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Political Surveys: Explaining The What, Why, And How

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Published: Aug 18, 2021

Why do you need to think about conducting political surveys? Well, we can explain with an example. Imagine trying to organize a child’s birthday party. How many things would you need to think about? I could think of some:

  • How many kids will turn up?
  • What timings will be best?
  • Do I invite parents or not?
  • What should be the theme of the party?
  • What will everyone eat? What do kids that age like?

Once you answer these questions, you will be on the path to organizing a party that the birthday child is going to remember for a long time to come!

Well, it’s the same with political surveys.

Political surveys are designed to ask questions that would aid a political campaign, a candidate, or a political organization to understand the needs of their target audience. It determines audience moods, which candidate they lean towards, what their political views are, what policies they support, and much more.

Based on this information, you design your campaign strategy, messaging, communications, and so on– just like the birthday party you once organized, albeit on a much bigger scale and in a manner that is not always so jolly or straightforward. 

Let’s take a detailed look at why political surveys are conducted.

Why conduct a political survey

Political surveys are an excellent way for a campaign to understand its audience through the collected data. Relevant data for a campaign could include anything from demographic information to the educational level of their target audience.

By collecting data with political surveys,  you can:

  • Identify supporter levels
  • Please add the other points too

Let’s look at each point in more detail.

Identify supporter levels

Just like finding out which kids in the class will join your child’s birthday party, political surveys will help you identify your “friends.” Here’s what you can find out:

  • Which regions are more likely to support me or my initiatives?
  • What demographic do my supporters belong to? This includes their age, ethnicity, education levels, income levels, neighborhood type, family size, etc. 
  • What are their political ideologies?
  • Where can I find people with similar political leanings?
  • Do they actually support me, or are they going against the rival candidate?
  • How do I reach out to them?

These data points gathered from the political survey will form the basis of your campaign strategy. It will inform you where to put in maximum efforts and how to plan your campaign’s messaging around it.

Know your real chance at a win

Before you even begin your campaign efforts, you need to determine your chances of winning this race.

  • Are you competing in a territory primarily captured by the opposing party?
  • If so, are people willing to shift their votes and direct them towards you?
  • Are people happy or disappointed with the incumbent?
  • Do people identify primarily as conservative or liberal? Which one are you?

A campaign costs a lot of money, effort, and people. Calculating the risks and the feasibility of your campaign will go a long way in chalking out your plans. 

To begin with, a candidate must know precisely the number of votes they require to win. Our guide on how to determine your win number and creating a perfect outreach plan will surely help you with that crucial statistic.

Beyond that, seeking answers to the questions asked above will help shift the direction of your messaging to garner more support for your campaign.   

If the political survey results aren’t favorable, you do not have to be disheartened and pull out of the race. Instead, redirect your efforts to where they matter the most. If the results are great, you know you’re on the right track!

Learn about policies that will affect people

Robust and practical policy proposals are essential to make people see you as a serious candidate. Depending on what matters to people the most – universal healthcare or policies around school safety– if you want to win votes, you need to represent these pressing issues.

When you are conducting your political survey, you need to find out:

  • What are some policies that my constituency is lobbying for?
  • Will they support a certain policy that I want to introduce?
  • What are the implications of backing a certain policy? Will I lose a significant amount of supporter base over it? Will I win over swing voters with it?

There are a lot more questions surrounding this topic that you can think about. It all depends on the current political climate and the risk you are willing to take.

Learn the mood of your supporter base

Remember trying to organize the birthday party only to realize the class has an important test right the next day? A bunch of anxious kids trying to avoid a test and enjoying themselves at the party? Their parents will not be happy, and you might be out of the parents’ chat group soon! 

Well, since we do not want that while designing and running a successful political campaign, we need to study the room.

It might be helpful to figure out through your survey whether:

  • People are cynical about the candidate and voting process.
  • Is there a burning issue that has made people angry?
  • How favorably or unfavorably do they look at your party or candidate?

This helps shape the core messaging of your campaign. It could be the universal healthcare policy, BLM movement, or immigration laws– studying the room helps. A political survey campaign is the best way to figure that out.

Learn about candidate perception

Political candidate branding has become increasingly prevalent during elections. The language of marketing has entered politics since the early 2000s. How you perceive a candidate is often the efforts of marketing, branding, and PR professional teams expertly crafting the brand in a boardroom. 

Personal branding for candidates, just like branding a product, is essential. It seriously impacts how much voters buy into the candidate and their cause. 

Read Also: How To Leverage Political Advertising the Right Way 

Political surveys are a great way to figure out how a particular candidate is being perceived. 

Brand recall and recognition are crucial aspects determining election results and political surveys are a great way to know where you stand.

Surveys can help event success

Planning an event and don’t know how many are going to attend? Take a quick text or call survey with your supporter base and find out the numbers!

At the click of a button, you can easily plan event logistics in under a few minutes and ensure there are no last-minute surprises or, worse still, no-shows. CallHub’s SMS opt-in feature lets you set up an automated survey in no time! Your respondents will be sent a series of prompts that they can reply to without the need for manual interference.

On the other hand, if you choose to conduct a more personalized survey, which needs the involvement of volunteers on your end, you could opt for the peer-to-peer texting method for the survey. We will talk about P2P texting in detail in our text survey section below.

Event surveys are essential to ensure you have high attendance and can prepare for the turnout in advance.

Research campaign effectiveness

Surveys also help you realize how effective your campaign is in communicating your vision, mission, and goals.

You can find out:

  • Do they know about your campaign?
  • Do they know what policies you are supporting?
  • Can they identify your logo and brand color?
  • Is your messaging working with them?
  • Are they happy to know more about you?

What are some points that you can think of when you want to research campaign effectiveness? Surveys can help you with them.

How to conduct a political survey?

political-survey-stages-of-survey

Well, now that we know the ways in which political surveys can help a campaign, we need to explore the methods through which surveys can be conducted. We’re listing a few:

Door knocking campaigns

Door-knocking campaigns are effective ways to have personal conversations with your supporter base while also being able to go beyond the confines of your survey and gathering more information.

Door-to-door surveys are conducted in predetermined areas, with a set sample size to cover people from different walks of life. 

Usually volunteer-driven, door-to-door campaigns are a great way of building and nurturing face-to-face relationships with your supporter base. However, the challenge with these campaigns is that they might not be scalable and also cannot be executed with the speed of some of the other methods, like phone banking or text surveys.

Phonebanking

Conducting political surveys is a breeze with phone banking. A volunteer can speak to your supporter base, or a pre-recorded message can be deployed to reach thousands of people.

Here’s how you can conduct great surveys through CallHub’s phone banking feature:

  • Determine the goals of your survey.
  • Prepare a script and questionnaire.
  • Update your contact list.
  • Determine your target audience.
  • Choose which phone banking method best suits your survey.
  • Export your report and analyze!

CallHub provides some great dialers for phone banking. You can set up your survey and reach over 100 calls per agent per hour.:

  1. Predictive Dialer: The fastest way to go through a list with hundreds of phone numbers is through the predictive dialer. The predictive dialer reduces dialing efforts for the agents. As soon as an agent ends one call, there’s already another call waiting for them to answer. The predictive dialer is best suited for high-volume phone surveys, when you aim to go through as many contacts as possible in a long list.
  2. Power Dialer: The power dialer helps you control the speed at which phone calls are made, depending on the pick-up rates of your contact list. Typically the calls dialed: agent available ratio is (1:1) but can even go up to (3:1). This dialer is best suited for surveys because agents can leave notes after every conversation, which gets synced with your CRM. The power dialer is best suited for low-volume calling campaigns, when you aim to reach most contacts in a short list.
  3. Robo Dialer: Robo dialer can make thousands of calls simultaneously and collect auto-responses with the Press-1 functionality. This is particularly helpful when time is precious, and volunteers are limited.

Text surveys

The best part about text surveys is that they allow receivers to respond to them as and when they have the time. 

Peer-to-peer texting is an essential tool in your text survey kit, and here’s how it can help:

political-survey-p2p-multichoice
A glimpse into CallHub’s peer-to-peer texting feature. Multi-choice surveys are easy to set up with the click of a button.

Through peer-to-peer texting, volunteers can reach out to thousands of people within minutes and have personalized conversations with them while recording their responses. CallHub enables P2P surveys that can be multichoice, numeric, and/or supporter level surveys – you can even customize these options!

You can also tag your contacts according to their responses and save them in your CRM. The next time you run a campaign, you can filter out contacts with particular tags and target them accordingly.

For example, say your survey question is. “Which policy would you support the most?” and the responses are:

  1. Medicare for all
  2. Stricter immigration laws
  3. Gun safety regulations
  4. Minimum wage regulations

Agents can keep the conversation going by asking follow-up questions. But after the first question, they can tag contacts according to their response. Filter, target and Reach out to them as and when your campaign is doing something relevant to these policies. 

Online quiz

Another interesting way in which you can engage with your supporter base is by creating online quiz-like surveys. 

Fun topic ideas such as ‘Are you a conservative or liberal: take this quiz to find out’, is a great way to engage your audience. Plus it answers many research questions easily.

Online surveys

Online surveys can be conducted with tools such as Typeform, Slido, etc., and promoted through your social media and through social media ads.

The great thing about online surveys is that you could reach out to large audiences that may not even have made it to your contact list. However, it also runs the risk of becoming too diluted by reaching people who may not be your target demographic.

Finding out proper channels to conduct online surveys is crucial to its success.

Read Also: ​​How to Conduct a Political Survey Through Calls and Texts

Since we’re aware of the channels we would want to opt for to conduct surveys, we must explore what could be good questions to ask our audience. Let’s explore them next.

What are good questions for a political survey?

Questions included in the survey would largely depend on the goal and the stage of the campaign at which it is being conducted. We’ve collated a few questions for each scenario.

Voter registration

Getting new and undecided voters registered to vote or even registered to vote by mail is a task any campaigns undertake to increase voter turnout.

Here are some good questions to ask:

  1. Are you eligible to vote? 
  2. Are you registered to vote in your state?
  3. Have you recently moved to your district or state?
  4. Do you need help with registering to vote?
  5. Which party have you registered with?
  6. Do you know how to register to vote by mail?
  7. Are there more people you live with who would like to register with you?

Candidate perception

Knowing whether people like your candidate is the most important part of your campaign efforts. Here are political survey questions to find out your candidate’s popularity:

  1. Do you know which candidates are running for this election?
  2. Which candidate are you more likely to support? Why?
  3. Have you heard of <name> candidate?
  4. Do you know what policies they are backing?
  5. Do you support their policies and political stands? Why or why not?

Demographic data

If the primary aim of your survey is to gather demographic data towards which you want to align your campaigns, there are many things you can ask your current confirmed supporters:

  • Do you live alone or with family?
  • What are the age and gender categories that they fall into?
  • What is your highest level of educational qualification?
  • Do you work for an organization or are you self-employed?
  • Which party do you tend to favor?
  • Which policies are important to you and your family?

The most important part to remember while conducting surveys is that the questions must be aligned with the campaign objectives. While it is great to strike a conversation beyond the survey questions, it must still be relevant to your overall campaign or objective of the survey.

Over to you

Political surveys are crucial to any election process. They form the basis of the research on which the campaign revolves. It determines the policies and initiatives that the candidate will champion and promote. It also holds the real promise of bringing about change to communities by making the people’s voices heard.

While surveys are important, it is also equally important to understand you need to use the best methods to get more people to take your surveys and get better results. Calling and texting software will catapult your survey to new heights and allow you to have personalized, relevant communication at scale. Try CallHub for free for 14-days and change the way you conduct surveys.

Featured Image Source: Olya Kobruseva

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