Voter research proves key for Kevin Yoder’s reelection bid

Case Studies | March 14, 2017

The Challenge

KANSAS CITY, MO – Remington Research Group provided monthly tracking and additional services to Kevin Yoder for Congress in 2016. The general election in KS-3 had been widely seen as out of play — in public and internal polling — and RRG was brought in to continuously monitor the ballot as a check on the Yoder campaign’s existing and primary pollster. Overall, RRG collected 16,576 voter interviews over a four-month period and conducted daily tracking during the final three weeks of the election. RRG’s numbers were the first to alert the campaign that the race was in play, helped the campaign get its message out despite a complicated and unfriendly environment and tracked information flow and ballot movement to ensure proper resource allocation and message delivery as Yoder surged to victory.

Challenges in the KS-3 General Election

KANSAS CITY, MO – The unpopularity of Donald Trump and Sam Brownback was dragging down GOP candidates in the highly-educated and affluent Kansas district.

Congressman Yoder’s original pollster had shown him ahead by a wide margin, claiming Yoder was up 17 points on the ballot in August and 12 points as late as mid-September. Even though the original pollster showed 17 and 12 point margins in Yoder’s favor, these margins were slim compared to their historical numbers for the 3rd district. RRG was conducting tracking surveys to test the margins, given the effect of Trump in similar districts nationwide and how we had seen the unpopular Governor Sam Brownback tighten up similar races across Kansas. In September, RRG numbers diverged from the original pollster’s and did in fact show a tight race (close to the margin of error). A few weeks later, the DCCC placed a $1.4 million investment into the race after their internals also showed only a narrow lead for Yoder – within their margin of error.

Even understanding the race is in play and combating the national Democrats’ outside spending, Yoder had to navigate a swing electorate from a messaging standpoint — supporting his party, Trump and Brownback while winning Johnson County moderates.

Actionable Insights

RRG was able to notify the campaign that the race would be competitive weeks before national Democrats were aware the seat was in play. RRG afforded the campaign a head start in terms of planning and executing the campaign they had not been expecting, countering the suddenly very well-funded opposition thanks to one of the largest DCCC expenditures in the final weeks prior to Election Day.

Yoder’s original pollster had the race at 53-36 with Yoder up 17 points on August 8th, compared to RRG’s more modest 11-point (47-36) lead on August 10th. On September 8th, RRG showed Yoder leading by 6 points, 44-38, while on September 12th, the original pollster had the ballot at 46-34, double the lead RRG showed. Both pollsters had the race moving in a competitive direction but RRG had the race already in single digits with an incumbent below 45% — numbers that jumpstart a campaign to get aggressive, rather than accrue resources for the future.

On October 7th, the DCCC released a survey showing Yoder leading 44-40. At this time, the national Democrat group made a significant buy on behalf of Jay Sidie, which would total $1.4 million — one of the group’s largest investments during the final month leading up to the election. At this point of the race, RRG became the lead and trusted pollster and was in the field with nightly tracking. On October 7th, RRG tracking showed Yoder leading 44-40, same as the DCCC, confirming the race was in fact very competitive.

Victory Achieved

The campaign directed targeted voter contact based on RRG tracking data to counter national Democrats’ big spending and ensure Yoder’s message reached his voters. This proved fruitful as Yoder’s ballot lead began to steadily expand after the mid-October polls. His low point came on October 12th when the race became dead even at 43-43. On October 20th, Yoder led 44-43, and by the 26th, Yoder led 45-42. The lead continued to expand as the campaign hit its final week with Yoder’s lead again climbing to 49-43 on November 1. By the final track, Yoder led 49-40. The result of the election was 51-41.