Tale of the Same Tape

A Florida special election proved fertile ground for political spin masters to see what they wanted to see and say what they hoped people would buy.The Florida special congressional election this week is being touted as the roadmap for Republicans to win a majority in the 2014 general election. Democrats downplay the significance of the GOP victory, pointing to lagging voter turnout. 

It is another example of people with an agenda looking at data and drawing opposite conclusions. This kind of self-vindicating interpretation of outcomes is what gives research a bad name.

Solid research isn't equivocal. Findings may not be conclusive, but they should be clear and objective, especially if the questions are unbiased and the sample is representative.

Polling is hardly necessary to recognize aspects of Obamacare are unpopular, especially among Republicans. Whether or not this antipathy has enough legs to propel the GOP to control of Congress is a far different matter.

For their part, Democrats are huddling behind the issue of income inequality as the "winning issue" in the mid-term elections. And they are warning the Democratic base turnout will decide key races. Duh. Turnout always has an impact on contested political races.

Public opinion polling, and specifically surveys for political candidates, often has a point of view to prove or at least test. Most research has a more objective viewpoint to gain an accurate picture of what a target group thinks about an issue, product or idea. While a politician's career may hang in the balance of a political poll, the stakes are often much higher for businesses and organizations that rely on credible research for a branding strategy, product features or pricing.

The takeaway — don't let spinning of election results and post-election polling color your view of market or public opinion research. When done right, survey data can be a trusted guide for a communications campaign to make a sale or win an election.

The tale of two tapes has only one author — spin-masters. You usually don't find them in the Yellow Pages under professional researchers.