NJ: How seriously should we be taking the Tea Party movement?
Cook: Well I think in politics in general and particularly in midterm elections, intensity matters. And whether a movement is constituted by tens of millions or hundreds of millions of people or not, if it's a sizable enough group with enough intensity, they can make a huge impact.
...I think the Democratic problems and the president's problems, they, by a factor of a hundred, go beyond the Tea Party movement, but the Tea Party movement is sort of the tip of the sword.
NJ: If Obama has a communications problem as you suggest, then what should he do to reach out to the American people? Should he try to appear more populist?
Cook: I sort of reject the notion that there is a communications problem with President Obama. I think it's just fundamental, total miscalculations from the very, very beginning. Of proportions comparable to President George W. Bush's decision to go into Iraq.
And this isn't a communications problem. This is a reality problem. And I think they just made some grave miscalculations and as it became more clear that they had screwed up, they just kept doubling down their bet.
And so I think, no, this is one of the biggest miscalculations that we've seen in modern political history.
NJ: Are there areas where you might see a Republican nominee who is too far to the right?
Cook: Where you have Republican incumbents who may have voted for TARP, you're going to have some potential probleme spots. Part of it is, we're reaching here a little bit. Because, yes, the Republican Party, they've got some huge brand problems, where their brand got badly damaged during the eight years of President Bush and the six years the Republicans had the majority in Congress.... But if I had a choice of the Republican Party's problems right now or the Democratic Party's problems, I think you could triple the Republican Party's problems and I'd still rather have their problems than the problems facing Democrats.