North Star Blog

Dan Judy, October 11

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill about President Biden’s political standing:

Republican strategist Dan Judy asserted that “the bloom is off the Joe Biden rose” after about nine months in power.

From a political standpoint, “Democrats are going to need the COVID tide to recede and the economy to surge forward if they really are to have any chance of keeping their majority, at least in the House,” Judy said. “The Republicans could take over the House almost by accident with such a small majority for the Democrats right now.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, September 9

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding President Trump’s position in the political landscape:

Still, when Trump tries to show his muscle by offering an endorsement, there is always the danger that the results will cut in the opposite direction.

“When he was president of the United States and he could lay the anointing finger on certain candidates, that’s one thing,” said Dan Judy, a GOP strategist associated with the more traditional wing of the party. “Now, it’s very fraught. Everybody is going to want the Trump endorsement but that is not necessarily going to win you a primary in these heavily contested races.”

Judy also noted two other points that he said were obvious but sometimes overlooked.

One is that Trump’s status is eroded simply because he’s not president anymore. The other is that there are a lot of major events going on in which he is not really a player.

“You’ve got the delta surge, Afghanistan, natural disasters — really big news stories that are impacting people’s lives on a daily basis,” Judy said. “And Donald Trump shouting at a rally really pales in comparison to a lot of that stuff.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, July 30

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Guardian regarding Republican office holders encouraging their constituents to get vaccinated against COVID-19:

One thing that’s clear among pollsters: the change in tone from Republican lawmakers has not been prompted by new polling. Rather it’s because of the increasing urgency that US political figures are feeling about a pandemic that is far from over and may be on the brink of entering a new, dangerous phase.

There’s data out there but it’s not polling data, it’s Covid data. The surge in the Delta variant is coming largely in Republican states and particularly in Republican rural counties of states and it’s that data that has led these Republican leaders to speak out more forcefully,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster.

“Now, it needs to be said that some Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell have always been forceful advocates for vaccinations, driven by the fact that he had polio as a kid and we no longer have polio because of vaccines. But there’s no question that more Republican figures like Kay Ivey, the governor of Alabama, have been more vociferous of late because so many people are getting infected who need not get infected if they simply got the vaccine.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 1

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times on COVID vaccines and politics:

“Traditionally Republicans have been very against government interference in free enterprise, and into the workings of the private market,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster. He said it was too early to say how vaccine politics would affect the 2022 midterms, but added, “It’s going to be a big issue.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 4

Whit Ayres’ comments to National Public Radio regarding the GOP and declining Christian identification in the electorate:

This makes religion one key part of a looming, long-term demographic challenge for Republicans, says Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster.

“Republicans clearly have a stronger hold among the religiously affiliated, especially evangelical Protestants. And consequently, any decline in evangelical Protestant affiliation is not good news for the GOP,” he said.

The upshot, to Ayres, is that a party still deeply entwined with conservative Christianity and, particularly, white evangelicals will eventually have to win over more Christian conservatives — for example, among the growing Hispanic electorate — or make gains among substantially less-religious groups, like young voters.

To read or listen to the full story, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 13

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Wall Street Journal regarding House Republicans voting to remove Liz Cheney from party leadership:

Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster based in Alexandria, Va., argued that if the GOP wants to rally a majority of the electorate behind its agenda, the party can’t afford for its base to contract.

“The GOP has lost tens of thousands of suburban voters over the last two election cycles, many of them college-educated women,” Mr. Ayres said. “Those suburban women left the party for a reason, and this move [against Ms. Cheney] reminds them of the reason why.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 10

Whit Ayres’ comments to NBC News regarding the efforts to remove Liz Cheney from House Republican leadership:

“Removing Liz Cheney from leadership will give a boatload of ammunition to the GOP’s critics,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster.

Republicans plan to remove Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference, the No. 3 position in House GOP leadership, in a move to demote the highest-ranking Republican who voted to impeach Trump early this year. She has vocally criticized Trump’s”big lie” that the election last year was stolen.

Ayers warned that efforts to exile Cheney — the highest-ranking Republican woman in Washington and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney — could further antagonize suburban voters, particularly college-educated women, who ditched the party because of their opposition to Trump.

“They will also say there’s no room in today’s Republican Party for anyone willing to be honest about the 2020 election and the events of Jan. 6,” Ayres said. “That does not strike me as the best way to get back the suburban voters who’ve left the party in the last few years.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 3

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Wall Street Journal regarding Tim Scott’s comments on race:

The core of this conversation, of course, is whether America is at heart a racist nation, or merely a nation where racism still exists. “There are very few Americans other than the ideological left who would disagree with almost anything in that speech,” says Whit Ayres, a longtime Republican pollster who has worked extensively in the South.

Mr. Scott’s formulation “is a fundamental challenge to the premise of the far left in America,” he adds. “His overall argument would be supported by significant majorities of Americans of all races. Certainly the vast majority of whites would agree. It would be a closer call among Blacks.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 20

Whit Ayres’ comments in Politico regarding election results in the Atlanta suburbs:

“It’s a mistake to assume that suburban voters are somehow locked into the Democratic column,” said Whit Ayres, the longtime Republican pollster. “They are very much up for grabs not just in Georgia, but around the country.”

Still, Ayers said, the focus of party activists on exacting a measure of payback on the party’s own statewide elected officials is “doing the exact opposite of what’s necessary to revive the Republican Party in the suburbs.”

“Picking a fight with your own party’s governor and lieutenant governor and secretary of state,” he said, “doesn’t strike me as the wisest of political moves.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, April 8

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill on changes in the Republican Party:

GOP strategist Dan Judy took a milder tack but shared the same broad concerns, noting how far the GOP has moved over the past 10 years.

“Two things are interesting — one is the new people who have been elected, but the other thing is the way formerly ‘establishment’ Republicans have moved toward the populist ideology,” he said. “The net effect of all that is to move the party away from a more establishment mindset, and toward a more populist mindset.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 15

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Financial Times on the $1.9T Democratic stimulus bill:

“The package is popular and widely supported, and the Republican objections to it have not been persuasive enough or consistent enough to do the bill any real damage at this point,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster.

“It is challenging, obviously,” he added. “When you are giving away free stuff, it is hard to make an argument against it, particularly when the vast majority of Americans are going to get some free stuff.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 9

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding Hispanic voting patterns:

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, whose firm, North Star Opinion Research, has studied Hispanic partisan allegiance, wrote in an email that Latinos are far more flexible in their voting than African-Americans:

“As a general rule, about 50 percent of Hispanics vote fairly consistently for Democrats, 25 percent vote for Republicans and the remaining 25 percent are up for grabs.”

In the Latino electorate, Ayres said, “many are sensitive to charges of socialism because of their country of origin. Many are sensitive to law-and-order issues. And many are cultural conservatives, as Reagan argued years ago.”

As a result, Ayres continued,

“When white liberal Democrats start talking about defunding the police, the Green New Deal and promoting policies that can be described as socialistic, they repel a lot of Hispanic voters. In other words, most Hispanics, like most African-Americans, are not ideological liberals.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 4

Whit Ayres in The New York Times on the Republican Party and working-class voters:

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster whose clients have included Mr. Rubio, was critical of Democrats for not seeking a compromise on the stimulus after a group of G.O.P. senators offered a smaller package. “Seven Republican senators voted to convict a president of their own party,” he said, referring to Mr. Trump’s impeachment. “If you can’t get any of them on a Covid program, you’re not trying real hard.”

As the Covid-19 relief package, which every House Republican voted down, makes its way through the Senate this week, Republicans are expected to offer further proposals aimed at struggling Americans.

Mr. Ayres said that the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., last weekend, the first major party gathering since Mr. Trump left office, had been a spectacularly missed opportunity in its failure to include meaningful discussion of policies for blue-collar voters. Instead, the former president advanced an intraparty civil war by naming in his speech on Sunday a hit list of every Republican who voted to impeach him.

“You’d better be spending a lot more time developing an economic agenda that benefits working people than re-litigating a lost presidential election,” Mr. Ayres said. “The question is, how long will it take the Republicans to figure out that driving out heretics rather than winning new converts is a losing strategy right now?”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 28

Whit Ayres’ comments to Politico on the 2021 CPAC meeting in Orlando:

“Donald Trump remains the leader of the populist wing of the party, which he grew into a dominant force in Republican primaries, although never a majority force in the country,” said Whit Ayres, the longtime Republican pollster. “But because Trump dominates the populist wing, the folks who are members of that wing are going to continue to promote whatever he wants to promote at the time. That means they’re still hanging on to this myth that the election was stolen.”

To read the full article please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 26

Whit Ayres’ comments in USA Today about CPAC:

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster and consultant, sees the split as one between a “pro-governing” wing of the party and the “pro-populist” wing.

The populists, he said, are more interested in being anti-establishment, anti-immigrant, and anti-media. Trump fused those people into a force that won the Electoral College in 2016, but could not get him over the top in 2020.

Now, “the Republican Party is seriously split between the governing faction and the populist faction,” Ayres said, and CPAC “will be a celebration of the populist faction.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 26

Whit Ayres’ comments in Bloomberg about a failure of bipartisanship:

“Seven Republican senators just voted to convict a president of their own party of impeachable offenses — if you can’t get a single one of those Republicans, you are not trying,” said Whit Ayres, a longtime Republican pollster, referring to Trump’s impeachment trial this month. “They will need Republican support for future initiatives. Why stiff them coming out of the gate?”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 18

Whit Ayres’ comments to Newsweek on Florida’s COVID response and Governor Ron DeSantis’ approval ratings:

Whit Ayres, the founder of North Star Opinion Research, counts DeSantis among the politicians for whom his company has provided messaging advice. DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic “appears to be at least as effective if not more effective” than other states that imposed stricter lockdowns, Ayres said.

“Governor DeSantis has done an admirable job of handling this pandemic from day one,” Ayres told Newsweek. “He has managed to keep a lid on the number of cases per capita while at the same time keeping the economy more open than either New York or California.”

DeSantis “has also done a better job of getting the vaccine distributed” than Cuomo and Newsom, Ayres said. “Based on the record of controlling the pandemic while keeping the economy going, Governor DeSantis has one of the very best records of any governor,” he added.

Earlier this week, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican, suggested during an appearance on Fox News that DeSantis would be a “strong potential presidential candidate” in 2024. Though it’s too early to tell who would dominate a 2024 field, Ayres said it made sense for DeSantis as the leader of a swing state to consider a run.

“He’s a very talented guy with a strong record from one of the country’s largest states,” Ayres said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 14

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding Republican senators voting to convict President Trump of impeachment charges:

“Two are retiring, and three are not up until 2026, and who knows what the world will look like five years from now,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster. “It looked pretty different five years ago than it did today. All seven of them have a measure of independence that those who have to run in 2022 in a closed Republican primary just don’t have.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 10

Whit Ayres appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss polling and President Trump’s impeachment trial:

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/10/966498568/how-the-polls-have-differed-between-trumps-1st-and-2nd-impeachment-trials

Whit Ayres, February 3 LA Times

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Los Angeles Times about GOP factions:

The main battlefield in the war is likely to become the ballot box, veteran Republican strategist Whit Ayres told me.

“The party is split between a governing faction and a populist faction,” he said. “The populist faction was there before Trump. They aren’t going away. They’ve become a dominant force in Republican primaries. They aren’t dominant among elected officials — but they may be, eventually, if they succeed in winning elections.”

“I don’t think it’s going to be resolved by 2022,” Ayres added. “It’s going to take until at least 2024. You’re going to have to go through a presidential cycle.”

“The question is: Do we continue to nominate crazy right-wing populists who go on to lose the general election?” said Ayres, who has advised Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 3

Whit Ayres’ comments in Newsweek about GOP in-fighting:

Whit Ayres, a longstanding GOP pollster and North Star Opinion Research founder, took a similar view. The political consultant said it remained to be seen whether the Republican Party would still be a “viable political force” or make the fatal decision to split into two separate entities.

Asked for his view of the party’s makeup, Ayres said Trump had successfully expanded the populist wing of the GOP and built it to be the new “dominant force” in the party. Ayres cautioned that all was not over for the so-called “governing” faction.

Speaking about the battle between Cheney and the Trumpian faction on Capitol Hill, the pollster said: “It’s a small skirmish in the larger war. It’s a skirmish that, at this point, is confined to the House of Representatives’ Republican caucus”

“Just because you have a faction dominating the House caucus does not mean it’s dominating the entire party.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, January 11

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post regarding the future of the Republican party:

“January 6 is the opening battle in the war for the soul of the Republican Party,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “The party is now split between the governing wing and the populist wing even more sharply than it was during the tea party period.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, January 12

Dan Judy’s comments to Talking Points Memo regarding calls for unity after the attack on the Capitol:

Dan Judy, Vice President of North Star Opinion Research, a consultancy for Republican candidates, told TPM that the “unity” pushers can be put in two categories. The first, Republicans who opposed Trump’s rhetoric on election fraud and voted to uphold the Electoral College certification, have at least a “credible and morally consistent argument” when they say that an impeachment would further rip apart the country, he said. 

Not so for the other Republicans, those that fed into and amplified Trump’s conspiracy theories, he added. 

“Calls for unity from them with no acknowledgement of the President’s part in this simply have no credibility beyond the hardest-core Trump base,” he said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, January 6

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Atlantic regarding electoral changes in Georgia:

The historical context is that in Georgia, as in most southern states that voted reliably Democratic for the first century after the Civil War, Republicans established their initial beachheads in what were then “white flight” suburbs around Atlanta. Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who once lived and worked in Georgia, notes that when the GOP started seriously competing with Democrats in the 1980s and 1990s, Gwinnett and Cobb were the party’s first strongholds. “As Republicans, we used to get 60-plus percent in Cobb and Gwinnett,” Ayres told me. By contrast, both Warnock and Ossoff won almost exactly 60 percent of the vote in Gwinnett, and between 56 and 57 percent of the vote in Cobb.

Instead, Perdue and (especially) Loeffler tried to reinvent themselves as born-again Trump-style populists. Both supported the president unreservedly—to the point of denouncing the state’s Republican election officials and backing challenges to the November vote that would invalidate the results, and disenfranchise the voters, in their own state. The apex—or nadir—of their reinvention came on Monday night, the day before the election, when Loeffler (in person) and Perdue (via video) shared a stage in rural northwest Georgia with Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican representative who has openly embraced the corrosive QAnon conspiracy. To see “two corporate executives standing on the same stage with [the] QAnon congresswoman creates a head-snapping picture,” Ayres told me.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, January 5

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Los Angeles Times regarding splits in the Republican Party:

“The divisions we’re seeing now reflect those in the period of 2010 to 2016 between tea party conservatives and governing conservatives,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “Donald Trump tapped into the populist elements of the Tea Party movement and expanded and exacerbated the division.”

It’s a split that has been hard for any Republican leader to straddle, Ayres said, because the populist wing doesn’t necessarily want a specific policy agenda so much as it wants a party that visibly fights perceived enemies.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, December 8

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times on voting patterns in the Atlanta suburbs:

Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster in Georgia, said Republican erosion in the inner suburbs — and to a lesser degree the conservative exurbs — has blunted the advantage Republicans have enjoyed in runoff elections in the past. While white evangelicals and religious conservatives remain a core of the Republican base, and make up a portion of the suburban electorate, some Republicans worry such issue-driven voters may be put off by the Senators’ willingness to dip into Trump-induced conspiracy theories and misinformation.

Mr. Ayres said both sides have hurdles to overcome before January. Republicans have a president who is sowing discord within their party and Democrats need to mobilize communities that have typically sat out nonpresidential elections. They can’t, he said, count on the same coalition that turned out in November.

“Are these now permanent Democratic voters? No, not at all,” he said. “They’re in transition, and they were put off in large part by the conduct and behavior of the President.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 17

Whit Ayres’ comments to The New Statesman regarding ticket splitting:

That leads into the second possibility, which is that Republicans did as well as they did in Congress because they wanted a check on Biden and the more progressive wing of the Democrats. “There were a number of voters who apparently voted for Joe Biden at the top of the ticket, but Republican candidates for House and Senate seats,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster at North Star Opinion Research, in the “hope that Republicans would be a moderating force on Biden”.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 19

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Washington Post regarding the two U.S. Senate runoff contests in Georgia:

Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist who has worked on many campaigns in Georgia, expressed skepticism that Democrats could improve their performance over the general election, which drew historic turnout because of the strong feelings about Trump.

“If they didn’t participate in one of the most intense elections in our lifetime, it strikes me as a tall order to get someone who didn’t care enough to vote in this election to come back to vote in a runoff in January,” Ayres said.

Republicans will be hyper-focused on convincing the voters that cast ballots for Loeffler and Perdue the first time around to return to the polls, Ayres said. But some of those voters may be turned off by the two Republican senators’ support for allegations of fraud in the 2020 election in Georgia, he added.

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, November 9

Dan Judy’s comments to The Hill on perceptions of the presidential contest:

Biden’s victory did not come with coattails. Republicans will hold their Senate majority unless Democrats can win two runoff elections in Georgia in January. The GOP has gained seats in the House.

“I have to say I was surprised by how well he did,” Republican strategist Dan Judy said of Trump. “He got more votes — not just in raw votes but in percentage terms — than he did four years ago. Given that he has been a historically unpopular president, that is pretty surprising.”

At the same time, Judy cautioned against giving too much credit to Trump’s performance. 

He noted the scale of his popular vote defeat and emphasized, as did other sources, how public perception of the election’s message might have been very different had the exact same results been delivered more quickly.

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, November 5

Dan Judy’s comments to Talking Points Memo regarding the Georgia runoff contests:

Another factor adding uncertainty to the runoffs is the lack of a top of the ticket. Whichever way the presidential election goes, neither Biden nor Trump will be providing any coattails in January. 

A potential Biden victory would give an edge to the GOP, according to Dan Judy, Vice President of North Star Opinion Research, a consultancy for Republican candidates. Republicans who don’t like Trump will be freed up to vote for a Republican candidate without him on the ballot or in the White House, Judy posited. 

“I’d say that both Democratic candidates certainly have a chance in the runoffs, but the Republicans will be favored,” Judy said. “Partisans on both sides will be very fired up, but I believe the prospect of divided government will be very attractive to a lot of independents in the state.”

To read the full article, please click here.