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Political Insiders Poll

January 5, 2012

Which Republican presidential candidate will ultimately prove to be Mitt Romney’s toughest competitor?

Democrats (93 votes)

Michele Bachmann: 0%
Newt Gingrich: 36%
Jon Huntsman: 1%
Ron Paul: 14%
Rick Perry: 1%
Rick Santorum: 48%

Newt Gingrich


“Mitt might think he’s done with Newt, but the catch is Newt, is not done with Mitt.”

“Newt’s got the chutzpah to tear at Romney in a way that the others don’t; he won’t hesitate to scorch the earth in the process. Whether he raises the resources necessary to do the job is another matter.”

“South Carolina and Florida did not get the onslaught of Newt assault ads. Once Santorum is exposed, Newt will be the last conservative alternative still standing, and he now has a vendetta for Romney. This could stay interesting for a while.”

“The angry history professor isn’t about to let anyone forget the old Mitt Romney. We will hear about ‘Romneycare’ and flip-flops every day now.”

Ron Paul

“Paul is the only candidate besides Romney who has the money and infrastructure to go the distance. Romney will probably have to fight Paul off again next fall.”

Rick Santorum

“Santorum can take up the ‘movement conservative’ cause without the likability issues of Newt. He will have to radically scale up his campaign in a very short period of time, before the Romney super PACs destroy him.”

“Santorum’s Iowa tie makes him a real Christian conservative place for those whom Romney leaves uninspired, and it shows he is a viable vote-getter that the Bachmann and Perry supporters can flock to.”

“Santorum’s unforced conservatism puts Romney’s waffling in stark relief.”

“No one else got any momentum coming out of Iowa. He, too, will likely fall into the ‘has been’ category sooner rather than later.”


Which Republican presidential candidate will ultimately prove to be Mitt Romney’s toughest competitor?

Republicans (89 votes)

Michele Bachmann: 0%
Newt Gingrich: 33%
Jon Huntsman: 3%
Ron Paul: 11%
Rick Perry: 2%
Rick Santorum: 51%

Newt Gingrich

“Newt has every incentive after Iowa to stay in and wreak havoc, so that after Romney flubs the general election and puts Obama back in office for four more years, Newt can hit the speech circuit, saying ‘I told you so.’ ”

“Not as a threat to win, but as an obstacle to close. Newt is heavy enough (as former speaker) and shameless enough (as Newt) to keep hammering, and even without money the press will cover him.”

“An angry, unhinged Newt is a danger to himself and other Republicans.”

Ron Paul

“Paul still has the ground game. All the rest should fade fast, post-New Hampshire.”

Rick Perry

“Perry’s continued presence in the race will keep conservatives’ money in their pockets—and from Romney.”

Rick Santorum

“Santorum will be the unlikely coalescer of the Right. As such, he becomes the final hurdle. He will be forceful, aggressive, and articulate but will ultimately lose.”

“Santorum’s conservative bona fides, plus his investment (admittedly on a shoestring) in a grassroots organization, is a life raft for the sinking Perry, Bachmann, and Newt ships.”

“He’s locked up the right wing at exactly the right time.”

“Santorum will be the Huckabee of 2012.”

“He’s the only one left standing—at least for the next 10 days.”

“But Romney’s toughest opponent may be an uninspired GOP that wants to beat Obama but can’t bring themselves to fall in love with him.”


Which party has the stronger hand in the upcoming congressional debate over extending the payroll-tax cut?

Democrats (96 votes)

Democrats: 98%
Republicans: 1%
Other: 1%


“The R’s are in an inherently indefensible position—for tax cuts for millionaires but against tax cuts for working people.”

“The Republicans lost their high ground when they couldn’t take yes for an answer.”

“The briar patch of our dreams. Keep throwing us in!”

“Republicans will get more out of the conference process than they got in the Senate bill, but Dems are happy to have the issue, so they have the leverage.”

“Republicans have blinked once and enter the new round of negotiations in a very weak state.”

“Republicans may have gone to the obstructionist/brinksmanship well one too many times. It did not seem principled; it seemed petty. Republicans said they wanted certainty, not a short-term solution. Now having been backed into supporting the short-term solution, it would seem to me difficult to oppose a longer tax-relief package.”

“House Republicans completely overplayed their hand. Worst of all, they lost their message and negotiated with themselves. Senate and House Republicans are not on the same page.”

“Not because it’s a great long-term issue due to the complexities of Social Security, etc., but because the Republicans are split on how to handle it.”

“Democrats go into the next round of the fight knowing that R’s are reeling from the last round. With Obama getting more traction from his fight for the middle class and economic indicators looking more solid, the fight is about tomorrow and not how we got where we are today.”

“This fight is made to order for Democrats. The debate allows Democrats to frame the issue as a battle between billionaires and middle-class families.”

“The president scored his first major political victory with the payroll-tax cut. Democrats can only hope that the Republicans are foolish enough to walk into that trap again. It also gave him a road map for repealing the Bush tax cuts on millionaires. Watch.”


“Democrats rarely know how to make use of a strong hand.”


Which party has the stronger hand in the upcoming congressional debate over extending the payroll-tax cut?

Republicans (92 votes)

Democrats: 26%
Republicans: 64%
Other: 10%


“It’s a tax cut for every American in an election year. Enough said.”

“The GOP will still manage a concession from the White House, thanks to [Mitch] McConnell, but due to House rank-and-file incompetence, [John] Boehner is not positioned to be as strong as he otherwise would have been.”

“Boehner’s handling of the payroll tax is one of the most epic blunders in lack-of-leadership history.”

“Democrats will win in the short-term, but in 15 years, this Congress will be cited as the one that undermined the central premise of Social Security as something you earned.”

“There should not even be a debate over this issue, and it amazes me that House Republicans are too stupid to realize it.”


“Democrats won the Christmas showdown, but in mid-February when news articles start discussing how hard it is for small businesses to cope with the two-month extension, House Republicans will remind everyone they are the only people who have a one-year extension done and ready for the president’s signature.”

“As long as they stick to pushing for a year, they’ll have the upper hand.”

“They will simply argue that it should be paid for.”

“Obama needs it, and the GOP leadership can extract other concessions to get it done.”

“The Democrats are trying to tell the public that raiding the Social Security trust fund to further weaken Social Security is a good idea. Sanity will prevail at some point.”

“No one believes Obama is for lowering taxes on anyone. No one.”


“The GOP should get the voters’ nod as the traditionally more reliable antitax party, but Obama has so successfully painted us as craven and rich that he might end up splitting the issue.”


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, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, 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, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, 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, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Steve McMahon, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O’Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jefrey Pollock, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, 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, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, 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, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, 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, Kevin O’Neill, Connie Partoyan, 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, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, 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, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud. 

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