Understanding voter behavior seems to be beyond us this year. Pollsters are persona non grata after huge shocks in the Brexit referendum in the UK and, now, the success of Donald Trump in the US Presidential race.
Clearly, polling is failing to grasp the way in which people are really intending to vote or the silent vote of people who are not willing to declare for an unpopular choice. There is also a problem with the interpretation of polls by biased media outlets that portray potential outcomes as very clear-cut when they are within the margin of error. This was certainly the case in the Brexit referendum and to a lesser extent the US Presidential race.
The Perils Of The Polls
How is it possible to understand a large group of voters then?
Polling never really claimed to be able to understand the psyche of large groups of people, rather it is designed to take a snapshot in time on a single point of information. Essentially, what is required in order to understand the mood of a community and how it might change over time, is constant contact. This model of constant contact with segments of voters is possible with current technology. Instead of talking to people just in the run-up to election day, what we find is that a much longer cycle of engagement leads to better understanding. People also need to be wary of only engaging with certain segments of their community and need to be proactive in getting out and knocking on doors to get alternative viewpoints. How to do that is outlined below.
Your Best Chance To Figuring Out The Voter
Warning: This is far from fool-proof but it is designed to hedge against being totally blindsided by public opinion. It is set up to be replicable from local to national level.
1. Set up voter database.
2. Organize regular outreach canvasses and email surveys.
3. Create segments of voters based on tagged issues, for example, #potholes, #guncontrol.
4. Set up detailed surveys to gauge overall mood.
5. Create segments of voters based on survey responses.
6. Communicate tailored messages to segments via email blast.
7. Set up face-to-face engagement with ‘lost causes’ to mine information on alternative view.
8. Coherent analytics dashboard to manage this.
9. Be proactive, not reactive to topical issues. For example, if teachers announce a strike, be prepared to organize a canvass round or town hall meeting with those who have a declared interest in education.
All of these steps for really understanding voter behavior are easy to implement with Ecanvasser technology and should help you to see how your community really feels about the issues of the day.