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

Discussion Points: Issues Driving the Electorate

by David Winston

In the most recent survey for Winning the Issues (July 5-6, 1000 registered voters), we updated the list of issues and news stories in how they are driving voting decisions for next year’s mid-term elections. The chart below shows how each item was ranked on Election Day, in March, and this week. Economy/jobs remains the most important issue on the list, which is consistent with what we observed on Election Day and back in March. The issue that continues to be a close second on the list is need to get things done in Washington and get the parties to work together.

Issue Rankings Chart

Foreign policy (#3 and #5 on the list) and tax issues (#4 and #6) continue to be significant factors in voting decisions. However, news stories being heavily covered by the media – including stories about White House ethics scandals (#18) and allegations of Trump ties to Russia (#20) – are lesser priorities in voting decisions at the moment. As shown in these results over time, the electorate is remarkably consistent in their priorities.


	

The Ripon Forum: “Great Expectations”

by Emily O'Connor

The WG’s David Winston and Myra Miller have a new piece in the latest volume of The Ripon Society’s magazine, The Ripon Forum, discussing the opportunity and challenge for Republicans in Congress:

“Republicans have to transition from the mindset of ‘reacting to President Obama’ into a new era of creating Republican initiatives that deliver results and provide a governing framework.  People want change and they want it soon.  They expect Congress and the President to get something done and get government working again for them.

In a focus group after the election, one voter in Pittsburgh told us that it now felt like the country was in ‘the bottom of the ninth and there are two outs.’  In other words, this might be America’s last chance to get it right. Republicans in Congress need to focus on voter priorities and they need to deliver results.”

Read the full article on The Ripon Society page.

WaPo: “GOP leaders urge patience — not panic — amid Trump’s early stumbles”

by Emily O'Connor

As the Trump presidency nears the 100-day mark, the WG’s David Winston comments on what people are looking for from the president:

“People were voting for change,” said David Winston, a GOP pollster. “It doesn’t have to be everything all the time, but there has to be a sense of forward progress. They’re looking for two basic outcomes: more jobs and higher wages. It’s pretty straightforward.”

Continue reading here.

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.

“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.

LA Times: “Trump rails against the GOP nomination process, but it’s hardly novel”

by Emily O'Connor

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has recently criticized the nomination process and rules. In the LA Times last week, the WG’s David Winston commented on this topic:

“As a candidate, the first thing you better understand is what the rules are, because the rules apply to everybody the same,” said David Winston, a Republican pollster and strategist who is unaligned in the nomination fight. Trump “didn’t apparently take the amount of time and effort needed to do that effectively.”

For more, head here.

Analysis – Last Debates before NH Primary

by Emily O'Connor

The last debates before the New Hampshire primary were held last week, and the Winston Group has updated our analysis to include all the latest questions, topics, candidate speaking times, comparisons, and the full text of all questions.

How well have the debates covered the topics most important to voters? Who has gotten the most direct questions – and who has gotten the most chances to speak overall? Check out these numbers and more, compared across the Republican and Democrat debates so far.

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