Tag Archives: Ken Cuccinelli

The GOP “Haircut” Theory

gop haircut

SUPPRESSION?  DEPRESSION?  WHATEVER YOU CALL IT … CAMPAIGNS BETTER BE PREPARED

This week Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus sent out a blast email warning GOP voters of an organized Democratic effort to suppress their participation in the upcoming midterm elections.  Dubbed the “GOP haircut,” Priebus is referring to a September 10 memo prepared by Democratic strategist Chris Lehane in which tactics for depressing Republican voter enthusiasm in Florida, Iowa and Michigan are discussed.

“It’s the liberals’ desperate attempt to trim Republican turnout at the polls – to ‘degrade Republican performance’ by ‘dampening Republican enthusiasm levels,'” Priebus wrote of the memo. “By spreading misinformation about Republican candidates, the liberals hope to divide our Party in a last-ditch attempt to save theirs – and to force their far-left agenda on America.”

Lehane’s memo – chronicled by reporter Dave Weigel, among others – is a fascinating look at the emerging field of “electoral depression,” or the science associated with discouraging certain segments of the electorate from showing up at the polls. 

Of particular interest is Lehane’s focus on the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race between Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli – a race that has been the subject of extensive research by the Market Research Foundation (MRF).

“Republican turnout in the Tri-County (Virginia) area was impacted as the result of revelations about the Republican nominee’s support for an out-of-state energy company over local landowners – while the Republican vote over-performed throughout Virginia in 2013, the notable exception was the Tri-Counties, which underperformed by approximately 11,000 votes,” Lehane wrote in his memo.

MRF identified this suppression effort – and discussed how the GOP could have more effectively responded to it – months ago.

“More aggressive efforts should have been initiated to counteract the overt suppression tactics of the Democrats,” MRF’s 2013 Virginia turnout report revealed.  “For example, attacks in the coal counties on support by Consul Energy for the GOP ticket needed to be addressed in a more assertive action, by local supporters, not by press statements.”

MRF’s research has gone much deeper than that, though.  In addition to addressing the Democrats’ effective regional “depression” efforts, our reports have also documented the GOP’s inability to play the same game – i.e. its failure to engage locally on exploitable issues that could have had a similar net negative effect on Democratic turnout (as a separate MRF report has revealed).

Most importantly, our research also documented how the GOP defeat in Virginia last year wasn’t merely due to stagnant vote totals in certain regions, but rather a larger failure to generate the level of vote growth needed across-the-board.

“GOP turnout was depressed throughout the state,” our turnout analysis noted. “In those counties and cities dominated by the GOP where overall turnout increased by more than 2 percent over 2009, the GOP ticket garnered less net votes than in 2009. And, in 38 GOP dominate jurisdictions, turnout was essentially unchanged from 2013 to 2009, resulting in lower net gains.”

“It is no overstatement to say the GOP campaign left the victory (on) the table,” the report concluded.

This is not to say the same thing will happen in Florida, Iowa, Michigan – or other states – this year.  It is simply a reminder of the importance of not only identifying where one’s likely or persuadable voters are – but where (and how) they are being targeted, as well.

Do Endorsements Matter?

 YES … IF YOU KNOW HOW TO DELIVER THEM

Endorsements are everywhere in our proliferated media culture.  Whether it’s a celebrity promoting a product or a politician or organization endorsing a candidate for office, we are constantly being bombarded with various imprimaturs – seals of approval seeking out our money or our vote.

Obviously all endorsements are not created equal – and even the most valuable endorsement can be wasted on a bad product or politician.  But our research has shown that the right political endorsement – delivered the right way – can have a significant impact in turning out voters.

Market Research Foundation (MRF) conducted electoral research in Virginia’s gubernatorial election last fall endeavoring to gauge the impact of the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC)’s endorsement of Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli.

This experiment – outlined in the report below – revealed that “point-of-sale – door to door, face to face – distribution of information has a significant impact in turnout and issue awareness.”

This is why companies like Verizon are redirecting significant portions of their ad budgets back toward door-to-door sales – previously viewed as an antiquated method of information delivery. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently predicted door-to-door selling would decline by 18 percent by 2018 – but that hasn’t happened. In fact after a modest decline during the peak of the recession in 2009, direct selling climbed by 0.8 percent in 2010, 4.6 percent in 2011 and 5.9 percent in 2012.

Campaigns should take note – especially in light of MRF’s Virginia research showing a nine percent increase in turnout in Virginia amongst those who personally received information about the NVTC endorsement of Cuccinelli.

For more information on MRF’s research, click on the link below …

VIRGINIA STUDY (.pdf)

2013 Virginia Election: Turnout Analysis

How did ethically challenged Democrat Terry McAuliffe manage to eke out a narrow victory over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in last year’s Virginia gubernatorial election?

According to a new turnout analysis of the election conducted by the Market Research Foundation (MRF), the real question we ought to be asking is “where” McAuliffe eked out his win.

Or rather where Cuccinelli lost this race …

As expected, McAuliffe and the Democrats scored huge wins in the eleven Virginia jurisdictions with high concentrations of black voters. That’s not surprising – even in an off-year election.

These jurisdictions gave McAuliffe his net plurality of 228,147 votes.

(Click to enlarge)

mcauliffe plurality

What was very surprising, though, was the depressed level of GOP turnout. In thirty-eight GOP-dominated jurisdictions, turnout was unchanged from 2009 to 2013 – resulting in lower net gains.

“It is no overstatement to say the GOP campaign left the victory (on) the table,” the report concludes.

What could the GOP have done to turn a 2.5 percent defeat into victory?

Click on the report below to find out …

TURNOUT ANALYSIS OF VIRGINIA GENERAL ELECTION (.pdf)