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.


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.

Whit Ayres, December 11

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Wall Street Journal on the U.S. political system:

Asked to summarize the year 2023 in politics, Republican pollster Whit Ayres is blunt: “2023 was a terrible year for America’s political system.”

Meantime, the two parties appeared on track to produce a rematch in 2024’s election between Biden and Trump, a contest that polls suggest two-thirds of Americans don’t really want. The bottom line, Ayres suggests, is that “public trust in our political system is in the cellar.”

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

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, November 8

Whit Ayres’ comments in The Los Angeles Times about the Democratic ticket:

Whit Ayres, who has spent decades polling and strategizing for Republican candidates, described the Democratic ticket of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as the weakest since that of George McGovern and Sargent Shriver, who were shellacked by President Nixon in 1972.

But Ayres is not convinced Republicans will win the White House.

“There’s a host of events that are going to happen between now and November 2024 that could change the outcome, or at least affect the outcome, of the election,” Ayres said. 

He’s not even certain that Biden and Trump will be their respective party nominees, though it seems more likely than not.

“There are a lot of people who are making flat statements about what’s going to happen … that might turn out to be right but could just as likely turn out to be wrong,” Ayres said, “because they’re affected by events that haven’t happened yet.”

To read the entire column, 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.

Jon McHenry, October 19

Jon McHenry’s comments to Politico regarding Governor Ron DeSantis’ governing and campaigning style:

“Gov. DeSantis seems to be better at running for president when he’s governing rather than campaigning,” said Jon McHenry, a GOP pollster [from] New Hampshire whose firm North Star Opinion Research Group worked on DeSantis’ 2018 gubernatorial campaign. “He drives the conversation more effectively when he’s governing, and actually doing something, rather than sort of talking about what ideological perspective he might be coming from.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, October 14

Jon McHenry’s comments to NPR regarding the importance of the New Hampshire presidential primary:

“New Hampshire is a reminder that we don’t do this nomination process nationally, that the undeclared voters, the Republican voters in New Hampshire have a chance to say, we’re going to take a look at all these other candidates,” said Jon McHenry, a national GOP pollster from New Hampshire. 

“So we’re going to sort of put them through their paces and see which one we really want to be the standard bearer for our party rather than just Donald Trump holding a few rallies and rolling to a nomination again,” McHenry added.

To read the full article, please click here.

Jon McHenry, October 8

Jon McHenry’s comments to The Daily Caller regarding recent polling showing Donald Trump edging ahead of Joe Biden:

A Republican nominee like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley would have a better chance than Trump against Biden, according to Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research. Despite this, McHenry told the DCNF that Trump could beat Biden on the basis of the economy, though he acknowledged it’s still too close to call.

“We have such a unique situation right now with both party’s leading candidates in negative territory on their favorable to unfavorable ratings — and the current and previous officeholder. Reelection campaigns are typically a two-step process as a referendum on the incumbent: first, does he or she deserve reelection, and second, would the other candidate do better? I think right now President Biden is losing the referendum, with voters disapproving of his job overall, and especially on the economy and immigration,” said McHenry. “But if the choice is between two candidates with 35 to 40 percent favorables, voters are likely to choose the one who had the better economy.”

To read the full article, 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.

Whit Ayres, October 5

Whit Ayres’ comments on the PBS survey and keys to the presidential election:

Voters who dislike both Trump and Biden — “the double haters,” Republican strategist Whit Ayers says — “become a swing voter group” that both parties will spend significant time and money trying to win over.

“This is a politics of negative polarization where people feel greater animosity against the other side than they feel support for their own,” said Ayres, who has previously consulted for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sens. Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio.

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.