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Magazine / Political Insiders Poll

Political Insiders Poll

January 20, 2011

What grade would you give Republicans in their transition to the majority in the House?

Democrats (91 votes)

Average grade: C+

A: 10%
B: 46%
C: 34%
D: 8%
F: 1%
Also receiving votes: Incomplete, 1 percent.


A. “Speaker Boehner and his Chief of Staff Barry Jackson have been flawless.”

A. “Boehner’s done a remarkable job at keeping the tea partiers in line, so far.”

B. “They are doing well navigating their new members.”

B. “Republicans have put on a pretty good show about being modest and not overreaching. The reaction to the symbolic health care vote will be important for them.”

B. “Boehner has been reasonable; the events in Arizona have sort of obscured their first couple of weeks and may be working to their benefit—for now—with all the talk about civility and bipartisanship.”

B. “Boehner kept it real, got his troops in line, calmly spoke to everyday people about being a ‘regular guy with a big job,’ and put forth some symbolically effective measures. Even the tears were appealing to a lot of people.”

B. “Boehner has shown an appealing guy-next-door persona but now must go beyond that to project a can-do leadership image.”

B. “It hurts to say it, but so far it has been seamless and almost dignified.”

C. “They won a chance to help govern, not a mandate to overreach.”

C. “Insistence on calling health care reform ‘job-killing’ flies in the face of both the facts and their alleged new commitment to civility.”

C. “Boehner’s ‘reforms’ were good. The edited reading of the Constitution and the decision to go after health care was a terrible way to introduce themselves to the public.”

C. “In a strange way, the Arizona shootings helped the Republican leadership manage the crazies and avoid too much scrutiny on their hiccups.”

D. “Boehner made a big mistake not going with the president to Tucson and refusing the state dinner [for China].”

D. “No sooner did they announce they were going to allow amendments to all bills, but, of course, they didn’t mean the health care bill.”


What grade would you give Republicans in their transition to the majority in the House?

Republicans (91 votes)

Average grade: B+

A: 64%
B: 34%
C:  2%
D: 0%
F: 0%

A. “Boehner has had perfect tone. Their sure-footed handling of the Arizona tragedy shows maturity and strong leadership.”

A. “They have been united, thoughtful, and on message.”

A. “Unlike the start of the Gingrich and Pelosi eras, John Boehner has made the start of the new session of Congress about the success of the institution rather than a personal coronation.”

A. “Compared to the ’94 transition, this has been flawless.”

A. “The Republican leadership has handled the transition with the realization that voters rejected the Democrats and did not necessarily support the GOP agenda.”

A. “Hard to see what they haven’t done exactly right so far. Of course, the real test is still to come.”

A. “Speaker Boehner and his team have shown great discipline in replicating the energy and intensity of 1994 while avoiding the triumphant overreach of 1995.”

A. “Almost everything was done right. Even the speaker’s tears made it real.”

A. “Boehner has very deftly moved his caucus in the direction of the tea party energy, without looking extreme.”

B+. “Too much crying.”

B+. “Boehner shouldn’t have gone to the RNC event for Maria Cino, but otherwise he’s been outstanding under very difficult circumstances.”

B. “Real test will come on debt-ceiling vote: GOP cannot roll over or take symbolic sop. The public will support a strong line. It is Obama who has to blink.”

B. “Good start, but the problem was that it was eclipsed by Tucson.”

B. “Boehner and [Majority Leader Eric] Cantor avoid overexposure; no one hates them—sharp contrast to Gingrich and company.”

C. “It wasn’t a terrible transition by any means, but there were a few self-inflicted mistakes that easily could have been avoided. No long-term damage done, however.”


Who has the most influence over the quality of political discourse?

Democrats (91 votes)

The media: 59%
Politicians: 23%
The public: 14%
Also receiving votes: Politicians and the media, 4%.

The media

 “The media, driven by ratings and profits more so than quality, needs to more closely question some of the over-the-top fiery comments of politicians, instead of simply parroting party talking points. Death panels? Indeed.”

“They are the filter, or lack thereof, that determines how much exposure the most provocative and extreme players get.”

“The media’s currency is conflict.”

“Since the quality is so low these days, it is pretty obvious that the answer is, as it should be, the media. Roger Ailes is the main offender, but he’s hardly alone. Crossfire started out on CNN, didn’t it?”

“They control the traffic and drive the dialogue; the public and politicians just ride along. Unfortunately, they are obsessed with process over substance in order to make news interesting.”

“Cables and talk radio are the drivers, with their collective feet on the accelerator.”


 “Elected official and candidates have free will. They decide what tone to use, how reasonable to be, and their actions.”

“Politicians are to blame for the poisonous discourse, but the media echoes the loudest nuts from both sides.”

“Ultimately, the only people who control what comes out of a politician’s mouth are the politicians.” 

The public

 “Everybody shares the blame for the poor quality of political discourse, but in a democracy the buck stops with the voters. If people paid more attention and had higher standards, we would have a better brand of politicians.”

“Politicians have to have someone buying into what they are saying, and the media just needs someone buying—watching—them. When the public rejects either of them, they are out of business.”


Who has the most influence over the quality of political discourse?

Republicans (90 votes)

The media: 51%
Politicians: 27%
The public: 19%
Also receiving votes: All three, 1%; politicians and the media, 1%; President Obama, 1%.

The media

 “They determine specifically what to emphasize, and inevitably they always take an anthill and make a mountain out of it.”

“To cross quote Marx, they own the means of production.”

“If Boehner cut a deal with Obama today, Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, et al could undo it before he got back to Capitol Hill.”

“They focus on the extremes and not on common ground. That’s how pols can get on TV.”

“The media doesn’t get ratings unless it makes something a story or creates conflict where none may be. Cable news was the first to insinuate shooters are conservatives with antigovernment bias.”

“Especially in their over-amplification of Sarah Palin and her influence on anything.”

“Blurting ‘You lie’ was rewarded with attention, and money followed. You get more of what you reward.”


“Some, like the president, shed their narcissism and meet the moment; others, like Palin, bathe in theirs and lower our national discussion.”

“Those in a leadership position have more responsibility to lead by engaging in higher level discourse and civility. The public will follow its leaders.”

“Stupid people say stupid things. The pols choose what comes out of their own mouths.”

“The audiences for Fox and MSNBC aren’t very big, but being on television is intoxicating for the politicians. They get rewarded for saying outlandish things, and they can’t help themselves.”

The public

“Public taste and tolerance determine the boundaries of discourse.”

“In the end, they vote and they select the channel.”


Democratic Political Insiders Jill Alper, John Anzalone, 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, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Stephanie Cutter, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, 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, Doug Hattaway, 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, Michael Meehan, 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, Mame Reiley, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Wendy Sherman, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Katrina Swett Sarah, Swisher, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, Bridgette Williams, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Steve Duprey, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Mindy Fletcher, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, 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, George S. LeMieux, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Connie Partoyan, Dana Perino, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, 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, Lezlee Westine, Tom Wilson, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, and Fred Wszolek.

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