Jon McHenry, July 9

Jon McHenry’s comments to National Public Radio on the likelihood of Republican defections in this year’s presidential contest:

Polling has shown that the vast majority of Republicans intend to vote for Trump’s reelection. Conservative opposition appears to be a sliver of the overall electorate.

“It’s very small,” said Jon McHenry, a Republican pollster with North Star Opinion Research who’s skeptical that these GOP-for-Biden groups will influence Republicans. “You’re not gonna knock President Trump from say 95% of Republicans down to 85% of Republicans on the basis of some ads from former staffers in a previous administration.”

McHenry added: “It would be probably more persuasive to Republicans if it were current officeholders that were taking this stand.”

In other words, [Julie] Azari said, the reason Trump appears so popular with the GOP is because some would-be Republicans no longer identify as Republican. In the past half-century, no Democratic presidential candidate has won white voters with a college degree; those voters have comprised a loyal GOP voting bloc. But in the past few years, they’ve begun moving away from the party.

“There’s a decent chunk of those white college-educated voters who support [GOP] policies, they support the tax cuts, but you know, they wouldn’t be crazy about President Trump demanding an apology from Bubba Wallace this week,” said McHenry, referring to the Black NASCAR driver Trump singled out on Twitter.

McHenry said if the presidential campaign eventually shifts into more policy debates, those white college-educated voters will be forced to make a choice between policy and tone. And it’s possible policy will win out.

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Whit Ayres, July 4

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post regarding growing the Republican coalition:

“The president’s base is locked in. They love him, they’re going to turn out and they’re going to vote for him,” GOP pollster Whit Ayres said. “The problem is that the base is not enough to win. You can make a case that protecting Confederate monuments is very popular among at least a portion of his base, but it does nothing to expand the coalition, and that’s the imperative at the moment and will be going forward if the party hopes to govern.”

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Dan Judy, June 30

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding the Republican Party, President Trump, and race:

Another Republican strategist, Dan Judy, noted that there were real implications for Trump, and to some extent the broader GOP, with key voting blocs.

Racially charged rhetoric from the president, Judy said, “hurts [the GOP] among key constituencies that it desperately needs: suburban voters — and white suburban women, to be very specific. It also energizes nonwhite voters against the president. So it is potentially a double whammy at the presidential level.”

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Whit Ayres, June 29

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Financial Times regarding Senator Tim Scott’s leadership in the U.S. Senate:

Whit Ayres, president of North Star Opinion Research, a Republican pollster, agreed, describing Mr Scott as a “conservative who understands the importance of making pragmatic arguments to advance his cause”.

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Whit Ayres, June 25

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Atlantic on increasing electoral challenges for Republicans in the once solid South:

Even the Republicans relatively confident that Trump’s grip on rural voters will allow him to hold most, if not all, of these states recognize the implications of a trend that has them losing ground in the communities that are preponderantly driving economic and population growth.

“The trends of 2016, ’17, ’18 are continuing apace, with continuing weakness of the Republican brand in suburban areas that had traditionally voted Republican, coupled with strengthening of the Republican brand in rural areas that had traditionally voted Democrat,” Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who has long specialized in southern suburbs, told me. “The problem, of course, is that the Republicans are trading larger, faster-growing areas for smaller, slower-growing areas, and the math does not work out in the long run with that sort of trade.”

The core political question in the large Sun Belt metro areas may be whether residents are grateful that their governors have given them more freedom to resume daily activities or resentful that they have put them at greater risk by reopening so widely. Ayres said the answer is likely some of both. “I really think there’s a limit to how long you can enforce a rigid lockdown in a country where freedom and liberty are core values,” he told me. “That said, it is now impossible to dismiss this pandemic as a hoax or just the flu or any of the other dismissive appellations that have been applied to it.”

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Whit Ayres, March 6

Whit Ayres’ comments to McClatchy on demographic changes in Texas:

“The mix of voters in Texas is going exactly the way that demographic trends have predicted, and as long as Republicans continue to perform poorly with nonwhite voters, it appears it will continue,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran pollster and analyst for Republican candidates across Florida and the South. “I think we’re still a cycle or two away from Texas flipping – but it does reinforce the imperative of Republicans to do a better job reaching out to nonwhite voters.”

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Whit Ayres, February 28

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Associated Press on the competitiveness of Georgia elections:

Republican presidential candidates have carried Georgia since 1996. Even so, the state’s suburbs, echoing the rest of the nation’s, have turned increasingly blue, which along with growing populations of Hispanics and other minorities have made Democrats more competitive and Republicans nervous.

“It’s no secret that Republicans have been hurting among college-educated women in suburban communities across the nation, and Atlanta is filled with college-educated suburban women voters,” said GOP pollster Whit Ayres.

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Whit Ayres, February 14

Whit Ayres’ comments on Republican views on climate change:

Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster who has consulted Republican senators and governors for over three decades, characterized the party’s shift toward recognition of climate change as an “evolution” similar to the Democrats’ movement in the 2010s toward support for gay marriage. At that time, polls showed the issue split along an unusually stark generational line.

“It’s been pretty clear for some time that more and more people are concerned about climate change,” Ayres said. “In some ways it’s like gay marriage — age is not usually a particular issue, but it certainly is the case with climate change, as it was with gay marriage. There’s a strong relationship where the younger the voter, the greater the concern.”

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Whit Ayres, January 28

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times on the U.S. Senate race in Georgia:

“Republican primaries these days have become contests about who loves President Trump more,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican political consultant. “Mr. Collins has been one of the president’s most vociferous defenders. That puts Senator Loeffler in a position of vocally demonstrating that she has the president’s back in the impeachment debate.”

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Whit Ayres, November 19

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Associated Press on voting trends in Georgia:

“Only in the event of a landslide nationally does Donald Trump lose Georgia,” said GOP pollster Whit Ayres, pointing to Trump’s 5 percentage point win in Georgia in 2016. Arizona, Ayres said, is the likelier Sun Belt state to flip to Democrats, while Texas and Georgia are a tier below, still a few election cycles away from tilting.

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