What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Amy Walter and Tamara Keith on midterm election wild cards to watch

Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR join Judy Woodruff to discuss what they’re watching going into Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lest you had any doubt, we're going to make it clear right now. Tomorrow is Election Day.

    Here to give us the analysis or the analysts' view of the races before the voters have their final say, I'm joined by our Politics Monday duo, Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    The Monday before the Tuesday.

  • Amy Walter:

    It's like Christmas Eve.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, it is.

  • Amy Walter:

    It's all waiting for me to open. I can't wait.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Open up and see what's inside.

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So we just heard a few minutes ago Yamiche and Lisa talking about the final arguments they're hearing from each side.

    The two of you have been listening closely too. What else are you hearing as the final messages, Amy?

  • Amy Walter:

    What's interesting is watching where Republicans have gone this cycle, especially Republicans running in the House in these swing suburban districts, especially districts that at one time were held rather easily by Republicans.

    They are distancing themselves from the president not by running ads that say, I'm independent from the president, but really by turning their attention to Nancy Pelosi, making the race a referendum not on the president, they're hoping, but a referendum on Nancy Pelosi.

    We're hearing a lot of terms like liberal, socialized medicine, tax raising. The goal, of course, is to make voters there who may not like the president fear something even more, which is a liberal Congress run by a — the person in charge being a liberal person from San Francisco.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Another kind of fear to raise.

  • Amy Walter:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Tam, what about you? What are you hearing?

  • Tamara Keith:

    There's been this real split between the president — we talked about it a little bit last week, but it continues today.

    He's out with a new editorial, written under his name at least, talking about sort of the economic case for Republicans. It doesn't mention immigration. At the same time, you have the president continuing the message of the caravan.

    So there's this real split between part of the campaign, and then the other part of the campaign, the president's rhetoric at his rallies and then the more scripted rhetoric that they're trying to push out through other channels.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It was interesting. I read one report that said he didn't actually like an ad that they had put together a few days ago that talked about the economy, that he wanted there to be more of a fight message.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Well, and at one rally, he was like here's the message on the economy, but — but you really want me to talk about the other stuff.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, what else are you watching, Amy?

    I mean, you both have your list of things that you keep an eye on. What else are you looking at right now?

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes, I'm going to watch, yes.

    So, we're going to get a lot of information coming at us pretty quickly on election night. And I'm going to be looking for certain kinds of races, the way that they go, Democrat or Republican, that will give us a sense for what the rest of the night could look like, but also what a new Congress could look like.

    If Democrats are picking up seats in those districts we have been talking about, the Clinton suburban districts, there's nothing particularly earth-shattering about that. But if they're expanding into places where Republicans have never lost, some of these outer ring suburbs, where Democrats are hoping to pick off some seats — or I'm also looking a lot at the districts that Clinton lost , but Obama had carried for years earlier, those places that still have sort of a Democratic DNA, but they're more blue-collar working-class suburbs than they are the more affluent districts that Hillary Clinton won.

    So, the breadth of the seats will tell us as much as the number of seats. And I'm also taking a really close look at independent voters. We have talked a lot about how both sides are trying to rev up their bases. That's very important.

    But in these last three midterm elections, the winning party has carried independents by double digits. And that — how those voters break here at the end is going to tell us what kind of night it's going to be.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Interesting, too, who defines themselves as independent.

  • Amy Walter:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Tam, your list?

  • Tamara Keith:

    Yes, so I am watching one district that Amy sort of alluded to as being an interesting type of district, which is Florida 15.

    I visited it when we were in Florida.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes.

  • Tamara Keith:

    It's a district has been in Republican hands for a very long time, but that The Cook Political Report has rated a tossup that had a lot of money come to the Democratic candidate in the early going of the race.

    And you have sort of a very moderate Democrat who doesn't mention President Trump. And she's a woman running against a Republican who has statewide — or state elected experience. It's just an interesting race to watch.

    The other thing that I'm watching is, I have built this database or spreadsheet of President Trump's Twitter endorsements. He has endorsed 80 different people, some of them repeatedly on Twitter. I'm going to be building a scorecard to see how he does in his endorsements, also how the candidates he held rallies for end up faring, because a lot of these are considered close races, considered tossups.

    So it's not a guarantee that the people he's campaigned for will win.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So much of the conversation, I think, early on in the campaign — early on in the season, the election season, was about whether the Democrats were going to be able to keep women voters energized, keep younger voters energized.

    I know it's early. We haven't counted the votes yet, Amy, but are those things that are — are going to — should we be thinking about breaking the electorate up into groups and seeing how each group went?

  • Amy Walter:

    Sure.

    I mean, we know that the Democratic sort of constituency now, definitely women, but specifically women who are white with a college degree, Latino voters, African-American voters, younger voters, although, remember, millennials, now,the oldest millennials, those who their first election was Barack Obama, are now almost 30. And the oldest millennial is almost 40, so we have to…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Long in the tooth.

    (LAUGHTER)

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Amy Walter:

    They are. They're so old, ancient now.

    So, when we talk about young voters, we have to make sure that we're also including those folks who were the Obama generation. They turned out for him, but may not have ever turned out for a Democrat before. So I think those are important groups.

    And then part of the reason I think you're seeing this sort of difference between what the president's talking about on paper and what he's doing at rallies is another group of voters that doesn't traditionally turn out in midterm elections are part of Trump's core vote.

    Your turnout in election in, and especially in a midterm, is driven a lot by education level, as well as income level and age. The older, the more affluent, and the more likely that you have a college degree, the more likely you are to vote.

    So the voters that make up the core of Trump's base, of course, specifically white men without a college degree, are they going to turn out in a midterm year in the way they turned out for Trump? And, remember, a lot of those folks probably didn't vote for Mitt Romney or vote for John McCain. They were uniquely attracted to Donald Trump. And will they turn out to vote for Republicans when Trump's not on the ballot?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Fascinating, the questions or the issues that it raises about education divides among people voting.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Tam, you were talking to us about looking at the relationship between the president and the Congress. At one point, he was very critical of the Congress. Not so much.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Yes.

    So, here's the thing. He has been saying, a lot of people are saying that maybe my voters won't turn out and vote because I have been so negative on Congress. On his Inauguration Day, he actually said, it doesn't matter which party is in power.

    Well, he now believes it matters a lot which party is in power. And he is trying to convince those core voters who maybe voted for the very first time in 2016 that, even though he isn't — his name isn't there, that they need to vote as if his name were on the ballot.

    So it's — it's this big change from a Congress who he says disappointed him, and there's people still that disappointed him, to now being like, but, but, but I need them.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And that will raise questions, of course, as we go into 2020, Amy. I mean, he's going to need this Congress for the next two years.

  • Amy Walter:

    To be able to push through his legislative agenda, though most of what he's done, even with a Republican Congress, most of his accomplishments in his first two years have been done through executive action, not through legislative action, right?

    The tax bill being the one major piece of legislation, big exception, but the rest have all come through his executive orders. So, even having a lot of Republicans didn't necessarily mean he got more legislation.

    What it did do, of course, is that it meant that there wasn't going to be the sort of oversight that will happen if Democrats take control the House.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Interesting to think about what newly elected members of Congress will think they owe President Trump based on how much he did or didn't campaign for them, whether he helped, whether he didn't help.

    That's one of the things we will be watching.

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, and, remember, a lot of the folks that Republicans — a lot of the Republicans who could lose would be the more moderate.

    The ones who will be Congress who will be left…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Exactly.

  • Amy Walter:

    … are the more Trump-aligned.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Exactly.

    Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, tomorrow is the big day.

  • Amy Walter:

    Can't wait.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Thank you.

  • Tamara Keith:

    You're welcome.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest