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Congressional Insiders Poll

Click here to see how top political bloggers answered these questions.

Q: Would the Obama administration be better off if these individuals had more influence, or less influence?

DEMOCRATS (43 votes)

Better if he had more influence   40 percent
Better if he had less influence   42 percent
Volunteered responses             19 percent
Better if he had more influence   35 percent
Better if he had less influence   44 percent 
Volunteered responses             21 percent


Emanuel: more influence

"The only way the Obama administration rights the ship is through the pragmatic bare-knuckles approaches pushed by Emanuel."


"Better more, when it comes to getting legislation passed."

"Understands there are 435 individual electoral landscapes."

"Rahm gets it. He always has."

Emanuel: less influence


"Obama won the election, and it's his name on the door."

"He is perceived as too polarizing, and that is not what the administration needs right now."

"Rahm is programmed to appease the 'Blue Dogs' while alienating the base, which could be the downfall."

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"He has no moral compass and disdains all who do."

Axelrod: more influence

"He seems to have a calming effect on all."

"When it comes to winning public opinion support for the president's initiatives."

Axelrod: less influence

"He disdains all politicians because he thinks they have no moral compass."

"Axelgrease is a frickin' disaster!"

"He'll shine again in a couple years."

Other responses on both men

"Who knows and who cares?"

"This is a silly question."

"The premise of the question is faulty. Both are strong members of a leadership team who, one hopes, weigh in strongly but prevail only to the extent that they are able to persuade."

REPUBLICANS (34 votes)

Better if he had more influence   47 percent
Better if he had less influence   44 percent
Volunteered responses              9 percent
Better if he had more influence    0 percent 
Better if he had less influence   91 percent
Volunteered responses              9 percent


Emanuel: more influence

"He's one of the few people in the White House who isn't beholden to the wacko Left."

"Every time Obama ignores Rahm, he loses ground. It is the same as ignoring Bill Clinton, who knows something about being a successful president."

"Love him or hate him, Rahm is effective and was the architect behind the Democrats' resurgence. I'd listen to him."

"Rahm is a mechanic. And they resent him for it, [and] don't trust him with the hammer unsupervised."

Emanuel: less influence

"Now, more than ever, the White House needs an adult in the room. Rahm's not it."

"If Rahm really is the shadow president, it has been a lackluster performance. The White House has proven to be too 'big picture' for him."

"Dirt-and-more-dirt strategy poisons political races."

Axelrod: less influence

"He still hasn't figured out that Obama isn't the messiah."

"He loves Obama too much to recognize his weaknesses and compensate for them."

"Axelrod runs a great campaign, but governing is a different matter. It would be good for the White House to leave the comfort zone of Chicago and bring in managers who know what they are doing."

"It's fairly obvious that Axelrod hasn't got a clue about governing."

"Heckuva job, Brownie!"

"Pure partisan hack."

Other responses on both men

"Washington's fetish for staff misses the forest for the trees."

Q: If Congress enacts something close to President Obama's latest health care reform plan, how would that affect your party in the midterm elections?

DEMOCRATS (44 votes)

Help a lot       55 percent
Help a little    32 percent
Hurt a little     5 percent
Hurt a lot        9 percent
Not much impact   0 percent


Help a lot

"It would regain a lot of the energy in our own base. Otherwise, we will be in deep trouble."

"We will have achieved something important."

"The Democrats need to get something passed. Otherwise, they will have fallen victim to nothing more than fear-driven attacks."

"It will help a lot of people, show that Democrats can act, and get the 'sausage-making' off the news."

"If it passes, people see it's not the end of the world and learn more about its benefits. The more they know about it, the more supportive they are. Best of all, we can begin talking about something else."

"It will help a lot to show that [President Obama] can make Washington work. But the name of the game in November will be the economy -- just like it always is."

"It's getting something done, stupid."

Help a little

"Despite a Republican and insurance industry campaign to bring reform to its knees, I still think many Americans will give Democrats credit for bringing much-needed change."

"Democrats have to deliver. We are too far into this."

"Passage means a Rose Garden signing ceremony and some immediate benefits. Failure to pass means incompetence despite our large majorities."

"That's the best-case scenario. Even many Democrats opposed to the health care bill realize it needs to be settled and put behind us."

Hurt a lot

"The Right hates it, the Left is not satisfied, and the middle is scared."

"Even if they pass some sort of reform, Team Obama will screw up the message and turn a positive into another political albatross."

REPUBLICANS (34 votes)

Help a lot       76 percent
Help a little    24 percent
Hurt a little     0 percent
Hurt a lot        0 percent
Not much impact   0 percent


Help a lot

"Democrats are trapped: They have wasted over a year pushing a plan no one wants but don't have a Plan B, so they'll make their team walk the plank one more time."

"It would be an act of political suicide."

"The protests last summer will pale in comparison with the turnout next November if Obamacare is approved."

"The tax increases, the wild spending, and the backroom deals and threats will shock voters of all parties, producing a GOP revolt."

"In this world of instant gratification, when the bill is signed and nothing changes, everyone is going to wonder what all the fuss was about. And that will reflect poorly on the majority [party]."

"But collateral damage to our country is my greater concern."

"If a health care bill similar to the current Democrat bill passes, the Republicans will win the House, possibly by a wide margin."

"Democrats are in denial if they think they can get this issue behind them."

"It is almost as if Obama can't stop himself. He wants so much for history to see him as transformational; he is willing to sacrifice so many."

"Game. Set. Match."

Help a little

"Passing the bill will help the GOP by fueling voter (especially senior) anger at an arrogant majority that knowingly ignored popular opinion."

"The Democrats have already done enormous damage to themselves. Finishing this bill will be icing on a very bad cake."

"Passing a massive overhaul would give independents, who overwhelmingly reject the president's plan, a crystallized rallying point."

"We could probably still screw this election up."

National Journal Insiders

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

GOP Congressional Insiders Sens. Lamar Alexander, Jim Bunning, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Lindsey Graham, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, George LeMieux, Richard Lugar, Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Sessions, Olympia Snowe, John Thune, David Vitter; Reps. Michele Bachmann, Brian Bilbray, Marsha Blackburn, Roy Blunt, John Boehner, Charles Boustany, Kevin Brady, John Campbell, Eric Cantor, John Carter, Michael Castle, Tom Cole, Mike Conaway, David Dreier, Jeff Flake, Scott Garrett, Bob Goodlatte, Kay Granger, Doc Hastings, Pete Hoekstra, Darrell Issa, Peter King, Jack Kingston, Mark Kirk, John Kline, Christopher Lee, Dan Lungren, Kenny Marchant, Kevin McCarthy, Patrick McHenry, John Mica, Candice Miller, Sue Myrick, Devin Nunes, Mike Pence, Tom Price, Adam Putnam, Dave Reichert, Mike Rogers of Michigan, Peter Roskam, Paul Ryan, Pete Sessions, John Shadegg, Adrian Smith, Mark Souder, Pat Tiberi, Fred Upton, and Joe Wilson.

This article appears in the March 13, 2010 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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