NBC Downplays Good News for GOP in Latest Poll

A Friday article in Politico described a "GOP on the Rise" while citing the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, noting that "Republicans are now leading Democrats on handling several key issues..." By contrast, on Friday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd minimized that development, claiming that Republicans "only fare a little bit better" in the poll than Democrats. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

The Today segment began with news reader Natalie Morales declaring: "...many remain disappointed with high unemployment, a sluggish recovery, and limited job growth. 45% now approve of the President's handling of the economy in our new poll. 52% disapprove." She then turned to Todd and wondered: "...we've got a gridlocked Congress, so does the President have much of a shot of turning this around? Do Republicans fair much better?"

Todd responded:

Well, they only fair a little bit better. But this is the sixth month in a row that the President's job rating on the economy is upside down. And in fact, it's hurting the Democratic Party. Now more people are saying the Republicans are better at dealing with the economy than the Democrats. But the place where Republicans are hurt is that more people pick the President and Democrats as saying that they relate better to the middle class than Republicans. But overall, clearly there is disappointment in how the President has handled the economic recovery.

That description of the polling data would leave the impression that the results were almost a wash for both parties.

However, Politico highlighted some additional findings that Todd ignored:

The GOP has an edge of 7 percentage points over the Democrats on the issue of foreign policy. This is up from 2006, when the GOP was behind by 9 percentage points.

And while Democrats still lead among issues such as health care and looking out for the middle class, their lead has been steadily decreasing. The Wall Street Journal highlights that the Democrats only hold a 17 percentage point lead over the GOP in looking out for the middle class, the lowest margin in decades. The Democrats also see the lowest margin ever on dealing with health care, at 8 percentage points.

Rather than make those points the headline of the new poll, Todd skipped them all together.


Here is a full transcript of the September 13 segment:

7:13AM ET

NATALIE MORALES: A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll this morning indicates the impact is still being felt from the financial meltdown that began five years [ago] this week.

The President took office just after the worst of the financial crisis was over, but many remain disappointed with high unemployment, a sluggish recovery, and limited job growth. 45% now approve of the President's handling of the economy in our new poll. 52% disapprove.

And Chuck Todd is NBC News political director.  And Chuck, we've got a gridlocked Congress, so does the President have much of a shot of turning this around? Do Republicans fair much better?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll; Most Disapprove of the President's Handling of the Economy]

CHUCK TODD: Well, they only fair a little bit better. But this is the sixth month in a row that the President's job rating on the economy is upside down. And in fact, it's hurting the Democratic Party. Now more people are saying the Republicans are better at dealing with the economy than the Democrats. But the place where Republicans are hurt is that more people pick the President and Democrats as saying that they relate better to the middle class than Republicans. But overall, clearly there is disappointment in how the President has handled the economic recovery.

MORALES: And Chuck, the poll also found that lots of people who describe themselves as poor or middle class think that's where they're gonna continue to be. What does that say about the so-called American dream of having better lives than our parents?

TODD: Well, what was interesting here is over five years you ask people, you know, do they think in the next five years they're gonna move up the economic ladder? Before the Great Recession hit, you had a majority of folks who were sitting in the working class and poor and said, yes, they knew they were gonna be moving up. Now a majority say, you know what? They think they're stuck where they are and it just shows you just how much of a shock this great recession was and how much further we have to go all across the country.

MORALES: Alright. Chuck Todd, thanks so much.

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