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Health Care

Whit Ayres, February 7

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times on Dr. Anthony Fauci:

“Populism is essentially anti: anti-establishment, anti-expertise, anti-intellectual and anti-media,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist, adding that Dr. Fauci “is an establishment expert intellectual who is in the media.”

The anti-Fauci fervor has taken its toll on his personal life; he has received death threats, his family has been harassed and his home in Washington is guarded by a security detail. His standing with the public has also suffered. In a recent NBC News Poll, just 40 percent of respondents said they trusted Dr. Fauci, down from 60 percent in April 2020.

Still, Mr. Ayres said, Dr. Fauci remains for many Americans “one of the most trusted voices regarding the pandemic.” In a Gallup pollat the end of 2021, his job approval rating was 52 percent. On a list of 10 officials, including Mr. Biden and congressional leaders, only two scored higher: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Jerome H. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Republican strategists are split on whether attacking Dr. Fauci is a smart strategy. Mr. Ayres said it could help rev up the base in a primary but backfire in a general election, especially in a swing state like Ohio. But John Feehery, another strategist, said many pandemic-weary Americans viewed Dr. Fauci as “Mr. Lockdown,” and it made sense for Republicans “to run against both Fauci and lockdowns.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, September 15

Jon McHenry’s comments to STAT News regarding President Trump’s proposal regarding prescription drug pricing:

“It’s a very savvy political move,” said Jon McHenry, the vice president of North Star Opinion Strategies, a Republican-aligned polling firm. “What you see is voters saying: ‘OK, he’s actually trying to do something on drug prices.’ That’s something that the Obama administration didn’t do, that’s something that Congress hasn’t taken on. So he probably does get some credit for following up on something that he said he would do during the [2016] election — without anyone getting to judge, ultimately, whether it’s good policy.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, September 9

Jon McHenry’s comments to STAT News regarding health care and the Kansas Senate race:

“Barbara Bollier could be in the right position for Kansas on surprise billing, but it’s likely to get drowned out by her abortion position,” said Jon McHenry, a pollster for the GOP-aligned group North Star Opinion Research. “Similarly, ACA repeal may not be decisive here if the conversation skews to other issues.”

Despite voters’ broad coronavirus anxiety, Bollier could still face difficulty incorporating the country’s pandemic struggles into her broader health care message, given Republicans’ large advantage in voter registration.

“Often 80% or more of Democrats will say they are very concerned about the effect of the pandemic, but that will drop to 50% to 60% among independents, and maybe 25% to 45% among Republicans,” said McHenry, the Republican-aligned pollster. “For some Republicans and independents, it’s more of a government control and economic issue than a ‘health care issue.’”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 23

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding coronavirus and health care policy:

“It certainly increases the pressure for some sort of minimal health care coverage that everyone can count on,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster.

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.

Whit Ayres, March 11

Whit Ayres’ comments to Time on the potential political effects of COVID-19:

What’s clear is that a President who has been in permanent campaign mode since the first day of his term is keenly aware of the stakes. “What we know is from natural disasters is the way a political leader handles a disaster can make or break a campaign,” says Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster at North Star Opinion Research. “Focus on the performance and the poll numbers will take care of themselves.” Trump’s performance is still unfolding, but one thing he knows for certain is that voters are watching.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, January 9

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Hill regarding Republicans and health care:

“Health care is such a significant part of our economy and the challenges are growing so great with the retirement of the baby boomers and the disruption brought about by ObamaCare that you can’t just cede a critically important issue to the other side,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster.

“Republicans need a positive vision about what should happen to lower costs, expand access and protect pre-existing conditions,” he added. “You’ve got to be able to answer the question, ‘So what do you think we should do about health care?’”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, May 6

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding the need to sell the American Health Care Act:

Some Republicans more skeptical of Trump warn that everything is still to play for, however.

“Whenever you make a change this big, you need somebody who can make the rationale for it, who can convince the public to be patient and give it time to work,” said GOP strategist Dan Judy, whose firm North Star Opinion Research worked for Trump rival Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) in last year’s Republican presidential primary.

“Donald Trump has always talked about what a great salesman he is. Now is the time to prove it.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, October 26

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Financial Times regarding the politics of Obamacare rate increases:

Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist, said Monday’s forecast that Obamacare premiums were set to jump was “a gift to any Republican nominee”.

“It [confirms] what Republicans have said for six years now. Basically what’s happening is what Republicans have predicted ever since before this thing was passed,” he said.

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But he added that Mr Trump had consistently passed up opportunities to zero in on traditional Republican policy issues, such as healthcare, instead allowing himself to be drawn into unhelpful debates over his character and behaviour.

“A normal Republican candidate could take this gift and run with it and really make it an advantage going into the final two weeks of the election. But Trump has shown absolutely no ability to do that with any other issue so I don’t know why he would start that now.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres on NPR, October 3

Whit Ayres’ comments on our joint Resurgent Republic/Democracy Corps poll for NPR:

The poll concentrated on the Senate battleground — the 12 states that will determine control of the Senate next year. It found an electorate where nobody likes anybody. The president, the Republicans and the Democrats were viewed with equal disgust — their favorability ratings all in the low 40s. This is a disgruntled group of voters, says Ayres, which this year happens to be good news for his party.

“The direction of the country is overwhelmingly perceived to be in the wrong direction. Barack Obama is exceedingly unpopular in the Senate battlegrounds,” he says. “The generic party preference for a Senate candidate favors the Republicans by three points. So the playing field still tilts strongly to Republicans in these 12 battleground states.”

To read the full article, please click here.

To hear the audio, please click below: