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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Whit Ayres, April 29

Whit Ayres’ comments in the San Antonio Express-News regarding the vice presidential selection process:

For Trump, the selection process is complicated by not knowing when he might be able to claim the nomination.

“If we know as of the evening of June 7 (when the primary season effectively ends), then it will be a more normal process for him. But if we don’t know until the convention, it will be anything but normal,” said Whit Ayres, a GOP consultant who advised Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign for the Republican nomination.

Trump has the added challenge of finding a running mate in a Republican Party that he routinely disparages. The No. 2 on the ticket is expected to defend policies and statements of the nominee, which could prove challenging under Trump.

Losing vice presidential candidates aren’t typically tarnished by defeat. But, Ayres observed, “Trump is a totally different kind of candidate who could have effects on a vice presidential nominee different from anyone else we’ve seen.”

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Whit Ayres, April 27

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Whit Ayres’ comments in the Kansas City Star on the impact of Indiana’s primary on the Republican nominating process:

“If Donald Trump wins Indiana, there will be very little energy or hope left among those who want to back a nominee other than Donald Trump,” said Republican consultant Whit Ayres.

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Whit Ayres, April 20

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post regarding Hillary Clinton’s image:

Republicans believe that Clinton is so well known that she will have difficulty changing minds. “She is substantially weaker as a candidate than I expected and substantially less able to create a compelling persona on the stump,” said Whit Ayres, who was Rubio’s campaign pollster.

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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.”

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Whit Ayres, April 1

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Los Angeles Times regarding the Republican nominating contest:

“Any candidate that looks like an almost sure loser in a general election is going to have a hard time getting a party’s nomination,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who was a top strategist for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s unsuccessful bid. “The weaker Trump looks as a potential nominee, the greater the pressure to open up the nominating process for someone who might actually win the general election.”

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Whit Ayres, March 31, NPR

Whit Ayres’ book 2016 and Beyond was featured by NPR regarding Donald Trump’s comments on abortion:

Knowing this, Republican strategists know that the party has to be thoughtful when talking about abortion. In his 2015 book, 2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in the New America, GOP strategist Whit Ayres — who advised Marco Rubio’s campaign — told Republicans to exercise “extreme care” in talking about abortion.

“If your audience contains women, chances are very good that you are talking to someone who is extraordinarily sensitive about the topic,” he wrote. He pointed to statistics showing that “three out of five Americans know someone who has had an abortion.”

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Whit Ayres, March 31

Whit Ayres’ comments to CNBC on the state of the Republican primary contest:

“I think this thing is a long way from being over,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. It’s also a long way from being clear whether this week’s contretemps represents a grave threat to Trump’s candidacy or another in a series of bumps he has consistently moved beyond.

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Dan Judy, March 22

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill on the effect of Donald Trump’s candidacy on turnout in 2016:

“Honestly, I do think that if Donald Trump is on the ticket, we probably will see the highest turnout we’ve ever seen in a presidential election,” said Republican strategist Dan Judy of North Star Opinion Research. “A lot of people will turn out for him who have never voted. But as many, if not more, will turn out to vote against him.”

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Whit Ayres, March 29

Whit Ayres’ quote in the New York Times about the gender gap in the 2016 election:

“If we end up with a Trump-Clinton general election, we will have a gender gap the size of the Grand Canyon,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “Many of the things that Donald Trump has said about women make him toxic to many female voters across the country. On the other hand, some of the grievances he has articulated resonate particularly well with non-college male voters in many parts of the country as well.”

“Democrats have just as much of a problem among white men as Republicans do among women,” Mr. Ayres said.

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