Jon McHenry, December 6

Jon McHenry spoke with NPR regarding the stakes of the fourth Republican presidential primary debate:

Republican pollster Jon McHenry of North Star Opinion Research believes there’s still a narrow opening for an alternative, “as much as Donald Trump is trying to force it closed and lock it.”

But, debate performance is crucial at this stage.

“Because there’s only four, and they all get more airtime, it puts a premium on actually being knowledgeable about these issues,” McHenry explained.

Ahead of the debate, McHenry said he saw it as a make-or-break moment, particularly for DeSantis, who’d once been seen as the most likely Republican hopeful to take on Trump. But McHenry points to a recent shakeup at a pro-DeSantis super PAC, and the fact that Haley seems to have stepped into that role based on polling and support from donors like the Koch network.

To read the full article, please click here, or click here to listen to the December 5 radio story.

Whit Ayres, November 14

Whit Ayres’ in CNN regarding Governor Nikki Haley and the Republican presidential primary:

“I think Haley is clearly the second-place candidate right now,” said veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

Ayres has famously divided the GOP electorate into three camps: an always Trump group immovably bound to him; a never Trump group implacably hostile to him; and a maybe Trump group that supported him but is wearying of the chaos that surrounds him and is open to an alternative. DeSantis, Ayres argued, has “has tried to appeal to some of the ‘always Trump’ voters, but the ‘always Trump’ voters are always Trump for a reason. Nikki Haley seems to have figured out the job is to consolidate the ‘maybe Trump’ voters who supported Trump twice but now … want a different style and different temperament.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, November 8

Jon McHenry spoke with NPR news about Governor Nikki Haley’s path to the Republican nomination:

Republican pollster Jon McHenry with North Star Opinion Research says if Haley can make a very strong showing in the early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and her home state of South Carolina, she could still have at least a theoretical – albeit narrow – path to the nomination.

“It’s not overly likely,” McHenry cautioned, “given the sort of the cult like following [Trump] seems to have among some primary voters.” 

“But I do think Gov. Haley has probably the best shot of the rest of the field,” he added. 

McHenry says Haley would need to continue standing out in the debates, and hope that more of her rivals drop out, like former Vice President Mike Pence did recently.

To read the full story or listen to the audio, please click here.

Whit Ayres, October 29

Whit Ayres’ comments in Politico on Governor Nikki Haley’s standing in the Republican presidential nominating contest:

“It’s coming at a great time for her,” said Whit Ayres, a longtime Republican pollster. “Sometimes the direction of movement is as important as the absolute level of standing — and she’s going up, while the other candidates are either going down or remaining flat.”

Despite Trump still leading the rest of the field by as many as 50 points nationally and 30 points in the early states, Haley is now the main reason DeSantis can no longer declare the primary a “two-man race.” She has closed in on DeSantis, surpassing him in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and is slowly gaining on him in Iowa, despite the Florida governor barnstorming the state throughout the summer and investing significantly more there than Haley.

Since the first debate, Haley has caught fire with New Hampshire voters, rocketing from 3 percent in August to as high as 19 percent recently and solidly in second place.

“The rise is real,” Ayres said. “It reflects her debate performance in the first two debates, but also her performance on the stump.”

To read the whole story, please click here.

Dan Judy, October 3

Dan Judy’s comments to The Hill regarding the threat of government shutdowns:

“Most voters don’t really pay attention to the Machiavellian ins-and-outs of this stuff,” GOP strategist Dan Judy told this column. “But what voters do see is continued utter dysfunction in Washington. That is what hurts the Republican brand more than the details of any specific situation.”

Judy cautioned that any political advantage for Democrats was likely to be slight, even as he expressed dismay at the recent goings-on.

“Republicans do tend to take more blame historically for shutdowns,” he said. “But this sort of brinkmanship has become so common that I think the idea of blame is sort of irrelevant in the minds of most voters. So, do Republicans take more blame? Probably. But it dirties everybody up so much.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, October 3

Dan Judy’s comments to The Hill regarding shutdown brinksmanship:

“Most voters don’t really pay attention to the Machiavellian ins-and-outs of this stuff,” GOP strategist Dan Judy told this column. “But what voters do see is continued utter dysfunction in Washington. That is what hurts the Republican brand more than the details of any specific situation.”

Judy cautioned that any political advantage for Democrats was likely to be slight, even as he expressed dismay at the recent goings-on.

“Republicans do tend to take more blame historically for shutdowns,” he said. “But this sort of brinkmanship has become so common that I think the idea of blame is sort of irrelevant in the minds of most voters. So, do Republicans take more blame? Probably. But it dirties everybody up so much.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres’ Conversation with Bill Kristol

Whit Ayres joined Bill Kristol for a conversation about the State of the Republican party nomination:

Whit Ayres, August 23

Whit Ayres’ comments to CNN regarding continued Republican support for former President Donald Trump:

Veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres points to another, more personal, reason so many GOP voters have discounted the charges against Trump. “Many of them had conflict with siblings, with parents, sometimes with children, sometimes even with spouses about their support for Donald Trump,” Ayres says. “And they are very defensive about it. That makes them instinctively rally to Donald Trump’s defense because if they suggest in any way that he is not fit for office then that casts aspersions on their own past support for him.”

To read the full article, please click here.

“They’re not going to settle for second-best Trump.”

Whit Ayres’ comments in The New York Times regarding Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign strategy:

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, argued in an email that DeSantis has adopted an approach to the nomination fight that was bound to fail:

“DeSantis’s strategy, and that of any candidate not named Trump, should be to consolidate the Maybe Trump voters. But DeSantis has seemed like he was going after the Always Trump voters with his aggressive language (“slitting throats”), his comment that Ukraine was just a “territorial dispute,” his suggestion that vaccine conspiracy theorist RFK Jr. would be a good candidate to head the Centers for Disease Control, and his doubling down on whether slavery might have been beneficial to some enslaved people.”

The problem with this approach, Ayres continued, is that “the Always Trump voters are ‘Always Trump’ for a reason — they are not going to settle for the second-best Trump if they can get the real thing.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Voters Trust American Free Enterprise

Our June 17-22, 2023 survey for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was highlighted in Politico Influence:

FIRST IN PI — CHAMBER POLLING: BUTT OUT OF BUSINESS: As (most of) the Republican presidential hopefuls gear up for tomorrow night’s first primary debate, a new memo based on polling from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and shared exclusively with PI looks to discourage the use of corporate America as a political punching bag, arguing to candidates on both sides of the aisle that voters are not interested in political “micromanagement” of business decisions.

— “As we head into election season, the message is clear: Whether you are courting Republican, Democratic, or independent voters, candidates will be well served to run as pro-business candidates focused on solutions that support jobs and America’s free enterprise system,” Ashlee Rich Stephenson, the Chamber’s senior political strategist, writes in the memo.

— In a matchup between three hypothetical candidates — one who favors more disclosure of companies’ ESG efforts; one who favors government intervention to rescue companies from large “woke” investors; and one who “says that whether it comes from the right or the left, government micromanaging of business is a bad idea” — the last of those candidates received a plurality of 40 percent support, according to the Chamber’s memo. That included support from 53 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and a little over a quarter of Democrats, which the memo says tracks with other recent polls of GOP voters.

— North Star Opinion Research polled 1,327 registered voters between June 17-22 for the Chamber. Among the survey’s other findings were that voters across the ideological spectrum agreed that businesses are a force for good. The poll found that Republican and independent voters trust even large companies more than the federal government, with Democrats rating the federal government only slightly more trustworthy. More than three quarters of Republicans polled and nearly 6 in 10 independents polled favored less government intervention in the economy.

To read the full column, please click here.

To read the Chamber’s memo highlighting the survey results, please click here.