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Political Insiders Poll

January 19, 2012

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.”

“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.”


“Republicans still want to win, so they will defer to Romney where it makes sense.”

“Republicans really want to defeat President Obama—perhaps so badly that they’ll even pretend that they like Romney!”

“The GOP congressional leadership will fall in line behind Romney. The conservative activists in the Republican caucus, not so much. Mitt Romney just isn’t their cup of tea.”

“These congressional guys can’t reach agreement on what to order at dinner—never mind a vision for the country and a policy approach.”

Not very much

“They will be two ships in the night, and they will studiously ignore one another. Both are afraid of the other one’s brand.”

“House Republicans may want the White House back, but they will think about their own reelection first.”

“No one can control the House Republicans. Tea party House members and the GOP leadership will continue to have dysfunctional conflicts.”

“Romney doesn’t have strong roots with congressional Republicans. In addition, he will need to move more toward the middle for the general election, while they will want to keep [to the] right flank.”

“Romney is already running against Washington and the near-single-digit-approval-rated Congress. Neither side is going to show the other much love in the coming months.”

“Mitch McConnell is not going to be taking his direction from a onetime governor of Massachusetts.”

“Have you met the House freshman class?”

“Are you kidding me? They don’t even defer to their speaker!”


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

Republicans (102 votes)

A great deal: 9%
Somewhat: 56%
Not very much: 35%

A great deal

“They can’t get anything done, anyway; why not play ball with the guy who will get all the press?”


“At times, House GOPers live in their own world. But having to run in November will give them reason to work with Romney and leave crazy behind, at least for a while.”

“Unless we hit the debt ceiling in October, after the payroll-tax fight, it will all be for show.”

“Boehner and McConnell will be helpful, but only God knows about the tea partiers.”

“Leadership will try, but they are driven by tea partiers who won’t care, and Romney will want to distance himself a bit from their lackluster record.”

“Romney will win and he’ll be relatively weak, so Congress is not likely to pay much attention to him until he has a sustained lead over Obama.”

“Congressional Republicans will do what they have to do to keep the House and win the Senate, and if that is consistent with Romney, great. But if it isn’t, that’s the way it goes.”

“We’ve got some folks on our side with a strong independent streak.”

Not very much

“The fiasco at the end of the year shows that the House is marching to the beat of their own drummer, and it’s going to hurt everyone.”

“Rarely has the Congress deferred to a nominee or the president on legislative strategy. And, as usual, they will be 100 percent focused on their own self-preservation.”

“I think Romney will shy away from getting involved in congressional fights, which is smart. If House Republicans won’t listen to their own speaker, they sure won’t listen to anyone else—even their nominee.”

“With low congressional job-approval numbers, everyone will be all out for themselves.”


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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