Research is Useless if You Ask the Wrong Questions

by Dan Ward

Thanks to James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal for highlighting this tweet from Bloomberg national political reporter, Sahil Kapur: “Monmouth poll finds that if @JohnKasich were the Republican nominee he’d be leading @HillaryClinton 57% to 33% in Ohio.”

Seems to be a clear indication that Kasich may have been a much stronger candidate than Donald Trump, right?  Maybe not.  As Taranto correctly points out, “Well, if [Kasich] were the Republican nominee AND all the Dems’ efforts were concentrated on disqualifying Trump.”

Monmouth mistakenly assumes the answer to a nonsense question holds value.  Kasich ISN’T the candidate, he has not faced media scrutiny as the candidate, and has not faced opposition advertising as the candidate. Asking whether he’d win the election now is like asking for the price of a car that isn’t for sale.

We do a lot of research in our business.  It’s the very first step in developing a successful communication plan.  If you don’t understand your target, you won’t know where to aim.

If you’re investing in research, make sure you ask questions that provide actionable information.  “What if” questions are fine if you’re asking about actions you might actually take.  Just don’t follow Monmouth’s lead and ask questions for which there are no real answers.

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