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Political Insiders Poll

Click here to see how prominent bloggers responded to these questions.

Q: Which two of these five issues will be the most important in the 2010 midterm elections?

Democrats (106 votes)

Afghanistan                  14 percent 
Cap-and-trade/climate change  4 percent
Deficit/Big Government       37 percent
Economy/jobs                 93 percent
Health care reform           48 percent



"If troop levels go up, liberals become demoralized. If troop levels go down, Democrats get labeled weak. If troop levels remain stable, casualties will rise. All scenarios have electoral impact."


Cap-and-trade/climate change

"Depending on what happens, cap-and-trade could kill Democrats if it is acted on in the spring. Remember the public outrage in July?"

Deficit/Big Government

"The larger narrative of the 2010 election will be whether Democrats are responsible enough to govern. And if you have high deficits and a jobless recovery, then the answer will likely be no."


"The economic anxiety and anger are being manifested entirely via fiscal issues."


"While health care takes all the air out of the room, people are hurting, unemployment continues to rise, and Congress seems oblivious. They will wake up but too late to have much of an impact."

"The very second that health care passes, the administration must throw absolutely every idea at the jobs issue and focus on only that issue every single day until November 2, 2010."

"If unemployment is anything near 10 percent, I wouldn't want to be an incumbent."

"This is the great vulnerability of the Republicans. Let's remember that the meltdown occurred under the Republican watch."

"Swing voters will be focused on the direction of the economy."

Health care reform

"Whatever gets enacted on health care will be very unpopular next year due to the fear of the unknown. Challengers will exploit the hell out of that by running against an entirely fictional parade of horribles."

"Health care reform is personal to every voter, unlike climate and federal budget issues."

"[Voters] will be waiting with great anticipation to assess whether the reform that passes will help or hurt them individually."

Q: Which two of these five issues will be the most important in the 2010 midterm elections?

Republicans (105 votes)

Afghanistan                  13 percent 
Cap-and-trade/climate change  2 percent
Deficit/Big Government       67 percent
Economy/jobs                 89 percent
Health care reform           21 percent



"Afghanistan is a situation which the administration cannot control and has the potential to blow them up in the midterms."

Deficit/Big Government

"The most powerful argument Republicans will have in 2010 is our ability to criticize the explosion of government spending and deficits. Jobs may trickle back next year, but the red-ink argument isn't going away."

"The problem is that the American people are beginning to tire of runaway government spending while politicians tell them they will curb spending."

"Deficit politics highlight Democrats' regrettable tendency to tax and spend on health care and cap-and-trade."

"Citizens cutting their personal debt in hard times do not appreciate a government that cannot do the same. And by next year, there will be plenty of news stories about billions of stimulus dollars being wasted."


"If unemployment is still around 10 percent, they're in trouble--and no amount of blaming W. will work."

"[President Obama] really is dependent on the jobless rate and consumer confidence. If they remain dismal, the top 10 issues will all be one word: 'economy.' "

"Our export sector is not strong enough to drive growth. And domestic demand will remain depressed."

"The administration has taken its eye off the ball on the two issues it campaigned on in 2008."

"Complaining about unemployment ain't enough. Republicans need a jobs-creation plan."

"GOP will run ads of Biden taking credit for the stimulus creating jobs."

"The 'it was much worse than we thought' line has worn old."

Health care reform

"Republicans will still be explaining the reform they are 'for.' "

"[The GOP's] message will be, 'You're doing too much.' "

Q: On balance, does the White House's decision to take on Fox News help or hurt President Obama?

Democrats (106 votes)

Help     43%
Hurt     45%
Neither  11%



"They need to find some fights that help excite the base. And our base hates Fox."

"Shows that he is willing to fight. This is what the Republicans did to CBS, and it still suffers from being the 'liberal' voice."

"Letting them relentlessly rip him under the guise of a credible news organization only makes their biased assessments seem all the more legitimate."

"For those of us on the left, it feels good to call out Fox for what they pull. It does seem lame that Obama left it to Anita Dunn as she walks out the door to land the real punches."


"The administration has bigger fish to fry. It should forget about Fox and take a stronger stand on real health care reform."

"This Fox News squabble reduces the Obama administration to the level of small-time political operatives whining about their coverage."

"Roosevelt took on the Depression; Kennedy, communism; and Obama, Fox."

"It just looks like a game. No one is interested in games right now."

"To most Americans, Fox carries American Idol and the World Series, not grudges against the president."

"The attacks are both beneath the presidency and counter to Obama's brand."

"When you roll around in the mud with a pig, you both get dirty. And the pig really likes it."


"Fox viewers will still be against Obama. And liberals who hate Fox will still be for Obama."

Q: On balance, does the White House's decision to take on Fox News help or hurt President Obama?

Republicans (103 votes)

Help     5%
Hurt    91%
Neither  4%



"Fox cannot be intimidated, but ambitious reporters and editors at other outlets can be: To get ahead, they know they can't take on Obama, who is a hero in their newsrooms. It has a real chance to work."


"It hurts because it is Nixonian and is adding to an already troubling record of trying to demonize any person, group, or organization that might not fully agree with the administration."

"Makes him a politician rather than a leader."

"The upshot is that they've boosted Fox's ratings, caused the White House press corps to rally around Fox, and made themselves seem arrogant and thin-skinned."

"O can talk with Iran, North Korea, but not Fox. C'mon; makes O look very small."

"If you want people to watch something, tell them not to watch it."

"Are there two people outside the Beltway who care about this in his party or ours? But inside the Beltway, the message is, 'You could be next.' Why do smart people make such bad decisions?"

"The president has now turned Fox into a victim. And they are accepting the role."

"The president looks weaker and weaker the more and more he blames others for his problems."

"Looks like the White House is throwing a temper tantrum; not what is expected from a confident leader."


"This is a classic Beltway issue."

National Journal Insiders

Democratic Political Insiders Jill Alper, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Deb Callahan, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Jerry Crawford, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Eric Eve, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Don Fowler, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery, Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Kam Kuwata, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bill Lynch, Bob Maloney Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Terry McAuliffe, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Scott Parven, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Bruce Reed, Mame Reiley, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, John Ryan, Wendy Sherman, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Katrina Swett, Sarah Swisher, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Mike Veon, Rick Wiener, Bridgette Williams, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, and Jim Zogby.

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Danny Carroll, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Charlie Crist, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Steve Duprey, Debi Durham, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Barry Jackson, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bruce Keough, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris Lacivita, Jim Lake, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Dana Perino, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Tom Wilson, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, and Fred Wszolek.

This article appears in the October 31, 2009 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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