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Congressional Insiders Poll

July 26, 2012

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being no influence and 10 being extremely influential), how much influence does the National Rifle Association have on the gun-control debate in Congress?

Democrats (23 Votes)

Average: 8.9

1-3: 4%


4-6: 0%

7-10: 96%


8. “The NRA has been effective in ensuring that there has been relatively little gun-control debate in recent years.”

8. “I suspect the influence is based in part on fear—that the feared effect of a negative NRA rating is much greater than the actual effect on voters.”

9. “It’s sad to say, but it’s true.”

9. “The NRA has a hold on a small but intense minority of voters. This has become a key cultural issue (versus the ‘liberal elite’), and the supposed ‘lessons’ of the 1994 election are endlessly repeated.”

9. “They’re actually moderate compared to most state gun lobbies.”

9. “Given the NRA largely ignores many of the nation’s urban centers, their influence is concentrated and significant. Apparently, we can’t even discuss the reasonableness of creating better regulatory controls for weapons that could cause substantial harm without the NRA and its supporters decrying that our individual liberties are being obliterated by haters of freedom and liberty.”

10. “Only because—unlike the amp in Spinal Tap, this one doesn’t go to 11.”

10. “It is Darth Vader and Jack the Ripper rolled into one.”

10. “They ‘own’ Congress.”

10. “And that’s 10 too high!”

10. “Thanks to the NRA, you can’t even discuss the issue in a rational way, let alone pass commonsense gun-control measures, like restricting the number of bullets in a clip.”

10. “They are the single most dominant group in America. Their members vote and are vocal about it.”

10. “The NRA owns the Republican Party.”

10. “The NRA, unfortunately, owns Congress.”

10. “They have a great amount of say in how members see this issue. Right now, a very large number of members are afraid to upset the NRA.”


On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being no influence and 10 being extremely influential), how much influence does the National Rifle Association have on the gun-control debate in Congress?

Republicans (17 Votes)

Average: 9.0

1-3: 0%

4-6: 0%

7-10: 100%


9. “They are not a ‘10’ only because occasionally smaller Second Amendment groups take positions to the right of the NRA, creating doubt about the NRA.”

10. “Few if any advocacy groups are in the same league as the NRA. They are well funded, they have a committed and active grassroots network, and members both fear and respect them as a political force.”

10. “The NRA has influence because the majority of Americans agree with their principles.”

10. “The NRA is the best single-issue lobby in politics, bar none.”

10. “As they should; their membership is vast and deep, and protecting our constitutional rights is an important advocacy.”


Given the debate over Mitt Romney’s taxes, should members of Congress have to release some of their returns?

Democrats (23 Votes)

Yes: 30%

No: 65%

Other (volunteered): 4%



“Why not?”

“Members of Congress are the ones who actually write and vote on tax law; they should release their tax returns.”

“Yes, I think we all should. I have nothing to hide.”

“Still, releasing tax returns, complying with the Stock Act, and such specific steps seem to have only a small effect on the crippling cynicism about members of Congress.”


“As a pro-Obama Democrat, I think we have gone too far. I shudder to think what America would be like if we had disqualified Roosevelt, Washington, Lyndon Johnson, and John Kennedy—they certainly would not have released their personal information.”

“Only when or if we run for president.”

“We already have annual disclosure and Stock Act requirements. You want to check my personal bank account next?”

“No, not at all unless they are running for president. I think this is simply trying to take attention away from Romney’s refusal to release his returns.”

“Our disclosure is sufficient. We do not want to prevent some good people from running for office by intruding on their privacy, beyond what is now required. For president, more scrutiny is warranted.”

“I never have. Same rules apply for every citizen’s privacy. But if you expect to run for president, you should be expected to reveal more about yourself than the average citizen.”

“I don’t think that members of Congress should have to release their tax returns. But I choose to release mine. Let the voters reach their own conclusions.”


“Yes and no. If it becomes an issue in their campaigns, they would be wise to release some of them. Some of them may want to double-check their returns before releasing them to make sure they’re on the money.”


Given the debate over Mitt Romney’s taxes, should members of Congress have to release some of their returns?

Republicans (17 Votes)

Yes: 0%

No: 100%



“Members of Congress already have little financial privacy and spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to comply with vague and voluminous ethics requirements. All this would do is increase the amount of [opposition] research in the world. Not a step forward for democracy.”

“No, but if a member of Congress calls on a presidential candidate to release tax returns they should do the same. Case in point—Debbie Wasserman Schultz and [Nancy] Pelosi have both called on Romney to release his returns, but they refuse to do the same.”

“This is a waste-of-time distraction in a presidential race. We already have enough of those in Congress.”

“Members already submit a maze of reports on their personal finances. The only people who read them are political opponents and members of the media seeking to discredit members. Why provide these people with more ammunition and burden members with more requirements?”

“Current disclosure laws are more than adequate. Tax returns are intended for entirely different purposes and so would disclose too little in some areas (such as assets), and too much in other areas (exact wages of spouse). The disclosure forms used for members of Congress are designed for exactly the purpose of disclosing what might be a conflict of interest, so we should stick with them.”

“Substantively, not politically, what policy gain for the public is there? The financial disclosure already outlines sources of income, debts, assets, stock sales, boards, trusts, etc.”

“The Ethics Committee’s financial-disclosure process provides far more and better information about potential conflicts of interest than a tax return.”

“Between the financial disclosure and now the Stock Act, I think the public knows enough about members of Congress to make a judgment call.”

“The debate over Romney’s taxes is a distraction by President Obama because he has nothing to talk about and an abysmal record.”

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