Massive NBC Prediction Fail: Network Wrong as Conservatives Surge to Power

NBC's Today show, Friday, was silent on David Cameron and the British Conservative Party sweeping to a surprise victory in Thursday's election. Perhaps the network's journalists don't want to be reminded of their botched predictions. On Sunday's Meet the Press, Chuck Todd declared the race between the Conservative Cameron and Ed Miliband, the atheist, socialist Labour Party leader, as "too close to call." Already imagining a right-wing loss, Todd declared, "There's been commentary that if Cameron loses, the Republican Party ought to learn something from that." 

Instead, the Conservatives defied the polls and a watchful American press waiting to draw conclusions for America's Republican Party. On Thursday, anchor Andrea Mitchell brought on "MSNBC senior political analyst" David Axelrod to make some very poor predictions. Axelrod insisted, "I think that the polls are accurate. This is a very, very close race, highly likely that this drama extends beyond tonight." (Wrong on both counts.) 

Offering more analysis that would soon be proven incorrect, Axelrod added, "One thing seems clear is that there's going to be a progressive majority in Britain after this election. Unless there's a huge surprise today, it's really hard to see how David Cameron puts together a majority."

The former Obama strategist went over to London to work for Labour and was paid $463,000 for his work. On Twitter, Friday, Axelrod blamed others: "In all my years as journalist & strategist, I've never seen as stark a failure of polling as in UK. Huge project ahead to unravel that." 

The day after the election, NBC and ABC avoided the election results. Only CBS This Morning covered "Cameron's comeback." Regarding the Tory victory, reporter Mark Phillips derided, "His Conservative Party won a surprise victory in Thursday's elections... But this was, in many ways, a really nasty campaign." 

However, to CBS's credit, Phillips also offered some analysis on how the Conservatives triumphed: 

MARK PHILLIPS: He did that by turning the Labour leader Ed Miliband not just into a political opponent but into the object of ridicule and he was helped in that cause by an inept Labour campaign symbolized by Miliband breaking one of the basic rules of politics: Don't eat a bacon sandwich in front of the cameras. The Tory-supporting press jumped on the image. Miliband was not just a free-spending Labour-ite whose policies might jeopardize the economic recovery, he just didn't look like a prime minister. Now he won't be. 

Earlier in the week, The Washington Post salivated at the opportunity to draw conclusions for the GOP. On Sunday, columnist Dan Balz wrote of Cameron: 

He is a politician fighting for a second term and buffeted by many of the same problems and pressures that afflict and divide the GOP in the United States.

... 

But the long-term prognosis for both is similar. Negative images and changing demographics combine to put both parties in a defensive posture — even as they claim some election victories along the way.

Part of Cameron's campaign included restraining immigration and a pledge to give British an in-or-out referendum on the European Union. His government also included austerity spending cuts. With this resounding win, what conclusions will Chuck Todd now draw for the Republican Party? 

A partial transcript of the May 7 Andrea Mitchell Reports exchange is below: 

12:38                

ANDREA MITCHELL: So, at this point, it's – do you have a prediction based on your polling? 

DAVID AXELROD: Well, look, I think that the polls are accurate. This is a very, very close race, highly likely this drama extends beyond, beyond tonight. You know, from the standpoint of the Labour Party, it's been encouraging because at the beginning of this race they were widely discounted and ran a very strong campaign around the notion that some of the same issues, Andrea, we're dealing with here, that in the advanced economies, how do you create economies in which people that work hard get ahead, stay ahead of bills, have some hope for kids and their future. And that's been a critique of the Miliband economic policies. That's taken hold. One thing seems clear is that there's going to be a progressive majority in Britain after this election. Unless there's a huge surprise today, it's really hard to see how David Cameron puts together, puts together a majority coalition. 

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports Video David Cameron Andrea Mitchell Chuck Todd
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