Before the November 2006 midterm elections, NBC News political director Chuck Todd predicted several times that if the Democrats won "control of Congress" and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became speaker of the House, then President Bush's "approval rating will be over 50 percent by the Fourth of July next year." In fact, as of July 4, 2007, Bush's approval ratings are far below 50 percent. Indeed, a recent analysis by the weblog RealClearPolitics.com of national polls conducted between June 11 and June 28 placed Bush's average approval rating at 30.5 percent. Will NBC News question Todd about his inaccurate prediction?
Todd appears to have first made this claim during the October 27, 2006, edition of NBC's Today.
This is what happens now during election periods: even the mainstream news networks try to convince us that we should elect Republicans. This was the political director of NBC News making this Hannity-worthy prediction, people!
It's remarkable, too, how myopic the claim is on its own, regardless of its source. Bush's approvals had been below 50% for a year and a half at this point, and people's opinions of pretty much everything he stood for had gone completely sour. How could Democrats possibly make him look better? Presidents who had recovered before (though exceedingly few had ever had such a prolonged period of low approval ratings) had completely reworked their political strategies in the face of defeat to remake their image. Reagan replaced his cabinet, for instance, while Clinton took a sharp turn toward "the center" and became a master of compromise so as to get things done. There was no evidence that Bush was at all willing to do the former or capable of the latter, even in the face of political decimation, and history has borne that out.
As Darwin famously said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
Perhaps the PR consequences of such rigidity were not totally obvious at the time (i.e., whether his ratings would remain the same, buoy slightly, or continue their decline), but such a dramatic rise was out of the question for anyone paying attention.
Luckily for Mr. Todd, there are no consequences in today's media for inaccurate (even dishonest) reporting or electioneering masquerading as prophesy. I have a feeling we'll be waiting for that apology for a long time.