Category Archives: News

Inoculation is worth a pound of cure

 

The old adage starts out “an ounce of prevention…”  The wisdom is thainoculation theory t a pound of cure, after exposure to a harmful element, is far more expensive and painful than the cost of dealing with the issue before it becomes harmful.

When Ben Franklin first imparted his advice, he did not limit it to medicine.  Far from it.  His statement is an analogy that is relevant in nearly every facet of life – including politics.

When deciding to run for office, candidates must be honest with themselves.  They must take stock of their shortcomings and their “youthful indiscretions.”  Candidates must take full account of their controversial decisions and votes.  They must inventory their own “derogatories” because any opponent with a scintilla of common sense will have their own catalog of your shortcomings with which they might attack.

Once a candidate knows his own points of weakness, he can evaluate which ones might be the most damaging in a campaign.  Of those damaging issues, a candidate can narrow down the ones that the opponent most likely knows.  Of those, which ones are best documented?  Of the issues left, which ones does the opponent have the moral high ground, meaning she does not have the same shortcomings?  Finally, a candidate must evaluate how much money the opponent likely has and how much of that budget they might be willing to spend on an attack.

A campaign should be able to identify the one or two issues most likely to be used in an attack.  Once this is known, creating a plan to mitigate or even prevent an attack is imperative.

In politics, this process is referred to as “inoculation”.  Inoculation can come in many forms, but the idea is that a campaign take control of an issue, and tell its own story, before the opponent decides to go on the attack.

Direct mail is an excellent venue to deliver an inoculation.  A campaign should be able to target the audience deemed most important in order to win a campaign.  A campaign can pinpoint, with amazing accuracy, the precise households that will be most receptive and impacted by an inoculation message.

As with television and the Internet, direct mail is a visual medium.  A campaign must be able to tell a story with powerful images, while using as few words as possible, to achieve its goals in direct mail.  If a candidate wishes to inoculate against a youthful indiscretion, for instance, using a photo of a youthful candidate while describing the “offense” is an effective way to contrast with a more mature candidate now.  Another critical element in an inoculation effort is to explain how the recovery from the youthful indiscretion makes the candidate a stronger, better choice than if the incident never occurred.

Another reason direct mail is an excellent medium to use is the fact that it is more difficult for an opponent to track.  When a campaign purchases television or radio, a public record exists that is available to the opposition.  The opponent will know the exact audience that the campaign is trying to reach, and that allows the opposition to mount a counterstrike.  With direct mail, the mailing list that a campaign uses is proprietary.  Unless the opponent is engaging in some level of unlawful espionage, the mail list is known only to the campaign manager and the mail house – both of whom have professional obligations of confidentiality and nondisclosure.

In some cases a campaign may want to increase the effectiveness of its inoculation message.  A corresponding digital campaign can be targeted to IP addresses associated with the mail list used for the inoculation direct mail piece.  This tactic ensures that the same households targeted for direct mail will also be targeted for the digital ad.  The digital ad can link to the candidate’s web site, social media, or another location that is designed to tell the same story in the direct mail.

The nature of inoculation means that a campaign is choosing to be proactive before the opposition wages an attack.  There is never a guarantee that an opponent will go on the attack.  However, a compelling case can be made to create an inoculation when the issue in question is one that will move voters.  The motivation towards inoculation becomes stronger if the issue is one that is available in public records.  Another factor to assist in the decision to create an inoculation message is the resources of the opposition.  By studying publicly available finance reports, a campaign can evaluate if the opponent has enough resources to issue a negative message.

Whether or not to issue an inoculation is a decision that a candidate should not make on his or her own.  Objective, experienced, and skilled consultants can help guide a campaign in tough situations such as these.  The professionals at Gravis Marketing are experienced and trained to handle the most difficult campaigns.  No matter what situation you are facing, Gravis has been there.  Gravis can help you tell your story, and Gravis can help you identify the exact audience for each story.

 

Why Spin It When You Can Own It?

Gravis Marketing

            Conventional political wisdom when a candidate is faced with a scandal, controversy, or caught in a generally difficult situation is to either spin the situation or to pivot and redirect.  Neither of these responses directly addresses the issue, and both allow for the possibility for the issue to rear its head in the future.

            On the other hand, it may be advantageous for a candidate to openly address an issue, own the issue, and control the issue.

            In the history of American politics, every candidate for office has been, presumably, a human being.  Not a single human being breathes on earth who has not made mistakes.  Mistakes, how we handle them, atone for them, and learn from them shape who we are.

            We do not place our mistakes on our resumes, and candidates do not typically run for office by putting their worst foot forward.  So how do we effectively deal with our mistakes, or our candidates’ mistakes, when we are reasonably certain that they will become issues on the campaign trail?

            Just as no candidate in the history of politics is without sin, no voter is devoid of making mistakes.  The difference is that the voter is not wearing the same target that the candidate is.

            Before explaining why owning an issue may be the correct path for a candidate, we should explore why spin and pivot techniques may be the incorrect path.

            “Spin” is generally considered a biased method of retelling history or explaining an event or decision.  The problem with spin is that it requires the candidate or campaign team that is responding to tacitly concede that the situation to which they are responding is a negative situation.  Another problem with spin is that most voters may not be able to define what “spin” means, but they know it when they see or hear it.  Spin usually works only with the devoted following of the candidate delivering the biased message.  Spin only addresses a small audience and generally serves to restore confidence in a candidate’s base rather than speak to undecided voters.

            In essence, spin is a form of triage in the political battlefield that is designed to stop the hemorrhaging of a candidate’s support.  Spin should never be used as a long term solution.  In fact the use of spin may not be advisable in any situation because it is often viewed as dishonest.

            For example, a candidate for the United States Senate may have had a very successful fundraiser.  Many dignitaries attended, the open bar was flowing, and everyone had a good time.  The candidate has a lapse of judgment and decides to drive home.  On the way home, the candidate is pulled over for suspected intoxication.  The resulting video is embarrassing as the candidate used the feeble “do you know who I am” line that was clearly recorded on the officer’s camera.  The candidate also refuses any tests to indicate inebriation.

            The following day, that campaign team chooses to spin the story and claims that the Senate candidate was not inebriated but merely tired from a very long day of campaigning.  The campaign attempts to explain the use of the thinly veiled “do you know who I am” threat as the candidate’s effort to merely help the police officer understand what kind of day she had.  The candidate’s devoted followers quickly accept the story, but voters who were previously leaning towards voting for that candidate are now in the “undecided” category.  Stalwarts of the opposition, however, are able to take pot shots at the cover story and use the situation to increase mistrust.

            The “pivot and redirect” method is also a less than optimum choice because the essence of redirecting requires that the candidate does not answer to the negative issue or situation.  Instead, the idea is to distract voters with another issue.  This method may be successful if the issue upon which the candidate can pivot is egregious enough to divert voters.  However, an unanswered situation may revisit the candidate’s campaign at an inopportune time.

            In the situation described above, the same Senate candidate’s campaign chooses the pivot method instead of spin.  In responding to the situation, the campaign creates an elaborate story in which they blame the opposition for falsely tipping the police to their candidate’s whereabouts on the way home from the fundraiser.  In a double-down effort, the campaign points out that there is no evidence of driving while intoxicated since the candidate refused a breathalyzer and invoked the Constitutional right to an attorney.

            In doing this, the candidate provides an opportunity for the opponent to take control of the media.  The question still remains whether or not the candidate did something wrong.  The issue is not closed and can return.  Also, the only audience that will buy into the pivot response are the devotees of that candidate.  Voters who were not solidly in that candidate’s corner are now shaky.

            By owning the issue, however, a campaign takes full control of the media.  The campaign does not hint at the opposition.  The embattled campaign addresses all voters and not just the dedicated followers.

            In the same situation, the Senate campaign holds a press conference the following day to address the traffic stop.  The candidate begins by telling the story of a young person in their state who was recently killed by a distracted driver.  The candidate talks about statistics involving intoxicated drivers, distracted driving, and driving while fatigued or sleepy.  The press conference discusses safe driving and the need for all drivers to be responsible and how to be responsible and respectful when dealing with law enforcement.  The candidate apologizes for the embarrassing use of the “do you know who I am” phrase and to the officer specifically.  Finally, the candidate announces an initiative to address distracted driving while in Washington.

            By taking full ownership of the event, exhibiting contrition, and proposing a solution to a larger problem (remember that the candidate talked about statistics of distracted driving during the press conference), the candidate controlled the issue and possibly turned it into a positive situation.  Not only are the devoted followers still on board, but all voters are listening to the message of the senate candidate.

            The decisions on how to handle difficult scenarios are serious and can impact not only the outcome of the current campaign but the long term political viability of a candidate.  No candidate should address these dire situations without objective, skilled assistance.  The professionals at Gravis Marketing are experienced and trained to handle the most difficult situations.  No matter what situation you are facing, Gravis has been there.  No candidate should go it alone.  Let Gravis stand with you.

 

Iowa Caucus Too Close to Call on Both Parties

Winter Springs, Fla. – With less than 48 hours remaining before the 2016 Presidential Primary season officially kicks off with the Iowa Caucus on Monday February 1st, 2016, recent polling completed by Gravis Marketing on behalf of One America News Network suggests both Democrat and Republican Caucus are simply too close to call. The non-partisan political public relations, polling and marketing firm based in Winter Springs, Fla. conducted a random survey of 1,827 registered, likely primary voters in Iowa from January 26th and 27th and has a margin of error of ± 2% (4% for Republicans and 3% Democrats) with a confidence level of 95 percent.

The OANN Poll; which was completed using IVR Technology automated call system received feedback from 724 Republicans, 810 Democrats, and the remainder of the total 1,827 people polled indicating they were independents or another party. When asked ‘How likely are you to vote in the Iowa Caucuses on February 1st, 2016′, 68 percent stated they were ‘very likely’, 20 percent indicated they were ‘likely’ and 13 percent stated they were ‘somewhat likely’.

The potential voters in Iowa were also asked about in the IVR survey their confidence level of existing political office holders, President Barack Obama and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst. When asked about approving or disapproving of President Obama’s performance, 50 percent indicated they currently disapprove, 43 percent stated they currently approve while seven percent were unsure when asked. In regards to Senator Ernst, 42 percent currently disapprove, 35 percent approve and 23 percent remain unsure of the Freshman Senator’s job performance.

The scope of the Gravis Marketing web based dialer poll then shifted to asking the potential voters about which candidates for each party they intent to vote for on Monday’s Caucus. When asked, ‘Assuming you had to vote today, which 2016 GOP Candidate would you vote for’, 31 percent of likely Republican voters suggested they would vote for Donald Trump, while Texas Senator Ted Cruz received 27 percent support. Florida Senator Marco Rubio placed third – with 13 percent, Dr. Ben Carson received seven percent support while former Florida Governor Jeb Bush rounded off the top five with six percent of the potential vote.

On the Democrat Party side of things, when asked ‘Assuming you had to vote today, which 2016 Democrat Candidate would you vote for’, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton captured 53 percent, Senator Bernie Sanders received 42 percent while Martin O’Malley netted a mere five percent support of potential Democrat Party voters.

Gravis Marketing President Doug Kaplan offered analysis of the final OANN / Gravis Marketing poll prior to the Iowa Caucus on Monday. “The polling indicates that a victory for Mrs. Clinton is highly likely, even with Sanders closing the margin considerably in the past few weeks,” stated Kaplan. “Based on previous polling we completed after each Democrat debate, the results show that she clearly has won all debates between the three candidates. Regardless of her opponent, it appeared that there was going to be drama followed by the media and stimulated by Republicans wanting a political race – as opposed to a coronation.”

“One path to victory for Sanders was to follow a 2008 standard set forth by Barack Obama, trying to convince young, male, African-American progressive leaning voters with Caucasian voters with Master’s Degree education or higher to vote for him. Although he appears to have captured a small minority of these voter support based on demographic research from our polling, it looks to be falling short of expectations. Even if he were to pull an upset in Iowa and continue into New Hampshire, it’s highly unlikely that momentum would continue to South Carolina. Another item to consider will be voter turnout; as in 2008, Obama received a tremendous amount of support from traditionally uncommon voters. The key to victory or keeping it close for Sanders will be voter turnout. If Bernie Sanders can rally the troops and bring in larger than expected numbers – he can pull out the upset – or keep it close.”

“On the Republican side – the results on Monday will be interesting to analyze. Last month we suggested that it was very possible that Ted Cruz peaked too early in Iowa; and based on this week’s polling, that statement seems to be holding water,” Kaplan continued when analyzing Gravis Marketing polling for Republican Caucus members. “When Donald Trump skipped the last Fox News debate, the focus shifted on Cruz. In person, Mr. Cruz is very engaging – while on television; his effectiveness seems to falter. Two reasons for his dropping poll numbers could be comments from all candidates and many political insiders about his ability to work with others in the Senate; suggesting that if he can’t get along with colleagues – how can he oversee all aspects of the Federal Government?”

“The support of former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin also may have helped push Trump to a potential Iowa victory,” concluded Kaplan. “Gaining Gov. Palin’s support was a game changer for Trump – who has pretty much lead wire-to-wire in pre-primary polling. She is the face of the Tea Party movement and is extremely popular with traditional conservative voters. Capturing the support of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Jerry Falwell Jr. is also vital for Trump – who is not a strongly religious man. Cruz has established a strong ground campaign – and his ground effort could show dividends in the end. Don’t count out Marco Rubio’s recent strength in the last debate to help his campaign gain additional support in Iowa.”

Poll news

The highly respected publication People’s Pundit Daily has come out

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People’s Pundit Daily, the most accurate 2014 election projection model on the Internet, released the first round of grades for the PPD Pollster Scorecard. Before we get into the ratings for the first few pollsters, we need to lay some groundwork for the article.

First and foremost, despite what may appear to be complicated, well-honed methodologies that can only be understood by those gifted in statistics or psephology, polling is more an art than a science. With the exception of a few, we consistently find that veteran pollsters with a niche–i.e. polling firms with long track records in a particular state or set of states–perform measurably better due to that experience. That said, we feel it is incumbent to express our deep dissatisfaction with the polling industry, as a whole.

While we shouldn’t be inclined to pounce on pollsters that get it wrong from time-to-time, we should also demand an explanation when one is necessary. To be sure, much of the polling during the 2014 midterm election cycle was abysmal, and downright indefensible. We find the utter lack of explanation and transparency post Election Day highly suspect, and are in agreement that the American voters deserved better than the widespread failure to offer meaningful insight into the state of the races. In fact, this is one of two reasons we have decided to drip-by-drip release the PPD Pollster Scorecard.

We like to think of the PPD Election Projection Model as a hybrid, but it is arguably more a big picture fundamentals model than anything else. Still, it is undeniable that pollsters–along with a horserace-loving media–have the power to influence. And though it may come as a surprise to some readers, it is often used for such unethical motivations. It’s time to hold them accountable considering they seem to think they do not owe the American people an explanation, and we find other prior attempts to do so insufficient. The second reason for releasing the grades on the PPD Pollster Scorecard, of course, should be obvious–transparency.

About the PPD Pollster Scorecard

Pollsters are generally assigned two grades on the PPD Pollster Scorecard, one an overall grade and another grade based strictly on raw performance. In the past, grading the polling firm on transparency was pretty much done by researching whether they are a member of the National Council of Public Polls (NCPP), a signatory to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative, or a contributor to the data archive via the Roper Center. That is par for the course, as you might have seen with other pollster raters.

However, considering the less-than stellar performance by many of these pollsters in 2014, we now consider whether they answer our inquiries directly, provide us with detailed data upon request, consistently post more bias results one way or the other depending on their sponsors, etc.

Overall Grade

The overall grade considers a pollster’s responsiveness, transparency, methodologies, as well as their ability to get in front of trends (or movement) that other pollsters either miss or end up being slower to the roll. The overall rating also factors in whether we believe a pollster is up to something unethical. That is to say, without beating around the bush, we think they’re political hacks and completely full of it.

There are obvious varying degrees of this behavior. Generally speaking, it can range from suspected torepeated concern to blatant ethical misconduct. The less severe end of the spectrum typically means the polling results are penalized for being suspect, while the other end means they are no longer worthy of consideration, at all.

If we suspect ethical misconduct, it will have a significant negative impact on that particular pollster’s overall grade on the PPD Pollster Scorecard. If we come to such a determination, which is somewhat rare, we will dub that pollster a “political hack,” write about it for everyone to read and discount their polling, altogether.

How might we consider weighing something so serious and potentially damning?

Example 1

If the PPD average on our ObamaCare Approval Rating Index is -10, and a pollster coincidentally releases a poll a few days before the Supreme Court hears or decides a landmark case on the president’s signature health care law showing Approve +whatever, they might be up to something unethical.

Example 2

If a candidate says something utterly stupid about women’s bodies naturally aborting pregnancies as a result of rape and virtually every poll confirms a severely damning impact on that candidate’s support, yet a pollster consistently shows him or her still ahead because they may want them to get a particular party’s nomination, they might be up to something unethical.

Predictive Value Grade

The second grade, as previously stated, is strictly assigned based on predictive value. That is, did that pollster accurately predict the winner/outcome of the election and did the results come within the margin of error, typically 3 to 3.5 percentage points or less? Worth noting, we do weigh pollsters when determining the status of races analyzed on the PPD Election Projection Model. Also, we will be releasing more on the specific data and research associated with each polling firm, as well as other firms, shortly. Now, without further ado, here are the ratings with an expanded explanation on each.

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Let’s start with Seltzer & Company, quite frankly the only pollster currently enjoying two A+ grades on the PPD Pollster Scorecard. J. Ann Seltzer runs the firm that is the industry gold standard, plain and simple. For those who do not know, the firm is based out of West Des Moines, Iowa and pretty much sticks to what and who they know best–Iowa and Iowans. In 2008, Seltzer was the first to catch the surge from then-Sen. Barack Obama during the Democratic nomination and ended up nearly nailing his 7.8% margin over Hillary Clinton to the tee.

“If I was a gambling man and Ms. Seltzer’s poll was 20 points off the average spread, I would bet it all on them,” says PPD’s senior political analyst Rich Baris. “Her firm isn’t afraid to release bold polling results that challenge so-called conventional wisdom. They’re transparent, they’re polling practices are solid, proven, and they get results that match reality. ”

Fast-forward to 2014, and they again showed the rest of the industry they aren’t afraid to publish results that may not comport with the average. The final Des Moines Register Poll showed now-Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, defeating Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, by 7 points. She beat him by 8.5%, putting Seltzer & Company easily within the margin of error and far more accurate than the average 1.8-point nail-biter spread. Including the 2014 Iowa Senate race, Seltzer & Company has an almost immeasurable and certainly statistically insignificant Democratic slant.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, sometimes referred to as the Q-Poll, is similarly worthy of praise for consistently producing reliable polls with significant predictive value. Based out of Connecticut, the pollster conducts minimal national polling, presidential swing-state polling and a handful of other states in which they have a long and proven track record.

“Douglas Schwartz and Tim Malloy run a top shelf polling operation,” Baris says. “When political pundits were shading now-red states with Democrat incumbents blue, the Q-Poll was firing warning shots nobody heard. Their proven results in 2014 only added to their already solid record of predictive results and transparency. Quinnipiac is everything a pundit wants in a pollster.”

Quinnipiac, with an overall A grade on the PPD Pollster Scorecard, can be counted on to ask probing, in-depth questions to respondents that allow us to gain a greater understanding of the electorate’s mood. In bothColorado and Iowa, for instance, early Q-Poll results–which actually showed Democratic incumbents leading–also tipped off the PPD Election Projection Model to vulnerabilities that other forecasters either ignored or completely missed. Q’s slight relative slant to the GOP is under 1 point and also statistically insignificant.

Relative newcomer Gravis Marketing, the only robocalling firm on today’s PPD Pollster Scorecard with an overall A- grade, came on the national polling scene in 2012. The Florida-based pollster quickly proved their home state advantage when they bucked the polling trend and published final polling results surprisingly favorable to President Obama. Gravis outperformed 3 of 4 of the final surveys in the Sunshine State, which showed Romney with a 1- to 6-point lead.

“Gravis and other pollsters who robocall respondents have faced considerable skepticism from pundits and other pollsters,” Baris says. “But they have undoubtedly proven their critics wrong, including me. Doug Kaplan and Co. are transparent, responsive and able to boast more accurate polling results in pivotal races than more-often cited, so-called reliable firms.”

Baris says he has been keeping a particularly close eye on Gravis Polls, which correctly called the North Carolina Senate race between incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and now-Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in their final survey of the 2014 contest. While the Fox Poll, CNN/Opinion Research Poll, and YouGov all gave Hagan the edge in their final surveys, Gravis understated Tillis’ support by just 0.7%.

“Kaplan’s firm caught what turned out to be real, last-minute shift toward Tillis when no other pollster even came close,” Baris added. “In Arkansas, other competing election models were still favoring incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor over now-Sen. Tom Cotton when PPD pushed back and argued that was wholly unrealistic. Gravis was not only inline with that correct assessment but was also the first to show Cotton breaking the ever-important 50% threshold. More recently, it was slow-going over the summer as far as catching on to Donald Trump’s surge in the crowded Republican field. Not for Gravis.”

With a slight relative slant toward Republican candidates coming in shy of 1.5 points, Gravis enjoys a B predictive value grade on the PPD Pollster Scorecard. Unfortunately, this is where the praise ends and the criticism begins. In the next article, we will explain why Pew Research and Public Policy Polling have a less admirable record.

Gravis Marketing Receives Top Marks in People’s Pundit Daily Scorecard

Winter Springs, Fla. – People’s Pundit Daily, the most accurate 2014 election projection model on the Internet, recently released the first round of grades for the PPD Pollster Scorecard; with Gravis Marketing capturing top marks in their professional analysis. Headquartered in Winter Springs, Fla., Gravis Marketing was the only robo-calling firm on the PPD Pollster Scorecard and captured an overall A- grade based on a complex system of ratings that considers a pollster’s responsiveness, transparency, methodologies, as well as their ability to get in front of trends (or movement) that other pollsters either miss or end up being slower to the roll.

Gravis Marketing, a relative newcomer in political polling; came on the national polling scene in 2012. The Florida-based pollster quickly proved their home state advantage when they bucked the polling trend and published final polling results surprisingly favorable to President Obama. Gravis outperformed 3 of 4 of the final surveys in the Sunshine State, which showed Romney with a 1- to 6-point lead.

“Gravis and other pollsters who robocall respondents have faced considerable skepticism from pundits and other pollsters,” PPD’s senior political analyst Rich Baris stated. “But they have undoubtedly proven their critics wrong, including me. Doug Kaplan and Co. are transparent, responsive and able to boast more accurate polling results in pivotal races than more-often cited, so-called reliable firms.”

Baris says he has been keeping a particularly close eye on Gravis Polls, which correctly called the North Carolina Senate race between incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and now-Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in their final survey of the 2014 contest. While the Fox Poll, CNN/Opinion Research Poll, and YouGov all gave Hagan the edge in their final surveys, Gravis understated Tillis’ support by just 0.7%.

“Kaplan’s firm caught what turned out to be real, last-minute shift toward Tillis when no other pollster even came close,” Baris added. “In Arkansas, other competing election models were still favoring incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor over now-Sen. Tom Cotton when PPD pushed back and argued that was wholly unrealistic. Gravis was not only in line with that correct assessment but was also the first to show Cotton breaking the ever-important 50% threshold. More recently, it was slow-going over the summer as far as catching on to Donald Trump’s surge in the crowded Republican field. Not for Gravis.”

Gravis Marketing is an award-winning public relations firm with a clientele including political campaigns, public affairs organizations, consultants, and nonprofit organizations across the globe. Founded in 2010 by Doug Kaplan, Gravis Marketing has quickly become an industry leader in innovative turnkey campaign advertising and marketing solutions specializing in innovative call center technologies in a very short period of time.

“We’re extremely happy to be regarded as one of the top political polling firms in the United States,” stated Doug Kaplan; the President of Gravis Marketing. “One of the best comments from Mr. Baris was that he was impressed with our firm’s dedicated to transparency. That’s been a hallmark of our business model since our inception. Our goal is to integrate this same professionalism into every aspect of our business; ensuring our clients receive nothing short of professionalism and perfection with every service we provide. We’re looking forward to a very competitive 2016 general election and look forward to providing our clients and the American voters with factual data so they can make informed decisions.”