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NBC Peddles New Poll 'Showing Evidence This Race is Hurting the GOP'

On Thursday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was eager to share new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll numbers with viewers as he touted this headline from the results: "Our poll is also showing evidence this race is hurting the GOP, and we could see more of that tonight at the next debate..."

Later, political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd hyped the supposed damage to Republicans: "...there's some suggestions in our poll that this presidential primary campaign is actually hurting the party as a whole. Look at these negative ratings. Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, all within a net negative rating."

Despite the primary process being far from over, Todd tried to preemptively draw historical parallels: "The last three Republican nominees, McCain, Bush and Dole, all who had very tough primary campaigns, actually came out of it with a net positive. The last Democrat to have a net negative was John Kerry. And we know how that turned out."

It's important to note how Todd went out of his way on Wednesday to claim that 61% of Americans seeing the country headed in the wrong direction was somehow good for Obama.

Here is a full transcript of the January 26 segment:

7:01PM ET TEASE:

WILLIAMS: In the poll numbers we are debuting tonight, there is a new GOP frontrunner in this race and that's Newt Gingrich, now leading Mitt Romney by nine points nationally. Santorum, third. Ron Paul with 12%, fourth. Seizing the lead, however, as you know, comes with quite a cost to Newt Gingrich. As we've seen in this race so far, frontrunner status means coming under heavy fire. That's what happened today. Our poll is also showing evidence this race is hurting the GOP, and we could see more of that tonight at the next debate, because after all, it's only been three days since the last one.

7:04PM ET SEGMENT:

WILLIAMS: And now we turn to those exclusive new numbers on where this race stands nationally in our NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. For that we turn to our political director Chuck Todd in our D.C. bureau. And Chuck, Gingrich seems to be winning over the public at-large in the party right now.

CHUCK TODD: Well, at least Republicans nationally. We matched them up in a two-way race with Mitt Romney and his lead actually grows to 52-39. Now let me explain why he does it. His advantages are among the core of the Republican Party. Among conservatives that call themselves very conservative, he leads by 39 points. Among those folks who call themselves southerners, it's 37. Tea Partiers, a 35-point lead.

But our poll also shows if Gingrich is the nominee, he's got a huge hill, and perhaps mountain, to climb. Matched up against President Obama, Gingrich trails 55-37, that's an 18-point gap. Even Rick Santorum matches up better to President Obama than Gingrich. Mitt Romney also trails Obama, by just six points, which of course is inside the error rate. The big reason for this general election gap, it's women. Among the general election with Romney, he's actually pretty competitive. Gingrich actually is at 13 points lower among women than Romney himself.

And then finally, Brian, there's some suggestions in our poll that this presidential primary campaign is actually hurting the party as a whole. Look at these negative ratings. Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, all within a net negative rating. The last three Republican nominees, McCain, Bush and Dole, all who had very tough primary campaigns, actually came out of it with a net positive. The last Democrat to have a net negative was John Kerry. And we know how that turned out.

WILLIAMS: Chuck Todd watching the numbers in our D.C. bureau tonight. Chuck, thanks.


- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.