Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Be Cautious of Skewed 2014 Midterm Polls

A recent National Journal article by Steven Shepard should caution political pundits and campaign strategists alike about relying too heavily on voter polls in this midterm election year. Democratic and Republican pollsters interviewed all agreed that most of the public surveys on the big 2014 congressional races are underestimating the level of Republican support, Shepard reports. That's because most public polls conducted for media outlets or by academics are surveying the entire universe of registered voters, voters who may not actually cast a ballot on Election Day. In fact, in the past few midterm elections, Democratic-leaning voters have not turned out at close to the same rates as those who typically back GOP candidates. Those who are likely to vote in midterm elections are older, white and more Republican, Shepard notes. In the 2006 and 2010 midterms, for example, 79% and 77% of voters, respectively, were white. In the 2008 and 2012 presidential election years, white voters dropped to 74% and 72% (a record low), respectively. Younger voters also drop off in midterm years. Voters under 30 made up 12% of the 2006 and 2010 midterm electorates, compared with 18% and 19% of the 2008 and 2012 presidential election voters, respectively. As an example of how this might mean that Republican candidates are in stronger midterm positions than public polls indicate, Shepard points out that the respected NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in October 2010 showed more registered voters favored a Congress controlled by Democrats, by a 2-point margin, yet Republicans scored a historic midterm landslide the survey didn't anticipate. The same survey this month again showed Democrats with a 2-point edge. The takeaway? The possibility of skewed midterm polling is a good reason for both parties to be cautious about strategic assumptions and to focus on partisan turnout. For more, see http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/it-s-time-to-unskew-the-2014-election-polls-20140129

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Some Apologies Only Make the Scandal Worse

The 2014 election season has only just begun and already major political figures like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are struggling with that most difficult of political art forms: the apology. Hopefully, your campaign or cause will not have to deal with a political scandal, but, just in case, it may be instructive to look at some disastrous political apologies (or non-apologies). Courtesy of Mother Jones, you can test your political memory to see whether you can match the apology with the scandal and the offending politico. You may quickly recognize gems such as "We would all have to say that mistakes were made in terms of comments," uttered by Nixon Press Secretary Ron Ziegler regarding Watergate. The examples of infamous apologies are quite numerous, so we haven't given away much of the quiz. See if you can laugh, and learn, from these real political bumbles! To take the quiz, go to http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/quiz-match-political-scandal-apology

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

GOP Governors Outpace Dems in Dollars for 2014

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) is heading into the 36 governor races of 2014 with significantly more dollars than its Democratic counterpart. According to totals released in January of this year, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) raised about $28 million in 2013 across its three committees. The RGA announced that it raised $50.3 million in 2013 through its 527 committee, and another $2.2 million through an affiliated nonprofit, per a story in Politico. That brings the RGA's total cash haul to $52.5 million in 2013, or nearly double what Democrats raised. Both organizations are permitted to take unlimited corporate and individual contributions and consist of a super PAC, a nonprofit and a 527 group, with most of the funds spent through the 527 organizations. Democratic dollars are likely to go toward defeating GOP incumbents in states that President Barack Obama carried in 2012. The Politico story reports DGA top targets include Maine Gov. Paul LePage, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Meanwhile, the RGA will likely seek to fund victory in Illinois, Massachusetts and Arkansas, as well as uphill battles against Democratic incumbents in Colorado, Connecticut and New Hampshire, according to Politico. The RGA's bigger war chest does not necessarily ensure success, however. In the only competitive gubernatorial race of 2013 in Virginia, the RGA edged the DGA in spending, but the Democrats’ candidate Terry McAuliffe defeated the GOP's Ken Cuccinelli. For the story, go to http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/rga-dga-fundraising-2013-102883.html

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Campaigns Need Early Effort to Leverage Facebook

If you expect your 2014 political or advocacy campaign to benefit from a Facebook following, you need to start early, advises a recent epolitics.com post. For example, in last year’s Virginia governor’s race, Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s campaign spent time and ad dollars to build his Facebook following as early as possible. His goal was to create a base of "social validation" for late-cycle persuasion and GOTV ads. He leveraged the fact that Facebook enhances ads on its site with socially validating information (“X likes this” or “Y people like this”) to get more people to click, exploiting the psychological power of "everybody’s doing it." But for followers’ Likes and Shares to influence their friends, you need to have followers! So start building a Facebook following as early as possible, and that means an investment in advertising. And consider emulating the Virginia Democrats in another way, too. They used a Facebook app that matched the central voter file with their supporters’ friend networks. If supporters allowed it, the campaign could look through a supporter's friends to find priority voters already targeted for outreach, and then ask the supporter to reach those target voters with messages designed to appeal. Again, this technique only works if you have built a critical mass of supporters! So, get going on that Facebook outreach ASAP. See the post at