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

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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.

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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. Sniffit

    "Please post the list of Obama-Democrat spending cuts to prove your point. It should not take long to type nothing in.

    We can start with the $400B in Pentagon cuts Obama had Gates make and go from there if you'd like. No? Sick of being wrong yet or does your tinfoil hat shield you from the shame as well as it shields you from reality?

    May 19, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  2. Donna

    Rudy NYC
    It was predicted that we could see annual deficits in excess of a trillion dollars within a decade by someone on Bush's own staff. It's what lead to Cheney's famous claim about "deficits don't matter."

    They were talking about the very predictable growth in entitlement spending, social security and medicare and if that wasn't enough, the massive cost of servicing the debt, especially if interest rates rose. Nobody in the history of this country has run such large deficits for so long. Obama is the KING of debt, hands down.

    Obama's trillion dollar deficits have been totally self inflicted. He made the one time TARP spending part of the permanent budget ($800 billion). Then instituted economy and job killing policies that continue to this day. We have the lowest labor participation rate in 30 years and we aren't creating enough jobs to satisfy new people coming into the work force.

    Democrats just don't understand (or won't admit), we have reached a spending level THAT DEMANDS strong economic growth in order to pay for their massive social welfare state. Without that strong economic growth, we must borrow more and more.

    May 19, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    @Donna, these economic stagnation came from GOP thugs bickering and not passing "JOBS-BILL". Which they ran in 2010, where is it? Their aim was Obama to one term president. Be glad stocks represent a strong economic forecast. Remove all republican trash.

    May 19, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. smith

    @Rudy- Is military service bad? Obama is commander of our military but he doesn`t run our country. The three branches goverment run our country.So what on earth are you talking about? My opinion relates to the potus being the commander of our military.

    May 19, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    Well, the GOP has that covered . Maybe if the worked more then a month without having to take a vacation from their lack of doing ANYTHING constructive FOR the country they might have a little more energy AND GET SOMETHING DONE, MAD VOTERS are the GOPs WORST ENEMEY!!!!! See you in November GOP .

    May 19, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Democrats just don't understand (or won't admit), we have reached a spending level THAT DEMANDS strong economic growth in order to pay for their massive social welfare state. Without that strong economic growth, we must borrow more and more.

    Let's start with cutting back wasteful Pentagon spending, reining in offshore banking rat holes and making the rich pay what they owe in taxes. How about cutting subsidies to the petroleum industry? No? The Kock Brothers and Dick Cheney won't like that?

    May 19, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. Donna

    "Obama CONTINUED the Bush tax cuts! "
    More dishonest claptrap. They were continued because the GOP/Teatrolls held unemployment insurance, the new START treaty and several other important, must-pass pieces of legislation hostage during November and December of 2010 in order to force us to pay the ransom of extending the Bush tax cuts. They brought gov't to a standstill yet again in order to demand that they get their way, right as the Bush tax cuts were set to expire AS WRITTEN AND AS PROMISED BY THE GOP/TEATROLLS WHEN THEY ENACTED THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    Are denying that most of the Bush tax cuts are STILL IN PLACE today?

    May 19, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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