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)
- 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.