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.


Governor Halsam Candidacy for RGA Chair

Whit Ayres’ comments in Politico on Governor Bill Haslam’s candidacy for chairman of the RGA:

Whit Ayres, the national GOP pollster who advises Haslam, said the governor would be an “inspired” choice for the RGA, allowing that he’d represent a significant stylistic shift from his more pugilistic predecessors.

“He is the most modest major political figure I’ve ever worked with in my life,” Ayres said. “You’d be hard-pressed to find a governor anywhere in the country who is more popular than Bill Haslam. I mean, who has job approval ratings in the 70s these days, in this cynical age?”

To read the full article about Governor Haslam, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 17

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Wall Street Journal regarding Governor Chris Christie and the Keystone XL pipeline:

Any successful 2016 Republican candidate for president will need to show their support for the pipeline, said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. Pushing other ideas to expand U.S. energy investments could help to distinguish Mr. Christie from the rest of the pack, he said. “It’s a great issue for Republicans. It’s a great issue for anyone who wants to see economic growth.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 13

Whit Ayres’ quoted by msnbc on potential executive action on immigration:

“[Executive action] undercuts supporters of immigration reform and emboldens the opponents,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who has advocated passing reform to help the GOP win back Latinos, told msnbc. “It’s going to come across as an illegitimate and crassly political move by a desperate president.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 4

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Wall Street Journal on the final weeks of the election:

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, said the late-in-the-game focus on Ebola and Islamic State added to a growing body of evidence that “the administration is in over its head.”

While these issues didn’t decide the election, they sucked up a lot of oxygen, making it difficult for Democrats to find traction talking about other topics, he said.

“When people are dying in a pandemic in Africa and innocent people are getting their heads chopped off in the Middle East, raising the minimum wage pales in comparison,” Mr. Ayres said, referring to a central policy proposal from Democratic candidates.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, November 1

Whit Ayres shared his thoughts on the likelihood of Republicans gaining control of the Senate on the Journal Editorial Report:

Whit Ayres, October 30

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Hartford Courant on gubernatorial candidates running against the partisan tide:

Whit Ayres, a Republican political consultant and pollster based in Washington, D.C., said, “Republicans in blue states need to have a center-right rudder to guide their decision-making, but they cannot be overtly ideological or overtly partisan.

“Doing so is the kiss of death for a candidate running from a minority party in any state,” Ayres said, saying that candidates should instead focus their vision “on essentially bipartisan issues like education, getting the economy going, enhancing the health care system.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, October 17

Jon McHenry’s comments on the political effect of President Obama’s Ebola response in the Washington Times:

“It’s pretty clear that the best politics is to do a travel ban,” said Jon McHenry, vice president of North Star Opinion Research in Alexandria, Virginia. “In that sense, the president, regardless of what’s going on behind scenes, seems to be detached and inactive on another situation that people care about. This is yet another case that seems to show a lack of leadership on his part.”

The Ebola infections and the CDC’s missteps are keeping the news story alive and making it difficult for Democratic candidates to talk about topics other than the administration’s apparent incompetence, Mr. McHenry said.

“It’s another issue on which Democrats are having to defend the president or turn around and attack the country’s response on this,” he said. “At a time when they want to be talking about almost anything else, they’re talking about the administration again.”

He added, “It reinforces a pattern of what people believe that they’re seeing — a lack of leadership, a lack of engagement. Whether it’s being slow to react in Ukraine, slow to react in Syria with [the Islamic State], he charitably has a very deliberate approach but, being less charitable, seems to not put the sense of urgency on issues that voters want him to have.”

How the crisis plays out politically might well depend on whether any more cases of Ebola surface in the U.S., Mr. McHenry said.

“If someone in Ohio winds up getting this, then it’s going to look like a pandemic to the public,” he said. “I’m sure more people are going to die from the flu this year [in the U.S.] than from Ebola, but the news media has a fresh story to run with every day, there’s a new facet to it every day.”

For the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres on NPR, October 3

Whit Ayres’ comments on our joint Resurgent Republic/Democracy Corps poll for NPR:

The poll concentrated on the Senate battleground — the 12 states that will determine control of the Senate next year. It found an electorate where nobody likes anybody. The president, the Republicans and the Democrats were viewed with equal disgust — their favorability ratings all in the low 40s. This is a disgruntled group of voters, says Ayres, which this year happens to be good news for his party.

“The direction of the country is overwhelmingly perceived to be in the wrong direction. Barack Obama is exceedingly unpopular in the Senate battlegrounds,” he says. “The generic party preference for a Senate candidate favors the Republicans by three points. So the playing field still tilts strongly to Republicans in these 12 battleground states.”

To read the full article, please click here.

To hear the audio, please click below:

Whit Ayres, October 3

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Boston Globe on ObamaCare as an issue in this year’s elections:

Not so fast, retorts GOP pollster Whit Ayres: The ACA is still a hot issue where it really matters this year, which is in the dozen states with tight Senate races.

“The health care law is one of the top issues for Republicans and independents, and trust me, they are not in support,” says Ayres, who with Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg has just completed a survey for National Public Radio of those states. Among all voters in those states, the economy, at 55 percent, is the biggest issue driving voters, with the ACA next, at 36 percent, followed by foreign policy and the Islamic State, at 33 percent, he says.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, September 5

Jon McHenry’s comments in Huffington Post about polling the Kansas Senate race:

-Jon McHenry (R), North Star Opinion Research: “I would ask a three-way ballot first: ‘If the election for U.S. Senate were being held today and the candidates were (ROTATE: Pat Roberts, the Republican, Chad Taylor, the Democrat, and Greg Orman, an Independent) for which candidate would you vote?’ Then I would ask: ‘If the election for U.S. Senate were being held today and the candidates were just (ROTATE: Pat Roberts, the Republican, and Greg Orman, an Independent), for which candidate would you vote?’ I think you have to take into account that Taylor will be on the ballot, but you also want to see where the ballot might be heading. Anyone polling the race is going to want to track the change on the three-way to see if Taylor drops to nothing as we get into October.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 22

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Wall Street Journal regarding Republican pickup opportunities in the U.S. Senate this cycle:

Perhaps the toughest challenges for the GOP are in red states where incumbents are fighting battles they have long expected. They include Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who are all scions of established political families in their home states.

“All three are running incredible campaigns,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who remained bullish about GOP prospects. Getting elected as Democrats in those states “is not an inconsiderable advantage and not one to be underestimated.”

To read the full article (subscription required), please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 21

Whit Ayres’ comments for Fox News Latino on Rick Perry’s indictment and presidential bid:

Whit Ayers, a Republican pollster in Washington, D.C., said the subtext of a liberal area’s indictment of conservative Republican stands to give Perry a boost, should he decide to run for president in 2016.

The Democrats pushing the case against Perry, Ayers said, “are trying to criminalize political disagreements.”

“This is a trumped up indictment,” Ayers said. “It’s such an obvious and blatant abuse of prosecutorial discretion, it may be the best thing that’s happened to Rick Perry.”

For the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 8

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Asbury Park Press on Republican candidates efforts with Hispanic voters:

“Conservative Republicans can get a significant share of the Hispanic vote provided they reach out aggressively and campaign in Hispanic communities,” Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster, told USA Today in November 2013. “It makes a huge difference when you have an attitude of inclusiveness and make a serious effort to gain the votes of nonwhite voters.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 7

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Hill regarding outside groups in Senate races:

“Money is necessary but not sufficient for political success,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster and strategist. “The record is replete with candidates who have outspent their opponents and still lost.”

Ayres said the effectiveness of advertising by outside groups depends largely on the type of group that does the advocacy and quality of the ad. The National Rifle Association, for instance, has a much more loyal following than some of the super-PACs with generic-sounding names that have sprung up in recent years.

As much as outside groups will spend this cycle, Ayres predicted other factors would have a bigger impact on deciding control of the Senate.

He said President Obama’s job-approval rating, the political leanings of the Senate battlegrounds themselves and the demographics of the voters who show up to the polls on Election Day would be the top three factors.

To read the full article, please click here.

Resurgent Republic/Democracy Corps NPR Survey

Our survey with GQRR for NPR was featured on today’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and highlights the tough road ahead for Democrats in swing Senate seats.

To read the article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, June 12

Jon McHenry’s comments on Republican primaries and immigration reform for Fox News Latino:

“Lindsey Graham was able to talk about what the Senate bill actually does,” said Jon McHenry of the Republican pollster Northstar Opinion Research. “He took it out of the context of just amnesty.”

“People who run successfully in support of immigration reform say it’s not amnesty, its securing our border, and they talk about what do we do with the undocumented immigrants who live in our country.”

Last month, Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina beat a conservative challenge in the GOP primary that also sought to portray her as an amnesty-loving weakling on immigration.

“Renee Ellmers had a tough primary, her race was all about immigration,” McHenry said. “And she successfully fought on that issue, she spoke about what she was for instead of letting it be defined for her.”

For the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 21

Whit Ayres’ comments on the Republican party primary season in The Washington Post:

That means establishment Republicans must court the tea party. “You have to reach out very aggressively and indicate that as the nominee of the party you will be the voice of all the various parts of the party,” Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster, said. “Successful nominees unite the party by making everyone feel they will be listened to and have a voice.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 8

Whit Ayres’ comments for the Wall Street Journal on Democratic messaging for the 2014 election:

The White House strategy is taking shape in a macro-micro approach, similar to the one Mr. Obama’s campaign deployed in 2012, when Democrats essentially ran a series of local campaigns in fewer than a dozen states. The party’s overarching argument is the same: Democrats support policies to bolster the middle class, while the Republican economic agenda would benefit the wealthy—an assertion the GOP says is off-base.

The Republican rebuttal, said GOP pollster Whit Ayres, will include the argument that “the Obama administration has had six years to turn this economy around. What they’ve tried hasn’t worked. It’s time to try a new direction.”

The Democrats’ economic argument “is probably the best they can do, but I don’t think it will be anywhere near enough,” Mr. Ayres said.

For the full article (subscription required), please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 20

Whit Ayres’ comments to National Journal regarding blue-collar white voters:

“Blue-collar whites have been migrating to the Republican Party ever since Ronald Reagan called them Reagan Democrats,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “It’s a culture that is heavily family based, more small-town and rural. It’s very pro-gun, and very patriotic. We’re talking about a group of folks who see Democratic efforts at gun control as a cultural assault, an attack on their values.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 1

Whit Ayres’ comments for CNN regarding ObamaCare and the midterm elections:

Republican pollster Whit Ayers said there’s a more powerful factor in voter fatigue: Obama himself.

Six years into a President’s term, “people get tired of that person’s leadership,” he said. “Especially this President’s.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 23

Whit Ayres’ comments in USA Today regarding our joint survey with The Mellman Group for the Bipartisan Policy Center.

For many in the GOP, Ayres says, attitudes toward President Obama and the perception that he’s unwilling to compromise are driving the shift in views. “Republicans in particular realize that the best they’re going to do with a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate is stopping bad things,” he says. “They believe that if you can stop the stimulus bill or stop Obamacare, that may be the best we can do — and that is a function of the divisions.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 20

Whit Ayres’ comments on the Hispanic vote and GOP prospects in 2014 and 2016 in the Los Angeles Times:

In 2012, exit polls show Mitt Romney beat Obama by 20 percentage points among white voters, which made up 72% of the electorate, while losing resoundingly among all other racial groups. In this November’s midterm election, whites will constitute a higher percentage of the electorate than in 2012, about 75%, according to GOP pollster Whit Ayres.

“My fear is that a good 2014 will disguise some of the fundamental problems that Republicans need to address if they are ever going to elect another president,” pollster Ayres said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 10

Whit Ayres’ comments for the Washington Post‘s PlumLine blog regarding immigration reform and electoral trends:

GOP pollster Whit Ayres, who favors reform, tells me Republicans should take the two point rise in critical swing states very seriously.

“It’s significant,” Ayres says. “Some aspects of the future are difficult to see clearly. The increasing proportion of Hispanics in the electorates in key swing states is not one of them.”
“Swing states are by their very definition closely contested,” Ayres continues. “Many of them have been won in close races by only a percentage point or two. Changing the demographics of the state by two percentage points puts a finger on the scale in each of the swing states for the party that’s doing well among Hispanics. This underscores the critical importance for Republican candidates to do better among nonwhite Americans, particularly among Hispanics, if Republicans ever hope to elect another president.”

Ayres adds that the one-point rises also matter. “It is a sign of things to come,” he said. “States that have been comfortably red, like Georgia and North Carolina, are changing, and will become swing states unless Republicans figure out how to win significant support in the Hispanic community.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 6

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Christian Science Monitor regarding Republican electoral prospects and Obamacare:

“Anti-Obamacare and anti-Obama leadership is the core message,” says Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “But people vote for things as well as against things, and the smartest politicians I’ve ever worked with all believe in the importance of having a positive agenda. That doesn’t mean they all have to have the same agenda – but they all need something to be for.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 5

Whit Ayres’ comments on Republican economic messages in Politico:

That doesn’t necessarily mean they need to nationalize the election with one agenda, like House Republicans’ “Contract With America” in 1994 or their “Pledge to America” in 2010. But Republican candidates should at least have their own economic alternatives, said GOP pollster Whit Ayres: “What would you do differently? What’s your plan?”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 19

Whit Ayres’ comments for Fox News Latino on Republicans and Hispanic voters:

Republican pollster Whit Ayres put it bluntly: “The situation in Texas represents the promise for the Republican Party across the country.”

For the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 17

Whit Ayres’ comments on immigration reform in The Columbus Dispatch:

“The system is irretrievably broken and most people, when they look at irretrievably broken systems, try to make them better,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican consultant in Washington. “That’s what the Senate did with their bill — a far-from-perfect bill, but a good-faith effort to solve the problem. And the speaker is absolutely right when he says the House needs to take its turns at bat.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, February 11

Dan Judy’s comments in US News and World Report regarding the debt limit vote:

“Getting the debt limit out of the way is a great move for Republicans, because every time they pick a fight on that issue, they lose and make themselves more unpopular in the process,” says Dan Judy, a Republican pollster. “Republicans already have the wind at their backs headed into the midterms, and taking the debt limit off the table allows them to go on offense against Democrats on the issues that are going to matter most in November: the still-struggling economy and the disastrous rollout of Obamacare.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 11

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Wall Street Journal regarding the debt limit vote:

“The government shutdown was a watershed moment,” said Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster. The speaker’s decision to allow a debt-limit increase reflects “the recognition we need to find other strategies and better tactics for advancing a conservative fiscal agenda.”

To read the full article, please click here (subscription required).

Jon McHenry, February 3

Jon McHenry’s comments in the Washington Times regarding President Obama’s plans to increase the use of executive orders:

“I think what it does is fire up Republicans to turn out to make sure they put in a Senate majority that can stop Obama,” said Republican pollster Jon McHenry, vice president of North Star Opinion Research in Alexandria, Va. “You’re going to see Republicans all up in arms that Obama’s going against the Constitution and trying to be a king and a dictator. It helps ramp up Republican turnout that was already probably going to be pretty good.”

To read the full article, please click here.