A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll didn't come up with numbers
pleasing to the NBC News staff, though Brian Williams, on Tuesday's NBC
Nightly News, did his best to spin the findings as showing "there is really bad news if you're an incumbent officeholder of either party" and Chuck Todd insisted the public wants more from the elections than "just change [in] the color of the jerseys."
Todd, however, couldn't avoid reporting that "the change that voters want" includes 54 percent who "hope that this Tea Party enthusiasm in the Republican Party makes them a fiscally conservative party" and "54 percent want to see the repeal of health care." Plus, "42 percent tell us" the Tea Party movement has "been a good thing" - more than twice as many as see it as a "bad thing."
Unmentioned by Todd or Williams: Those pro-Tea Party/anti-ObamaCare numbers came from a polling sample dominated by MSM television news consumers. Question 36, in the PDF rundown of the survey , asked from which "television news sources do you get MOST of your information about politics and current events?" From the list offered, 35 percent said "broadcast network news, such as NBC, ABC, or CBS," 16 percent named "the cable channel CNN" and 8 percent affirmed they rely on "the cable channel MSNBC." That adds up to 59 percent, compared to 24 percent who cited "the cable channel Fox News."
Todd also couldn't resist touting Bill Clinton's popularity:
The most popular politician we tested in this survey - we tested the President, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, you name it, Nancy Pelosi. Bill Clinton has his best ratings we've seen since he left office. Sort of nostalgia for the good old days may be helping the President.
From the top of the Tuesday, September 28 NBC Nightly News, transcript provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. There is important news in what we're about to show you because it may be evidence of a trend afoot right now. We are at this hour debuting a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and, while there is some good news here for the Democrats who may be worried about a bloodbath - sweeping losses at the upcoming midterm elections has been predicted - there is really bad news if you're an incumbent officeholder of either party. The voters increasingly don't want to hear it. They want something, someone else, and something new. Our NBC News political director, chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd, here with us in New York to start us off tonight.
CHUCK TODD: Well, good evening, Brian. Look, we're going to start with, of course, the number that everybody asks about five weeks before the election, and that is, this generic ballot question. Who's up? Who's down? Who do you prefer? Last month, it was a nine-point advantage for the Republicans - 49 percent to 40 percent. Now, among likely voters, that lead has shrunk down to six [actually three, 46 to 43]. The mood of the electorate hasn't changed. They still want change. They don't like the direction of the country. Democrats are starting to engage African-Americans and Hispanics. As Peter Hart - our Democratic pollster - put it, Democrats can't change the landscape; they can change the turnout.
But one of the questions we wanted to ask here is: What is the change that voters want? What is this change that they want? Listen to this: 75 percent say that the result they'd like to see is reduced special interest influence; 70 percent tell us they want to elect political outsiders, even if they are inexperienced - whether we're talking about Christine O'Donnell from Delaware or other folks like that - 54 percent hope that this Tea Party enthusiasm in the Republican Party makes them a fiscally conservative party; 54 percent want to see the repeal of health care. But what's interesting here, they care about these things more than which party controls Congress. They want Washington to change the way they do business, not necessarily just change the color of the jerseys.
By the way, speaking of the Tea Party, it is the engine inside this Republican enthusiasm gap, 42 percent tell us it's been a good thing. Even if they don't agree with the Tea Party movement, they believe it's been a good thing. Only 18 percent say it's a bad thing.
By the way, speaking of big-name politicians, the most popular politician we tested in this survey - we tested the President, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, you name it, Nancy Pelosi. Bill Clinton has his best ratings we've seen since he left office. Sort of nostalgia for the good old days may be helping the President.
WILLIAMS: Interesting results in this group of data.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow him on Twitter.