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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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Whit Ayres, May 8

Whit Ayres’ comments for the Wall Street Journal on Democratic messaging for the 2014 election:

The White House strategy is taking shape in a macro-micro approach, similar to the one Mr. Obama’s campaign deployed in 2012, when Democrats essentially ran a series of local campaigns in fewer than a dozen states. The party’s overarching argument is the same: Democrats support policies to bolster the middle class, while the Republican economic agenda would benefit the wealthy—an assertion the GOP says is off-base.

The Republican rebuttal, said GOP pollster Whit Ayres, will include the argument that “the Obama administration has had six years to turn this economy around. What they’ve tried hasn’t worked. It’s time to try a new direction.”

The Democrats’ economic argument “is probably the best they can do, but I don’t think it will be anywhere near enough,” Mr. Ayres said.

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Whit Ayres, April 1

Whit Ayres’ comments for CNN regarding ObamaCare and the midterm elections:

Republican pollster Whit Ayers said there’s a more powerful factor in voter fatigue: Obama himself.

Six years into a President’s term, “people get tired of that person’s leadership,” he said. “Especially this President’s.”

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Whit Ayres, March 23

Whit Ayres’ comments in USA Today regarding our joint survey with The Mellman Group for the Bipartisan Policy Center.

For many in the GOP, Ayres says, attitudes toward President Obama and the perception that he’s unwilling to compromise are driving the shift in views. “Republicans in particular realize that the best they’re going to do with a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate is stopping bad things,” he says. “They believe that if you can stop the stimulus bill or stop Obamacare, that may be the best we can do — and that is a function of the divisions.”

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