No D.C. experience, no problem, new poll indicates
May 19th, 2014
11:23 AM ET
3 months ago

No D.C. experience, no problem, new poll indicates

Washington (CNN) -- Congressional experience isn't the political asset it once was for presidential hopefuls, according to a new national poll.

Instead, a Pew Research Center survey released Monday indicates that serving as a governor may be a better training ground for White House contenders.

According to the poll, 44% of Americans say that serving as a governor better prepares someone to be president, with an equal amount saying serving in Congress is the better preparation. That's a dramatic change from 1987, when by a three-to-one margin Americans said serving in Congress rather than as a governor was the best preparation for being president. Even seven years ago, by at 55%-24% margin, the public said Congress was a better place to get prepared for higher office.

In a separate question which tested whether 16 traits and characteristics would make someone more or less likely to support a candidate for president, a third say they'd be more likely to support a presidential candidate with experience as a governor, compared to only 19% who say they'd be more likely to support a candidate with "many years" of experience as an elected official in Washington.

The 19% who say they'd be more likely to support a presidential contender with lots of Washington experience was down from 35% just seven years ago.

In 2008 Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S senator since John F. Kennedy in 1960 to win election to the White House. But Obama had only served in the Senate for four years before winning the presidency. Before his 2004 election to the Senate, Obama was a state lawmaker in Illinois.

Obama's two immediate predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, were sitting governors when they were elected president.

The Pew poll indicates that military service remains the most valuable asset for a presidential hopeful among the 16 traits and characteristics. Forty-three percent of those questioned say they would be more likely to back a presidential candidate with military experience.

At the other end of the spectrum, not believing in God and never having held any elective office are seen as the most negative traits.

Complete Coverage: 2014 Midterm Elections

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted April 23-27, with 1,501 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

 


Filed under: 2016 • Poll
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    44% of Americans say that serving as a governor better prepares someone to be president,
    --------------------------------------
    If that's the case then Chris Christie shouldn't even be a contender. Jersey' bond rating has been downgraded twice since he's been in office and unemployment is high.

    May 19, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. Enough is Enough

    Yes – Having no real world experience in any type of responsible position has worked out quite well for Obama....He does have the "mad as hell" thing down though.....

    May 19, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Republican Scott Walker dropped out of Marquette without a degree, so he will get the support of the quitter followers.

    May 19, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Enough – You seem to have that unwarranted outrage down well, so you should get a show on Fox.

    May 19, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. Gurgyl

    --I don't think any of the current Republican trash is even worth considering for WH.

    May 19, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. The REAL Truth...

    @Enough is Enough – Yes – Having no real world experience in any type of responsible position has worked out quite well for Obama.
    ---------------------------–
    And that has worked out so well for every other elected POTUS, even those elected by the SCOTUS!

    May 19, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  7. CB FL

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House. New Jersey's bond rating has been downgraded 5 times since Christie has been in office.

    May 19, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. frznagn

    So much hate on these ticker posts, you'd think this was a site for extremists.

    May 19, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. truth hurts but reality bites

    This probably doesn't hold true in all cases. You have the Democrat governors of Oregon, Nevada, Maryland and Massachusetts that have wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayers money FAILING to get their state Obamacare exchanges up and working and are now abandoning them to use the Fed web site. Democrat incompetence extends far beyond Washignton and the Obama administration.

    May 19, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    I'm really curious about the party affiliation of those surveyed. Seeing how the Tea Party has been fielding candidates with absolutely no experience in public service of any kind, it would not surprise me to find that a majority of conservatives felt that "no experience, no problem."

    May 19, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. Vince

    Little DC experience seems to be part of the problem we're in now. Would you want someone with no surgery experience taking out your spleen? No thanks.

    May 19, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. The Elephant in the Room

    To bad they don`t want someone with honor, integrity, a history of accomplishing things through compromise rather than edict. Governors darn near get away with murder. They bully and demand and coerce . . . a President doesn`t get to do that with his/ her visibility and a chattering class that is too stupid to admit its own shortcomings.

    May 19, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. Tommy G

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House

    44% of Americans say that serving as a governor better prepares someone to be president,
    ------------–
    If that's the case then Chris Christie shouldn't even be a contender. Jersey' bond rating has been downgraded twice since he's been in office and unemployment is high.
    ----

    Their massive pension debt causes this thanks to the Democrats that have been running the state and giving the unions everything they wanted in exchange for their support. The same story in several other Democrat run states across the country. Lesson is, if you want a debt ridden near bankrupt state, elect a Democrat to lead it.

    May 19, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. bobo

    DC experience is basically knowing how to be a crook.... I'll take the average working American, Thank You!

    May 19, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    CB FL
    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House. New Jersey's bond rating has been downgraded 5 times since Christie has been in office.
    ---------------------------–
    Thanks for the correction and I rest my case. lol

    May 19, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  16. Donna

    Experience in spending money we don't have is experience we don't need in Washington. Democrats think there is no limit to what this country can tax, borrow and spend. Cutting a dime out of a $3.5 trillion budget gets them squealing about starving kids, old and poor people.

    May 19, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I'm not surprised. It seems all you need to be an up and coming rising star in the GOP is unadulterated hatred for the current occupant of the Oval Office. That and the promise to be against Obama no matter what puts you right up there as a rising star....

    Oh yeah and the ability to shoot guns and castrate pigs helps too.

    May 19, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. Chris-E...al

    Dems just have bad ideals on most issues just listen to what the real experts think about the plans and goals after they dream them up it always sounds good to to the ear but will fail in time . Thats what the nonbias experts say and we should be incline to believe them ! But dems live for the day and and have no care for americas long term survival they just are of a lower standard and have no want or will to be better at this time at this time

    May 19, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. Dean

    How about a governor from a state in which the citizens primarily speak English? Perhaps from a state that's not perpetually running a deficit?

    May 19, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  20. Silence DoGood

    Conservative plan:
    Send inexperienced people to govern.
    Cut some science out of our schools.
    Put more guns in our schools.
    Deny scientific warnings and expert advice.
    Threaten people around the world and invade countries at random.
    Yeah now THAT will make us world leaders!

    May 19, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  21. imalib

    Experience? Who cares?! It is all about how cool the prez is. Is he in with the celebs, does he give a good interview on the Daily Show. We have turned the presidency into a reality TV audition. Obama speaks and acts like he is on a reality TV show. The rest of the world is laughing at him and us.

    May 19, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    " Cutting a dime out of a $3.5 trillion budget gets them squealing about starving kids, old and poor people.'

    Completely and utterly divorced from reality and the numbers. Obama has decreased the deficit by over $900B since taking office and it has gone down at the fastest rate in 60 years. Anyone claiming his spending is out of control is either living in an entirely alternate universe or is just knowingly lying to push a false talking point.

    May 19, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. Gurgyl

    --spending? What spending? Why didn't you say this when we spent trillions out of IRAQ WAR? Pumping money to Pakistan? You cry when we spend on Infrastructure. Did you go to Charleston, SC, see the third world roads? Nonsense.

    May 19, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Donna

    Experience in spending money we don't have is experience we don't need in Washington. Democrats think there is no limit to what this country can tax, borrow and spend. Cutting a dime out of a $3.5 trillion budget gets them squealing about starving kids, old and poor people.
    ---------------------------------–
    Democrats have a legitimate complaint when spending cuts are made in programs for the poor, while Republicans refuse to cut anything that benefits the wealthy, especially when the Republicans advocate adding more to benefit the wealthy by using cuts to the poor to pay for it.

    Besides, Republicans are the masters of exploding the annual deficit. Year to year growth in annual spending has been highest under Republican administrations, and lowest under Democratic administrations. Look it up, and see for yourself.

    May 19, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    " You have the Democrat governors of Oregon, Nevada, Maryland and Massachusetts that have wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayers money FAILING to get their state Obamacare exchanges up and working and are now abandoning them to use the Fed web site. Democrat incompetence extends far beyond Washignton and the Obama administration.'

    And the Dem governor of Kentucky who created the best exchange in the country and has reduced the uninsured rate of Kentucky's population by over 40%. Now, let's compare that to the red state GOP/Teatroll governors who did not create exchanges and did not expand Medicaid. Oh looky, the numbers are already showing that their insurance premiums are increasing at a much faster rate in those states compared to the states that participated...and the uninsured rates are falling much more quickly in states that participated. But we're supposed to believe that resentful, spiteful obstruction and a refusal to participate that does nobody any good is much much better than good faith efforts to help the state that, while in need of some tweaking to get them fixed, are still helping people more than the obstruction is? Sorry, but your alternate reality is nothing but fail.

    May 19, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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