CBS Touts New Poll, Continues Drumbeat of Race is Over

Harry Smith and Jeff Glor, CBS At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Brand new numbers. A CBS News poll gives Barack Obama a 13-point lead. Can John McCain turn things around?" Co-host Harry Smith later introduced a report on the new poll: "A week and a half until election day and the latest CBS News/New York Times poll shows a commanding lead for Barack Obama over John McCain." Correspondent Jeff Glor then explained: "With Barack Obama now in Hawaii to visit his ill grandmother and John McCain in Colorado to campaign, the men are separated by 3,300 miles on the map and a 13-point gap in this poll."

Glor went on to detail the poll results: "It's unlikely both [McCain and Obama] like the results. Obama's 13-point overall lead is bolstered by a 15-point advantage as the candidate with which voters feel more personally comfortable and a 25-point margin on who has the right temperament to be president. While more do think John McCain is better prepared to be president, that divide has shrunk sharply since September." Glor then worked to discredit McCain’s efforts to gain support: "McCain is trying to leave that link behind and establish another, with his new Joe the Plumber tour...But even some Republicans feel it's tough to energize the every man when $150,000 is being spent to outfit running mate Sarah Palin." Glor then played a clip of former Reagan chief of staff, Kenneth Duberstein: "She's been campaigning as the candidate of Madison, Wisconsin, not Madison Avenue. And what this does is say to everybody out there, all the lower middle class and the middle class, ‘I thought she was one of us?’"

Following Glor’s report, Smith talked to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about McCain’s chances: "Any good news out there anywhere for John McCain?" Schieffer declared: "Well If there is, I've been unable to find it." Apparently Schieffer missed a recent Investor’s Business Daily poll, the most accurate poll in 2004, that showed a one point race, with Obama at 44.8% and McCain at 43.7%. Instead, Schieffer focused soley on the CBS/New York Times numbers: "But this poll has very little -- little good news for him...some of the findings are that most people now think that John McCain, they identify him with rich people. They say that Barack Obama has the temperament to be president. That is just not good news. It tells you that John McCain's message is not getting across."

Smith followed with a similar observation: "You know, and it's interesting, because I'm looking at some of those numbers, too. He's ahead in men. He's ahead in women. Just all across all of these demographics and everything else, it makes it very difficult." He then asked Schieffer: "Can you dream up a scenario where John McCain could come back?" Schieffer replied: "Yeah. If the polls are wrong, if people have been lying to the polls." Smith then laughed and added: "They've been wrong a couple of times this year." Considering the CBS/New York Times poll has been a consistent outlier among other national polls, the idea that it could be wrong should not be so laughable.

Schieffer went on to further explain how hopeless the situation was for McCain: "Now, if John McCain wins all of the states that we believe he has a lock on right now, he would also have to win all of those toss-up states, which are very, very close right now. He still would not have the 270 electoral votes that he needs to win this election." Smith asked: "Even with the toss-up states?" Schieffer replied: "Even with the toss-ups." In his calculation, Schieffer did not consider states like Ohio or Virginia to be toss-ups, giving them to Obama despite tight poll numbers.

Schieffer concluded his analysis by seeming to suggest that McCain’s attacks on Obama’s tax policy were futile: "I think the McCain people think that the one chance they have now is to -- [cough] pardon me -- is to argue that John McCain is the one thing standing between Barack Obama and a Democratic congress that is going to raise people's taxes. Now, the Obama people say not so, but that's the argument that John McCain is going to take." So the Obama campaign is not planning to raise the taxes of some people? Smith replied: "That's what they got left."

After the segment was over, Rodriguez observed: "Just 11 days. That's -- that's the thing, there's just not time left." Smith agreed: "The clock is ticking. Running out of time. There you go."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASE:

JOHN MCCAIN: Senator Obama may say he's trying to soak the rich, but it's the middle class who are going to get wet.

BARACK OBAMA: We've tried it John McCain's way. We've tried it George Bush's way. And we're here to say, enough is enough.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Brand new numbers. A CBS News poll gives Barack Obama a 13-point lead. Can John McCain turn things around? We'll ask Bob Schieffer.

7:06AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: A week and a half until election day and the latest CBS News/New York Times poll shows a commanding lead for Barack Obama over John McCain. Early Show national correspondent Jeff Glor is in Washington with more. Good morning, Jeff.

JEFF GLOR: Yeah Harry, good morning to you. With Barack Obama now in Hawaii to visit his ill grandmother and John McCain in Colorado to campaign, the men are separated by 3,300 miles on the map and a 13-point gap in this poll. After a day when both candidates made signature appearances.

BARACK OBAMA: How's it going, Indiana?

GLOR: Obama at a rousing outdoor rally in Indiana, McCain crossing Florida on the Straight Talk Express, both used the evening to head west, and soak in new poll numbers. It's unlikely both like the results. Obama's 13-point overall lead is bolstered by a 15-point advantage as the candidate with which voters feel more personally comfortable and a 25-point margin on who has the right temperament to be president. While more do think John McCain is better prepared to be president, that divide has shrunk sharply since September.

OBAMA: Wow! What a crowd!

GLOR: Thursday, Obama attracted 35,000 in a state that voted big for President Bush, twice.

OBAMA: We've tried it John McCain's way. We've tried it George Bush's way. And we're here to say, enough is enough.

GLOR: McCain is trying to leave that link behind and establish another, with his new Joe the Plumber tour.

JOHN MCCAIN: Senator Obama may say he's trying to soak the rich, but it's the middle class who are going to get wet.

GLOR: But even some Republicans feel it's tough to energize the every man when $150,000 is being spent to outfit running mate Sarah Palin.

KENNETH DUBERSTEIN: She's been campaigning as the candidate of Madison, Wisconsin, not Madison Avenue. And what this does is say to everybody out there, all the lower middle class and the middle class, 'I thought she was one of us?'

GLOR: John McCain will go from Colorado to New Mexico today. Barack Obama, when he returns from Hawaii on Saturday, will be in Nevada. Harry.

SMITH: Jeff Glor in Washington this morning, thanks. Joining us now, Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of Face the Nation. Good morning, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Hey, Harry.

SMITH: Any good news out there anywhere for John McCain?

SCHIEFFER: Well If there is, I've been unable to find it. I mean, I guess the good news is John McCain says he's a fighter who you can never count out and if you look at John McCain's career, he has come back from the dead on several occasions. But this poll has very little -- little good news for him. I mean, when you talk about, you know, number one, you have the lead that Barack Obama has now established, but to me, more important than that, is what some of the findings are that most people now think that John McCain, they identify him with rich people. They say that Barack Obama has the temperament to be president. That is just not good news. It tells you that John McCain's message is not getting across.

SMITH: Yeah. You know, and it's interesting, because I'm looking at some of those numbers, too. He's ahead in men. He's ahead in women. Just all across all of these demographics and everything else, it makes it very difficult. Can you dream up a scenario where John McCain could come back?

SCHIEFFER: Yeah. If the polls are wrong, if people have been lying to the polls.

SMITH: [Laughter] They've been wrong a couple of times this year.

SCHIEFFER: And they have been wrong before. You never want to discount that. But here's the thing, Harry. When you look at the electoral map, there are about, I think, 18 states, states like Texas, states like Louisiana, Alabama, that are locks for John McCain. But they're -- we are seeing there in the pink, those are the toss-up states. Now, if John McCain wins all of the states that we believe he has a lock on right now, he would also have to win all of those toss-up states, which are very, very close right now. He still would not have the 270 electoral votes that he needs to win this election.

SMITH: Even with the toss-up states? Even with the toss-ups?

SCHIEFFER: Even with the toss-ups. He would have to win all the toss-up states, the states he has a lock on, plus at least a couple of states that are now leaning, or that we think Obama has a lock on. This is going to be really, really tough.

SMITH: Yeah. We were with him earlier this week. You know, he had all the energy in the world. He had a very, very focused, very charged-up -- I wouldn't exactly say confidence, but he had -- there was kind of a strength about him. We're not talking about Barack Obama now, we're talking about John McCain. You can take that picture off. Is there any chance -- you know, kind of a Harry Truman, you know, Truman -- you remember 'Dewey Beats Truman?'

SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, again, I mean John McCain is a guy who spent 5 ½ years in prison and they didn't break his spirit during that time. He's going to fight it down to the last thing. I think the McCain people think that the one chance they have now is to -- [cough] pardon me -- is to argue that John McCain is the one thing standing between Barack Obama and a Democratic congress that is going to raise people's taxes. Now, the Obama people say not so, but that's the argument that John McCain is going to take.

SMITH: That's what they got left. Alright. Bob Schieffer, thank you so much. Hope you feel a little better.

SCHIEFFER: Okay.

SMITH: Alright, thanks so much.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Just 11 days. That's -- that's the thing, there's just not time left.

SMITH: The clock is ticking. Running out of time. There you go.

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