NBC's Tim Russert proclaimed, "It's a year away but the Democrats are feeling almost giddy this morning," as he ran down the negative news from NBC's own poll. Matt Lauer opened this morning's Today show with a teaser for the Russert political analysis segment:
Lauer: "Then to Washington where it rains it really pours. President Bush says he doesn't look at the poll numbers. He might not want to. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows his approval rating is at its lowest level ever. And there's some astounding numbers when it comes to African-Americans and their support for the President. Tim Russert's gonna be here and crunch those numbers in a little while."
During the media's coverage of Katrina the race card was played again and again so it's no surprise that Lauer and Russert led with the fruits of their labor.
Lauer: "Let's go right to the poll numbers. Approval rating for the President now 39 percent of the American people, the people polled at least say he's doing a good job, 54 percent say he's doing a bad job. What's driving these numbers?"
Russert: "Well Matt that 39 percent is the lowest number we have had for George Bush during his presidency. Independent, swing voters now solidly disapprove of the President's job performance and Matt the most astounding number in this, two percent, just two percent of African-Americans give George Bush a positive rating for his performance as President. The memories of Katrina very much in their minds."
Lauer: "Is that, is that what this is all about? I mean obviously that is just a startling number. Two percent of African-Americans. Is this all about the aftermath of Katrina?"
Russert: "Well the imagery of that along with the economy and fuel prices in Iraq but that event, Matt, really did have a searing effect. George Bush and the Republican Party has tried very hard to reach out to African-American voters but this is a very dramatic setback. I cannot find a pollster who can remember any President ever getting just two percent approval from African-Americans."
Lauer and Russert then moved on to the generic and very nebulous wrong track question:
Lauer: "Let me ask you this next question. When we asked people is the country headed in the right direction, 28 percent said we're on the right track, 59 percent said the wrong track. Interesting a four percent change over just a month ago, a drop of four percent. Now this is a big picture question. So, so what could cause four percent change in this big picture in just 30 days?"
Russert: "Pollsters think this is the benchmark question. When you have 6 out of 10 people in the country saying things are off the wrong track, it's been a cumulative effect, Matt. A drip, drip, drip. The hurricanes, the war in Iraq, the economy but I think also fuel prices, energy concerns, high anxiety driving this in a very pronounced way."
Lauer and Russert then set the table for Republican doom:
Lauer: "How about this question. What is the preference for the outcome of the 2006 congressional elections. Do you want a Congress controlled by Republicans or Democrats, let's put those numbers up on the screen, 39 percent said they want Republicans to control Congress, 48 percent said they want Democrats to control Congress. What's that mean?"
Russert: "Nine point differential in a very generic question, Matt. These things are usually within a point or two. What it means is there's a trend towards the Democrats. They don't have an alternative proposal. Sometimes nothing's a real cool hand. And we're seeing being played out. The Democrats would have to capture net gain 15 House seats, six Senate seats to regain control of Congress. They want to nationalize this election. They want to make it about Katrina and Iraq and energy prices."
Russert: "It's a year away but the Democrats are feeling almost giddy this morning."
And finally Russert used cataclysmic language when talking about the CIA leak case:
Lauer: "And Tim, Karl Rove, does anyone care about that other than the people in the media? Real quickly."
Russert: "Matt I think it's a huge event. Over the next two or three weeks we will know in the CIA leak probe whether or not there will be a report, exoneration, or indictment. If there are indictments it will send tidal waves, shocks, not only through Washington but I think through the country."