Whit Ayres, May 3

Whit Ayres’ comments to Bloomberg News regarding re-opening the economy during the coronavirus pandemic:

“You’re balancing competing values: the importance of the economy and the food chain and the importance of public health,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “You’re making judgment calls with no obvious answers.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Health Data Privacy

In January, our firm conducted a national online survey of voters for the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, focusing on voter attitudes toward health care generally and privacy of health care data specifically. In some ways, January was a lifetime ago. For that very reason, however, the results set a baseline of attitudes regarding health care data.

First, the results show that, even before most voters had heard of coronavirus or thought about a global pandemic, health care was the top issue tested despite the survey being conducted the week of missiles being fired in the Middle East. Overall 80 percent of voters said health care cost and access was the single most important (28 percent) or a very important (52 percent) issue, surpassing jobs and the economy (79 percent, including 23 percent single most important) and national security (76 percent, including 24 percent single most important).

At that time, voters were not particularly focused on privacy, with just 58 percent saying they remembered signing a HIPAA form at a doctor’s office. Among that subgroup, just 22 percent said they paid a great deal of attention to the form, while 43 percent paid some attention, 24 percent paid not much attention, and 12 percent paid no attention at all. Voters did care about access to their personal health information through a smartphone or computer, with 33 percent saying it was very important and 40 percent saying it was somewhat important; that was particularly important for voters 18 to 34 (44 percent very important and 39 percent somewhat important).

Voters in January were notably more concerned about their financial information being stolen (40 percent very concerned) or their purchase history and credit card information from an online retailer (37 percent) than about their health records (27 percent), which was on a par with personal data and posts on social media (28 percent).

Particularly relevant now, in Particularly relevant now, in light of Apple and Google’s joint announcement that they would develop software to help trace the spread of the coronavirus, is that 81 percent of voters said technology companies should not have access to personal health care information. In fact, a majority of voters (58 percent) said medical researchers should not have that access, putting these responses potentially in conflict with the efforts to combat a global pandemic. How the medical community, governments, and tech companies address this tension will go a long way toward charting a course to conquering coronavirus.

Dan Judy, April 17

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding public views of the coronavirus pandemic:

There are “individual choices and behavior regardless of what the government says,” said GOP strategist Dan Judy. “If people aren’t ready to go back, they are not going to go back. And right now, people are still worried.”

For now, the outcome simply cannot be known.

“It’s an extremely difficult decision from both a political and policy standpoint. For any president, this would be an extremely hard decision,” said Judy. 

“The difficulty of it gets lost in the whole Trump circus. If Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan or Abraham Lincoln was president, it would still be an extremely hard decision.”

To read the whole article, please click here.

Dan Judy, April 6

Dan Judy’s comments to Bloomberg Government regarding telephone surveys during the coronavirus pandemic:

“We are seeing response rates higher than we’ve seen in many years,’’ said Dan Judy, who polls for Republican candidates at North Star Opinion Research in Alexandria, Va. 

The response rate for polls has been in decline for years, as many people have discontinued their land lines to use only mobile phones, which are harder to reach. 

To maximize results, pollsters have developed procedures, such as not calling on Friday nights, when people are usually out at restaurants or social engagements, or avoiding calling people on their mobile phones during the day when they’re at work and distracted.

Now, many of those protocols are unnecessary, Judy said.

“Day-dialing cellphones is potentially something we could do,” he said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, April 12

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Hill on polling during the coronavirus pandemic:

The coronavirus has led to a drawdown in political spending across the board, leading to a slowdown in everything from polls to media ad buys.

Fundraisers are having a tough time raising cash from once-reliable donors. Campaigns aren’t running political ads and they’re less likely to commission a poll, with the general election still six months out and the economy in turmoil.

“It’s a great time to get people on the phone — maybe the best response rates in a dozen years — but it’s not necessarily the most likely time for clients to want to be in the field,” said Jon McHenry, the pollster for North Star Opinion Research.

“There’s no telling how the virus plays out for people’s health and for the economy a month from now, much less in September and later. There are clients who stand to benefit from a benchmark survey now, figuring out effective criticisms and which policies are supported, but the horserace is dicier,” he added.

And the transition from crowded calling centers to having people work from home has been a challenge, as it has been for many industries.

McHenry said the shift to a remote workplace might hasten the move to more online polling and research.

“We’re still using the same vendors. For a lot of phone centers, that means people working on a … system from home,” said McHenry. “The technology allows that in a way you probably couldn’t have done 10 years ago and for sure couldn’t have done 20 years ago. And for national research, much of that is online anyway. This may be the final push for the few holdouts to accept online research as the primary methodology on national work.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, NBC News, April 4

Whit Ayres’ comments to NBC News on the initial ratings for President Trump during the coronavirus pandemic:

“There’s nothing that’s happened in the last three years that remotely approaches the significance of this event,” said Whit Ayers, a Republican pollster with the firm North Star Opinion Research. “The president’s clearly gotten a modest bump in his job approval as the country pulls together to try to fight this pandemic.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 4

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Los Angeles Times regarding views of President Trump during the coronavirus pandemic:

“Attitudes about the president are deeply ingrained, both positive and negative,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “So there is a powerful tendency to view the president’s performance through the preexisting lens.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 31

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding the durability of President Trump’s uptick in approval ratings:

“President Trump has broken through the narrow range of 42 to 46 percent approval where he’s been for the last two years and indeed for much of his presidency,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “It’s an open question whether those people who are changing now would actually vote in a different way in November. Some of the independents may. I doubt that many of the Democrats will.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 28

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Washington Post regarding the lessons of past executives in handling crises:

“The way public officials handle crises can be make or break moments for political careers,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who is not affiliated with the Trump campaign. “The way public officials perform, their competence and their ability to help their constituents recover from a crisis overshadows almost anything else that they do.”

To read the full article, please click here.