The Winston Group is a strategy and research firm dedicated to making ideas matter.

Analysis: First Two 2016 Republican Primary Debates – By the Numbers

by Emily O'Connor

After the second 2016 Republican presidential primary debate, the Winston Group has written this analysis of the questions and topics covered in the debate, including candidate speaking time and the number of questions addressed to different candidates, along with the full text of each question.

We’ll continue to update this document as the debate season continues, comparing numbers across debates.

(Missed our 2012 Republican primary debates analysis?)

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(cover image credit: Sandy Huffaker, Getty Images)



Analysis: The 2012 Republican Primary Debates By the Numbers

by Emily O'Connor

As we look toward the upcoming 2016 Republican primary debates, the WG has put together this analysis of the 2012 debates. What topics were asked about most? How well did these reflect what voters said they cared about? Who asked what questions? Read more:

Questions in Context: The 2012 Republican Primary Debates By the Numbers

Questions in Context: The 2012 Republican Primary Debates By the Numbers


WashEx: “2016 begins at first Fox debate”

by Emily O'Connor

The first Republican primary debate is approaching on August 6th. How important will it be for GOP candidates?

Pollster David Winston, who is not affiliated with any candidate, said the early primary fight has provided a “great field” of candidates. But the rubber hits the road in August, when the first Fox debate will be held, followed by CNN’s in September.

“That’s what matters most,” Winston said. “It is a defining moment. It’s huge.”

For more, head to the rest of the story here.

ABC News: “Americans Split on Whether Clinton Cares About Their Needs”

by Emily O'Connor

In recent polls, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s ratings are down on measures such as whether Americans feel she “cares about people like you” or “understands the problems of people like you.”

Republican pollster David Winston said the intense early focus on such issues gives Republicans an opening to define the terms of the debate over the direction each party wants to take the country.

“If she doesn’t have a product on the shelf — her ideas — what’s the point?” Winston asked.

Read the rest of the story here.

The Hill: “Rick Perry hopes second time is a charm”

by Emily O'Connor

As former Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his second bid for the presidency today, the WG’s David Winston commented on the main challenges he faces entering the race:

“Here’s someone who has a successful state story to tell, and yet his primary challenge will be to work through that awful moment he had in the debates the last time around,” said David Winston, a Republican pollster who worked on Newt Gingrich’s 2012 campaign.

“This is where the debates will be critical for him,” Winston said. “He’ll have to stand up there in a competitive situation and deliver his viewpoints in such a way that people look at his last time and say, ‘everyone has one bad moment.’ ”

The Hill’s article notes that Perry has focused recently on foreign policy issues and speeches.

“Clearly he thinks that’s become a strength of his,” said Winston. “It’s one area where governors are typically criticized for not having much experience, so he’s taken steps to address that question. It’s part of trying to make himself a complete package.”

Read the rest of the article here.

LA Times Op-Ed: “Fox Appoints itself a GOP primary gatekeeper”

by Emily O'Connor

Fox News recently announced the rules for inclusion in the first GOP primary debate, which it will host this August – ten candidates will be allowed, chosen by their standings in the latest national polls. The WG’s David Winston comments on the importance of this debate:

“That first debate is huge…That’s going to be a real sorting-out moment. Any candidate who can’t get into the first debate will be at a significant disadvantage.”

“I tell Republicans that Fox News is generally the most efficient way, in terms of time spent, to reach conservative Republicans — even more efficient than their local news.”

For more on the upcoming debate, read the rest of the column.

Ripon Forum Features “What America Wants” by David Winston

by Emily O'Connor

Don’t miss the WG’s David Winston’s essay “What America Wants” in the latest edition of the Ripon Forum, discussing how Congress shaped the ’80 presidential campaign – and how it can help shape 2016:

Congressional Republicans can help create a winning general election environment by legislating a dynamic growth agenda, an actionable agenda on issues people care most about. In doing so, they can also put the party and eventual nominee on a path to a majority coalition…

What do Americans want? A plan to bring America back – not next July in Cleveland but starting now.

Read the full essay here.

WashEx: “Hispanic hill looms for GOP”

by Emily O'Connor

How important is winning the Hispanic vote in 2016 and beyond?

“At the national level, as time progresses and as that population segment grows, they’re just going to have increasing importance. That’s a pretty straightforward trend,” GOP pollster David Winston said.

Find out more in the Washington Examiner article about how Republicans in past elections have done among Hispanic voters, and where current candidates stand with this voter group.

LA Times: “In Miami, Sen. Marco Rubio calls 2016 election a ‘generational choice'”

by Emily O'Connor

Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio announced he will be running for President in 2016. The WG’s David Winston pointed out the common challenge facing all of the Republican candidates that will shape the presidential race:

David Winston, a Republican pollster and strategist, said the challenge for Rubio, like all the Republican candidates, will be to deliver a compelling message.

“He’s got to decide who he is, lay out his principles and lay out a vision for the country that people can get behind,’’ Winston said.

Read the rest of the story on Rubio’s campaign launch speech.


Ripon Society: “How do we offer better value?”

by Emily O'Connor

The WG’s David Winston recently spoke at The Ripon Society’s 5th Annual Legislative and Communication Directors Symposium on Leadership, unpacking the results of 2014 and the challenges of 2016. First, he addressed the meaning of the 2014 Republican victories:

“I would suggest to you that last year’s election wasn’t a standalone event. It was a continuation of the 2010 wave. What that means is that the coalition is sustainable. We can build on it and keep moving forward.”

He then highlighted the strategic challenges Republicans will face leading up to 2016:

“The first has to do with who has the initiative,” he stated. “If the President is defining the agenda all the time through executive actions, then he is going to be defining the playing field, as well. And that’s favorable to him.” To that end, Winston said, Republicans need to develop an agenda they can point to as an alternative to whatever the President may put forward.

The second challenge, Winston stated, has to do with the image of the GOP, itself… According to Winston, the third challenge Republicans face relates to legislative strategy and how the party handles the various proposals that are debated and put forward this year.

After describing the three options for Republican proposals,

Winston concluded by recalling a quote from Newt Gingrich. “Wal-Mart doesn’t get ahead by attacking Sears,” the former Speaker once said, “but by offering better value.” Picking up on that theme, Winston asked: “How do we offer better value? What’s our product? What is it that we’re going to do that will make people say, ‘I want that.’ That’s where the real opportunity is…”

Read The Ripon Society’s full summary or watch the presentation here.

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