KPA Report - May 26, 2021
The KPA Report: Q&A with Jamie Fisfis, President of Chariot Campaigns about the use of opposition research from a general consultant perspective.
The KPA Strategies team wanted to share perspective into how a general consultant can utilize opposition research for campaigns and polling. Dan Kramer, President of KPA Strategies and Jamie Fisfis, President of Chariot Campaigns discuss how having a plan in place, and conducting research early, will likely save a campaign money and provide a competitive advantage to a winning campaign. Jamie Fisfis has a unique perspective as someone with experience conducting opposition research, public opinion research, and as a general consultant.
Dan Kramer: What are the most important elements of/what makes the best/opposition research?
Jamie Fisfis: The best opposition research is thorough and pursues all leads. Ideally, a researcher will see patterns of what is and isn’t there to ensure nothing is missed. The other important aspect is to cross-reference findings from different sources. Often, the best finds come from looking at one area and comparing it with another area. For example, a Twitter feed can be matched up against attendance records that can be matched up against spending habits and political rhetoric. It is usually in the cross-referencing activities that you find your best opposition research hits.
Dan Kramer: What is the relationship between public opinion research and political opposition research?
Jamie Fisfis: Political opposition research works together with survey research and electoral research, such as polling focus groups. Usually, the opposition research is conducted first and then incorporated into a survey or focus groups to find out how best to covey messages and which demographics to ensure they will all effectively resonate with their target audiences. For a first-time candidate, a self-vulnerability assessment along with a follow up poll helps us understand a candidates’ positives and negatives, likely the most important issues in the race, and if known, the other candidate/s greatest strengths and weaknesses relative to my client.
Dan Kramer: Should opposition research just be conducted against your opponent?
Jamie Fisfis: No. One thing to remember when conducting opposition research is to make sure you research yourself. It is especially important to know your own vulnerabilities as you embark on a campaign against other people. If you are not willing to test your own vulnerabilities in research, then it can often be difficult to accurately assess the overall race. I am always surprised by how many clients do not feel like there is anything out there that could be found. The question isn't whether or not anything negative is out there. The question is whether there is anything out there that could be construed as negative.
Dan Kramer: Anything else you want to add?
Jamie Fisfis: Wearing my general consulting hat, there is a possible secondary benefit from doing research early. Finding a potential knockout punch might help keep an opposing candidate out of a race, or if it’s beneficial to your candidate to have more people in the race – let’s say he or she is an incumbent and this person is a strong challenger – waiting until he or she files then releasing the knockout punch may take the steam out of your opposition, and cut off their potential funding, accruing to the benefit of your candidate. If the research is completed early enough, the impact of these tactics and the messaging that’s used, can all be included in early polling.
KPA Strategies is here to help you with all your research needs, at the local, state, or federal level. KPA Strategies offers an initial consultation for new clients, candidates and/or their consultants to understand our services, kick the tires, get some good initial advice, and walk away with at least a basic checklist of the things we look at during our research. If you are interested in learning more, KPA has a short presentation that we are happy to share via a phone call, Zoom, or in person- if you are in a local jurisdiction that permits it.
Dan Kramer, President of KPA Strategies, has more than 20 years’ experience in political, campaign and trade association management, investigative research, and public relations. He is an expert in developing and implementing effective public affairs campaigns for businesses, institutions, and individuals under attack from competitors, activists, political and regulatory officials, and the media. Please feel free to reach out with any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kpastrategies.com.
Chariot provides general consulting and strategic leadership for ballot measures, political action committees, nonprofits and NGO’s, public affairs advocacy campaigns, social media campaigns, and candidate campaigns. Chariot’s clients expect to win on the toughest political battlegrounds. For two decades, they have hired Chariot specifically because of Chariot’s knowledge in leveraging the latest in strategy and voter analytics to give clients every edge to win the biggest fights. When it comes to using analytics to move public opinion and win campaigns, Chariot is the best in the field. Please feel free to reach out with any questions to email@example.com or visit www.chariotcampaigns.com.
KPA Strategies and Chariot Campaigns are members of the Core Strategic Group, a premier holding company comprised of the best political, public affairs and association management professionals in the country. For more information, visit www.corestrategicgroup.com.