MSNBC's Morales selectively cited polling on congressional approval -- and misidentified it

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

On the July 24 "Super Tuesday" edition of MSNBC Live, host Natalie Morales falsely asserted that "the latest poll out of The Washington Post shows that there is an all-time low of 14 percent of approval for lawmakers in Congress right now." Morales then asked, "Why is that not affecting Democrats more?" In fact, "the latest poll out of The Washington Post" and ABC News, conducted July 18-21, found a 37 percent approval rating for Congress.

Morales may have been referring to a Reuters/Zogby poll conducted July 12-14, a week before the Washington Post/ABC News poll. According to a Zogby International release, the Reuters/Zogby poll found that Congress received "positive marks" from 14 percent of respondents. While Zogby's release identified the subject of the question as the "Democratic Congress" once in the body and the "Dem Congress" once in the subheadline, a July 18 Reuters article referred to the subject four times simply as "Congress" and once as "the Democratic-controlled Congress." Since Zogby does not release its poll questions, it cannot be determined whether respondents were asked about "Congress" or about the "Democratic Congress." The distinction may be relevant because polling shows that when respondents are asked separately about congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans, Democrats consistently receive higher ratings. Indeed, the Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 46 percent of respondents approved of "the Democrats in Congress," while 34 percent approved of "the Republicans in Congress." A July 9-17 New York Times/CBS News poll found that 28 percent of respondents were "mostly pleased" with "what the Democrats in Congress are doing," compared with 21 percent of respondents who were "mostly pleased" with "what the Republicans in Congress are doing."

From the 1 p.m. ET hour of the July 24 edition of MSNBC Live:

MORALES: What does it mean, Richard [Wolffe, Newsweek senior White House correspondent], though, when you're talking about also in Congress, when you have Democrats in the Senate and the House far outraising Republicans: 3-to-1 in the Senate, 10-to-1 in the House. Why are the Democrats still raking it in when, according to The Washington Post, there is so much concern, there is so much anger over Iraq right now? The latest poll out of The Washington Post shows that there is an all-time low of 14 percent of approval for lawmakers in Congress right now. Why is that not affecting Democrats more?

WOLFFE: Well, because they're fired up about Iraq. I mean, the Democrats are energized because of Bush-bashing and because of their feelings towards Iraq. And in some ways, the unresolved nature of the war, the fact that Democrats haven't made more progress in terms of stopping the war is a reason -- is more of a reason for Democratic supporters to try and go that extra mile, win those extra seats in the Senate, get a veto-proof majority. Those are strong rallying cries for Democrats, and if you look at the war numbers, Democrats, 80, 90 percent are united on the war compared to Republicans, who are broadly split on the war.

Natalie Morales
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.