North Star Blog

Whit Ayres, May 4

Whit Ayres’ comments on political credibility in Sahara Reporters:

There are “three keys to credibility,” says Whit Ayres, a Republican political consultant. “One, never defend the indefensible. Two, never deny the undeniable. And no 3 is: Never lie.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 3

Whit Ayres’ comments to Bloomberg News regarding re-opening the economy during the coronavirus pandemic:

“You’re balancing competing values: the importance of the economy and the food chain and the importance of public health,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “You’re making judgment calls with no obvious answers.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Health Data Privacy

In January, our firm conducted a national online survey of voters for the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, focusing on voter attitudes toward health care generally and privacy of health care data specifically. In some ways, January was a lifetime ago. For that very reason, however, the results set a baseline of attitudes regarding health care data.

First, the results show that, even before most voters had heard of coronavirus or thought about a global pandemic, health care was the top issue tested despite the survey being conducted the week of missiles being fired in the Middle East. Overall 80 percent of voters said health care cost and access was the single most important (28 percent) or a very important (52 percent) issue, surpassing jobs and the economy (79 percent, including 23 percent single most important) and national security (76 percent, including 24 percent single most important).

At that time, voters were not particularly focused on privacy, with just 58 percent saying they remembered signing a HIPAA form at a doctor’s office. Among that subgroup, just 22 percent said they paid a great deal of attention to the form, while 43 percent paid some attention, 24 percent paid not much attention, and 12 percent paid no attention at all. Voters did care about access to their personal health information through a smartphone or computer, with 33 percent saying it was very important and 40 percent saying it was somewhat important; that was particularly important for voters 18 to 34 (44 percent very important and 39 percent somewhat important).

Voters in January were notably more concerned about their financial information being stolen (40 percent very concerned) or their purchase history and credit card information from an online retailer (37 percent) than about their health records (27 percent), which was on a par with personal data and posts on social media (28 percent).

Particularly relevant now, in Particularly relevant now, in light of Apple and Google’s joint announcement that they would develop software to help trace the spread of the coronavirus, is that 81 percent of voters said technology companies should not have access to personal health care information. In fact, a majority of voters (58 percent) said medical researchers should not have that access, putting these responses potentially in conflict with the efforts to combat a global pandemic. How the medical community, governments, and tech companies address this tension will go a long way toward charting a course to conquering coronavirus.

Dan Judy, April 17

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding public views of the coronavirus pandemic:

There are “individual choices and behavior regardless of what the government says,” said GOP strategist Dan Judy. “If people aren’t ready to go back, they are not going to go back. And right now, people are still worried.”

For now, the outcome simply cannot be known.

“It’s an extremely difficult decision from both a political and policy standpoint. For any president, this would be an extremely hard decision,” said Judy. 

“The difficulty of it gets lost in the whole Trump circus. If Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan or Abraham Lincoln was president, it would still be an extremely hard decision.”

To read the whole article, please click here.

Dan Judy, April 6

Dan Judy’s comments to Bloomberg Government regarding telephone surveys during the coronavirus pandemic:

“We are seeing response rates higher than we’ve seen in many years,’’ said Dan Judy, who polls for Republican candidates at North Star Opinion Research in Alexandria, Va. 

The response rate for polls has been in decline for years, as many people have discontinued their land lines to use only mobile phones, which are harder to reach. 

To maximize results, pollsters have developed procedures, such as not calling on Friday nights, when people are usually out at restaurants or social engagements, or avoiding calling people on their mobile phones during the day when they’re at work and distracted.

Now, many of those protocols are unnecessary, Judy said.

“Day-dialing cellphones is potentially something we could do,” he said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, April 12

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Hill on polling during the coronavirus pandemic:

The coronavirus has led to a drawdown in political spending across the board, leading to a slowdown in everything from polls to media ad buys.

Fundraisers are having a tough time raising cash from once-reliable donors. Campaigns aren’t running political ads and they’re less likely to commission a poll, with the general election still six months out and the economy in turmoil.

“It’s a great time to get people on the phone — maybe the best response rates in a dozen years — but it’s not necessarily the most likely time for clients to want to be in the field,” said Jon McHenry, the pollster for North Star Opinion Research.

“There’s no telling how the virus plays out for people’s health and for the economy a month from now, much less in September and later. There are clients who stand to benefit from a benchmark survey now, figuring out effective criticisms and which policies are supported, but the horserace is dicier,” he added.

And the transition from crowded calling centers to having people work from home has been a challenge, as it has been for many industries.

McHenry said the shift to a remote workplace might hasten the move to more online polling and research.

“We’re still using the same vendors. For a lot of phone centers, that means people working on a … system from home,” said McHenry. “The technology allows that in a way you probably couldn’t have done 10 years ago and for sure couldn’t have done 20 years ago. And for national research, much of that is online anyway. This may be the final push for the few holdouts to accept online research as the primary methodology on national work.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, NBC News, April 4

Whit Ayres’ comments to NBC News on the initial ratings for President Trump during the coronavirus pandemic:

“There’s nothing that’s happened in the last three years that remotely approaches the significance of this event,” said Whit Ayers, a Republican pollster with the firm North Star Opinion Research. “The president’s clearly gotten a modest bump in his job approval as the country pulls together to try to fight this pandemic.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 4

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Los Angeles Times regarding views of President Trump during the coronavirus pandemic:

“Attitudes about the president are deeply ingrained, both positive and negative,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “So there is a powerful tendency to view the president’s performance through the preexisting lens.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 4

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Boston Globe regarding leadership and the political effect of crisis management:

“Crises are make-or-break moments for elected officials,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “How they’ve handled the crisis has overshadowed almost everything they’ve done.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 31

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding the durability of President Trump’s uptick in approval ratings:

“President Trump has broken through the narrow range of 42 to 46 percent approval where he’s been for the last two years and indeed for much of his presidency,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “It’s an open question whether those people who are changing now would actually vote in a different way in November. Some of the independents may. I doubt that many of the Democrats will.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 28

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Washington Post regarding the lessons of past executives in handling crises:

“The way public officials handle crises can be make or break moments for political careers,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who is not affiliated with the Trump campaign. “The way public officials perform, their competence and their ability to help their constituents recover from a crisis overshadows almost anything else that they do.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 11

Whit Ayres’ comments to Time on the potential political effects of COVID-19:

What’s clear is that a President who has been in permanent campaign mode since the first day of his term is keenly aware of the stakes. “What we know is from natural disasters is the way a political leader handles a disaster can make or break a campaign,” says Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster at North Star Opinion Research. “Focus on the performance and the poll numbers will take care of themselves.” Trump’s performance is still unfolding, but one thing he knows for certain is that voters are watching.

To read the full article, please click here.

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.

Whit Ayres, March 2

Whit Ayres’ comments to FOX Nation on Bernie Sanders’ “kryptonite”:

Ayres suggested that the trend may continue for Sanders in the South, even after Super Tuesday. “There are some polls in Florida that show Bloomberg with three times as much support as Sanders,” he said, referencing the March 17th primary in the Sunshine State, two weeks after Super Tuesday.

“So it’s going to be really interesting to see how Bernie Sanders does in the Southern states on Super Tuesday.”

For the full article and video clip, please click here.

Whit Ayres on the Democratic Primary

Whit Ayres’ comments on the Democratic primary, as seen on FOX Nation:

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.

To read the full article, please click here.

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.”

To read the full article, please click here.

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.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, January 14

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding the potential for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s presidential bid:

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, agreed that Mr. Bloomberg should not be dismissed.

“By any traditional measure, it’s a pipe dream, but if we learned anything in 2016 it’s that just because something has never happened before doesn’t mean it can’t happen now,” he said. “No one has ever talked about spending remotely as much money as he’s talking about spending on this race.”

To read the rest of this article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, December 3

Whit Ayres’ comments to CNN regarding impeachment and views of President Trump:

“The whole impeachment debate has intensified preexisting feelings about the President,” says Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “Most people who like him do so with their eyes wide open. … They understand his strengths and his weaknesses and they prefer him to the alternatives as they see it. On the other hand, people who dislike him will be even more appalled because what they are seeing reinforces their existing views.”

Ayres, the Republican pollster, says Trump’s unbending response to impeachment underlines the pugnacious take-no-prisoners posture that thrills his core supporters. 

“Supporters take away he’s a fighter, that he’s never backs down, that he never gives in to the carping critics and that he will stand his ground no matter what the situation and hold his head high in the face of unrelenting criticism,” he said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 30

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Associated Press regarding impeachment:

“It will be part of the mosaic, but hardly the overriding issue,” GOP pollster Whit Ayres predicted about impeachment’s impact next November. “It will have faded by then and it will also have simply reinforced the preexisting attitudes and made them more intense.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 20

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times on the electability of Elizabeth Warren:

Whit Ayres, president of North Star Opinion Research, was outspoken: “Elizabeth Warren is God’s gift to Donald Trump and Republican candidates.”

“Well-educated suburban voters, especially women,” Ayres continued, “are uncomfortable with President Trump,” but, he added, “they are not going to vote for a candidate who wants to take away their private health insurance, decriminalize the border, increase government spending by 50 percent, and ban fracking, especially in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado.”

To read the full article, please click here.

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.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres’ WSJ Opinion Piece, November 18

From Whit Ayres’ op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on November 18:

As the nation tumbles toward the 2020 presidential elections, it seems also on course for its second presidential impeachment in a little more than two decades. It all looks like so much chaos, but our likely path forward is illuminated by polls about the Bill Clinton impeachment in the 1990s and predictions from one of America’s most prolific Founding Fathers.

While the Clinton and Trump impeachment efforts differ dramatically on the politics and allegations involved, one similarity offers tantalizing parallels that could predict how the public reacts to the current investigation. Unlike the Nixon impeachment inquiry in 1973-74, the Clinton and Trump impeachment drives evoked an overwhelmingly strong partisan reaction. In both instances, stalwart party members on either side defended behavior they would roundly condemn in a president of the other party.

To read the full column, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 14

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding potential handling of the Supreme Court ruling on DACA:

“Presumably, there will be discretion about how aggressively various laws are enforced,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, “but it does create a political challenge because, consistently, 80 percent of Americans have supported allowing the DACA kids to stay.”

“What’s so frustrating is that 80 percent of Americans also support a secure border, and Congress has thus far seemed unable to put those two 80 percent issues together in a very limited immigration bill,” Mr. Ayres said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 8

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Hill regarding Republican Senate reelection prospects:

Republican pollster Whit Ayres told The Hill that the results from Kentucky, Virginia and Pennsylvania show suburban voters are trending further away from GOP candidates.

“It’s a continuation of the pattern we saw in 2017 in Virginia’s gubernatorial election and the 2018 midterms. Blue states are getting bluer, red states are staying red and states in the middle are still competitive. But it’s hard to reelect with a job approval of 34 percent,” Ayres said, referring to Bevin’s ratings.

“The suburbs continue to trend toward the Democrats where the Republicans have had a stranglehold for years,” he added.

Ayres said statewide Republican candidates can win in swing states such as Maine and Colorado next year but will have to outperform Trump on top of the ticket.

“The senators running in swing states will need to run well-ahead of the president in the suburbs to win reelection,” he said.

“And that’s possible,” Ayres said, noting how Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) outperformed Trump in their home states in 2016.

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, Oct 28

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding the political impact of U.S. troops successes against ISIS:

Another Republican strategist, Dan Judy, said that it was important to acknowledge the importance of al-Baghdadi’s demise — but also to keep its likely impact at home in perspective.

“Strategically, it is a huge deal, it is a huge win, and I think people recognize that,” he said. “But most people would not have recognized al-Baghdadi, whereas Osama bin Laden held a singular place in the American psyche.” …

To be sure, some Republicans argue that even if the al-Baghdadi operation does not change Trump’s overall approval ratings, it could at least give him some breathing room from GOP elected officials who have been openly critical of the Syria pull-out.

“Many Republicans, especially on Capitol Hill, were very unhappy about that,” said Judy. “This could take a bit of heat off [Trump] for that decision.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, October 12

Jon McHenry’s comments to the Associated Press on the potential for Republicans to support impeachment:

In today’s hyperpartisan climate, if the House impeaches Trump, it seems hard to envision 20 Senate Republicans joining all Democrats for the two-thirds majority required to remove Trump from office. Some retiring Republicans might be reluctant to cast a futile vote against Trump after a lifetime of party loyalty, while others might view it as a way to burnish their reputations for independence.

“You’ve just got to decide where the evidence lies and where you want your legacy to be,” said Republican pollster Jon McHenry.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, October 15

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding public opinion on impeachment:

Still, there are signs that the outlook for Mr. Trump is not improving. Support for impeaching the president has been growing among Americans who were once against it. Before the Ukraine revelations, said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, about 15 percent of Americans who disapproved of Trump’s job performance still opposed his impeachment and removal. 

“The Ukraine revelations are reducing that number,” he said, to 12 percent in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. “The progression of this story will likely make the impeachment inquiry numbers look much like Trump’s job approval numbers, with 40 to 45 percent opposing it and 55 to 60 percent supporting it,” Mr. Ayres added.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, September 28

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Atlantic on President Trump’s statements regarding California:

“It’s a freebie for Trump” that energizes his base, says the veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “It’s not like California’s going to turn around and vote Republican anytime in the future. This is part of the messaging that Republicans have used for years to send a signal to the rest of the country that I’m on your side, not on their side.”

To read the full article, please click here.