Democratic Insiders thought there was only slightly better than a two-out-of-five chance that they could capture the majority. Those who were optimistic frequently cited two factors: the House Republican budget proposal which cut Medicare spending crafted by GOP Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin; and a strong showing by President Obama in his reelection bid that could also propel Democratic congressional candidates to victory.
"The Ryan budget vote could be their stimulus, cap-and-trade and healthcare votes all wrapped in one," said one Democratic Insider referring to the fact that all but a handful of House Republicans had backed the Ryan proposal. Another Democratic Insider who rated the party's chances of winning the House as six-out-of-10, noted, "[It] was a zero before the Ryan budget gift."
Republican Insiders were much more dubious that the Democrats would be able to win back the majority, but some of them conceded that the Medicare cuts and the controversial restructuring of the program called for in the Ryan budget was a potential liability for GOP candidates. One Republican Insider said the "Ryan Medicare proposals could sink some who are vulnerable, and those who can't explain them." Another warned that "if [the GOP]leadership in the House continues with train wrecks like pushing for Medicare overhaul, forcing a vote then dropping it, they will make it easier for Democrats in the fall."
While some Democrats thought Obama's coattails might help them regain the majority, others were more cautious. "Republican-controlled redistricting is too hard to overcome even if the Obama wind blows strong," said one Democratic Insider. And another bluntly declared: "[The] country is not ready for free-spending, deficit-busting liberals to have power again. Do you really want to give [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi and the Black Caucus power again?"
Ironically, some Republican Insiders thought that an Obama victory would actually help their party's congressional candidates because voters were unlikely to give the Democrats control of both the White House and Capitol Hill. "The public thinks Obama is going to win and they won't want to give him a Democratic Congress to work with," observed a Democratic Insider. "They saw that movie before and hated it." Said another, "Americans like divided government for the most part and think excess results when one side has everything."
That sentiment of GOP Insiders might hold true come Election Day 2012, but if so, it's hardly encouraging for the party's White House hopefuls.
The National Journal Political Insiders Poll is a regular survey of political operatives, strategists, campaign consultants and lobbyists in both parties. Below are the names of the Insiders who are surveyed:
Democratic Political Insiders: Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Deb Callahan, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bill Lynch, Bob Maloney, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Scott Parven, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Wendy Sherman, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Katrina Swett Sarah, Swisher, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.
GOP Political Insiders: Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Steve Duprey, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Mindy Fletcher, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innoconzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, George S. LeMieux, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Connie Partoyan, Dana Perino, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek and Matthew Zablud.