Whit Ayres, May 23

Whit Ayres’ comments on the potential political impact of the verdict in the New York case against Donald Trump:

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, doubts that as many as a fourth of Republicans would actually shun Trump if he’s convicted. But Ayres said even if just a small number of more moderate Republicans and independents are turned off by a guilty verdict, it could help Biden in a close election.

However, Ayres said the nature of the New York case, which was brought by a Democratic prosecutor and relies on untested legal strategies, will help Trump and fellow Republicans frame a guilty verdict as a political hit job.

“If I were trying to design a court case that would be easy for Republicans to dismiss as a partisan witch hunt, I would design exactly the case that’s being brought in New York,” Ayres said.

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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.”

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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.’”

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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.”

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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.”

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Whit Ayres, March 29

Whit Ayres’ comments to ABC News on Republican office holders wrestling with abortion issues:

“The states have just started wrestling with one of the most intractable issues in American politics. And some state legislatures are going to overreach, and some state judicial rulings will overreach, and then they’ll get corrected,” GOP consultant Whit Ayres said. “We saw that with the IVF issue in Alabama, where the legislature and the governor rushed to confront and overturn a Supreme Court decision.”

When asked if Republicans have to make peace with a pattern of overreach and correction, Ayres replied, “Yeah. That’s the way the process works.”

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Whit Ayres, March 5

Whit Ayres’ comments to CNN regarding Donald Trump’s position as a quasi-incumbent:

Veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres said the primaries have shown that Republican voters are viewing Trump, in effect, as an incumbent president to a greater extent than the other candidates expected. Trump is trying to become the first defeated incumbent to win a rematch four years later against the man who ousted him from the White House since Democrat Grover Cleveland beat Republican Benjamin Harrison in 1892. Trump “is running as a quasi-incumbent,” Ayres said. To understand his dominance, Ayres continued, “What we really need are entrance polls and exit polls from the 1892 Democratic coalition for Grover Cleveland. That’s the analogy: a former president running again to defeat the guy who beat him.”

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Whit Ayres, February 24

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Wall Street Journal about the Republican primary contest:

GOP consultant Whit Ayres says Nikki Haley represents “what remains of the Reagan-Bush portion of the Republican Party,” even if she doesn’t have a chance to win the nomination.

“She is carrying on a perspective and a philosophy of international engagement and leadership, of treating everyone, including your opponents, with a measure of respect,” Ayres said, adding those values still have a constituency in a party upended by Trump.

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Jon McHenry, January 25

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Boston Globe regarding Donald Trump’s performance in the New Hampshire Republican primary:

Trump remains dominant among Republican voters in New Hampshire, but “his performance among independents is a warning sign,” said Jon McHenry, a national GOP pollster who grew up in the state.

“Based on what you saw last night, it seems like he would not be well positioned to win New Hampshire” in the general election, McHenry added.

“Probably the most unifying thing among Republicans is a view that Joe Biden is ruining the country,” said McHenry, the strategist, “so those Republicans certainly vote for Trump.”

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Jon McHenry, January 24

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Daily Caller regarding the New Hampshire exit polls:

“Going forward, Haley will need to do far better among Republicans while also holding serve among independents in the states where they can participate,” Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, told the DCNF. “That probably means challenging former President Trump more directly on issues: Ukraine, China, maybe even entitlement reform and job creation.”

“I do think it is worth watching non-white participation in the primaries going forward,” said McHenry. “If participation is more diverse, that may say something about the eventual nominee’s ability to take votes that have traditionally gone to Democrats.”

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