North Star Blog

Whit Ayres, March 26

Whit Ayres’ comments for the Associated Press regarding the challenges of Republicans adapting to a united government:

“There are some folks in the Republican House caucus who have yet to make the pivot from complaining to governing,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “And this is a White House controlled by a politician who is not really trying to lead a party.”

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.

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.

Dan Judy, November 9

Dan Judy appeared on WBUR’s show On Point to talk about polling and the 2016 presidential election.

http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2016/11/09/election-2016-the-results

Dan’s comments start at the 28 minute mark.

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.

Dan Judy, October 25

Dan Judy’s comments to CNN on oversampling and claims that polling is deliberately overstating the standing of Hillary Clinton:

“Pollsters just saw this and rolled our eyes,” said Dan Judy, a Republican pollster for North Star Opinion Research.

“This is the classic case of people using an intentional or unintentional misunderstanding of polling to pretend results they don’t like are invalid,” Judy said. “Most voters aren’t that sophisticated when it comes to ins and outs of sampling and statistics and polling. But there are a lot of people spreading this around who know better — or should know better.”

Here’s the reality about “oversampling.” Pollsters often dive deeper into certain subgroups (such as Latinos or African-Americans) to reduce their margins of error for those groups. Then they weight those groups to their actual proportion of the population.
Judy laid out an example.

If he were polling 600 likely voters in a state with a 13% Hispanic population, that would mean 78 of the voters surveyed were Hispanic. “The margin of error of that is extremely high — it’s over 10 points — and you can’t at all break that down. You can’t say, ‘What do Hispanic men or Hispanic women think?’ You couldn’t do that with any degree of mathematical certainty,” he said.

So, instead, Judy said he’d call 300 Hispanic voters — enough to look at “men and women, Republicans and Dems, age breakdowns, regional breakdowns, and in a state like Florida some ethnic breakdowns — Cubans, Puerto Ricans, South and Central Americans. And when you run your survey numbers, you weight that 300 back down to 78.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, October 21

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post on Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the election results:

Republican pollster Whit ­Ayres said that at the Las Vegas debate, Trump “blew his last chance to turn it around.” But, he said, “I am not convinced that the rest of the party will have as bad a night [on Election Day] as Donald Trump is going to have, because the Trump brand is so distinct from the Republican brand.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, September 26

Whit Ayres’ comments in the International Business Times regarding whether the debates affect the election:

“Historically, the debates have not overcome the fundamentals of the election,” Republican analyst Whit Ayers told CNN. “That said, there have been debate moments that we can all remember that have galvanized the election and have led to one candidate doing substantially better.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres on CNN’s Party People Podcast

Whit Ayres joined Mary Katherine Ham and Kevin Madden on their Party People podcast to discuss Republican efforts to appeal beyond the base.

To read the article, please click here.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Jon McHenry, September 5

Jon McHenry’s comments in The Boston Globe regarding Hillary Clinton’s performance on the campaign trail:

Not everyone is giving her high marks.

“I don’t think she’s doing a whole lot better,” said Jon McHenry, a Republican pollster and strategist who worked on Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, noting that everyone gets a little better with practice. “Mostly what she is is not Donald Trump. There’s so much attention on him every day. Even when she’s drowning in e-mail scandals, he’s not content to let her drown.”

Leaving the awkwardness of the primary behind seemed to help loosen Clinton up. There’s a natural tension in a primary battle when some of a candidate’s natural allies pick the other side, and a candidate must attack — but not too harshly — his or her teammates.

Clinton seemed to feel the discomfort acutely; one close aide said Clinton’s new self-assurance started in early June, when she had effectively clinched the nomination, in part because she was “excited to stop dancing on the head of a pin.”

McHenry, the GOP strategist, said Clinton overreached during the primary, trying to bend over backward to appeal to Democratic rival Bernie Sanders’ base of passionate progressives. Clinton does better with her general election approach, he said, of playing toward the middle and focusing on policy rather than emphasizing ideology.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, September 4

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness:

It’s not only a matter of winning the White House. “She should do whatever she can to whittle down the suspicion that she is not honest or trustworthy, as much for governing as for winning the election,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “When two-thirds of the people think she’s dishonest and untrustworthy, that’s a real problem.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, September 3

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Associated Press regarding Republicans running as a check-and-balance on Hillary Clinton:

“If they do it deftly, it’s not risky. You don’t go out trashing anyone,” said GOP pollster Whit Ayres. Instead, Republicans should just say, “‘We’re going to need a Senate and House that’s a check on whoever’s president,’ given the unpopularity of the two major nominees.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, September 1

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Fiscal Times on Donald Trump’s immigration speech:

Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster and political adviser who backed Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida during the GOP presidential primaries, said that it may now be impossible for Trump to piece together a winning coalition in November, even while the polls show him closing in on Clinton.

“He went back to square one, where his uncompromising tone on immigrants and illegal immigration is locked in even more so than before,” Ayres said in an interview today. “That’s going to make it virtually impossible to expand his Hispanic support. Consequently, it will also make it difficult for him to expand his vote among African Americans, Asians, and other non-white minorities.”

Related: Is Trump Dumping His Plan to Deport 11 Million Illegal Immigrants?

“He spent the entire time in his Phoenix speech preaching to the converted,” Ayres added.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 26

From Whit Ayres’ column in The Washington Post, titled “How Republican Candidates Can Survive the Trump Train Wreck”:

… The opening was provided for Republicans by the Trump Convention, which bore little resemblance to a Republican convention. When both living former Republican presidents, the two most recent Republican presidential nominees, the popular host-state Republican governor and most of the other 2016 Republican presidential candidates all refused to show up or be seen with Trump, it could hardly be classified as a Republican event. Even President Obama, who has an incentive to link Republican candidates to Trump, said the convention “wasn’t particularly Republican — and it sure wasn’t conservative.”

Since then, the Trump brand has become increasingly distinct from the Republican brand. …

Preserving that level of split-ticket voting, with a substantial number of voters supporting Clinton for president and Republicans down-ballot, is the key to maintaining Republican control of the Senate.

How can Republicans preserve those margins? Localize, localize, localize. Successful Southern Democrats gave no more than lip service to their party’s liberal presidential nominees, while using the advantages of incumbency to highlight specific ways their service in Washington benefited their constituents.

To see the article, on the Post website, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 26

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Associated Press on voter attitudes regarding immigration reform:

“The electorate is conflicted and that’s a fundamental problem,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “This is such an emotional issue that reason and facts have very little to do with how people stand.” …

Ayres recalled a focus group in the Deep South during which conservative voters complained about illegal immigrants. One man said he wanted them to pay taxes, work and learn English. Ayres told the man that was precisely the bipartisan proposal that had passed the Senate in 2013 and was being held up in the Republican-controlled House. “But that’s amnesty,” the man responded. “I don’t support that.”

“That’s when I turned around and cracked my head against the wall,” Ayres said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 25

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding Donald Trump’s approach to immigration:

“He finally figured out that you can’t win a national election with just white voters,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who worked for Mr. Rubio’s campaign.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 21

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Fiscal Times on the political impact of the Zika virus spread in Florida:

Whit Ayres, a veteran GOP pollster who advised Rubio during his presidential bid, believes that voters will be far more discerning in assessing blame in the election.

“It depends on what Republican and what they’ve done about it, and whether or not they’ve made a serious effort to try to address it,” Ayres said in an interview. He stressed that Rubio has been a leader in the fight for funding for Zika treatment in Florida.

“I don’t buy this argument that, okay, there’s a public health crisis and now they’re going to take it out on one party rather than the other when both parties are part of the problem of not moving off this issue,” he said. “People are going to make individual judgments about individual candidates.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 19

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding demographics and Donald Trump’s campaign:

“If you set out to design a strategy to produce the lowest popular vote possible in the new American electorate of 2016, you would be hard-pressed to do a better job than Donald Trump has,” said Whit Ayres, a pollster who has advised Republican presidential and Senate candidates for more than 25 years. “This is an electoral disaster waiting to happen.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 17

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Boston Globe regarding the “social media slap fight” between Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren:

During their exchanges, it didn’t matter what Trump thumb-typed in answer to Warren’s taunts: Each time Trump responded was a win for Warren, said Whit Ayres, a Republican political strategist and pollster who worked for Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.

“One of the basics of Politics 101 is you fight with the candidates who are your opponents, not those who are not,” Ayres said, in a Globe interview. “There’s no cost to Warren in doing this; the cost is to Trump, when he gets baited into reacting to someone who’s not on the ballot against him.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 16

Whit Ayres’ comments to Fox News Latino regarding Hispanic support for Republicans nationally:

Veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres said that while Latinos have traditionally preferred the Democratic Party, the Fox News Latino poll highlights a worrisome downward trend for Republicans.

“Party identification [for Latinos] is fully consistent with what we have seen since the demise of the George W. Bush immigration reform proposal in 2007, when Hispanic voter identification went from 49 percent Democrat to 65 percent Democrat,” said Ayres, who wrote a book titled: “2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in the New America,” which says the GOP must get more minorities on its side if it is to remain viable and win back the Oval Office.

“After the 2007 demise of the immigration proposal, Republican Party ID [among Latinos] went from 28 percent, to 26 percent, then 25 percent to 22 percent and in 2014 went to 27 percent. This would mean that Republican ID is at its lowest point” going back more than a decade, Ayres said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 15

Whit Ayres’ comments in the New York Times regarding Donald Trump’s struggles with minority voters:

That is what worries Republicans this year, particularly in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania with heavily black cities, where an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll last week showed Mr. Trump receiving only 1 percent of the black vote. (The poll’s three percentage point margin of error among all voters suggests that his support could be slightly higher.)

“As is the case with many other groups, Donald Trump is in a race to the bottom,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who last year wrote a book warning his party to expand its appeal or face doom. “He will likely have to get more than 65 percent of the white vote to win.”

To read the full article, please click here.