Jon McHenry, January 4

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Boston Globe regarding conservatives and higher education:

However, pollster and political analyst Jon McHenry said conservative leaders are simply fulfilling their responsibility to amplify the voices of the people they represent. He said he believes many of the critiques from the right reflect the concerns of conservative students and alumni “who feel aggrieved that they’re not getting the same opportunity to share their perspective as liberal students.”

“Some of it’s the culture war and looking to restore America to what it was in the ‘80s,” he said. “Some of it is just an actual desire to see people treated equally, where we’re not going to use race as the determining factor in whether someone gets admitted to a school, [or] whether they get a job.”

The pressure from conservatives is not new.

McHenry traced the origin of conservative political focus on higher education to Ronald Reagan’s 1966 gubernatorial campaign, when he promised to “clean up the mess at Berkeley,” in reference to ongoing campus protests for civil rights and other social causes at the California university. Reagan pointed to university staff as responsible for what he called “a leadership gap and a morality and decency gap” — language that strongly mirrors many of the conservative critiques of universities since 2020.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, January 3

Jon McHenry’s comments in The Daily Caller regarding the 2024 U.S. Senate outlook for Republicans:

Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, warned that while Republicans “have a very favorable map,” their “candidates matter.”

“Republicans threw away winnable races in the last few years with candidates who were less appealing in the general election than they were with a populist base,” McHenry told the DCNF.

The Cook Political Report recently switched Tester’s seat from “Lean D” to “Toss Up,” joining other Senate races in Ohio and Arizona.

“This is the cycle where they finally beat Jon Tester,” said McHenry. “His repeated votes with Joe Biden will undo him this time around, especially if Biden is the Democratic nominee.”

Tester votes with Biden 91% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight’s estimate.

To read the full article, including assessments of additional races, please click here.

Whit Ayres, January 2

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Huffington Post on Governor DeSantis’ campaign:

But unlike most Trump supporters, who have little knowledge of or experience with the judicial system, DeSantis is a trained naval JAG officer who worked in that capacity as a federal prosecutor in Florida. That experience, in theory, should have given him an understanding of what it takes to get a judge to approve a search warrant ? particularly when the target is a former president.

Whit Ayres, a longtime Republican pollster who worked on DeSantis’ 2018 run for governor, said DeSantis could have released a statement pointing out that the allegations underlying the search warrant were serious, that he hoped they were not true, and that Trump was innocent until proven guilty and would have his day in court.

“Something like that would have been more appropriate, I think,” he said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, December 21

Whit Ayres’ comments to the BBC on the Republican primary:

Whit Ayres is a Republican pollster who has worked with a number of the party’s candidates. He told the BBC that “survival and momentum” would be key for the anti-Trump candidates in the contest. 

“If Nikki Haley can run a close third, or maybe even beat [Ron] DeSantis for second place, that will give her a substantial boost,” he observed. “Donors want to support a winner. If you can’t get votes, you can’t get money.” 

Mr Ayres observed that voters can be split into three categories: People who will never vote for Mr Trump, staunch supporters of his agenda and a third category who are interested in alternatives. 

“About half of the party are ‘maybe Trump’ voters,” he told the BBC. “They are at least interested in who the alternatives are, they’re maybe concerned about the amount of baggage he carries, his focus on the past, his concern with grievances as opposed to policies. So they are open to alternatives.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, December 17

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Daily Caller regarding President Joe Biden’s standing in the polls:

“All of these polls point to voters having already decided against Biden on the current merits,” Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, told the DCNF. “They just don’t think he’s up to the job, whether we’re asking about traits like stamina and sharpness or about policies like the economy and immigration.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, December 15

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Daily Caller regarding President Biden’s decline in support among traditional Democratic supporters:

“What is really interesting about the polling is not that President Biden is slipping among core Democratic constituencies like younger voters and Black and Hispanic voters,” Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The fascinating part is that former President Trump is gaining some of that support. That seems to be attributable to a general sense that voters think they were better off when President Trump was in office.”

McHenry pointed to a recent Wall Street Journal survey that found 49% of voters said Trump’s policies helped them compared to only 23% who said the same of Biden’s, which he believes could be attributable for these minority voters leaving the president’s side.

“That’s a stunning rebuke of President Biden’s tenure,” said McHenry.

McHenry believes the shift of younger voters away from Biden has “accelerated” since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack, citing a recent poll his firm conducted in the battleground state of Wisconsin that found these individuals don’t approve of the president supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.

“All these polls point to Democrats nominating someone who they aren’t actually enthusiastic about and may not show up to support in the fall. As so many Democrats talk about Trump being an existential threat to democracy, it’s hard to believe they’re going to just go ahead and nominate someone who looks like a lock to lose to him,” said McHenry.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, December 13

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Boston Globe regarding Governor Chris Sununu’s endorsement of Governor Nikki Haley:

Some analysts say Sununu’s endorsement could help his preferred candidate emerge from New Hampshire’s primary on Jan. 23 as the clear Trump alternative.

He could “put a stamp on her as, yes, she’s really the alternative to Trump,” said Jon McHenry, a national GOP pollster who grew up in the state, in an interview last week. “His endorsement won’t put her over the top, but it sort of keeps her in the game.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, December 12

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Atlantic regarding the primary challenges of Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley:

As the veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres told me, DeSantis “has tried to appeal to some of the ‘always Trump’ voters, but the ‘always Trump’ voters are always Trump for a reason. Nikki Haley seems to have figured out the job is to consolidate the ‘maybe Trump’ voters who supported Trump twice but now … want a different style and different temperament.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, December 11

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Wall Street Journal on the U.S. political system:

Asked to summarize the year 2023 in politics, Republican pollster Whit Ayres is blunt: “2023 was a terrible year for America’s political system.”

Meantime, the two parties appeared on track to produce a rematch in 2024’s election between Biden and Trump, a contest that polls suggest two-thirds of Americans don’t really want. The bottom line, Ayres suggests, is that “public trust in our political system is in the cellar.”

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

Jon McHenry, December 6

Jon McHenry spoke with NPR regarding the stakes of the fourth Republican presidential primary debate:

Republican pollster Jon McHenry of North Star Opinion Research believes there’s still a narrow opening for an alternative, “as much as Donald Trump is trying to force it closed and lock it.”

But, debate performance is crucial at this stage.

“Because there’s only four, and they all get more airtime, it puts a premium on actually being knowledgeable about these issues,” McHenry explained.

Ahead of the debate, McHenry said he saw it as a make-or-break moment, particularly for DeSantis, who’d once been seen as the most likely Republican hopeful to take on Trump. But McHenry points to a recent shakeup at a pro-DeSantis super PAC, and the fact that Haley seems to have stepped into that role based on polling and support from donors like the Koch network.

To read the full article, please click here, or click here to listen to the December 5 radio story.