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Obama Approval Rating

Whit Ayres, November 10

Whit Ayres’ comments to WBUR’s Here and Now show on the incumbency effect as it relates to 2016 polling:

“There’s a well-established principle in polling, with incumbents running for re-election, that what you see is what you get. In other words, if you’re at 48 as an incumbent, and your opponent is 45, we will frequently tell our incumbent candidates that they’re in trouble… The reason is that frequently incumbents get the number at the polls that they have on the final survey.

Their opponents are generally not saddled with the image of incumbency, so frequently, undecided voters go disproportionately to the challenger. And the issue here is whether or not Hillary Clinton was, if not technically an incumbent, effectively an incumbent running for the third term of Barrack Obama… It seems like more than a coincidence that the number she had in the average of polls at the end of the race is remarkably similar to where she ended up on the final ballot. But Trump made substantial gains, as frequently challengers do.”

To read the full excerpt, please click here.

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.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, April 11

Jon McHenry’s comment in the Washington Times regarding President Obama’s approval rating and the Supreme Court vacancy:

Republican pollster Jon McHenry of North Star Opinion Research said he doubts the Supreme Court nomination is a factor in Mr. Obama’s improved position.

“I suspect it’s just [Mr. Obama] being out of the spotlight and others on both sides being the partisan fighters,” Mr. McHenry said. “Independents are the least likely to care about the Supreme Court (with Republicans caring most and Democrats in the middle), so I’m skeptical this nomination helps drive his numbers.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 24

Whit Ayres’ comments in the National Journal on how President Obama’s actions may affect Hillary Clinton’s chances in the 2016 presidential contest:

Even so, a pattern is already hardening with Clinton embracing and the 2016 Republicans repudiating many of Obama’s most consequential, and polarizing, initiatives. Republicans believe this dynamic will benefit them because, as Obama himself acknowledged with his “new car smell” remarks this week, voters usually prefer change after a two-term president. “It makes it far more difficult for Hillary Clinton to separate herself from Barack Obama and avoid the charge that she’s going to represent [his] third term,” says Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 13

Whit Ayres’ quoted by msnbc on potential executive action on immigration:

“[Executive action] undercuts supporters of immigration reform and emboldens the opponents,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who has advocated passing reform to help the GOP win back Latinos, told msnbc. “It’s going to come across as an illegitimate and crassly political move by a desperate president.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 4

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Wall Street Journal on the final weeks of the election:

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, said the late-in-the-game focus on Ebola and Islamic State added to a growing body of evidence that “the administration is in over its head.”

While these issues didn’t decide the election, they sucked up a lot of oxygen, making it difficult for Democrats to find traction talking about other topics, he said.

“When people are dying in a pandemic in Africa and innocent people are getting their heads chopped off in the Middle East, raising the minimum wage pales in comparison,” Mr. Ayres said, referring to a central policy proposal from Democratic candidates.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 1

Whit Ayres shared his thoughts on the likelihood of Republicans gaining control of the Senate on the Journal Editorial Report:

Jon McHenry, October 17

Jon McHenry’s comments on the political effect of President Obama’s Ebola response in the Washington Times:

“It’s pretty clear that the best politics is to do a travel ban,” said Jon McHenry, vice president of North Star Opinion Research in Alexandria, Virginia. “In that sense, the president, regardless of what’s going on behind scenes, seems to be detached and inactive on another situation that people care about. This is yet another case that seems to show a lack of leadership on his part.”

The Ebola infections and the CDC’s missteps are keeping the news story alive and making it difficult for Democratic candidates to talk about topics other than the administration’s apparent incompetence, Mr. McHenry said.

“It’s another issue on which Democrats are having to defend the president or turn around and attack the country’s response on this,” he said. “At a time when they want to be talking about almost anything else, they’re talking about the administration again.”

He added, “It reinforces a pattern of what people believe that they’re seeing — a lack of leadership, a lack of engagement. Whether it’s being slow to react in Ukraine, slow to react in Syria with [the Islamic State], he charitably has a very deliberate approach but, being less charitable, seems to not put the sense of urgency on issues that voters want him to have.”

How the crisis plays out politically might well depend on whether any more cases of Ebola surface in the U.S., Mr. McHenry said.

“If someone in Ohio winds up getting this, then it’s going to look like a pandemic to the public,” he said. “I’m sure more people are going to die from the flu this year [in the U.S.] than from Ebola, but the news media has a fresh story to run with every day, there’s a new facet to it every day.”

For the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 7

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Hill regarding outside groups in Senate races:

“Money is necessary but not sufficient for political success,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster and strategist. “The record is replete with candidates who have outspent their opponents and still lost.”

Ayres said the effectiveness of advertising by outside groups depends largely on the type of group that does the advocacy and quality of the ad. The National Rifle Association, for instance, has a much more loyal following than some of the super-PACs with generic-sounding names that have sprung up in recent years.

As much as outside groups will spend this cycle, Ayres predicted other factors would have a bigger impact on deciding control of the Senate.

He said President Obama’s job-approval rating, the political leanings of the Senate battlegrounds themselves and the demographics of the voters who show up to the polls on Election Day would be the top three factors.

To read the full article, please click here.

Resurgent Republic/Democracy Corps NPR Survey

Our survey with GQRR for NPR was featured on today’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and highlights the tough road ahead for Democrats in swing Senate seats.

To read the article, please click here.