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

Politico: GOP anti-tax policy goes over the cliff

by Lisa Mathias

January 2nd’s Politico features a story on the GOP’s faltering anti-tax policy among the passage of the bill that addresses the fiscal cliff, which allows tax hikes on those earning over $400,000. The WG’s David Winston explains why the Republican Party faced such difficulty in keeping their priorities:

Republican pollster David Winston, who advises House GOP leaders, said the party must move on from a weak 2012 message on the economy and define something sharper moving forward: “One of the problems Republicans in Congress are having right now is they’re trying to have the economic debate that should have happened in the fall campaign that didn’t. As a result, they’re trying to both have an economic debate and manage a legislative process. That’s made it very, very difficult for Republicans in Congress as they face this situation.”

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Bloomberg: Boehner to Regain Speakership as Party Decries Tax Vote

by Lisa Mathias

Today’s Bloomberg features a story on the probability that John Boehner will have a 2nd term as Speaker of the House, even as division within the Republican Party continues among the GOP’s failure to prevent tax cuts for higher-income earners in the bill recently passed in the House to address the fiscal cliff. David Winston explains one reason why the GOP was at a disadvantage:

“When you don’t argue the point at all, the other side wins,” said David Winston, a Republican strategist and adviser to Boehner. “The president went into this debate coming out of this campaign with the upper hand because no one had made an argument.”

To read the full article, click through to

WSJ: Political Pros: What the Final Debate Means

by Lisa Mathias

For the third and final presidential debate of this election season, the WG’s David Winston continues his series writing for the Wall St. Journal’s Washington Wire blog. Winston gives his reaction to Monday night’s debate, stating that Governor Romney succeeded in his tactic of avoiding attacking Obama and instead offering his ideas:

…Mr. Romney came to the debate with a strategy that avoided harsh attacks on Mr. Obama’s foreign-policy record, instead offering voters his own foreign-policy direction for the future. Several times during the debate when Mr. Obama went on the offensive, Mr. Romney calmly told the president he was more interested in talking about where each of them would take the country rather than engaging a rhetorical war of attrition.

To read the full post, turn to

WSJ: Political Pros: Romney Momentum vs. Stronger Obama

by Lisa Mathias

The WG’s David Winston continues blogging for the Wall St. Journal’s Washington Wire, this time highlighting his takeaways from the second Obama-Romney debate. Although President Obama came out stronger than he did in his first debate, says Winston, but he still needs to play defense:

One of the interesting points of debate that emerged was the question of whether the weak economy is the result of the policies of former President George W. Bush or the policies of President Obama. The resolution of this question will be a determining factor in the election.

To read more, click to

US News: Paul Ryan Won by Staying Cool and Composed

by David Winston

This morning a short opinion piece I wrote in answer to the question of who won last night’s vice presidential debate appeared in U.S. News and World Report.

But there is one very real way in which the vice presidential showdown was a win for Ryan. He came into the night the youngest and least-known member of either ticket. Casual observers were introduced to a competent, mature policy wonk with a strong command of the issues and, perhaps most importantly, a demonstrated ability to remain composed despite the disrespectful bluster of his opponent.

I go on to explain that part of voters’ job is to decide whether they trust a candidate to be second in line for the presidency. Against that standard, Ryan passed with flying colors.

Check out the rest of the article (and other takes on the issue as well) at the U.S. News website.

Powerline Blog: Romney’s Improved Standing

by Lisa Mathias

An October 6th post writes about the result of Romney’s successful first presidential debate, and turns to the WG’s David Winston’s analysis that we posted on October 5th. One part of the analysis in the blog post delves into Winston’s analysis of a post-debate discussion held by Democracy Corps:

Democracy Corps also conducted a post-debate discussion with 45 swing voters in Colorado. Its results were largely consistent with those of CBS and CNN. Democracy Corps concluded, though, that “this debate did not emerge as the game-changer the Romney campaign needed.”

But Winston is not persuaded:

Most of the data in the focus group doesn’t support this conclusion and was more in line with the two quantitative studies by CBS and CNN which showed clear movement. Their rationale was that no supporter of President Obama in the focus group moved to Governor Romney.
Looking at the numbers it looks like this represented about 14 people (out of 45), a small group to make such a definitive conclusion. This is a quantitative conclusion based on qualitative data from 45 people in Denver preselected to match certain demographic criteria. Focus groups can provide possible theories; they cannot provide quantitative conclusions.

So Democracy Corps was spinning.

To read more, turn to

Post Debate Research – CNN, CBS, Democracy Corps

by Lisa Mathias

A look a the post debate research: CNN, CBS and Democracy Corps…

Post Debate Research – CNN, CBS, Democracy Corps

WSJ: Post-Debate Analysis: ‘The Game Is On’?

by Lisa Mathias

Following the first presidential debate last night, the WG’s David Winston wrote his reactions for the Washington Wire blog on the Wall Street Journal, with an overall praise of Romney’s “looking forward” toward what he plans to do, as opposed to using the “Are you better off 4 years ago?” approach:

The president focused on the past rather than looking forward – and that hurt him. Gov. Romney began to propose a future and took steps toward defining that – and it was a positive contrast.
As a result, Gov. Romney succeeded, and listening to the immediate media coverage, that seemed to be a universal consensus. At a broader level, Gov. Romney’s performance as a center-right candidate has the potential to build the natural center-right coalition in the country. The question is what does he do with this momentum?

To read more, turn to

WSJ: Political Wisdom: Final Advice for Obama, Romney

by Lisa Mathias

In today’s Washington Wire column in the Wall Street Journal, The WG’s David Winston offers his advice to President Obama and Mitt Romney on a few things they should consider before the first presidential debate, especially when thinking about social media:

It is probably that social media and the ability to re-share video of debate highlights means that many Americans will re-watch the most important part of tonight’s debate if that they didn’t have a chance to watch it live. If either candidate has a truly defining moment tonight, it will be watched and re-watched multiple times between now and election day, all the more reason for both candidates to carefully consider what they say tonight.

To read more, click to

Jansing and Co: A look at high-stakes debates

by Lisa Mathias

The WG’s David Winston appeared on today’s Jansing and Co. on MSNBC to discuss two of the latest political debates – one that took place in Massachusetts between Senators Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, and one in Virginia, between Govs. Tim Kaine and George Allen:

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