"Good Morning America" on Wednesday reported on a new Quinnipiac poll that highlighted leads for Barack Obama in Florida and Ohio, but completely skipped the network's own national poll that found a tight race. A September 30 ABC News/Washington Post survey concluded that Obama leads Senator McCain by four points -- 50 to 46 percent. In contrast, GMA last week trumpeted an ABC News/Washington Post poll that showed Obama with a nine point lead.
On September 24, former Democratic aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos touted the larger lead and asserted, "...You have to go back to 1948 for the last time when a candidate having this kind of a lead, in late September, lost." He mentioned that on the issue of the economy, the Illinois senator is "blowing away John McCain." An onscreen graphic proclaimed, "Obama Surges Ahead." But, just a week later, GMA not only ignored findings suggesting a closer national race, the morning show highlighted a rival poll's state numbers.
(The Washington Post also reflected the skew. Last Wednesday, the top of the front page headline screamed: “Economic Fears Give Obama Clear Lead Over McCain in Poll.” But this Wednesday, while still on the front page, the poll article did not hint at the nine-point gap closing to four, “Most Voters Worry About Economy: Majority Consider Situation a Crisis.”)
In the 8am hour on Wednesday, news anchor Chris Cuomo explained, "Barack Obama is actually widening his lead now in the key battleground states. A new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading John McCain by eight points in Florida and leading by eight points in Ohio, as well." Less than an hour earlier, at 7:11am, co-host Robin Roberts played up the state numbers: "A new poll out this morning has Barack Obama leading John McCain by eight points in Florida, eight in Ohio, and 15 points in Pennsylvania."
The MRC's Rich Noyes reported in a September 26 NewsBusters posting that the earlier ABC poll had come under fire for an oddly weighted sample. Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 16 points in the survey, a larger than usual amount.
A transcript of the September 24 segment, which aired at 7:02am and featured the larger poll lead, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: Breaking news this morning, Barack Obama gains ground in a new ABC News poll. A nine point lead over John McCain. And Sarah Palin, who came to New York for meetings with foreign leaders. Your new views on her. They've shifted too.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Also, the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, found that voters believe that Barack Obama has a better handle on their economic concerns and there are also new numbers on the Palin factor, now that the public has gotten to know John McCain's running mate a little bit better. George Stephanopoulos will break it all down for us in just moments.
SAWYER: But let's get right to the news this morning. It is our brand-new, ABC News/Washington Post poll. And here's a benchmark: Two weeks ago, Senator McCain led by two points. Now, Senator Obama leads by nine points. 52 percent to 43 percent. And, as we said, to break it down for us with the bottom line, ABC's chief Washington correspondent, host of "This Week," George Stephanopoulos. Good morning, George.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Hi, Diane.
DIANE SAWYER: All right. Take us through it. Is this shift just the economic upheaval? Is it something personal with the candidates?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, it is all about the economy, Diane. People are angry and shocked and worried about the economy. And that is all helping Barack Obama right now. Go back to our poll a couple of weeks ago. On the trust to handle the economy, Obama had about a five-point lead. Now, it's up to a 14-point lead for Obama on trust to handle the economy. And then when you ask this question, who understand our economic problems better? Barack Obama is blowing away John McCain on that point. They say he gets it. It's a 24-point lead. All of this is fueling the first time that Barack Obama is above 50 percent. And, Diane, you have to go back to 1948 for the last time when a candidate having this kind of a lead, in late September, lost.
SAWYER: Hmm. 1948. Let me zero in, then, on a couple of the most talked about groups of voters. And one of the most changeable groups. White women. Tell us what we're seeing now. And the Hillary Clinton voters, particularly.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, we are really seeing something here. I don't want anybody to get this wrong, but white women are the swingers of 2008. You know, two weeks ago, we saw that John McCain had opened up an 11-point lead over Barack Obama on white women. Now, it's down to a two-point lead for Obama. They've come, again, on concerns of the economy. Now, with Hillary Clinton voters, Barack Obama is still having a bit of a tough time. He's only getting about 77 percent of the Hillary Clinton voters. But he's doing far better with Democrats overall, getting 88 percent of Democrats.
SAWYER: All right. A couple of footnote issues here. Age. What did our polls show about age as a factor?
STEPHANOPOULOS: More and more people worried about age. 48 percent of voters say they see that age is an issue. And if you think age is an issue, those 48 percent of voters, they break heavily for Barack Obama by 30 points. We also looked at Sarah Palin. You know, we know there was a big Sarah Palin effect coming out of the Republican convention. She has high favorable rates. She's coming back down to earth a little bit. Her favorable rating has gone from 58 on September 7th, now 52 percent now [sic]. So a little bit of a deflation there.