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Republicans

Whit Ayres, March 23

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Los Angeles Times regarding the influence of former President Donald Trump’s endorsements:

All of which suggests Trump’s sway over Republican voters — and, by extension, the Republican Party — is diminishing the further he gets from the White House.

“A president’s endorsement is going to carry more weight than an ex-president’s endorsement,” said Q. Whitfield Ayres, a GOP strategist with extensive experience in congressional and gubernatorial races nationwide. “Especially an ex-president without access to Twitter and social media.”

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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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Whit Ayres, January 29

Whit Ayres’ comments to The New York Times regarding perceptions of Joe Biden’s presidency:

“The left is disappointed with him and the anti-Trump Republicans and independents thought they were going to get a moderate governing,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster. “I don’t know how resolving the pandemic is going to affect that fundamental reality that he is completely misplaying his hand.”

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Whit Ayres, January 5

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times on Donald Trump and his effect on the 2022 elections:

Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster, said that Mr. Trump’s backing was powerful in primaries, but a “very, very mixed blessing” in swing districts.

“It’s pretty clear that candidates who want to be competitive in the general election are being careful how close they get to him during primaries,” he said. He pointed to Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin of Virginia as having offered a “classic example” of the type of balancing act necessary.

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Dan Judy, September 9

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding President Trump’s position in the political landscape:

Still, when Trump tries to show his muscle by offering an endorsement, there is always the danger that the results will cut in the opposite direction.

“When he was president of the United States and he could lay the anointing finger on certain candidates, that’s one thing,” said Dan Judy, a GOP strategist associated with the more traditional wing of the party. “Now, it’s very fraught. Everybody is going to want the Trump endorsement but that is not necessarily going to win you a primary in these heavily contested races.”

Judy also noted two other points that he said were obvious but sometimes overlooked.

One is that Trump’s status is eroded simply because he’s not president anymore. The other is that there are a lot of major events going on in which he is not really a player.

“You’ve got the delta surge, Afghanistan, natural disasters — really big news stories that are impacting people’s lives on a daily basis,” Judy said. “And Donald Trump shouting at a rally really pales in comparison to a lot of that stuff.”

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Whit Ayres, July 30

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Guardian regarding Republican office holders encouraging their constituents to get vaccinated against COVID-19:

One thing that’s clear among pollsters: the change in tone from Republican lawmakers has not been prompted by new polling. Rather it’s because of the increasing urgency that US political figures are feeling about a pandemic that is far from over and may be on the brink of entering a new, dangerous phase.

There’s data out there but it’s not polling data, it’s Covid data. The surge in the Delta variant is coming largely in Republican states and particularly in Republican rural counties of states and it’s that data that has led these Republican leaders to speak out more forcefully,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster.

“Now, it needs to be said that some Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell have always been forceful advocates for vaccinations, driven by the fact that he had polio as a kid and we no longer have polio because of vaccines. But there’s no question that more Republican figures like Kay Ivey, the governor of Alabama, have been more vociferous of late because so many people are getting infected who need not get infected if they simply got the vaccine.”

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Whit Ayres, June 1

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times on COVID vaccines and politics:

“Traditionally Republicans have been very against government interference in free enterprise, and into the workings of the private market,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster. He said it was too early to say how vaccine politics would affect the 2022 midterms, but added, “It’s going to be a big issue.”

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Whit Ayres, June 4

Whit Ayres’ comments to National Public Radio regarding the GOP and declining Christian identification in the electorate:

This makes religion one key part of a looming, long-term demographic challenge for Republicans, says Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster.

“Republicans clearly have a stronger hold among the religiously affiliated, especially evangelical Protestants. And consequently, any decline in evangelical Protestant affiliation is not good news for the GOP,” he said.

The upshot, to Ayres, is that a party still deeply entwined with conservative Christianity and, particularly, white evangelicals will eventually have to win over more Christian conservatives — for example, among the growing Hispanic electorate — or make gains among substantially less-religious groups, like young voters.

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Whit Ayres, May 13

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Wall Street Journal regarding House Republicans voting to remove Liz Cheney from party leadership:

Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster based in Alexandria, Va., argued that if the GOP wants to rally a majority of the electorate behind its agenda, the party can’t afford for its base to contract.

“The GOP has lost tens of thousands of suburban voters over the last two election cycles, many of them college-educated women,” Mr. Ayres said. “Those suburban women left the party for a reason, and this move [against Ms. Cheney] reminds them of the reason why.”

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Whit Ayres, May 10

Whit Ayres’ comments to NBC News regarding the efforts to remove Liz Cheney from House Republican leadership:

“Removing Liz Cheney from leadership will give a boatload of ammunition to the GOP’s critics,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster.

Republicans plan to remove Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference, the No. 3 position in House GOP leadership, in a move to demote the highest-ranking Republican who voted to impeach Trump early this year. She has vocally criticized Trump’s”big lie” that the election last year was stolen.

Ayers warned that efforts to exile Cheney — the highest-ranking Republican woman in Washington and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney — could further antagonize suburban voters, particularly college-educated women, who ditched the party because of their opposition to Trump.

“They will also say there’s no room in today’s Republican Party for anyone willing to be honest about the 2020 election and the events of Jan. 6,” Ayres said. “That does not strike me as the best way to get back the suburban voters who’ve left the party in the last few years.”

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