Today Show Trumpets Obama Comeback in New NBC Poll Numbers

NBC's Matt Lauer was joined by his colleague Chuck Todd, on Thursday's Today show, as the two trumpeted "good news" for President Obama in the latest results from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. After Lauer hailed Obama received "an eight-point leap from last month" in his approval rating, Todd explained the surge was because the respondents "think he's going to be the reasonable guy" and that the Republicans will be "inflexible."

While Lauer did offer that a rise in optimism for the economy, as seen in the poll, could be spun the GOP's way because people "see there will be shared power in Washington" Todd quickly threw cold water on that theory as he countered: "Right now the President is getting all of the benefit. The Republicans aren't getting any of the credit yet."

Neither Lauer or Todd explored the idea that perhaps a reason for a bump in Obama's ratings was his signing of the tax deal in December.

The following exchange was aired on the January 20 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Let's talk about these numbers. On the surface it sounds like a lot of good news for President Obama but does, do these numbers – and we'll get into them in a second – do anything to change his political reality?

[On screen headline: "NBC News/WSJ Poll, President's Approval Ratings Soars In Last Month"]

TODD: Short-term, yes, when you think about it. In five days he gives the State of the Union. Two months ago, we would have said he was gonna go there on the defensive, that it was the Republicans in the audience that were gonna be the ones who were basically given the benefit of the doubt. And what's happened with this poll, what it shows is the American public has suddenly given the President the benefit of the doubt again, as one of our pollsters said. And the burden of proof is back on the Republicans.

LAUER: So his approval rating has jumped to 53 percent.

TODD: Yep.

LAUER: An eight-point leap from last month, the highest rating since, I think it was July of 2009. What's behind those numbers?


TODD: Three factors. How he handled Tucson, 74 percent approve of how he did that. Two, simple optimism is up again. Long-term optimism about where America is gonna be in five years spiked 20 points in the last six months. Optimism about the economy spiked eight points. And then the third factor is how he's dealing with Republicans. They think he's going to be the reasonable guy and they think Republicans are gonna be the one [sic] who's inflexible. That's the lame duck affect.

LAUER: Optimism for the country, optimism for the economy. So the Democrats can feel good about that. But can't the Republicans spin it this way? Can't they say, well, people are optimistic because they see there will be shared power in Washington.

TODD: You know, and that's, that's what's interesting is that, yes, I think there is some - you see how they responded to the lame duck and those negotiating deals. But right now the President is getting all of the benefit. The Republicans aren't getting any of the credit yet.

LAUER: Let's talk about this health care vote in, in the House yesterday - a symbolic vote but it was passed to repeal health care. It's not gonna go anywhere in the Senate. Take a look at the numbers if we can jump ahead on where the American people feel about that health care situation. What did you find?

TODD: It is dead even, dead even split, just in the way it was a polarizing vote in the House, just three Democrats joined the Republicans, 46-45 split. And it is right down party lines. I mean you can be predictive. That could have been a presidential vote. Do you want a Republican to be in the White House or the Democrat? That's how the country is split, right down the normal red/blue lines.

LAUER: Alright, Chuck Todd, thank you very much for coming up to New York. We appreciate that.

TODD: You got it.

—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.