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Congressional Insiders Poll

Based on historical standards, how would you rate the field of GOP presidential candidates?

Democrats (25 votes)

Strong: 0%
About Average: 4%
Weak: 96%



“Dopey, Mopey, and Loony.”

“I don’t see Republicans getting excited about their choices any time soon.”


“I didn’t realize just how weak they are until they started pointing out each others’ weaknesses. Obama should send them a thank-you card.”

“It started out relatively strong, but has grown progressively weaker with the passage of time. Mitt Romney could have been a very formidable nominee for the GOP, but his candidacy has been weakened measurably by the right wing of his party, who have embraced a series of ‘Anybody but Mitt’ candidates since last fall.”

“For a candidate running a second time, Romney’s penchant for reminding voters he is not like them, does not share their middle-class values, and will say anything to get elected is astounding.”

“Seriously, any primary that has Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum considered serious candidates can ONLY be qualified as weak.”


“All the candidates but Romney have bizarre views, and he has now been forced to compete in the crazy-thon. Who thought we could look good?”

“This is the weakest field in my lifetime.”

“Worst in history—for Republicans. Great for Democrats!”

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Based on historical standards, how would you rate the field of GOP presidential candidates?

Republicans (23 votes)

Strong: 17%
About Average: 48%
Weak: 30%
Other (vol.): 4%


“Strong enough to beat Barack Obama.”

“As soon as the air clears and our candidate emerges, the circular firing squad will turn its aim on a very unsuccessful president with a horrible track record that sooner rather than later has to be the issue.”


“Several governors, a former speaker, senators, and a successful businessman represent a rather traditional field in a normal year.”

“Romney has a much better chance to beat Obama in 2012 than McCain did in2008.”

“Remember when they called candidate Reagan weak? It is too early to tell if we have a Ronald Reagan or a Barry Goldwater.”

“And average may not be enough this year.”


“After going through 20 debates, the field is weak—when it was ‘about average’ six months ago.”

“Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, or Chris Christie would win this nomination fight going away. This is the weakest GOP field since 1964.”

“In attempting to claim the Reagan mantle, the candidates are pandering to the lowest common denominator. Shameful.”


Which, if any, of these initiatives stand a 50-50 chance of clearing Congress and heading to President Obama’s desk this year?

Democrats (25 votes)

A major deficit-reduction bill: 4%
A major energy bill: 0%
A major job-creation bill: 8%
A major corporate-tax overhaul bill: 8%
A major transportation bill: 32%
A bill reducing the impact of sequestration on defense spending: 20%
None of the above: 40%


“One can only hope.”

“Not sure it will be major, but something could get done.”

Corporate taxes

“Most of this will be put off to the lame-duck [session].”

“I think there is a lot of agreement on this, but still not likely.”


“Probably less than 50-50, but [House Speaker John] Boehner may elect to work with Democrats on a compromise bill since his tea party wing will not vote for any ‘spending’ bill.”

“Holds the biggest job-creation possibilities. I wish for a civic-works jobs bill to employ idle youth and long-term unemployed, but I doubt this Congress has the vision for it.”

“Not as major as we should, but we will do something.”

Reducing defense-sequestration impact

“Unfortunately, could—but should not—happen.”

None of the above

“As long as tea party Republicans control the House, they will never give the president a victory.”

“None of these stands a chance. We may pass some bills that address some portions of these items, but nothing will be ‘major’ except the sales pitch to tout them as ‘major’ accomplishments.”

“Closest would be something labeled as a job-creation bill but will probably be the [Eric] Cantor repackaged bill of small bills that have already passed the House. The Republicans just can’t bring themselves to admit they have a responsibility to govern.”

This article appears in the March 3, 2012 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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