Whit Ayres, November 19

Whit Ayres’ comments to US News and World Report regarding former President Trump’s prospects in the 2024 Republican presidential primary:

Though some of the most recent polling suggests that Trump’s support among Republicans may be falling slightly, within that general support lies a core group of 35 to 40% of “always-Trumpers,” says Whit Ayers, GOP strategist and president of North Star Opinion Research. “They believe he hung the moon, they’ll walk through a wall of flame for him, they’ll defend him until hell freezes over.”

To win the primary, a candidate needs a plurality rather than a majority. Though Trump’s core supporters would not, on their own, guarantee his victory in the primaries if it becomes a one-on-one contest with another candidate – as demonstrated by recent polls showing his loss in several states in hypothetical head-to-head matchups against DeSantis – his path could be much easier if two or more serious contenders split the vote of, what Ayers estimates, is about half of Republicans who supported Trump but are tired of his controversies and open to supporting someone else.

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Whit Ayres, November 19

Whit Ayres’ comments in Politico on ticket-splitting and candidate quality:

“In historical terms it may be low, but [ticket-splitting] was absolutely critical in numerous races this fall,” Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster for more than 30 years, said in an interview. “Voters made a lot of judgments about the quality of candidates nominated, and that’s why Democrats still control the Senate.”

“Governors actually make life and death decisions,” Ayres, the Republican pollster, said. “People are looking for good sense and good judgment in governors more than senators or congressmen, where increasingly they’re just looking for someone to join the blue team or the red team.”

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Whit Ayres, November 18

Whit Ayres comments in the Associated Press (as printed in The Washington Post) regarding the House GOP’s legislative priorities:

Whit Ayres, a GOP political consultant, said Republicans should focus on inflation, crime and border security in the majority, but fears they will overreach once again.

“If past is prologue, the small House majority will govern from the right and we’ll get engaged in these investigations and cut off Ukraine aid and try to ban abortion and do all these other things that will repel a majority of the country and put Democrats back in charge,” Ayres said during a post-election forum at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

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Jon McHenry, November 16

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Boston Globe regarding Donald Trump’s effect on the midterm elections:

Now after four tumultuous years in office, three straight disappointing Republican elections, two impeachments, and one deadly insurrection, Trump is a known political entity — and one whoseems to be rapidly losing popularity among Republicans just as he announced another White House run Tuesday night.

“How much do people have to lose before they go, ‘Wait a second, it’s because this quarterback keeps throwing pick-sixes that we’re losing?’ ” said Republican pollster Jon McHenry. “How many times do you have to burn your hand before you realize the stove is hot?”

McHenry thinks Republicans might have attributed too much of their polling decline in the summer to the backlash over the Supreme Court’s June decision overturning federal abortion rights, when Trump may have also played a role because of the controversy involving the FBI’s seizure of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago was unfolding at the same time. And he thinks Trump’s decision to tease an upcoming presidential announcement in the days before the midterms might also have turned off some voters.

“When President Trump was heavily involved in the news, things didn’t go well for Republicans” in the polls, McHenry said. “When the focus was on President Biden, things were very good for Republicans. And I don’t know how many will admit it, especially on the record, but I think there’s a pretty good sentiment that [Trump] did drag us down just enough to fall short in the Senate.”

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Dan Judy, November 15

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding election denials and U.S. Senate results:

“It’s not difficult to imagine Chris Sununu beating Maggie Hassan without a whole lot of trouble,” Republican strategist Dan Judy said.

Judy added, in reference to Bolduc: “By the time he started to pivot his campaign to the things voters were really concerned about, it was too late. He had defined himself — and been defined by the Democrats’ campaign — as this crazy election denier.”

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Whit Ayres, November 17

Whit Ayres’ comments to CNN regarding abortion policy and the midterm elections:

Veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres says this separation testifies to the value of allowing states to set their own rules on contentious social issues, particularly abortion. This “is exactly why allowing the states to follow their own cultural values on such an emotionally fraught issue is a wise decision in a federal political system,” Ayres says. “That’s why Roe v. Wade was so problematic as a national policy because values differ so dramatically among the states that it is impossible to adopt a national abortion policy that will be supported in each of the states.”

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Whit Ayres, November 15

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Associated Press regarding election denialism and Republican election results:

“It turns out that trying to overturn an election is not wildly popular with the American people,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster.

That even extends to Arizona, Ayres added, where a prominent former television newscaster-turned-election-conspiracy-theorist, Kari Lake, remains in a right race for governor against Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, whose campaign has been widely panned.

“The fact that it is close with a very polished, very good Republican candidate and a very weak, very unpolished Democratic candidate tells you how much of a weight election denial is on a Republican candidate,” Ayres said.

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Whit Ayres, November 13

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Washington Post about former President Donald Trump and the future of the Republican Party:

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, says the party’s electorate can be divided into three key buckets. A small group, roughly 10 percent, are “Never Trumpers,” Republicans who have long and vocally opposed Trump. A far larger group, about 40 percent, are “Always Trumpers,” his hardcore base that will never abandon him.

The remaining 50 percent or so, Ayres said, are “Maybe Tumpers” — Republicans who voted for him twice, who generally like his policies but who are now eager to escape the chaos that accompanies him.

“So they are open to supporting someone else who will do much of what they want without all of the baggage,” Ayres said. “So then the question becomes: Who?”

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Whit Ayres, November 10

Whit Ayres’ comments on the midterm elections in The Washington Post:

“With inflation at a 40-year high, crime out of control in many cities and our southern borders still porous, coupled with Joe Biden’s job approval in the low 40s, Republicans should have run away with this election,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “It should never have been close.”

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Whit Ayres, October 25

Whit Ayres’ comments in STAT News regarding Republican views of elites and experts:

“In many ways, doubts about expertise have fed into the whole populist movement, which essentially is … anti-elite, anti-establishment, anti-expertise,” said Whit Ayres, a political consultant with North Star Opinion Research who has advised GOP candidates including DeSantis. “Populism has a real problem in presenting a positive vision for the country. It’s ‘the experts are part of the establishment, so we’re against them too.’”

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