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Questionnaire Design – Step 2

| Polling | June 5, 2013

Alex Evans is President and founding partner of EMC Research. He has extensive experience in the design and execution of stratified proportional sampling plans, questionnaire development, all forms of opinion research, focus groups, voter polls, strategic design and development and public policy analysis. Alex has conducted over two thousand public opinion studies. He has polled in every state and throughout the western United States.


Good Research Step 2: Questionnaire Design

Good questionnaire design is necessary to gather useful information on local issues, the candidate, and on the opponent.  The best polls come about when the campaign team works together when developing the questionnaire design.  Every time a question is added the campaign must ask itself, “How we will use this information?” and “Can we use this information?”  A campaign CANNOT “make” a poll find anything it wants, but question wording and question order are extremely important.  Good questions are simple, direct, clear to all, avoid jargon, don’t presume information, are balanced, only ask about one thing, and don’t tax respondents’ memory or cognitive ability.  Alternatively, BAD questions are complex or presume information, are leading or unbalanced, are double-barreled or double negative, and are loaded through emotional or red flag words.

Most campaign polls follow the same basic structure; one that roughly simulates life cycle of a campaign. The outlined below gives you an idea of how a questionnaire should be structured:

1. Section One

a. Screening questions (likelihood to vote, party registration, etc.)

2.  Section Two

a. Political environment (right direction/wrong track, most important priorities/issues facing the area, etc.)

3.  Section Three

a. Current situation (name identification, job rating [especially important if running against an incumbent and need to know his/her vulnerability], favorability ratings for each potential candidate).

b. Horse race

4.  Section Four

a.  The campaign trajectory

              i.  Bios

             ii. Positive messages

             iii. Potential negative messages (candidate and opposition vulnerabilities)

5.  Section Five

a. Re-test (horse race, favorability ratings)

              i. Designed to look for movement and create voter segmentations

6.  Section Six

a.  Demographic questions (age, education, union household, other relevant demographics that are self-reported)

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