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A partial list of pollsters,
strategists, and academics who have
written articles for
· Karl Agne
· Whit Ayres · Brad Bannon · Nancy Belden · Joel Benenson · John Benson · Thad Beyle · Gordon Black · Bruce Blakeman · Bob Blendon · Lawrence Bobo · Glen Bolger
Bosworth · John Brabender · Pete Brodnitz ·
Richard Brody ·
Gregory A. Caldeira
· Barbara Carvalho · Brad Coker ·
Anthony Corrado ·
Mike Dabadie · Bill Dalbec · Raul Damas ·
Rob Daves · Michael Dawson ·
Tad Devine ·
Mark DiCamillo · Linda DiVall · Dick Dresner · Riley
Dunlap · George C. Edwards III · Patrick Egan · Tony Fabrizio · Barbara Farah · Diane
Feldman · Gary Ferguson · Kathy Frankovic · Keith Frederick · Alex Gage · Bill Galston · Curtis Gans · Mark Gersh ·
James L. Gibson · Benjamin Ginsberg ·
Ed Goeas · Robert Green · Stan Greenberg · Michael Hagen
Morton Halperin · Bill Hamilton · Louis Harris · Nikki Heidepriem · Tim Hibbitts
· Sunshine Hillygus ·
Robert Hitlin · Jennifer Hochschild · Keating Holland · Larry Hugick ·
Lawrence Jacobs ·
Kathleen Hall Jamieson · Jim Kane · Alan Kay ·
Scott Keeter · Ethel Klein · Andrew Kohut · Paul Krell · Steven
Kull · Celinda Lake · Greg Lalley · Gary Langer · Jim Lauer · I.A.
Lewis · Joe Lenski · Jan van Lohuizen ·
Steve Lombardo · Frank Luntz · Terry Madonna
· David Magleby · Paul Maslin · Jim Margolis · Michael Maslansky · Bill McInturff ·
Jim McLaughlin · John McLaughlin ·
· Mark Mellman · David Mermin · Lee Miringoff
· Warren Mitofsky · Quin Monson
John Mueller · David Moore · Dwight Morris
Neil Newhouse · Michael O'Neil · Norman
Ornstein · Nick Panagakis ·
Kelly Patterson ·
Mark Penn ·
Nathaniel Persily · David Petts ·
Kenneth Pollack · Jefrey
Pollock · Hal Quinley · Eric Rademacher ·Clay Ramsay · Thomas Riehle · Matthew Robinson ·
Michael Robinson · Bernard Roshco · Mark
Rovner · Larry Sabato · Ed Sarpolus · Doug Schoen · Alan Secrest · J. Ann
Selzer · Todd Shields ·
Tom W. Smith · Fred Steeper · Kate Stewart · Barry Sussman · Lance Tarrance
· Humphrey Taylor · Ruy Teixeira · Michael Traugott · Al Tuchfarber · Ben Tulchin ·
Sonya Turner ·
Leighton Vaughan Williams· David Walker · Lori
Weigel · John Kenneth White · Linda Faye
Williams · Richard Wirthlin · Peter Woolley · Fred Yang · John Zogby
From the Dec. 26, 2005,
THE POLLING REPORT
Testing’s Newest Weapon
. . . The future of political ad testing may well
lie on the Internet, which up until now has been considered taboo in the
realm of campaigns. But in the Virginia gubernatorial race this year, where
there was a highly wired electorate, the campaign of Democrat Tim Kaine was
able to test potential advertising online using a unique combination of
quantitative testing and a new, innovative technology called iModerate. This
approach enabled the campaign to not only accurately assess the impact of
Republican Jerry Kilgore’s attack ads on the death penalty, and Kaine’s
potential responses, with sound quantitative data, but also gave them the
ability to garner in-depth, focus group-like responses, which provided
The ability to
get high-level qualitative data to elucidate and go beyond the quantitative
data gave the Kaine campaign an edge when dealing with its advertising at
one of the campaign’s most critical moments. The campaign had always
anticipated that Kilgore would attack Kaine over his opposition to the death
penalty, and in the fall, that attack came, in the form of two ads. They
were emotional, focusing on people whose families had been victimized by
murders and who criticized Kaine, saying he would not enforce the death
penalty if elected....
Kaine’s pollster, Pete Brodnitz,
tested their response ad against the two attack ads in an online survey.
Each voter in the survey would see the Kilgore attack ad first and then a
response from Kaine. After each ad, voters would answer a battery of
questions, so that their attitudes and vote could be tracked pre- and
post-exposure, which is similar to what is done in mall intercepts.
But the twist in this test was that
many respondents (about 20% of those taking the survey) would enter into
iModerate sessions for deeper discussions about the ads. The moderators,
working from a briefing guide, knew what to probe for regarding the attack
and the responses. The quantitative data provided a surprise and a bit of
worry about whether the survey was missing something: the data showed that
Kilgore’s attack raised serious questions in the minds of voters about
whether or not Kaine would enforce the death penalty if elected. However, it
only had a slight impact on Kaine’s favorability and did not inflict any
serious damage. In fact, even after the attack, Kaine was maintaining a
slight lead in the horse race test.
these are true tests for pollsters and consultants because all the hard data
in the world can still give pause occasionally when the results are so
counter to what is expected. And in heavily pro-death penalty Virginia,
these quantitative results were not what was anticipated....
The combined results from
the quantitative and qualitative research conducted on the death penalty ads
revealed that the campaign’s position was solid. The quantitative findings
allowed them to anticipate the impact of the ads on voting intention, while
the qualitative findings from the iModerate sessions gave them insight into
the deeper impact of the advertising, and why voters were reacting the way
they did. This information -- gathered in just two
days -- gave the Kaine campaign confidence that
the path they had chosen was the right one and provided the guidance needed
to strengthen the ads....
Sonya Turner is director of moderating services at iModerate,
a Denver-based online research company.
From the Dec. 12, 2005, edition of
THE POLLING REPORT
Why Jon Corzine
by Peter J. Woolley
. . . When McGreevey announced his
resignation in August of 2004, the public did not believe he did so simply
because he was outing himself as "a gay American." In fact, in a PublicMind
poll only 8% said he was resigning because he was gay. Another 11% said it
was because of his extramarital affair. Nearly half said it was because he
was one step ahead of prosecutors in one or more other scandals....
In some measure, Codey was responsible for Corzine’s eventual victory. As
Codey repaired damage McGreevey had inflicted on the party and the state, he
made it seem less necessary to turn to the Republicans as an alternative. He
also stepped aside so Corzine could have the nomination unopposed. And in
the general campaign season, Codey was still so popular that it seemed too
risky for Republicans to attack him as responsible for the state’s problems....
Commentators also pointed to the
"independent" vote. Local popular mythology has it that because 55% of New
Jersey’s registered voters are unaffiliated with either party that these
independents, and not the partisans, truly determine the outcome of Garden
State elections. If Corzine appeared comfortably ahead at times, they said
it was because the independents inclined to Corzine. If the race appeared to
be narrowing, they said it was because independents were inclining to
In fact, unaffiliated voters who vote
regularly also have a regular party preference. And these turn out in higher
percentages than those who are truly swing voters. Those polls that used a
narrow definition of party identification (and therefore an expansive
definition of "independent" voters) showed independents going for Corzine.
Those polls that used a narrow definition of "independent" voters showed
independents with no particular candidate preference. Most unaffiliated
voters with no party leanings at all would never show up on election day.
No matter. The bias of the media was
not liberal or conservative, nor Democrat or Republican. The bias was to
have a horse race and a zippy explanation for every twist and turn no matter
how statistically insignificant....
As one poll after another released its
results in October, media reports were that the race was narrowing, but now
it was widening, narrowing again, and widening. It was easy to suspect that
some TV ad was having a telling effect. It was tempting to suspect that this
policy statement or that embarrassment was making its way into the voters’
minds. It was too dull to say, "many registered voters cannot distinguish
significantly between the two candidates and are pretty sure it’s not worth
their trouble to bother." It was too rarified to delve into each poll’s
But the ups and downs of the race were
simple. Forrester could not rise beyond the low forties. Corzine fluctuated
from the mid-forties to fifty. A chunk of unaffiliated but Democrat-leaning
voters went from voting for Corzine as the default candidate, to undecided,
to would not bother to vote at all, and back again. In no poll did it appear
that Forrester was poised to become a successful residual category for the
campaign on election day had its ground game in good working order
-- better than many expected. In Hudson County, where former governor
Brendan Byrne would like to be buried so that he can "stay active in
politics," Corzine mined a 42,000 vote plurality. In Essex County, home of
New Jersey’s largest city, Corzine got another 80,000 vote plurality. In
Camden County, home of the recently notorious political boss George
Norcross, Corzine got another 26,000 added to his margin. Republicans could
not match these pluralities in their leafy and less populated counties....
still insist the major political divide in New Jersey is between north and
south Jersey, parts of the state oriented to New York City or to
Philadelphia. But the real fault line runs though New Jersey’s urban areas,
typified by the dilapidated "Big Six" cities with high crime, bad schools,
and eroded tax bases. Outside the urban, working-class, turnpike corridor,
New Jersey is a red state. But almost every exit, from the George Washington
Bridge to the Delaware Memorial, is blue, and blue enough to make any
statewide Democrat the odds-on favorite.
Woolley is professor of comparative politics at Fairleigh Dickinson
University and director of the university’s independent survey research
From the Nov. 28, 2005, edition of
THE POLLING REPORT
Why Tim Kaine
. . .
November poll showed that among voters who were initially open to Kaine’s
message, almost half said they attend church on a daily or weekly basis. In
later research we focused on a subset of this group: white women who attend
church regularly. These voters gave 38% support to John Kerry (based on a
large-sample survey we conducted in May 2005), but in the end gave 47%
support to Tim Kaine (based on a post-election study we conducted among the
same group of respondents). While they were mostly socially conservative,
the independents among this group shared Kaine’s belief that education
needed to be a priority. Given Kaine’s strong personal faith and his history
as a former missionary in Honduras, we felt he could connect with these
Despite this, we saw that social
issues were potentially treacherous to Kaine’s candidacy because they could
be used to create a liberal caricature. Battleground voters shared Kaine’s
concern about the need to raise the quality of public education, but were
potentially open to Kilgore’s positions on issues such as gun rights and the
death penalty, and while they generally oppose discrimination against gay
Americans, they also oppose gay marriage and gay adoption. We knew Kilgore
would claim Kaine took the "liberal" position on all of these issues, as
well as taxes.
We decided to engage Kilgore on social
issues early so we could begin to defuse their power, which the polling
showed was overstated in the conventional wisdom. For instance, Kaine’s
position on abortion rights was preferred to Kilgore’s and voters were
essentially evenly divided on the issue of contracts between gay Virginians.
Kaine opposed a bill that banned same-sex contracts, saying it would have
made things like car sales between two neighbors who are men illegal just
because they are both men. Kilgore supported the bill, saying it was needed
to make sure Virginia is not forced to recognize gay civil unions created in
other states. (By 42% to 39%, voters preferred Kaine’s position.)
Kaine’s Faith and Values
To this end, we conducted two statewide waves of focus groups in January and
February of 2005. Participants were moderate to conservative, white,
married, church-going voters who were undecided in the race for governor,
but who we assumed were predisposed toward Kilgore. Our goal was to see how
voters reacted when Kaine was attacked so we could build our defenses. These
voters expressed strong support for the death penalty and generally said
they could not imagine voting for a candidate who opposed it. Despite this,
when voters learned that Kaine’s position was based on his faith, and that
he would nevertheless enforce the law, most of these voters accepted his
view and the issue became moot.
We also learned that most voters could
not reconcile strong faith and liberalism, so once they learned about
Kaine’s faith, they would no longer conclude Kaine was a stereotypical
liberal. Despite our best efforts to attack Kaine in the remaining time,
once these voters had reached this conclusion, they did not budge from their
determination that Kaine was either moderate or conservative.
This information gave us a powerful
way to confound what we knew would be Jerry Kilgore’s main strategy:
disqualifying Kaine as a candidate by depicting him as an extreme liberal.
While we learned voters were going to need Kaine to explain his views on the
death penalty rather than deflect the issue, Kaine’s answer resonated with
voters. In fact, because voters knew the death penalty had widespread
support in Virginia, Kaine earned the respect of many voters for taking a
position that was clearly based on principle. As one respondent noted, "He
must really mean it. There is no way he will win votes with that position in
Virginia." Speaking out on this issue gave Kaine an opportunity to show his
integrity and honesty -- two characteristics our
polling said were the most important to voters....
Pete Brodnitz, a principal at the Democratic polling firm Benenson
Strategy Group, was pollster for the Kaine campaign.