Debuting the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, political director Chuck Todd concluded that campaign "hits seem to be taking a greater toll on Romney" and proclaimed: "Call it a likeability gap. 46% of voters told us they didn't like Romney personally. That compares to just 31% who said the same about the President." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
However, on Wednesday's Morning Joe on MSNBC, Todd admitted the poll was skewed: "...our sample was a little Democratic heavy." Hot Air examined the partisan breakdown of poll respondents and discovered just how "Democratic heavy" the survey was, with Democrats having a 12-point advantage over Republicans.
Todd quickly added to his admission: "...statistically it's unchanged from last month, because if it were weighted with the same split we had last month, the President's lead would be identical. So there was really statistically no change."
While Todd acknowledged in his Nightly News report that the negative tone of the campaign resulted in "mud is splattering on both candidates" and that "The President is viewed negatively by 43% of voters, his second worst rating since taking office," he still framed the numbers as worse for Romney: "Romney's negative rating of 40% is the worst that our poll has recorded for him yet. It's a rating that ranks him lower than John McCain in 2008 at this time, John Kerry in 2004, and Bob Dole in 1996."
Wrapping up the segment, Todd briefly noted Romney addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars ahead of an overseas trip and used the new poll numbers to dismiss the Republican candidate's foreign policy credentials: "But for what it's worth, in our new poll foreign policy is one of the President's strengths. When matched up with Romney, he leads him in every major foreign policy area."
Here is a full transcript of Todd's July 24 report:
7:00PM ET TEASE:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: The negative campaign is taking a toll. Tonight we're debuting our new NBC News poll. And there's been a change in the race for president.
7:06PM ET SEGMENT:
WILLIAMS: Now we turn to presidential politics. And our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll debuting here tonight has some eye-opening findings about the way this campaign is being run and the effect it's having on both sides. Our political director, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd with us from our D.C. newsroom with the numbers. Chuck, good evening.
CHUCK TODD: Good evening, Brian. You know, as you know, this campaign in the month of July has taken an especially nasty turn, and perhaps it was only a matter of time that voters would express their frustration. That's the biggest takeaway from our new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. While the fundamentals of the overall race haven't changed that much, the President still leads 49-43 in this survey, it's the negative campaign that has taken a toll on how voters view both the President and Mitt Romney. From Columbus, Ohio to Orlando, Florida, Denver, Colorado and Richmond, Virginia, Americans living in battleground states are being subjected to an unusually early flurry of negative TV ads.
NARRATOR [ROMNEY AD]: When a president doesn't tell the truth, how can we trust him to lead?
MITT ROMNEY [SINGING IN OBAMA AD]: America, America.
TODD: And when President Obama and Mitt Romney have campaigned at live events, they've been just as negative and direct.
BARACK OBAMA: Governor Romney was at it again. Knowingly twisting my words around.
MITT ROMNEY: It's a very strange, and in some respects, foreign to the American experience type of philosophy.
TODD: And the mud is splattering on both candidates, according to our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The President is viewed negatively by 43% of voters, his second worst rating since taking office. Romney's negative rating of 40% is the worst that our poll has recorded for him yet. It's a rating that ranks him lower than John McCain in 2008 at this time, John Kerry in 2004, and Bob Dole in 1996.
Yet it's the economy that continues to be the President's political Achilles' heel, with a majority disapproving of how he's handled the economy. Romney leads the President on who has better ideas for improving the economy, 43-36. But it's by big margins that voters say the bulk of information they've received from both campaigns in the last few weeks has been overwhelmingly negative, with Mr. Obama's campaign being viewed as slightly more negative than Romney's.
While both campaigns are going on the attack, the hits seem to be taking a greater toll on Romney. Call it a likeability gap. 46% of voters told us they didn't like Romney personally. That compares to just 31% who said the same about the President. Perhaps mindful of the toll this nasty campaign is taking, both campaigns are out with much softer hits on each other this week.
OBAMA: Sometimes politics can seem very small.
NARRATOR [RNC AD]: He tried, you tried. It's okay to make a change.
TODD: You know, today the focus of the back and forth was foreign policy. Brian, Romney took his turn in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, where he gave a fiery speech filled with some tough criticism of the President's record. But for what it's worth, in our new poll foreign policy is one of the President's strengths. When matched up with Romney, he leads him in every major foreign policy area. Brian.
WILLIAMS: Chuck Todd with the latest on this race from Washington. Chuck, thanks.
And a program note here, when we see you for tomorrow night's broadcast, we'll be in London, where we will have an exclusive interview with Governor Romney, as he starts the first overseas trip of the campaign.