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New on Campaigns & Elections: A Candidate’s Guide to Polling

You’ve signed a consultant, hired the fundraiser, and found the right person to run the ground operation. Do you really need a polling firm to test your message? After all, the team you’ve assembled should be able to develop a winning message, right? More often than not, the answer is no.

No matter how robust a campaign team, a pollster should always have a seat at the top leadership table. This sounds counterintuitive to many candidates in this environment. The headlines have been blaring about how the pollsters got it wrong last cycle. Moreover, there are public surveys, Facebook surveys and anecdotes from golf buddies to make up the gap in information.

But that’s the exact reason why campaigns need their own expert. In an environment with an abundance of free information, you get what they pay for. In other words, public polling, or social media polling is no substitute for a good opinion-research survey. In fact, it’s mission-critical for campaigns to ask questions, test assumptions, profile supporters and the opposition, and clearly identify your most effective messages. Here’s how to make that happen within most campaign budgets.

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