Before the November 2006 midterm elections, NBC News political director Chuck Todd predicted several times that if the Democrats won “control of Congress” and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became speaker of the House, then President Bush's “approval rating will be over 50 percent by the Fourth of July next year.” In fact, as of July 4, 2007, Bush's approval ratings are far below 50 percent. Indeed, a recent analysis by the weblog RealClearPolitics.com of national polls conducted between June 11 and June 28 placed Bush's average approval rating at 30.5 percent. Will NBC News question Todd about his inaccurate prediction?
Todd appears to have first made this claim during the October 27, 2006, edition of NBC's Today. In a segment on possible ramifications of the Democrats' regaining control of Congress in the midterm elections, NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory reported that “some analysts warn that if Democrats overreach, it will backfire.” Gregory then aired a clip of Todd predicting that the “president will have a job approval rating over 50 if Nancy Pelosi's speaker of the House by the Fourth of July.”
During a November 3, 2006, news briefing on the midterm elections, Todd made a nearly identical claim: “I think if Democrats get control of Congress, President Bush's approval rating will be over 50 percent by the Fourth of July next year.” Todd reasoned that Democrats would “have to legislate in a way that they know Bush will sign things,” and by passing immigration reform, minimum wage, and “some health care stuff that Democrats want to get through,” Bush “is going to sit there, he's going to veto something every once in a while, and it's going to remind people of the power of the presidency. I think it's going to make him -- I think it's going to make him more relevant domestically and might rescue his legacy in these last two years a little bit.”
Yet on July 4, with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and Pelosi serving as speaker, Bush's approval ratings are nowhere near as high as Todd predicted. Bush appears to have scored his highest approval ratings in a recent Rasmussen poll, which covered “the full month of June.” But even in this poll, just 35 percent of respondents “approved of the way that George W. Bush performed his role as President,” marking the “fourth straight monthly decline for the President” in Rasmussen polls.
Bush has fared worse in other recent national polls. A CBS News poll released June 29 found that Bush's “job approval rating slipped to 27 percent, his lowest number ever in a CBS News poll -- 3 points less than last month and 1 point below his previous low of 28 percent in January.” According to CBS News, Bush's “disapproval rating is also at an all-time high of 65 percent.” A June 26-27 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll found that 31 percent approved of “the job George W. Bush is doing as president,” while 60 percent indicated that they disapproved. Similarly, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted June 22-24 found that 32 percent of respondents approved of Bush's handling of his job, while 66 percent did not.
From the October 27, 2006, edition of NBC's Today:
LEON PANETTA (former Clinton chief of staff): They will want to focus on how did this country get into that war? What -- why were the mistakes made that were made in that war?
GREGORY: But some analysts warn that if Democrats overreach, it will backfire.
TODD: The president will have a job approval rating over 50 if Nancy Pelosi's speaker of the House by the Fourth of July.
GREGORY: As for policy, what is the Democratic agenda?
From a November 3, 2006, news briefing on the elections, as released by the Foreign Press Center:
QUESTION: Thank you, Kaori Iida with NHK Japanese Public Television. The Wednesday headline, “Bush suffers his first political defeat,” how will this election affect the President's last two years, especially on foreign policy, economic issues, Social Security, immigration? How is this going to affect his last two years?
TODD: Well, I come at this -- you know, there's been a lot of predictions that if Democrats get control of Congress, that means President Bush's term has ended, he's a lame duck, he's done. And I actually think just the opposite. I think the best thing to happen for his presidency and his legacy is a Democratic Congress. It will make him more relevant. It will suddenly pit him against a foil. Bush is so good as a politician when he's got something to run against and he's got something to -- somebody to fight, somebody to be against.
And if he's -- you know, if it's him versus the Democrats in Congress, he's going to win that fight. Every president does. You know, President Clinton became more relevant after Republicans took control of Congress in '94 than before it. President Reagan had a 37 percent job approval rating right during the '86 elections. After the Democrats won the Senate he's fighting Congressional Democrats again and he's vetoing things, he had an approval rating back up over 60 again.
So I think if Democrats get control of Congress, President Bush's approval rating will be over 50 percent by the Fourth of July next year. And I think that because -- first of all, he's going to get the immigration bill that he wants, because this is a bill, actually, that more Democrats support than Republicans. He's going to be signing a minimum wage bill that's going to be -- everybody's going to be happy with, that everybody's going to make themselves feel good about. He'll sign that. There's going to be some healthcare stuff that Democrats want to get through. He'll sign those things. You know, look, the Democrats have an -- they have to pass stuff, right? They have to legislate, and they're going to have to legislate in a way that they know Bush will sign things. And Bush is going to sit there, he's going to veto something every once in a while, and it's going to remind people of the power of the Presidency. I think it's going to make him -- I think it's going to make him more relevant domestically and might rescue his legacy in these last two years a little bit.
QUESTION: Joel Smith, Media 24 South Africa. Where do you think you see Karl Rove? Where has he been? And do you think he's going to have a (inaudible) this weekend.