More often than not, campaigns, whether electing a candidate or branding a corporation, are about understanding and building a broader image and perception than they are about specific issues. Issues, rather, are the elements used to frame and inform the image and perceptions that we need to drive.
Our approach is that of thematic pollsters, believing that each data set tells a complex, often interwoven story and as pollsters it is our job to understand that story and define the clearest and most salient route for our clients to achieve their objectives. Read More
After the first round of primary elections in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina, we were approached by Shelley Midura’s campaign to help define a message to defeat incumbent Republican City Councilman Jay Batt. While the campaign had its hunches about what the message should be, given limited resources and Batt’s tremendous war chest we needed to know whether that message was right.
Given the fact that large parts of the City were without phones, or in some parts residents for that matter, this project posed a very significant challenge for any survey researcher. Logistically, voters could vote in New Orleans, by mail from outside the state, or at vote centers within the state. Fully one quarter of the general election participants voted outside the City.
To define our methodology, we used the primary election turnout patterns—where we tracked the percentage of voters who voted in New Orleans by precinct, the percent who voted outside New Orleans but within Louisiana by Parish, and the percent who voted from another state, such as Texas, Oklahoma and even California and Illinois. Using those few givens, we designed a cluster sample methodology which stratified our sample to account for each of those geographic clusters and which assured we accurately represented each of respondents from each of those geographic regions. Also, each region’s sample was drawn separately, meaning we treated each geographic area as its own poll in some respects. In addition, we had the voter file matched against the National Change of Address Registry and conducted a phone match for any person or household who had an updated address.
Through a rigorous sample consumption standard that we also defined specifically for this project, coupled with slow and steady dialing, we were able to complete the survey and found the contest was a statistical dead heat, our edge. More importantly, we learned that Batt’s ties to a local corporation and his use of their corporate jet and other perks was the most salient line of attack for these voters who desperately wanted progress on the very basics, like getting electricity.
Come Election Night in May 2006, our client Shelley Midura unseated incumbent Jay Batt.
Our work here continued in the 2010 city elections when Midura chose not to run for reelection, but endorsed our client Susan Guidry, a native of New Orleans and a community activist who entered the primary contest.
From the outset, our polling showed Guidry leading Batt in the four-way primary contest – counter to other polls done by a local firm that had Guidry trailing Batt. Her status as an outsider, and her message of getting tough on crime and bringing about real reform of City government were warmly received, particularly when contrasted with the Batt record.
In the February primary, Guidry captured 44 percent to Batt’s 39 percent, forcing the race into a runoff, where despite being outspent by a 4-to-1 ratio, Guidry trounced Batt, 62 to 38 percent, winning 71 out of the district’s 89 precincts and even garnering 44 percent of the Republican vote, according to a post-election analysis conducted by University of New Orleans political scientist Ed Chervenak.