Monitor Breakfast: William McInturff

Selected quotations from a Monitor Breakfast with William McInturff, partner Public Opinions Strategies.

William McInturff, partner with Public Opinion Strategies, was the guest at Monday's Monitor Breakfast. Public Opinion Strategies is the largest Republican polling firm in the country. The organization currently works for eight senators, seven governors, and more than 40 members of Congress. The firm has a wide variety of corporate clients and has done extensive work in the field of health care reform. For more information, see the Public Opinion Strategies website:

On the impact of escalating Middle East violence on the president's popularity:

"Foreign policy impacts (political popularity) when American lives have been lost. If American lives are not lost, I have a hard time thinking about when foreign policy has really affected polling numbers.

"...I tell my clients please be modest about what you say. World events have a way of reshaping themselves very quickly. Having said that,...

...I had some calls about whether what was happening last week would affect the president's standing. I think the answer was no ... the Middle East has been in trouble for 2000 years – at least the last 50 or 60, and people are not shocked they are having trouble in the Middle East... I just don't see much evidence from a public polling view that it was affecting at all his standing. We had a survey in the field last week and his numbers were totally unchanged."

On the impact of sending US troops to the Middle East as peacekeepers:

"It is the single most disastrous decision... it would be a horrible, horrible, horrible decision... Because everyone understands ...there is a very different level of target opportunity for a Norwegian UN peacekeeper and an American UN peacekeeper in terms of who would be a target in that situation in the Middle East."

On Republican efforts to label the Senate majority leader an obstructionist:

"It is hard to be majority leader and not tick off the other side, and be perceived as a very partisan figure... among very strong Republican partisans Senator Daschle has now been identified as the bad guy is short-term tactical to spend your time worrying about Senator Daschle's numbers. Long-term as a party, you are going to do a lot better in re-election... if you get something done and pass legislation people like...

"...If you gave me a choice between should we try to talk more about Senator Daschle stalling or should we try to pass a drug bill, our caucus and my party would be a heck of a lot better off passing a drug bill than worrying about Senator Daschle."

On Democratic prospects in the 2002 election:

"Look, it is pretty grim. They were hoping for a lousy economy and being able to make the case that the tax cuts ruptured the economy... The Democrats are in a real bind because I think they have been relatively gutless.

"Ted Kennedy said something rational, which is, let's make this campaign about tax cuts for the rich versus drugs for grandma...That is a rational compelling difference you can present to the American public.

"It seems to me that the Democrats have put themselves in the position where really, functionally, their entire chips now may be just Social Security and prescription drugs.

"In my mind, the last chip on the table to make sure we do well as a party presuming the economy is OK and nothing else horrible happens to our country's interests – is please would you get something done about prescription drugs and give us something to run on so the Democrats have been whittled down, just whittled down, whittled down so they have only Social Security and then tactically, I think we have gotten much better about defending ourselves on that issue."

On whether President Bush can be confident of re-election:

"If there is one thing we have learned it is that off-year results are a horrible predictor of what is going to happen in presidential elections. ...All of us should be pretty modest about understanding how world events transform American politics and how what happens is just way beyond the president's control. Any number of things could happen that could upset where people are. ...I just don't think anyone should look two-and-a-half years before a presidential election and start breathing a sigh of relief."

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