of this, as well, too, is he is criticizing James Comey as the very moment that we know that, in fact, if there's anybody that's been involved in politics, it's been the Department of Justice and his appointees, who we now have pretty good information to suggest have, in fact, been helping out Hillary Clinton from behind the scenes for a long time, putting pressure on the FBI not to pursue a true foundation organization -- investigation, and probably standing in the way of Comey's work in terms of her emails.
GIGOT: Give us a specific example. There's a Justice Department aide called Peter Kadzik, who is an assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, very close to Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta. What have we learned that he did?
STRASSEL: Very close. By the way, they are old Georgetown law school buddies. They design out together. Kadzik's son went to work for the Clinton campaign. He sent an email earlier this year or last year, in which he gave a heads up about a hearing that was coming and also made some comments about a filing that had been made by the Department of Justice. And you know how the -- you know, the Department of Justice say, well, no big deal, he did this on his personal email and his personal time. Baloney! He is a top person at the Department of Justice who should be having no interaction whatsoever with a presidential campaign.
GIGOT: James, what about the pressure and the extraordinary leaks here between -- about the Justice Department and the FBI? There seems to be dissension inside the FBI about how they should have handled this. And there's real tension, we've now learned, between the Justice Department and the FBI over how the handling of this, including whether or not they gave an order to stand down, that is, the Justice Department gave an order to the FBI to stand down on any investigation of the Clinton Foundation.
JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Right. And I think this is significant, that FBI agents wanted to proceed. They thought they had a case, not just on the emails, but on the Clinton Foundation of corruption --
GIGOT: They wanted to pursue it.
FREEMAN: They wanted to pursue it.
GIGOT: They had the case and the evidence assembled. They wanted to --
FREEMAN: They wanted to pursue it.
FREEMAN: What's significant about this, FBI agents, there are no political appointees. They are career public servants. The Justice Department leadership is politically appointed.
GIGOT: Right, and we want it to be. Because if the president's wins, he wants to appoint --
FREEMAN: But much of the media is portraying this as some kind of political action by the FBI. The political actors are all at Justice, trying to impede this investigation.
GIGOT: You don't think the FBI could ever be politically motivated?
FREEMAN: I think the political interference as come from the president, right from the very start, getting back to the email thing, when he said, publicly, he kept insisting Hillary Clinton had no intent to harm the United States. And that is the logic that James Comey adopted when he gave her a pass this past summer.
As we know, you do not need to intend to harm the United States to be prosecuted for mishandling classified information. And the government has prosecuted others.
GIGOT: There's real pressure here now, from Democrats, for James Comey to have another statement, telling, before the election, maybe Sunday or Monday, saying, what was in those emails, they are now looking the at from Anthony Weiner's laptop.
HENNINGER: Yeah, and I just can't imagine that he's going to give a statement like that, because this is an investigation that's in progress.
Let's admit that Comey has screwed it up from the beginning. Still, he's the director of the FBI.
We are in a fantastic situation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the most important law enforcement agency in the United States. Here you have the president of the United States, now politician in chief, putting his thumb on the scale, and Hillary Clinton, as well. It looks to me like the Democrats, including possibly Hillary Clinton, if she wins the presidency, completely alienated from the FBI. And you cannot have a government in which you have law enforcement agents, like the FBI, not trusting their commander-in-chief.
GIGOT: Is this having a big political effect in the last week?
JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST & SENIOR FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: I don't think it's going to have that big of an effect, Paul. I think a lot of this is baked in. We're not learning new information in particular. We're just learning more information about old scandals that we already knew existed. So I think that's going to have a limited political impact.
It does suggest, though, however, that Hillary Clinton drags a lot of baggage into a new administration.
GIGOT: Kim, what price will Hillary Clinton pay if she wins for all of this? Are we likely to have a big problem with her administration later?
STRASSEL: Well, not just with her administration later, but, look, we're looking where we could have some sort of a crisis here, in that if she is elected and she is waiting to take office and then we get emails that come out that show beyond a shadow of a doubt a pay-to-play situation or something else, the FBI continues with this, and then recommends charges, or Congress feels as though it needs to move on impeachment, I mean, this would be unprecedented. And so, I mean, not to mention all the things that Dan said, that going forward, I think, is going to be very difficult for her to govern with any legitimacy, given the number of people that believe she acted inappropriately in both of these situations.
GIGOT: OK. And there's no doubt there's going some kind of congressional investigation of the investigation.
Still ahead, the battle for the control of the Senate goes down to the wire as Republicans fight to keep their majority. We'll look at the races to watch in the campaign's closing days.
GIGOT: Republicans are in a fierce battle to maintain control of the Senate, where they are defending a whopping 24 seats on Tuesday, compared to just 10 for Democrats. And new polls out this week show the race tightening in some key states. In Wisconsin, incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson appears to be closing the gap with Democrat Russ Feingold, whose lead is now less than three points in the latest RealClearPolitics average, down from almost 7 last week. But in Pennsylvania, it's the Democrat who is gaining, with Katie McGinty overtaking incumbent Republican Senator, Pat Toomey. She now leads in the RealClearPolitics average by almost three points. That race was tied just one week ago.
So a couple of weeks ago, Dan, the Republican Senate looked like it was lost. Now there's people that I know, pollsters, people saying, they could sneak through with a majority with 51. What's happened?
HENNINGER: Yeah. Well, the Senate is going to be Tuesday night's undercard. And it is going to be exciting. It's going to be so much fun to watch it. Because, look, the almighty polls have been flipped from one end to the other in a lot of these races. And some weeks Kelly Ayotte is down by four. A week later, she's up over --
GIGOT: But what accounts for Ayotte's rally?
HENNINGER: Well, I think because Ayotte has been running a pretty strong campaign. Most of these Republicans have found their feet, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania. And maybe not so much Richard Burr in --
GIGOT: North Carolina.
HENNINGER: -- North Carolina. He's been having problems. But most of these races, I think, have tightened because people are beginning to figure out or decide, do they want -- if Hillary Clinton looks like she's winning, do they want divided government? Do they want to give control of the Senate to Republicans?
GIGOT: Here's what's happening in Wisconsin. Ron Johnson throughout his Beltway advisers and consultants got some lower --
GIGOT: He said he started running excellent ads that reminded people who he is, a manufacturer, an outsider, not somebody who's part of the problem. And Russ Feingold, others have been reminding them that he was a three-term Senator. And he's got nothing -- he's bringing nothing new to the table. So that has reshaped that race.
What about Toomey, though? Because Toomey has been doing well, Jason, in the Philadelphia suburbs, where you've got to do well, if you're a Republican, not so well in the Western part of the state.
RILEY: Well, Toomey, that race is always going to be a squeaker. It was a squeaker for Toomey to get in. It's just a very closely divided state.
But Toomey's a quality candidate. I have not ruled him out yet. And I think he's typical of the candidates that are up the cycle in the Senate, where they're talking about Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Pat Toomey, these are strong candidates. And I think the left and the Democrats overplayed their hand a little bit with the Trump card, just going out there and saying, we're going to link every Republican candidate to Donald Trump and drag them down. It hasn't worked, as planned.
GIGOT: Todd Young in Indiana, also sneaking ahead of Evan Bayh, the former Senator and former governor.
GIGOT: The Democrats bet that he could come in, big pile of money, famous name. But he also has a record that Republicans have exploited.
FREEMAN: Yeah, I think they were hoping voters had forgotten about the ObamaCare votes. You look at premium increases everywhere, people have not forgotten. And it seems like a bad time to run this sort of Mr. Washington insider, which is really who Evan Bayh is. But, again, versus a couple of months ago, a tough map. You talk about the real clear average, if every Senator ahead wins in that average, Republicans end up with 52 seats. So this is definitely much better than where they thought they were going to be a while ago. We're going to see, as it closes here -- I like Ron Johnson closing hard in Wisconsin. Richard Burr, he's made some mistakes in North Carolina. But his opponent, an ACLU lobbyist, probably too far left to the state. She ended up say that she lobbied against a sex offender registry, but actually she was for it.
GIGOT: Here's the problem with Burr, though. He took that race for granted. He got after her. He thought he had an easy opponent. And he really hasn't rehabilitated his own image. He's attacking her on the same points you're making, but he hasn't showed people, OK, vote for me. That's one way Roy Blunt in Missouri has rehabilitated himself some ways with some positive ads. You haven't seen that in North Carolina.
RILEY: He's in trouble. He's been painted as an insider, he and his family as lobbyists. And it's working for his opponent.
GIGOT: Kim, how do you see it? What are your sources telling you about this Senate campaign? Any surprises, you expect?
STRASSEL: Well, there is a lot of worry about Missouri, in particular, and Roy Blunt. And that would be one of the surprises of the night. The Republicans are doing much better than they were a week ago. People are feeling much more confident. But you could end up having one of these topsy-turvy moments where a guy like Roy Blunt loses. In this case, he's also up against a very dynamic, younger generation Millennial, former veteran, who defies a lot of the stereotypes of Democratic candidates. And that is going to be a tough race.
GIGOT: And what about Florida, Kim? Do you think Marco Rubio is going to pull it out? He was leading for quite a while, pretty comfortably, and then it got close, and then they came in with a bunch of ads against Patrick Murphy, the congressman.
STRASSEL: Yeah, Patrick Murphy, not a great candidate. Marco Rubio was leading. Look, I think Rubio has sort of been hurt a little bit by Hillary Clinton's massive investment in Florida and her organizational ground game, which has bled off and helped Murphy some. Now that the Republicans are putting their eye back on the ball, he seems to be getting his footing again. Came out of a couple of really good debates, too, where he ran circles around his competitor.
GIGOT: Upset pick, Dan?
HENNINGER: Ron Johnson in Wisconsin.
RILEY: Richard Burr in North Carolina.
RILEY: Toomey wins Pennsylvania.
GIGOT: Kim, who's your upset pick?
STRASSEL: Joe Heck in Nevada.
GIGOT: I'm going with Ron Johnson in Wisconsin.
When we come back, voters in states across the country facing more than merely a choice for president and Congress on Tuesday. From legalizing pot to creating a single payer health care system, we'll take a look at what else is on the ballot, next.
GIGOT: Voters in states across the country are facing more than merely a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, with measures on the ballot to legalize marijuana, increase the minimum wage, even create a single-payer health care system.
So, Kim, we also have some big tax increases on the ballot in a lot of states, taxes and more taxes. What are the worst?
STRASSEL: This is the year for big tax hike proposals. You see them in Maine, in Colorado. A first-ever carbon tax proposal in Washington State. But the biggies are Oregon, where there is a proposed 2.5 percent tax on gross receipts for companies. This tax is so big it would increase the general fund in Oregon by a third if it were to pass.
STRASSEL: And down in California, a proposal to extend, which was really more like being making permanent, what was supposed to be some temporary tax increases on income taxes for higher earners in California.
GIGOT: Also, a big tax increase in Maine, following California. As if Maine doesn't have a problem with people leaving the state --
GIGOT: -- young people, in particular. That's not what you really need. They don't have a Facebook or a Google to draw people to Maine. What's that all about?
STRASSEL: Yeah. That is a surcharge on higher income earners there. And that will also be -- look, all of these ballot initiatives are about states with kind of middling economies and feel that they need more money. We'll see if the voters are in the mood.
GIGOT: You know what's driving it, Kim, it's also the public unions. Because if they raise taxes, this is going to help -- they'll use it to raise pay for public workers and pensions, in particular.
GIGOT: And now this tax increase in California was supposed to be temporary! Now it's going to be semi-permanent! Don't ever believe a politician who tells you something is temporary!
STRASSEL: Never. Nope!
This is a public sector's strike-back for some of the reforms you've been seeing going on out there, like in Wisconsin.
GIGOT: And speaking of high, Dan, marijuana on the ballot in five states.
HENNINGER: Yeah. Who could doubt it? It's on the ballot. Legalization is on the ballot in Massachusetts, Arizona, California, Maine and Nevada. National polls show that people favor legalization about 57 to -- 57-37 percent, which is the opposite of what it was 10 years ago. This is mainly because of Millennial support for legalization. In Massachusetts, it's up by 55 percent. The diocese of Boston has thrown in $750,000 to oppose this, because they think it will damage the people they're trying to help, such as kids. In Colorado, young people are getting access to legalized pot. Criminals are under-selling the price of the legalized pot out there. And even employers are saying, it's becoming difficult to find workers who can pass drug tests.
GIGOT: But other than the diocese, there's not a lot of money against these initiatives, and they're backed by George Soros, the billionaire, backed by the Sean Parker, the Napster cofounder. They've got a lot of big money behind these things.
HENNINGER: I wish we had more time to see how it worked out in Colorado. I think some of these referendums are getting out ahead of the science. We really don't know what this chemical does to people's brains. It would be nice if we have more information before we legalized it.
GIGOT: Particularly developing brains, into their mid to late 20s, where their brain is still developing. Mine has stopped, but theirs are still developing.
GIGOT: All right, minimum wage, Jason?
RILEY: Minimum wage hikes are on the ballot in Michigan and Washington State. They'll probably pass in all four of those places. In South Dakota, there's a measure on the ballot to lower the minimum wage for people under the age of 18. We know that it hits younger, less-experienced workers very hard. But it hits everybody. Paul, the same people complaining about the lack of jobs out there, support minimum wage hikes, which we know result in fewer people getting hired. You make it more expensive to hire people, fewer people get hired than would otherwise get hired.
GIGOT: And, James, tell us some good news here, man.
GIGOT: What about Colorado?
FREEMAN: -- legalize pot and now they're considering all kinds of bad ideas on their ballots. This is the universal insurance idea. This is endorsed by Bernie Sanders. It would basically replace all of private insurance in the state. Universal coverage, 10 percent payroll tax to pay for it, which won't be enough, but this is going to be a program bigger than the entire current government of Colorado.
GIGOT: But it looks like it's going to fail, right?
FREEMAN: I would hope so and I expect so.
GIGOT: Kim, let's clean up here with the Massachusetts -- some good news, potentially. Massachusetts has an initiative on the ballot to expand charter schools in the state. The legislature, the liberal legislature blocked it. Republican Governor Charlie Baker put it on the ballot. And yet, progressives, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, are against more charter schools. How is this breaking out?
STRASSEL: Watch this space, because, again, Charlie Baker has put a lot of political capital into this, to lift the cap, you'd have up to 12 new charter schools a year around this. They have made the bill in a way to -- it's designed to go in certain areas that could really use charter schools. That helps with the support you're seeing.
But you are seeing this fascinating breakdown in the party, in the Democratic Party in the state, where, as you said, you've got progressive politicians, like Warren and Sanders, fighting back against this. But a lot of poor black parents who really want this and are going to switch to the S-side.
GIGOT: Thank you, Kim.
We have to take one more break. When we come back, "Hits and Misses" of the week.
GIGOT: Time now for our "Hits and Misses" of the week.
Kim, first to you.
STRASSEL: Well, Paul, obviously, a big hit to the Chicago Cubs for winning their first World Series in 108 years.
STRASSEL: But a particular big hit for third baseman, Chris Bryant, for the fabulous smile he had on his face as he was fielding the final out. It was a look of pure joy. And every kid out there watching that game, hey, every adult, was reminded why we love baseball.
GIGOT: All right, thanks, Kim.
FREEMAN: I would like to give a hit to the opponents, the Cleveland Indians. Unfortunately, the draft continues. And now it looks like major league baseball is pressuring them to get rid of their --
GIGOT: Are you trying to rub it in?
GIGOT: You know, he's from Cleveland.
FREEMAN: Now they want to get rid of the mascot. Apparently, it's supposed to be offensive to Native Americans. Is the Michigan State Spartan mascot offensive to Greeks? Do we think Tommy Trojan at USC is some kind of a slur against Turks? This has got to end somewhere? The swinging friar of the San Diego Padres is a knock on Catholics? I don't think.
GIGOT: All right, Jason?
RILEY: This is a hit for the Country Music Awards Ceremony this week, which took place less than a week before Election Day, but managed to keep politics out of the ceremonies, pretty much. You know, we've become so accustomed to celebrities using these acceptance speeches to ram their politics down our throat. It was just nice to see an awards ceremony stick to what they are there to do. And I'm sure there are a lot of people who can't wait for this campaign to be over. Were happy for the reprieve.
GIGOT: Including you?
HENNINGER: Well, I'm running out of time on this program, Paul, to give misses to Barack Obama --
HENNINGER: -- so let's get to it. He was in Ohio this week and he was telling a crowd there's a reason why we haven't had a woman president. And he said, some of you guys out there kind of look inside of yourselves and see if you have problems with this stuff, the idea being sexism is keeping Hillary Clinton from being president. I don't know whether Obama believes this, but it is total malarkey. Sexism didn't stop Theresa May from becoming head of the United Kingdom. They are women --
GIGOT: Angela Merkel!
GIGOT: Angela Merkel, the head of Taiwan, the head of north -- South Korea. Hillary Clinton's problems are about something else.
GIGOT: All right.
And remember, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure to tweet it to us @JERonFNC.
That's it for this week's show. Thanks to my panel. Thanks to all of you for watching. Thanks to the Chicago Cubs. I'm Paul Gigot. We hope to see you right here next week.
Content and Programming Copyright 2016 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2016 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.