Winning competitive primary elections for Congress, particularly in open seat races with multiple candidates, is very different from winning a competitive general election race. The policy differences between the candidates are much smaller, and the strategic demands of a multi-candidate field are very different from a one-on-one match-up. Most importantly, voter turnout is very difficult to predict, and the role of strategic research is paramount to identifying a winning coalition and targeting resources effectively.
GBAO approaches state legislative campaigns with intense client focus and a strategy tailored to each state and each race. We take on a limited number of caucuses because winning requires attention to details, not cookie cutter research. Our approach is best exemplified by our work in Oregon.
In 2008, the chief communications officer at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) asked GBAO to help conduct research to help her department better understand the millions who visit the museum each year. Our original research among MoMA visitors helped the museum better realize the demographic and geographic diversity of its visitors, as well as attitudes toward the visitor experience and awareness of the many programs and special features offered by the museum.
As states faced massive budget deficits in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, all aspects of state government faced draconian cuts. But unlike schools, public safety, infrastructure, health care, and other critical pieces of any state budget, state court systems did not have a natural political constituency. As a result, as demand for the courts increased, funding continued to decline.
Ballot initiatives present a different challenge from candidate campaigns. In most cases, voters default to a ‘no’ vote if they are not sure, because they would rather maintain the status quo than risk casting the ‘wrong’ vote if they are at all unsure. For ‘yes’ campaigns, this means proving beyond a reasonable doubt that voters should vote ‘yes.’