Author Archives: Douglas Kaplan

2019 Gravis Marketing Kentucky Poll

Gravis Marketing has released a poll from one of two red states Democrats are trying to offense in 2019: Kentucky.  The Commonwealth of Kentucky has taken a sharp turn to the right since Bill Clinton narrowly carried the state in 1992 and 1996.  It voted for Donald Trump by nearly 30 points in 2016.  Democrats have, however, won statewide races recently in Kentucky.  Democrats won the 2015 Secretary of State and Attorney General races and have won a Gubernatorial race as recently as 2011.  With an unpopular incumbent running for reelection, Democrats hope to regain some of the ground they have recently lost in Kentucky.  Gravis Marketing’s new Kentucky poll shows Democrats have an uphill battle in 2019.

For the Gubernatorial race, Matt Bevin currently leads Andy Beshear 48%-42%.  Beshear does considerably better with college educated voters (trailing 51%-49% among those with a bachelor’s degree and leading 55%-32% among those with a post-graduate education).  The problem for Beshear is that there just aren’t many those voters in Kentucky.  Bevin holds a 53%-32% lead among voters with a high school diploma and 51%-40% among those with “some college” education.  38% of the sample has a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 62% without.  The gender gap is evident as well with Beshear leading 47%-40% among women and trailing Bevin 57%-37% among men.

Democrats are also in jeopardy of losing the Attorney general race for the first time since the 1940’s.  Former State House Speaker and State Attorney General Greg Stumbo trails Attorney and former University of Louisville football player Daniel Cameron 47%-36%.

Gravis Marketing also tested some 2020 matchups.  Mitch McConnell leads former Lexington Mayor and 2016 Democratic Senate nominee Jim Gray 49%-41%.  Donald Trump is in a much better position than McConnell leading Biden 57%-37%, Sanders 57%-35%, Warren 60%-28% and Buttigieg 60%-28%.  Trump’s current approval rating in Kentucky is 60% with 37% disapproving.  Nancy Pelosi has roughly the inverse of Trump’s numbers with only 30% approving and 62% disapproving of her job as Speaker.

This poll was conducted by Gravis Marketing, a nonpartisan research and data firm. This poll of 741 Kentucky Voters  was conducted June 11th through 12th and has a margin of error of ±3.6%.  The survey was conducted using an online panel of cell phone users and live agents.  This poll was not commissioned by any campaign committee or other organization and was paid for by Gravis Marketing.  Results are weighted by voting demographics.  Questions can be direction to the managing partner of Gravis Marketing, Doug Kaplan.

Kentucky (June 14, 2019)

Gravis Marketing Alabama Poll Results

“Former U.S. attorney G. Douglas Jones, a Democrat, holds a slim lead over his GOP challenger and two-time state chief justice Roy S. Moore with 48 percent to Moore’s 44 percent, according to the Big League-Gravis poll conducted Dec. 1 through Dec. 3 with 1,276 voters likely to vote in Alabama’s Dec. 12 special Senate election. Big League Reports

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE DECEMBER 3, 2017

INTERVIEWS: Doug Kaplan, 407-242-1870

Questions concerning methodology can be sent to doug@gravismarketing.com.

Gravis Marketing, a nonpartisan research firm, conducted a random survey of 1,276 likely voters across Alabama. The poll was conducted from December 1st through the 3rd and has a margin of error of ±2.7%. The totals may not round to 100% because of rounding. The survey was conducted using interactive voice responses and an online panel of cell phone users. The results are weighted by voting demographics.

Q1 How likely are you to vote in the runoff election for US Senate to be held on December 12?
Very likely………………………………………72%

Likely…………………………………….………….18%

Somewhat likely………………………………..….10%

Q2 Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president?
Strongly approve………………………………40%

Somewhat approve…………………….………….11%

Somewhat disapprove……………………..……….5%

Strongly disapprove……………………………….40%

Uncertain…………………………………………….4%

Q3 Will you vote for a Democrat or Republican for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018?
Democrat………………………………………………….. 41%

Republican………………..…………..……..…48%

Uncertain………………………….……….………11%

Q4 How favorable or unfavorable are you toward Donald Trump?
Very favorable…………………………………40%

Somewhat favorable…………….…….………….12%

Uncertain……………………..……………….…….3%

Somewhat unfavorable……….…………………….6%

Very unfavorable………………….……………….39%

Q5 How favorable or unfavorable are you toward Roy Moore?
Very favorable…………………………………27%

Somewhat favorable…………….…….………….15%

Uncertain……………………..……………….…….7%

Somewhat unfavorable……….…………………….6%

Very unfavorable………………….……………….45%

Q6 How favorable or unfavorable are you toward Doug Jones?
Very favorable…………………………………32%

Somewhat favorable…………….…….………….14%

Uncertain……………………..…..….……….…….9%

Somewhat unfavorable……….…………………….7%

Very unfavorable………………….……………….39%

Q7 Who did you vote for in the primary for US Senate?
Republican Roy Moore……………………………….. 30% Democrat Doug Jones……………………………. 26%

Republican Luther Strange………………………….. 19%

Didn’t vote………………………………………………… 15%

Republican Mo Brooks…………………………………. 4%

Republican Trip Pittman………………………………. 1%

Another Democrat……………………………………….. 3%

Democrat Robert Kennedy……………………………. 1%

Another Republican……………………………………… 1%

Q8 If the election for US Senate were held today for whom would you vote?
Republican Roy Moore……………………………….. 44% Democrat Doug Jones……………………………. 48%

Uncertain…………………………………………………… 8%

Q9 If you are undecided, which candidate do you most lean toward?
Republican Roy Moore……………………………….. 32% Democrat Doug Jones……………………………. 17%

Uncertain…………………………………………………. 51%

Q8+Q9 Voting for or leaning towards

Republican Roy Moore……………………………….. 46% Democrat Doug Jones……………………………. 49%

Uncertain……………………………………………………. 4%

Q10 Have you heard or read any news about sexual assault accusations against Roy Moore recently?
Yes…………………………………………………………… 94% No…….…………………………………………………… 6%

Q11 How did what you heard or read about these accusations impact your likelihood to vote for Roy Moore?
More likely………………………………………………… 23%

No impact on likelihood to vote…………….……48%

Less likely to vote……………………………………….. 30%

Q12 Do you believe these accusations about Roy Moore?
Yes…………………………………………………………… 42% No…….…………………………………………………. 34%

Uncertain……………………………..……….24%

Q13 Do you believe the Washington Post did the right thing in publishing these accusations?
Yes…………………………………………………………… 49% No…….…………………………………………………. 34%

Uncertain……………………………..……….17%

Q14 Who do you think is more likely telling the truth?
Four Women……………………………………………… 44% Republican Roy Moore…….…………………….. 32%

Uncertain……………………………..……….24%

Q15 Do you trust Roy Moore?
Yes…………………………………………………………… 37% No…….…………………………………………………. 47%

Uncertain……………………………..……….15%

Q16 What is your party affiliation?
Democrat………………………………………………….. 33% Independent or in Another Party…………………. 19%

Republican……………………………………..48%

Q17 Are you or is a member of your immediate family from a Latino, Hispanic or Spanish speaking background?
No……………………………………………………………. 98% Yes………………………………………………………… 2%

Q18 What race do you identify yourself as?
White/Caucasian……………………………………….. 73% African-American……………………………………. 22%

Hispanic………………………………………………….. 2%

Asian………………………………………………………. 1%

Other/No Affiliation………………………………….. 1%

Q19 Which of the following best represents your religious affiliation?
Catholic……………………………………………………… 6% Other/No Affiliation…………………………………… 23%

Protestant/Other Non-Denom. Christian………. 49%

Jewish………………………………………………………. 1%

Evangelical Christian………………………………… 21%

Muslim……………………………………………………… 1%

Q20 What is the highest level of education you have completed?
Some High School/No Diploma……………………… 3% High School Graduate……………………………… 22%

Some College………………………………………….. 31%

Bachelor’s Degree…………………………………… 30%

Post Graduate…………………………………………. 14%

Q21 What is your annual household income?
Under $30,000…………………………………………… 20% $30,000 to $50,000……………………………….. 20%

$50,000 to $100,000………………………………. 29%

$100,000 to $150,000……………………………. 14%

Over $150,000…………………………………….. 7%

Uncertain…………………………………………………. 11%

Q22 What is your age group?
18-29……………………………………………………….. 12% 30-49……………………………………………………….. 31%

50-64…………………………………………..32%

Over 65……………………………..………………25%

Q23 What is your gender?
Male………………………………………………………… 48% Female………………………………………………….. 52%

GM_Release_AL_12032017 v2 Crosstabs – Table Format – ALABAMA – DECEMBER 4 2017GM_Release_AL_12032017 v2

“With less than two weeks left before the special election, the race is tight and going to pivot on which direction the Luther Strange voters go,” said Doug Kaplan, the managing partner of Gravis Marketing, the Florida-based company that executed the poll. The poll carries a 2.7 percent margin of error.

Sen. Luther J. Strange III (R.-Ala.) lost the Sept. 26 primary runoff to Moore with Strange securing 218,066 votes to Moore’s 262,204 votes.

“Who are the voters, who are going to vote against Moore twice?” Kaplan asked.

In the Aug. 15 Democratic primary, Jones secured 109,105 votes of the 165,006 votes cast, if all the Democrats vote for Jones, Moore needs to hold on to 97,199 Strange voters, or 45 percent of the Strange voters, if the turnout in this off-cycle winter election matches the turnout from the August contest for the Democrats and the September contest for the Republicans.

In the Nov. 14 Big League-Gravis poll, 64 percent of the Republicans who voted for Strange, roughly 140,000, said they would support Moore two days after the article in The Washington Post and 22 percent said they would vote for Jones.

Kaplan said Jones is getting 93 percent of Democrats, while Moore only gets 76 percent of Republicans.

“Jones is also winning with self-identified Independents by more than 25 percent,” he said.

“This is third of four polls we are conducting in Alabama and another key is the undecided vote,” he said.

“When we saw the shift for Jones in the last poll, there was a movement of voters saying they were undecided, instead of coming out for Jones,” he said.

“In this poll, either Jones is winning in the poll or people are being dishonest, because they don’t want to admit that they are actually voting for Moore.”

Inoculation is worth a pound of cure

 

The old adage starts out “an ounce of prevention…”  The wisdom is thainoculation theory t a pound of cure, after exposure to a harmful element, is far more expensive and painful than the cost of dealing with the issue before it becomes harmful.

When Ben Franklin first imparted his advice, he did not limit it to medicine.  Far from it.  His statement is an analogy that is relevant in nearly every facet of life – including politics.

When deciding to run for office, candidates must be honest with themselves.  They must take stock of their shortcomings and their “youthful indiscretions.”  Candidates must take full account of their controversial decisions and votes.  They must inventory their own “derogatories” because any opponent with a scintilla of common sense will have their own catalog of your shortcomings with which they might attack.

Once a candidate knows his own points of weakness, he can evaluate which ones might be the most damaging in a campaign.  Of those damaging issues, a candidate can narrow down the ones that the opponent most likely knows.  Of those, which ones are best documented?  Of the issues left, which ones does the opponent have the moral high ground, meaning she does not have the same shortcomings?  Finally, a candidate must evaluate how much money the opponent likely has and how much of that budget they might be willing to spend on an attack.

A campaign should be able to identify the one or two issues most likely to be used in an attack.  Once this is known, creating a plan to mitigate or even prevent an attack is imperative.

In politics, this process is referred to as “inoculation”.  Inoculation can come in many forms, but the idea is that a campaign take control of an issue, and tell its own story, before the opponent decides to go on the attack.

Direct mail is an excellent venue to deliver an inoculation.  A campaign should be able to target the audience deemed most important in order to win a campaign.  A campaign can pinpoint, with amazing accuracy, the precise households that will be most receptive and impacted by an inoculation message.

As with television and the Internet, direct mail is a visual medium.  A campaign must be able to tell a story with powerful images, while using as few words as possible, to achieve its goals in direct mail.  If a candidate wishes to inoculate against a youthful indiscretion, for instance, using a photo of a youthful candidate while describing the “offense” is an effective way to contrast with a more mature candidate now.  Another critical element in an inoculation effort is to explain how the recovery from the youthful indiscretion makes the candidate a stronger, better choice than if the incident never occurred.

Another reason direct mail is an excellent medium to use is the fact that it is more difficult for an opponent to track.  When a campaign purchases television or radio, a public record exists that is available to the opposition.  The opponent will know the exact audience that the campaign is trying to reach, and that allows the opposition to mount a counterstrike.  With direct mail, the mailing list that a campaign uses is proprietary.  Unless the opponent is engaging in some level of unlawful espionage, the mail list is known only to the campaign manager and the mail house – both of whom have professional obligations of confidentiality and nondisclosure.

In some cases a campaign may want to increase the effectiveness of its inoculation message.  A corresponding digital campaign can be targeted to IP addresses associated with the mail list used for the inoculation direct mail piece.  This tactic ensures that the same households targeted for direct mail will also be targeted for the digital ad.  The digital ad can link to the candidate’s web site, social media, or another location that is designed to tell the same story in the direct mail.

The nature of inoculation means that a campaign is choosing to be proactive before the opposition wages an attack.  There is never a guarantee that an opponent will go on the attack.  However, a compelling case can be made to create an inoculation when the issue in question is one that will move voters.  The motivation towards inoculation becomes stronger if the issue is one that is available in public records.  Another factor to assist in the decision to create an inoculation message is the resources of the opposition.  By studying publicly available finance reports, a campaign can evaluate if the opponent has enough resources to issue a negative message.

Whether or not to issue an inoculation is a decision that a candidate should not make on his or her own.  Objective, experienced, and skilled consultants can help guide a campaign in tough situations such as these.  The professionals at Gravis Marketing are experienced and trained to handle the most difficult campaigns.  No matter what situation you are facing, Gravis has been there.  Gravis can help you tell your story, and Gravis can help you identify the exact audience for each story.

 

Why Spin It When You Can Own It?

Gravis Marketing

            Conventional political wisdom when a candidate is faced with a scandal, controversy, or caught in a generally difficult situation is to either spin the situation or to pivot and redirect.  Neither of these responses directly addresses the issue, and both allow for the possibility for the issue to rear its head in the future.

            On the other hand, it may be advantageous for a candidate to openly address an issue, own the issue, and control the issue.

            In the history of American politics, every candidate for office has been, presumably, a human being.  Not a single human being breathes on earth who has not made mistakes.  Mistakes, how we handle them, atone for them, and learn from them shape who we are.

            We do not place our mistakes on our resumes, and candidates do not typically run for office by putting their worst foot forward.  So how do we effectively deal with our mistakes, or our candidates’ mistakes, when we are reasonably certain that they will become issues on the campaign trail?

            Just as no candidate in the history of politics is without sin, no voter is devoid of making mistakes.  The difference is that the voter is not wearing the same target that the candidate is.

            Before explaining why owning an issue may be the correct path for a candidate, we should explore why spin and pivot techniques may be the incorrect path.

            “Spin” is generally considered a biased method of retelling history or explaining an event or decision.  The problem with spin is that it requires the candidate or campaign team that is responding to tacitly concede that the situation to which they are responding is a negative situation.  Another problem with spin is that most voters may not be able to define what “spin” means, but they know it when they see or hear it.  Spin usually works only with the devoted following of the candidate delivering the biased message.  Spin only addresses a small audience and generally serves to restore confidence in a candidate’s base rather than speak to undecided voters.

            In essence, spin is a form of triage in the political battlefield that is designed to stop the hemorrhaging of a candidate’s support.  Spin should never be used as a long term solution.  In fact the use of spin may not be advisable in any situation because it is often viewed as dishonest.

            For example, a candidate for the United States Senate may have had a very successful fundraiser.  Many dignitaries attended, the open bar was flowing, and everyone had a good time.  The candidate has a lapse of judgment and decides to drive home.  On the way home, the candidate is pulled over for suspected intoxication.  The resulting video is embarrassing as the candidate used the feeble “do you know who I am” line that was clearly recorded on the officer’s camera.  The candidate also refuses any tests to indicate inebriation.

            The following day, that campaign team chooses to spin the story and claims that the Senate candidate was not inebriated but merely tired from a very long day of campaigning.  The campaign attempts to explain the use of the thinly veiled “do you know who I am” threat as the candidate’s effort to merely help the police officer understand what kind of day she had.  The candidate’s devoted followers quickly accept the story, but voters who were previously leaning towards voting for that candidate are now in the “undecided” category.  Stalwarts of the opposition, however, are able to take pot shots at the cover story and use the situation to increase mistrust.

            The “pivot and redirect” method is also a less than optimum choice because the essence of redirecting requires that the candidate does not answer to the negative issue or situation.  Instead, the idea is to distract voters with another issue.  This method may be successful if the issue upon which the candidate can pivot is egregious enough to divert voters.  However, an unanswered situation may revisit the candidate’s campaign at an inopportune time.

            In the situation described above, the same Senate candidate’s campaign chooses the pivot method instead of spin.  In responding to the situation, the campaign creates an elaborate story in which they blame the opposition for falsely tipping the police to their candidate’s whereabouts on the way home from the fundraiser.  In a double-down effort, the campaign points out that there is no evidence of driving while intoxicated since the candidate refused a breathalyzer and invoked the Constitutional right to an attorney.

            In doing this, the candidate provides an opportunity for the opponent to take control of the media.  The question still remains whether or not the candidate did something wrong.  The issue is not closed and can return.  Also, the only audience that will buy into the pivot response are the devotees of that candidate.  Voters who were not solidly in that candidate’s corner are now shaky.

            By owning the issue, however, a campaign takes full control of the media.  The campaign does not hint at the opposition.  The embattled campaign addresses all voters and not just the dedicated followers.

            In the same situation, the Senate campaign holds a press conference the following day to address the traffic stop.  The candidate begins by telling the story of a young person in their state who was recently killed by a distracted driver.  The candidate talks about statistics involving intoxicated drivers, distracted driving, and driving while fatigued or sleepy.  The press conference discusses safe driving and the need for all drivers to be responsible and how to be responsible and respectful when dealing with law enforcement.  The candidate apologizes for the embarrassing use of the “do you know who I am” phrase and to the officer specifically.  Finally, the candidate announces an initiative to address distracted driving while in Washington.

            By taking full ownership of the event, exhibiting contrition, and proposing a solution to a larger problem (remember that the candidate talked about statistics of distracted driving during the press conference), the candidate controlled the issue and possibly turned it into a positive situation.  Not only are the devoted followers still on board, but all voters are listening to the message of the senate candidate.

            The decisions on how to handle difficult scenarios are serious and can impact not only the outcome of the current campaign but the long term political viability of a candidate.  No candidate should address these dire situations without objective, skilled assistance.  The professionals at Gravis Marketing are experienced and trained to handle the most difficult situations.  No matter what situation you are facing, Gravis has been there.  No candidate should go it alone.  Let Gravis stand with you.

 

Thank You

Gravis Marketing
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