Political Polling Expertise


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This is shortened version of a presentation that I was asked to give to a prospective political campaigning group in 2010, for I won contracts to conduct all polling for several hotly contested races, all of which I helped them win in the 2010 campaign cycle. It also includes representative clients that we have served, including not only political clients but also corporate and nonprofit brands.

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Political Polling Expertise

  1. 1. Political Polling Qualifications and Capabilities Presentation Prepared by: Ethridge & Associates, L.L.C. Dr. Steven C. Ethridge, Ph.D. January 12, 2011Better Research For Better Communication
  2. 2. Chronological Highlights of Ethridge’s Polling Career  31 years of experience  31 years commercial marketing research  U.S. Census Bureau  Message Factors, Inc.  Freds, Inc.  27 years in political polling and strategic consulting  Began polling in April, 1983 as Interim Director of The Marketing Research Institute, Inc., Jackson, MS, now Marketing Research Insights, Inc. (MRI), Pensacola, FL  Mentored by Republican Pollster, Dr. Verne Kennedy, Ph.D. in Communication, President of MRI  Polled all throughout U.S. Primarily in the Mid-South (MS, LA, TN, AL and TX)  First client was Louisiana Governor Dave Treen (1983)  Chief polling competitor was Lance Tarrance, Tarrance & Associates (saw much of his work)  First polled statewide in TN in 1983 at MRI for a U.S. Senate race against Jim Sasser  Moved back to Memphis August 1983  Met and began being mentored by Dr. John P. Bakke, Ph.D. in Communication  Well-known political consultant  Political news analyst for News Channel 3  Chairman of Department of Communication, University of Memphis  Pollster and strategist of Republican Don Sundquist for U.S. Congress and Governor of TN  Ethridge first polled for Dr. Bakke and Congressman Don Sundquist in 1984  Worked with and learned from Douglas Bailey (Lamar Alexander‟s chief political strategist) in Bill Gibbon‟s race for Mayor of Memphis (1986) 2
  3. 3. Chronological Highlights of Ethridge’s Polling Career Became Executive Associate and Client Manager of The Gallup Organization, Inc. 1987-1988  Ethridge learned “Gallup Poll” methods first hand  Gallup bought out Tarrance & Associates, Inc. while Ethridge was there.  Ethridge got to see and learn from many of Tarrance‟s presentations and polls Returned to Memphis, in September, 1988; started The Ethridge Company  Recruited to be Sr. Brand Manager, Market Research for Holiday Inns & Holiday Corporation (1989)  Chosen to be on founding management team of The Promus Companies, Inc. (parent company of Hampton Inns, Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites and Harrah‟s Entertainment) Completed Master of Arts in Communication specializing in political communication under Dr. Bakke at the University of Memphis, 1990. Ethridge‟s first TV news political analyst opportunity was in 1991 regarding the Memphis Mayor‟s race, predicting Dick Hacketts likely defeat Used polling and communication strategy to lead Harold Sterling to an upset victory over Michael Hooks for Shelby County Property Assessor (1992). 3
  4. 4. Chronological Highlights of Ethridge’s Polling Career Founded Advanced Marketing Research, January 1993. Ethridge was the first pollster in America to foresee Democratic U.S. Senator Jim Sasser‟s vulnerability to defeat  Foresaw in March 1993 that Sasser could be defeated 56%-44%  Ethridge was the only pollster in America to track Frist in the lead from December 1993 to September 1994  Pollster Whit Ayers did not detect Frist in the lead until September 1994  Together, Ethridge & Ayers wrote a memo to the Republican Senatorial Committee showing that we both had Frist in the lead.  Frist got the maximum contribution from RSC as a result  Frist defeated Sasser with 56% of the vote, just as Ethridge said could happen nearly two years earlier. Ethridge was hired as lead pollster for Sundquist for Governor in 1993, to work with:  Dr. Bakke as Direct of Communication  Dick Morris as Communication Consultant  Charlie Black as General Consultant  Later Tom Ingram as PR Consultant 4
  5. 5. Chronological Highlights of Ethridge’s Polling Career Ethridge was the most accurate pollster in the 1994 Statewide Elections in Tennessee  Frist and Thompson‟s pollsters were showing the Governor‟s race closer and more volatile; while we were tracking Sundquist as being consistently ahead.  Dr. Bakke asked Ethridge to call the other firms to find out what the differences in methodology were.  We found our poll was superior in both sampling and screening for likely voters.  Dr. Bakke, Dick Morris and Charlie Black accepted Ethridge‟s polls as being correct and the others as being flawed.  The campaign made decisions based on our polls showing Sundquist clearly ahead, rather than reacting as if we were behind (which could have cost us the race). Also polled for Ed Bryant for U.S. Congress District 7 and developed his winning strategy:  In his 1994 Republican Primary race  In his 1994 General Election  All of his subsequent races for Congress 5
  6. 6. Chronological Highlights of Ethridge’s Polling Career 6
  7. 7. Chronological Highlights of Ethridge’s Polling Career  Our news Channel 3 Exit Poll results were well within the margin of error (+/- 6.9 points). 7
  8. 8. Chronological Highlights of Ethridge’s Polling Career Ethridge is widely recognized as one of the most accurate pollsters in the Mid-South, having major credibility with the media  Contract pollster for The Commercial Appeal on dozens of polls since 1995.  Local races (e.g., City Mayor; County Mayor)  Statewide races (e.g. Lamar Alexander for Senate)  Presidential races (e.g., George Bush for President)  Numerous public policy issues (e.g., the sale of MLGW; tax increases, etc.)  Social issues (e.g., racism)  News Story: The Commercial Appeal: Newspapers Poll Forecast Tenn., Ark. Vote Correctly, Date: FRIDAY, November 10, 2000 Section: News, Page: A23 “George W. Bushs margins of victory over Vice President Gore in the three Mid-South states mirrored the margins forecast by a public opinion poll conducted for The Commercial Appeal. The survey, conducted by Ethridge & Associates LLC Oct. 29-Nov. 1, accurately predicted the percentage of the vote Bush and Gore received in Tennessee - 51 percent and 47 percent, respectively. The polls margin of error for Tennessee was 3.9 percentage points.”  Acknowledged by Tennessee statewide media as being one of the most accurate pollsters in Tennessee elections. Ethridge & Associates, L.L.C.‟s polls have often been cited in the Tennessee Journal as an accurate and authoritative source. For example, regarding the polling in the 2004 Presidential campaign, The Tennessee Journal reported: “As it turned out, two independent polls conducted in Tennessee the week before the election were on the money. [As one of these:] The Commercial Appeal commissioned a survey by Ethridge & Associates that was taken Oc. 29-Nov. 1. It showed Bush leading 47% to 44%.” 8
  9. 9. Ethridge’s Polls and Campaigning Expertise Have BeenCited in Both National and Statewide News Over the past 18 years, Ethridge‟s polls, expert analysis and reputation as a “veteran pollster” have been published in numerous state and national news publications. The Tennessee Journal 9
  10. 10. Ethridge’s Polls Have Been Favorably Cited in Books onNational and Statewide Campaigns Ethridge & Associates, L.L.C. has been cited favorably as a polling authority in several books by nationally recognized authors. These include most recently (that we are aware of) Larry Sabato, the well known author, national political analyst and founder of the University of Virginia‟s Center for Politics (www.centerforpolitics.org) has cited our polls.10
  11. 11. Ethridge Has Been Invited to Speak on Politics andMarketing on Numerous Occasions  Ethridge has also spoken by invitation before several professional trade associations on the subjects of marketing, communication and research. To list a few . . .  Public Relations Society of America, Memphis Chapter Luncheon — Polls as Research, Rhetoric and Ratings: How Candidates, PR Firms and Media Use and Should Use Polls, Presented November 14, 2007 in Memphis, TN.  Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation — Motivating Donors to Give More: How to “Get Inside Donors‟ Heads” to See What Makes Them “Tick,” Presented February 24, 2007, Washington, D.C.  Travel and Tourism Research Association International Conference — The Next Generation of “Conversion” Studies: How to Improve Your Tourism Advertising Effectiveness, Return on Investment and Campaign Funding, Presented on June 13, 2005 in New Orleans, LA.  Travel and Tourism Research Association Central State Conference — The Next Generation of “Conversion” Studies: How to Improve Your Tourism Advertising Effectiveness, Return on Investment and Campaign Funding, Presented on September, 2005 in Little Rock, AR.  Travel and Tourism Research Association Central State Conference — A Marketing Opportunity Analysis for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development: A Case Study, Presented on September 29, 2000 in Hattiesburg, MS.  Political Candidate Training Seminar --- Held by Mike Carpenter, Carpenter Communications, Memphis, TN, 1995  Public Relations Society of America, Memphis Chapter Luncheon — Elections in Tennessee, Presented November 9, 1994.11
  12. 12. Publications and Awards Published Articles  Tennessee Speech Communication Association — Shifting Perceptions of a Southern Sheriff: Message Making and Image Building in the Campaign of Jack Owens, by John P. Bakke and Steven C. Ethridge, 1987. Awards  Travel and Tourism Research Association’s (TTRA) “Research in Action” Award — in conjunction with our advertising agency client, Combs and Company, for strategic research applied toward developing an effective marketing campaign.12
  13. 13. Sampling of Past Political Clients  President  Lamar Alexander for President (2000)  Governor  Bill Gibbons for Governor (2009, 2010)  TN Governor Don Sundquist (1994, 1998)  U.S. Congress  U.S Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R), NC 9th U.S. Congressional District (1996-present)  U.S. Congressman Ed Bryant (R), TN (1994 - 2000)  U.S. Congressman Don Sundquist for Congress, TN 7th Congressional Distinct (1984-1992)  Senate  Harold Sterling for U.S. Senate, TN (1993)  State Legislature  The Tennessee Republican Party (1996, multiple State Senate and House races)  The Tennessee Republican Caucus (1998)  House District 34: Donna Rowland (1998)  House District 45: Debra Maggart (1998)  House District 79: Curtis Halford (1998)  House District 64: Tom DuBois (1996, 1998)  TN House Representative Eric Swafford , District 25 (2010)  Paul Stanley, TN State Representative (2000)  Tennessee Republican House Caucus, numerous winning candidates (2008-2010)  Local  Tom Leatherwood, Shelby County Registrar (2000-2010)  Mike Carpenter, Shelby County Commissioner (2005)  Mayor Jim Rout, Shelby County, TN, 1993)  Sheriff AC Gilless, Shelby County, TN (1989, 1993)13
  14. 14. Sampling of 2009-2010 Political Clients U.S. Congress  U.S Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R), NC 9th U.S. Congressional District (1996-present) Governor  Bill Gibbons for Governor (2009, 2010) State Legislature  TN House Representative Eric Swafford , District 25 (2010)  Representative Wil Neumann, North Carolina‟s House District 108  Tennessee House Republican Caucus (2008-2010) Local  Mark Luttrell, Shelby County Sheriff (2009)  Mark Luttrell for Shelby County Mayor (2010) .14
  15. 15. Sampling of Conservative Non-Profit Clients(Coast to Coast)The Reagan Ranch Center 15
  16. 16. Sampling of Commercial Clients(Coast to Coast) CJRW Holston Valley Medical Center16
  17. 17. Common Types of Political Polls That We Do Common types of political polls that we do . . . :  Strategic Planning and Benchmarking Polls — which include name recognition, favorability, job performance, re-electability, trial heat ballot, issue importance, candidate attribute motivating power, candidate images, message testing (candidate bios, issue position attacks and rebuttals), identification of “swing voters”, media effectiveness, and target demographic voter segments  Baseline Polls — shorter polls to help aspiring candidates “test the waters” about their viability and their opponent‟s vulnerability, which typically include name recognition, favorability, trail heat ballot, issue importance and limited candidate image and message testing.  Tracking Polls — periodic tracking polls of key information to measure campaign performance and “fine-tune” the campaign as it progresses toward victory  Crisis Management / Brush Fire Polls — typically shorter polls to assess the impact of some critical event that could impact a candidates success at the polls (analogous to crisis management polls for corporations) or on a corporations public image and financial success  Qualitative Exploratory Research — Focus Groups and In-Depth Interviews to explore public opinion dynamics.  Audience Response Analysis — Testing TV ads and/or speeches using hand held Interactive Audience Response/Dialing Systems/People Meters  Exit Polls — At voting locations, either during early voting for campaign tracking or on election day for media.17
  18. 18. 15 Key Benefits of Choosing Ethridge & Associates, L.L.C. 1. Not Just a Polling Firm — We specialize in Research-Driven Strategic Communication Development. a. Unlike most polling firms, we are not just data collectors — we are veteran communication strategists and who use research as a basis for developing winning campaigns. b. This is not pandering (“leading through polling”) but rather it is helping clients discover how to best communicate their convictions and agenda to the public to win. c. Our philosophy is that of the famous ancient military strategist, Sun Tzu, who said, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” In other words, we use polling to figure out how to win and then provide strategic recommendations and on-going consulting to lead campaigns to victory. (Incidentally, Ethridge is a Black Belt in Traditional Japanese Shotokan Karate through Shotokan Karate of America, a mental skill that he applies to winning campaigns). 2. Return on Investment — Some clients have been outspent by their opponents 2 or 3 to 1 and still won because of our expertise in developing winning campaign messages, including: a. Don Sundquist for Governor (1994) b. Harold Sterling for Shelby County Property Assessor (1993) 3. Unlimited Polling Capacity — Telephone interviewing subcontractor relationships with dozens of highly- experienced, quality telephone interviewing agencies in the U.S. allowing us to field thousands of interviewers. 4. Speed of Turnaround — We can provide extremely fast turnaround on polling projects (average 3 to 10 days).18
  19. 19. 15 Key Benefits of Choosing Ethridge & Associates, L.L.C. 5. Advanced Interactive Voice Response (IVR) — Automated polling capability: a. 20 In-House phone line automated polling system b. Unlike other automated polling systems, our system has all of the same capabilities of live interviewing Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing System (CATI) i. Question rotation ii. List rotation iii. Piping (inserting previous responses) iv. Voice capture v. Sample quota management c. Subcontractor relationships to run over 1,000 automated polling phone lines. 6. Proprietary Services — Pioneers in motivational research: a. Right Brain Research® — that uncovers the real reasons why people do what they do (through our Strategic Alliance with the pioneer in consumer psychological research, Dr. Charles Kenny, Ph.D., Founder and President of The Right Brain People) b. Motivational Linguistics Analysis® — proprietary service that uncovers the exact words, phrases and symbols that you need to use when writing advertising copy, speeches and press releases to maximally motivate behavior 7. Proven Major Fundraising Expertise — We have helped conservative nonprofits raise tens of millions of dollars using our motivational research and strategic communication development techniques.19
  20. 20. Regarding Our Proprietary Motivational LinguisticsAnalysis . . . a Couple of Testimonies . . . “Steve Ethridge’s firm understands how to get inside the hearts and minds of the donor audience to discover what to say to motivate them. Due to his innovative linguistics analysis, we were able to implement winning campaign messages that significantly strengthened our case of support for national clients. In fact, in the case of Mount Vernon he helped us to see [that] the visual imagery used for marketing President George Washington needed to change and the language had to better capture the fondness Americans felt toward our first President. As a result, we broke 150-year fundraising records and saw contributions over $1.0 million through the mail. To locate a vendor like Ethridge & Associates has been a great find.” Stephen Clouse, President, Stephen Clouse & Associates, Washington, D.C. “Successful marketing strategies start with great research. Thats why Steve Ethridge is one of my favorite secret weapons. Steve often makes research the most exciting phase of a campaign. He thinks with both sides of his brain, a potent blend of logic and emotion. He is the master of revealing whats in the hearts and minds of a target market — not only their top-of-mind concerns, but the exact words and phrases that will stir them to action. The insights, understanding and breakthroughs he generates have made a huge difference in many successful campaigns. Ive worked with Steve for over ten years, and he has never disappointed. . . . In addition, hes great with our clients. His presentation skills, ability to explain results in laymans terms and to answer questions make him invaluable in getting clients to buy into good marketing solutions. Steve is a great credibility booster for an agency —- the kind of top-notch strategic partners who can make you look smarter than you really are.” March 3, 2009. Top qualities: Great Results, Personable, Expert. Gary Meredith, Sr. VP of Marketing and Development, American Target Advertising, Inc., Washington, D.C. “Dear Steve: I am writing to let you know what a tremendous contribution your research and consulting made to the success of the Ronald Reagan Historical Trust fundraising campaign. This campaign may be the most successful fundraising campaign this decade. So far, we have raised $7 million dollars and the money is still pouring in. Your research helped us tap the „responsive chord” among conservative donors that motivated donors to reach deep into their pocketbooks and write very sizeable contribution checks . . . Steve, on behalf of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, the Ronald Reagan Historical Trust and the owners of the ranch, the Young America‟s Foundation, I want to express a heartfelt thank you for a job well don‟t. We will heartily recommend Ethridge & Associates to any organization that wishes to use public opinion research to help it craft a winning message. Sincerely, Ron Robinson, President, Young America’s Foundation, Santa Barbara, California.20
  21. 21. 15 Key Benefits (Continued) . . . 8. Easy Regional Availability to Those in the Mid-South — Which means . . . a. Convenience — From Memphis, Ethridge can be anywhere in the Mid-South very quickly and inexpensively b. Regional Knowledge — About Mid-South voters and issues 9. Regional Polling Expertise — Although we have polled nationally and in all states in the continental U.S., Ethridge is an unmatched expert in knowing how to poll in the Mid-South, and especially in Tennessee. a. Ethridge has been polling all across the Mid-South since 1983 b. We know how to poll Tennessee better than anyone, as evidenced by . . . i. Being the first and only polling firm to foresee Sassers‟s defeat two years before it happened ii. Being the most accurate in consistently showing Sundquist well ahead of Bredesen in 1994 when all the other polling firms were showing him either behind, tied or too close to call iii. Consistently being the most accurate pollster among published polls21
  22. 22. 15 Key Benefits (Continued) . . . No “Inside the Beltway” Baggage (Which offers you at least five benefits)10. Confidentiality — Our clients in D.C. tell us that one of many reasons that they hire is that D.C. is so incestuous that as soon as a poll is done by a company in the D.C. Metro Area, it is leaked everywhere they don‟t want it to be.11. No D.C. “Group Think” — We offer close-to-the ground, objective thought about each Tennessee campaign. We do not overlay campaign ideas from D.C. or from around the country onto your local situation.12. No “Cookie Cutter” Campaigns — We have seen good candidates lose because D.C. pollsters and media consultants tried to run a “cookie cutter” campaign that worked somewhere else but failed here (or vice-versa, they wouldn‟t do what was needed in TN because it didn‟t work elsewhere).13. Close Attention to Your Campaigns — Because we poll in fewer races than most D.C. firms, we can give each of your races the personalized attention that it deserves.14. Veteran Expertise --- You will be dealing directly and exclusively with Steven C. Ethridge, a veteran pollster with over 27 years of experience in polling and strategy, not with some junior level account manager, as is often the case when dealing with larger firms.15. Price/Value — Because we don‟t have Washington, D.C. overhead, we can be extremely price competitive.22
  23. 23. Testimonials “Steve is simply the best pollster in the Mid-South. He is reliable and accurate.” John Ryder, Past National Committeeman at the Tennessee Republican Party “Steven has done political work for us for years and we wouldnt ever consider using anyone else. He has always done work of the highest quality and has been easy to work with.” Bill Constangy, Deputy Campaign Manager, Finance Director at Sue Myrick for Congress (Charlotte, NC Area) “Steve is an outstanding pollster and advisor. Weve worked together on several political campaigns and Steves polling ability has been among the most reliable — in an art/science that can be tricky, with constantly changing dynamics surrounding everything. Ive known Steve for over a decade and believe he is a capable, ethical person.” Jim Edwards, Ph.D., Senior Advisor at Majority Project 2010; Government Relations and Public Policy Expert at MITA Group “Steve is a consummate professional with an unwavering commitment to detail and accuracy. One of the best researchers and strategic communications consultants in the business.” Marius Penzner, President, Penczner Media (Washington, D.C. Metro Area) “Of all the researchers I‟ve worked with, inside and outside the academic world, Steve Ethridge is the best research methodologist I know. He not only knows how to conduct the research, but he also has the experience to know how to apply it effectively.” Dr. John Bakke, Director of Communication — Sundquist for Governor Campaign Chairman; Chairman (Retired), Department of Communication, The University of Memphis “Dear Steve, Your polls were not only accurate and timely, but your strategic recommendations were helpful as well. And your ability to handle benchmark and tracking polling in 15 State House and Senate Districts at the same time was a valuable strategic weapon for our party in 1996.” Jim Burnett, Chairman, Tennessee Republican Party (1996). “Dear Steve . . . Your polling results were extremely valuable to our campaign and helped us design direct mail that was effective and targeted. To be perfectly honest, I was hesitant to poll based on the cost, but what an investment it was! The dollars spent paid off by allowing us to defeat an 18-year incumbent in a primary, not just by a slim margin but 73% to 27%. Without a doubt your polling was a big part of that margin.” Paul R. Stanley, TN State Representative.23