CBS: Financial Crisis A ‘Game-Changer,’ Obama ‘Surge’ in Polls

Poll Numbers, CBS At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen teased an upcoming segment on how the Wall Street financial crisis is affecting the presidential race: "Game-changer, as Wall Street falters, Barack Obama surges ahead in our latest CBS News poll." During the segment, correspondent Chip Reid declared: "...the new CBS News/New York Times poll suggests that momentum has switched back to Senator Obama after McCain's post-convention bounce. McCain led nationally by two points just one week ago, but the latest numbers show Obama holding a five-point lead over his Republican rival." However, Reid failed to mention the 3% margin of error in the poll, which could have only been briefly seen on the on-screen graphic.

Reid also cited poll data on McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin: "The new poll also suggests enthusiasm for Senator McCain's running mate Sarah Palin has softened. 33% of voters think she's qualified to be president, 62% voicing concern." While Reid spoke of ‘softened’ enthusiasm for Palin, he cited no previous poll date to demonstrate a loss of support. Instead, he criticized Palin’s performance at her first town hall meeting Wednesday night: "And she was not asked, nor did she offer, any specifics on foreign policy. Now the questions at that town hall last night and in a Fox interview last night were friendly and open-ended but the campaign understands that that will change and fast." Reid never showed any footage of FNC’s Sean Hannity interviewing Palin. Early Show co-host Harry Smith has interviewed Barack Obama eight times and only asked two questions on foreign policy.

Following Reid’s report, Smith talked with Michael Crowley, editor of the liberal political magazine, the New Republic. Crowley has been on the show numerous times to provide political analysis without a conservative counterpart. Smith began by citing yet another CBS News/New York Times poll that showed that among voters who think the economy is getting worse, 29% support McCain and 62% support Obama: " Look at this. Voters who think the economy is getting worse support, look at that. Obama is crushing McCain in that number right there." Crowley added: "Yeah. And, you know, what voter doesn't think the economy's getting worse? I mean, McCain may be romping with the voters who think it's getting better but the point is that on the issue that people are really focused on now, Iraq, unbelievably, basically out of the news for the moment. Obama is romping on that score and that's got to portend very well for how he does."

Smith then turned to the electoral map and focused on key battleground states: "Let's talk about a couple of western states and what could happen. New Mexico is red, four years ago, went to George Bush, right? Let's say that changes. Let's say that Colorado changes. Let's -- our other one?...And Iowa." Smith then outlined a winning scenario for Obama in which the Democratic candidate won all three states. Crowley then observed: "Just those three states. Colorado and New Mexico very close in the last election...Iowa was a red state but Obama – it launched Obama. Remember, he won the caucuses there, really got him started as an international phenomenon...And they really seem to still love him so he is very strong there and these states are a little closer."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:

JULIE CHEN: Game-changer, as Wall Street falters, Barack Obama surges ahead in our latest CBS News poll.

7:07AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: How the race for the White House is being affected by the economy in a big, big way. The new CBS News poll shows Barack Obama is back in the lead. CBS News correspondent Chip Reid is in Grand Rapids, Michigan with more on that. Good morning, Chip.

CHIP REID: Well, good morning, Harry. Last night here in Grand Rapids, both John McCain and Sarah Palin were on stage but all eyes were on Palin because after three weeks this is the very first time she opened herself up to questions from the audience. In a marathon race that continues to twist and turn, the new CBS News/New York Times poll suggests that momentum has switched back to Senator Obama after McCain's post-convention bounce. McCain led nationally by two points just one week ago, but the latest numbers show Obama holding a five-point lead over his Republican rival. With Wall Street in crisis, Obama has repeatedly hammered McCain on the economy.

[ON SCREEN GRAPHIC: 09/08/08: Obama 44%, McCain 46%, Now: Obama: 48%, McCain 43%, Margin of Error: + or - 3%]

BARACK OBAMA: This is somebody who's been in Congress for 26 years. Who put seven of the most powerful Washington lobbyists in charge of his campaign and now he tells us that he's the one who's going to take on the old boys network. The old boys network. In the McCain campaign, that's called a staff meeting.

REID: The new poll also suggests enthusiasm for Senator McCain's running mate Sarah Palin has softened. 33% of voters think she's qualified to be president, 62% voicing concern. McCain and Palin appeared together Wednesday night, displaying an easy-going give and take in their first joint town hall with the vice presidential candidate fielding questions from an audience for the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There has been quite a bit of discussion about your perceived lack of foreign policy experience, and I want to give you your chance.

SARAH PALIN: I think that I am prepared and if you want specifics with specific policy or countries, go ahead and you can ask me, you can even play 'stump the candidate' if you want to. But we are ready to serve.

REID: But at that point, McCain interrupted to talk about her knowledge of energy policies. And she was not asked, nor did she offer, any specifics on foreign policy. Now the questions at that town hall last night and in a Fox interview last night were friendly and open-ended but the campaign understands that that will change and fast. Harry.

SMITH: Alright, Chip Reid in Grand Rapids this morning. We want to go over to our big electoral college map and check in with Michael Crowley from the New Republic magazine. I want to look at one of the numbers out of the poll last night. We remember how famously Bill Clinton used to say it's the economy stupid, it's the economy stupid.

MICHAEL CROWLEY: Yes, absolutely.

SMITH: Look at this. Voters who think the economy is getting worse support, look at that. Obama is crushing McCain in that number right there.

[ON SCREEN GRAPHIC: Voters Who Think Economy is Getting Worse: McCain 29%, Obama 62%, Margin of Error: + or - 3%]

CROWLEY: Yeah. And, you know, what voter doesn't think the economy's getting worse? I mean, McCain may be romping with the voters who think it's getting better but the point is that on the issue that people are really focused on now, Iraq, unbelievably, basically out of the news for the moment. Obama is romping on that score and that's got to portend very well for how he does.

SMITH: And we look at those gross numbers in terms of the five-point lead that Barack Obama has right now. But that's irrelevant when it comes to the electoral college.

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

SMITH: Which is so, so close in so many different states. We're going to outline a scenario for you this morning that you may not have heard before. Let's talk about a couple of western states and what could happen. New Mexico is red, four years ago, went to George Bush, right? Let's say that changes. Let's say that Colorado changes. Let's -- our other one?

CROWLEY: And Iowa.

SMITH: And Iowa.

CROWLEY: Where Barack Obama is doing very well right now. Obama in New Mexico today, by the way.

SMITH: Yeah?

CROWLEY: So trying to push that one in the other direction.

SMITH: And what -- and just say, we take these couple western states and Iowa and what happens -- I'm upside down in Iowa.

CROWLEY: Right there -- your left foot. And that's seven, so you're -- right here that's 21 electoral votes-

SMITH: Right.

CROWLEY: -which would be enough to swing the difference of the election from the 2004 result.

SMITH: My goodness. Just these three states.

CROWLEY: Just those three states. Colorado and New Mexico very close in the last election.

SMITH: Right.

CROWLEY: Iowa was a red state but Obama – it launched Obama. Remember, he won the caucuses there, really got him started as an international phenomenon.

SMITH: Right.

CROWLEY: And they really seem to still love him so he is very strong there and these states are a little closer.

SMITH: Those are really too close to call?

CROWLEY: Yeah.

SMITH: But we're just doing a little bit of a 'what if' scenario. Okay, we always remember we need 270. You need 270 to win.

CROWLEY: That's right.

SMITH: Right, okay.

CROWLEY: And with these states he's got it, with this map-

SMITH: But what if he-

CROWLEY: -he's the president.

SMITH: But what if we took little New Hampshire here. Right? Blue last time. John McCain did so well there in the primary. They love him in New Hampshire.

CROWLEY: New Hampshire was red in 2000, went blue in 2004. Remember, this is the state loves McCain. He won the primary there in 2000 when he was running against Bush and it saved him in this -- in 2008 when it looked like he was dead.

SMITH: Romney spent all that money there, all those negative ads.

CROWLEY: Wasn't enough. A lot of independent voters who like that image McCain has of being independent.

SMITH: So just with the states that we played with this morning, what would the numbers end up?

CROWLEY: 269, 269. A tie! The nightmare scenario, some might say. For a political junky it's a fantasy, but it -- it gets really complicated after that.

SMITH: Yeah, goes to the House of Representatives and based on the election that happens this year goes state-by-state-by-state.

CROWLEY: State-by-state. Not one member, one vote, one state, one vote, delegation by delegation.

SMITH: Alright, Michael, thank you so much.

CROWLEY: Thank you.

SMITH: What a year.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC