Polling and campaigning made easier using online surveys

Author: Martin Day

Whether campaigning for government, a local chapter or for election to the school council online surveys are the easy and effective election tool that will benefit any campaign. Use surveys to discover more about the electorate, to identifying the issues that really concern them so that each campaign can be tailored to reach the hearts and minds of the voters.

Objective

For any survey it is important to decide from the beginning what the objective of the survey is and when considering conducting a survey in support of a particular candidate consider if the purpose of the survey is to discover what the 'issues' are; or is the survey to be used to promote the candidates image and policies?

In many cases objectives will be in line with the different phases of an election process.

Pre-Campaign

Before campaigning begins a survey is an ideal method to canvass the voters and to determine what the important issues are likely to be. To gain a wider response across the whole political spectrum the survey will preferably be conducted through an independent channel so that people's opinion of a particular candidate does not influence the research.

For a political survey it is essential that the demographics of those surveyed are established as different groups are likely to have both common and varied views. With demographic information there is an opportunity to establish what the main issues are by age group, by income and by gender; do people who rent have the same concerns as those that own their own homes?

A pre-campaign survey will be able to monitor the mood of the voters. Some may, if asked, even indicate who they are likely to vote for in a future election. By listening to the electorate a campaign can be planned better and will allow printed and oral marketing to be properly targeted at the issues that people want addressed.

For candidates that appear out of step with the electorate surveys can provide a measure of how much effort will be required, and in what areas, so that people are convinced and change their views.

Campaign survey

During a campaign an online survey is an effective way to market a candidate's position. Tradition methods of leafleting rely on the recipient reading and taking onboard the message. Leaflets are a one way marketing effort and more often than not dismissed and discarded along with other "junk mail".

Consider on the other hand an online survey that can phrase questions such as:-

Do you support candidate Jones's pledge to cut the budget deficit in half to $250 billion over four years; and to reintroduce budget rules capping spending?

To answer this question the respondent has to engage mentally with the survey by reading and then considering the statement before forming an opinion. Because the respondent is able to express their view they are also more likely going to consider the argument. An online survey is not only able to deliver an important policy statement but will also allow the campaign team to monitor the level of support that the candidate has on specific issues.

With the new breed of online survey web sites generators such as www.SurveyGalaxy.com multiple online surveys can be created and published in minutes making it feasible to target specific groups on specific issues. There is no longer a need to devise a 'one size fits all' survey. Surveys that promote policies that are aimed at retired voters can be sent to retired voters, while younger people can be sent surveys that promote the candidates policy on issues that are only important to them.

Using the pre-campaign survey data the 'undecided voter' can be targeted and engaged, with perhaps the opposition's policy being used to highlight the benefit of voting for a candidate.

Do you support the opposition's plans that will reduce the tax burden for high earners and result in middle income families paying more tax?

A well written campaign survey will promote the candidate, measure opinion and monitor how effective the campaign is. Online surveys allow this to be done with considerable ease, they are extremely cost effectively and allow the results to be analysed on the fly.

Comparison

Compare the benefits of online surveys over other forms of campaigning such as door to door and telephone canvassing, leafleting, advertising and personal appearances.

If not already, the Internet is fast becoming the primary method of communication for both business and personal use and provides direct access to a broad cross section of any voting population.

Through the use of email, websites and search engine advertising online surveys are able to target a large proportion of a population at a fraction of the price compared to traditional marketing methods. With the online surveys ability to provide market research, marketing and education there is no other single form of marketing that is as cost effective and versatile.

With the speed of deployment being measured in hours and minutes, not weeks and day, online surveys are able to deliver a flexible and dynamic campaign message keeping pace with the political mood that can change on the basis of a single comment or headline.

With each survey's demographic data a campaign is able to accurately and instantly measure the scale of success in terms of the number of 'messages' delivered, the target group and, based on the results, the effectiveness of the online survey marketing campaign.


About the author:
Martin Day is a director of Survey Galaxy for more information please visit http://www.SurveyGalaxy.com