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Congressional Insiders Poll

Congressional Insiders Poll

Does the emergence of super PACs focused on congressional elections give candidates a smaller voice in their own campaigns?

Democrats (19 Votes)

Yes: 100%
No: 0%



“Money talks, and voters often can’t tell the difference between the talkers. The voices of actual candidates may be drowned out.”

“The sheer volume of money by outside groups is going to drown out some campaigns completely.”


“Super PACs have the ability to drown out the campaign messages of challengers and incumbents alike in some races.”

“Just as the campaign committees and interest groups can play an unsolicited and unwelcome role in campaigns—even when they think they’re working in your favor—super PACs certainly have that potential.”

“The money chase was already insane. Super PACs just make it worse.”

“A tsunami of special-interest money is hobbling [effective] representation.”


“Super PACs kill grassroots representational democracy.”

“It will super-power outside groups, enabling them to play the role that national parties used to with soft money, only with less accountability and coordination.”

“More and more, outside groups will take away the ability of candidates to set up their own campaigns. In addition, the attacks will come not from opponents but from other groups. This is not a good way to run our election campaigns.”

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“Since nothing is reported, candidates won’t know until it’s over.”

“Of course. We become pawns in a much larger game.”


Does the emergence of super PACs focused on congressional elections give candidates a smaller voice in their own campaigns?

Republicans (21 Votes)

Yes: 14%
No: 76%
Not sure (volunteered): 10%


“It is a bit unsettling to think that for races in either the House or Senate that make the national target list, the candidates will no longer rise or fall on their own fundraising ability, because the outside groups will carpet bomb their media market.”

“The more competitive the race, the less control the candidate and now even the campaign committees will have. Super PACs will determine who runs Congress. They are neither transparent nor accountable. How can this possibly be a good thing?”


“Candidates have just as much opportunity through the use of alternative mediums to get their message out. It does increase the role that certain issues will have in certain targeted elections. Super PACs are simply the unintended consequence of misguided campaign finance laws.”

“There has always been outside money in races. In 2008, outside groups spent $6 million in my race (before super PACs). In the end, as long as a candidate does his or her job (of raising enough money and telling their story well), they can win.”

“The impact is most felt by the congressional campaign committees. There is less of an incentive for big donors to give big contributions to the committees, where the funds are both limited by the [Federal Election Commission] and disclosed.”

“[No], but it can drive messages that candidates may or may not want to focus on.”

“[Super PACs give candidates] a larger voice—these PACs can override the inaction of the parties in specific races and can help combat insider rigging of elections.”

“It will give [candidates] a larger voice because they will have (indirect) access to the resources they need to compete successfully in an era of 360-degree, 24-hour media.”

Not sure

“With super PACs being relatively new, it remains to be seen how they will impact individual candidates and their campaigns.”

“Good question. No one knows.”


Grade the performances so far this year of these congressional leaders.

Democrats (18 votes)

House Speaker John Boehner: C
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: B-
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: C+
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: C


B+. “This is as high as anyone could get when leading the current crew.”

B+. “Given the factions in his caucus and a No. 2 laying down banana peels in his path, it’s testament to his skill [that] he’s still the leader.”

B. “Boehner is riding a tiger and hasn’t been eaten yet.”

B. “He can’t deliver on his agreements, but faced with Obama his incompetence looks sharp!”

D. “Boehner is the weakest speaker in living memory, largely because he oversees an unstable majority.”

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

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