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, October 19

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New Republic on the national mood and midterm elections:

“Republicans should be running away with this election. With [President] Biden’s job approval in the low 40s, with inflation at a 40-year high and not moderating, with crime a serious problem in many cities, and with the border still not under control, Republicans should be cleaning up,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres said. “Republicans still are overwhelming favorites to take the House and have at least a 50-50 chance to take the Senate, but it’s closer than it should be because of the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion energizing Democratic women and because Republicans have nominated a number of inexperienced first-time candidates. So that’s keeping it closer than it would otherwise be.”

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Whit Ayres, October 14

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Atlantic about the effects of polarization:

“The difference in policy now between the group that has 51 percent and the group that has 49 percent is so enormous because of the polarization and divergence of the two parties,” the longtime GOP pollster Whit Ayres told me. Such big change resting on such small shifts, Ayres added, “is not healthy for democracy.”

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Dan Judy, May 15

Dan Judy’s comments in Politico on new methodologies:

“For us, any experimentation in real time has consequences,” said Dan Judy, a Republican pollster with North Star Opinion Research. “You have to be careful about what you’re doing. If you try it the old way, and the old way is dead, then you end up with 2020. But if you try something new, and the new way is also improper, maybe you get a different result — but it could also be wrong. That’s what keeps you awake at night, trying to strike that balance.”

Judy added that he feels good about polling in 2022, “because I feel like what we know works is still likely to work in this midterm. But in the next presidential, that’s when things are going to get dicey.”

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Whit Ayres, March 3 (AP)

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Associated Press regarding Joe Biden’s approval rating:

So the president spent the evening essentially asking for a fresh start, born of the most serious conflict with Russia in a generation, and another chance to explain his domestic agenda. “He’s got his back to the wall, and he’s put his party’s back against the wall,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster.

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Whit Ayres, February 18

Whit Ayres’ comments to NBC News regarding the effect of foreign policy decisions on elections:

“As a general rule, foreign policy events that do not involve American kids dying in a war pale in comparison to domestic issues,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “As long as Americans are not dying — as they were in Iraq in 2006 [when then-President George W. Bush’s Republican Party lost seats in both the House and the Senate] — foreign policy does not normally drive electoral outcomes.”

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Whit Ayres, February 7

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times on Dr. Anthony Fauci:

“Populism is essentially anti: anti-establishment, anti-expertise, anti-intellectual and anti-media,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist, adding that Dr. Fauci “is an establishment expert intellectual who is in the media.”

The anti-Fauci fervor has taken its toll on his personal life; he has received death threats, his family has been harassed and his home in Washington is guarded by a security detail. His standing with the public has also suffered. In a recent NBC News Poll, just 40 percent of respondents said they trusted Dr. Fauci, down from 60 percent in April 2020.

Still, Mr. Ayres said, Dr. Fauci remains for many Americans “one of the most trusted voices regarding the pandemic.” In a Gallup pollat the end of 2021, his job approval rating was 52 percent. On a list of 10 officials, including Mr. Biden and congressional leaders, only two scored higher: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Jerome H. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Republican strategists are split on whether attacking Dr. Fauci is a smart strategy. Mr. Ayres said it could help rev up the base in a primary but backfire in a general election, especially in a swing state like Ohio. But John Feehery, another strategist, said many pandemic-weary Americans viewed Dr. Fauci as “Mr. Lockdown,” and it made sense for Republicans “to run against both Fauci and lockdowns.”

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