CBS’s Dickerson: ‘Overlaying This Entire Election Is Disappointment With the President’

After appearing on Tuesday’s CBS This Morning, CBS News political director John Dickerson joined substitute anchor Charlie Rose on Tuesday night’s CBS Evening News to discuss the upcoming midterm elections. While Dickerson told Rose that voters are citing domestic issues as what they care about most, he said that “overlaying this entire election is disappointment with the President” which “motivates Republicans and discourages Democrats.”

Along with highlighting a CBS News projection that Republicans will take the Senate by a 51-49 margin, Dickerson mentioned the latest CBS News poll which shows only 36 percent of Americans approving of President Barack Obama’s handling of foreign policy. Due to this low poll number for the President, he analyzed that “Democratic candidates suffer” in a landscape where “the world is in crisis and the President is getting blamed.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]

Rose began the one-minute-and-47-second segment by telling viewers that the midterm elections are nine weeks away from Tuesday, when voters will decide whether Republicans will hold on to control of the House and seize control of the Senate from Democrats. Dickerson started off his analysis by reminding viewers (as he did this morning) that the GOP are “well on their way” to picking up three seats currently held by Democrats in Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

This means, he said, that: “That means they would need as few as three more in eight competitive places that are taking place on Democratic turfs. The Democrats have only two shots, in Georgia and Kentucky.”

Due to the unpopularity of Obama, Dickerson reported that Democrats now are out making sure that they “talk about everything they're doing” for their state and attract “not just active Democrats, but people who don't vote in midterm elections or people who have never voted at all” to help them hold onto their seats in Congress.

When asked by Rose how he would define what the overarching debate in the upcoming midterm election is about, Dickerson had some more bad news for President Obama: “For Republicans, this election is about the President. For Democrats, it's about anything but the President.”


The complete transcript from the segment that aired on the CBS Evening News on September 2 is transcribed below. 

CBS Evening News

September 2, 2014

6:42 p.m. Eastern

CHARLIE ROSE: The midterm elections are just nine weeks from today and in the battle for control over Congress, the Republicans are all but certain to hold on to the House, but the Senate, now run by the Democrats, is up for grabs. John Dickerson is our CBS News political director. John, let me begin with this: A political landscape today if you had to look at this, and things could change, what does it look like? 

JOHN DICKERSON: If you look at the Senate, Republicans need to take just six seats away from those Democrats. They’re pretty well on their way to having taken three of those away in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana. That means they would need as few as three more in eight competitive places that are taking place on Democratic turfs. The Democrats have only two shots, in Georgia and Kentucky. So, the election is two months away, but the latest CBS News estimate has Republicans favored to take the Senate 51-41. 

ROSE: Turning to the debate that's taking place, there's a lot happening around the world. Is foreign policy a part of the political debate? 

DICKERSON: Voters, when you ask them what do they care about, they still pick domestic issues, but overlaying this entire election is disappointment with the President. So that motivates Republicans and discourages Democrats. So in the latest CBS News poll, only just 36 percent said they had a favorable view of the President's handling of foreign policy. So, when the world is in crisis and the President is getting blamed, Democratic candidates suffer. 

ROSE: So what do the Democrats have to do if they've got a President who is unpopular? 

DICKERSON: Keep it local. So, they want to talk about everything they're doing for the state. They want to beat the dickens out of their opponent and they want to turn out voters not just active Democrats, but people who don't vote in midterm elections or people who have never voted at all. 

ROSE: How would you define what the debate is essential about? Is it local or national? Is it Republicans talking about the President and Democrats wanting to talk about local issues? 

DICKERSON: For Republicans, this election is about the President. For Democrats, it's about anything but the President. 

ROSE: John Dickerson, thank you. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is a news analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division