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This blog offers an international look at the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Indeed, campaigners worldwide are fascinated with American election campaigns. We observe relentless paid television advertising, straight-forward attack spots, sophisticated targeting and record-breaking fundraising. One cannot – and should not – simply copy paste American campaign techniques. However, campaigners out there in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia can get a lot of inspiration and specific takeaways from the most professional campaign in the world. This is the purpose of this blog.

Big Data vs. Good Old Polling in Election Campaigns

The use of big data can definitely be very powerful in election campaigns. But the controversy around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica has also shown us the value of good old public opinion research. Yes, algorithms and statistics are important, but another key to understanding public opinion is the art & science of listening to voters. Qualitative opinion research, so-called focus group discussions, are very important in that respect. It's a great tool to understand what voters know, think and feel. Simply put, focus groups explain the why behind the survey numbers. Clients who are not used to the tool often ask me how we get respondents to participate. Actually, it’s not that difficult. I always remind them that voters don’t like to take exams and be questioned about their knowledge. But, when made comfortable, many voters are actually very keen on telling their opinions.

Impact of the Comey Book on President Trump's Approval Ratings

Just had a journalist from Swiss television network on the phone regarding the impact of the Comey book on President Trump's approval ratings and the mid-term elections. In my opinion, the impact will be very limited. We have to realize that by now, the opinions about Donald Trump are pretty defined in public opinion: Depending on the survey, there are about 40% of U.S. voters who approve of Donald Trump and there are about 55% who disapprove. On both sides, voters have factored in a lot of information and assumptions about Trump. Therefore, it would take substantial new information about him to move the numbers. By substantial information, I mean clear evidence that undermines his own message (what he says about himself). That doesn’t really seem to be in the book. In the absence of substantial new information, the one thing that seems to move the needle is the state of the economy and the economy is doing well. Hence why his numbers have actually gone slightly up over the past weeks.