The next Presidential election will be here before you know it. The candidates have been preparing for years in some cases, perfecting their speaking skills and narrowing their focus on the key issues. Behind the candidates, are mountains of research that their campaign teams have prepared to understand what attributes and positions voters want a candidate to possess – a candidate for whom they would vote, more precisely. Research for a presidential candidate is the biggest stage for political research. But this type of research can be used, and used effectively, at any political level and in a variety of ways.
The seat of mayor, one of the classic American political offices, is a hotly contested election in most cities. And, while the scale is much smaller when compared to the Presidential Election, research still plays a big role in the campaign process. Positions are more highly concentrated in these smaller races because they’re literally closer to the voters’ lives. And the prevailing sentiments on issues must be uncovered to create an effective campaign platform.
In the case of missing political research, The Susan G. Komen Foundation was a hot topic. The Komen Foundation was facing intense internal pressure from anti-abortion groups to pull its funding for Planned Parenthood. Though Komen’s funding was designated for breast examinations, and not abortions, it bowed to the pressure and withdrew its funding. A huge public and social media outcry from Komen supporters – and others – who also support Planned Parenthood, resulted in a massive PR debacle and a reversal of the decision.
Political research might have shown that defunding Planned Parenthood was against the political beliefs of the majority of Komen’s supporters. Or, it might have shown that the majority supported the defunding, and Komen might have had reason to stand by its decision. Without research, despite reinstating the funds and several resignations from the organization, the damage to the Komen Foundation’s reputation was done.
Many companies have also discovered that very useful information can be gleaned from effective political research surveys. Corporations face governmental regulation at all levels and often must make the difficult choice to get involved in politics. Many corporations donate money to certain political parties or candidates, and some undertake public perception campaigns to win the public to their side of an issue. As a rule, political donations don’t cause many waves, but if a company makes a large donation to a party or candidate that the surrounding community doesn’t support, there could be backlash. And, advocating a position that your customers universally dislike, can negatively affect the bottom line in a hurry. This is especially true if the company is receiving tax breaks from that community.
Candidates and companies, both big and small, benefit from the information that political research surveys uncover. If you doubt you need political research, look no further than the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s fall from grace. Don’t lose your great reputation with one uninformed decision.