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

Roll Call: “With silencing of speech, is America entering Orwellian territory?”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about cancel culture, free speech, and public concern about the consequences of not complying with certain narratives.

A majority of the electorate (52 percent) identified with the statement that “true free speech and freedom of belief do not exist in this country today because of political correctness and potential consequences such as losing a job for not conforming to beliefs and narratives being promoted by the media, academia and elites.” Only 34 percent agreed that “free speech and freedom of belief exist in this country” and felt free to speak their minds and express their personal beliefs in the workplace and social settings.

Across party and ideology, the only ones who felt free to express their beliefs at work or in social situations were, not surprisingly, liberal Democrats, by a 51 percent to 38 percent margin

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “Trump and Biden’s 2020 challenge: 3 percent or bust”

by Caitlin Peartree

In today’s Roll Call the Winston Group’s David Winston writes about polling and election results with some historical perspective.

When looking at presidential polls, there is a number that matters — 3. I call it the 3 percent factor. When the race is at or under 3 percent, the head-to-head ballot test in national polls is not necessarily a clear predictor of who will ultimately win the presidency, and state polls are probably a better indicator of the race. But history tells us that when one candidate’s lead goes above 3 percent nationally, the size of the lead is likely to produce both at least a plurality in the popular vote and a win in the Electoral College.

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “As budget blues set in, get ready for a Democratic food fight”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about the coming budgetary constraints soon to face many blue states and cities in the wake of COVID-19.

What mayors and governors, especially in blue states and cities, are discovering is that with no economy, you have no funding for government and the many services it provides — some necessary, some not so much. Democrats in charge of most of the country’s biggest cities for decades as well as blue-state governors notorious for their high-tax, big-spending budgets have finally run out of road to kick the can.

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “Women say it’s time to reopen America — safely”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about the shift in attitudes- particularly among women- toward reopening.

Women now see that the country not working is not working. Their kids not being in school, missing key learning time, is not working either — for them, their children or their families. A majority has come to the conclusion that neither they nor the country can continue like this.

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “America shows its resilience”

by Caitlin Peartree

In the interest of adding something positive to the political debate, the Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about some of the good news we have seen from the past couple of weeks’ headlines, and some of the reasons to be optimistic.

What makes this country great are its people. You can see why America works. When we turn things over to Americans in tough times, they are resilient. It’s the spirit of the country that has always seen it through difficult and even deadly times. We don’t give up. We never have.

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: The politics of confusion tests both Trump and Biden

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about the increasingly volatile and confused electorate, and what it may mean looking ahead to November.

It is possible that 2020 may see a rerun of two presidential candidates with very high unfavorables and, as a result, many voters having a negative view of both. This is not a choice voters want to make again. Both Biden and Trump are facing a volatile electorate that has come to understand the need for strong leadership, even if they don’t completely understand what’s happening to the country and why.

Read the full piece here.

Roll Call: “A new normal for America”

by Caitlin Peartree

The Winston Group’s David Winston writes in today’s Roll Call about the major sociological disruption caused by the coronavirus and the new normal into which we are entering:

Beyond hardcore partisans, people are much more interested in who can lead in this new normal, not the color of a face mask or the appropriateness of a golf outing. Life for most Americans is much more serious than the less-than-serious media’s idea of news, and they are looking at their world through a new lens, wondering what a post-pandemic America will look like and knowing deep down that it can never be the same.

Read the full piece 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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