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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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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Jon McHenry, October 24

Jon McHenry’s comments in The New York Times regarding challenges in polling:

If there is a big miss this cycle it’s likely to be driven by voters who are less educated not participating in the polls. The people you do get on the phone, you can always weight them up … but you don’t know exactly who you’re missing. And that’s always been the kind of thing that will keep a pollster up at night.But the numbers were really good in 2018.

Are we in that sort of midterm where Trump is not on the ballot and missing those people isn’t as much of a concern?

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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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Dan Judy, January 6

Dan Judy’s comments in The Hill regarding President Trump’s cancelled January 6 press conference:

GOP strategist Dan Judy, who is aligned with the more moderate wing of the party, said, “When I heard it was canceled, I was like, ‘Thank God.’ Everyone could have predicted it would have been this totally revisionist view of what happened on Jan. 6.

“That would have been repugnant on its face, and it would also have been horrible for Republican candidates in the midterms, who have the wind at their backs and do not need this kind of ‘Rah-rah, Jan. 6!’ kind of talk.”

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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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Whit Ayres, October 19

Whit Ayres’ comments on the political effect of tying Republican candidates to President Trump:

Which means there has probably never been a midterm election when a former president was as much a part of the political dialogue as Trump is now. The Virginia result will offer a first gauge of how much that new factor can change the usual midterm dynamics favoring the party out of the White House.

“We’re going to find out in the Virginia race because McAuliffe has puts an enormous number of chips on the table betting that a focus on tying Youngkin to Trump will motivate Democratic base voters as well as independents,” said Virginia-based Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “We are going to get a test of that very soon.”

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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, 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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