NBC Nightly News: 55% Think Obama Riskier Choice Than McCain

In another sign that the bloom might be coming off the Obama rose, the NBC "Nightly News" Wednesday reported some new poll results that not only suggest this election has suddenly become "a referendum on Obama," but also that 55 percent of those surveyed felt "it's Obama that's the riskier choice."

Frankly, more shocking than the results of this survey was that NBC would report them while the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee was on his so-called "Tour of Duty" overseas, and do so coincident with anchor Brian Williams being in Berlin to interview Obama before his big speech there today.

Yet, as the following demonstrates, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd wasn't Williams's guest Wednesday evening just to cherry-pick the pro-Obama aspects from this poll (video and full transcript below the fold):

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor (Berlin, Germany):

And we have more on the race for the White House tonight in the form of brand-new numbers making their debut on this broadcast in the form of our newest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and our NBC political director Chuck Todd in our Washington newsroom tonight with all of it.

And, Chuck, let's start off with the status of that head-to-head matchup here.

Mr. CHUCK TODD (NBC News Political Director): Well, what we're seeing is not a lot of change, but that Barack Obama still holds a small but significant lead. He's at 47 percent to John McCain's 41 percent. That's a 6-point gap, the exact same gap that we saw in our poll last month.

TEXT:

NBC News/The Wall Street Journal Poll July 18-21, 2008

For whom would you vote?

Obama 47% McCain 41%

+/- 3.1 pts

Mr. TODD: But what's interesting about the poll is, when you go inside the numbers and trying to figure out what's with all this intense focus on Barack Obama these days? Why is everybody curious about this guy? Well, we asked that question. `When you think about the race for the president, are you trying to envision a President Obama or what a President McCain will do?' And by a two-to-one margin, they're telling us that basically this election's a referendum on Obama.

TEXT:

NBC News/The Wall Street Journal Poll July 18-21, 2008

Who are you focusing on?

Obama 51% McCain 27%

+/- 3.1 pts

To break in here, the idea that this has become a referendum on Obama instead of on President Bush has to be disquieting to Democrats. But I digress:

Mr. TODD: They're trying to figure this out--guy out, they're trying to figure out just really what these leaders overseas are doing. And then we're trying to figure out why is Obama doing this trip, why did he feel he had to do it? Well, when we asked our voters who is a riskier choice for president, John McCain or Barack Obama, 55 percent told us that it's Obama that's the riskier choice.

TEXT:

NBC News/The Wall Street Journal Poll July 18-21, 2008

Who is the safer or riskier choice?

Safer Riskier McCain 46% 35% Obama 41% 55%

+/- 4.4 pts

Mr. TODD: We asked who would be the safer choice for president, and they picked John McCain at 46 percent. So we see why Obama is over here doing this. He's trying to allay these fears that he's a risky and not ready to do these things.

Some good news for Obama, he's seen as being in the mainstream on all the major issues. Sixty percent see him in the mainstream on the issues. McCain, only 45 percent see him as being in the mainstream.

TEXT:

NBC News/The Wall Street Journal Poll July 18-21, 2008

Who is in the mainstream on issues?

Obama 60% McCain 45%

+/- 3.1 pts

Mr. TODD: The good news for McCain, he sort of connects on values. Fifty-eight percent say that John McCain reflects their values. Only 47 percent say Obama does. A lot of folks will tell you that Obama needs to improve that number, Brian.

TEXT:

NBC News/The Wall Street Journal Poll July 18-21, 2008

Who reflects your values?

McCain 58% Obama 47%

+/- 3.1 pts

WILLIAMS: And, Chuck, with dual wars being fought and economic problems, is there any way to state the national mood right now?

Mr. TODD: Well, the best way to do it is that we have hit a record number, record low or record high, however you want to look at the number, on the right track/wrong direction poll number. In the history of the NBC/Wall Street Journal number, the right track has never been this low at 13 percent. One in eight voters believe we are on the wrong track. That tells you the big landscape and the sort of the big headwind that John McCain is dealing with, Brian.

Very interesting. Readers are also encouraged to review Todd's posting at MSNBC's "First Read" Thursday wherein he suggested that this election is no longer Obama's to lose.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.