Lessons from Tuesday's election results

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," August 8, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


TROY BALDERSON, REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm honored, very honored, to have an opportunity to represent the voters of the 12th Congressional district. It's time to get to work. Over the next three months, I'm going to do everything I can to keep America great again.

DANNY O'CONNOR, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: You believed in us in the race that the pundits said that we had no chance even being in. You proved them wrong.


SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS: Let's bring in our panel: Charles Hurt, opinion editor for The Washington Times; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for National Public Radio, and Jonathan Swan, national politics reporter for Axios.

You guys are already laughing in the middle of the sound bites because these guys in this race that is super tight in Ohio's district 12, there are all kinds of votes to still come in. It can't be certified before August 24th, and if there's within a certain percentage they could have a recount. Our Capitol Hill producer Chad Pergram says no one can be sworn in before September 4th. These guys are running against each other again for November, Charlie.

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: No, it's crazy. But I do think the important things to take away from this are, for Republicans it was a whole lot closer than it should have been without a doubt. But I also think the fact that it's a special election, it's in August where nobody is paying attention anyway.

BREAM: They are at Disney World.

HURT: Exactly, they're at the beach. So it's hard to read too much into it. But you did have higher-than-expected turnout for something like this. And the fact that higher turnout clearly included not just Democrats but also Republicans turned out at a higher rate. It sort of to me suggests that maybe this blue wave, while conditions are absolutely in Democrats favor and Republicans should be very worried right now and working hard, I don't really see evidence of a blue tidal wave forming right now.

BREAM: So let's put up the board so we can look at where we are right now. Troy Balderson, the Republican in this district at 50.2 percentage points, Danny O'Connor, the Democrat, 49.3 percent. They are within a percentage point there Mara. We know there are some 8,000 potential votes in flux here.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: It kind of doesn't matter who wins by a hair in this election. What matters is what this tells us or doesn't tell us about November. One of the things it tells us, it's following the trend we've seen all year. Democrats over-performed more than Republicans did. In other words, their turnout was higher than 2014 and 2016 than the Republicans were.

Once again we saw Republicans have a lot of resources, money, they have the president able to come into the district. But they are not going to be able to do that in the close to 70 races that are less Republican. There are 70 districts that are less Republican than that one. So that's the House battleground, and the Democrats have a shot at taking the House back.

BREAM: Here's what the president said. He tweeted as long "As I campaign and/or support Senate and House candidates," he says "within reason," we can debate that, "they will win!" I love the people and they certainly seem to like the job I'm doing. If I find the time in between China, Iran, the economy, and much more, which I must, we will have a giant red wave." The English part of me wants to start diagramming all of those sentences. There is a lot of meat in there. But Jonathan, he says, listen, when I show up, and he said this in a tweet about Balderson last night, I showed up and flipped this race and helped them win. He can't go to 70 places. Maybe he could. He says he wants to be out there five, six days a week.

JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS: So he wants to be out there six or seven days a week. My understanding is the Secret Service, the most they can deal with is probably four days a week. That's still a lot. They are shaping and planning at the moment to do more campaigning for this president then either Barack Obama or George W. Bush. He wants to be out there. He wants to be going all around the country.

There are districts where he will be helpful. There's no question, I haven't spoken to a single person involved in the race last night who doesn't think that president had an effect. Of course he did. He came in an energized the base. But there's actually a lot of districts around the country with vulnerable members who want the president nowhere near their district. I could name you a list, but you could just pick one, Carlos Curbelo in Florida. He has told the White House political operation this is not something I want.

BREAM: Certain district if you've got hot topics like immigration and those kinds of things, it's not going to be special for him there.

LIASSON: That's heavily Republican. That's where he can be useful. But in those other suburban districts, especially the ones that Hillary Clinton won, probably not a good idea.

SWAN: And last night when you talked to the people analyzing this race who worked on it, it didn't tell them anything they didn't know. They were already concerned. They remain concerned, and the problems they thought existed still exist.

BREAM: So let's talk about another race that's even closer. This was the GOP primary, the Kansas governor's race. The president, the man he endorsed, Secretary of State Kris Kobach who has had plenty of controversy that seems to enjoy that as much as president does, by one-tenth of a percentage point over the current governor who stepped in to fill the slot with Jeff Brownback, Jeff Colyer, that's going to be a tight one too. But again, Charlie, does the president make the difference there?

HURT: Clearly I think the reason that Kobach was in the race at all is because of the late endorsement by the president. In a lot of ways, I thought that was a little bit more interesting race just because I think it does reveal that Donald Trump is putting his mark on the party by getting involved in these interparty fights. And he clearly believed in Kris Kobach because they agree on key issues like immigration, illegal immigration, and tightening of voter rules. And when a president like Trump does that, he really is starting to remake the party more in his ilk.

BREAM: I want to make sure that we talk about some of the candidates on the progressive left that were endorsed and got visits from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Bernie Sanders. This is what they're talking about when they say Democratic Socialist, their agenda, Medicare for all, free college proposal, guaranteed jobs at $15 per hour plus benefits. Social security expansion, up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for new parents and people with serious health conditions, $1 trillion for new infrastructure, paying off all $1.4 trillion in student loan debt.

Now, according to the Manhattan Institute study, they put the price tag at this, $42.5 trillion over the next decade, that's on top of the $12.4 trillion baseline deficit, but $218 trillion over the next 30 years. Maybe reality struck for some of those folks last night, Mara.

LIASSON: If some of them won their primaries, we would be testing those, but they didn't. Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have a really good record at getting press coverage for the candidates they endorse. They have a much poorer record at actually getting some of these candidates over the finish line. And in a lot of these races where they endorsed the candidate, they lost by big, big margins.

BREAM: And we saw a number of Democrats run to the center as we saw in the Conor Lamb case in Pennsylvania, and it seemed that those who were running away from the progressive agenda did better for the most part last night.

SWAN: The country of the United States of America hasn't become a socialist country overnight, nor will it. It's probably a center right country, so that model of just taking Democratic Socialism and slapping it around the country is not going to be replicable for everyone. But I will say we often overinterpret everything, so I still think it's the where the energy is in the Democratic Party. And I still think you look at the crop of 2020 candidates, their agenda is going to look much closer to Bernie Sanders and Alexandria then it will to Conor Lamb or some centrist.

BREAM: We have got to add abolish ICE. Abolish ICE has to go on the list, too.

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