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

WashEx: Is the media repeating mistake about Trump polls?

by Emily O'Connor

What do President Trump’s approval numbers really mean?

Another Republican pollster, David Winston, stressed that the current polls probably reflect unformed opinion on the part of some Americans rather than solid opposition.

“People are making an assessment, and they’re not making it quickly,” Winston told me. “They’re going to see what he’s going to do over a period of time. My sense is we’re just watching people as they think through how they’re going to assess things.”

Winston believes a significant number of people who do not tell pollsters they approve of the job Trump is doing — whether they outright disapprove or don’t know — are eminently gettable for Trump. “He’s got the opportunity because people are open,” Winston said. “But that doesn’t mean they’re going to flip their opinion prior to anything happening.”

In other words: Trump has to produce.

Winston also noted that last November, when exit pollsters asked voters which candidate quality mattered most to them, “can bring change” won with 39 percent — nearly two-to-one over any other single attribute. Among those voters, Trump demolished Clinton, 82 percent to 14 percent. The people who wanted change in November still want it now.

Read the full story here.

Congressional Institute Study: What Working and Middle Income Voters Want From Their Government

by Emily O'Connor

Following the 2016 election, the Congressional Institute commissioned The Winston Group for a study of middle-class Americans and their dissatisfaction with government, including both qualitative research and a survey of voters.

From the overview: “The most recent research indicates that the electorate continues to show serious concern about the direction of the country, and defines the kinds of changes they want to see. In the context of the most recent presidential election, voter perceptions were that the election was a choice between change and the status quo, and the result of voters’ voices not being heard…

From voters’ perspectives, the middle class sees value in their contributions and the work that they do, but do not feel valued by the nation’s elites and institutions… While one out of two voters describes themselves as more engaged and interested in the political process after the last election cycle, they are not fully clear on how to effectively make their voices heard other than by voting. However, the actions taken by lawmakers as a reflection of the issue priorities for which they voted seems to be the most clear signal to voters as to whether or not their voices were heard.”

Head to the Congressional Institute site for the full report.

“Rock the Boat”: An analysis of the 2016 Presidential Election

by Emily O'Connor

What did voters tell Washington in 2016? They wanted to “rock the boat.” Read through our in-depth 2016 Post Election Analysis to find out how voters defined their choice, and what role deeper concerns over the direction of the country, the economy, and the political system played in that decision.

2016 Post-Election Analysis

The Hill: “Trump launches media offensive to rehab image”

by Emily O'Connor

The Hill takes a look at Donald Trump’s seeming change of tactics recently in addressing the media and some of his past comments, and the Winston Group’s David Winston comments:

“This reflects his campaign’s understanding of the obvious — that his high unfavorability rating is unsustainable in the general election,” said David Winston, who served as Newt Gingrich’s pollster for the former House Speaker’s 2012 presidential run.

“The first step you take in correcting that is reaching out to groups to address certain perceptions about him,” Winston said. “It will be a challenge, but it’s not clear that views about him have completely hardened yet, so there’s opportunity here.”

…And an April poll from Gallup found that 70 percent of women view Trump unfavorably, with only 23 percent saying they had a positive view of him.

“That’s a huge problem and a terrible place to be,” said Winston. “Women make up a majority of the electorate. At this point, the best asset Trump and Clinton have is how unpopular the other candidate is.”

For more, head here.

WashPo: “Trump’s improbable coup leaves Republican Party in an identity crisis”

by Emily O'Connor

In an article discussing what a Trump nomination means for the Republican party, the WG’s David Winston comments on the challenge of creating a majority coalition:

“The question is whether Trump can put together a majority coalition with unfavorable ratings in the mid-60s,” said veteran GOP pollster David Winston. “Granted, Clinton is in the mid-50s with her ratings, but he has to define a plan to get his unfavorable numbers down. If he can’t, it’ll be a big problem.”

For more, head here.

LA Times OpEd: “Never say #NeverTrump”

by Emily O'Connor

Commenting in an LA Times column by Doyle McManus, the WG’s David Winston lays out challenges for Republicans in the election ahead – Trump’s unfavorables, particularly among women, and Congressional Republican candidates’ potential need for ticket-splitting voters and a sense of direction for those candidates.

“The structural problem of the Trump candidacy is his ‘unfavorable’ numbers,” GOP pollster David Winston told me. “Among women, who — did I mention? — are the majority of the electorate, his unfavorables are in the 70s. Those aren’t easy numbers to turn around, particularly when a candidate has had as much exposure as Trump.”

…In some states, candidates “are going to depend on people who are voting for [Democrat Hillary] Clinton to switch sides and vote for the other party” when it comes to Congress, Winston noted. “That’s hard to do.”

…“House candidates are going to need a sense of direction, and they don’t necessarily want to rely on Trump to provide it,” Winston said. If Trump appears headed for defeat, the Ryan program could give them a lifeline.

Yet –

…“Everybody writes off a party after it has a bad election,” Winston said. “After 2008, when Obama won, people said it was the end of the Republican Party. But two years later we had 2010 and won a majority in the House.”

For more, head here.

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.

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.

Bloomberg Politics: “He Won Two, But Obama’s Speech Shows There’s Always a Next Election”

by Emily O'Connor

How might the policies President Obama addressed in the State of the Union speech affect the 2016 elections? The WG’s David Winston comments in Bloomberg Politics:

Republicans argue that Obama’s economic policies will only hurt Clinton. They say the results of the 2014 midterm elections, in which Republicans won back the Senate and expanded on their majority in the House, repudiated those policies. “It puts her in a very difficult position,” Republican pollster David Winston said of Hillary Clinton. “The public has said in exit polls they don’t agree with that argument. And she’s supposed to carry that ball?”

For the rest of the story, click here.

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