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Political Insiders Poll

Has the Republican presidential primary campaign made Mitt Romney stronger or weaker as a potential general-election candidate?

Democrats (98 votes)

Stronger: 43%
Weaker: 57%



“A primary almost always makes the eventual nominee stronger in terms of overall capacity as a candidate. And anything that has come out now, such as the Bain attack, was going to come out.”

“They have painted him as a screaming moderate, and if he wins the nomination, we are going to have to deal with that.”


“He has gotten better in debates, more disciplined in his messaging, and more comfortable as a candidate. Yes, he was exposed for being a flip-flopper, but that was going to happen anyway.”

“He still needs a credible and convincing response to the Bain problem, but he’s a much better candidate than he was 30 days ago.”

“Assuming Romney wraps the nomination up in January, yes. Otherwise, weaker.”



“A 10-month discussion on his job-killing record at Bain is better than a three-month discussion.”

“Ordinarily, I would say a competitive primary would have long-term benefits for the eventual nominee, but this primary has not been typical, and the abject lack of quality opposition for Romney has given him the negatives of a primary (negative claims against him) without the benefits (improvement through competition).”

“He has had to appear more conservative, given additional examples of flip-flopping, and consistently exhibited that he is a weak inspiration to the most active parts of the base.”

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“All you have to look at is the trajectory of Romney’s unfavorable rating among Republicans and independents and see that he is in much worse shape than last year.”

“The questions raised about Romney’s lack of core principles and political opportunism are invaluable in forging his image with the American electorate.”

“His opponents have saved Obama countless hours and dollars by framing a line of attack.”

“Romney does not wear well. The more time you are exposed to him, the less you want to have a beer with him.”


Has the Republican presidential primary campaign made Mitt Romney stronger or weaker as a potential general-election candidate?

Republicans (100 votes)

Stronger: 89%
Weaker: 11%


“Mitt’s steadfast performance throughout the primary has shown Republicans he has the staying power to beat Obama. He has earned the respect of his Republican opponents, and that will make it easier to solidify the Republican base early in the process and allow him to concentrate on the difference-making swing voters.”

“The primaries gave Romney the field-testing he needed and helped him build credibility with skeptics.”

“His wealth and the Bain bomb were going to become an issue regardless. The primary campaign has made him a better candidate, better on his feet.”

“It’s much better to deal with the Bain Capital issues now, instead of later when Obama’s billion-dollar campaign kicks in.”

“He has weathered incredible attacks and remained largely disciplined. Much more of this, and he’ll be weakened, but for now it’s good practice for November.”

“Survived without tacking too much to the right to make him a less favorable general candidate.”

“Opposition because he’s Mormon, or insufficiently tea party, or unacceptable to evangelicals, has been largely dissipated.”

“It’s the first time he’s won outside of Massachusetts. He needed this. Most candidates improve through the process.”

“It’s called hormesis: exposure to a toxin or stressor that makes you stronger. Thanks, Newt!”


“I can’t believe he’s still such a bad campaigner. He’s giving the Obama people more ammunition every week.”

“We made Bain and ‘vulture capitalism’ an even more legitimate line of attack among non-Republicans. How can that help?”

“Even if he wins the nomination, the conservatives will not be excited, and we will have 2008 all over again.”


Once there is a presumptive Republican presidential nominee, how significantly will congressional Republicans defer to him in shaping legislative strategy?

Democrats (97 votes)

A great deal: 10%
Somewhat: 35%
Not very much: 55%

A great deal

“Their only agenda is beating Obama.”

“They have to stick together, and Congress will not be doing anything else anyway.”


This article appears in the January 21, 2012 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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