Schieffer Touts 'Best Polling News That the President Has Seen in Quite a While'

Bob Schieffer trumpeted "some of the best polling news that the President has seen in quite a while" on Friday's CBS Evening News, a day after NBC's Brian Williams played up poll numbers that were supposedly "ahead of the wildest dreams" of Democrats. Schieffer claimed that "the President's message that he is the one who can best help the middle class does seem to be getting through," even though one poll result is unchanged since July.

The veteran journalist gave these statements just moments after anchor Scott Pelley noted that "a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows just how close the presidential race is. Of the people who told us they were likely to vote, 49 percent said they favor President Obama, 46 percent Mitt Romney; and that three-point spread is well within the poll's margin of error."

Besides the three-point spread, Pelley pointed out another figure from the poll that "caught our eye: the portion of all Americans - voters or not - who say that the country is headed in the right direction. That has increased from 31 percent last month to 40 percent now. More than half - 54 percent - believe we're still headed in the wrong direction."

Bob Schieffer, CBS News Host | NewsBusters.orgSchieffer played up this finding: "That 40 percent really jumps out. That is the largest number of people who have thought the country's headed in the right direction in over three years. It's still not a majority, but it goes without saying that the more people who think the country is headed in the right direction, the better it is for the President - any president."

The Face the Nation host then spotlighted two other poll numbers that support his contention that Obama's "message that he is the one who can best help the middle class does seem to be getting through":

SCHIEFFER: A majority in this poll, 54 percent, said the President would do more to help the middle class, while 53 percent said that Mitt Romney's policies favored the rich. It's still a while until the election, but you put all that together and you have to say this is some of the best polling news that the President has seen in quite a while.

It should be pointed out that the 53 percent figure is unchanged from the July 18, 2012 poll released by CBS/New York Times. This lack of change, along with the closeness of the race acknowledged Pelley himself, undercuts Schieffer's brag that this "best polling news...in quite a while" for the Democrat. Then again, this is the same journalist tossed softballs at Vice President Joe Biden, but defended Obama in a combative interview of Newt Gingrich back in April 2012.

The full transcript of the Bob Schieffer segment from Friday's CBS Evening News:


SCOTT PELLEY: It is 53 days before Election Day. Tonight, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows just how close the presidential race is. Of the people who told us they were likely to vote, 49 percent said they favor President Obama, 46 percent Mitt Romney; and that three-point spread is well within the poll's margin of error. And this caught our eye: the portion of all Americans - voters or not - who say that the country is headed in the right direction. That has increased from 31 percent last month to 40 percent now. More than half - 54 percent - believe we're still headed in the wrong direction.

[CBS News Graphic: "CBS News/New York Times Poll; Among Likely Voters: Obama, 49%; Romney, 46%; Direction of the Country: Right Direction: Aug, 31%; Now, 40%; Wrong Direction: Now, 54%; Margin of Error: 3 pts."]

Bob Schieffer is our chief Washington correspondent and anchor of 'Face the Nation'. And, Bob, what do you make of these numbers?
                           
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Scott, two things: first, that 40 percent really jumps out. That is the largest number of people who have thought the country's headed in the right direction in over three years. It's still not a majority, but it goes without saying that the more people who think the country is headed in the right direction, the better it is for the President - any president.

The second thing: the President's message that he is the one who can best help the middle class does seem to be getting through. A majority in this poll, 54 percent, said the President would do more to help the middle class, while 53 percent said that Mitt Romney's policies favored the rich. It's still a while until the election, but you put all that together and you have to say this is some of the best polling news that the President has seen in quite a while.

PELLEY: Bob, thank you very much.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center