On Day Bush and GOP Congress Up in Poll, CBS Contends Landscape Good for Dems

On the very day a USA Today/Gallup poll was released showing President Bush's approval rating up to 44 percent, “his highest rating in a year” according to USA Today's front page story on the survey, a poll that also found the generic Democrat versus Republican choice for Congress even at 48 to 48 percent amongst “likely voters” -- closing from a ten point advantage for Democrats (53 to 43 percent) in a CNN poll of “likely voters” just two weeks ago -- Tuesday's CBS Evening News aired a story on how Bush is hurting GOP incumbents and issues are trending in favor of Democrats.

Gloria Borger traveled to Missouri where “voters have a history of reflecting the national mood, and right now President Bush is unpopular here. That's why running as a Republican incumbent requires some distance from the President.” Looking at the Senate race between incumbent Republican Jim Talent and Democrat Claire McCaskill, Borger contended: “Missouri may be a red or Republican state, but Democrats believe the key issues are now turning blue. And it's not just about the war. In this state, it's also about local issues like an increase in the minimum wage and support for stem cell research, both statewide ballot initiatives the Democrats hope will bring out their voters.” And what campaign story would be complete without the obligatory disillusioned Republican: “Missouri Democrats are targeting voters like Lindsay McCarroll, a Republican who thinks her party has lost touch.” McCarroll complained: “I don't think they're listening to the people, I don't think they're doing what the people want, so I'm going to vote for someone else this time.” (Transcript follows)

The Polling Report.com's page on the generic congressional choice by party in polls released this year..

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the video against the closed-captioning to provide this transcript of the September 19 story on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:
Katie Couric: "Election day is just seven weeks from today, and control of the House is up for grabs. The Senate may be as well. Both, of course, are now controlled by the Republicans. So how will this election turn out? National political correspondent Gloria Borger went to a bellwether state for tonight's 'Eye on Politics.'"

Gloria Borger, over a teen holding a ham: "This champion ham fetched a fat ten grand for the 4-H club at the Missouri State Fair. But the glad-handers outside the tent were more interested in politics than pork."

Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democratic Senate candidate: "Good morning, guys."

Borger: "The Missouri Senate race is a dead heat brawl. While the Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill calls for change in Washington-"

McCaskill to fair attendees: "I think everybody's had enough, don't you think?"

Borger: "-the Republican incumbent Jim Talent declares his independence from Washington."

Senator Jim Talent (R-MO), to Borger: "I'm an agent of change, and I always have run that way."

Borger: "With control of the Senate hanging by just six seats, both parties call this a must-win, and the themes playing here are being re-run in tight races all across the country. Missouri voters have a history of reflecting the national mood, and right now President Bush is unpopular here. That's why running as a Republican incumbent requires some distance from the President -- on the Iraq War in particular. Now, you said the administration has made some mistakes."

Talent: "Oh, yes."

Borger: "What areas and where?"

Talent: "They underestimated how difficult it would be to pacify the central part of the country. I mean, they clearly thought we could get in and out quickly."

Borger: "Try as he might to run as his own man, Jim Talent is tied to President Bush by his Democratic opponent at every opportunity."

McCaskill, to Borger: "Well, he agrees with President bush more than I agree with my husband."

Borger: "Missouri may be a red or Republican state, but Democrats believe the key issues are now turning blue. And it's not just about the war. In this state, it's also about local issues like an increase in the minimum wage and support for stem cell research, both statewide ballot initiatives the Democrats hope will bring out their voters."

Clip of ad: "The stem cell initiative will prevent any unfair bans."

Lindsay McCarroll to McCaskill: "I'm really excited about what you're doing."

Borger: "Missouri Democrats are targeting voters like Lindsay McCarroll, a Republican who thinks her party has lost touch."

Lindsay McCarroll, Missouri voter: "I don't think they're listening to the people, I don't think they're doing what the people want, so I'm going to vote for someone else this time."

Borger: "In any other year, Jim Talent might have been considered a sure thing, but this election environment is tough for Republican incumbents."

Talent: "2004 was a better year, there's no question."

Borger: "So Talent wants to make this personal."

Talent: "When they get to know you, they tend to vote based on what they know rather than on a national perspective. And this is why people in both parties win elections even when the national climate's not so good."

Borger: "Voters in the Show Me State have an uncanny knack for predicting winners. They've picked all the presidents since 1960 and now they could determine who wins the Senate. Gloria Borger, CBS News, Sedalia, Missouri."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center