Chuck Todd's Best Spin for Bad Obama Poll Numbers: Congress is Worse

Things must be really going bad for Barack Obama if even members of the liberal media are admitting the fact, which is what NBC News political director Chuck Todd did on Tuesday's Today show when he revealed the president has sunk to a "record low."

On to analyze results from the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Todd told Today co-anchor Matt Lauer that "Just forty-four percent of the job the President is doing" and added he was at a "record high disapproval number at 51 percent." However, before he let any Republicans in the Today audience get too giddy, Todd warned that for the "first time" the poll "recorded a disapproval rating for Congress over 80 percent" as seen in the following exchange:

(video after the jump)

TODD: Well, I tell you this, there is a theme to this poll, another record low in the Obama presidency. Pollsters will tell you, our pollsters will tell you this, Matt. Right track/wrong track tells you more about what's gonna happen in the next election than any other number in a poll. That's grim for the party in power. The question is, there's a couple of parties in parts of Washington's power.

LAUER: Yeah. That's right. Anybody in Congress who may be looking at this saying, "Wow, the White House has a real problem," they better stop and look at their own house, as well. How about this number? Eighty-two percent of the people in our poll disapproved of the job Congress in general is doing.

TODD: Matt, another record. If Congress really wants to grab this one. First time we have ever recorded a disapproval rating for Congress over 80 percent. When you think about over the last 30 years, all of the different ways that Congress has made the American public angry, nothing has made it, given them worse numbers than that debt ceiling debate, 82 percent. And it is bipartisan agreement on that. It is over 80 percent among Republicans, Democrats, and independents.

The following is a complete transcript of the segment as it was aired on the September 6 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Chuck Todd is NBC's political director and chief White House correspondent and he's here with the results of the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Chuck, good morning to you.

CHUCK TODD: Good morning.

LAUER: People sending their kids back to school, report cards a couple months away. But boy the report card is here for the President and members of Congress. And when we look at the approval ratings for this president right now, they are absolutely not good.

TODD: That's right, Matt. It is a record low. Just forty-four percent approve of the job the President is doing. Also a record high disapproval number at 51 percent. There is, you know, some silver lining here for the President. Over 70 percent still find him likable. But the problem is among most of his policies, only 38 percent approve of those, Matt.

[On screen headline: "NBC News/WSJ Poll, Obama Hits New Lows In Ratings"]

LAUER: Yeah and, and obviously the economy is issue number one right here.

TODD: Right.

LAUER: Jobs, the slow economy, that debt ceiling debate we've all just lived through. Thirty-seven percent of the people approve of the President's handling of the economy, 59 percent do not.

TODD: Look, another record low when it comes to his approval rating on the economy. But it's a pretty pessimistic public that we polled. Forty-nine percent think we're headed into another recession. Seventy-two percent believe we still haven't hit bottom, regardless if it's gonna be a recession or not, Matt.

LAUER: You talk about pessimistic. When we ask people, this is a question we often ask, is the country headed in right or the wrong direction?

TODD: Right.

LAUER: Look at the number of people who say the wrong direction, 73 percent.


TODD: Well, I tell you this, there is a theme to this poll, another record low in the Obama presidency. Pollsters will tell you, our pollsters will tell you this, Matt. Right track/wrong track tells you more about what's gonna happen in the next election than any other number in a poll. That's grim for the party in power. The question is, there's a couple of parties in parts of Washington's power.

[On screen headline: "NBC News/WSJ Poll, Low Ratings For Congress After Debt Debate"]

LAUER: Yeah. That's right. Anybody in Congress who may be looking at this saying, "Wow, the White House has a real problem," they better stop and look at their own house, as well. How about this number? Eighty-two percent of the people in our poll disapproved of the job Congress in general is doing.

TODD: Matt, another record. If Congress really wants to grab this one. First time we have ever recorded a disapproval rating for Congress over 80 percent. When you think about over the last 30 years, all of the different ways that Congress has made the American public angry, nothing has made it, given them worse numbers than that debt ceiling debate, 82 percent. And it is bipartisan agreement on that. It is over 80 percent among Republicans, Democrats, and independents.

LAUER: Alright, 54 percent would like to vote the whole bunch in Congress out. Let's talk about the GOP field for the 2012 race. Got some names at the top here. We've got Rick Perry, who we'll be speaking to a little later in the program, heading the field.

TODD: It is. It is the Rick Perry's - you would say is the front-runner right now, 38 percent. Romney sitting at 23. That 38 percent for Rick Perry is important for a couple notes. Number one, that's the highest we've recorded any Republican in the Republican primary field to date so far. He's showing some consolidation. He gets forty-five percent among those Republicans who call themselves Tea Party supporters. But he also leads Romney, very narrowly, among non-Tea Party supporters. By the way Matt, the big loser in our poll, you'll see, is Michele Bachmann. She went from a high of 16 percent in the Republican primary match-up last month.

[On screen headline: "NBC News/WSJ Poll, Race For GOP Nomination Heats Up"]

LAUER: Right.

TODD: Her support cut in half. It all went to Rick Perry.

LAUER: Real, real quickly in the 30 seconds I have left. The President is speaking to a Joint Session of Congress on Thursday night, obviously to the American people as well, all about creating jobs. How is the White House handling expectations on that speech?

TODD: Well, it suddenly - they're trying to back it down a little bit. The venue itself raises the expectations. But I can tell you this, they're facing a public that is not just skeptical, it's a public on President Obama that seems to be almost giving up on him. Fifty-four percent told us in this poll they believe he's facing a long-term setback. When that number went over 50 percent for President Bush, his presidency was essentially over. That happened just after Katrina. And he could never get his footing back.

LAUER: Alright Chuck Todd in Washington this morning with the results of the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Chuck, thank you very much.

TODD: You got it.

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