The 2014 election project run by Joe Arlinghaus was initially imagined by supporters of the Greg Abbott campaign who knew Wendy’s extremism on abortion was unpopular with some voters. They thought attacks on Wendy by pro-lifers would be good for Greg especially among Hispanic Texans.
Although they were right, the initial efforts in fall 2013 of Joe Arlinghaus and his partners were just stabs in the dark. We got lucky that they worked moderately well in the fall of 2013, but everything we did initially was based on guessing what might work.
But everything changed in December 2013 when we learned about a scientific researcher who had been using a new kind of testing across the country in Virginia. That research was conducted by a conservative expert in political bahavior named Dr. Adam Schaeffer. He was trying to measure what ads were working and what ads were not working in the Virginia Governor election. The provocative thesis of that article was that campaign “experts” rarely do real research about what works but instead trust their gut. Adam showed how he had proved that the ads by the Republican candidate were not working but that an ad that fought back against the Democrat on abortion would work much better. The campaign “experts” didn’t care and instead continued to run their ineffective campaign. They narrowly lost the election.
Greg Abbott’s top election advisor shared this article from an obscure periodical only read by campaign consultants with Joe Arlinghaus. Joe and Adam were on the phone within 24 hours and Adam began to teach Joe about what he does and why it is revolutionary. From that point forward, everything we did was guided by the advice, research and experience of Dr. Adam Schaeffer and the result was extraordinary success at a much smaller pricetag than we would otherwise have paid.
Wendy’s collapse among Hispanics is because of what we did. Not only does Dr. Schaeffer’s research show this, but independent polling confirmed it.
The secret to our efforts is the UNIQUE WAY Dr. Schaeffer conducts his research. The problem with traditional polling is that it suffers from the “placebo effect”. That means that people, when asked if they like an ad, answer in a way that is prejudiced by their knowledge of what the pollster wants. Or they answer based on their own perception of the “right” answer. Polling is particularly ineffective when you ask a person what information will change their mind. Often the information they like least is the one that is actually most effective. People rarely understand their own prejudices well and cannot examine what info best challenges those prejudices.. The uniqeness of Dr. Schaeffer’s method is that he examines passively how ads effect the voter and often the voter has no idea what is being looked for. This is done in a very similar way to how a clinical drug trial works.
This method was perfected by left wing think tanks and scientists trying to find persuadable Republicans who could be guided to vote for Democrats and liberals. The methods are common in marketing research and in drug studies where you must find out what works and what will sell best without being confused by answers that are wrong due to people’s prejudices.
These methods are very common among liberals and very uncommon among conservative organizations to this day.