Discussing NY Times/CBS poll, Cokie Roberts, Reuters' Decker claimed McCain is ahead of, or even with, Obama, Clinton -- poll says otherwise

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER & MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER

On ABC's This Week, while discussing the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, Cokie Roberts asserted that Sen. John McCain is "even or winning in the polls." On MSNBC Live, Reuters' Jon Decker similarly stated that McCain is "running either ahead of both" Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama "or running even with both of them." But neither Roberts nor Decker mentioned that in that same poll, both Clinton and Obama beat McCain in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups.

On the April 6 edition of ABC's This Week, ABC News political commentator Cokie Roberts asserted in reference to Sen. John McCain: "[I]n Memphis, he went and apologized for voting against the Martin Luther King holiday in the first place. Even with that, and even with 81 percent of the people saying the country is off on the wrong track, he's even or winning in the polls. So there's something he's doing right here." Roberts was apparently referring to a March 28-April 2 New York Times/CBS News poll, which produced an 81 percent "wrong track" figure. But in that same poll, contrary to Roberts' assertion that McCain is "even or winning in the polls," both Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama beat McCain in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups.

Similarly, on the April 4 edition of MSNBC Live, after anchor Alex Witt noted that the Times/CBS poll "shows 81 percent of voters think the country is heading in the wrong direction; 78 percent feel the U.S. is worse off now than it was five years ago, and the same amount say the economy is in terrible shape," Reuters Washington correspondent Jon Decker asserted that "for John McCain, on the surface, those numbers are not very good." Decker added: "[B]ut it's pretty remarkable, because in head-to-head match-ups -- John McCain versus Barack Obama, John McCain versus Hillary Clinton -- he's running either ahead of both of them or running even with both of them." Like Roberts, Decker did not note what the Times/CBS poll found regarding a possible match-up between McCain and either Obama or Clinton.

The poll found that, among registered voters, 47 percent of respondents said they would vote for Obama if the election were held today compared to 42 percent who said they would vote for McCain. The poll also found that 48 percent said they would vote for Clinton compared to 43 percent who said they would vote for McCain.

From the April 6 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

DAN SENOR (former Bush foreign policy adviser): What McCain is realizing -- the campaign is realizing -- is that the way to get into the news in a situation like this is either be part of the conflict, which he's not. The conflict is Hillary or Obama. Or it's to be talking about what's in the news, and he hasn't been doing that. He's been talking about biography. It's an important groundwork-laying narrative, but it's -- he's not sort of pivoting what's on the news cycle. This week, he will.

He's delivering an important speech at the VFW in Kansas. He's going to talk about Petraeus. He's going to talk about what happened in Basra, try to put things in context. And then you're going to see in mid-April, he's going to start delivering a series of economic addresses. I think the game-changers for him are new policies, prescriptive elements that he'll talk about, and then increasing narrative about who he is going to choose as his VP.

ROBERTS: But the --

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to get to that.

ROBERTS: The other thing, though, is that even with everything that George has said about retrospective and all of that and, you know, in Memphis, he went and apologized for voting against the Martin Luther King holiday in the first place. Even with that, and even with 81 percent of the people saying the country is off on the wrong track, he's even or winning in the polls. So there's something he's doing right here.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL (The Nation editor): But, you know, campaigns are about the present and the future, and he will be confronted with questions about what he's going to do in a country where, last week, 80,000 jobs were lost. His program for homeowners is basically to say drop dead. And then, you know -- with Martin Luther --

ROBERTS: And this is where everyone in the Senate is going to be tough, 'cause he's going to have to vote.

From the 3 p.m. ET hour of the April 4 edition of MSNBC Live:

WITT: Let's go back to presidential politics, and some new polls that show an overwhelming amount of voters are dissatisfied with the state of this country, and that could have a major impact on the 2008 race. This New York Times/CBS poll shows 81 percent of voters think the country is heading in the wrong direction; 78 percent feel the U.S. is worse off now than it was five years ago, and the same amount say the economy is in terrible shape. Jon Decker is the Washington correspondent for Reuters. So, John, after -- good afternoon to you.

DECKER: Hi, Alex.

WITT: With the voters -- hi -- this unhappy, who's going to benefit in an election year? Anyone?

DECKER: Well, certainly not an incumbent lawmaker trying to win re-election in the House or the Senate. And for John McCain, on the surface, those numbers are not very good. Also, in that same poll, George W. Bush had a 28-percent favorability rating. So, those aren't, on the surface, good numbers for John McCain, but it's pretty remarkable, because in head-to-head match-ups -- John McCain versus Barack Obama, John McCain versus Hillary Clinton -- he's running either ahead of both of them or running even with both of them. And it's pretty remarkable that, given the state of the economy, given the state of the poll you just cited, that he's doing as well as he's doing right now.

WITT: OK. Let's check out, though, that horse race.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
MSNBC, ABC
Person
Cokie Roberts, Jon Decker
Show/Publication
This Week, MSNBC Live
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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