Qualitative Analysis on the Gov Race

Rarely anymore do I conduct political research (just not enough profit margins), but in light of my negative sentiments towards campaigning in Georgia, I decided to do a limited qualitative research study on media in the gubernatorial race.

I conducted a small focus group with a targeted sample of men and women, over 55 years old, likely voters consisting of GOP and Democratic supporters.

The subject was an analysis of two primary media spots:  Sonny’s ad with Mary Perdue talking about being married to the Governor; and, Taylors second spot blasting Sonny on the real estate deal.

These were my observations:

Sonny’s spot ..

  • Laughs and snickers
  • Snickering at the “hokiness” of the script
  • Listened attentively
  • Seemed interested (at least somewhat)
  • Ad lacked substance
  • “Silly, but nice”

Taylor’s spot …

  • Got very negative feel
  • Did not like negativity
  • Didn’t hear meat of message
  • Seemed completely disinterested (even before spot finished)
  • Snickered/commented about negativity in ad
  • Turned off
  • “Tired of negative politics”
  • “Makes us want to stay away from politics completely”


  • Voters viewed Sonny’s ads as goofy, silly
  • Voters tired of negativity – turns them off more than turns them out
  • Disinterested in what the attacks are talking about (they could care less about real estate deals – they don’t even understand them – all voters see is negative attack)
  • Cheesy positive prevails over any negative
  • Taylor limiting turnout aong conservatives that might not support Sonny and would maybe vote against Sonny if there was a positive alternative
  • Ultimately, many voters just turned off


  • Sonny wins by more than 5 pts
  • Turn out will be very low (as expected)

Other conclusions:

  • Voters completely disinterested in highly negative Georgia Supreme Court race (very turned off)
  • Positive towards Cagle’s ad, but not very interested or familiar
  • Totally unfamiliar with Oxendine
  • Unfamiliar/disinterested in Baker
  • Unfamiliar/disinterested in Jim Martin
  • Most effective hard hitting negative ad:  attacks on Wiggens mentioning his past family situation
  • Subjects in this sample were not impressed with anything coming from a young [former] politico in a pin-stripped suit, custom-made shoes, drinking a big Starbucks, looking at his Blackberry constantly  🙂

Keep in mind, this was a limited study, and much of it is fairly obvious stuff that many of us already knew, so there’s not a great deal of “groundbreaking” news here, but it is insightful.  I do think, however, that this supports the strategy of Sonny to remain positive no matter how bad the ads are presented, rather than looking like a big, ugly guy who has no real substance to present.


  1. jsm says:

    I’ve heard the same type of response to ads this election season, but my experience with the Senate 49 race seems to point to the success of negative ads. I think truthful ads showing negative aspects of an opponent are effective. People say they don’t like them, but election results seem to tell a different story.

  2. GAWire says:

    jsm, good point … even though people don’t like the negativity, it sticks in their mind when at the polls often times. I don’t think that will be as much of the case in GA this year though. Also, negative attacks typically contribute to lower turnout, which is ultimately bad for Taylor b/c the numbers tell us that he MUST have crossover votes from conservatives in order to beat Sonny, and that just won’t happen.

    Jeff, also good questions. I left out some of the other details – what I have put in the post is the only portion released to public. Basically, I tacked on questions in a related study, so as to your question, these weren’t the only ads shown in the study; however, they were the only ads shown in that portion of the study.

  3. GAWire says:

    Oh, and no part of the study was paid for by any campaign – not that it really matters, but I just wanted to disclose that.

  4. GAWire says:

    John Konop,

    No b/c turnout for both opponents will be lower than expected. Third Party won’t be a factor … well, at least it will be insignificant.

    Btw, the whole 5 pt prediction is my personal prediction – I should have clarified that was independent from the research analysis. Personally, that is conservative, especially considering how low turnout will be. Anyways, that’s just from me … not research.

    Again, this was a limited study that just approaches the surface level. Also, the target was to get feedback on media in the campaigns from a specific demographic sample group. It isn’t meant to call who is going to win or lose. I should have left out my predictions, or at least clarified that the predictions were totally my thing and separate from the analysis. Sorry.

  5. GAWire says:

    One other thing … it’s completely illogical to think that Sonny has to get in the double digits to win. I know, you referred to “avoiding a run-off” but still, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I think creating the whole double digit or run-off thing is making something out of nothing.

  6. GAWire says:

    fulldog, I definitely do not disagree with what you are saying, but I’m not sure I can say that the results can be interpreted that way. I think that if I were to ask the subjects that, they would probably agree, but I am just analyzing what they volunteered, which is a key component of this kind of research. Again, I don’t think you’re off target though.

  7. John Konop says:


    I am only going by the polls posted on the PP. In looking at the polls show me how Sonny gets 50 % without double digits.

    If Hayes gets 10% I do not get the math.

    Sonny has to beat Taylor by more than what Hayes gets in votes.

    Am I missing something?

  8. hankreardan says:

    I have a question how many people consider the Libertarian the second best option. Republicans If there was not a Republican would you vote Libertarian over a Democrat and Democrats same question would you vote Libertarian over a Republican.

  9. John Konop says:


    I think the libertarian vote in general is frustrated fiscally conservative Republicans.

    I have no data just talking to freinds.

    Jason Pye should know.

  10. GAWire says:


    All of the above, in addition to lower than what many people are predicting it to be (which there are wide ranges of turnout predictions out there). Bottom line: whatever you think turnout will be, reduce it by a few percentage points.

  11. GAWire says:

    John, there are a lot of issues with that analysis. First, most of the tracking numbers we have are from two firms that typically aren’t very accurate. Second, Hayes will not get 10%. Third, Taylor’s final turnout numbers will be much lower than what the past polls have shown (my personal opinion). Finally, the 5 pt thing is conservative. The point of that is to say that it won’t be that class and shouldn’t be a run-off. Sonny won’t need double digits, although, he could very likely get that.

    Again, the research above is not meant to produce any quantitative analysis (i.e. polling numbers, etc). The only thing the research does is give some qualitative feedback on media spots. The other stuff are just my opinions.

  12. Jeff says:

    Hayes will not do well because when a person is surveyed, they must self report. If you ask Americans how they get political info, or how they will vote…many times they will flatter themselves. The idea is that they want to make themselves seem more intelligent and tuned into what is going on than they actually are. Hayes probably will only get around 2.5 or 3%, the rest of his polled support will go to Perdue. Ask any political researcher, the self reporting phenomena is inescapable, and it is impossible to isolate a politcal/media/social environment to study how people actually think, digest information, and will eventually vote. GAWire, when, or will, is the rest of the study going to be released? Will you let us know?

  13. John Konop says:


    Many experts said I would only get 5% of the vote in the Republican primary against Price.( For one theGeorgia Gang).I got close too 20% of the vote and 30% in Cherokee County. And I was out spent 20 too1, with no party help and no name recognition. Also after the election an expert told me if I ran as an Independent I would have come close too double the vote count. Democrats are not happy with their Party just mad at Republicans and Washington.

    In fact the Sinton campaign called me and told me according too their numbers if I ran it was a tight three way race. I told them I was an unhappy Republican and the signature campaign in Georgia is very difficult. BTW Sinton was nice to buy an ad on my web site unlike Tom Price.

    BTW, with recent decline of the both parties due too scandal my numbers would only have gotten better. The only reason I saying this is I think you are under estimating people who are mad at both Parties and you know the votes break toward Hayes. This is what we saw durring the Perot run.Yet I do think the anger is pointed more at Washington then the State.

    But hey you and GW seem too understand this better than me

  14. defnotrep says:

    John Konop,

    I agree with you. I think many Democrats and Republicans are not happy with their parties.

    It’s says it all to me, everything that is wrong with the Republican party, that your district would pick Price over you.

    Don’t get me wrong…I think there are many things wrong with the Democratic Party too.

    You should run again. Politicians like Price are going to get defeated in the long run.

  15. Jeff says:

    HAHAHAHa. Independents winning an election. People have parties crammed into their political mind frames since birth. Us and Them. It is all that Americans understand. I get mad my party all the time, but I still believe in the party platform. You think I underestimate third parties, I do not…I strongly support such a party system…I support proportional representation. But most Americans do not understand or even know about PR. Us and Them, two sides, good or evil, winners or losers, Republicans or Democrats. All of the election laws are tailored to the two party system, and unless the people in power in Washington and the State capitols around the nation decide that they do not want to have safe districts any more, nothing will change.

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