This is a rush transcript from "The Beltway Boys", November 1, 2008, that has been edited for clarity.
FRED BARNES, FOX CO-HOST: Coming up on "The Beltway Boys," after all the debates, all the speeches, all the spinning, it's finally time to pick a president.
MORT KONDRACKE, FOX CO-HOST: We'll tell you who we think will win Tuesday night, including our final predictions on the Electoral College and the popular vote.
BARNES: Democrats are banking on big wins in the senate and house. We'll give you our predictions and look at the hottest races.
KONDRACKE: And from abortion to same-sex marriage, social issues are also on the ballot.
BARNES: All that's coming up on "The Beltway Boys" right now.
I'm Fred Barnes.
KONDRACKE: And I'm Mort Kondracke. We're "The Beltway Boys."
BARNES: The night's hot story, Mort, prediction time!
KONDRACKE: At long last.
BARNES: At long last. We're nearing the end of the longest presidential campaign I've ever covered. Some people think it was the greatest presidential campaign ever. I'm not one of those people.
KONDRACKE: Nor, am I.
BARNES: I would say oh, contraire. I'm not.
I think Barack Obama and John McCain are first here, excellent presidential candidates. I love the Democratic primaries. The Republicans didn't have much but the Democrats all the way to June, Obama versus Hillary Clinton, fantastic.
I think there was one excellent vice presidential candidate and probably the most interesting person in the campaign in the last couple months and that's Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska.
The presidential debates, they were awful. All we got were the same old stuff from the stump speeches, policy stuff. Didn't learn much about the candidates there as we should.
The media was so biased against the Republicans, almost to a laughable degree. But here's my real problem. Here we have the general election from Labor Day to November 4th, and what was the biggest factor in this whole election, the biggest thing to happen? Had no bearing — of which the candidates had nothing to do with? The financial meltdown. Completely outside the reach of the candidates.
KONDRACKE: Well, look, I frankly am exhausted from this two-year deal. And I'm kind of amazed that Barack Obama and John McCain, especially John McCain, 72 years old, can still say anything coherently after this. They're not babbling. And Obama's achievement in beating the Clinton machine is even more remarkable than his apparent victory, in my opinion, over McCain.
You're right, that the most significant thing that happened during the whole campaign was the financial meltdown, which I think has been a horrendous burden on McCain and the decisive factor in the whole election.
BARNES: Republicans everywhere.
KONDRACKE: Yeah. And, frankly, we still do not know and the debates did not elicit what these guys are going to do with the horrendous deficits that we're going to face as a result both of the meltdown and their programs to get us out of the meltdown, which are all spend money, provide tax cuts and all that kind of stuff.
I do not agree these are the best candidates America could have found for this reason. Both of these candidates are risky. Obama, I'm not sure what his real ideology is, whether he's a moderate or a liberal.
BARNES: I'm sure.
KONDRACKE: You think you do. Also he's inexperienced. McCain is impulsive and tends to be cranky and all that. I don't think these guys are ideal. But they're what we've got. So, you know, here we go. We're about to vote and who's going to win?
BARNES: In past elections, we've tended to agree, Mort and I have, on presidential race predictions. This time, "The Beltway Boys" are going their separate ways.
In the popular vote I predict a 50-50 split right down the middle while Mort says Obama wins 54 percent to McCain's 45 percent. That's a landslide.
KONDRACKE: Big time. Big time.
BARNES: For the electoral vote, I predict McCain squeaks out a win with 286 electoral votes. Mort gives the nod to Obama in a blowout, 379 to 159.
Here are my reasons why I think McCain will win. Number one, doubts about Obama. We still don't know much about him at all. He's run as a guy that's going to brings us together. His senate record is one where he's the most liberal senator and he's one of the most partisan.
Number two, we're a center-right country. He's a northern liberal. They usually lose. Remember Walter Mondale, remember John Kerry, Mike Dukakis.
KONDRACKE: I remember Mike Dukakis and Walter Mondale.
BARNES: You got them all. And, number three, McCain, the man and leader. People have criticized the McCain campaign. The one thing McCain got across, not his policy ideas, but himself. That he's a man of courage, a man of character.
And just on Friday, Arnold Schwarzenegger said something about McCain that I thought was absolutely fascinating. And it was that McCain spent more time as a POW in Vietnam than Barack Obama has spent in the Senate.
All right. Here's McCain earlier today in Springfield, Virginia, making his final pitch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... the reason we learn more and more about Senator Obama, he said the other day his primary victory vindicated his faith in America. (BOOS). My country has never had to prove anything to me, my friends. I've always had faith in it and I've been humbled and honored to serve it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: You didn't list Sarah Palin as one of the reasons John McCain was going to win this election.
BARNES: I got to her earlier.
KONDRACKE: OK. Well, here is my reason I think Obama's going to win. Number one, this is a change election and it's a change election because we lost 760,000 jobs over the last year. The stock market has gone down almost 40 percent, $6 trillion worth of value, stock market value lost. And 90 percent of the American people think that the country's off on the wrong track. That is just meant for a change.
BARNES: Hard to overcome, yes.
KONDRACKE: Exactly. Number two, African-American turnout will be enormous. I think that it's going to be 70 percent of African-American eligible voters, which is the largest ever. It's even bigger than 1968 right after the voting rights act went into effect. And they're going to vote 95-5 probably in favor of Barack Obama and deliver states like North Carolina.
Number three, Obama's ground game is far superior to McCain's. This is what $600 million in fundraising will do for you. He's got headquarters all over the place, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of volunteers. It's just going to swamp the McCain ground game and beat him 4-1 or 5-1 in the air as well, on TV.
So, anyway, here's Obama in Nevada earlier today with his closing argument. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In three days, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election. That tries to pit region against region and city against town and Republican against Democrat, that asks us to fear at a time when we need to hope. (CHEERS).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: I still want to know, why these candidates aren't wearing ties. Why do we have to if they don't? One of those guys is going to be president anyway.
Here's my pet peeve in this election. You know what it is. Early voting. We have an Election Day set ahead of time. The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. All these people who vote early and who don't need to, may miss something. A lot goes on in the last few weeks. In 1980, it was the Carter-Reagan debate. In 2000, when we learned about the drunk driving arrest of George W. Bush many years earlier. Information happens. Events happen and so on.
When I voted early — look, I'm going to be in New York. I have an excuse, as you do, too. There were all these poor old people voting. It was all crowded in a place where there was no parking in downtown Alexandria, Virginia. They would have been better off just voting at their polling place, as they should, and hearing all of what goes on in the campaign. This early voting has got to stop. Absentee voting, if you're away, fine. But early voting just because it's early is wrong.
KONDRACKE: I agree it's a bag idea in principal for the reason that you say. I mean, something really big could happen in the final days.
KONDRACKE: And then nobody would know about it and they would have already cast their votes. But what we need, if we're going to do that, is New York State-style voting. Polls open 6 a.m. Stay open until 9 p.m.
KONDRACKE: Lots more voting machines than we've got now. We could have 140 million people voting this time. And if we do, that would be the biggest ever percentage-wise. And if we get that kind of election, not only are the pre-voting lines going to be long, the lines on Election Day are going to be long. And if judges don't keep the polls open late, then some people are not going to be able to vote who get there.
BARNES: Our views coincide again.
Coming up, our predictions for the senate and a look who's on the political endangered list.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN ENSIGN(R), NEVADA: I don't think that there's any question that it's a tough election atmosphere for Republicans.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D), NEW YORK: Well, we're feeling very good that we're going to pick up the successful amount of the larger number of receipts and have a successful election. As for 60, it is possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: He's a happy man.
KONDRACKE: Chuck Schumer.
Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys." Time to take a look at our Senate predictions.
BARNES: I think the Republicans will end up losing six Senate seats come Tuesday giving Democrats a 55 to 43 advantage.
KONDRACKE: Well, I think the Republicans are going to lose eight seats. And that will make — give the Democrats a 16-seat advantage. It will be 57 Democrats, 41 Republicans, two Independents, as you can see there. This puts the Democrats at the very edge of a filibuster majority. I mean, 57 plus Bernie Sanders makes 58. You're two votes away and, depending what Joe Lieberman does, you get to 60 or 59, or you're close, in any event.
BARNES: Republicans with only 43, which is what I'm predicting, it's going to be hard in many, many cases I think to mount filibusters, as they've done so well the last two years to block liberal legislation.
BARNES: Because you're always going to have slippage, more liberal, squishy senators, so.
KONDRACKE: OK. Now, there are three races we can agree on. Republican Senators in Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado are retiring and we think that all of those seats are going to go to the Democrats.
And, so, let's take a look at some of the hot races. In North Carolina, incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole is running against Democrat Kay Hagen. I think Dole is toast and the reason — and the evidence of that was this ridiculous ad she put out trying to accuse Kay Hagen, who's a church elder, of being an atheist. That's desperation.
BARNES: She did take some money from some group called Godless America. But, look, Dole is behind before then. Polls has shown her consistently behind. But she didn't spend enough time back in North Carolina.
KONDRACKE: In New Hampshire, Republican Senator John Sununu is up against Democrat Jean Shaheen, former governor. Look, John Sununu is a really good guy and his problem is that this is a Democrat year. And also you've got all these people who have moved from Massachusetts. Former Democrats from Massachusetts have moved to New Hampshire as though it's a suburb of Boston, which in fact it is.
BARNES: I know. What you're saying is, in New Hampshire, too many liberals?
BARNES: I think you're right, looks bad for him. Although he's, I agree, an impressive guy.
KONDRACKE: Right. In Oregon, incumbent Republican Senator Gordon Smith is battling Democrat Jeff Merkley. Look, Gordon Smith is another good guy. He's a moderate. My kind of person. And right on lots of issues. He's even tried to identify himself with Barack Obama to win. But it's Oregon, it's a Democratic year and I'm afraid Gordon Smith is gone.
BARNES: He's actually making a comeback. You talk to Republicans. Their polling have shown, in the last few days this week, he actually made a comeback. Great on the tax issue. He's not a mushy moderate like you. I think he's going to fall through.
KONDRACKE: OK. Democrat Jim Martin is trying to unseat Republican Saxby Chambliss in Georgia. Here's a place I think where Saxby Chambliss might well lose because of the African-American vote. If he wins, he will probably win in a runoff. There are three candidates in the race. It may go to a runoff in which case Saxby Chambliss might have a chance to win.
BARNES: Yes, but just think of a run-off. Look, I think Chambliss is going to win next Tuesday, but not if there's a runoff. And say, you have president Obama coming to Georgia to campaign for Jim Martin in a runoff. Anyway, I think Chambliss will win. We won't have to worry about that.
KONDRACKE: OK, Minnesota, Norm Coleman is trying to edge out funny man, Al Franken. Now, Al Franken has enormous amounts of baggage he's dragging into this race. Back taxes he didn't pay. Sort of filthy-mouth scripts that he's contributed to and stuff like that. Coleman I think is going to pull it out. It's a three-man race.
BARNES: With Dean Barkley in there, that three-man race. Look, Norm Coleman is kind of a mushy moderate as well on many issues. No wonder you like him. I think he's going to pull it out, too.
KONDRACKE: Newly convicted Republican Senator Ted Stevens is trying to hold on to his seat in Alaska. He's up against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. Look, Sarah Palin set the tone for reform in Alaska. Throw out the bad guys. Ted Stevens is an icon in the state, an institution, in fact, but I think he's going to go in this election.
BARNES: Are you suggesting, Mort...
BARNES: ... clashes with Republican reformism? It looks bad for Ted Stevens, I think. But he has been enormously popular. He still could pull through, but I doubt it.
KONDRACKE: I just can't see it.
OK. And in Kentucky, we think Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will be able to hold off Democratic contender Bruce Lunsford.
BARNES: I want to mention one other seat. And that is Louisiana, where John Kennedy, the Republican, has a chance of knocking off Mary Landrieu. His polls look very good. Big McCain state. May happen. Heaven knows, Republicans need anything they can get.
KONDRACKE: OK, coming up, Democrats are licking their chops at the prospect of increasing their majorities in the House. And we'll give you our predictions next.
BARNES: Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys"!
The entire House of Representatives is up for grabs this Tuesday, as it is every two years. And Democrats are looking for a big night.
I think Republicans will lose a net. That's a net 19 seats in the House of Representatives, bringing the total to 255 Democrats and 180 Republicans, Mort, which is about where they were before the great Republican landslide of 1994 when they took over the House. So that's not great. But they're going to win a few seats. That's why I think it ought to be 19. Maybe Texas, Louisiana, Florida. They'll win that one in Florida. The one you know about.
KONDRACKE: That's for sure.
BARNES: Maybe one in Pennsylvania. There are a couple other states. They'll win. They could win a half dozen, more like two or three.
KONDRACKE: John Murtha, beaten or not?
BARNES: I suspect he'll win. Don't you think so?
KONDRACKE: Actually, I do.
BARNES: Yes, he's scrape through.
KONDRACKE: I think Republicans are in line to lose 33 seats on Tuesday, giving the Democrats more than a 100-vote advantage. I mean, that is — it's big. I think there's a wave going. You know, this financial situation is just so bad that it's going to just wash out Republicans.
What I hope, what I hope is that there is a vestige left of moderate Republicanism, Chris Shays, Mark Kirk, in Illinois, those guys.
BARNES: That's some moderate Democrats. There are practically none of those.
KONDRACKE: Well, there are. There are.
In any event, earlier this week, talking about the prospect of a huge majority, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually said this: "If the Democrats win and have substantial majorities, the Congress of the United States will be more bipartisan."
Now, of all the fibs I have ever heard in politics, that is one of the biggest ones. I mean, when has a House majority ever been bipartisan toward its minority. The Republicans weren't. The Democrats weren't when they were in power before.
BARNES: Particularly, when there's a large majority.
KONDRACKE: With a large majority, you treat them like ants, walk all over them.
BARNES: I think that's what Nancy Pelosi — that's her idea of bipartisanship. You know, the minority, step on it, kick them.
All right, also on the ballot in a good number of states, initiatives that tackle some hot-button social issues. A ban of same-sex marriage on the ballot in three states. California's Proposition 8 is the most high profile, mainly because the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage and Prop 8 would overturn that. But it looks like it's going to lose.
KONDRACKE: Well, I hope it does.
BARNES: Pro-life issues are on the ballot in South Dakota, which would ban abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. And in Colorado, there's a vote to define a human life at beginning at fertilization.
Mort, I'm not sure what will happen in South Dakota. This one will probably lose. In Colorado, a young woman on her own got this thing on the ballot. But you're going to continue to have these. You're going to continue to have this polarizing fight over abortion, because it was decided by a court and not democratically as it should be in the states and in the legislature.
KONDRACKE: The South Dakota case is designed to get it back to the Supreme Court...
BARNES: Yes, I know.
KONDRACKE: ... to try to overturn Roe v. Wade. We will find out whether John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court does believe in stare decisis or not. He said it was settled law. We'll see how it goes.
BARNES: Mort, you never — when — when the Supreme Court overturns some conservative precedent, you never complain about him. That's never stare decisis anyway. It's a double standard.
Colorado and Nebraska have initiatives to ban race and gender-based preferences. I think Ward Connelly is one of the greatest of all Americans. And he has put these civil rights initiatives on ballots that ban preferences. And he uses the language from the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I don't know about Nebraska, but this will pass. Well, it will pass in Nebraska and in Colorado.
KONDRACKE: And he's an African-American. It should be pointed out.
BARNES: Yes. Yes.
KONDRACKE: Now, I think Barack Obama's election as president should -- should argue for the elimination of gender preferences. But what we need is, we still need preference based on background, based on underprivileged circumstances.
BARNES: Well, then they'll get scholarships for college.
KONDRACKE: Exactly. Exactly.
BARNES: You know, Mort, let's get rid of preferences, period.
All right, Colorado has an issue on unions that would prohibit mandatory membership and dues. In other words, like a closed shop, got to be in one to have a job. It looks like it's going to lose because of this dubious deal between the labor leaders who removed a bunch of anti-business initiatives that were on the ballot. And they got together with business leaders, and the business leaders said, OK, if you take those off, we'll pony up all kinds of money to defeat the Right to Work initiative. Sort of an unsavory deal, don't you think?
KONDRACKE: And Colorado's an increasingly blue state. So Right to Work law is probably going to be pushed out.
BARNES: It was put on by a young man named Jonathan Coors, naturally, very smart young man.
Anyway, and in Maryland, a vote to authorize slot machine gambling in that state.
Mort, you used to live in Maryland.
KONDRACKE: I think it's probably going to pass finally. It's been defeated a number of times in the state legislature. I hope it gets defeated. It will just cause poor people to lose more money gambling, and incite people to be addicted gamblers.
BARNES: Mort, do you know what Prop 2 is in California? It's the one that would ban these cages for animals. Even animals that are going to be ultimately eaten by human beings. There's no reason why they can't be treated humanely in cages. They aren't now. Prop 2 would do that. I think it's a great idea. I hope it passes and it probably will.
KONDRACKE: I hope Prop 11 does, too, to change the way legislative districts are drawn.
Don't move a muscle. "The Buzz" is up next.
BARNES: Here's "The Buzz," Mort. Wendy Button. Now you...
KONDRACKE: I have heard of her.
BARNES: You've heard of her because I've told you about her. But most of the world has not heard of her. She was a speech writer for John Edwards, a speech writer for Barack Obama, who did the amazing thing and declared her support for John McCain and Sarah Palin. It got almost no attention.
Mort, you'll remember, practically every Republican that nobody ever heard of who, has decided to — and I exclude Colin Powell from that — but all these others who have endorsed Obama, become famous because the media presents them as the people who have done something courageous and different, and they're so important and so on. They have completely ignored Wendy Button.
As bad as the media coverage has been, this just takes the double standard. It is a bad finishing kick for bad coverage by the media, pro- Obama, pro-liberal, anti-Republican. Look, I can go on.
KONDRACKE: You can. You could. Look, there's good news and bad news on the education front. The good news is Utah, New Hampshire and Massachusetts and the headquarters of the National Education Association, the union, have committed themselves to a reform agenda. The bad news is, in the District of Columbia, there likely could be a majority of the city council against the most progressive education reforms in the country.
BARNES: Oh, gesh.
KONDRACKE: That's all the time we have left for "The Beltway Boys" this week. Join us when the boys will be back in town!
Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1 and 6 a.m. ET
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