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5 Secrets to Getting Winning Opposition Research!

Ever wonder why political campaigns hire reputable opposition research firms to do their political research? Ever wonder what exactly great research should look like?

For the first time ever, we are sharing our secrets! We are sharing 5 of our best held secrets to getting winning opposition research...

1. Let the Research Drive the Narrative...

Most campaigns want the narrative to drive the research. That is a recipe for disaster. Campaigns that have a pre-conceived idea on how to define an opponent will often ask the research team to go find research to justify a particular message. That often leads to unforced errors and can completely destroy a campaign's credibility when the research team tries to force the research to defend a message. We've seen our opponents try this tactic and its one of the reason why our campaigns are so successful.

2. Nothing is New in Politics...

For hundreds of years, campaigns have been using the same messaging and attacks to define opponents. It's pretty much all been said or done. He's too liberal, she's too conservative, blah blah blah. One of our secrets is not only researching our candidate and our opponent, but once we have found the vulnerability, we also research how those same narratives have been used effectively and ineffectively in past campaigns. Think of it as a focus group that has already decided. Like we say, nothing is new in politics. It's all been said before. So why not see how it worked or didn't work before...

3. Don't Be Cheap!

You show me a campaign that says, "we can't spend that much on research," and I'll show you a campaign that probably won't win. The average cost of winning a congressional house race was around $2 million with Senate races up around $20 million. Governor's races were even higher. Yet, many campaigns will balk at spending $20-$30k on great research? If you are running statewide, that is around 1% of your budget, yet 98% of your messaging comes from your research. Sure you can probably find an intern to do your research for less, but remember...You get what you pay for.

4. Research = Communications

Campaigns that view their opposition research team as part of the communications team already has the upper hand. It's like starting a 40 yard race 10 yards ahead. We've worked on close to 500 campaigns over the years and on campaigns where we just create a research book and hand it over to the campaign we probably have a 60-40 winning record. On campaigns where we create the research and then work as part of the senior communications team...we are LITERALLY undefeated. Never lost. Even on races that we probably shouldn't have won. Nobody knows the research better than the team that created it, so why ask the communications team to digest it all when you can just integrate your research team into the communications team? Also, make sure your research team has experience in communications. It's the winning formula.

5. Silver Bullets Don't Usually Exist...

I can't tell you how many times people say they don't need a full research book, just information on this one issue that we think is enough to win. WRONG. If you think you can win on one issue, even if it's really bad, you are in trouble. I've seen candidates win races where there was a silver bullet and I've seen candidates lose in races where there were no major vulnerabilities. Winning campaigns are prepared. They know what attacks are coming, when they are coming and how best to respond. They know the key messages to turn a negative into a positive. They know what issues resonate with the small number of swing voters, independents and late movers. They know when voters are most likely to be listening and they know how best to deliver that message. They know whether the candidate or a surrogate is best to deliver that message. They are never caught off guard. Winning comes when preparation meets opportunity. Relying on a silver bullet will simply get you beat.

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