News Clips

Reporters and analysts rely on the expertise and comments of team members at North Star Opinion Research to give their stories depth and strategic perspective.  Read clips from recent articles on pressing political news.


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.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, May 14

Whit Ayres’ comments to The New York Times regarding President Biden and his reelection prospects:

“People associated with the administration are beating their heads against the wall saying, ‘Why aren’t they giving us any credit?’” said Whit Ayres, another veteran Republican pollster.

“But even if they did give him credit, voters think he is too old to serve effectively in a second term,” Mr. Ayres said, citing recent polling by ABC that demonstrates concerns over the 81-year-old president’s age.

To read the full article, please click here.

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.’”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, April 25

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Boston Globe regarding the gag order in Donald Trump’s New York case:

Complying with the gag order is not in Trump’s DNA, said Republican pollster Jon McHenry.

“He is never going to admit that he’s wrong, and he feels like if you don’t make your case, you’re weak,” McHenry said. “If he just sits and abides by the gag order, as virtually any other defendant would, he’s just letting the prosecution make their case against him, day after day, week after week, potentially.”

Any fines would easily be offset by the fund-raising Trump could do off it, McHenry said.

“The first time he gets fined, there’s going to be a fund-raising email that goes out to small donors saying, ‘Help me fight this corrupt judge and give me the money to pay off these fines so I can continue to speak,’ ” McHenry said. “That email is probably already written. And it just needs a date put in it.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres/Hacks on Tap

Whit Ayres joined Robert Gibbs and Jonathan Martin on the Hacks on Tap podcast this week:

https://embeds.audioboom.com/posts/8491576/embed?v=202301

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.”

To read the full article, please click here.

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.”

To read the full article, please click here.

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.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, March 26

Jon McHenry appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss the U.S. stance toward Israel:

Republican pollster Jon McHenry says there may be an opportunity for Trump to present a more vigorous foreign policy with an ally – and win back some more traditional Republican voters he lost during the primaries. 

“That may actually be an entré for him to get them to say, ‘OK, maybe I don’t agree with him on Ukraine, but I do agree with him on Israel,'” said McHenry of North Star Opinion Research. “And that’s better than what I’m seeing out of Joe Biden.”

To read the article or listen to the segment, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 11

Whit Ayres’ comments to Vox on voters’ perceptions of the economy:

“The fundamental problem for Biden and the Democrats is that while the rate of inflation is down, it’s not going backwards,” GOP pollster Whit Ayres said. “It’s hard to persuade people that things are better.”

“The general perception is that the economy was better before the pandemic than it is now,” said Ayres, the GOP pollster. “And that perception is powerful politically.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 10

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Washington Post about the 2024 general election campaign:

Reelection campaigns generally favor the incumbent. But Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster and no friend of Trump, sees Biden as the clear underdog. He cites public dissatisfaction with the overall direction of the country, and notes that Trump is seen as more trusted on the economy and immigration and that an overwhelming percentage of Americans see the incumbent as too old to hold the toughest office in the world.

Yet he added, “In this sea of uncertainty, I am hesitant to make a flat statement [about the outcome in November]. With two historically unpopular candidates, it feels less stable than it appears on the surface.” Still, he argued that the Democrats’ best chance of winning today “would be to find a different candidate.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, March 3

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Washington Post regarding Donald Trump’s appeal to working class voters:

On the flip side, Republican pollster Whit Ayres said in an interview, Trump has bundled together all the resentments felt by voters experiencing both economic decline and cultural estrangement.

“His message is anti-expertise, anti-immigration, anti-intellectual, anti-media and anti-establishment at a time when many jobs have been sent overseas, particularly blue-collar jobs, and when many families were ravaged by the opioid crisis,” Ayres said. “There is an audience for that message.”

To read the full article please click here.

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.”

To read the full article, please click here.

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.

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 19

Whit Ayres’ comment to The New York Times about voters’ feelings about the likely 2024 election matchup:

“Exhaustion is underlying the entire attitude toward our presidential election,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster. “When you’ve got two people that are opposed by 70 percent of Americans who want a different choice, it creates frustration, anxiety and discouragement.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 11

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Times of London regarding Joe Biden and Donald Trump’s liabilities:

“I guess his staff are too scared,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster and president of North Star Opinion Research. “He can’t get through an interview without creating more problems for himself.”

“Most people can’t quite believe that [Biden] is even thinking about running again, and they certainly don’t like the idea that he’s one of their only two choices to be president of the United States,” said Ayres. “The other one is facing 91 felony counts. It’s like the vast majority of Americans are going, wait a minute, in a country of 330 million people, are these choices the best we can do?”

To read the full article ($) please click here.

Whit Ayres, February 2

Whit Ayres joined Bill Kristol on his podcast Conversations, saying this about the prospects of another Biden-Trump race:

Trump would win in a landslide in the electoral college if the election were held today and the reason is that Joe Biden is the weakest American president since Jimmy Carter, and there’s some similarity between the two men.

To listen to the podcast, please click here.

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.”

To read the full article, please click here.

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.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, January 22

Whit Ayres’ comments to the Associated Press regarding former governor Nikki Haley’s campaign:

Haley quickly rose to a leadership post but collided with colleagues over her push for more recorded votes instead of voice votes that spared lawmakers scrutiny. So she soon aimed for the executive branch. She joined a 2010 gubernatorial primary that included the lieutenant governor, attorney general and a sitting congressman. Haley nearly won the nomination outright, with 48.9% of the primary vote. Haley defeated U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett in a runoff 65% to 35%.

Whit Ayres, a national pollster who worked for Barrett, said the campaign previewed Haley’s ability to cast a wide net. “Those margins tell you something about her political skills,” he said.

Ayres said Haley’s approach is pragmatic, like much of her career. About half the party’s voters, Ayres said, voted for Trump twice and would again – but are open to someone else.

“Following Chris Christie’s lead would cap her at the small percentage of ‘Never Trumpers,’” Ayres added, referring to the former New Jersey governor who hammered Trump before dropping out of the race.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, January 19

Jon McHenry’s comments to NPR on undeclared voters and the New Hampshire presidential primary:

Still, what makes New Hampshire so harder to predict – and to poll – is that no one knows what its large portion of undeclared voters are going to do, said Jon McHenry, a Republican pollster with North Star Opinion Research.

“They could be absolutely disgusted with their choices by Tuesday and say it doesn’t matter who they pick,” said McHenry, who grew up in New Hampshire. “Or they could say, ‘I’ve absolutely had it with Donald Trump and I’m going to, you know, to walk through a blizzard in my bare feet to get to the polls and vote that day.’ “

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

Whit Ayres, January 14

Whit Ayres’ comments on the Republican presidential primary in The Washington Post:

But unlike former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, whose frontal attacks on Trump endeared him to many Democrats and the relatively small constituency of anti-Trumpers in the party, Haley knew she couldn’t ask Republicans who had voted for Trump twice to admit they were wrong. “She has managed to walk a fine line,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres told me. “She avoided the Chris Christie message that Trump is unfit for office while at the same time making a case that it’s time to move on.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Dan Judy, December 8

Dan Judy’s comments in The Washington Examiner on the potential for Donald Trump’s legal troubles to affect his support in the general election:

Dan Judy, a Republican pollster, cautioned that much is unknown about Trump’s legal future.

“We look at history and how people have behaved in the past and how things have played out in the past to kind of help us figure out how things might play out in the future,” Judy said. “And there’s no precedent for anything even remotely like what Trump is facing.”

Judy noted that North Star Opinion Research has polled Republican voters in multiple states on whether they would vote for Trump if he were a convicted felon over Biden, and most said yes. But roughly 20% to 25% have said they would not vote for Trump.

“I mean, you only need to lose 5%, 10%, 15% of that base and you have no chance to win,” Judy said. “There are some indications that if he’s convicted on one of these felony counts, not a huge number, but enough Republican voters — they’re not going to vote for Joe Biden, but they might stay home. That could easily sort of swing the election against him.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, January 4

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Boston Globe regarding conservatives and higher education:

However, pollster and political analyst Jon McHenry said conservative leaders are simply fulfilling their responsibility to amplify the voices of the people they represent. He said he believes many of the critiques from the right reflect the concerns of conservative students and alumni “who feel aggrieved that they’re not getting the same opportunity to share their perspective as liberal students.”

“Some of it’s the culture war and looking to restore America to what it was in the ‘80s,” he said. “Some of it is just an actual desire to see people treated equally, where we’re not going to use race as the determining factor in whether someone gets admitted to a school, [or] whether they get a job.”

The pressure from conservatives is not new.

McHenry traced the origin of conservative political focus on higher education to Ronald Reagan’s 1966 gubernatorial campaign, when he promised to “clean up the mess at Berkeley,” in reference to ongoing campus protests for civil rights and other social causes at the California university. Reagan pointed to university staff as responsible for what he called “a leadership gap and a morality and decency gap” — language that strongly mirrors many of the conservative critiques of universities since 2020.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, January 3

Jon McHenry’s comments in The Daily Caller regarding the 2024 U.S. Senate outlook for Republicans:

Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, warned that while Republicans “have a very favorable map,” their “candidates matter.”

“Republicans threw away winnable races in the last few years with candidates who were less appealing in the general election than they were with a populist base,” McHenry told the DCNF.

The Cook Political Report recently switched Tester’s seat from “Lean D” to “Toss Up,” joining other Senate races in Ohio and Arizona.

“This is the cycle where they finally beat Jon Tester,” said McHenry. “His repeated votes with Joe Biden will undo him this time around, especially if Biden is the Democratic nominee.”

Tester votes with Biden 91% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight’s estimate.

To read the full article, including assessments of additional races, please click here.

Whit Ayres, January 2

Whit Ayres’ comments in the Huffington Post on Governor DeSantis’ campaign:

But unlike most Trump supporters, who have little knowledge of or experience with the judicial system, DeSantis is a trained naval JAG officer who worked in that capacity as a federal prosecutor in Florida. That experience, in theory, should have given him an understanding of what it takes to get a judge to approve a search warrant ? particularly when the target is a former president.

Whit Ayres, a longtime Republican pollster who worked on DeSantis’ 2018 run for governor, said DeSantis could have released a statement pointing out that the allegations underlying the search warrant were serious, that he hoped they were not true, and that Trump was innocent until proven guilty and would have his day in court.

“Something like that would have been more appropriate, I think,” he said.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, December 17

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Daily Caller regarding President Joe Biden’s standing in the polls:

“All of these polls point to voters having already decided against Biden on the current merits,” Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, told the DCNF. “They just don’t think he’s up to the job, whether we’re asking about traits like stamina and sharpness or about policies like the economy and immigration.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, December 15

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Daily Caller regarding President Biden’s decline in support among traditional Democratic supporters:

“What is really interesting about the polling is not that President Biden is slipping among core Democratic constituencies like younger voters and Black and Hispanic voters,” Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The fascinating part is that former President Trump is gaining some of that support. That seems to be attributable to a general sense that voters think they were better off when President Trump was in office.”

McHenry pointed to a recent Wall Street Journal survey that found 49% of voters said Trump’s policies helped them compared to only 23% who said the same of Biden’s, which he believes could be attributable for these minority voters leaving the president’s side.

“That’s a stunning rebuke of President Biden’s tenure,” said McHenry.

McHenry believes the shift of younger voters away from Biden has “accelerated” since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack, citing a recent poll his firm conducted in the battleground state of Wisconsin that found these individuals don’t approve of the president supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.

“All these polls point to Democrats nominating someone who they aren’t actually enthusiastic about and may not show up to support in the fall. As so many Democrats talk about Trump being an existential threat to democracy, it’s hard to believe they’re going to just go ahead and nominate someone who looks like a lock to lose to him,” said McHenry.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, December 13

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Boston Globe regarding Governor Chris Sununu’s endorsement of Governor Nikki Haley:

Some analysts say Sununu’s endorsement could help his preferred candidate emerge from New Hampshire’s primary on Jan. 23 as the clear Trump alternative.

He could “put a stamp on her as, yes, she’s really the alternative to Trump,” said Jon McHenry, a national GOP pollster who grew up in the state, in an interview last week. “His endorsement won’t put her over the top, but it sort of keeps her in the game.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Whit Ayres, December 12

Whit Ayres’ comments to The Atlantic regarding the primary challenges of Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley:

As the veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres told me, DeSantis “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.