CBS: Be 'Really, Really Skeptical' About 'Outlier' Gallup Poll with Romney Up; No Issue Back in September with Obama Up

On Friday's CBS This Morning, John Dickerson was all too eager to pour cold water on the latest Gallup daily tracking poll that has Mitt Romney with a seven-point lead over President Obama: "There is a lot of debate about that...poll - whether it lags behind where the race really is....there's also other criticisms about...the way it looks at likely voters...it's a bit of an outlier from some other polls. So, if you're Mitt Romney, you like it, but we should, with all polls, be really, really skeptical."

The CBS political director raised no such objections back in mid-September, when the morning newscast spotlighted the same poll at a point where the two candidates were in a statistical dead heat, with Obama slightly ahead among both registered voters and swing state voters.

John Dickerson, CBS News Political Director | NewsBusters.orgAnchor Norah O'Donnell led the Friday Dickerson segment with the Gallup poll: "Let's talk first about that Gallup poll that shows Mitt Romney up seven points. Does that suggest this race is heading in Mitt Romney's direction?" The former Time magazine correspondent briefly acknowledged the advantage for the former Massachusetts governor before casting doubt on the poll results: "If you're Mitt Romney, you love that number. I means something's moving in...your direction."

O'Donnell continued by highlighting poll results in two swing states where the President still has the lead, and then asked about the others: "There were two polls out last night - Iowa and Wisconsin, two battleground states - which suggest Obama still holds a lead in those two states. What about other states? Is Romney doing better in, for instance, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia?"

Just as he did before, Dickerson recognized that Romney had the lead in key battleground states, but then found the silver lining for the incumbent Democrat:

DICKERSON: ...He's [Romney] doing better across the board in the battleground states, but in some places better than others. And, in Florida and Colorado, those are the two big ones. In North Carolina, some people - well, in both parties - basically think that's done, that it's gone to Romney, that this battleground map is shrinking....there was other evidence earlier in the week that Wisconsin was doing better for Romney - maybe it was coming back on the list - but, again, being really nervous about any of those polls coming out. Now, we have polls today that show Wisconsin with a lead for the President.

Later in the segment, when co-anchor Charlie Rose raised the continuing controversy over the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the CBS journalist emphasized the supposed "conventional wisdom in the press, essentially, is that Romney lost the exchange in the debate with the President and, therefore, he's got a steeper hill to climb to try and make something of that issue."

Dickerson didn't mention the part about debate moderator Candy Crowley's role in creating this "conventional wisdom" by helping Obama. In fact, correspondent Jan Crawford exposed this dual deception on the part of the President and Crowley on CBS Evening News. Does the CBS political director pay attention to his own network's reporting?

The full transcript of the John Dickerson segment from Friday's CBS This Morning:


NORAH O'DONNELL: And CBS News political director John Dickerson is here. John, good morning.

JOHN DICKERSON: Good morning, Norah.

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Obama, Romney Trade Jabs"]

O'DONNELL: Let's talk first about that Gallup poll that shows Mitt Romney up seven points. Does that suggest this race is heading in Mitt Romney's direction?

[CBS News Graphic: "The Gallup Poll: Presidential Race, Among Likely Voters: Romney 52%; Obama, 45%; Margin of Error: +/- 2% Pts."]

DICKERSON: Well, if you're Mitt Romney, you love that number. I means something's moving in your – your direction. There is a lot of debate about that Gallup daily tracking poll - whether it lags behind where the race really is. After the first debate, which everybody scored as a clear, resounding victory for Mitt Romney, the Gallup daily track still had it up for the President. So – there's also other criticisms about its likely voter – the way it looks at likely voters. So – and it's a bit of an outlier from some other polls. So, if you're Mitt Romney, you like it, but we should, with all polls, be really, really skeptical.

O'DONNELL: And are we looking closely, too, on what's going on in the battleground states and the movement there? There were two polls out last night - Iowa and Wisconsin, two battleground states - which suggest Obama still holds a lead in those two states. What about other states? Is Romney doing better in, for instance, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia?

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Poll: Obama Up In Swing States"]

DICKERSON: Florida, Colorado – he's doing better across the board in the battleground states, but in some places better than others. And, in Florida and Colorado, those are the two big ones. In North Carolina, some people - well, in both parties - basically think that's done, that it's gone to Romney, that this battleground map is shrinking. There's even some evidence, though – there was other evidence earlier in the week that Wisconsin was doing better for Romney - maybe it was coming back on the list - but, again, being really nervous about any of those polls coming out. Now, we have polls today that show Wisconsin with a lead for the President.

[CBS News Graphic: "NBC News/The Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll: Presidential Race Among Iowa Voters: Likely Voters: Obama, 51%; Romney, 43%; Margin of Error: +/- 2.9%; Presidential Race Among Wisconsin Voters: Likely Voters: Obama, 51%; Romney, 45%; Margin of Error: +/- 3.1%"]

CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah. John, Charlie in New York. Libya is getting a lot of attention. We saw that exchange on the Jon Stewart show last night. I mean, is it becoming this issue of the moment?

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Why Libya Debate Won't Go Away"]

DICKERSON: It is becoming the issue of the moment. But I talked to senior advisers in the Romney campaign about Libya. After that debate, in which Governor Romney had that exchange that didn't go so well for him on Libya, and asked if they – they were going to press this about the President and whether he was telling the truth and misleading people. And, basically, they said, well, we have another debate coming up Monday - in other words, not going to talk about it from – in that week between the two debates - going to stick on the economy. So, it's the issue of the moment because it's in the headlines, but the Romney campaign is not pushing it.

ROSE: Why not? Because they think there's no damage to be done to the Obama campaign?

DICKERSON: I think two things: one, they think that the bigger, better issue for them is on the economy, and the argument that they don't want – you don't want four more years of Barack Obama, and because conventional wisdom in the press, essentially, is that Romney lost the exchange in the debate with the President and, therefore, he's got a steeper hill to climb to try and make something of that issue.

ROSE: The Obama-

O'DONNELL: John, we got a third presidential race on – third presidential debate, I should say, on Monday - the one hosted by Bob Schieffer. What are [sic] each of the candidates need to do in that debate? How will it be different?

[CBS News Graphic: "Race For The White House: Focusing On Foreign Policy Debate"]

DICKERSON: I think that – for Mitt Romney, he needs to look presidential on the whole range of issues. Now, what does that mean? That means he just – he needs to understand the issue set across all the different – issues, from Iran to Libya to China, and just look like he's a man that can take the commander-in-chief role. And the President needs to be able to, kind of, prosecute his argument about Mitt Romney, which is, that he's playing politics with foreign policy, but also show that he still has command of these issues - this crazy unpredictable world - that you don't want to change horses in mid-stream, which is an argument that George Bush made in 2004.

ROSE: John, Jan [Crawford] was just here talking about the Romney campaign. Their thesis of the case is still, as it has always has been, that – the economy, the economy, the economy. Are they right about that, in terms of what the polls are telling?

DICKERSON: Yes. I think they are – they are right about that. Now, the question is, how do you – how do you make that argument new? The one that they've really jumped on recently is, basically, that the President doesn't have a plan for the next four years, and that's been their argument, really, for – whether they're talking directly to women, or they're making the more broad economic case. But, yes, they're focusing on the economy, and, also, I should also add that the President has no plan for the deficit, which is something you hear quite a lot about when you talk to voters.

O'DONNELL: All right. John Dickerson, thank you. We'll see you in Boca Raton for the third debate next week. Thanks.

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