US politics

‘The worst that could happen? World War Three’: my Ashcroft In America focus groups in North Carolina

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By Lord Ashcroft

Until 2008, North Carolina was as close to a sure thing for the Republicans in a presidential election as you could get. The state backed the GOP candidate for seven elections in a row, from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, only for Barack Obama to capture it for the Democrats in his first run but lose the state four years later to Mitt Romney, albeit by one of the narrowest margins in the country. (more…)

Ashcroft In America podcast – Episode 3 – North Carolina

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By Lord Ashcroft

In the latest edition of the Ashcroft In America podcast I interview veteran Democrat campaign operative Joe Trippi; we hear how undecideds reacted to the first presidential debate; African American voters reflect on the election and life under President Obama; RNC strategist Ashley Bell tells us how the party is reaching out to the black community; and local political reporter Jim Morrill sums up the state of play in the crucial swing state of North Carolina.

 

Ashcroft In America: Green Bay

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By Lord Ashcroft

Click here for the new episode of the Ashcroft In America podcast.

On a tour of critical states in a presidential election, it may seem eccentric to begin in a place which has been carried by the same party every time since 1984. The last Republican candidate the people of Wisconsin voted to send to the White House was Ronald Reagan. But there is a good reason to be here: Donald Trump’s campaign believes Wisconsin lies squarely on their path to victory. If he can hold onto all the states Mitt Romney won four years ago – plus the Midwest and Rustbelt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin – he will reach the magic number of 270 votes in the electoral college, and we will be welcoming President Trump. We thought we had better find out what is going on here.

To do so, the Ashcroft In America team have come to Green Bay (more…)

Ashcroft In America podcast – Episode 2 – Wisconsin

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By Lord Ashcroft

In this edition of the Ashcroft In America podcast I interview Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and CNN commentator Margaret Hoover; we hear from the Washington Bureau Chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a member of the state legislature; and the voters of Green Bay, Wisconsin, share their thoughts on the presidential election.

 

The launch of Ashcroft in America – and my new podcast

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By Lord Ashcroft

This year’s presidential election is the most exciting, and certainly the most extraordinary, that I can remember. Undoubtedly there is more interest than usual on this side of the Atlantic.

That is why I am launching Ashcroft In America – a major research project to hear from the voters who will decide whether to put Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the White House.

Over the next seven weeks, starting next week, my polling team will visit seven states that will help determine the outcome in November. Our focus groups with different kinds of voters will explore how they see the candidates, the parties, the issues at stake and the choice before them.

I will write about our findings here every Friday. In addition, you will be able to enjoy the Ashcroft In America podcast – with “straight from the horse’s mouth” focus group quotes, analysis from the Lord Ashcroft Polls team, and interviews with eminent figures from the American political world (more…)

My Republican Convention Diary – Day 4

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By Lord Ashcroft

 

One feature of the campaign that everyone seems to agree on is that the battle is between the two most unpopular candidates of modern times. Among Trump supporters, the proportion saying they have an unfavourable view of Hillary Clinton is in the high nineties; the same is true of Trump’s unfavourable among Clinton voters. Meanwhile, “undecideds hate them both”, according to the experienced campaign pollster Greg Strimple, who came to speak to our group of international visitors.

This goes well beyond the usual disdain for politicians and the pervasive view that “they’re all the same.” The big question is how this will affect turnout. Will turnout match the level of anger, as our Trump insider suggested yesterday, or will non-partisan voters “be so disgusted that they sit on their hands?” (more…)

My Republican Convention Diary – Day 3

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By Lord Ashcroft


The reporters, commentators and political professionals we have spoken to in Cleveland have been remarkably open in admitting they were wrong about Donald Trump’s chances. “I was speaking at a meeting last August, and I told them there was absolutely no way Trump would be the nominee,” one experienced campaign consultant confessed.

For once, no-one has blamed misleading polls. Instead, between them, they cite four main reasons. One is that they simply did not believe the polling numbers they were seeing, or decided there was a ceiling to his support, which he had repeatedly broken through. Secondly, they felt his lack of a traditional campaign infrastructure would restrict him against the experienced election winners he was up against. Thirdly, they assumed that given the calibre and record of the other candidates, Republicans would surely choose one of them over the wildcard Trump, if only to give them more chance of winning in November.

And finally, they assumed that Trump would simply implode after one gaffe too many (more…)

My Republican Convention Diary – Day 2

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By Lord Ashcroft

 

One of the things about Donald Trump that bemuses commentators and exasperates Republican campaign professionals is that, as one analyst put it to us, “he is running something that looks nothing like a campaign.” For one thing, he has raised nowhere near as much money as Hillary Clinton, and will probably be outspent by hundreds of millions of dollars by November. “If he’s worth as many billions as he says he is, he should spend some of it,” one frustrated operative grumbled.

For another thing, he has no ground operation to speak of – no troops on the ground knocking on doors in the states he needs to win: “Ground organisation matters. It can’t buy you ten points but it can get you two or three. It only matters if it’s close, but the Democrats have invested in it and Trump hasn’t.”

For a third thing, Trump is running no TV ads (more…)

My Republican Convention Diary – Day 1

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By Lord Ashcroft

 

An American political convention makes a British party conference look rather like a village fete. This year’s Republican National Convention is taking place in Cleveland, Ohio, in the twenty-thousand seat arena that is home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the city’s world championship-winning basketball team. I am among the fifty thousand people visiting for the event, along with 2,472 delegates and the fifteen thousand members of the media, who comprise the biggest international press corps outside that of the Rio Olympics.

Cleveland itself inspires mixed views. Some like to refer to it as “The Mistake On The Lake”, or to remind you that the Cuyahoga River which runs through it was once so polluted that it caught fire (more…)

I would be pleased to see Romney defy the odds on Tuesday but I’m not betting on it

By Lord Ashcroft

Towards the end of the Republican Convention this summer the experienced campaign consultant Trygve Olsen advised us how to read the presidential race in the closing weeks. You could tell a lot from where the candidates spent their time, but also what they said: if either side says it is confident, it is too close to call; if one side claims to be enjoying a surge, it means they are going to lose.

(more…)