This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 17, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Well, the president prides himself on his popularity, but it turns out he's not so popular after all. Now, a new poll proves it, and it may send shockwaves all the way to the White House.
Now, it shows that a majority of Americans, a whooping 52 percent do not believe that President Obama deserves to be re-elected come 2012. Forty-four percent believe that he does. And those numbers hold true for both registered voters and Americans at large.
Now, given the mass Democratic exodus from Congress, the future was looking more and more bleak for the Democrats.
And joining me now with analysis is the pollster and president of the Word Doctors, the one and only Frank Luntz.
Frank, welcome back.
• Watch Sean's interview
FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Sean, it makes me sound depressed just listening to all of that.
HANNITY: All right. Now, anti-incumbent fever is at an all-time high. One poll that actually showed only eight percent want this Congress re-elected. Add that to the numbers that I just put up about the president. You analyze numbers. What do you take?
LUNTZ: Allow me to dig a little bit deeper into those numbers. There's certain segments that have really moved away from the president over the last four months, and it's over health care, wasteful Washington spending, the deficit and the debt.
First group are voters 50 to 64. These are people who didn't vote for Barack Obama. They voted against the Republicans. They wanted to send a message to Washington in 2008.
They're the ones that have been hit particularly hard with the unemployment. Voters in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, the so-called bread basket, the heartland of the country. Many of them have statewide races. I think it's one of the reasons why Evan Bayh decided not to run, because he faces pressure in Washington. Every time he voted with the Democrats the people back home in Indiana got angry at him. Every time he voted for his constituents the Democrats in Washington got angry with him.
And so right now Obama does not seem to be in the mainstream for those voters age 50 to 64. And the other groups, Sean, are independents, people who reject both the Republican and the Democratic parties. They also voted for change in 2006 and 2008. And now it looks like they're drifting back to the Republican Party, because the Democrats didn't give them the change that they have voted for.
HANNITY: Now, publicly, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi have taken a very different posture. They're in denial. They're telling everybody this is not going to happen, the tsunami, this political tsunami. Is that public posturing? Are they in denial or do they really now the truth?
LUNTZ: I don't know if they're in denial or know the truth. But I do know that it's a foolish strategy.
The American people are the most forgiving of any population across the globe. They just want you to admit, "Hey, I made a mistake." This administration and this Congress is incapable of doing it.
And Sean, let me give you something that I find remarkable. In Delaware, Joe Biden's old Senate seat, it is now regarded as a safe Republican seat with Mike Castle running.
In Bill Clinton, in Arkansas, his old home state, the Democratic incumbent is down by double digits.
Even in Illinois, which has been a long time since it voted for a Republican senator, Mark Kirk is running even, in some polls ahead.
So you can have the president, the vice president and the former president, all three of those Senate seats, going Republican, because it seems like Washington has become tone deaf.
HANNITY: You know, it's interesting, because you said something that I thought was brilliant on Michael Steele's part. He admitted right here on this program that the Republicans have made mistakes, and he got criticized for making that admission. I thought that was smart. Because most conservatives, the base of the party, recognize that.
Why do you think he was beaten up so badly over that?
LUNTZ: Because there's a certain partisanship that exists even among Republicans that is so intense that they never want to admit at failure. They never want to admit error. And then they eat their young when they do it.
But just like a Bridge to Nowhere was the catalyst in 2006 against the Republican Party, we're seeing the same in 2010 with health care. And I'll tell you this, Sean, and I've studied this, if the Democrats decided they want to ram through that legislation, and they want to use every parliamentary trick that they can, the penalty, the punishment among the American people will be so great that it won't just be four or five Senate seats that they'll lose. They could lose, seven, eight, even nine. And in the House the American people don't like being lied to, and they don't like to be denied the truth.
LUNTZ: And the slogan, Sean, that I found that works really well, I have the right to know. And if they're denied that right to know what's in the legislation, what the spending is going to cost them, they'll punish the Democrats at the polls in November.
HANNITY: All right, real Quick before we run this dial ad. Our own Wendell Goler had a report out earlier today that the White House seeks to regain control of its message.
I agree with you. I think the fact that the president and the Democrats broke all these promises about transparency, promises over the stimulus, et cetera, has hurt them with the American people. Can they — can they, through words, regain people's trust?
LUNTZ: They can. But the first step, it's like the 12 stages of alcoholism. I think it's 12. Ten or 12. But the first stage is to acknowledge that you've made a mistake. And until they're willing to say, "We pushed too far. We wanted to spend too much. It's now time for us to move towards the center," until they make that acknowledgement, I don't see how they repair their image.
HANNITY: All right. Let's — we have one dial ad that you put together for us. Why don't you set it up and then we'll — we'll show it to people?
LUNTZ: It's a Chamber of Commerce ad that's all about job creation. It's an alternative to the stimulus. And Sean, listen to the language, because there's one word that's missing. And it's the word that's missing that causes this ad to be one of the most effective of the last six months.
Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if we found a way to grow our economy naturally? Bottom up, create the jobs of tomorrow? What if we found a way to reward the dreamers, the innovators, the workers who put in the hours, who roll up their sleeves?
We have. A strategy for new American jobs. It's how American free enterprise can create the 20 million new jobs we need in the next 10 years. We can put Americans to work: doubling U.S. exports; rebuilding our infrastructure; expanding credit and investment; transforming education; leading the world in clean energy technology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Why did the Democratic numbers go up more than the Republicans when I thought it sounded more like a free market ad?
LUNTZ: Because actually, the American people support free markets. You got the point, Sean. What's the one word that nobody heard?
LUNTZ: Nobody heard "Washington." And by the way, for viewers who are watching, if you want to react to ads that nobody has seen, if you want to be the first people to react to the health care town hall that's going to happen next week, if you go to TheWordDoctors.com and sign up, you, too, can be given one of those devices and react.
Sean, that ad works because it's about the free market. It's about economic freedom. And it doesn't deal with Washington spending, Washington waste, Washington regulation, or Washington control.
HANNITY: All right. Frank Luntz, interesting analysis, as always. Thanks for being with us.
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