Barely able to contain his glee over the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll on Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams enthused to political director Chuck Todd: "...some of these numbers are ahead of the wildest dreams of the Democratic campaigners." Todd agreed: "They are." [Listen to the audio  or watch the video after the jump]
Todd touted leads for President Obama in the battleground states of Virginia, Ohio, and Florida, and eagerly noted: "...the right track, wrong track numbers, for the first time since we've been testing in these state polls, the right track is over 40%." Todd then cited partisan talking points to explain the modest improvement: "Some Democrats have been telling me, that's the Clinton bump, referring to Bill Clinton's speech [at the Democratic National Convention]."
Appearing on Friday's Today, Todd made sure to repeat the Democratic spin:
I've talked to some Democrats, they think this is the Bill Clinton bump. That convention speech he made, which was this whole idea that, "Hey, this is where the country is, maybe it's more on the right track than you think." That may be the most important bump from the convention.
Something else that Todd mentioned on Today, but failed to note on Nightly News, was the timing of the poll: "All of these polls were conducted Sunday through Tuesday, before the flare-ups in the Middle East, before all of that..." Given the intense political back and forth on the crisis, voter reaction to the events overseas could potentially render prior polling moot.
Here is a full transcript of the exchange between Williams and Todd on September 13:
7:00PM ET TEASE:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: New numbers from the polling we're debuting here tonight, including what the post-convention bounce has done for the President in a critical state at a critical time.
7:12PM ET SEGMENT:
WILLIAMS: And as we turn here into politics, as we mentioned at the very top of the broadcast, we have new post-political convention polling numbers we are debuting here on Nightly News tonight. They show some interesting movement in the battleground states. Our political director, Chuck Todd, with us with the numbers from our D.C. newsroom. Chuck, good evening.
CHUCK TODD: Good evening, Brian. Well, evidence of a bounce, let's actually start in the state of Virginia, where Mitt Romney was today. There, in the state of Virginia, the President at 49%, a 5-point lead. In Ohio, another crucial state on the road to 270 electoral votes, the President actually hits 50%, a 7-point lead. And then let me take you down to the state of Florida, because this has been the biggest surprise that's happened over the last couple of weeks, something that insiders have been very nervous about inside the Republican Party. The President has opened up a five-point lead here. What all three states have in common, as you see, the President hitting 49 or 50, his job approval rating hits 49 or 50.
The other fascinating thing about the polls in these three states, Brian, the right track, wrong track numbers, for the first time since we've been testing in these state polls, the right track is over 40%. As you know, that is an important number in gauging whether a president can win reelection, the fact that there is suddenly an improvement in how people feel the direction of the country is going. Some Democrats have been telling me, that's the Clinton bump, referring to Bill Clinton's speech, Brian.
WILLIAMS: And Chuck, it goes without saying, these are must-wins and some of these numbers are ahead of the wildest dreams of the Democratic campaigners.
TODD: They are, this is – look, two of these three states, the candidate that wins two of these three, will have the keys to Pennsylvania Avenue.
WILLIAMS: Alright, Chuck Todd from our D.C. newsroom with these new numbers tonight. Chuck, thanks.