Whit Ayres, June 25

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Los Angeles Times regarding comparisons between “Brexit” and the Trump campaign:

“The Brexit vote did not have a candidate,” said Whit Ayres, the Republican pollster who served as a strategist to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. “The decision about the presidency involves far more than disagreements over public policy. Character and leadership are going to be paramount in this choice for Americans in November.”

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Dan Judy, June 16

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill on Republicans focusing on down ballot races this fall:

“I think in the minds of people right now, that is the focus — preserving our majorities in the Senate and the House,” said Dan Judy, a GOP strategist whose firm North Star Opinion Research worked on Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) presidential bid. “You’re seeing it among people in Washington, you’re seeing it among many of the major-money people.”

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Whit Ayres, June 16

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Dayton Daily News on Trump and the Republican party:

“A year ago there was the potential to have a united party behind a popular candidate posting up against a historically unpopular Hillary Clinton,” says veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who worked for Marco Rubio’s failed presidential bid. “Today we have a divided party with the one candidate in America less popular than Hillary Clinton as our presumptive nominee.”

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Whit Ayres, June 14

Whit Ayres’ comments for Bloomberg Politics on Donald Trump, projecting strength, and addressing terrorism:

“Trump’s chance of success depends on the extent to which people are desperate for a change in direction at the highest levels of government, regardless of whether they know what those changes look like so far,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “But that’s what put him in the game so far.”

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Get Used to It

Whit Ayres’ comments for The Washington Post on Donald Trump’s campaign style and Republican reactions:

“Get used to it,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, a Trump critic. “This is your life for the next five months.”

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Whit Ayres, June 9

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Atlantic regarding Donald Trump’s racially-charged appeals:

“Racially divisive politics ramp up the importance of the changing demographics because it makes it harder to perform credibly among non-white voters, and it also makes it harder for Trump to run up the white numbers he needs because of resistance to that sort of appeal among white college graduates and white women,” said the longtime GOP pollster Whit Ayres.


Whit Ayres, June 3

Whit Ayres’ comments in US News on chief executive officers making the transition to politics:

Whit Ayres, a veteran GOP consultant, lists three weaknesses business-only leaders suffer when they seek political office. They’re arrogant, Ayres says, thinking they know more about polling than pollsters and more about how the media operates than media experts do. They see themselves as the hirers, and not the person asking voters to hire them for an important job (and, as a consequence, they don’t handle scrutiny or criticism well). And they don’t think they need to learn new things, because they can always hire experts to deal with it, much as they might hire an accountant to do the books at the office.

“The famous political scientist Richard Neustadt argued that presidential power is the power to persuade. It’s not the power to order things to be done. It’s the power to persuade people that what you want them to do is in their best interest,” says Ayres, who advised Florida Sen. Marco Rubio when he was running for president. “A lot of people who come from a hierarchical environment, military or business, find it hard to make the transition to be an effective political deal-maker, wherein the premium is on persuasive ability. Bullying people who have their own independent constituencies is not really an effective governing technique,” Ayres says.

Could Trump make the transition from ultimate authority to someone who can navigate Congress, courts, independent agencies and the press? Experts are skeptical. Ayres, for his part, says he was approached by a CEO client who said he wanted to hire the seasoned consultant precisely because he didn’t want to make the same mistakes other businesspeople make when they run for office. “He proceeded to make every single one of them,” Ayres laments. And he lost the race.

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Whit Ayres, May 29

Whit Ayres’ comments in the San Diego Union-Tribune on demographics and the Trump campaign:

“We still elect presidents using the Electoral College … depending on states that are made up of diverse electorates,” cautions GOP pollster Whit Ayres. “There aren’t enough angry white people to create a majority in the new America of 2016, (and) running up your numbers with white males in Mississippi doesn’t get you one more electoral vote than Mitt Romney.”

Ayres, the Republican pollster, affirmed that it’s “not impossible” for Trump to fashion a winning coalition. But, he says, “You’re basically arguing that somehow, a constant 20-year-plus demographic trend is just going to magically stop.”

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Jon McHenry, May the Fourth

Jon McHenry’s comments in Politico on the challenges Donald Trump faces in winning a general election:

“I don’t see how he all of a sudden becomes this magnanimous unifier,” said Republican pollster Jon McHenry, whose firm, North Star Opinion Research, polled for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “Does he get a bump? Probably. But he’s starting from such a low position that this small bump he gets from being the presumptive nominee I don’t think is enough to overcome the demographic challenges or the character challenges that Trump faces.”

McHenry outlined some back-of-the-envelope math, starting with a number of assumptions, to outline Trump’s uphill path. First, he assumed three-in-10 voters this fall are non-white – a modest increase from 28 percent in 2012, according to exit polls. He then gave Trump a vote share of 10 percentage points greater than his average favorable rating for a number of demographic groups.

If Trump’s vote share among white women was 50 percent, McHenry said – which would be down from Romney’s 56 percent four years ago – that would mean Trump would have to win about 85 percent of white men to win, an astounding percentage and dramatically better than Romney’s 62-percent share.

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Dan Judy, May the Fourth

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill on the prospects for a Trump win in November:

Republican strategist Dan Judy, whose firm North Star Opinion Research worked with Rubio’s now-defunct campaign, pointed to Trump’s particularly low favorability numbers among nonwhite voters and among women.

“There are not enough white men in the country to offset winning 30 percent of women and 10 percent of nonwhites,” Judy said, adding that even though Trump had surpassed expectations in innumerable ways, winning elections ultimately “becomes a matter of mathematics.”

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