The Winston Group is a strategy and research firm dedicated to making ideas matter.

The Future of Ads

by David Winston

On Wednesday, Mary Meeker, a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, released her highly acclaimed annual report on Internet trends and technology. One of the findings of this year’s report was that people are trending toward mobile devices faster than ad dollars are keeping up. From the Washington Post coverage of the presentation, “Meeker sees mobile advertising growing another $22 billion in the United States because the time consumers spend on mobile devices — 25 percent — is more than double the share of ad dollars the platform receives. However, a major concern is the 420 million smartphone users who utilize ad-blocking technology.” If people are shifting toward mobile devices but with large numbers using ad blockers, ads of the future will not only have to be more adept at transitioning to mobile devices and away from traditional platforms, but the content will have to be more compelling.

To inform how ads might be more compelling, we looked at which sources are most influential in shaping political views, from research we conducted for the Ripon Society earlier this year.  Not unexpectedly, news media sources were not among the most influential sources on a person’s political views. By far, voters overall and across party cited their own experience as the largest influence on their political views (69%). Family (36%) and education (34%) fell into a second tier of most important influences, followed then by the media (29%).

Given the current media and campaign environment, these results indicate that ads of the future intended to shape views about a candidate or issue will have to be credible and informative enough for people to see the personal impact and how the content can become part of personal and family discussions. This may sound difficult, but it can be done, as exemplified by a recent exchange in a focus group in a competitive Congressional district. In that discussion, we heard a college-educated, independent female (a key voter group for this year’s midterms) describe her reaction to the provisions of the tax plan – not messaging – simply the basic provisions of the plan. After seeing the provisions of the plan and how it could impact her personally, her response was “I’m going to go home and have a drink with my husband and tell him about this stuff because I think it’s fascinating. This has been so interesting.

With the right kind of content that voters find personally relevant and informative, ads can provide content and information that can become part of personal discussions that voters are having, and those kinds of ads can have a much greater impact. The ideal reaction to an ad of any kind would be that a voter discusses it at home with family and concludes that “this has been so interesting.”

Discussion Points: Issues Driving the Electorate

by David Winston

In the most recent survey for Winning the Issues (July 5-6, 1000 registered voters), we updated the list of issues and news stories in how they are driving voting decisions for next year’s mid-term elections. The chart below shows how each item was ranked on Election Day, in March, and this week. Economy/jobs remains the most important issue on the list, which is consistent with what we observed on Election Day and back in March. The issue that continues to be a close second on the list is need to get things done in Washington and get the parties to work together.

Issue Rankings Chart

Foreign policy (#3 and #5 on the list) and tax issues (#4 and #6) continue to be significant factors in voting decisions. However, news stories being heavily covered by the media – including stories about White House ethics scandals (#18) and allegations of Trump ties to Russia (#20) – are lesser priorities in voting decisions at the moment. As shown in these results over time, the electorate is remarkably consistent in their priorities.


	

The Ripon Forum: “Great Expectations”

by Emily O'Connor

The WG’s David Winston and Myra Miller have a new piece in the latest volume of The Ripon Society’s magazine, The Ripon Forum, discussing the opportunity and challenge for Republicans in Congress:

“Republicans have to transition from the mindset of ‘reacting to President Obama’ into a new era of creating Republican initiatives that deliver results and provide a governing framework.  People want change and they want it soon.  They expect Congress and the President to get something done and get government working again for them.

In a focus group after the election, one voter in Pittsburgh told us that it now felt like the country was in ‘the bottom of the ninth and there are two outs.’  In other words, this might be America’s last chance to get it right. Republicans in Congress need to focus on voter priorities and they need to deliver results.”

Read the full article on The Ripon Society page.

Congressional Institute Study: What Working and Middle Income Voters Want From Their Government

by Emily O'Connor

Following the 2016 election, the Congressional Institute commissioned The Winston Group for a study of middle-class Americans and their dissatisfaction with government, including both qualitative research and a survey of voters.

From the overview: “The most recent research indicates that the electorate continues to show serious concern about the direction of the country, and defines the kinds of changes they want to see. In the context of the most recent presidential election, voter perceptions were that the election was a choice between change and the status quo, and the result of voters’ voices not being heard…

From voters’ perspectives, the middle class sees value in their contributions and the work that they do, but do not feel valued by the nation’s elites and institutions… While one out of two voters describes themselves as more engaged and interested in the political process after the last election cycle, they are not fully clear on how to effectively make their voices heard other than by voting. However, the actions taken by lawmakers as a reflection of the issue priorities for which they voted seems to be the most clear signal to voters as to whether or not their voices were heard.”

Head to the Congressional Institute site for the full report.

“Rock the Boat”: An analysis of the 2016 Presidential Election

by Emily O'Connor

What did voters tell Washington in 2016? They wanted to “rock the boat.” Read through our in-depth 2016 Post Election Analysis to find out how voters defined their choice, and what role deeper concerns over the direction of the country, the economy, and the political system played in that decision.

2016 Post-Election Analysis

The Hill: “Trump launches media offensive to rehab image”

by Emily O'Connor

The Hill takes a look at Donald Trump’s seeming change of tactics recently in addressing the media and some of his past comments, and the Winston Group’s David Winston comments:

“This reflects his campaign’s understanding of the obvious — that his high unfavorability rating is unsustainable in the general election,” said David Winston, who served as Newt Gingrich’s pollster for the former House Speaker’s 2012 presidential run.

“The first step you take in correcting that is reaching out to groups to address certain perceptions about him,” Winston said. “It will be a challenge, but it’s not clear that views about him have completely hardened yet, so there’s opportunity here.”

…And an April poll from Gallup found that 70 percent of women view Trump unfavorably, with only 23 percent saying they had a positive view of him.

“That’s a huge problem and a terrible place to be,” said Winston. “Women make up a majority of the electorate. At this point, the best asset Trump and Clinton have is how unpopular the other candidate is.”

For more, head here.

WashPo: “Trump’s improbable coup leaves Republican Party in an identity crisis”

by Emily O'Connor

In an article discussing what a Trump nomination means for the Republican party, the WG’s David Winston comments on the challenge of creating a majority coalition:

“The question is whether Trump can put together a majority coalition with unfavorable ratings in the mid-60s,” said veteran GOP pollster David Winston. “Granted, Clinton is in the mid-50s with her ratings, but he has to define a plan to get his unfavorable numbers down. If he can’t, it’ll be a big problem.”

For more, head here.

LA Times: “Trump rails against the GOP nomination process, but it’s hardly novel”

by Emily O'Connor

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has recently criticized the nomination process and rules. In the LA Times last week, the WG’s David Winston commented on this topic:

“As a candidate, the first thing you better understand is what the rules are, because the rules apply to everybody the same,” said David Winston, a Republican pollster and strategist who is unaligned in the nomination fight. Trump “didn’t apparently take the amount of time and effort needed to do that effectively.”

For more, head here.

WashPo Opinion: “This election is an unpopularity contest for the ages”

by Emily O'Connor

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus writes about the unprecedented unfavorable ratings of both parties’ presidential candidate frontrunners. The WG’s David Winston commented on how this will affect the state of the electorate:

If the nominees are Trump and Clinton, said Republican pollster David Winston, “You’re probably looking somewhere in the neighborhood of three out of 10 Americans having a negative view of both. You could have a very frustrated electorate by the time we get to Election Day.”

For more, head to The Washington Post.

ABC News: “Americans Split on Whether Clinton Cares About Their Needs”

by Emily O'Connor

In recent polls, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s ratings are down on measures such as whether Americans feel she “cares about people like you” or “understands the problems of people like you.”

Republican pollster David Winston said the intense early focus on such issues gives Republicans an opening to define the terms of the debate over the direction each party wants to take the country.

“If she doesn’t have a product on the shelf — her ideas — what’s the point?” Winston asked.

Read the rest of the story here.

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