During an interview with Howard Dean, Norah O'Donnell selectively cited polls to suggest that the Democratic advantage in the generic congressional ballot has been considerably reduced. However, several other recent polls show Democrats with leads in excess of 15 percentage points.
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During an interview with Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean on the November 6 edition of MSNBC's Decision 2006: Battleground America, host Norah O'Donnell cherry-picked polls suggesting that the Democratic advantage in the generic ballot has been considerably reduced, while ignoring polls showing a much larger Democratic advantage. O'Donnell questioned Dean about what she described as "the latest poll numbers," including a Pew Research Center poll that showed Democrats with a four-point advantage. An onscreen graphic also showed a Washington Post/ABC News poll, which found Democrats with a six-point advantage, and a USA Today/Gallup poll, which showed Democrats with a seven-point generic-ballot advantage. However, as Media Matters for America has noted, there are several other recent polls that show Democrats with leads in excess of 15 percentage points, including those from Time, CNN, and even MSNBC news partner Newsweek. Dean responded to O'Donnell by noting the CNN poll, which shows Democrats with a 20-point advantage, and claimed that "there's half a dozen polls out."
Later in the interview, O'Donnell asked that Dean "guarantee to me today that the Democrats will not move to increase personal income taxes across the board." In response, Dean said: "I will guarantee you that we will not raise personal income taxes across the board." O'Donnell then said that she would "save this tape for what happens just in case," further suggesting that Dean and Democrats could not be taken at their word.
From the 12 p.m. ET hour of the November 6 edition of MSNBC's Decision 2006: Battleground America:
O'DONNELL: Let me ask you about the latest poll numbers we have seen across the board but specifically the Pew poll, from their research center, shows Republicans cutting the Democratic lead on the generic ballot down from 11 points last month to just four points now. Are you concerned that the Republicans are gaining ground in these final days?
DEAN: Norah, the CNN poll has us up 20. So, I think polls, really at this point, are completely meaningless. The only poll that really matters is the one tomorrow, and we've just got to get everybody out to vote. The bottom line is if you're satisfied with the direction the country is going in and you want to stay the course, then you should vote for the Republicans. If you want change and a new direction, vote for the Democrats. And get out and vote, and we'll see what happens tomorrow.
O'DONNELL: But, let me ask you about, in these final days, whether, in fact, Republican enthusiasm is growing. Also the Pew Research Center showing that Republicans now register a greater likelihood of voting than Democrats. Enthusiasm is up among Republicans. Does that hurt you?
DEAN: You know, what? Again, theres -- Norah, there's half a dozen polls out. We don't think that's accurate. We think that our folks really want a new direction.
DEAN: I think people do want a new direction.
O'DONNELL: Well, let me ask you about that new direction, because again, whether or not Democrats retake a house or two houses in the Congress, what sort of change there will be. Republicans are making the case that Democrats will raise their taxes. Can you guarantee to me today that the Democrats will not move to increase a personal income taxes across the board?
DEAN: I can guarantee you that we will not raise personal income taxes across the board. We want middle-class tax fairness, which means do not raise taxes on the middle class. We would actually like to cut taxes on the middle class. Whether that's possible or not, I'm not so sure because the fact of the matter is that this budget deficit is about $100 billion higher than the president's admitting. None of the money that's gone to pay for Iraq or Afghanistan is in the budget-deficit figures. So they're cooking the books, and that's a problem. But we are not going to raise taxes on the middle class; that's Republican propaganda. They repeat it. You know, you're going to hear outlandish things.
O'DONNELL: [Rep.] Charlie Rangel [D-NY], who is going to be head of the House Ways and Means Committee, has suggested that in fact they will move to raise taxes.
DEAN: If you want to find out what's going to happen, listen to the speaker-to-be, Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is a thoughtful, tough, smart person. She knows very well and has said publicly that we're not going to raise taxes on middle-class Americans. The people who ought to be fearful are the oil companies and the insurance companies who got huge tax breaks under the Republicans. That money is going to be used to balance the budget, and it's going to be used to restore the Pell Grants that the Republicans cut.
O'DONNELL: Chairman, we are going to save this tape for what happens just in case.