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Magazine / INSIDE WASHINGTON

Congressional Insiders Poll

April 19, 2008

Q: Which Democratic presidential candidate would do better against John McCain in November?

Democrats (41 votes)

Hillary Rodham Clinton        41 percent
Barack Obama                  54 percent
No difference (volunteered)    5 percent

e>

Clinton

 

“Hillary Clinton is tough, vetted, and the most resilient to endure the barrage of Republican attacks this fall.”

“Hillary Clinton is our strongest candidate in the states that a Democrat needs to win. She is tough, proven, and knows what it takes to win.”

“Clinton, because of her experience and ability to gain votes in red states.”

“She has the experience and knowledge to be the stronger candidate in the general election. She’s battle-tested and will be prepared for a tough fight against Sen. McCain.”

“Only because I believe that she is better equipped to take the Republican crap and give it right back. Sen. Obama has all the attributes that we know about, but he has not dealt with Karl Rove yet. (Oh, yes, [Rove] will be around in the fall. You can bet on that.)”

“I hope he won’t be bitter for my saying it, but HRC is the better candidate.”

Obama

“He attracts more new people and energizes the base.”

“November will be all about voter turnout. Barack will be a tidal wave.”

“Change versus Stay the Course in the ultimate change cycle.”

“Obama has shown constant growth as a candidate in every respect. And he is too gifted not to master the art of connection to working-class voters before November. In addition, the ticking time bomb on a Clinton nomination would be the bundle of unseemly donors tied to the Clinton Foundation. By October [if Clinton was the nominee], the superdelegates would be wondering what on earth they were thinking.”

“Yes We Can!”

No difference

“Either Democratic nominee will do just fine, because Sen. John McCain is a Bush-Cheney third term: a failing war, a failing economy, and the failure to address issues hurting the American

people—from health care to global warming to bailing out Wall Street while foreclosing on Main Street.”

“Both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama have records and platforms that offer a clear, stark contrast with Sen. McCain, who has tied himself closely to President Bush’s war in Iraq and his disastrous economic policies.”

Republicans (40 votes)

Hillary Rodham Clinton        53 percent
Barack Obama                  45 percent
No difference (volunteered)    3 percent

e>

Clinton

“Obama’s suddenly become a politician, and a bitter one at that! Obama may be great someday, but this year his résumé is too light and his rhetoric too vapid to fool the American people.”

“In isolation, Obama’s comments, his wife’s comments, and Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright’s comments could perhaps be forgiven. When seen together, however, they create a pattern that is leading more and more Americans to ask: ‘Who is this guy? And, what does he really believe?’ ”

“Barack is demonstrating how inexperienced he is.”

“This has changed as Obama looks more like [Michael] Dukakis than [John F.] Kennedy.”

“Much to my own surprise. Obama’s recent missteps show he is truly out of touch with major groups who vote religiously. Pun very much intended.”

“Clinton is a stronger general election candidate than Obama. He is further to the left than Clinton, less experienced than Clinton, and has no significant accomplishments that stamp him as presidential. Moreover, he is a very unlikely commander-in-chief at a time of war. An Obama candidacy will give McCain an opening among white women, seniors, working Democrats, and Hispanics.… If the Democrats nominate Obama, they will have a bad case of buyer’s remorse in the fall.… Democrats would rather choose the devil they don’t know than the devil they do.”

“It’s not even close.”

Obama

“Both Democrats have serious weaknesses in a McCain matchup, but Hillary has decades of negatives that will be difficult to overcome.”

“Sen. Clinton is certainly battle-tested and has a familiarity with Republican-style tactics, as she employs them herself. That being said, sometimes the events shape the debate more than the candidates do. There is a clear mandate for change and disenchantment with traditional politicians. Obama is just a different breed. He is prone to some mistakes, but has been flexible enough to adapt and withstand the Republican-like attacks of the Clinton campaign.”

“Hillary has known negatives; Obama keeps making his negatives daily. We dreamed of Hillary as the best Democrat for us to defeat, but to our surprise Obama is getting better and better with his words, his wife’s words, and his pastor’s words. Keep him talking!”

Q: Will the Colombia free-trade agreement be approved this year?

Democrats (41 votes)

Yes                           12 percent 
No                            85 percent
Depends (volunteered)          2 percent

e>

Yes

“Last week, the Bush administration learned that they can’t keep bullying a coequal branch of government and that the veto pen alone cannot pass legislation. Once the White House truly realizes this and starts negotiating in earnest with congressional Democrats, Colombia will get done.”

“If the president wants it enough to give in on [the State Children’s Health Insurance Program] and [Trade Adjustment Assistance].”

“Amended.”

No

“Not unless the government puts a stop to the assassination of union organizers.”

“Americans have no stomach for another trade deal that ships jobs overseas.”

“The human-rights situation is deteriorating. It would be a mistake to remove the pressure on the Colombian government to clean up their act.”

“Before we rush to boost the Colombian economy, we should do what it takes to help American families struggling with foreclosures, stagnating wages, and rising prices.”

“I don’t see the support for it. However, it may be used as a negotiating tool to get the White House to do other things we want. That would be a big mistake on the part of our Democratic leadership.”

“Two things in combination could change this: for Colombia to build convincingly on the progress it has made in bringing the perpetrators of labor-related murders to trial, and for the president and the congressional leadership to reach a grand bargain on economy-related issues.”

“Not with the way President Bush has worked with Congress so far.”

“Bush decided to go out as a divider, not a uniter.”

Republicans (40 votes)

Yes                           45 percent
No                            55 percent

e>

Yes

“Democrats are losing more and more credibility by the day, both inside and outside the Beltway. The pressure will ultimately force [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi to reverse course.”

“Because it is clearly mutually beneficial for America and Colombia.”

“The majority is playing games with the rules to affect the outcome. What they haven’t added to the calculation is that a post-election vote means that members, especially retiring members, have more freedom of conscience and the president has nothing to lose in shutting the government down if need be to force a vote.”

“Pelosi siding with [Venezuela President Hugo] Chavez is just nuts. Ultimately, a package has to pass.”

No

“No, at least not before November. Pelosi changed House rules so that Democrats wouldn’t have to vote on it.”

“Pelosi has made it clear she prefers promoting the special interests of unions rather than ensuring economic and national security.”

“Another win for Big Labor at the expense of laborers.”

“It’s possible that the speaker will trade Colombia for adding domestic spending measures to the war supplemental in exchange for a non-veto from President Bush, but the problem in this case is really the Senate. Unless the administration acts on [Trade Adjustment Assistance], Colombia will not move in the Senate.”

“The president has managed the trade message very badly. His ineffectiveness is jeopardizing our national security.”

“The Democrats are more interested in appeasing the labor unions and sparing their members from tough votes than upholding our national honor or doing what is clearly in the nation’s best interest. This is a strong signal to the business community of how bad it will be if we ever have a Democratic president and Congress.”

National Journal Insiders

National Journal’s Congressional Insiders Poll includes 129 members of Congress—10 Senate Democrats, 14 Senate Republicans, 52 House Democrats, and 53 House Republicans.

Democratic Congressional Insiders Sens. Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin, Thomas Carper, Christopher Dodd, Edward Kennedy, Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Mikulski, Mark Pryor, Ken Salazar, Jon Tester; Reps. Tom Allen, Robert Andrews, Michael Arcuri, Tammy Baldwin, Melissa Bean, Xavier Becerra, Howard Berman, Marion Berry, Rick Boucher, Michael Capuano, Dennis Cardoza, Chris Carney, James Clyburn, Jim Cooper, Joseph Crowley, Elijah Cummings, Artur Davis, Diana DeGette, Rosa DeLauro, Eliot Engel, Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr, Chaka Fattah, Bob Filner, Alcee Hastings, Mike Honda, Jay Inslee, Steve Israel, Jim Langevin, John Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Ed Markey, Jim McDermott, Jim McGovern, Kendrick Meek, Jim Moran, David Price, Silvestre Reyes, Jan Schakowsky, Jose Serrano, Adam Smith, John Spratt, Pete Stark, John Tanner, Ellen Tauscher, Bennie Thompson, Chris Van Hollen, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Henry Waxman, and Peter Welch.

GOP Congressional Insiders Sens. Lamar Alexander, Jim Bunning, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, Lindsey Graham, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, Richard Lugar, Mel Martinez, Lisa Murkowski, Olympia Snowe, John Sununu, John Thune, David Vitter; Reps. Brian Bilbray, Marsha Blackburn, John Boehner, Kevin Brady, John Campbell, Chris Cannon, Eric Cantor, Michael Castle, Tom Cole, Mike Conaway, Tom Davis, John Doolittle, David Dreier, Phil English, Jeff Flake, Scott Garrett, Bob Goodlatte, Kay Granger, Doc Hastings, Pete Hoekstra, Bob Inglis, Peter King, Jack Kingston, Mark Kirk, John Kline, Ray LaHood, Dan Lungren, Kenny Marchant, Jim McCrery, Patrick McHenry, John Mica, Candice Miller, Marilyn Musgrave, Sue Myrick, Devin Nunes, Mike Pence, Tom Price, Deborah Pryce, Adam Putnam, Dave Reichert, Tom Reynolds, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Mike Rogers of Michigan, Paul Ryan, Pete Sessions, John Shadegg, Christopher Shays, Adrian Smith, Mark Souder, Pat Tiberi, Fred Upton, Zach Wamp, and Joe Wilson.

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