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Congressional Insiders Poll

How much harder is it for Congress to legislate effectively in an election year?

DEMOCRATS (26 votes)

Way, way harder: 46%
A little harder: 35%
About the same: 15%
Easier: 0%
Other (volunteered): 4%


Way, way harder

“It’s usually only a little harder, but this year, too many Republicans seem proud of doing nothing.”

“Republican leaders have evidently decided their best chance to beat President Obama is to refuse to pass jobs legislation to put America back to work.”


“The 112th Congress will be known as a ‘Do-Nothing’ Congress devoted to defeating the president by hurting our national economy.”

“Not surprisingly, since January 2009, Republicans have been doing everything they can to undermine the president and obstruct any meaningful work from being accomplished for the American people.”

“When you have a Republican Party saying that their main goal is the failure of the president, it becomes way harder to agree on anything.”

“Republicans are willing to harm our country if they think it will help them win elections this fall. So even historically bipartisan bills, like the transportation bill, are stuck.”


A little harder

“Bills that were formerly largely bipartisan—transportation, defense authorization, education, many appropriations bills—are now plagued by partisan divisions, and the effects are not limited to the election season.”

“A little harder, but made particularly hard by this crop of Republicans in Congress who only care about winning an election. As a result, compromise is a dirty word to them.”

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About the same

“Once Speaker Boehner walked away from a bipartisan agreement with the president on the debt ceiling last August, he gave over control to the radical wing of the Republican Conference—and ended any chance of doing more serious legislation this session. Boehner chose keeping his speakership over getting things done for the American people.”


How much harder is it for Congress to legislate effectively in an election year?

REPUBLICANS (21 votes)

Way, way harder: 76%
A little harder: 14%
About the same: 5%
Easier: 0%
Other (volunteered): 5%

Way, way harder

“Few people care about solving the serious problems our country faces—they are only worried about getting reelected.”

“We’ve had zero leadership from the president; he’s focused on running for reelection.”

“Obama has chosen to run against Congress in contrast to [Bill] Clinton’s decision to work with Congress in ’96. As usual, Clinton made the more politically astute decision.”

“Although the country needs to make up its mind this fall about which direction it wants to go, or they can expect more gridlock next cycle.”

“At the end of the day, we’ll see one huge enchilada package, as the Senate can’t get anything done.”

“Senate Democrats refuse to do anything without the complications of an upcoming election. This year, they just want to run out the clock until the president is elected. The American people continue to suffer. The Senate: where good bills go to die.”

“This is especially true when one party expects to lose control of a chamber of Congress or the White House.”

About the same

“It is always hard for Congress to legislate effectively these days.”


“Effectively is not the real measure here. Doing the right thing is. Congress is more likely to do the right thing closer to an election, especially before the election.”


Does Congress spend too much time away from the Capitol in an election year?

DEMOCRATS (27 votes)

Too much time away: 48%
About right: 26%
Too little time away: 11%
Other (volunteered): 15%

Too much time away

“Important work is being put off until the lame duck because the current Republican majority lacks the leadership to stand up to the tea party’s extreme agenda of ending the Medicare guarantee of earned benefits and giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few.”

“The situation is compounded by the absurdly misaligned House calendar.”

“We should all be talking to constituents more, but [House Majority Leader] Eric Cantor’s schedule severely limits Congress’s ability to address the big issues facing most Americans.”

This article appears in the June 23, 2012 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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