Chris Matthews 'Went Along' with Polls 'Because I Used to Think They Were Honest'

(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON – Chris Matthews, host of Hardball on MSNBC, told PJM he is “rooting” for President Trump to “break out and become a popular president” and that the media should not accept low approval rating polls at face value.


Matthews said he “used to think” presidential polls were “honest” but not anymore.

During an interview at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last weekend, Matthews told PJM Trump made a “smart” move when he skipped the dinner and attended a rally in Harrisburg, Pa., instead.

“He looks at that map and he knows how he got to the White House. He didn’t get there through New York or D.C. or L.A. He got there through Erie and Scranton and places like that, and he’s just got to stay true to those people. Now, he may break out and become a popular president — he’s not there, but he has to hold to what he came with like Obama did. It’s common sense,” Matthews said.

“He can’t look in the eyes of the big New York and Washington media and say, ‘Do you love me?’ It’s not going to work, but some of us are hoping he’ll turn. I do. The other day I compared him to Sandy Koufax – the guy has six years of wild pitching and then six years of the greatest pitching in history. So maybe he’ll get it straightened out. I’m rooting for him to straighten it out; who doesn’t? Well, some people don’t want him to get it together,” he added.

PJM pointed out that some Democrats have vowed to resist anything Trump proposes.

“Well, that’s their point of view, not mine,” Matthews replied. “We only have one president. I’m getting old. I want presidents to succeed. I’m not waiting for [Senator] Chris Murphy being president or who it’s going to be.”

Some polls have shown Trump with a lower approval rating in his first 100 days than any other modern president.


“If you took the last poll that was taken right before the election, he was in mid-30s. People vote for him who don’t say so. You go back in history. When Kennedy won afterwards everybody said they voted for him. They didn’t,” he said. “It was a real close election with Nixon. He barely beat Nixon, hardly beat Nixon but afterwards everybody said they vote for him. Now everybody says they voted against Trump. You can’t go by polls. The Trump people don’t trust pollsters. Would you if you’re a Trump person?”

PJM mentioned that the media cited pre-election polls showed Hillary Clinton winning.

“I went along because I used to think they were honest. I thought they were true. They were wrong. They didn’t understand that people don’t trust pollsters and they weren’t going to give a straight answer,” Matthews said. “Here’s one, the Susquehanna poll in Pennsylvania, ready? When they polled people with a live person on the phone, Hillary won by 8. When they polled with a tape recording, Trump won by 2, that’s my point. People were willing to say they’re for Trump if there wasn’t anyone listening. It’s just a fact. It’s a fact. This is my expertise.”

CNN Tonight anchor Don Lemon said he thinks polling reflecting Trump’s low approval rating is on target.

“Yeah, I think it’s accurate. I think it’s a snapshot in time. I think there was 100 days. There was a lot of show and there was no substance. I shouldn’t say no substance. I take that back – very little substance. Had he gotten healthcare under his belt, started with maybe getting some infrastructure done and the tax thing and other things right?” he said at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. “Maybe if we had gotten some funding for the wall in the bill that’s going to get the government running … but at this point in time there’s not a lot of there, there. So I think people are feeling the way they are feeling and that’s 40 some percent.”


Lemon said the 2016 presidential election polls showing a Clinton victory were accurate because she won the popular vote.

“I don’t believe that the polls are inaccurate. If you look at the polling and you look at the popular vote – I think the polls are on. I am not, for one election, I’m not going to look at the polls and go, ‘Oh my God, this isn’t right.’ About the approval rating, I will say people have had lower approval ratings, not at this point, the approval rating doesn’t say how he’s going to perform as a president. It’s how he’s performing in this moment. So give him a chance – first 100 days, it’s low, but give him a chance,” Lemon said.

“Who knows, maybe he’ll learn from this, maybe he’ll look at these approval ratings and go, ‘I need to do a better job. I need to figure out a better strategy. I need to stay in Washington a little bit more instead of going outside and work a little bit harder and get more legislation done.’ So, let’s see. Polls are a snapshot in time,” he added.

Lemon was asked if he thinks tax reform could be a winning issue for Trump.

“I think he can claim a victory on that but he’s got to do it the right way. He’s got to go out there and shake hands, right, he’s go to go press the flesh. He’s got to sell it himself. He had to do the same thing with healthcare. I still think he can get healthcare done if he wants to. It depends on how much they want it but it’s not all on the president, right, he’s got a Republican Congress. He’s got a Republican Senate,” he said.


“They’ve got to get their acts together, too, so if they all get their acts together and they come up with a plan they all can vote for then fine – and I think the American people want that. Listen, I think he has a point when he says ‘the polls, the polls, who listens to them’? The American people at the end of the day want him to be successful because if he is then the country is,” he added.

Lemon said Trump “needs to get some wins under his belt” – then “his approval numbers will start to go up.”

When asked if he is feeling any pressure to move closer toward opinion instead of news on CNN, Lemon replied, “I call it point of view, and every once in a while I’ll give my point of view.”


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