miércoles, 21 de marzo de 2012

¿Se puede ganar sin la orientación de un encuestador?

Nadie lo ha conseguido desde los años 60, pero Santorum cree que puede.

Nos lo cuenta Sasha Issenberg en Slate.com:
In recent weeks, in an office just off the Beltway in suburban Virginia, Rick Santorum’s mom-and-pop campaign for the presidency opened a national headquarters with less fanfare than Barack Obama regularly musters when christening a county field office. Santorum’s new space houses two dozen staffers, including those working on communications, surrogate scheduling, digital strategy, and grassroots outreach. Still, many top Santorum aides remain scattered across the country, working out of their homes and relying on teleconferences for their daily back-and-forth. “We’re running a campaign the way people do business today,” Santorum adviser John Brabender recently told National Review. “It’s not the classic, 1960s-style campaign.”

In the most crucial respect, however, Santorum’s operation is exactly like a classic 1960s campaign: That was the last time candidates spent millions of dollars to win high office without guidance from pollsters. Only back then it wasn’t by choice, or accompanied by a sense of self-congratulation about the principle involved. “People say, ‘Does that mean you can’t afford one?’ No, we raised $9 million in February. We could afford a pollster,” says Brabender, a Pittsburgh media consultant and close Santorum confidant who is now the presidential campaign’s top strategist. “There’s a way that polling makes people crazy with data and they want to build the whole campaign around that.”

Santorum’s advisers read plenty of public polls and have other sources of data to inform their decisions, but some of their riskiest—and ultimately self-destructive—tactical moves the campaign has made are ones that were undertaken with the least information. The candidate who proclaimed himself “Senador Puertorriqueño” won no delegates and less than 10 percent of the vote in Puerto Rico’s weekend primary; aides acknowledge that the choice to spend two days politicking on the island instead of Illinois was made without having previously called any voters there.

(...) Brabender, whose clients include candidates for state legislature and county executive, says he can’t remember the last time he ran a campaign without his own polling. He has directed Santorum’s political efforts since his first campaign in 1990, when—in the standard course of assembling a team of consultants and vendors—he hired the pollster Neil Newhouse.

(...) Newhouse conducted polls for Santorum in five congressional and Senate campaigns until last year, when the former Pennsylvania senator declared as a matter of conviction that he wanted to seek the presidency without a pollster. Brabender found himself turning away regular pitches from public-opinion firms looking to win the campaign’s business. “Rick said, ‘I don’t want someone telling us what to believe,’ ” Brabender recalls.

(...) For now Brabender does not plan on backing down from an organizational structure that he says reflects his candidate’s Bulworthian truth-telling instincts. The campaign’s only formal public-opinion monitoring is whatever the candidate picks up interacting with voters at his town-hall meetings. “Santorum senses the message, and we follow him,” says Brabender. “Do we have as much information when we make decisions? No,” he says. “But from a media consultant’s standpoint, I don’t have anyone who is saying ‘the ads aren’t working’ or telling me ‘here’s what the candidate has to say.’ ” Even so, there may be limits to such blissful ignorance: Brabender won’t commit to remaining pollster-free if he needs to orchestrate a general-election campaign for Santorum.

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