What’s going to voters make of the economic system as they hit the polls?

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This is a rush transcript from “Journal Editorial Report,” November 3, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The Democrats want to invite caravan after caravan of illegal aliens to flood into your communities.

(BOOING)

TRUMP: Depleting our resources and overwhelming our nation. We don’t want that.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: Republicans believe we must defend our borders. We have to defend the borders of our country. And that country is a country that we love, the United States of America.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST: Welcome to the “Journal Editorial Report” as we count down to Tuesday’s critical midterm elections. I’m Paul Gigot.

And that was President Trump making his closing argument in Belgrade, Montana moments ago, and continuing to put immigration front and center in the final days of the campaign. The president hoping to rally Republican voters to turn out Tuesday by framing the issue as a matter of law and order. So is that a smart strategy?

Let’s ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger, Columnist Kim Strassel, and columnist and Manhattan Institute senior fellow, Jason Riley.

Jason, let’s start with the fundamental question. It is no question, immigration, immigration, in the final days. Is that smart?

JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST & SENIOR FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Well, I think not all Republicans agree with this strategy. There are some running trying to get more moderate voters and this will make it more challenging.  But I think the president’s calculation is that is a net-plus for his party. He is thinking, listen, Congressional Republicans, without my voters at the polls on Tuesday you are going down. I have to do what I have to do to get my voters out there. This will get them out there. So this is what I’m going to do.

GIGOT: He thinks they might not respond to the economic success of the better economy, that this is something that will drive those voters to the polls, the economy won’t?

RILEY: Well, he believes this is the strategy that helped get him elected two years ago.

GIGOT: He is not on the ballot, Jason.

RILEY: But his voters have to come out or the Republicans will not do very well.

But I would add more substantive level, Paul, he is the president of the United States. Borders do matter. We are a sovereign country. There are thousands of people headed to the border with the intent of causing chaos on the border. He has a duty to intervene. Even on substantive level, I think there something to this.

GIGOT: Let’s take that one at a time. Substance first. Is there really a crisis at the border? There are caravans coming but, on the other hand, some have dissipated and we have people in place to handle it?

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: No, I think there is a crisis.  What there really is as a crisis is immigration policy in this country.  That is a bipartisan crisis. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress has failed to address it, therefore, you get a situation like we have at the border. Now, this caravan is coming. It will arrive at the border.  Donald Trump did not create the caravan. Donald Trump is not responsible for what is going on in Honduras.

GIGOT: Right.

HENNINGER: He went through this last July when you had the family separation fiasco down there. What it proved is the federal bureaucracies are incapable of processing and handling this many people when they come across the border. So you default to, I think, the president saying, I have to do something about this. And I think most Americans would agree with that.

GIGOT: You would agree even sending military to the border in a support role?

HENNINGER: Well, yes. The question is whether President Trump is overplaying his hand on the immigration issue. I think it is telling to look at states in which he is appearing this weekend Friday through Sunday.  It’s Indiana, West Virginia, Missouri, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.  These are all states with very close Senate elections. I think what the president is trying to do is win the Senate elections for the Republicans.  It forces every other Republican candidate in the country to run on this issue in places like Pennsylvania and California where they would rather not. That is what he has done.

GIGOT: Kim, let’s turn to the raw politics here. If Dan is right about the Senate races, OK, driving Republican turnout, but there’s a lot of Republican House races where some House Republicans don’t really want that kind of an immigration message. Some have tried to separate from the president’s policy on immigration. I’m think of Will Hurd, for example, in southern Texas, thinking about Carlos Curbelo in Miami-Dade County, they’ve really — this may not be the best way to close for them?

KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Well, immigration overall is not their favorite subject, that’s true, but immigration has different pieces and parts. Dan just mentioned family separation. Not a good look for Republicans. But this particular issue, the view within the White House, when you’re talking about border control, you’re talking about law and order, this is something that not only rallies Trump partisans and the base but it also sends a signal to Independents who are legitimately concerned about this question, and border control and law and order question. So this debut is a better way going at it. And look at Democratic response.  The fact they don’t really want to talk about this, and there are even candidates supporting the president’s move to send troops down to the border — I’m thinking of Kyrsten Sinema out in Arizona, very close Senate race there — they view — the White House views this as a better form of the issue. Also, one that takes away from other things they would rather not talk about, for instance, the shooting in Pittsburgh last week.

RILEY: I would add to Dan’s point whether the president is overplaying his hand, Donald Trump wouldn’t be Donald Trump if he didn’t overplay his hand.

(LAUGHTER)

But the same people criticizing him for this are the same people that support more sanctuary cities. The same people have been going around saying abolish ICE, the immigration enforcement officials. These people are not — they don’t want any response, Paul. These are people who want the border erased, not fixed. You have to take with a grain of salt what some on the left are saying in terms of complaining about overreach on part of the White House on this matter.

GIGOT: I still think if they had struck a deal, which was — a year ago — legalize the DREAMers in exchange for more money for the wall and border security, they had the potential to get that deal until the extremes on both sides decided not to accept it. Then I think that would have benefit the Republicans as the party in power, and given these members of the party in power and given these members in districts that are swing distributes another accomplishment?

HENNINGER: Yes, it would have but it just didn’t happen. We’re left with what we’ve got. I think it is also revealing that the president isn’t campaigning in Nevada and Arizona, two at-risk seats. I guess he thinks he won’t help there.

GIGOT: All right, thank you.

Still ahead, the economy and the midterms, stock market turmoil is stronger than expected, jobs report, what it all means as voters head to the polls on Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: America now has the best economy in the history of our country and we want to keep it that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: In the last month alone, we added another 250,000 jobs, and nearly 600,000 Americans returned to the workforce.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: We’ve created 4.5 million new jobs since the election. Nobody would have believed that. The unemployment rate just fell to the lowest level in more than 50 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIGOT: President Trump in Indianapolis last night touting a stronger-than- expected jobs report. The U.S. economy adding 250,000 jobs in October, blowing past expectations in the final snapshot of the labor market before Election Day. Average hourly wages also rose and are now 3.1 percent above a year ago, the fastest increase in a decade. That good economic news tempered by market volatility. October marking the worst month for stocks in seven years amid concerns over trade wars and higher interest rates.

So what will voters make of the economy as they head to the polls on Tuesday?

Economist Arthur Laffer is the founder and chairman of Laffer Associates.  He served as an advisor to President Ronald Reagan.

Welcome, Arthur. Always good to see you.

ART LAFFER, FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN, LAFFER ASSOCIATES: Thank you, Paul.

GIGOT: Just how good is this economy right now?

LAFFER: It looks pretty good. We have a long way to go before it’s certifiably great. But we’ve had 4.2 percent GDP growth in the second quarter. The first estimate for the third quarter is 3.5 percent. Both of which are very, very nice numbers. The jobs report is a great number.  But, again, after we’ve been going down so long, for 16 years, we have to do it for a long time before we really get up to the prosperity we need.  Every trip takes a first step, and this is a really good first step, Paul.  I’m very happy.

GIGOT: To what do you attribute the change? As you look at data, remember, last half of 2015 and all of 2016 we barely skirted a recession – –

LAFFER: I know.

GIGOT: — a 2017 recession. Now 2018, accelerated to an even higher plane. What is the reason?

LAFFER: Could it possibly be tax cuts, regulatory reform —

GIGOT: Could be.

LAFFER: — good monetary policy, a real attempt at trade? The one thing it’s not, Paul, is spending control.

GIGOT: Right.

LAFFER: This is way, way out of control. But I expect Trump to address that next year. But we have had great economic policies. They’re really working, just like we said they would, by the way, Paul. Remember that debate we had there in New York.

GIGOT: Right.

LAFFER: We were completely right on the line. The growth rates are there.  Let’s just hope they continue.

We have a lot of room left to grow by the way. The participation rate can go up at least another two or three points. Productivity can rise a lot and be there for a long time. It has been very low for a long time.  Working hours, I mean, that can rise a lot. What we saw in the jobs report as well was a decline in the part-time employment for economic reasons, which is, you know, a bad sign. With that falling, it is really great. It adds to average hours. So all of these things are happening in the way I hoped they would. I hope they continue but I expect they will.

GIGOT: Where do you see anything to worry about? Are you worried at all about the stock market volatility?

LAFFER: Of course.

GIGOT: Are you worried about the Fed raising interest rates?

LAFFER: I’m not worried about the Fed. I think the Fed is doing just the right thing. We need interest rates at the market-clearing rate, not at a low rate. For the last eight, nine years, we’ve had the Yellen/Bernanke zero interest rates. And that meant no money flooding into the housing market. So we had the lowest new-housing starts per 10,000 population.  Probably the last nine years were the lowest nine years in history. Now we have the rates coming up, which will attract capital to those markets.  Frankly, I’m very excited about that. I think Powell is doing a great job.

GIGOT: OK.

LAFFER: I am worried about trade and I am worried about spending. But I always worry about stuff, Paul. And —

GIGOT: No you don’t, Art. You’re the most optimistic man in the world.

LAFFER: I am, I am. But we have the tax cuts behind us. That is the best bill ever. That tax bill had almost no mistakes in it at all. The deregulation is just fantastic. Monetary policy, I think Trump and Larry Kudlow are doing a great job on getting some trade negotiations. If the president meets with Xi in Argentina, I can’t help but think this will be huge plus for America and China.

GIGOT: OK. How much of that is at risk if there’s a change in the Congress? Obviously President Trump has the veto pen, so he can veto anything they do.

LAFFER: Sure.

GIGOT: There will not be big enough margins to overrule him on most of that. But on other hand, the Democrats could push him in a different direction. Are you worried about that this?

LAFFER: Not really. Democrats are not as bad as they are made out to be and Republicans are not as good they are made out to be. Jack Kennedy was one of the greatest presidents ever with tax cuts and growth. I voted for Bill Clinton twice. I thought he was a spectacular president. Obviously, I loved Reagan. And I like Trump. I think Trump is really spectacular.  And if the Democrats take over the House, I don’t see why they can’t think correctly as well on economics. Everyone knows that tax-rate reductions in the right time and circumstances increase economic growth. It is just common sense. You can’t tax an economy into prosperity. They may well start to work with Republicans and work with Trump.

GIGOT: Why isn’t the — why aren’t Republicans, when you look at the elections, the polls, the prospects they might lose the House, why aren’t they are getting more credit for this economic turnaround?

LAFFER: I don’t know that they aren’t. We’ll see what the elections are.  In 1982, even though we had the tax bill passed and all that, Reagan got hammered in the off election. It wasn’t until 1984 that President Reagan really got it. We squeaked by in the presidency there. We only won 49 out 50 states. It was a real closer. But I think that’s going to happen. We have not had enough prosperity yet where people really feel this expansion and all that. It is coming, and it’s coming very quickly. By the time we get to 2019 and 2020, I think it will be roaring. Trump will get a lot of credit for that.

GIGOT: Any elections in particular, governorships, House or Senate, where you think the economy is worth noting —

(CROSSTALK)

LAFFER: Yes. One is really big, and that’s the governor’s race in Connecticut.

GIGOT: OK.

LAFFER: A guy named Bob Stefanowski is running against Ned Lamont.  Stefanowski is a pro-growth, free market, Democratic economic supply-sider, versus a stagnant governor who is trying to raise taxes and doing all of that. It’s the classic clash between pro-growth and anti-growth. Bob Stefanowski, if he can pull it out in blue Connecticut, this will be a game-changer.

The other one I love is in Colorado. Jared Polis, a Democrat, is running on tax cuts, or potentially on tax cuts. He was my intern for years in my office. I’ve been on all his family boards. He’s is spectacular, a Democrat, and a pro-growth Democrat.

(CROSSTALK)

LAFFER: So we’ve got some real, real cutting-edge issues coming along that I’m terribly excited about.

GIGOT: I should add, Arthur, that you did advised Stefanowski in Connecticut on his tax proposal.

LAFFER: I sure did.

GIGOT: OK.

LAFFER: But also, Jared Polis. And I’m very much involved in a lot of governors’ races, in South Carolina, here in Tennessee. I’ve been involved in maybe seven or eight.

GIGOT: All right. Arthur, thanks. We’ll see what happens. Appreciate your being here.

LAFFER: We’re ready and watching.

GIGOT: When we come back, the battle for control of Congress —

LAFFER: Thanks, Paul.

GIGOT: — is coming down to the wire with the number of competitive races continuing to grow in the campaign’s final days. We’ll tell you which races to watch as the results roll in on Tuesday.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT: With just three days to go until Election Day, a look now at the battle of control of the House. The latest RealClearPolitics poll average giving Democrats a 7.5 percent advantage over Republicans in the generic ballot, with 49.4 percent saying they support Democratic candidate in their district compared to 41.9 percent who said they will back Republican. Democrats need to flip 23 seats to take control of the House.  And their clearest path to victory goes through the 25 Republican-held districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

We’re back with Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel and Jason Riley.

Kim, Democrats say it’s all but assured. Nancy Pelosi guarantying a victory like Babe Ruth going to hit that home run. Republicans are saying, well, we could hold out and win it by couple seats. Who has the better chance of being right?

STRASSEL: You know, if you look at all of the things that are going for Democrats, that ought to favor their argument. You have got history.  Traditionally, the party out of power gains in midterms. They have massively outspent Republicans in just about every one of these races. You had unprecedented huge numbers of Republican retirements that opened up a lot of opportunities for them.

On other hand, Paul, if look at what is coming in, the early voting seems to show enormous amount of Republican enthusiasm on the back of the Kavanaugh fight. That has given Republican as lot of hope.

And the other thing I would mention is, if you really dig into a lot of polling data, a lot of it is very sparse. It happened months ago. We just don’t necessarily know what the state of a lot of these races. I think still think it’s a jump ball. Whoever does win, it is likely it’s going to be by a very narrow amount, which will present interesting governing problems and issues going ahead, too.

GIGOT: Interesting, RealClearPolitics, says 203 Democrats and 196 Republican seats are now likely or guaranteed for the Republicans — safe seats. If that happens, there are 36 tossups. But Republicans would have to win — I think only five are in Republican — are in Democratic districts. Republicans have to win 22 of those 36.

RILEY: I think the map right now does favors a narrow Democratic majority.

Kim mentioned early voting, and it has been huge. Something like 29 million people have already voted.

GIGOT: We have the biggest turnout in a midterm in many, many years.

RILEY: Right. In some states, the number of early voters is double what it was four years ago. There’s tremendous amount of enthusiasm. But that usually works to the benefit of Democrats when you get those the high turnout numbers. So that is another indication the map is favoring them right now.

But this Congress, they have a lot to brag about, Paul. They have gotten a lot done, with deregulation, the corporate tax cut, particularly in the energy sector where we’re seeing a lot of growth. They do have something to run on here. And I think, you know, some of them tried to make that an issue in the campaign. Others have not been able to. But they do have something to write home about.

GIGOT: Any particular seats you’re looking at, Dan, as bellwethers?

HENNINGER: Yes, I will watch New Jersey, specifically New Jersey 11, where incumbent Republican, Jay Webber, is running against a newcomer, Mikie Sherrill, a woman, who is Annapolis graduate, former Navy helicopter pilot, former federal prosecutor. She’s running for the first time, has raised millions of dollars. This is in northern New Jersey, suburban seat, moderate Republicans, central. She’s running as a centrist. Also, in New Jersey 11, you have the incumbent, Leonard Lance, running against Tom Malinowski, a former Obama official. He is running against a centrist.  These New Jersey seats are going to be indicative because we’ll get returns early in the evening, Paul. If they go Democratic, it will be a long night for Republicans. If perchance, one or both Republicans hold their seats, that will be an excellent sign for the Republican Party.

GIGOT: Kim, you have one or two you want us to look at?

STRASSEL: Yes, I’m looking at Kentucky six. This is Republican district.  It went for Romney by 14 points, Trump by 15. Andy Barr, the Republican, this is — it has a Democratic core, Lexington City, surrounded by 19 very rural bluegrass counties. He has done everything right. But he is running against Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot, Democrat. She has been running as a moderate. She had tons of money. This is one the Republicans ought to put away. If those early returns come in and show he has lost, it is going to be a bad night for the GOP. By contrast, also looking at Florida 26. You mentioned Carlos Curbelo. This is Clinton district. She won it by 16 points, southern Florida, very Hispanic. He is Cuban-American Republican. He’s trying to put distance between himself and the president.  If he manages to squeak out a victory, it might suggest Republicans who distanced themselves a little bit, running a more-nuanced campaign, might had made some traction with voters.

GIGOT: Jason?

RILEY: I’m looking at Upstate New York, a district held by John Faso, a Republican. It is a swing district. Obama won in 2012. It swung very sharply to Trump in 2016. He opponent is a guy name Antonio Delgado, one of a number of black progressives running in this cycle across the country.  The race is very close, within the margin of error. As with the New Jersey race, we’ll find out early. If Faso holds on to, it probably won’t be the blue wave that some Democrats are hoping for.

GIGOT: And it’s interesting. The ideological difference between this Faso and this Democratic is really wide. And that’s the real difference now between the House majority and a Democrat majority in the House. It is a real big ideological difference.

Still ahead, heading into the final days of the midterm campaign, some key Senate races are too close to call. We’ll tell you which seats will determine whether Republicans can maintain control when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT: Republicans fighting to retain control of the Senate on Tuesday and maybe even pick up a seat or two. The GOP now holds a narrow 51-49 majority and with unusually high number of races still considered tossups heading into Election Day.

We’re back with a look at races to watch.

So, Dan, I think, if you talk to the pros, only real guaranteed Republican pickup, Heidi Heitkamp, in North Dakota. That would bump them up. Seven races appear to be very close and could go either way, including three that Republicans hold, Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, which is not done yet. So this could conceivably be a Democratic night. They could end up at the end of the night with Senate control.

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: They could, or they might not.  At the moment, the dead heats are in Senate races in Missouri, Nevada, Arizona, Indiana. Kim said earlier, talking about the House races being a jump ball, there has never been a midterm election like this. In the House, in the Senate, and in the governorships, there are an incredible number of races that are within the margin of error across the United States.

Now one that I’m looking at is the Senate race in Florida between the current governor, Rick Scott, versus incumbent Democrat, Bill Nelson. They are in a dead-heat. Bear in mind, Florida is the ultimate close state.  Donald Trump carried it against Hillary Clinton by just over a single point.

So what are they doing down there? Rick Scott has run 1,300 ads in the I-4 corridor, down the middle of the state, about defending preexisting conditions. Believe it or not, Bill Nelson has run over 500 ads saying exactly the opposite. That is the intensity with which they’re running down there. Governor Scott has made — taken a lot of time trying to make inroads in Hispanic communities, specifically the Puerto Rican communities living in the I-4 corridor. That may benefit them in the end. But this race is so tight, it’s impossible at this point to predict going who is going to be going to the Senate in Florida.

GIGOT: Jason?

JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST & SENIOR FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: I’m looking another one of those tossup states, Missouri, where the incumbent is Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, running against the state attorney general, Josh Hawley. A deep-red state. Trump won by 20 points. McCaskill has been pretty lucky in her Republican opponent. Last time, she got someone who made a ridiculous comment about rape in the closing weeks of the election and skated through. But all through the summer months she had been ahead in the polls. Since September, complete reversal. Hawley has caught up.  Now the race is essentially a dead-heat.

This is example of a state — we talk about the Republican closing arguments earlier. The Democratic closing arguments in places like Missouri has been health care. They’re trying to harp on the fact that Democrats — Republicans said they would repeal and replace Obamacare.  They have not done that. So she is talking about things like Medicaid for all, single-payer. He is talking about things like, what to do with people with preexisting conditions and so forth. That is what the race has been about in states where bashing Trump is not going to get you very far.

GIGOT: This is a state where — McCaskill is a pretty liberal voter in the Senate. We’ll see if she can get away with pretending to be more conservative than she is.

Kim, what are you looking at?

KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Arizona. This is for the open seat of retiring Senator Jeff Flake. It is one of those races, as mentioned by Dan, that Republicans cannot afford to lose. And it is his Republican representative, Martha McSally, former fighter pilot, up against a Democratic House representative, Kyrsten Sinema. McSally has been making a big and very compelling argument about the changed fortunes of Arizona under this president, the economy, economic revival, all the good things that have come. Sinema, on the other hand, has been very much bashing, as you were talking about, bashing McSally for her vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare. Definitely making it out to sound as though somehow Republicans are responsible for these soaring health care costs. And Republicans, as we know, across the country, have had a hard time rebutting those arguments. There’s also some questions about Sinema.  She has a very progressive past, and would she actually be the moderate she claims to be.

GIGOT: Let’s talk about the stakes in the Senate. If the Democrats do win the House and the Senate, Dan, the Trump administration is shut down, basically.

HENNINGER: Yes.

GIGOT: He will not get any judges approved to the appellate or the Supreme Court, none, zero, that are nominated by The Federalist Society. Nominated a couple — Larry Tribe, from Harvard. He might make it. A lot of the nominees won’t — for the administration, will have a hard time being filled out. Then, you would lose your leverage in negotiations over the budget. So the stakes in the Senate are very high.

HENNINGER: If that happens, Paul, like it or not, the American people will have to get used to the fact that the 2020 presidential election begins next Wednesday morning. That is the only thing that will be going on.

There’s a school of thought that Republicans feel, if they hold one seat in the Senate and keep that margin you’re describing, they will regard it as very successful evening.

GIGOT: Upset potential pick, Bog Hugin, the biotech CEO in New Jersey, running against Robert Menendez, who barely escaped conviction of corruption charges. It might be too long a reach, but we’ll see if Democrats are willing to give a Republican a chance in New Jersey.

Still ahead, with 87 of the nation’s 99 legislative changes up for re- election, we’ll look what is at stake in the states on Tuesday, next.

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: A look now at what is at stake in the states on Tuesday. We begin with the 87 legislative chambers up for election across the country. And from Colorado to New Hampshire, Democrats hope to make significant gains after nearly a decade of Republican dominance. Tuesday’s results will have far-reaching consequences as states gear up for redistricting following the 2020 census.

Former Florida Congressman and attorney general, Bill McCollum, is chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee, an organization dedicated to gaining and maintaining Republican control of state legislative bodies across the country.

Bill, welcome. Good to see you again.

(CROSSTALK)

BILL MCCOLLUM, R-CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN STATE LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE & FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN AND ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good to see you, too.

GIGOT: This has been one of the great Republican successes under the radar, gaining something like 968 seats under President Obama. They now control 26 governorships and both bodies in the legislature. Democrats only eight. But is this the year that the Democrats start to whittle away at that advantage?

MCCOLLUM: Well, it may be whittled but it will not be a big blue wave.  When we won the big blue wave — or red wave, I should say, back in 2010, Republicans flipped 21 legislative bodies. That was a big, big number. We won 700 seats in that election. I don’t see anything like that on the horizon in this election for the Democrats.

We do have contested hot races. We’ve got several legislative bodies clearly on the line this particular time, and I think they’re going to be real contests. It is interesting, all of them are the same tossup type situations that they have been in, in every election cycle we’ve had for quite some time now. It is a matter who goes out to vote, like many other races, but they’re real, real close races in some of these states.

GIGOT: Tell us why — tell our listeners why this matters. One reason, we mentioned redistricting. You have that coming up on 2010. That is going to be — 2020, after the census. That is the next census. That’s crucial because, if you control one legislative body, you can offset a Democratic governor, say.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCOLLUM: It is congressional redistricting, but also important for the states themselves because, in the states, we’ve had great success with Republican governors and Republican legislatures in a number of these states. Taxes are lower. The economies boomed. We put school choice into place in many cases, educational reform, Right to Work, many other things that have caused those states to do quite well. Whereas, the states controlled by Democrats, like in Connecticut, and places that – Oregon and other places, haven’t done as nearly as well.

Going back to redistricting for a minute, the money in this is enormous.  The Republican State Leadership Committee is the only national Republican organization that puts money in nationally at the state legislative races.  We put, this cycle, somewhere between $45 million and $50 million. That is about a 25 percent increase over the last cycle. But the Democrats are exponentially larger. They’re putting hundreds of millions of dollars to try to win back these various races and legislative bodies in the states.  They put them in all kinds of places.

We see close races. For example, we have only one-seat majorities in Colorado, in a place like New York State, which has been Republican most the time the last half century —

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: The state Senate.

MCCOLLUM: The state Senate. That is definitely in jeopardy. The Colorado Senate as well. In Maine, it is Senate there. In New Hampshire, both the Senate and House. Those are really tough for us. But we still are in a fighting chance of winning them. Others that are much more likely to go our way but are still going to be very close are Wisconsin, Senate. Both the Senate and House in Minnesota. Both Senate and House in Michigan. In Pennsylvania, I think, we’ll win both of them but the Senate and House are being contested strongly with a lot of Democrat money. In my home state of Florida, the state Senate is. I think we hold that as we should hold Arizona and other states we’re talking about. But it is interesting how much money they put with special groups.

GIGOT: Let me ask you about that money. Where is that money coming from?  Is this coming from a lot of big donors, the Mike Bloombergs, the George Soros and so on? I know, remember, Eric Holder made a specific announcement he was going to try to raise money with redistricting in mind to win these races?

MCCOLLUM: Well, that’s right. He raised, we think, somewhere in the neighborhood of the $40 million he said he was going to for the congressional redistricting committee that he and President Obama set up.  We don’t know precisely where the money came from because it interchanges a lot. But we also know there’s a group called Forward Majority that just put $1.8 million, for example, into several Florida House races just last week. We have the Center for Public Policy, which is very much a left-side group, that has put millions of dollars in. They say they will spend $40 million to $60 million. We — we don’t know where that is coming from.  That is in addition to the money coming out of the Soros group, coming out of the Steyer group, coming out of the Bloomberg group on the gun issue, coming out of the pro-choice movement, Planned Parenthood, coming from unions and trial lawyers. Presumably, some of the money is coming from trial lawyers and Hollywood types into these other groups. But it’s literally hundreds of millions. It’s an exponential increase in what has been spent before. Now, their objective is to win the control for 2021.  This is a step process.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCOLLUM: And we’re very concerned to hold that.

GIGOT: Are there any legislators — legislatures now held by Democrats in states where you think you have a fighting chance to turn them your way?  You’re playing defense, for the most part. What do you want to turn on offense?

MCCOLLUM: The interesting part is, despite being at the high-water mark, 67 of 99 bodies that we’ve been at forever, we still think we can win in Connecticut. Connecticut is a state where — you heard earlier about the governor’s race.

GIGOT: Right.

MCCOLLUM: We have a tie for the Senate. We should be able to win the Senate there. We may be able to win the House race. It’s about four-seats difference there. We think — we feel real good about that one. Alaska is another one where we think of a chance nailing that down. I think there are a number of states we could pull some surprises that are still out there.

But, yes, we’re mostly on defense because we are at the high-water mark.  And we’ll probably lose some. I don’t think we’ll lose very many, but probably will, to be realistic.

I want to add one other thing if I can, Paul.

GIGOT: Quickly, Bill.

MCCOLLUM: And that is, right now, in the Future Majority Project, we put $20 million into in the last few years. We have increased enormously the number of Hispanics and minority and women candidates in the state legislative races and in the state legislatures in this country. And I’m very proud of that. That has a big part to do with why we’re doing well.

GIGOT: OK. Thank you, Bill McCollum. Appreciate your for coming?

MCCOLLUM: You’re welcome.

GIGOT: When we come back, with 36 governor seats up for election on Tuesday, Democrats are hoping to make gains in typically Republican territory. We’ll look at their chances, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT: There’s 36 governor seats up for election Tuesday with tight races playing out in several key states.

Our panel is back with their picks for the governor races to watch.

Kim, you’re picking one in the Midwest. That is a place where Republican could lose every single race in the upper Midwest.

STRASSEL: Yes. This one is — would be emblematic of that. So this is Wisconsin where Scott Walker is asking for a third term. You know, in some ways, he has a very good story to tell, on the economy, in particular, in the state. He had the public-sector union reform he got through, which also held advantages for the state. He is also running against a Democrat who is not really that charismatic, Tony Evers, head of Wisconsin public schools. On other hand, Democrats have been gunning for Walker forever.  There’s a lot of money coming in against him. I think the bigger problem is that he is — you know, he is basically, because of the recall, this is the fourth time in eight years he is asking voters to reelect him. There may be a fatigue question going on there. This is one to see whether or not he can pull that out.

GIGOT: Also, one of Donald Trump’s least-popular states, is Wisconsin, which won’t help Walker.

Jason, what are you looking at?

RILEY: I’m looking at Georgia where secretary of state, Brian Kemp, running against Stacey Abrams. The race is statistically tied. Both sides are putting a lot of money and effort into this race. Last week, Abrams brought in Oprah, Paul, and Kemp brought in Mike Pence. Gives you an idea of the stakes.

What is it interesting about the race, Abrams is running as an unabashed progressive. She is pro-abortion, she is anti-gun rights, Medicaid for all. It is very interesting. This is a deep-red state that Trump won handily —

(CROSSTALK)

RILEY: — but she thinks that is the strategy to win.

GIGOT: Kemp is running as a Trump Republican.

RILEY: Yes. He’s very much running as a Trump Republican. The voters there have a true, true contrast.

GIGOT: Dan, what are you looking at?

HENNINGER: I’m looking at Florida, which is kind of twin with Georgia.  Down in Florida, you have Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum running against Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis, who won the Republican primary because he was endorsed by Donald Trump. Andrew Gillum is up ashamed running as the second coming of Bernie Sanders. He’s in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15, raising corporate tax rates from 5.5 to 7.5, to spend a billion dollars on teachers, winding down their school choice program, expanding Medicaid for all, abolishing the U.S. immigration service, even giving licenses to illegal immigrants.

GIGOT: And how is —

(CROSSTALK)

HENNINGER: This guy is in a dead-heat with DeSantis in Florida!

GIGOT: DeSantis has not been a very good candidate, let’s be honest about that.

HENNINGER: DeSantis has been running as the second coming of Donald Trump.  He has rallies in which the crowd yells about Gillum, “lock him up. Lock him up.”

GIGOT: Because of some allegations about influence-peddling in Tallahassee.

HENNINGER: Right. This race has national significance, Paul. DeSantis is Trump’s candidate. If Andrew Gillum wins in Florida, that means Florida is at risk for Donald Trump in 2020.

GIGOT: Kim, why is Walker behind when he is — and Bill Schutte in Michigan — both those states have had spectacular economic records in the last few years. The unemployment rate is way down, maybe even under three in Wisconsin. Yet, they’re not — they might lose both those state houses?

STRASSEL: Well, you know, you just hit on it a little earlier. The Midwest has been where Donald Trump has had the most voters sour against him. And so those Republican governors, and in the state houses there, they’re all laboring against this. To the extent Donald Trump tried to make this election a referendum on him, that has been one of the main aspects of all of these races rather than the achievements of the Republicans and the legislatures there that have done so much for these states.

GIGOT: A test of whether or not the Trump coalition is a majority coalition with Donald Trump not on the ballot and in the states.

I want to mention one race, Connecticut. Bob Stefanowski — Art Laffer mentioned it — running as a reform growth candidate against Ned Lamont.  The state of Connecticut’s economy shrunk over 10 years by more than 9 percent. That is like Greece.

(LAUGHTER)

If they can’t — if the voters don’t throw the Democrats out for that, what do they throw them out for?

We have to take one break. When we come back, “Hits & Misses” of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT: Time now for our “Hits & Misses” of the week.

Kim, first to you.

STRASSEL: A hit to the Department of Justice, which this week unsealed an indictment against 10 Chinese spies who had hacked into an aviation company and stole intellectual property. Paul, in this country, we’ve been having a big debate about what to do about China’s rampant intellectual property theft. Some of us and those in the business community have been frustrated that the Trump administration’s preferred way of handling this has been to escalate a trade war, which threatens our own prosperity. This is a far superior way to go about it. It shows we are watching. And it is the Chinese who will be held accountable.

GIGOT: Jason?

RILEY: This is hit for Congressman Steve Stivers, head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, for rebuking fellow Republican Congressman Steve King, who has been saying nice things about Neo-Fascists and white nationals. It’s a good example of the Republicans policing their own. We could use more of that on both sides of the aisle.

GIGOT: Dan?

HENNINGER: I thought we could use some unadulterated good news. So I’m giving a hit to NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. This is a little device which was set off in August and is racing towards the moon. This week, it made its first close pass to the moon — close in this world being 26 million miles away. This little thing is flying along at 153,000 miles-an-hour.  Kind of nice to see the United States is doing something we would all agree is simply wondrous.

GIGOT: And this is going to the sun, right?

HENNINGER: Heading towards the sun.

GIGOT: Heading toward the sun.

HENNINGER: I’m sorry, I said the moon. It is the sun solar probe.

GIGOT: It’s already passed the moon I think. All right.

And remember, if you have your own hit-and-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. I’m Paul Gigot. We hope to see you right here next week.

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