NBC's Chuck Todd Projects 'Democrats Are In Deep, Deep Trouble'

If Democrats weren't nervous about November's midterm elections yet, they could soon be, especially when you consider that even their allies in the liberal media are starting to forecast doom for them, as NBC's Chuck Todd did on Tuesday's Today show, going as far to predict "Democrats are in deep, deep trouble." Todd, appearing in the 7am half hour of this morning's Today show explained to viewers that "The Tea Party has provided an enthusiasm boost to the Republican Party," however he reminded Democrats that they still had "six weeks to turn this around" but then added that "if they don't, they are headed for an historical defeat in November." [audio available here]

Interestingly though Todd and his NBC colleague Kelly O'Donnell, in her set up piece, didn't exactly paint a big Republican win as a defeat for liberals, as they couldn't even bring themselves to attach that label to any Democrats running in 2010. While Todd and O'Donnell used the "conservative" label a total of four times between them, neither of them used the "liberal" label even when they discussed Florida Representative Kendrick Meek who has a lifetime ACU rating of 7 and a lifetime ADA rating of 92 percent. 

The following O'Donnell set-up piece and Todd segment were aired on the August 24 Today show:

ANN CURRY: Now to politics. Voters are heading to the polls in five states today headlined by primaries in Florida and Arizona that pit the political establishment against Washington outsiders. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell is in Phoenix this morning, with details on this. Kelly, good morning.

[On screen headline: "Primary Day, Incumbents Battle Outsiders In November Preview"]

KELLY O'DONNELL: Good morning, Ann. That's right. From Phoenix to Florida to Fairbanks voters are deciding some of the most talked about races this year. They include well-known incumbents and some very interesting outsiders and including is John McCain, who will start right here. He has spent more than $20 million in campaign cash and some of that was left over from his presidential run in 2008. Senator John McCain says he has something to prove.

JOHN MCCAIN TO VOTER: Thank you very much.

O'DONNELL: Going for a fifth term in this anti-incumbent year. 

(Begin ad clip)

MCCAIN: I appreciate your support. I ask for your vote.

(End clip)

O'DONNELL: Means fighting off a conservative challenger and that requires fighting against Barack Obama once again.

MCCAIN: I'm running against his policies and what he and his administration have done to this country, but at the same time I'm running for Arizona. I'm running for jobs. I'm running for keeping people in their homes.

J.D. HAYWORTH: I'd really be honored to have your support in the primary.

O'DONNELL: Opponent J.D. Hayworth, a former congressman, accuses McCain of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants.

HAYWORTH: This is really true.

O'DONNELL: McCain exposed a 2007 TV show where Hayworth was a pitch man on how to get free government money, hardly the Tea Party conservatism he talks about today.

HAYWORTH: Even if they have some concerns about me and even shocking for me to feel that my personality may rub people the wrong way, the fact is they know I will vote against amnesty.

O'DONNELL: Turning to Florida's crowded senate race, Democrats are caught in a class struggle.

KENDRICK MEEK: I'm the true candidate for the middle class. 

O'DONNELL: Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek has moved from long shot to leader in the polls up against self-made billionaire Jeff Greene, who's glitzy social life gets him attention. The winning Florida Democrat will be in a three-man race in November against Tea Party conservative Marco Rubio and Governor Charlie Crist, who quit the Republican Party to run as an independent. And there's a cold snap in Alaska's Republican Senate primary.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hi, Senator. How are you?

O'DONNELL: Incumbent Lisa Murkowski.

LISA MURKOWSKI: I'm not working for the party. I'm working for Alaska.

O'DONNELL: And Sarah Palin is working against Murkowski with a Facebook page endorsement of challenger Joe Miller. Palin writes, "Alaskans can trust Joe to not shed his conservative antlers in D.C." And there's some history there. Palin defeated Senator Lisa Murkowski's father when Palin became governor. So there's been a long rivalry there. And of course it all ties back here. Palin, of course, was here in the spring trying to help out her former running mate, at a time when he looked very vulnerable as one of the incumbents who was being targeted this year. But a lot has changed. Today McCain is the frontrunner with a double-digit lead. Ann?

ANN CURRY: Alright Kelly O'Donnell this morning. Kelly thanks. Chuck Todd is NBC's political director and the chief White House correspondent for NBC News. Chuck, good morning.

CHUCK TODD: Good morning, Ann.

CURRY: We just heard from Kelly that John McCain is ahead, at least according to the polls, by double digits. But he had to spend like $20 million while his opponent spent just about $3 million. So what does that tell us about what's going on in Arizona, Chuck?

TODD: Well look, John McCain had to do this the old-fashioned way in politics, he's winning ugly. The $20 million was necessary. He always had about 35 to 40 percent of the Republican conservative electorate down there that wasn't crazy about him, was upset about him on immigration, on taxes, on a number of issues. And so McCain had to disqualify J.D. Hayworth. And here is what we found out, Ann. As upset as voters are these days about Washington politicians, infomercial hucksters are even worse and that's what McCain did. He completely disqualified J.D. Hayworth. The big question, Ann, that a lot of people in Washington have is, which John McCain comes back to Washington? Is it this new consistent conservative and is a consistent thorn in the side of President Obama or is it the guy from the early part of this decade who was unpredictable and he didn't know which side of the aisle he'd come down on a different issue?

CURRY: Let's, let's talk, move on to Florida. Why should the whole country be paying attention to what's happening there?

TODD: Well look this Democratic Senate primary, it's kind of nuts, it's kind of this, but a Kendrick Meek win, by the Miami congressman, means the Democratic establishment cannot flee the Democratic nominee there. They can't go over to Charlie Crist. And the big picture is this. Florida held up the country on who was gonna be president in 2000. Because we don't know which way Charlie Crist is gonna vote, if he's gonna be with the Democrats or the Republicans, on election night if he wins - and there's no guarantee he's gonna win, this is gonna be a nutty three-way race, maybe the best campaign in this state since Claude Pepper lost because his sister was a thespian. But what we won't know is whether, is whether, who's gonna control the Senate? Charlie Crist could hold that up for weeks.

CURRY: On the question of who is gonna control the Senate and actually Washington, are incumbents as weak as we thought they were going to be, Chuck? And what, what is what you're looking at in terms of these races telling us about the true party of the Tea Party, true power of the Tea Party?

TODD: Well look, here's, here's what we know. Look incumbents are not getting defeated in these primaries at a clip that a lot of people expected. There's been a few high-profile exceptions. But the bigger picture is this. Democrats are in deep, deep trouble. The Tea Party has provided an enthusiasm boost to the Republican Party. They are as excited about voting as the Republicans have been since 1994. Democrats have about six weeks to turn this around because if they don't, they are headed for an historical defeat in November. Losses that could not just include control of the House but also the Senate with or without this, the, what happens with Charlie Crist in Florida. It is that bad right now for Democrats, Ann.

CURRY: Alright, on that note we've got leave it. Chuck Todd, always a pleasure. Thanks.

TODD: You got it.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.