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


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.

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.

CNN: The GOP Battle for the Middle Class

by Emily O'Connor

In the context of debate over the state of the economy as well as the upcoming 2016 presidential election, the WG’s David Winston summarizes what the overall GOP message on the economy should be:

David Winston, the pollster who helped coin the “where are the jobs” mantra for House Republicans in 2010, says the GOP message in 2016 should be just as simple: “Where is the middle class?”

You can find the rest of CNN’s story here, and see more of David Winston’s comments on this topic here.


Diane Rehm Show: “Analysis of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address”

by Emily O'Connor

The WG’s David Winston was a guest on the Diane Rehm Show’s analysis of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address. Here’s a few highlights from his thoughts on the speech:

Listen to the whole show here, and be sure to follow The Winston Group on Twitter.


WashPo: “Obama will give State of Union address against backdrop of deep partisan divide”

by Emily O'Connor

In the Washington Post, the WG’s David Winston discusses President Obama’s actions since the 2014 midterm elections, just before the 2015 State of the Union address:

“Given how poorly the election went for them, they need to find some way to derive a narrative,” David Winston, president of the Winston Group, a conservative consulting firm, said of the White House. On the president’s executive actions, he added, “There’s only so many he can do. . . . Ultimately, they have to figure out as a White House how to actually interact and get things done at a national level.”

Read rest of the story here.

WashEx: “Elections an opportunity, not a mandate, for GOP, polling shows”

by Emily O'Connor

The Washington Examiner highlighted the WG’s post-election analysis “Fix It” in an article describing why the 2014 midterms provided Republicans with an opportunity, rather than a mandate:

“It’s important to understand that the election showed the public is willing to listen to Republican ideas but voters have to be sold on each individual idea first,” Winston explained. “Republicans do not have carte blanche, but they have an electorate that is willing to listen to Republican ideas to fix the country. That is a unique opportunity for any political party.”

…“The brand challenge for Republicans is to turn winning the issues into favorables and expand their midterm majority coalition,” Winston said in his report. “Newt Gingrich once said: ‘Walmart doesn’t get ahead by attacking Sears, but by offering better value.’ That captures the Republican challenge going forward.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Read the version here.

Get the rest of our post-election analysis here.

“Fix It” – An Analysis of the 2014 Midterm Elections

by Emily O'Connor


In the 2014 midterm elections, what did voters tell Washington? “Fix it.”

Read through our in-depth analysis to find out more about what voters want, who comprised the 2014 electorate, and what challenges and opportunities are ahead for both parties.

Access the PDF here.

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NYTimes: Loss for Democrats in Midterm Elections Could Be Boon for Clinton

by Lisa Mathias

The New York Times released a story on how a possible Republican-led Senate for Obama’s last two years of presidency could pave the way for success for Hilary Clinton, if she decides to run for 2016. The WG’s David Winston comments:

“If the direction Republicans define is where the country needs to go, then the initiative is with Republicans,” said David Winston, a Republican strategist for House leaders. “If Republicans just define themselves as being opposed to President Obama, then Republicans hand the initiative to Clinton.”

To read the full story, turn to

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