Jon McHenry, September 9

Jon McHenry’s comments to STAT News regarding health care and the Kansas Senate race:

“Barbara Bollier could be in the right position for Kansas on surprise billing, but it’s likely to get drowned out by her abortion position,” said Jon McHenry, a pollster for the GOP-aligned group North Star Opinion Research. “Similarly, ACA repeal may not be decisive here if the conversation skews to other issues.”

Despite voters’ broad coronavirus anxiety, Bollier could still face difficulty incorporating the country’s pandemic struggles into her broader health care message, given Republicans’ large advantage in voter registration.

“Often 80% or more of Democrats will say they are very concerned about the effect of the pandemic, but that will drop to 50% to 60% among independents, and maybe 25% to 45% among Republicans,” said McHenry, the Republican-aligned pollster. “For some Republicans and independents, it’s more of a government control and economic issue than a ‘health care issue.’”

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Whit Ayres, August 24

Whit Ayres’ comments in Politico comparing the 2020 and 1980 elections:

“This election feels to me a lot like 1980,” said Whit Ayres, one of the country’s best Republican pollsters. “We had the Iranian hostage crisis, double digit inflation and unemployment. It just felt like events were spinning out of control and the president had little ability to effect positive outcomes.”

Ayres added, “There were doubts about whether Reagan was a credible alternative. They had one debate and Reagan came across as credible—and the dam broke. There are similar doubts about Joe Biden now; not his experience, but his ability to do the job. Can he persuade voters that he is up to the challenge?”

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Whit Ayres, July 17

Whit Ayres’ comments to National Public Radio regarding Republicans and demographic changes:

The party is indeed in danger of losing power as a consequence of not having followed the autopsy’s recommendations, according to Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

“For the most part, the Republican Party has done the opposite of what was recommended in the 2013 autopsy,” he said. “That’s part of the reason why so many rapidly changing demographic states are now in play for the Democrats that used to be solidly Republican — states like Arizona and Texas and Georgia and North Carolina.”

Trump found short-term success, he says, but at a cost, as America’s electorate grows more diverse with every passing year.

“For the Republican Party to be successful in the long run. It’s going to have to adapt to a changing America, not react against it,” he added.

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Whit Ayres, July 15

Whit Ayres’ comments in USA Today about the Trump campaign’s television buying strategy:

Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist who has worked for Sens. Marco Rubio, Lamar Alexander and Lindsey Graham, said the Trump campaign’s decision to make early television pushes in Georgia, Iowa and Ohio was “smart” and reflects that more states are up for grabs than 2016.

“We have a lot more states that are in play today because Republicans have become significantly weaker in suburban areas at the same time they’ve become stronger in rural areas. And because of demographic changes that are occurring throughout the Sun Belt that have been ongoing for some years,” Ayres said, referring to Georgia and Texas.

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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.”

To read the full article, please click here.