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.


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

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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.

Whit Ayres, July 17

Whit Ayres has argued in his book 2016 and Beyond that the next Republican nominee will need to earn more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote to be competitive, and that point was referenced in articles in the LA Times and Fiscal Times.

For the LA Times article, please click here.

For the Fiscal Times article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 27

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding cultural issues and the presidential election:

“There will always be side issues, but none of that will compete with people’s primary concerns, which are the economy and who is going to be able to keep the country safe,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster advising Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, June 24

Whit Ayres’ comments in USA Today regarding immigration and presidential politics:

Indeed, Republican efforts to appeal to Hispanics, seen as promising targets because they often are culturally conservative, has been undercut by unyielding views toward undocumented workers. “Immigration is not the most important issue to Hispanic voters — jobs and the economy lead by a mile — but it’s a gateway issue that sends a signal to Hispanics,” says Ayres, who published a book this year titled 2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in the New America.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 13

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Wall Street Journal about immigration reform and changing demographics in the United States:

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster and strategist, says merely attacking illegal immigration—which is viewed by many Hispanics as an attack on their entire community—isn’t enough for a candidate, and that the GOP’s immigration-reform complacency could be costly in 2016 and beyond.

“The demographics in our country are changing so rapidly—with whites declining and nonwhites increasing about three percentage points each presidential election—that it becomes exceedingly difficult to win a majority of the popular vote just by increasing the share of the white vote going to the Republican candidate,” Mr. Ayres told Forbes last month. Trying to gain a larger share of a shrinking proportion of the electorate is a losing strategy, he added. “It makes far more sense—in 2016 and certainly for elections after that—for Republicans to focus on dramatically increasing their share of the nonwhite vote, especially among Hispanics who are the fastest-growing minority group.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 18

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Economist on the demographic challenges facing Republicans at the presidential level:

The idea that a Republican could win without becoming more appealing to minority voters was disproved in 2012. Mitt Romney ran up a record score with non-Hispanic white voters, yet still lost. Both Mr Romney and John McCain, the party’s nominee in 2008, would have been president if they had faced the same (largely lily-white) electorate as Ronald Reagan did in 1980, says Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. And Hillary Clinton, the probable Democratic nominee, is unlikely to do as badly with white voters as Mr Obama did.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres on MSNBC

Whit Ayres was featured on Morning Joe to discuss his book 2016 and Beyond:

Whit Ayres, March 31

Whit Ayres spoke about client Marco Rubio at The Monitor Breakfast this morning:

“Marco Rubio is the Michael Jordan of American politics,” Ayres said on Tuesday, comparing the 43-year-old Florida senator to the basketball prodigy’s celebrated run in the 1980s at the University of North Carolina. “Anyone underestimates his ability at their peril….He’s substantive, he’s talented and I am very confident that once the voters get the chance to see the kind of candidate he is and the kind of vision he paints for the country that they will place him in the top tier.”

To read the full article on The Washington Post’s website, please click here.

Photo credit: Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor.

Whit Ayres, Christian Science Monitor Breakfast

Whit Ayres spoke at today’s Christian Science Monitor Sperling breakfast:

While a majority of Americans support gay marriage, nearly three-quarters of Republicans do not, according to Gallup. That’s not true for young Republicans, however. More than 60 percent of Republican voters under 30 do support gay marriage, said Ayers, the founder and president of North Star Opinion Research.

“We’re headed to the point where a political candidate who is perceived as anti-gay at the presidential level will never connect with people under 30 years old,” Ayers said, citing the rapidly changing views on same-sex marriage in America.

That said, gay rights is at the bottom of the list of issues for Republican voters, competing with climate change, he pointed out.

To read the full article, please click here.

Photo Credit: Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor.