Dan Judy, May 14

Dan Judy’s comments to The Guardian on former President Donald Trump’s conquest of state Republican parties:

“The big, sort of under-the-radar story in American politics over the last couple of years was the way Trump and his people had taken over state parties across the country,” said Dan Judy, a senior analyst for North Star Opinion Research, a Republican guidance and consultancy company based in Virginia.

“Even early in the primary process, a year and a half ago when Ron DeSantis was riding high and leading a lot of the polls, I was always thinking: Trump has control of the state parties, he’s got his people in, and they are, for lack of a better word, going to attempt to rig the process in favor of Donald Trump.

“If you look at it, that’s exactly what happened. A lot of state parties changed their rules to make their primaries winner-takes-all, which absolutely helped Trump, especially as it came down to a one-on-one with Nikki Haley. It was clear that she was going to have to win some of these things outright to get any delegates at all, and she couldn’t do it.

“The fact that the Florida GOP has also been completely taken over by Trump folks is really indicative of a trend that has happened everywhere.”

Judy pointed to how easily Trump took down DeSantis in the primary race, humiliating the governor he disparaged as “Meatball Ron” in his own state. DeSantis’s efforts to cajole Florida’s congressional delegation were ultimately futile, and he dropped out in January to avoid a spanking in the state’s March primary.

“As high as he was riding after his huge re-election victory, just any hope that he would have had of continuing to be top dog in the Florida GOP went out the window when he failed to get any traction at all in the presidential race,” said Judy, who has worked for the winning campaigns of several Republican politicians, including DeSantis and the Florida senator Marco Rubio.

“He’s not the kind of person who cultivates relationships, who builds relationships, who builds a party, an organization, and an apparatus. He’s just not that guy, and if you’re going around Florida looking for Ron DeSantis people, there are shockingly few of them.

“But if Donald Trump is re-elected, there might be a place in the administration for him. If he wants to have a future in the current Republican party, he cannot be an enemy of Donald Trump, and you’re seeing him do the things that he needs to do to remain in good standing.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 14

Whit Ayres’ comments to The New York Times regarding President Biden and his reelection prospects:

“People associated with the administration are beating their heads against the wall saying, ‘Why aren’t they giving us any credit?’” said Whit Ayres, another veteran Republican pollster.

“But even if they did give him credit, voters think he is too old to serve effectively in a second term,” Mr. Ayres said, citing recent polling by ABC that demonstrates concerns over the 81-year-old president’s age.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, April 29

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Daily Caller on the possible effects of Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s candidacy:

“Kennedy has, I think, more lasting impact on this race than most people thought he would,” Jon McHenry, GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “All he really needs to be on is Arizona, Georgia, you know, Nevada, a handful of states, North Carolina, maybe Michigan, Wisconsin. He only needs to be on the ballot in five or six states to have an impact on this, because even if he only takes 3%, that’s enough to swing a bunch of states.”

While McHenry still believes that Kennedy “hurts both candidates pretty equally,” he issued a warning to Republicans about the independent’s candidacy.

“He’s sort of been a darling for Republicans for a while because he’s anti-vaccine, and, ‘yeah, he’s a Democrat who’s running against Biden, that’s great!’ And then he goes out and gets a progressive running mate, and they go, ‘oh, wait, is he actually a liberal?’ Yeah, actually, he is,” McHenry told the DCNF. “This sort of implicit permission to vote for RFK Jr. has the potential to backfire in the end.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, April 21

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Daily Caller on the effect of Arizona’s Supreme Court ruling on abortion:

The opposition from prominent Republicans to the Arizona Supreme Court’s abortion ruling could mitigate Democrats’ turnout boost, according to polling analyst Jon McHenry.

“Typically where there’s been something on the ballot, it has helped Democrats — there’s kind of no way around it. The Arizona situation is going to be an interesting case, because you have so many high profile Republicans saying that this really went too far,” said McHenry. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens with turnout when you have Republicans, essentially on the same side, saying, ‘we need to repeal this.’”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, April 25

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Boston Globe regarding the gag order in Donald Trump’s New York case:

Complying with the gag order is not in Trump’s DNA, said Republican pollster Jon McHenry.

“He is never going to admit that he’s wrong, and he feels like if you don’t make your case, you’re weak,” McHenry said. “If he just sits and abides by the gag order, as virtually any other defendant would, he’s just letting the prosecution make their case against him, day after day, week after week, potentially.”

Any fines would easily be offset by the fund-raising Trump could do off it, McHenry said.

“The first time he gets fined, there’s going to be a fund-raising email that goes out to small donors saying, ‘Help me fight this corrupt judge and give me the money to pay off these fines so I can continue to speak,’ ” McHenry said. “That email is probably already written. And it just needs a date put in it.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres Inducted into AAPC Hall of Fame

The American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) recognized Whit Ayres’ 35-year career as a Republican political consultant by inducting him into their Hall of Fame at the Capitol Hilton on April 18, 2024. The event was attended by over 300 political consultants and AAPC members, and the full video can be seen here.

Ayres has served as a pollster, mentor, and trusted advisor to numerous elected officials. His U.S. Senate clients have included Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker, Paul Coverdell, Bill Frist, Lindsey Graham, Jim Inhofe, John Kennedy, Mack Mattingly, Marco Rubio, Jeff Sessions, and Strom Thurmond. His gubernatorial clients have included David Beasley, Carroll Campbell, Ron DeSantis, Bill Haslam, Bill Lee, and Bob Riley. His more than 80 association and nonprofit clients have included The American Medical Association, The Bipartisan Policy Center, The Boy Scouts of America, The Environmental Defense Fund, The Federalist Society, the Nature Conservancy, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Since its founding in 1969, the AAPC has distinguished only 55 political consultants with this, its highest honor, recognizing their contributions to the association, profession and commitment to a vibrant democracy including ensuring free and fair elections. Ayres has been active in AAPC for over 30 years, serving as its Treasurer, President, and Chairman and championing the nonprofit’s Code of Ethics.

In 2012, Ayres was honored as the AAPC Republican Pollster of the Year. He currently serves on the Board of the News Literacy Project and actively supports ALS research, the Alexandria Symphony and Westminster Presbyterian Church of Alexandria, Virginia.

In 1991, Ayres founded North Star Opinion Research, a national public opinion research firm located in Arlington, VA. The firm conducts surveys and focus groups across the country for associations, non-profits, corporations, and Republican candidates for office at all levels.

Whit Ayres/Hacks on Tap

Whit Ayres joined Robert Gibbs and Jonathan Martin on the Hacks on Tap podcast this week:


Whit Ayres, April 9

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Wall Street Journal regarding President Trump’s position on abortion:

“I don’t know that anything will take the attention off the abortion issue given some of the extremely restrictive bills that have been passed,” said GOP consultant Whit Ayres, who called Trump’s position a politically smart one. “But it is the most likely strategy to allow the focus on other issues.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, April 3

Whit Ayres’ comments to Politico about politics and higher education:

Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster, suggested that the topic’s resonance with voters was a symbol of Republicans’ growing frustration with elite higher education.

“That really was the culmination point of a long period of Republican suspicion about the mindset of higher education,” he said of the December hearing with the presidents of Harvard, Penn and MIT. “Republicans believe that woke liberals have taken over most higher education institutions and instituted a very rigid belief system that one must follow or be excommunicated from the woke tribe.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres on the Pro Politics Podcast

Whit joined Zac McCrary on the Pro Politics Podcast to discuss four decades in politics from the faculty at the University of South Carolina to Governor Carroll Campbell’s staff to starting and running a successful polling firm: