Chuck Todd and Chris Matthews apparently have a little bit of a problem reading poll numbers. On this Thursday's edition of Hardball, both of them claimed that President Obama had better not be talking too much about the issue of "class warfare" and ever repeating his statement, heaven forbid, that he "was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth" because heaven forbid that might not poll well with some of the voters out there.
I took a look at the survey linked to Chuck Todd's First Read and either I missed it, or Chuck Todd and Chris Matthews completely misrepresented what the polling data there said.
I would love for someone to explain for me how these numbers and the question asked about the "ultra-rich" are harmful to President Obama and why anyone who is not an idiot on the Democratic side of the aisle should be telling him to shut up about it.
Here's the question from the survey that I believe Todd was talking about:
Now, I’m going to read you some statements you could hear about government and the economy from candidates running for president. After I read each statement, please tell me if you would be more or less likely to vote for that candidate, or if it would make no difference in whether you would vote for that candidate.
Says what drags down our entire economy is an everwidening gap between the ultra-rich and everybody else.
Here are the responses:
Total More likely 45 -- includes *
Much more likely 23*
Somewhat more likely 22*
Less likely 29
No difference 24
Not sure 2
Someone please explain to me how that equals bad polling numbers for Obama on that question. Either Todd is citing a completely different poll that his blog didn't choose to link today that has the name NBC attached to it, or he's lying to the Hardball audience here and assuming they'll never actually read the poll.
If Todd is going to carry water for the Romey campaign and try to pretend that the Occupy Wall Street argument about income disparity, and class warfare being waged on the poor and middle class is not a valid one that might resonate with voters, maybe he ought to try to find a poll that doesn't prove just the opposite of the points he was trying to make.
UPDATE: For clarification, the "more likely" number of 45 percent is a combination of the following two numbers labeled "much more likely" which was 23 percent and "somewhat more likely" which was 22 percent. I missed the word "total" when I copied the stats out of the poll. The correction has been made above. And as I said, I do not see how these are bad numbers for Obama or something to be running from which is the way Todd was characterizing them in the Hardball segment.
Transcript of the Hardball segment below the fold.
MATTHEWS: Let`s get to these numbers. The NBC poll also has -- people were asked how they would respond to candidates who made certain statements about the economy. Take a look -- 76 percent said it would make them more likely to vote for a candidate who said something along the lines of what President Obama`s been saying, that he`s willing to fight for balance and fairness and to strengthen the middle class.
And another Obama message also scores well, America`s better off when everyone gets a fair share and plays by the rules. So those are Obama`s arguments -- fairness, basically.
Messages that Romney has said also do well. And these do well, though not as well. Sixty-four percent of the voters out there like a message about wanting to restore the values of economic freedom, opportunity, small government, Republican conservative values, and talk about free enterprise over government programs.
That also scores well. But not as well, as I said. And also, free enterprise arguments generally don`t do quite as well.
And here`s something that`s interesting. What isn`t selling so well is this argument about the rich, the very rich.
TODD: Economic inequality. Fairness sells well, when the president was talking about that. We used exact -- just so you know, we used exact quotes from the president and Mitt Romney during their speeches to the Associated Press editors luncheon. Remember those days? They really did frame their arguments, and that`s where we grabbed the phrases from.
Those fairness arguments, that tests well. But when you turn it into where it sounds like class warfare, when -- at one point the president said...
FINEMAN: Get the pitchforks out.
TODD: ... the "ultra-rich" verses that hurts the economy and the silver spoon...
MATTHEWS: How about this. "I wasn`t born with a silver spoon my mouth." That doesn`t work.
TODD: I can tell you I`ve talked to some Democrats today who said, You know, wish he wouldn`t go there, that that -- there is a line here...
MATTHEWS: By the way, Franklin Roosevelt was born with a big silver spoon in his mouth.
TODD: Jack Kennedy.
MATTHEWS: We've had this from the other side.
MATTHEWS: As was Jack Kennedy, yes. We`ve had those people on the other side.