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North Star Blog

North Star Blog

Whit Ayres, March 23

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Los Angeles Times regarding the influence of former President Donald Trump’s endorsements:

All of which suggests Trump’s sway over Republican voters — and, by extension, the Republican Party — is diminishing the further he gets from the White House.

“A president’s endorsement is going to carry more weight than an ex-president’s endorsement,” said Q. Whitfield Ayres, a GOP strategist with extensive experience in congressional and gubernatorial races nationwide. “Especially an ex-president without access to Twitter and social media.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 3 (AP)

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Associated Press regarding Joe Biden’s approval rating:

So the president spent the evening essentially asking for a fresh start, born of the most serious conflict with Russia in a generation, and another chance to explain his domestic agenda. “He’s got his back to the wall, and he’s put his party’s back against the wall,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster.

To read the whole article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 3

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post about Joe Biden’s approach on Ukraine:

“Like President George H.W. Bush, who quietly but persistently rallied allies to support reversing Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait in 1991,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres told me. “President Biden’s quiet diplomacy has been effective in rallying the West against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But Biden will probably not get the credit Bush did because American troops are not directly involved in Ukraine.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 18

Whit Ayres’ comments to NBC News regarding the effect of foreign policy decisions on elections:

“As a general rule, foreign policy events that do not involve American kids dying in a war pale in comparison to domestic issues,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “As long as Americans are not dying — as they were in Iraq in 2006 [when then-President George W. Bush’s Republican Party lost seats in both the House and the Senate] — foreign policy does not normally drive electoral outcomes.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 7

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times on Dr. Anthony Fauci:

“Populism is essentially anti: anti-establishment, anti-expertise, anti-intellectual and anti-media,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist, adding that Dr. Fauci “is an establishment expert intellectual who is in the media.”

The anti-Fauci fervor has taken its toll on his personal life; he has received death threats, his family has been harassed and his home in Washington is guarded by a security detail. His standing with the public has also suffered. In a recent NBC News Poll, just 40 percent of respondents said they trusted Dr. Fauci, down from 60 percent in April 2020.

Still, Mr. Ayres said, Dr. Fauci remains for many Americans “one of the most trusted voices regarding the pandemic.” In a Gallup pollat the end of 2021, his job approval rating was 52 percent. On a list of 10 officials, including Mr. Biden and congressional leaders, only two scored higher: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Jerome H. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Republican strategists are split on whether attacking Dr. Fauci is a smart strategy. Mr. Ayres said it could help rev up the base in a primary but backfire in a general election, especially in a swing state like Ohio. But John Feehery, another strategist, said many pandemic-weary Americans viewed Dr. Fauci as “Mr. Lockdown,” and it made sense for Republicans “to run against both Fauci and lockdowns.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, January 29

Whit Ayres’ comments to The New York Times regarding perceptions of Joe Biden’s presidency:

“The left is disappointed with him and the anti-Trump Republicans and independents thought they were going to get a moderate governing,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster. “I don’t know how resolving the pandemic is going to affect that fundamental reality that he is completely misplaying his hand.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, January 6

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding President Trump’s cancelled January 6 press conference:

GOP strategist Dan Judy, who is aligned with the more moderate wing of the party, said, “When I heard it was canceled, I was like, ‘Thank God.’ Everyone could have predicted it would have been this totally revisionist view of what happened on Jan. 6.

“That would have been repugnant on its face, and it would also have been horrible for Republican candidates in the midterms, who have the wind at their backs and do not need this kind of ‘Rah-rah, Jan. 6!’ kind of talk.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, January 5

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times on Donald Trump and his effect on the 2022 elections:

Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster, said that Mr. Trump’s backing was powerful in primaries, but a “very, very mixed blessing” in swing districts.

“It’s pretty clear that candidates who want to be competitive in the general election are being careful how close they get to him during primaries,” he said. He pointed to Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin of Virginia as having offered a “classic example” of the type of balancing act necessary.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, December 6

Whit Ayres’ comments in USA Today about the late Senator Bob Dole:

“He was one of the greatest of the greatest generation,” said Whit Ayres, a longtime Republican consultant.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 4

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Atlantic regarding the nationalization of state and local elections:

“We’ve had increasing nationalization of our politics in an almost straight line for the past 25 years,” Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster based in Virginia, told me. “You used to say all politics is local. That seems like an anachronistic statement today. The polarization and the partisanship is driven down the ballot in a way that you never saw in the 1980s and 1990s. Now you have state legislative races that are being nationalized.”

To read the full article, please click here (paywall, but with some free articles each month).

Whit Ayres, October 27

Whit Ayres’ comments to Yahoo News regarding President Biden’s job approval ratings:

For Republican pollster Whit Ayres, the social welfare and climate package alone would also not restore Biden’s approval because the drop was caused by multiple factors.

Ayres, the president of North Star Opinion Research, listed the COVID-19 pandemic, a sluggish post-lockdown economy, the “unresolved” illegal migrant situation at the southern border, and the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan “fiasco” as other explanations for Biden’s polling dip.

“The ultimate problem is that he presented himself as someone who is competent at the job and knows how the system works, and the system doesn’t seem to be working,” he said.

But Ayres agreed with Democratic strategists who told the Washington Examiner the spending measure disarray would not irrevocably damage Biden’s presidency if the party eventually brokered an accord. If not, it could create “a huge headwind” for Democrats before the 2022 midterm elections, he warned.

“The president’s job approval is one of the best predictors of his party’s performance in the midterms. And if Biden’s approval stays down in the low forties, that’s a real problem for other Democratic candidates next year,” he said. “A president at 60% job approval has a lot more political juice than one at 40%.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, October 22

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Associated Press about the popularity of legislative proposals and the effect on midterm elections:

To Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, “the popularity of particular policies has been overwhelmed by the power of partisanship and polarization.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, October 19

Whit Ayres’ comments on the political effect of tying Republican candidates to President Trump:

Which means there has probably never been a midterm election when a former president was as much a part of the political dialogue as Trump is now. The Virginia result will offer a first gauge of how much that new factor can change the usual midterm dynamics favoring the party out of the White House.

“We’re going to find out in the Virginia race because McAuliffe has puts an enormous number of chips on the table betting that a focus on tying Youngkin to Trump will motivate Democratic base voters as well as independents,” said Virginia-based Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “We are going to get a test of that very soon.”

To read the full article, please click here.

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.