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Congressional Insiders Poll

Congressional Insiders Poll

Members of Congress in both parties say that a government shutdown would hurt their party, but Republicans are more pessimistic than Democrats about the consequences, according to this week's National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll.

Do you think that a government shutdown would help or hurt your party?

Democrats (32 votes)


Help: 39%
Hurt: 32%
Hurt both parties (volunteered): 23%
Hurt American people (volunteered): 6%


“Helps more if it lasts a few weeks and people get to see what they are paying for.”


“The Republicans will demonstrate that they are so committed to advancing their extreme agenda with a budget that does nothing to create jobs or improve our economy that they are willing to shut down the government.”

“Dick Armey is correct on this one: The public will not blame Democrats—‘the party of government’—and the public will be unhappy when the government shuts down and they learn what the government actually does by stoppage.”

“When people don’t receive their Social Security checks, national parks are closed, and no one is inspecting our food supply, the American people will see that the Republicans are to blame.”

“They’ve done this before, and they’ll do it again. If there’s a government shutdown, the public will point the finger at Republicans for disrupting critical services.”



“Our job is to run the government well. Both parties and our country lose when we don’t do our job.”

“But it’s likely to hurt Republican more.”

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Hurt both parties

“Given the mood of the electorate, a shutdown isn’t likely to help anyone and will make voters hate us all even more, if that’s possible.”

“A government shutdown is bad for Congress, period.”

“A falling tide sinks all ships.”

“It will hurt everyone, although I suspect it will be blamed on the new, ideological ‘all-spending-is-bad’ Congress.”

“A government shutdown does not help either party. But it hurts Democrats less than it does Republicans.”

Hurt American people

“With a shutdown of critical government services, it will hurt the American people most. Those unhurt: industries untouched by cuts, particularly the financial, defense, and fossil-fuel industries.”


Do you think that a government shutdown would help or hurt your party?

Republicans (35 votes)

Help: 20%
Hurt: 71%
Hurt both parties (volunteered): 9%


“In this climate, any debate on spending favors Republicans. We are in this situation because Democrats inexplicably did not pass a budget last Congress. We are in this position because Senate Democrats did not accept the cuts passed by House Republicans. If there is a shutdown, the American people will know why. This isn’t the mid-’90s.”

“The result of a shutdown in 1995? A balanced budget.”


“All Obama has to say is, ‘There they go again.’ We know how this movie ends. Why watch a repeat performance?”

“Hurt, but not much more than it will hurt the D’s. Public will blame both equally at this point, but the tide is in the R’s favor.”

“No one is hoping for a government shutdown. The Republicans were overwhelmingly elected in November to reduce spending, which they did in the budget plan and will do again in the CR.”

“It would hurt our party the same way it hurt Republicans in 1996.”

“It’s important to emphasize: No one in the Republican Party is seeking a shutdown. With the Democrats constantly mentioning it, clearly that’s what they would like to see happen.”

Hurt both parties

“The public seems to have mixed feelings about who would be responsible. No one will benefit.”

“A government shutdown would hurt everybody.”

“It would hurt both parties.”


What do you think the prospects are for significant entitlement reform in this Congress?

Democrats (33 votes)

Good: 6%
Fair: 18%
Poor: 61%
No chance: 15%


“Good prospects, but not necessarily good reforms.”


“The chances for significant reform along the lines suggested by the Bowles-Simpson commission are better than some might expect.”

“Most people on both sides of the aisle seem to recognize that without some form of entitlement reform, we can’t truly address the deficit. If we can figure out a way to work in a bipartisan, cooperative manner, we might just be able to do something.”


“Right now, there is no interest among the House Republicans in actually leading or governing. So long as we have divided government at the national level, we won’t see reform without compromise and cooperation.”

“It might hinge on the definition of ‘significant,’ but it seems hard to believe that there is enough trust on either side to enact reforms.”

“It all depends on whether Republicans are willing to come to the table and negotiate in good faith and on behalf of the people. We can’t get it done if they’re wedded to their tea party mantra but only serve corporate interests.”

“Poor, but remember that Democrats already did health care reform.”

“Even the tea party wants their Medicare and Social Security benefits.” 

No chance

“Anyone like to place a bet? Anyone? [Ferris] Bueller?”

“Reform takes time and leadership—this new [House] leadership provides neither.”

“Republicans want to turn Medicare into a voucher program and repeal Social Security by turning it onto a 401(k)-type program. Democrats will never agree to this.”


What do you think the prospects are for significant entitlement reform in this Congress?

Republicans (35 votes)

Good: 14%
Fair: 43%
Poor:  34%
No chance: 9%


“If the president will lead: He passed at the State of the Union and in his budget proposal. One hopes someday he will act like a president rather than a politician.”

“We have no other choice but to bring down the costs.”

“I think the R’s will begin the discussion; the D’s will try to say the end of the world is coming. The public is ready to engage, and the D’s will then switch gears and try to get in front of the issue.” 


“We need to act on entitlement reform, but it must be bipartisan reform or it won’t work.”

“Only if President Obama provides leadership on the issue: Thus far, it has been missing.”

“If we tackle each entitlement one at a time, the potential of reform is much greater.” 


“By not including entitlement reform in his budget, the president made it abundantly clear he is not serious about deficit reduction, only political calculations.”

“Nothing will be done on this front until after the 2012 elections. The House may act, but with so many senators vulnerable, they will not be eager to step on the third rail.”

“Obama didn’t even put his toe in the water with his 2012 budget.” 

No chance

“We will have to wait for the new president to be sworn in after the next election.”


Democratic Congressional Insiders Sens. Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin, Thomas Carper, Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Mikulski, Mark Pryor, Jon Tester, Tom Udall, Mark Warner; Reps. Jason Altmire, Robert Andrews, Tammy Baldwin, Xavier Becerra, Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Michael Capuano, Dennis Cardoza, James Clyburn, Gerry Connolly , Jim Cooper, Joseph Crowley, Elijah Cummings, Diana DeGette, Rosa DeLauro, Eliot Engel, Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr, Chaka Fattah, Bob Filner, Alcee Hastings, Rush Holt, Mike Honda, Steve Israel, Jim Langevin, John Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Ed Markey, Jim McDermott, Jim McGovern, Jim Moran, Gary Peters, Collin Peterson, David Price, Silvestre Reyes, Linda Sanchez, Jan Schakowsky, Allyson Schwartz, Jose Serrano, Adam Smith, Pete Stark, Bennie Thompson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Henry Waxman, Peter Welch, and Frederica Wilson. 

GOP Congressional Insiders Sens. Lamar Alexander, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Lindsey Graham, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, Richard Lugar, Jeff Sessions, Olympia Snowe, John Thune, David Vitter; Reps. Michele Bachmann, Brian Bilbray, Marsha Blackburn, John Boehner, Charles Boustany, Kevin Brady, John Campbell, Eric Cantor, John Carter, Tom Cole, Mike Conaway, Jeff Denham, Charlie Dent, David Dreier, Sean Duffy, Jo Ann Emerson, Jeff Flake, Scott Garrett, Bob Goodlatte, Trey Gowdy, Kay Granger, Doc Hastings, Nan Hayworth, Darrell Issa, Mike Kelly, Peter King, Jack Kingston, Adam Kinzinger, John Kline, Dan Lungren, Kenny Marchant, Kevin McCarthy, Patrick McHenry, John Mica, Candice Miller, Sue Myrick, Devin Nunes, Mike Pence, Tom Price, Dave Reichert, Mike Rogers of Michigan, Phil Roe, Paul Ryan, Aaron Schock, Pete Sessions, Adrian Smith, Steve Stivers, Lee Terry, Pat Tiberi, Fred Upton, Daniel Webster, and Joe Wilson.

This article appears in the March 5, 2011 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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