‘PRESIDENCY IN PERIL’: NBC’s Meet The Press PANICS Over New Poll

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I’m old enough to remember when the late, great Rush Limbaugh referred to NBC’s Sunday political affairs show as Meet the Depressed. A return to that moniker might be in order after today’s opening segment on the latest NBC News poll, showing former President Donald Trump opening a five-point lead over incumbent President Joe Biden and triggering a panic over Biden’s “presidency in peril”.

Watch as host Kristen Welker opens the show with utter shock over the poll before quickly finding a culprit for Biden’s bad numbers: 

KRISTEN WELKER: Steve, these are some truly stunning numbers. 

STEVE KORNACKI: They really are, Kristen, and let’s just start with the bottom line. When you ask folks, hey, if it’s the general election and it’s Trump versus Biden, in our poll Donald Trump now leads Joe Biden by five points.  Compare that to the last time we polled back in November, Trump was ahead then but it was only by two points. And it’s even more significant when you look at it this way: over time, we have been testing for five years now- going back to 2019, a Biden-Trump matchup. Remember, 2019, 2020, Joe Biden led, he led big in every single one of our polls. For the first time in November, Donald Trump pulled ahead in our poll and now at five points, this is the biggest lead NBC has ever had in 16 polls for Donald Trump over Joe Biden. And of course, undergirding all of this is this question of- he is the incumbent, Joe Biden. We asked voters “what do you think of the job he’s doing” and look at that, Kristen, 37% approve and now 60% disapprove. 

WELKER: And we should say that is the lowest approval rating since former President George W. Bush’s second term. 

KORNACKI: Yeah, and put that in further context, too. Bush in his second term wasn’t running for re-election. Here’s the presidents who were running for re-election in our poll. Starting their re-election year, what was their approval rating? Bush was over 50, he won. Obama was almost at 50, he won. Trump 4 years ago was 46, he lost. Look how low Biden’s number is compared to those predecessors at this point. 

WELKER: Their numbers all much bigger than president Biden’s. 

KORNACKI: Yeah. It shows you the improvement Biden has to make here in the coming months. The issues that are driving this, too, the economy, no surprise. We’ve been talking about it, but look at that advantage for Trump, 22 points…

WELKER: Wow.

KORNACKI: …and securing the border here, folks, a very important Trump with a 35-point advantage. 

WELKER: The economy is so striking, Steve, because jobs are up, inflation is down- voters aren’t giving him credit for that, clearly. 

KORNACKI: Yeah. There are a couple of areas in here, I think, where Democrats see potential opportunities to grow Biden’s support, certainly they are hoping the economy- folks changing their perceptions of it and start rewarding Biden for it. That’s what they’re hoping, certainly.

Certainly. One again, we have the media commiserating over the fact that those pesky ingrates REFUSE to give Biden the credit he deserves for this magnificent economy. Jobs are up, inflation is down, Welker says. True, but rents are through the roof, gas prices are all over the place and food costs continue to rise- data points that continue to stymie the Acela Media’s narratives. As is often the case with our media’s coverage of events: the purest, truest victim of the cruelties of the current cycle is the electoral prospects of Joe Biden. It is through this lens through which news coverage is filtered.

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The segment continues to sound the alarm. Whether it is on the age/ability question, the economy, the border, competence, Biden scores poorly. Furthermore, the poll shows some evidence of the continued crumbling of Biden’s 2020 coalition: a massive swing among Hispanic voters, for example, reduced enthusiasm among young voters and among Black voters overall. 

The segment closes with what the poll shows to be its best hope: a conviction of Donald Trump on felony charges, which brings the election back to a toss-up. 

Back to Rush Limbaugh: it is important to consider his words on polls when considering this latest offering from NBC News poll. What public opinion poll are they trying to shape? Two thoughts: 

First, they appear to convey the urgency of getting the Trump trials back on the rocket docket. Watch for more media attacks on the D.C. Circuit of Appeals as they continue to deliberate the immunity question and craft a ruling that will most certainly be appealed to the full Court. Second, they are attempting to craft a permission structure wherein Joe Biden is replaced atop the Democrat ticket. 

NBC News was in a panic today- and these numbers continue to trend, the rest of the media will quickly follow. There’s a growing sense that, contrary to Welker’s lede, it isn’t just a “presidency in peril”.

Click “expand” to view the full transcript of the aforementioned segment as aired on NBC Meet the Press on Sunday, February 4th, 2024:

KRISTEN WELKER: Good Sunday morning. We begin with our brand-new NBC News poll which brings more warning signs for President Biden and his re-election campaign. One of our pollsters tells us we are looking at a quote, “presidency in peril”. With the election nine months away, President Biden has declined on every measure since 2020, is struggling with key elements of his base and now trails former President Donald Trump by wide margins on the issues voters say are most important to them. Joining me now to take us through the numbers is National Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki. Steve, these are some truly stunning numbers. 

STEVE KORNACKI: They really are, Kristen, and let’s just start with the bottom line. When you ask folks, hey, if it’s the general election and it’s Trump versus Biden, in our poll Donald Trump now leads Joe Biden by five points.  Compare that to the last time we polled back in November, Trump was ahead then but it was only by two points. And it’s even more significant when you look at it this way: over time, we have been testing for five years now- going back to 2019, a Biden-Trump matchup. Remember, 2019, 2020, Joe Biden led, he led big in every single one of our polls. For the first time in November, Donald Trump pulled ahead in our poll and now at five points, this is the biggest lead NBC has ever had in 16 polls for Donald Trump over Joe Biden. And of course, undergirding all of this is this question of- he is the incumbent, Joe Biden. We asked voters “what do you think of the job he’s doing” and look at that, Kristen, 37% approve and now 60% disapprove. 

WELKER: And we should say that is the lowest approval rating since former President George W. Bush’s second term. 

KORNACKI: Yeah, and put that in further context, too. Bush in his second term wasn’t running for re-election. Here’s the presidents who were running for re-election in our poll. Starting their re-election year, what was their approval rating? Bush was over 50, he won. Obama was almost at 50, he won. Trump 4 years ago was 46, he lost. Look how low Biden’s number is compared to those predecessors at this point. 

WELKER: Their numbers all much bigger than president Biden’s. 

KORNACKI: Yeah. It shows you the improvement Biden has to make here in the coming months. The issues that are driving this, too, the economy, no surprise. We’ve been talking about it, but look at that advantage for Trump, 22 points…

WELKER: Wow.

KORNACKI: …and securing the border here, folks, a very important Trump with a 35-point advantage. 

WELKER: The economy is so striking, Steve, because jobs are up, inflation is down- voters aren’t giving him credit for that, clearly. 

KORNACKI: Yeah. There are a couple of areas in here, I think, where Democrats see potential opportunities to grow Biden’s support, certainly they are hoping the economy- folks changing their perceptions of it and start rewarding Biden for it. That’s what they’re hoping, certainly. How about this, though? Also cautionary for the White House. Go back four years ago- there was two folks in their 70s running, Biden versus Trump. And we asked then, did the candidates have the necessary physical, mental capacity. And it was about even, 41-38 (Trump). Now, you ask it- 46% say that Donald Trump does, just 23% when it comes to Joe Biden. And think of one of the central themes of Biden’s campaign in 2020, he said he’d be competent. He said he’d be effective. Folks said they believed that in our poll in 2021 and the big reason that Trump lost. But now? Complete, total reversal. 48% say Trump competent and effective, barely a third say that for Biden. 

WELKER: Hmmmmmm. That’s right. He said he was going to bring stability back to the White House.

KORNACKI: And now he’s the incumbent and folks are maybe looking at him and then maybe looking at Trump as not the incumbent in a different light here. Just a couple of other things to get through. 

WELKER: Yes.

KORNACKI: On the foreign policy, again, Israel and Hamas center stage in the world picture right now, overall big disapproval for Biden in foreign policy, particularly on Israel-Hamas, that’s particularly acute among the youngest voters, 18 to 34-year-olds. We have been tied, Trump versus Biden and a lot of those Biden voters, 18 to 34, they say they don’t like Biden, they just don’t like Trump more. 

WELKER: It’s this type of erosion among these key groups that worries Democrats.

KORNACKI: And it is the area too, we say, where Democrats think there might be opportunity. They think they can get more young voters motivated to vote, maybe not by being for Biden, but by being against Trump. This is one area they think they can improve on and maybe make this race a little different, but the other key, too, independents. Trump, look at that, with a 19-point advantage. Also keep in mind- that shows you a lot of independents look very open to potentially another choice if something were to emerge, and also among white voters Trump with a big lead. Black voters, Biden with a big lead, but want to point this one out- Hispanic voters…

WELKER: Wow.

KORNACKI: …Trump with a one-point advantage. We’ve been asking, would those gains he made four years ago stick? Our polls suggest they certainly have, maybe grown. And we did ask this question, Kristen. If one of these cases this year ends in a conviction, a felony conviction for former President Trump, would that change your vote? 45% said that in that scenario they’d vote for Biden, 43% for Trump- this is also something the Biden campaign obviously hoping for, although there’s a long history in polling about asking folks about hypotheticals and them actually reacting a little differently when it actually happens. 

WELKER: A little of a game-changer but still incredibly close.

KORNACKI: Very.

WELKER: Steve Kornacki, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

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