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

Roll Call: “Washington is trapped in a bad spy novel”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call on the latest in impeachment.

People are confused by what’s become a three-year plot that gets harder and harder to follow. They’re not sure who’s a good guy or a bad guy, and they’re worried that the whole thing won’t end well.

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “While Trump tweets, Pelosi prays and Schiff parodies”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call on the recent news on impeachment, and with some words for Congressional Democrats:

What I am saying to Democrats, from personal experience, is be wary of choosing this path without bipartisan deliberation and recognize the responsibility to clearly lay out the rationale for impeachment.

Read the rest here.

Roll Call: “The contract with America’s legacy”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about the 25th anniversary and legacy of the Contract with America:

The political victory produced by the Contract With America in 1994 led to six years of significant policy successes for Gingrich and the Republican majority and showed that Republican principles can produce results that dramatically improve the country.

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “Democratic debate moderators haven’t done American voters any favors”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston on the latest Democratic Presidential Primary debate:

It’s not a surprise that the last debate didn’t move voters. Unlike the moderators, most Americans haven’t signed on to these progressive proposals that represent the largest redistribution of wealth in the nation’s history and would turn our current economic system upside down.

Read the rest here.

Roll Call: “Pelosi’s choice: cooperation or confrontation”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about the challenges facing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Congress reconvenes for the fall.

So as Congress reconvenes, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have to ask themselves some critical questions. Is it in the Democratic Party’s interest to cooperate with Republicans on a few key issues and in doing so, create a positive record to run on next year? Or is it strategically more advantageous to continue their policy of partisan confrontation and even impeachment, at the expense of actual legislative progress on issues that matter to voters?

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “Taxing the rich won’t pay for Democratic promises”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston on the slew of proposals being offered by Democratic Presidential Primary candidates and their hefty price tags:

Even a cursory look at the federal government’s current and future financial picture ought to caution these candidates against overpromising when voters beyond their base are growing increasingly frustrated with leaders who don’t deliver.

Read the rest here.

Roll Call: “When we stop talking to each other, democracy dies in silence”

by Caitlin Peartree

The WG’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about the intersection of social media, political discourse, and the necessity of respectful debate in a healthy democracy.

Political debate in the time of Washington and Jefferson and Adams could be harsh and personal in tone, but the anonymity of social media and its reach are rapidly changing the country’s political environment and not for the better. It’s turning democratic debate into a belligerent shouting match and that’s not good for politics or the country.

Read the rest here.

Roll Call: “Bill de Blasio is wrong about New York City’s schools”

by Caitlin Peartree

The WG’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about the ongoing controversy surrounding admission into New York City’s specialized high schools and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed change to the system:

But to argue whether de Blasio’s solutions are right or fair or will even work misses the truly critical point that this political debate exposes about New York City’s school system. This is an educational system that appears incapable of producing minority students who can gain admission to these specialized schools through the current merit-based testing process, and nobody seems to be asking why.

Read the rest here.

2018 Post Election Analysis: “Focus on OUR Concerns”

by David Winston

The 2018 midterm elections, for Republicans, is a story of missed opportunity. Holding the House was a tall order with history against the GOP as the party in power and the large number of Republican retirements But a path to preserving their House majority, even if a difficult one, did exist if the election became all about the economy. It didn’t.

This post-election analysis, based on exit poll data from the National Election Pool, done by Edison Research, and the Winston Group’s Winning the Issues post-election survey, done Election Night, assesses the 2018 campaign that began and ended with the fight for the election narrative.

There is no question that money was a significant disadvantage for Republicans in this election, but this report outlines the opportunities that existed which could have led to a much better result for them, especially in terms of what the electorate heard from both Republicans and Democrats. This report also shows that the election outcome was not the result of an ideological or party identification realignment, but instead a shift in vote preferences. This means that Republicans still have an opportunity to rebuild their majority coalition for 2020…

Read or download the full PDF report.

 

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.”

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