“Experimenters are the shocktroops of science.”

Max Planck

Projects

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What Issues Move Hispanic Citizens?

Americas Majority Foundation commissioned Evolving Strategies to run a PocketTrial®  online survey experiment testing six conservative messages on business taxes (partisan), abortion (partisan and non-partisan), education (partisan and non-partisan), and gun control (non-partisan). A PocketTrial®  quantifies the true impact of a message using a customized, double-blind, and fully controlled experimental design. It’s like a small-scale clinical drug trial, but it’s a message we’re testing (see full report here).

Many pundits and politicians have argued that the best way to bring Hispanic voters to the conservative side on policy and vote preferences is to emphasize social issues. Still others argue that it is better to focus on economic issues.

But what message is really most effective at increasing support for conservative issues and candidates? Is there a serious risk of backlash on conservative social or economic issues? Which arguments work best overall and with swing voters? How do these messages affect the political landscape, as well as support for Democrats and Republicans?

To answer these questions, we ran a PocketTrial® online survey experiment exposing 1,760 Spanish-fluent citizens across the country to one of six messages on core conservative issues or a Control group (fielded March 15–25, 2013).

Winning the Debt Messaging War

Independent Women’s Voice commissioned Evolving Strategies to run a PocketTrial® online survey experiment testing eight conservative messages on the national deficit and debt (see full report here). A PocketTrial® quantifies the true impact of a message using a customized, double-blind, and fully controlled experimental design. It’s like a small-scale clinical drug trial, but it’s a message we’re testing.

Many politicians favor talking about the debt in terms of stealing from our children. Others talk in terms of specific budget or pro-growth proposals to address the problem; freezing the budget, cut-cap-and-balance legislation and amendments, entitlement reforms, and pro-growth tax reforms. And still others speak about the debt in terms of free-market values vs. an over-grown and stultifying federal government, or in terms of our National Security should our creditors leverage our debt against us.

But what message is really most effective at increasing support for spending cuts to reduce the deficit and national debt? Which argument works best, and with which swing voters? How do arguments on the debt impact the political landscape, support for Democrats and Republicans?

To answer these questions, we ran a PocketTrial® online survey experiment exposing more than 4,600 registered, pure independents and weak partisans – no strong Republicans or Democrats – to one of eight Conservative messages on the debt and deficit crisis and a comprehensive Progressive message or a Control group (fielded February 10th – 20th). All Conservative messages were tested alone as well as in combination with the Progressive message (the Progressive message was also tested alone).

Who’s Winning the Presidential Ad War?

To discover whether Obama’s or Romney’s ads are more effective in shifting the vote, we partnered with Qualtrics and executed a PocketTrial™ testing the individual and combined impacts of seven Romney and Obama campaign ads. (See full report here.)

Our PocketTrial™ exposed more than 2,300 registered, pure independents and weak partisans – no strong Republicans or Democrats – to one or more of seven political ads from the Obama and Romney camps (the Control group watched no ads). Respondents were randomly assigned to one of 11 conditions in a true experiment – 10 treatment groups and a control.  Statistical analyses were performed to identify significant “treatment” impacts.

We tested the individual and combined impact of matched Obama and Romney ads from three “themes,” 1) Medicare ads, 2) Economic Attack ads, and 3) Comprehensive, economic-focused “Plan” ads. In addition, we tested 4) the impact of the “Disappointed” ad from Americans for Prosperity, which has been highly rated in focus groups and received heavy air time.

Romney/Ryan Ad Impact on Swing Voters

How do swing voters respond to Ryan’s introduction to the Republican ticket? Does Ryan help or hurt Romney? These questions are impossible to answer with traditional surveys. To answer these questions, we executed a Romney/Ryan PocketTrial testing the impact of pro and anti-Romney ads on swing voters.

Our findings turn the “war on women” logic on it’s head; male swing voters look like the ones who could decide this election. Men seem highly susceptible to advertising, and women much more stable in their opinions and vote-choice. The campaigns would do well to concentrate on courting men, not women.

IWV – Paycheck Fairness Act Project Summary

The Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) commissioned Evolving Strategies to test the effectiveness of policy messages related to the Paycheck Fairness Act and the “War on Women” narrative.

When women hear both sides of the PFA argument, overall support for the PFA plummets and weakens dramatically. PFA support declines most when it is reframed in economic terms. Most surprisingly, we find that debate about the PFA actually hurts President Obama substantially with the Independents and weak partisan women who have traditionally supported him and helped put him in the White House.

2012 General Election Dynamics: Santorum vs. Romney

Evolving Strategies partnered with The Weekly Standard to explore the general-election impact of Rick Santorum’s and Mitt Romney’s most serious vulnerabilities; social issues for the former and the Bain “Vulture” Capital issue for the latter. Some analysts claim that Santorum’s positions on social issues such as abortion and contraception will be devastating to his support among women, making him unelectable. Others argue that Mitt Romney’s business credentials are a double-edged sword, leaving him open to attack for destroying jobs and companies while he got rich; the business experience will be attractive to some voters, but will devastate his support among blue-collar workers in crucial swing states. These are open questions, impossible to answer with standard surveys.

GOP Primary Dynamics: The Impact of Advertising on Candidate Support

Evolving Strategies is the first to provide objective, scientific evidence of Newt Gingrich’s vulnerability in the primary race. Some analysts claim Gingrich’s long career means that the public already knows the candidate, and they have priced his negative “baggage” into his stock. Still others argue voters don’t know Gingrich, what he stands for, or what he’s been doing since leaving office. Download the full report, topline results and see the treatments.

Who’s Most Electable in the GOP Field?

ES had the first real evidence of how Cain, Perry and Romney might perform head-to-head with President Obama in the general election. Instead of the old, static approach to polling, we introduced our respondents to one of the top three candidates to see how Cain, Perry, and Romney impact the vote choice of a general audience. The experiment was fielded between October 7-10, amidst rampant speculation about the electability of Herman Cain and the rest of the GOP field.

How Did the 2011 Fox/Google GOP Primary Debate Impact Voters?

ES conducted an online framing experiment to measure how exchanges between Romney and Perry in the Fox News/Google-sponsored GOP debate impacted support for each candidate. We used a Facebook ad campaign to survey self-identified Republicans who are registered and plan to vote in their upcoming primary or caucus.