Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney made the best impression among Republican political operatives, campaign consultants, and party strategists during the first half of the CNN GOP New Hampshire presidential debate according to a special National Journal Political Insiders Poll conducted while the debate was in progress. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota was also off to a good start.
Insiders were asked, “In the first half of the debate, which candidate impressed you the most?” Among the 52 GOP Insiders who responded, 42 percent said that Romney had impressed the most and 31 percent said Bachmann had.
Among the 43 Democratic Insiders who responded, 38 percent of them said Bachmann had been the most impressive while 28 percent said Romney was.
Romney got generally high marks for his general command on the stage and for handling some tough questions on the comparison between the health care reform that he helped enact in Massachusetts with the national health care-reform law enacted by President Obama and congressional Democrats.
“He’s doing everything he needs to protect his front-runner slot,” observed one Republican Insider. Another said Romney "dealt with some tough questions and helped create some distinctions on 'Obamacare.' "
Added another Republican Insider, “I was impressed by all the GOP candidates, but none of them climbed over Romney, which is what they have to do to win.”
And a Republican Insider said of Bachmann, “Remarkably impressive and brilliant move announcing for president during debate.”
Democratic Insiders thought Bachmann was delivering a good performance in the multi-candidate debate format.
“Great energy and personality,” said one Democratic Insider. “Excellent answers that were solidly conservative but sounded very reasonable.” Added another Democrat, “Bachmann is proving to be a strong debater, relaxed, concise, and delivering good one-liners.”
National Journal will have final results on the debate after it concludes.
The National Journal Political Insiders Poll is a regular survey of political operatives, strategists, campaign consultants and lobbyists in both parties. Below are the names of the Republican and Democratic Insiders who were surveyed for the debate: