Whit Ayres, July 19

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Charlotte Observer on the effect of not repealing Obamacare on the 2018 midterms:

Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster who will be involved in the 2018 midterms, said the health care flop won’t necessarily be catastrophic for the GOP — if they can net real, beneficial accomplishments on other complicated issues, such as tax reform.

“The best outcome is a set of concrete accomplishments that appeal broadly to a center-right coalition,” Ayres said. “If that set of accomplishments does not include an overhaul of the health care system, then something else, like tax reform, that truly stimulates the economy would be a good substitute. But it will be far easier to run campaigns in 2018 with a concrete set of accomplishments that Republicans can take to the electorate as a result of Republican control of the government.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 21

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post regarding Karen Handel’s victory in the GA 06 special election:

Whit Ayres, a Republican consultant and Handel strategist, underscored her success in turning the contest into a normal partisan choice. “The voters decided that Karen Handel was a better representative of their values, their interests and their perspective than Jon Ossoff,” he told me. “Karen Handel ran a relentlessly localized campaign that focused on that perspective.”

Notice those words: “relentlessly localized.” To pull this off, Handel had to keep her distance from Trump. Ayres put the matter diplomatically: “The president structured the broader environment but didn’t determine the outcome of this particular race.” Exactly.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 21

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Boston Globe regarding Karen Handel’s victory in the GA 06 special election:

But Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster in Washington, cautioned the party against taking too many lessons from the special races. Yes, Democrats would have received a jolt of energy had they been able to flip one of the four deeply red House districts that had special elections this year, but it was always unlikely. Plus, Democrats will have better chances of victory in some of the 2018 districts in more moderate states, such as California.

“My main takeaway is that the GOP can win in a challenging environment,” Ayres said in an interview. “The president structures a broader environment but doesn’t determine the outcome of the political races. . . . It all depends on which candidates are nominated and what campaigns they run.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 10

Whit Ayres’ comments to NPR on the potential electoral effects of a government shutdown:

“The government shutdown in October 2013 gave the Republican Party a huge hit from which it took more than a year to recover,” said veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres. “The drop in the Republican Party’s favorable rating was dramatic. We were fortunate that we had a year to repair the damage.”

“Most of the wisdom of pollsters comes from looking at history of past actions and all the history of the last government shutdown suggests that it was very bad news for Republicans,” said Ayres. “There’s no reason to think that the result will be any different in the future, especially since we control the entire government.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 17

Whit Ayres’ comments in Politico on the potential Ohio candidacy of CFPB head Richard Cordray:

“Ohio is still a swing state,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres said. “A number of Ohio counties swung sharply from Barack Obama to Donald Trump, but the fact that they had voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and probably 2008 means that they could very well swing back, depending on the particular candidates involved.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 19

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding the apparent contradiction between Trump supporters and Republicans regarding health care:

“This is a function of Donald Trump engineering a takeover of the Republican Party,” said Whit Ayres, a longtime Republican pollster. “It was takeover more than assimilation, and this is the eminently predictable result.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, March 17

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill on the “wiretapping” claims of President Trump and reactions of Republican lawmakers:

“The reason I think you are seeing a little more pushback is that he made those [initial] claims, essentially counting on Congress to find the evidence,” said Dan Judy, a GOP strategist who worked with the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla).

“Lawmakers do not like to be hung out to dry on things like that because it causes them problems that are not of their own creation,” Judy added. “When all of a sudden the onus is put on them to prove it, they don’t appreciate that.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 17

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Los Angeles Times on the current political environment and President Trump:

“Rather than voters deciding what they think about abortion or guns or Russia and finding a candidate who fits those views, instead they’re settling on a candidate they like for whatever reason and adopting that candidate’s political views as their own,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran GOP pollster.

“Republicans used to be for free taxes and thought free trade was the best way to generate a growing economy. Now Republicans are against free trade because Donald Trump is against free trade,” he said.

The inclination to see things a certain, preferred way is not new; the polarity of Dartmouth and Princeton football fans showed as much.

But the increasingly adversarial nature of politics, the sorting of America into red and blue sanctuaries, the ability to gorge on self-reinforcing media and never hear a discouraging, or contrary, word seems to have made the phenomenon all the more pronounced.

Neither Hart nor Ayres, who have both spent decades sampling voter opinion, see a change anywhere in the offing.

“At the very least, you’re going to need a president who makes it his or her mission to try to overcome some of the polarization,” Ayres said.

That, of course, assumes he or she could get elected in the first place.

To read the full article, focused on partisanship reinforcing what voters “see,” please click here.

Dan Judy, February 11

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding the first month of Donald Trump’s presidency:

Dan Judy, a GOP strategist whose firm worked for the presidential campaign of Trump’s primary rival Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) last year, noted that Republicans on Capitol Hill “have been watching this administration very carefully. Many of them were not supporters of his in the primaries, were lukewarm in the general election, and they have been watching and hoping that things would go well.”

So far, Judy said, what they’ve seen leaves something to be desired.

The rollout of the travel ban rejected this week in court “does not create a lot of confidence among Republicans on Capitol Hill, in Washington or around the country,” he said.

“Most of that [concern] is less on the policy — though there are certainly plenty of worries about the broadness of it — but more about the haphazard and slapdash way it was conceived and rolled out.”

But others, such as Dan Judy, are insistent that the president and his aides need to realize they erred.

“The most important thing is that they learn lessons from this,” he said. “If they do, future problems can be avoided. If they don’t, it is going to be one thing after another.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 29

Whit Ayres’ column in US News on the challenges facing Republicans:

Providence has provided Republicans with an unexpected opportunity to accomplish goals many have wanted for years, by delivering control of both the presidency and Congress to the GOP. But our 2016 success should not blind us to the long-term challenges facing the party.

President-elect Donald Trump’s loss to Hillary Clinton in the popular vote means that Republicans have lost the popular vote for six of the last seven presidential elections. Trump won by threading a needle in the Electoral College, carrying four large states by one percentage point or less: Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, a total of 75 electoral votes.

To read the full column, please click here.