Despite a new CBS poll showing low approval numbers for President Obama, at the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith emphasized weak numbers for the tea party: "...most Americans think President Obama is not living up to their expectations. But, they don't know if the tea party is an answer to the problem."
Smith later declared: "...less than a month before the midterm elections, there's a lot of voter uncertainty about the tea party movement." Correspondent Ben Tracy then reported: "...most Americans haven't made up their minds about the growing tea party movement. The rest are nearly evenly split in their views." A headline on-screen read: "Voter Frustration; CBS News Poll: Not Good News for Obama or Tea Party."
In concluding his report, Tracy remarked on how according to another poll finding, Sarah Palin "hasn't won over the country." He touted that "When asked if Palin would make an effective president, only 22% say yes. 64%, no, including nearly half [45%] of Republicans." Only then did Tracy finally mention the numbers for Obama: "66% Of Americans view him as an average or poor president, while another 31% say his backing of a candidate running for office will actually be a detriment." Tracy observed: "...the two biggest names in the respective parties may actually be something to avoid come election day."
Following Tracy's report, Smith talked to St. Louis conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch about the poll and proclaimed: "...while people are certainly aware of the tea party, the vast middle in America is not exactly running toward it. They certainly seem to be moving away from the President, but they're not running toward the tea party. They're still sitting on the fence."
Here is a full transcript of the October 7 segment:
HARRY SMITH: Voter frustration. A brand new CBS News poll shows most Americans think President Obama is not living up to their expectations. But, they don't know if the tea party is an answer to the problem. We'll take you inside the numbers and tell you why one tea party candidate is making the most noise.
SMITH: Now to politics and the tea party's impact in this year's vote. A new CBS News poll shows that less than a month before the midterm elections, there's a lot of voter uncertainty about the tea party movement. CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy has more on the poll and the hottest battleground for prospective tea party votes.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Voter Frustration; CBS News Poll: Not Good News for Obama or Tea Party]
JOE MILLER: I'm Joe Miller, the true conservative choice for the U.S. Senate in Alaska.
BEN TRACY: Joe Miller may be the tea party's biggest success so far, knocking off the powerful incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's Republican primary.
LISA MURKOWSKI: Nobody was more disappointed that I was.
TRACY: Yet, a new poll shows most Americans haven't made up their minds about the growing tea party movement. The rest are nearly evenly split in their views.
[ON-SCREEN GRAPHIC: Opinion of the Tea Party; Favorable, 22%; Unfavorable, 21%; Undecided/Don't Know, 56%]
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They freak me out. I don't want any of them in charge.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think that we need to give more control back to the states and to the individual communities.
TRACY: The Tea Party Express has already spent $5 million, mostly on TV ads, trying to get its candidates elected, from Delaware to Nevada, all the way up to Alaska.
CAMPAIGN AD: How liberal is Lisa Murkowski?
TRACY: Their ads here blasted Murkowski, who is now running as a write-in candidate.
MIKE PORCARO: What they did was they assassinated Lisa Murkowski, I mean, politically. She never fought back.
TRACY: But, this race isn't just about the candidates. It's about who's supporting them, namely the Tea Party Express and the mama grizzly herself, Sarah Palin.
CAMPAIGN AD: The Tea party Express joins Governor Sarah Palin-
TRACY: Palin's endorsement of Miller helped him win the primary, but interestingly, when Miller was asked to endorse her as a presidential candidate his answer was less than enthusiastic.
MILLER: We know that we have a Constitutional requirement for somebody that's going to run for president, of course she's qualified.
TRACY: And she hasn't won over the country, either. When asked if Palin would make an effective president, only 22% say yes. 64%, no, including nearly half [45%] of Republicans. President Obama is facing similar problems in the polls. 66% Of Americans view him as an average or poor president, while another 31% say his backing of a candidate running for office will actually be a detriment. Meaning the two biggest names in the respective parties may actually be something to avoid come election day. Ben Tracy, CBS News, Anchorage, Alaska.
SMITH: And joining us now from St. Louis is Dana Loesch, a radio talk show host and blogger, who was also an early and enthusiastic supporter of the tea party movement. Dana, good morning.
DANA LOESCH: Good morning to you.
SMITH: For our viewers who may not be familiar, I'm going to describe something that was written about you: 'a sweet Midwest goth version of Laura Ingraham.' Is that – is that accurate?
LOESCH: I would guess so. I'm probably a little bit more rock 'n roll, I guess, than regular conservative stereotypes.
SMITH: Well, welcome to the broadcast.
LOESCH: Thank you.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Countdown to Midterms; Inside the Tea Party Push]
SMITH: Let me start with this. Let's talk about Alaska for a couple seconds, this Joe Miller versus the Palins. Is this so much noise or is this actually a fissure between a tea party candidate and the first family of the tea party?
LOESCH: I think it's really – it's just something typical that you would see in any political cycle and I think it was kind of an odd question that was posed to Joe Miller because it's so incredibly early to start talking about 2012 candidates. It's early, but at the same time, it's not early to start speculating. Joe Miller, I think, was put into a difficult position because he was asked to essentially endorse a candidate that had not actually declared. So, it was a little bit of a weird place for him to be in. But, I think his answer was fine.
LOESCH: And I think Sarah Palin – Sarah Palin, she did come out and endorse him. People know Joe Miller because she did come out and help put him on the map.
SMITH: Yeah, it's not exactly positive feedback. But I want to move on. Because this poll is so interesting, because you find that while people are certainly aware of the tea party, the vast middle in America is not exactly running toward it. They certainly seem to be moving away from the President, but they're not running toward the tea party. They're still sitting on the fence. Why do you think that is?
LOESCH: I'm not quite sure. I've been watching a lot of polling data from the past year, especially focusing on independents and moderates and they're definitely trending towards the right and there are several indicators that I've been looking at, especially with the special elections that took place in Virginia and in New Jersey. Virginia was a bellwether state. Now if you remember when Barack Obama took Virginia in the general election, David Axelrod himself called that state a 'bellwether state.' It went blue. But then in the last election, special election, it went incredibly red, and that was because of all of the independents, these same people who are really – these people are going to be deciding mid-terms, and these are the people who are trending GOP. These are the exact same people who, in a Rasmussen poll, said that they closely – they more identify with the grassroots movement than they do with the Democrat congressional agenda. So, they are definitely the voting bloc at play here.
SMITH: Well yeah, the middle is definitely fickle. Last but not least, the thing I really want to focus in on is the tea party has had such a dramatic effect on these primaries. As it holds as much power as it does now, does the larger party, does the Republican Party, as an entity, does it get what it's dealing with here?
LOESCH: I think it – I think it does now. In the beginning, it was a weird sort of adversarial dance that we watched between the grassroots movement and the Republican Party. And I think a lot of people in the GOP have come around. I think Newt Gingrich came around, because everyone remembers New York 23 with Doug Hoffman and Dede Scozzafava. That wasn't a battle of Democrats versus Republicans, that was a battle of grassroots versus Republican establishment. We all remember that the Republican establishment did not win that particular race. I think after that, looking at Massachusetts, what we had were a series of flukes, we had Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Sharron Angle winning the primary in Nevada, Joe Miller in Alaska, we had Scott Brown in Massachusetts, we had Virginia and New Jersey. After a while, these flukes add up to become a trend. And so now I think the GOP realizes what it's dealing with and it realizes, also, that it needs to get back to its base.
SMITH: Dana, we will – we will be watching with interest in weeks to come. Thanks very much for being on the broadcast.
LOESCH: Thanks for having me.