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.

Dan Judy, January 14

Dan Judy’s quotes in The Hill regarding apparent disagreements between Donald Trump and his Cabinet nominees:

“There are a lot of opportunities for his cabinet nominees to influence him, to be the ones that set the direction of policy,” said Dan Judy, a GOP consultant whose firm worked for the 2016 presidential bid of one Trump rival, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

“Generally, it is the president who sets the agenda,” Judy added. “In this case, I don’t think we are going to have a president who has particularly strong convictions on these issues.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, December 14

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill on Republicans examining the influence of Russia in the presidential election:

Dan Judy, a strategist and pollster whose firm, North Star Opinion Research, worked for Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, said that the controversy over the election interference in particular has already shown that there is “some daylight between Trump and congressional Republicans.”

“Congressional Republicans, many of whom campaigned on not being a rubber stamp for Trump, are going to live up to that promise,” he said.

Judy said that the success of Trump’s strategy [questioning Russian influence in the election] “depends on what people believe. People who support Trump are likely to believe it is just political nonsense. But people who look at him a little more skeptically will take it more seriously. Most people trust our intelligence agencies even if there have been some failures or troubles.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, December 14

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Chicago Tribune on the Trump cabinet and CEOs in politics:

What is key is “the style with which they led their prior organizations,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “A lot of CEOs are far from dictatorial leaders. A lot of them, in this day and age, are more consensus builders than they are dictatorial leaders.”

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.

Whit Ayres, November 23

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Wall Street Journal regarding the presidential election and race:

“Trump switched white voters in key states who were blue-collar primarily—coal counties, manufacturing counties,” the Republican strategist Whit Ayres told me this week. “These are blue-collar whites who voted for Barack Obama. And that’s a very uncomfortable thing to admit by the left. It’s much easier to say a ‘basket of deplorables’ elected Trump. But I’m sorry, that just does not conform to the data in those states that made a major swing from one party to the other.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 10

Whit Ayres’ comments to WBUR’s Here and Now show on the incumbency effect as it relates to 2016 polling:

“There’s a well-established principle in polling, with incumbents running for re-election, that what you see is what you get. In other words, if you’re at 48 as an incumbent, and your opponent is 45, we will frequently tell our incumbent candidates that they’re in trouble… The reason is that frequently incumbents get the number at the polls that they have on the final survey.

Their opponents are generally not saddled with the image of incumbency, so frequently, undecided voters go disproportionately to the challenger. And the issue here is whether or not Hillary Clinton was, if not technically an incumbent, effectively an incumbent running for the third term of Barrack Obama… It seems like more than a coincidence that the number she had in the average of polls at the end of the race is remarkably similar to where she ended up on the final ballot. But Trump made substantial gains, as frequently challengers do.”

To read the full excerpt, please click here.

Whit Ayres, October 27

Whit Ayres’ comments to CNN regarding Donald Trump and the Hispanic vote:

It’s exactly why Trump’s statements like, “we have some bad hombres here and we’re gonna get them out,” at the final presidential debate have GOP pollster Whit Ayres shaking his head.

“He started off his campaign with his announcement calling Mexicans rapists and criminals. He has run against non-whites his entire campaign, not only against Latinos, but against Muslims and against anybody who wasn’t already a part of the Republican base. That’s no way to win a presidential election,” Ayres said.

He believes Trump would need to win “somewhere north of 40% among Hispanics” to be competitive this year.

“George W. Bush got 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, which is one of the reasons why he was re-elected,” Ayres said. “But Mitt Romney only got 27% of Hispanic vote in 2012, which is one reason why he lost.”

He points to his party’s so-called autopsy of what went wrong in 2012. The Republican National Committee wrote in its post-mortem report: “If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, October 26

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Financial Times regarding the politics of Obamacare rate increases:

Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist, said Monday’s forecast that Obamacare premiums were set to jump was “a gift to any Republican nominee”.

“It [confirms] what Republicans have said for six years now. Basically what’s happening is what Republicans have predicted ever since before this thing was passed,” he said.

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But he added that Mr Trump had consistently passed up opportunities to zero in on traditional Republican policy issues, such as healthcare, instead allowing himself to be drawn into unhelpful debates over his character and behaviour.

“A normal Republican candidate could take this gift and run with it and really make it an advantage going into the final two weeks of the election. But Trump has shown absolutely no ability to do that with any other issue so I don’t know why he would start that now.”

To read the full article, please click here.