Whit Ayres, August 21

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Fiscal Times on the political impact of the Zika virus spread in Florida:

Whit Ayres, a veteran GOP pollster who advised Rubio during his presidential bid, believes that voters will be far more discerning in assessing blame in the election.

“It depends on what Republican and what they’ve done about it, and whether or not they’ve made a serious effort to try to address it,” Ayres said in an interview. He stressed that Rubio has been a leader in the fight for funding for Zika treatment in Florida.

“I don’t buy this argument that, okay, there’s a public health crisis and now they’re going to take it out on one party rather than the other when both parties are part of the problem of not moving off this issue,” he said. “People are going to make individual judgments about individual candidates.”

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Whit Ayres, August 19

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding demographics and Donald Trump’s campaign:

“If you set out to design a strategy to produce the lowest popular vote possible in the new American electorate of 2016, you would be hard-pressed to do a better job than Donald Trump has,” said Whit Ayres, a pollster who has advised Republican presidential and Senate candidates for more than 25 years. “This is an electoral disaster waiting to happen.”

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Whit Ayres, August 17

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Boston Globe regarding the “social media slap fight” between Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren:

During their exchanges, it didn’t matter what Trump thumb-typed in answer to Warren’s taunts: Each time Trump responded was a win for Warren, said Whit Ayres, a Republican political strategist and pollster who worked for Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.

“One of the basics of Politics 101 is you fight with the candidates who are your opponents, not those who are not,” Ayres said, in a Globe interview. “There’s no cost to Warren in doing this; the cost is to Trump, when he gets baited into reacting to someone who’s not on the ballot against him.”

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Whit Ayres, August 16

Whit Ayres’ comments to Fox News Latino regarding Hispanic support for Republicans nationally:

Veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres said that while Latinos have traditionally preferred the Democratic Party, the Fox News Latino poll highlights a worrisome downward trend for Republicans.

“Party identification [for Latinos] is fully consistent with what we have seen since the demise of the George W. Bush immigration reform proposal in 2007, when Hispanic voter identification went from 49 percent Democrat to 65 percent Democrat,” said Ayres, who wrote a book titled: “2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in the New America,” which says the GOP must get more minorities on its side if it is to remain viable and win back the Oval Office.

“After the 2007 demise of the immigration proposal, Republican Party ID [among Latinos] went from 28 percent, to 26 percent, then 25 percent to 22 percent and in 2014 went to 27 percent. This would mean that Republican ID is at its lowest point” going back more than a decade, Ayres said.

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Whit Ayres, August 15

Whit Ayres’ comments in the New York Times regarding Donald Trump’s struggles with minority voters:

That is what worries Republicans this year, particularly in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania with heavily black cities, where an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll last week showed Mr. Trump receiving only 1 percent of the black vote. (The poll’s three percentage point margin of error among all voters suggests that his support could be slightly higher.)

“As is the case with many other groups, Donald Trump is in a race to the bottom,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who last year wrote a book warning his party to expand its appeal or face doom. “He will likely have to get more than 65 percent of the white vote to win.”

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Jon McHenry, August 1

Jon McHenry’s comments on the prospects for Republicans retaining the Senate majority:

“Democrats haven’t really started the process of tying Trump around Republican necks,” said Jon McHenry, a prominent Republican pollster. “The swing state Republicans who hold their seats this fall will be those with a good story of vision and accomplishment to tell that allows them to run independently of Trump.”

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Whit Ayres, July 8

Whit Ayres’ comments in US News and World Report on Donald Trump’s effect on downballot races and the future of the Republican party:

For the moment that’s raising the prospect of resurgence in a fading voting pattern: “Just because people haven’t split their tickets in recent elections doesn’t mean they can’t spit their tickets,” says Whit Ayres, a veteran GOP pollster who also wrote a book, “2016 and Beyond” on how the GOP can regain the White House. “We are starting to see hints of the greatest amounts of ticket splitting we have seen since the 1980s.” Ayres pointed to a poll his firm conducted for Rep. Robert Dold, an Illinois Republican in a swing district; it had Clinton leading by 16 points and Dold ahead by 7 percentage points. “So there’s a 23 point difference in those numbers … which is a dramatic level of ticket splitting,” Ayres says.

Nominating Trump only throws accelerant on what had been a smoldering fire for the Republican Party. Because you know who Donald Trump specifically does not appeal to? Women (the gender gap is trending toward record-setting this year), nonwhite voters and young voters.

“That’s a serious danger,” says GOP pollster Ayres. “People tend stick the participation identification they adopted when they came of political age.” If Democrats can lock in voting groups whose power is only going to grow, like Latinos and millenials, “it will be exceedingly difficult for Republicans to put together a majority in future elections.”

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Whit Ayres, July 6

Whit Ayres’ comments in the McClatchy newspapers regarding the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information:

Republican consultant Whit Ayres noted that Comey’s phrase “extremely careless” to describe Clinton’s handling of classified information is likely to be used repeatedly in TV and radio spots.

“Today may have closed the legal case on the email scandal, but it’s hardly closed the political case,” he said. “The worst criticism any candidate can receive is one that reinforces pre-existing doubts, and this certainly reinforces the pre-existing doubts about Hillary Clinton’s honesty and trustworthiness. There is a reason she’s not deemed by most Americans to be honest and trustworthy, and it’s the kind of thing that Comey discussed.”

Still, Ayres was not yet certain that the controversy would end up changing Clinton’s standing in the polls or the eyes of the voters.

“The question is whether this is already built into the price of the stock,” he said. “Are doubts about Hillary Clinton’s honesty and trustworthiness already built into the numbers we see in the polls or does this have the potential to move those numbers?”

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Whit Ayres, July 4 Washington Times

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Washington Times regarding ticket splitting:

While presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tops Mr. Trump in matchups in Florida, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, incumbent Senate Republicans are all ahead in polling in their own races, building significant leads.

“We’re seeing in numerous states and districts at the moment very substantial levels of potential ticket-splitting,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster.

Mr. Ayres said tickets haven’t been split much in recent elections because down-ballot candidates have tended to align themselves closely with their parties’ presidential nominees. That is not the case this year, and voters are being asked to split their tickets.

“People are perfectly capable of splitting their tickets, and it looks like if the parties follow through with their presumptive nominees, then this year we could have a record level,” Mr. Ayres said.

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Whit Ayres, July 4

Whit Ayres’ comments on President Obama’s appeal and Hillary Clinton’s electoral map in The Canadian Press:

He’ll start using some of that political advantage Tuesday. Obama-Clinton and Trump will hold competing rallies in North Carolina. It’s a state Obama won once, though he lost it in 2012 and still won a big majority in the electoral college.

“If Hillary Clinton can win the same states, then she’s the next president,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres of North Star Opinion Research, who was the pollster for Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.

He said the advantage of using Obama is that he remains wildly popular among Democrats. Obama inspired African-Americans to vote in record numbers, and won the younger demographic that spurned Clinton in the primary. He could also help with white voters — polling data from YouGov suggests nearly one-quarter of those who supported him haven’t yet backed Clinton.

But Ayres said there are drawbacks too.

He said Obama’s presence risks turning off Trump-skeptical Republicans and independents — the kind of persuadable voters who could support Clinton, but shudder at the idea of a third Obama term.

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