Whit Ayres, January 27

Whit Ayres’ comments to Steven Roberts on Governor Ron DeSantis and his outlook in the 2024 presidential primaries:

DeSantis could be a far tougher foe. At 44, with a telegenic wife and three adorable young children, he highlights Biden’s age. More seriously, he shares Trump’s shrewder political instincts but lacks Trump’s fatal flaws — the narcotic narcissism, the endless grievances and the growing detachment from reality, all of which drive away moderate swing voters, who decide national elections.

“He’s Trump without the craziness,” says Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

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Whit Ayres, December 29

Whit Ayres’ comments in Time on the 2024 Donald Trump campaign:

So far, Trump’s campaign is “disjointed, haphazard, unfocused, and still focused on the past, and his grievances, rather than the future, which is what attracted a lot of Republicans to him in 2015,” says Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. Nonetheless, Trump still has a grip on a meaningful slice of his party’s base. According to polling Ayres conducted with North Star Opinion Research, about 30% to 40% of GOP voters fall into what Ayres describes as “always Trump,” people who say they will support Trump no matter what. That is a strong base from which to wage a Republican primary campaign, Ayres says.

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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 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, February 28

Whit Ayres’ comments to Politico on the 2021 CPAC meeting in Orlando:

“Donald Trump remains the leader of the populist wing of the party, which he grew into a dominant force in Republican primaries, although never a majority force in the country,” said Whit Ayres, the longtime Republican pollster. “But because Trump dominates the populist wing, the folks who are members of that wing are going to continue to promote whatever he wants to promote at the time. That means they’re still hanging on to this myth that the election was stolen.”

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Whit Ayres, February 18

Whit Ayres’ comments to Newsweek on Florida’s COVID response and Governor Ron DeSantis’ approval ratings:

Whit Ayres, the founder of North Star Opinion Research, counts DeSantis among the politicians for whom his company has provided messaging advice. DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic “appears to be at least as effective if not more effective” than other states that imposed stricter lockdowns, Ayres said.

“Governor DeSantis has done an admirable job of handling this pandemic from day one,” Ayres told Newsweek. “He has managed to keep a lid on the number of cases per capita while at the same time keeping the economy more open than either New York or California.”

DeSantis “has also done a better job of getting the vaccine distributed” than Cuomo and Newsom, Ayres said. “Based on the record of controlling the pandemic while keeping the economy going, Governor DeSantis has one of the very best records of any governor,” he added.

Earlier this week, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican, suggested during an appearance on Fox News that DeSantis would be a “strong potential presidential candidate” in 2024. Though it’s too early to tell who would dominate a 2024 field, Ayres said it made sense for DeSantis as the leader of a swing state to consider a run.

“He’s a very talented guy with a strong record from one of the country’s largest states,” Ayres said.

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Whit Ayres, November 4

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Financial Times regarding the key moment of the 2020 presidential contest:

Mr Clyburn’s endorsement of Mr Biden was “probably the single most important moment in the history of this presidential election,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist. “If that hadn’t happened, Bernie Sanders would likely have won the nomination.”

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Dan Judy, October 16

Dan Judy’s comments to The Hill regarding President Trump’s campaigning in the election’s home stretch:

The president’s tendency to return to the topic of Clinton’s emails — he raised the subject during a friendly interview with radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh last week — is especially perplexing, even to Republicans.

“He is not running against Hillary Clinton, which is unfortunate for him because she was massively unpopular,” said GOP strategist Dan Judy. “He is doing what he did in 2016, and it worked, but I just don’t see it getting him any extra votes.”

Trump does have more fertile areas to plow. He consistently performs better on the economy than on any other issue. There is a widespread belief, in and beyond Republican circles, that a reelection campaign fought on that territory would give him the strongest chance of success.

The problem, of course, is that even many conservatives don’t believe Trump has the desire or self-discipline to stick with such a message.

“When there is a conspiracy theory about the death of Osama bin Laden you can tweet, why talk about the economy?” Dan Judy asked wryly. “He is not doing himself any favors.”

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Whit Ayres, March 6

Whit Ayres’ comments to McClatchy on demographic changes in Texas:

“The mix of voters in Texas is going exactly the way that demographic trends have predicted, and as long as Republicans continue to perform poorly with nonwhite voters, it appears it will continue,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran pollster and analyst for Republican candidates across Florida and the South. “I think we’re still a cycle or two away from Texas flipping – but it does reinforce the imperative of Republicans to do a better job reaching out to nonwhite voters.”

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Whit Ayres, February 29

Whit Ayres’ comments to National Public Radio on the effect of Joe Biden’s South Carolina primary win on the Democratic nominating contest:

“This result totally resets the race. The fact that Joe Biden won big — and the result was clear early in the evening during prime time in the eastern time zone — provides an enormous boost to his campaign. If Joe Biden can ultimately defeat Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, we will look back on this night as a key moment in American political history,” Republican strategist Whit Ayres told NPR.

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