News Clips

Reporters and analysts rely on the expertise and comments of team members at North Star Opinion Research to give their stories depth and strategic perspective.  Read clips from recent articles on pressing political news.


Whit Ayres, November 9

Whit Ayres’ comments to Reuters regarding Republican support and geography:

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster based in Virginia, said the party was on a risky track. ”Republicans have traded fast-growing upscale suburban counties for slow-growing or declining rural areas. That is not a formula for long-term success.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 9

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Los Angeles Times regarding the political environment:

“Our politics has become so tribal that people filter new information through a lens that tends to reinforce their preexisting point of view rather than change their point of view,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, October 25

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Wall Street Journal regarding factions in the Republican party:

“Both Sens. Corker and Flake have played important roles in the governing-conservative part of the Republican Party,” said Whit Ayres, a longtime Republican pollster. “Losing them is a major problem for those of us who want a center-right coalition to function effectively.”

For now, Mr. Ayres said, the two camps in the party—the Trump forces and the party establishment—need each other and need to find a way to work together. “Neither faction,” he said, “is large enough either to win elections alone or to govern alone.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, October 16

Jon McHenry’s comments in The Hill on the importance of White House leadership in the tax reform effort:

“You have to have a White House that’s engaged in the issue and is able to show with facts and figures that no, this is actually going to help the middle class,” said Jon McHenry, vice president at North Star Opinion Research, a Republican polling firm.

The middle-class messaging could also pressure vulnerable Democratic senators, such as Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), to back a GOP tax bill, McHenry said.

The White House needs to “make the case in a way that the Joe Manchins and Heidi Heitkamps of the world can support the plan,” he said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, October 12

Whit Ayres’ comments in USA Today regarding President Trump and Senate Republican leaders:

Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster, said he’s seen “nothing in my career that has approached this level of internecine warfare.”

“Everybody’s frustrated,” he said. “The president is frustrated. Senators and congressmen are frustrated. It seems to be very difficult to develop a majority coalition for much of anything so far.”

“Donald Trump has split the Republican party in two: the people who consider themselves more supporters of Donald Trump than of the Republican Party and the people who consider themselves more supporters of the Republican Party than of Donald Trump,” said Ayres, the Republican pollster.

“But neither wing of the party can win elections or govern without the other,” he said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, October 11

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Hill on the role of the President in the legislative process:

But the fear among many in the GOP is that Trump’s eagerness to get into the fray ultimately hurts himself — and his party’s agenda.

“I’m sure there are a lot of people who could play their roles more effectively,” said Ayres. “But as Harry Truman said about the presidency: The buck stops here.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, September 28

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding presidential leadership in legislative battles:

“He came into office, really, as a Republican in name only. He has no consistent ideology, no real policy proposals — other than building a wall, which is obviously not going to happen,” said Dan Judy, a GOP strategist who worked on Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) 2016 presidential campaign.

“As hard as Republicans in Congress tried, health care was not particularly popular and there was no kind of presidential leadership,” Judy added. “If Trump can’t get off Twitter and stop acting like a little boy, the same fate might befall tax reform.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, September 27

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post regarding Donald Trump’s effect on Republican primaries:

Moore is now 70 years old and was twice suspended as the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to obey laws he saw as at odds with his religious beliefs. Normally all this would be career-ending. But that was before the Age of Trump. “What Donald Trump has done,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, “is embolden the Roy Moores of the world.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, September 27

Whit Ayres’ comments in McClatchy Newspapers (featured here in The Sacramento Bee) regarding the Alabama Senate primary:

“It helps to remember that Alabama is its own brand in many ways, and what happens in Alabama may not tell us a lot about what happens in a closer swing state, like Arizona or Nevada,” said veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres. “An Alabama primary is not necessarily the same as an Arizona or Nevada Republican primary. Those three states have very different demographics, very different political dynamics. We all want to make open-and-shut cases from one contest, and you just can’t do that.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, September 27

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Associated Press regarding the Alabama primary runoff results:

Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who has worked for Senate campaigns across the country, said Trump learns the same lesson his predecessor, Barack Obama, learned watching Democrats lose control of Congress and then seeing Trump defeat his chosen successor, Hillary Clinton. “You can’t just transfer the popularity of your brand to another candidate,” Ayres said.

As for Strange, Ayres noted the freshman senator was facing voters for the first time since being appointed by a governor who eventually resigned in disgrace. “No other Republican Senate incumbent will carry that baggage,” Ayres said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 25

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Boston Globe regarding President Trump and congressional Republicans:

“I think most of the Republicans in the Congress realize that they are going to have to take the ball and run with it if they are going to get anything accomplished,” says pollster and consultant Whit Ayres, who has advised Senators Marco Rubio, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, and Bob Corker, among others.

“Most of the Republicans in the Senate are perfectly willing to do it at this point,” he continues. “Trump has attacked their leader, attacked members of the caucus. If anything, Trump has united the caucus by going after some of them so aggressively.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 21

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Hill regarding the differences in reactions between Senators and House members:

But in general, Trump has stronger support in the House, where GOP lawmakers tend to represent more conservative constituencies.

“Senators clearly are more visible elected officials, and almost all of them have more heterogeneous constituencies than House members. They have to appeal to a broader segment of the electorate than do House members, especially those in gerrymandered congressional districts,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, August 16

Jon McHenry’s comments in The Hill regarding tax reform messaging:

GOP lawmakers and the Trump administration often spend a considerable amount of time discussing how tax reform will boost economic growth and business competitiveness.

Strategists suggested that it’s important for Republicans to explain how more economic growth directly affects them, and some argued that lawmakers should cut to the chase and lead their tax-reform pitches with arguments about more jobs and more take-home income.

“The most important thing is to keep it on the day-to-day things that people are focused on, which in this case is jobs,” said Jon McHenry, vice president of the GOP polling firm North Star Opinion Research.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 11

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Hill regarding President Trump’s criticisms of Republicans in the Senate:

Whit Ayres, a GOP consultant who worked with Sen. Marco Rubio’s (Fla.) campaign in last year’s Republican presidential primary, echoed Cornyn’s comments about politics being a team sport.

“No one can succeed alone,” Ayres said. “Attacking members of your own team has never been known to be an effective strategy to produce victories.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 9

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Financial Times regarding “Real News” and President Trump’s efforts to maintain his favorable ratings with his base of support:

“Clearly he has very strong support still among the folks who voted for him and among Republicans overall. But there seems to be some slippage in the intensity of support; that is, movement from people who ‘strongly approve’ of his job performance to ‘somewhat approve’,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican consultant.

He noted that Republicans were reluctant to give a negative approval rating for “one of their own”. Richard Nixon, for instance, still had above-water approval ratings among Republicans until the day he left office. “It’s more a matter of watching the intensity,” Mr Ayres said. 

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 7

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times about credibility in politics:

WASHINGTON — Whit Ayres, a Republican political consultant here, likes to tell his clients that there are “three keys to credibility.”

“One, never defend the indefensible,” he says. “Two, never deny the undeniable. And No. 3 is: Never lie.”

Would that politicians took his advice.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, July 28

Whit Ayres’ comments to US News and World Report regarding President Trump’s relationship with Congress:

“There is a reason why the famous political scientist Richard Neustadt said years ago that presidential power is the power to persuade. Not the power to command – to persuade,” says Whit Ayres, a veteran GOP consultant and pollster. Trump, Ayres says, tried to bully lawmakers and suffered a backlash. And it was predictable to anyone who can do the math, he notes.

“Many of these senators are more popular in their states than Donald Trump is. Most of the senators who won re-election in 2016 ran ahead of Donald Trump in their states,” Ayres adds. “That means that those senators tend to think the president owes them, rather than that they owe the president.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, July 19

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Charlotte Observer on the effect of not repealing Obamacare on the 2018 midterms:

Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster who will be involved in the 2018 midterms, said the health care flop won’t necessarily be catastrophic for the GOP — if they can net real, beneficial accomplishments on other complicated issues, such as tax reform.

“The best outcome is a set of concrete accomplishments that appeal broadly to a center-right coalition,” Ayres said. “If that set of accomplishments does not include an overhaul of the health care system, then something else, like tax reform, that truly stimulates the economy would be a good substitute. But it will be far easier to run campaigns in 2018 with a concrete set of accomplishments that Republicans can take to the electorate as a result of Republican control of the government.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 21

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post regarding Karen Handel’s victory in the GA 06 special election:

Whit Ayres, a Republican consultant and Handel strategist, underscored her success in turning the contest into a normal partisan choice. “The voters decided that Karen Handel was a better representative of their values, their interests and their perspective than Jon Ossoff,” he told me. “Karen Handel ran a relentlessly localized campaign that focused on that perspective.”

Notice those words: “relentlessly localized.” To pull this off, Handel had to keep her distance from Trump. Ayres put the matter diplomatically: “The president structured the broader environment but didn’t determine the outcome of this particular race.” Exactly.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 21

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Boston Globe regarding Karen Handel’s victory in the GA 06 special election:

But Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster in Washington, cautioned the party against taking too many lessons from the special races. Yes, Democrats would have received a jolt of energy had they been able to flip one of the four deeply red House districts that had special elections this year, but it was always unlikely. Plus, Democrats will have better chances of victory in some of the 2018 districts in more moderate states, such as California.

“My main takeaway is that the GOP can win in a challenging environment,” Ayres said in an interview. “The president structures a broader environment but doesn’t determine the outcome of the political races. . . . It all depends on which candidates are nominated and what campaigns they run.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 31

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Atlantic regarding challenges for Republicans and Democrats amid demographic change:

“The long-term challenge for Republicans remains unchanged: They still have to figure out how to appeal to the growing proportion of the electorate that is non- white and college-educated,” said GOP pollster Whit Ayres, who worked during the Republican primaries for Trump rival Marco Rubio, the Florida senator. “Trump managed to slip the punch for one election, but that changed nothing about the long-term challenge. For the Democrats … they have to [find] a substantive message that appeals beyond identity politics, and they haven’t figured that out yet.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 10

Whit Ayres’ comments to NPR on the potential electoral effects of a government shutdown:

“The government shutdown in October 2013 gave the Republican Party a huge hit from which it took more than a year to recover,” said veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres. “The drop in the Republican Party’s favorable rating was dramatic. We were fortunate that we had a year to repair the damage.”

“Most of the wisdom of pollsters comes from looking at history of past actions and all the history of the last government shutdown suggests that it was very bad news for Republicans,” said Ayres. “There’s no reason to think that the result will be any different in the future, especially since we control the entire government.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, May 6

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding the need to sell the American Health Care Act:

Some Republicans more skeptical of Trump warn that everything is still to play for, however.

“Whenever you make a change this big, you need somebody who can make the rationale for it, who can convince the public to be patient and give it time to work,” said GOP strategist Dan Judy, whose firm North Star Opinion Research worked for Trump rival Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) in last year’s Republican presidential primary.

“Donald Trump has always talked about what a great salesman he is. Now is the time to prove it.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 17

Whit Ayres’ comments in Politico on the potential Ohio candidacy of CFPB head Richard Cordray:

“Ohio is still a swing state,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres said. “A number of Ohio counties swung sharply from Barack Obama to Donald Trump, but the fact that they had voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and probably 2008 means that they could very well swing back, depending on the particular candidates involved.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 14

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding President Trump’s policy positions:

“We’ve learned absolutely nothing about Donald Trump since he was inaugurated that wasn’t patently obvious for the last year and a half,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “Nothing new about his temperament, his knowledge base, his personality or his management style. Nothing.”

To read the full article, please click here.

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.