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, June 25

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Los Angeles Times regarding comparisons between “Brexit” and the Trump campaign:

“The Brexit vote did not have a candidate,” said Whit Ayres, the Republican pollster who served as a strategist to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. “The decision about the presidency involves far more than disagreements over public policy. Character and leadership are going to be paramount in this choice for Americans in November.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, June 16

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill on Republicans focusing on down ballot races this fall:

“I think in the minds of people right now, that is the focus — preserving our majorities in the Senate and the House,” said Dan Judy, a GOP strategist whose firm North Star Opinion Research worked on Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) presidential bid. “You’re seeing it among people in Washington, you’re seeing it among many of the major-money people.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 16

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Dayton Daily News on Trump and the Republican party:

“A year ago there was the potential to have a united party behind a popular candidate posting up against a historically unpopular Hillary Clinton,” says veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who worked for Marco Rubio’s failed presidential bid. “Today we have a divided party with the one candidate in America less popular than Hillary Clinton as our presumptive nominee.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 14

Whit Ayres’ comments for Bloomberg Politics on Donald Trump, projecting strength, and addressing terrorism:

“Trump’s chance of success depends on the extent to which people are desperate for a change in direction at the highest levels of government, regardless of whether they know what those changes look like so far,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “But that’s what put him in the game so far.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Get Used to It

Whit Ayres’ comments for The Washington Post on Donald Trump’s campaign style and Republican reactions:

“Get used to it,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, a Trump critic. “This is your life for the next five months.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 9

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Atlantic regarding Donald Trump’s racially-charged appeals:

“Racially divisive politics ramp up the importance of the changing demographics because it makes it harder to perform credibly among non-white voters, and it also makes it harder for Trump to run up the white numbers he needs because of resistance to that sort of appeal among white college graduates and white women,” said the longtime GOP pollster Whit Ayres.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/trump-gop-demographics/486320/

Whit Ayres, June 3

Whit Ayres’ comments in US News on chief executive officers making the transition to politics:

Whit Ayres, a veteran GOP consultant, lists three weaknesses business-only leaders suffer when they seek political office. They’re arrogant, Ayres says, thinking they know more about polling than pollsters and more about how the media operates than media experts do. They see themselves as the hirers, and not the person asking voters to hire them for an important job (and, as a consequence, they don’t handle scrutiny or criticism well). And they don’t think they need to learn new things, because they can always hire experts to deal with it, much as they might hire an accountant to do the books at the office.

“The famous political scientist Richard Neustadt argued that presidential power is the power to persuade. It’s not the power to order things to be done. It’s the power to persuade people that what you want them to do is in their best interest,” says Ayres, who advised Florida Sen. Marco Rubio when he was running for president. “A lot of people who come from a hierarchical environment, military or business, find it hard to make the transition to be an effective political deal-maker, wherein the premium is on persuasive ability. Bullying people who have their own independent constituencies is not really an effective governing technique,” Ayres says.

Could Trump make the transition from ultimate authority to someone who can navigate Congress, courts, independent agencies and the press? Experts are skeptical. Ayres, for his part, says he was approached by a CEO client who said he wanted to hire the seasoned consultant precisely because he didn’t want to make the same mistakes other businesspeople make when they run for office. “He proceeded to make every single one of them,” Ayres laments. And he lost the race.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 29

Whit Ayres’ comments in the San Diego Union-Tribune on demographics and the Trump campaign:

“We still elect presidents using the Electoral College … depending on states that are made up of diverse electorates,” cautions GOP pollster Whit Ayres. “There aren’t enough angry white people to create a majority in the new America of 2016, (and) running up your numbers with white males in Mississippi doesn’t get you one more electoral vote than Mitt Romney.”

Ayres, the Republican pollster, affirmed that it’s “not impossible” for Trump to fashion a winning coalition. But, he says, “You’re basically arguing that somehow, a constant 20-year-plus demographic trend is just going to magically stop.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, May the Fourth

Jon McHenry’s comments in Politico on the challenges Donald Trump faces in winning a general election:

“I don’t see how he all of a sudden becomes this magnanimous unifier,” said Republican pollster Jon McHenry, whose firm, North Star Opinion Research, polled for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “Does he get a bump? Probably. But he’s starting from such a low position that this small bump he gets from being the presumptive nominee I don’t think is enough to overcome the demographic challenges or the character challenges that Trump faces.”

McHenry outlined some back-of-the-envelope math, starting with a number of assumptions, to outline Trump’s uphill path. First, he assumed three-in-10 voters this fall are non-white – a modest increase from 28 percent in 2012, according to exit polls. He then gave Trump a vote share of 10 percentage points greater than his average favorable rating for a number of demographic groups.

If Trump’s vote share among white women was 50 percent, McHenry said – which would be down from Romney’s 56 percent four years ago – that would mean Trump would have to win about 85 percent of white men to win, an astounding percentage and dramatically better than Romney’s 62-percent share.

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, May the Fourth

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill on the prospects for a Trump win in November:

Republican strategist Dan Judy, whose firm North Star Opinion Research worked with Rubio’s now-defunct campaign, pointed to Trump’s particularly low favorability numbers among nonwhite voters and among women.

“There are not enough white men in the country to offset winning 30 percent of women and 10 percent of nonwhites,” Judy said, adding that even though Trump had surpassed expectations in innumerable ways, winning elections ultimately “becomes a matter of mathematics.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May the Fourth

Whit Ayres’ comments to ABC News regarding the challenges a Trump candidacy faces in the fall:

Some Republicans acknowledge the steep curve for Trump, who edged closer to clinching the nomination after winning Indiana on Tuesday.

“The guy is hated and detested by an extraordinary amount of the American electorate,” said Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster who worked on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.

“It’s not just one group that detests him,” Ayres said, alluding to Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and his incendiary comments about women. “He has been on a concerted effort to make enemies of millions of Americans.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 29

Whit Ayres’ comments in the San Antonio Express-News regarding the vice presidential selection process:

For Trump, the selection process is complicated by not knowing when he might be able to claim the nomination.

“If we know as of the evening of June 7 (when the primary season effectively ends), then it will be a more normal process for him. But if we don’t know until the convention, it will be anything but normal,” said Whit Ayres, a GOP consultant who advised Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign for the Republican nomination.

Trump has the added challenge of finding a running mate in a Republican Party that he routinely disparages. The No. 2 on the ticket is expected to defend policies and statements of the nominee, which could prove challenging under Trump.

Losing vice presidential candidates aren’t typically tarnished by defeat. But, Ayres observed, “Trump is a totally different kind of candidate who could have effects on a vice presidential nominee different from anyone else we’ve seen.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 27

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 4.12.00 PM
Whit Ayres’ comments in the Kansas City Star on the impact of Indiana’s primary on the Republican nominating process:

“If Donald Trump wins Indiana, there will be very little energy or hope left among those who want to back a nominee other than Donald Trump,” said Republican consultant Whit Ayres.

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, April 25

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill on the alliance between Senator Cruz and Governor Kasich:

“It remains to be seen how effective this is going to be,” said GOP strategist Dan Judy. “Can the average Kasich supporter stomach voting for Cruz? Can the average Cruz supporter stomach voting for Kasich? We just don’t know.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 21

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post on the challenges Donald J. Trump would face in a general election:

“One thing you learn very quickly in political consulting is the fruitlessness of trying to get a candidate to change who he or she fundamentally is at their core,” said Republican strategist Whit Ayres, who did polling for Rubio’s presidential campaign before he dropped out of the race. “So is the snide, insulting, misogynistic guy we’ve seen really who Donald Trump is? Or is it the disciplined, respectful, unifying Trump we saw for seven minutes after the New York primary?

“None of us can give ourselves a personality transplant,” Ayres added.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 20

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post regarding Hillary Clinton’s image:

Republicans believe that Clinton is so well known that she will have difficulty changing minds. “She is substantially weaker as a candidate than I expected and substantially less able to create a compelling persona on the stump,” said Whit Ayres, who was Rubio’s campaign pollster.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 11

Whit Ayres’ comments in Salon regarding Donald Trump and political correctness:

“At its best, not being politically correct comes across as direct, unfiltered and honest. At its worst, not being politically correct comes across as crude, rude and insulting,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who previously worked for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. Trump’s supporters “may find it refreshing. That doesn’t mean they would find it presidential.”

Ayres and other analysts say Trump’s rejection of political correctness appeals to voters frustrated by the setbacks of the Great Recession and the global economy; immigration that has made the country more heterogeneous; and cultural trends such as gay marriage and measures to fight discrimination against African-Americans, which make them feel marginalized.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, April 11

Jon McHenry’s comment in the Washington Times regarding President Obama’s approval rating and the Supreme Court vacancy:

Republican pollster Jon McHenry of North Star Opinion Research said he doubts the Supreme Court nomination is a factor in Mr. Obama’s improved position.

“I suspect it’s just [Mr. Obama] being out of the spotlight and others on both sides being the partisan fighters,” Mr. McHenry said. “Independents are the least likely to care about the Supreme Court (with Republicans caring most and Democrats in the middle), so I’m skeptical this nomination helps drive his numbers.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 1

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Los Angeles Times regarding the Republican nominating contest:

“Any candidate that looks like an almost sure loser in a general election is going to have a hard time getting a party’s nomination,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who was a top strategist for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s unsuccessful bid. “The weaker Trump looks as a potential nominee, the greater the pressure to open up the nominating process for someone who might actually win the general election.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 31, NPR

Whit Ayres’ book 2016 and Beyond was featured by NPR regarding Donald Trump’s comments on abortion:

Knowing this, Republican strategists know that the party has to be thoughtful when talking about abortion. In his 2015 book, 2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in the New America, GOP strategist Whit Ayres — who advised Marco Rubio’s campaign — told Republicans to exercise “extreme care” in talking about abortion.

“If your audience contains women, chances are very good that you are talking to someone who is extraordinarily sensitive about the topic,” he wrote. He pointed to statistics showing that “three out of five Americans know someone who has had an abortion.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 31

Whit Ayres’ comments to CNBC on the state of the Republican primary contest:

“I think this thing is a long way from being over,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. It’s also a long way from being clear whether this week’s contretemps represents a grave threat to Trump’s candidacy or another in a series of bumps he has consistently moved beyond.

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, March 22

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill on the effect of Donald Trump’s candidacy on turnout in 2016:

“Honestly, I do think that if Donald Trump is on the ticket, we probably will see the highest turnout we’ve ever seen in a presidential election,” said Republican strategist Dan Judy of North Star Opinion Research. “A lot of people will turn out for him who have never voted. But as many, if not more, will turn out to vote against him.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 29

Whit Ayres’ comments in Politico regarding the tone of the contest in Hispanic media if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee:

“Hispanic media would be the most rippingly negative campaign you’d ever see,” predicted Whit Ayers, who polled for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s now-suspended campaign. “It would basically be a campaign against Darth Vader in Hispanic media — with good reason.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 29

Whit Ayres’ quote in the New York Times about the gender gap in the 2016 election:

“If we end up with a Trump-Clinton general election, we will have a gender gap the size of the Grand Canyon,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “Many of the things that Donald Trump has said about women make him toxic to many female voters across the country. On the other hand, some of the grievances he has articulated resonate particularly well with non-college male voters in many parts of the country as well.”

“Democrats have just as much of a problem among white men as Republicans do among women,” Mr. Ayres said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, January 5

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Wall Street Journal on the mood of the electorate:

Republican Whit Ayres, who advises Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign, says: “The mood of the country reminds me of the last years of the Carter presidency: We are frustrated with apparent American impotence in world affairs, fearful about the economy and unsettled about the future course of the country.”

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

Whit Ayres, November 11

Whit Ayres’ comments in Politico on Marco Rubio and the Republican presidential primary contest:

“Marco Rubio is in a unique position to unite the various factions of the Republican coalition,” said Whit Ayres, Rubio’s pollster, who noted focus group data that showed an uptick in support from social conservatives, not just moderate Republicans looking for a candidate who can win the general election.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, September 25

David Brooks cited Whit Ayres’ book 2016 and Beyond in his New York Times column:

It’s not exactly breaking news that this is ruinous to the long-term political prospects of the party. In his book “2016 and Beyond,” the veteran pollster Whit Ayres, now working for Marco Rubio, points out that given the composition of the electorate, if the G.O.P. candidate won the same 59 percent share of the white vote that Mitt Romney won in 2012, he would have to win 30 percent of the nonwhite vote to get a majority. That’s a daunting number, given that, as Dan Balz of The Washington Post points out, Romney only won 17 percent of that vote.

To read the full column, please click here.

To read more about the book, please click here. To buy the book on Amazon, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 13

Whit Ayres’ comment on outsider candidates and the mood of primary voters in the Washington Post:

“There’s a disquiet, discomfort and angst that so many people are feeling,” said GOP pollster Whit Ayres, who advises Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.). “They’re scared economically, they’re scared about what’s happening with our adversaries, and it makes them really, really uncomfortable with where the country’s going and where the leaders are going.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, August 12

Whit Ayres’ comments on RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and the state of the Republican primary campaign:

“There’s no way you can compare 2012 and 2016 and not conclude that Chairman Priebus has made major strides in improving the process,” says Whit Ayres, another longtime GOP pollster who is working for Marco Rubio this cycle.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, July 21

Whit Ayres’ book 2016 and Beyond was cited in a Wall Street Journal column by Fred Barnes:

Any harsh criticism of immigrants who have come here illegally gets their attention. “The idea that Republicans can rip into illegal immigrants without antagonizing Hispanic voters is delusional,” GOP pollster Whit Ayres noted in his book “2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in the New America.” He has surveyed Hispanic voters extensively.

Mr. Ayres says an intemperate attack on illegal immigrants by a Republican will be exploited by Democrats and amplified by the media, particularly Spanish-language talk show hosts. This is why Republicans were worried about Donald Trump’s denunciation of immigrants from Mexico. Indeed, his attack became a national story.

At my request, Mr. Ayres calculated how Mr. Romney would have done in Florida if he had matched President Bush’s performance in 2004. Republicans probably can’t win the presidency without Florida. It has a large Hispanic population, of which Mr. Bush won 56%. Hispanics were 15% of the Florida electorate.

In 2012 Mr. Romney got 39% of Florida Hispanics, who had grown to 17% of the total vote. Doing as well as Mr. Bush would have given Mr. Romney an additional three percentage points overall, Mr. Ayres suggests, and he would have captured Florida by “the same margin as Bush in 2004.” In other words, Mr. Romney would have won the state 52% to 47%, instead of losing it 49% to 50%.

To read the full column, please click here.