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NBC Astonished Poll Finds Most Support Arizona Law and Anti-Terror Profiling; Skip GOP Surge

NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd seemed astonished by how a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll confirmed solid agreement with Arizona's immigration enforcement law - "a whopping 64 percent support the law," Todd marveled, "and we read them the law verbatim exactly as it's been written" and still, he repeated, "64 percent approve of it." NBC also treated as surprising the majority backing for racial profiling to prevent terrorism, while Todd didn't mention what NBC's polling partner, the Wall Street Journal, found most newsworthy. Lead of the WSJ.com post:

Republicans have solidified support among voters who had drifted from the party in recent elections, putting the GOP in position for a strong comeback in November's elections, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

In his limited air time, Todd used the video wall at 30 Rock to highlight the public's belief the government and BP haven't done enough to address the Gulf oil spill, but he didn't note another finding which counters the media's preferences and narrative, that despite the accident, 60 percent support "more drilling for oil off the coast of the United States."

MSNBC.com, however, headlined its poll summary, "Poll: Despite spill, support for oil drilling high"

Brian Williams cued up Todd on profiling, suggesting it has, or at least should have been, a topic of hot debate: "I know after this attempted bombing in Times Square, you asked a question every family has debated about racial profiling." Todd recounted what the survey determined:

We did, and we asked it specifically on the issue of: Would you be in favor of racial profiling when it comes to combating terrorism? And guess what: A majority said yes. It's a slim majority, but a majority nonetheless: 51 percent would approve of it; 43 percent disapprove of it. Clearly, this issue of terrorism is something that people, they're willing to give up some of their own personal rights, and they're willing to see some racial profiling, Brian.

On the attitude toward the two parties and the Tea Party movement, Todd conveyed:

Both political parties viewed negatively. The Democrats, 37 percent positive rating, 42 percent negative. Republicans, a lesser positive rating [30%]. But check this out. The Tea Party - it's not an official political party - but there are more people have a positive view [31%] of the Tea Party than of the Republican Party. And fewer people have a negative view of the Tea Party than either of the two major parties [30%].

The Wall Street Journal saw a lot more positive for Republicans. From the story posted Wednesday night, presumably what will run in Thursday's newspaper, by Peter Wallsten, Naftali Bendavid and Jean Spencer:

Republicans have solidified support among voters who had drifted from the party in recent elections, putting the GOP in position for a strong comeback in November's elections, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The findings suggest that public opinion has hardened in advance of the 2010 elections, making it harder for Democrats to translate their legislative successes or a tentatively improving U.S. economy into gains among voters.

Republicans have reassembled their coalition by reconnecting with independents, seniors, blue-collar voters, suburban women and small town and rural voters-all of whom had moved away from the party in the 2006 elections, in which Republicans lost control of the House. Those voter groups now favor GOP control of Congress.

"This data is what it looks like when Republicans assemble what for them is a winning coalition," said GOP pollster Bill McInturff, who conducts the survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart. He said the Republican alliance appeared to be "firmer and more substantial" than earlier in the year....

A big shift is evident among independents, who at this point in the 2006 campaign favored Democratic control of Congress rather than Republican control, 40% to 24%. Now, independents favor the GOP, 38% to 30%.

Suburban women favored Democratic control four years ago by a 24-point margin. Now, they narrowly favor Republicans winning the House. A similar turnaround has happened among voters 65 and older....

As noted above, Todd pointed out that on Arizona "we read them the law verbatim exactly as it's been written." Here's that question, #34:

The Arizona law makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally. It requires local and state law enforcement officers to question people about their immigration status if they have reason to suspect a person is in the country illegally, making it a crime for them to lack registration documents. Do you support or oppose this law? (IF SUPPORT/OPPOSE, THEN ASK) And, do you strongly (support/oppose) or just somewhat (support/oppose) this law?

(46 percent "strongly support," nearly double the 24 percent who "strongly oppose.")

In fact, the statute requires a prerequisite lawful reason for stopping someone before the law enforcement officer can check their immigration status:

For any lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.

PDF of the full results, as posted by MSNBC.com and WSJ.com

The poll rundown provided on the Wednesday, May 12 NBC Nightly News, transcript provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth who corrected the closed-captioning against the video:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: We have new numbers tonight, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. And it's a revealing one - everything from politics to oil to racial profiling. Our chief White House correspondent and NBC News political director Chuck Todd is with us here at the board with the numbers. And, Chuck, we asked about a lot of subjects this time.

CHUCK TODD: We did. A lot's happened since the last time we went into the field. And let's begin with the oil spill and what folks think of the federal government's response so far. And it's a mixed bag: 45 percent believe the government is not doing enough; 43 percent believe they are doing enough. Of course, BP is the one that a lot of people blame a lot more right now than the federal government.

How about that new immigration law in Arizona? Well, a whopping 64 percent support the law. And we read them the law verbatim exactly as it's been written - 64 percent approve of it; 34 percent oppose it. But look at this number among Hispanics: It's reversed - 70 percent of Hispanics oppose it; 27 percent support it. It is something that is going to be a political hot potato for probably the next couple of years.

How about the President? Well, look at this. There's sort of a polarizing view of the President these days - 51 percent, a majority, actually now disapprove of his policies. And yet he's still well liked: 69 percent like him personally. So this polarized view, he's sort of Teflon personally, but he's having a hard time selling his agenda.

How's this translating to the political parties? Well, look at that. We know there's an anti-incumbent atmosphere out there. Both political parties viewed negatively. The Democrats, 37 percent positive rating, 42 percent negative. Republicans, a lesser positive rating. But check this out. The Tea Party - it's not an official political party - but there are more people have a positive view of the Tea Party than of the Republican party. And fewer people have a negative view of the Tea Party than either of the two major parties. It's a conservative movement for now, but it is something that seems to be catching on.

So what is this anti-incumbent atmosphere all about? Why is it that everybody is so angry? Well, look at these numbers. We'll start with this. Large majorities, 56 percent, say the country's heading the wrong direction. It's been that way for six months; 58 percent, for instance, believe the stock market is not a fair and open process to them. Look at this one: 75 percent believe that they don't trust anything that comes out of Washington; 81 percent are dissatisfied with the economy. And now you have 83 percent that believe the two-party system has real problems, and a large chunk of those voters would like to see an actual creation of a third party, the largest we've seen yet. And, Brian, this explains why Republican Bob Bennett lost in Utah, a Democratic Congressman lost last night in a primary. We may have two Senators this Tuesday both lose. It's an angry and pessimistic public.

WILLIAMS: And I know after this attempted bombing in Times Square, you asked a question every family has debated about racial profiling.

TODD: We did, and we asked it specifically on the issue of: Would you be in favor of racial profiling when it comes to combating terrorism? And guess what: A majority said yes. It's a slim majority, but a majority nonetheless: 51 percent would approve of it; 43 percent disapprove of it. Clearly, this issue of terrorism is something that people, they're willing to give up some of their own personal rights, and they're willing to see some racial profiling, Brian.

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.