Category Archives: Practitioners

MRF Board Meeting: Advancing Innovation


Market Research Foundation is hosting its annual board of directors meeting in Leesburg, Virginia this week.  Last year’s gathering – which featured Victory Lab’s Sasha Issenberg as its keynote speaker – was a huge hit.

Not only did the organization showcase the success of its groundbreaking training programs, but MRF graduates and program participants were able to network with some of the leading figures in their industries.  Panel discussions also facilitated a host of new connections – which is ultimately what this annual gathering is all about.

This year’s event will feature Bob Ellsworth as the keynote speaker. One of last year’s expert panelists, Bob will not only explore the rapidly evolving political applications of big data – he will address how technological advancements are continuing to change the way we approach public policy.

Attendees will also hear from Erin Norman – whose data on lapsed and non-registered voters in Pennsylvania (presented at last year’s event) presaged the shocking Keystone State upset pulled off by Donald Trump earlier this month.

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MRF And The Lincoln Initiative


Last week in San Francisco, Market Research Foundation (MRF) was a sponsor of the Lincoln Initiative‘s annual “Reboot” conference.

Billed as a gathering of “top influencers from diverse industries – civic tech founders, engineers and designers, politicos, corporate tech, foundation executives, angel investors and serial entrepreneurs,” this year’s event did not disappoint.

Title sponsor i360 – a top data analytics firm – was well-represented, as were co-sponsors ComScore, Google Elections, Microsoft and Facebook.

MRF’s chief operating officer Ray Wotring was a speaker at the event.

“After the 2012 election, a group of donors asked our Chairman Bill Wilson, and myself, to complete an assessment on the state of data and technology on the right,” Wotring told attendees. “As most can expect, the assessment was bleak. Some tools did exist; however the emphasis was placed on the paint. Little to not thought was placed into data architecture; or how to effectively manipulate data; especially in down ballot races.”

The result?

“Most candidates were shooting in the dark,” Wotring said.

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The Independent Vote …


Mitt Romney won more than 50 percent of the independent vote in 2012 – the first Republican presidential nominee to hit that threshold in nearly a quarter century. It didn’t matter, though, because far too small a percentage of the partisan electorate (a.k.a. non-independents) identified as “Republican.”

A new analysis of independents conducted by Voter Gravity lays bare the challenge facing the GOP …

“The Republican Party will have to either substantially increase the number of Americans that identify with the party or gain an even greater share of the independent vote if it wishes to remain competitive at the national level,” the study concludes.

Prepared by University of Alabama political scientist Dr. George Hawley, the Voter Gravity study is loaded with data every 2014 campaign should take to heart. For example, it notes that “canvassers who ask for party identification should always ask independents whether they lean toward one of the major parties.”

Why? Because independents who lean Democratic are for all practical purposes partisan Democrats – whereas independents who lean Republican are more likely to be “pure” independents. Failing to accurately gauge the distinction could lead to fatally flawed data – and lost elections.

Hawley’s Voter Gravity study also explores the “attention gap” those campaigns seeking to lure independents must confront.

“Your typical independent is not closely monitoring political news, and likely has little interest in overly wonkish discussions about specific policies,” the study reveals.

Independents are also all over the map when it comes to economic and social issues – supporting tax increases on wealthier income earners to lower the deficit yet opposing additional spending on welfare programs.

“On many policy issues, independents are split down on the middle. On others, they are majority conservative or majority liberal,” the study found.

To view the Voter Gravity results for yourself, click on the link below …


7 Mobile Stats Every Politician Needs To Know

1. 90 percent of American adults have a cellphone.

According to a recent study by Pew Research, 90 percent of Americans can now be contacted at any time, anywhere. The cellphone has been the fastest adopted technology in history and now 9 out of 10 Americans can perpetually be one button away from anyone in the world.

2. 98 percent of Americans ages 18-29 have cell phones.

While the national average is high, the adoption among the younger generation is almost complete. The most surefire way to reach the younger generation is through the way they interact with the world: mobile technology.

3. 58 percent of American adults have a smartphone.

Now almost 6 in 10 American adults have a smartphone. By comparison, 14 percent of American adults owned a smartphone in 2008. This means that you can now reach them through innumerable modes of communication. Constant access to the internet and social media facilitated by the modern marvel known as the smartphone also means constant potential exposure to campaign messaging, if you take advantage of it.

 4. 34 percent of all users are “mobile only.”

Up 9 percent from 2012, this continues to show the fascinating way our society is moving towards a mobile lifestyle. This rise in mobile computing is quickly rendering the traditional PC obsolete.

5. 25 percent of all emails are opened on mobile devices.

The vast quantities of business done on mobile devices is a very recent development and only illustrates further how prominent mobile technology has become.

6. 90 percent of people move between devices to achieve a goal (i.e. smartphone, tablet, PC).

Mobile technology is allowing for increased flexibility in all areas of life, whether business, shopping, or connecting and communicating with peers. People are now using multiple platforms to achieve their goals in the most efficient and convenient manner possible.

7. 189 million Facebook users are “mobile only.”

This alone should convince people that mobile technology use is pervasive. When the most popular form of social media is accessed primarily through mobile technology by a group of people numerically equivalent to 60 percent of the United States population, you should be paying attention.

Mobile technology is in full force in 2014 and is the wave of the future. If you want to be effective, you need to grasp this and learn to connect in a modern, mobile environment.