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On the August 1 edition of NBC's Today, discussing the July 27-30 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that found Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) would defeat former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) by a 47 percent to 41 percent margin if they were the candidates for president in 2008, NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert said that the poll was "significant, because many of the polls had shown Rudy Giuliani beating Hillary Clinton in a general election." In fact, of the five national head-to-head match-up polls conducted in July before the poll Russert called "significant," Clinton led in three:
- A July 17-18 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, with a +/-3 percent margin of error (MoE), found Clinton leading Giuliani 46 percent to 41 percent.
- A July 12-14 Zogby America poll, with a +/-3.1 percent MoE, found Clinton leading Giuliani 46 percent to 41 percent.
- A July 9-10 Rasmussen Reports poll, with a +/-4 percent MoE, found Clinton leading Giuliani 44 percent to 43 percent.
- A July 15-18 George Washington University Battleground 2008 poll, conducted by The Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners with a +/-3.1 percent MoE, found Giuliani leading Clinton 49 percent to 44 percent.
- A July 12-15 Gallup poll, with a +/- 3 percent MoE, found Giuliani leading Clinton 49 percent to 46 percent.
Clinton also led in all three polls conducted in July regarding a hypothetical three-way presidential race between Clinton, Giuliani, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I):
- The July 12-14 Zogby America poll found Clinton with 44 percent, Giuliani 37 percent, and Bloomberg 7 percent.
- A July 10-12 New York Daily News poll, conducted by Blum & Weprin Associates with a +/- 4 percent MoE, found Clinton with 40 percent, Giuliani 33 percent, and Bloomberg 10 percent.
- A July 6-8 USA Today/Gallup poll, with a +/- 4 percent MoE, found Clinton with 45 percent, Giuliani 39 percent, and Bloomberg 12 percent.
Russert has repeatedly cherry-picked polls to assert that Clinton is running behind Giuliani in a head-to-head matchup. As Media Matters for America documented, during a discussion of Clinton's "electability" on the June 13 edition of NBC's Nightly News, Russert cited a June 1-3 Gallup poll that found Clinton's "favorable rating amongst all Americans was 46 percent, her disapproval, 50 percent," and called this "a real warning sign." He concluded that "it would be a very difficult, hotly contested campaign -- winnable -- but no doubt difficult." In his response, Russert did not address a June 8-11 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that found Clinton would win a head-to-head matchup with Giuliani 48 percent to 43 percent.
In addition, as Bob Somerby noted on his website The Daily Howler, during the July 29 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, Russert cited two polls that showed respondents would be more likely to vote for a Democrat than a Republican in the 2008 presidential election and went on to claim that in head-to-head matchups, Giuliani, "in both polls, beats" Clinton. On the same show, responding to Russert, NBC News political director Chuck Todd claimed "I think that [Clinton is] having a problem of electability." In fact, as Somerby noted, "those are the only two polls in the past seven weeks where Giuliani has beaten Clinton." From Somerby's July 30 post:
What was surprising about that presentation? According to PollingReport.com, those are the only two polls in the past seven weeks where Giuliani has beaten Clinton. (For polling results, click here.) But uh-oh! In ten other polls (including the most recent), Clinton has beaten Giuliani! That's right: In head-to-head match-ups, Clinton has beaten Giuliani in ten of the last twelve polls, including the most recent (basic data below). But so what? Russert cherry-picked the two polls Clinton lost -- and Todd chimed in with the pleasing claim that she's having electability problems.
From the August 1 edition of NBC's Today:
MATT LAUER (co-host): If we take this, hypothetically -- that, let's say, Hillary Clinton gets the nomination on the Democratic side, Rudy Giuliani gets the nomination on the Republican side. Let's take a look at what our poll found in a head-to-head matchup between those two. Hillary Clinton would win 47 to 41 percent. A lot of scenarios, though, could shift those numbers.
RUSSERT: But that's significant because many of the polls had shown Rudy Giuliani beating Hillary Clinton in a general election.
LAUER: So she's the person to beat right now?
RUSSERT: [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] also beats Giuliani. And so does [Former Sen. John] Edwards [D-NC]. But the fact is, Matt, Hillary Clinton has a lot of high negatives. Her numbers are pretty much fixed at that mid-40 level, but nonetheless, this is good news for the Democrats.
From the July 29 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
RUSSERT: And we're back. Let's look at some interesting polls. The generic question, "Are you going to vote for a Democrat or a Republican for president of the United States?" And look at these margins in the generic question: 51 to 27 in The Hotline poll; Battleground poll, 49-38. And then when you match up specific front-runners, Giuliani, in both polls, beats Hillary Clinton. You match Giuliani against Obama, Giuliani wins in one poll, 49-45; Obama wins in another poll. Then take [Former Sen.] Fred Thompson [R-TN] Thompson loses to Clinton in one, ties on another. But Obama does much better against Thompson than Hillary Clinton does, winning handily in both those races. What does that mean to you, Chuck Todd?
TODD: Well, I think that she's having a problem with electability. The Clinton folks will say that they -- they believe their biggest challenge is proving electability, and it -- and it really bugs them because they actually feel like in the polls show that, you know, the fact that she's competitive with Giuliani, they think that should be a good thing, you know. I think there were some folks that thought she might be 10 points down to Giuliani at this point.