The Polling Timeline
Determining what kind of poll to do depends heavily on the polling timeline. If your campaign has the budget for it, ideally, you could conduct two surveys through the campaign.
The first poll would be the baseline survey. This poll would help take a snapshot of the race relatively early and set the stage to determine overall strategy. The baseline poll is comprehensive, usually around 18-20 minutes, and tests:
- Direction of the state / local area
- Overall concern on issues like the budget/economy, education, immigration, economy, etc.
- Favorability / name identification ratings for all candidates
- Job rating, if there is an incumbent
- Vote as it stands today
- Short bios for each candidate
- Re-vote/re-favorable rating
- Positive information on candidate
- Possible vulnerabilities/negative information on candidate
- Demographics (party, age, race, homeowner, geography, etc).
About 4-6 weeks before Election Day, it is good to do a “check in”, to make sure that the campaign strategy is working, messages are penetrating, and determine if any changes are necessary down the home stretch. This can be done with a short tracking poll that is about 8 minutes long. A tracking poll tests:
- Favorability / name identification for top tier candidates
- Awareness of ads (TV, mail, etc).
- Any short messages or timely topics the campaign needs quick read on