Don't Call Them Droupouts

The Challenge

America’s Promise Alliance CEO John Gromperts said at the beginning of this project that we all “share the responsibility and opportunity for creating the conditions under which all young people have a real chance to thrive.” This is why, together with the President and the Secretary of Education, America’s Promise set a goal of raising the graduation rate from its current 80 percent to 90 percent by 2020. They then approached us to investigate research questions and the public’s perception about graduating from high school. With this research, America’s Promise wanted to gain insight into the experiences of people who don’t graduate high schedule versus those who do, and make recommendations for helping young people on their education journey based off this research.

The Strategy

In order to make sure the study was clear and comprehensive, we utilized a mixed-methodology consisting of in-person group interviews and an online survey. We conducted 30 group interviews in 16 cities among 212 people, while the online survey was conducted among 1,942 young people who left high school and 1,023 people who had graduated without interruption, all of whom were between the ages of 18 and 25.

With both the broader online survey and more in-depth group interviews, we were able to gather multiple themes and findings and categorize them as conclusions of our research. America’s Promise then crafted recommendations based on these conclusions, with the goal of, CEO Gomperts’ words, “helping to build a future in which all young people can flourish and thrive.”

The Results

Through our comprehensive, mixed-method survey, we were able to conclude four major findings among respondents, draw five conclusions from the study, and make five recommendations moving forward. The report was released by America’s Promise, partnered with Target, and dispersed heavily among the education world. Additionally, the study was picked up by media outlets such as CNN and the Huffington Post and was made into a short documentary.

Read the study here.

 

Repurposing Public Data

The Challenge

In March of 2011, before the Wisconsin recall process formally began and prior to the selection of any Democratic challengers, Lincoln Park Strategies examined the openness of voters to recalling their State Senators in eight districts across Wisconsin utilizing publicly available data from IVR polling (Interactive Voice Response or “automated surveys”) conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Daily Kos. While the questions asked in the poll were not initially designed with this exercise in mind, Lincoln Park Strategies was able to use the existing data to rank the eight districts on their likelihood of electing a Democrat in the recall election.

The Strategy

Lincoln Park Strategies rank ordered the eight districts based on six indicators: approval/disapproval of Scott Walker, approval/disapproval of the district’s State Senator, support/oppose the recall effort, support/oppose re-electing the incumbent State Senator, support of Scott Walker or Democrats, and household union membership. A district with a rank of one was deemed the most open to Democratic candidates in a recall election, while a district with a rank of eight was conversely deemed least open to Democrats. Beyond the simple rank order, the difference between the support for the Democratic side and the Republican side on each of the six indicators was then averaged across questions, creating a mean spread measurement. A higher mean spread meant the district was more fertile ground for a Democratic victory, and a negative spread indicated it would be difficult for a Democrat to win.

The Results

Overall, the predictive study held up very well. To judge the effectiveness, we compared the mean spread to the difference in Republican performance and the Democratic performance in these districts. The two districts where Democrats were successful in their recall efforts (the 32nd and 18th) were rated as the two most open to a Democratic State Senator in our analysis and also were the two districts where the difference in performance yielded a net negative for the Republican candidate. The other district identified as a Low Probability Democratic Pick Up district (the14th) was the district where Democrats came closest to winning a coveted third seat needed to take control of the majority in the State Senate. In other words, the districts we calculated as the first, second, and third strategic targets for Democratic victory ended up providing our two victories and our most narrow defeat. However, since it is impossible to accurately predict the exact path of a campaign, including media and outreach strategies, studies such as this offer a unique means of assessing the situation well in advance of Election Day.

The techniques used in our Wisconsin study could never be relied upon as an exact indicator of outcomes, but neither could any polling five months out from the election.  What this study shows is that IVR polling can be used in a reliable and cost effective manner to determine the territory a candidate will be dealing with and to help organizations decide which districts are the most strategic targets. The type of candidates running, fundraising, and many other variables will always change the equation, however knowledge of the likelihood of success is a piece of information that is critical to any campaign.

Online Harassment

The Challenge

More and more, the legal issues surrounding online harassment are garnering attention. Recently, the Supreme Court waded into new territory by deciding to hear a case (Elonis vs The United States) over whether online threats constitute a viable threat. The question we wanted to answer: Given the prevalence of the internet and social media in our daily lives, who are Americans looking to when it comes to regulating and monitoring content on the internet? When we talk about online harassment, where regulation is currently left to ISPs and the social media networks themselves, is there common ground among Americans or is this an issue that tends to have two distinct camps of thought? 

The Strategy

In 2014, we teamed up with Rad Campaign to analyze Americans’ attitudes towards both online harassment and the laws surrounding it. We surveyed 1,007 Americans over the age of 18 about their experience with online harassment and their views on online privacy. Focusing mainly on general issues related to being online, we asked people what they were most worried about ranging from identity theft, to hacked email, to unknowingly placed tracking cookies, to online bullying. Respondents were also asked how often they think such incidences happen and whether they had experienced anything themselves. We then got more detailed answers from those who said they had experienced online bullying.

When we realized the 2016 election cycle was going to be quite hostile, we teamed up with Rad Campaign again to retest American attitudes on online harassment. Building on our 2014 work, we dug deeper to see if people were comfortable with expressing their political views online and how they interacted with other people online when it came to politics. The goal, in the end, was to see if people thought online harassment increased from 2014 and if they thought it had anything to do with politics.

The Results

Overall, we found that Americans’ concerns have remained consistent, with downloading a virus remaining the top concern. Additionally, reports of invasions of online privacy have generally declined, and Americans are overall less likely to say that these concerns actually happen on a frequent basis. People have mixed beliefs on whether current laws are adequate in protecting online activity, while there is very little trust in social media sites to protect the privacy of Americans’ personal information.

As a part of a major media campaign from Rad Campaign, our results were picked up by multiple major media outlets, including the Washington Post, CNN Money, the Huffington Post, Policy.Mic, PR Newswire, and the Daily Dot.
 

See the infographic from 2016, which includes our results on online aggressiveness among certain political supporters, by clicking here.

Americans for George

The Challenge

In August of 2011, Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced bill H.R. 2977 in the House of Representatives, otherwise known as the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act (COINS Act). The goal of the bill would be to eventually eliminated the dollar bill as we know it, and replace it with dollar coins – all under the guise of saving “taxpayer money” in the long term. In response, kglobal created the Americans for George coalition and launched a campaign promoting the dollar bill and highlighting the economic issues around converting to a dollar coin. We teamed up with Americans for George, and used comprehensive quantitative and qualitative data to help them effectively execute the campaign for the dollar bill.

The Strategy

The Dollar Bill as an American Icon

The Dollar Bill as an American Icon

We began by conducting a national survey consisting of 800 interviews among likely voters via landline and cellphones. Through this survey, we tested likely voters’ attitudes on issues such as the federal debt, approaches to reducing the federal budget deficit, and – of course – the debate over the dollar bill vs. the dollar coin. The result was overwhelmingly in favor of George. We found that opposition to the dollar coin not only brought members of both parties together, but it also united all areas of the country. From 82% of voters in the South, to 71% of voters in the Northeast, to 74% of voters in the West, Americans were clear that they wanted to keep dollar bills in their pockets as opposed to carrying around extra change.

In addition to this nationwide survey, we set up focus groups across the country to gain deeper insight into voters’ opinions on the dollar bill. Overall, the results of the focus groups indicated that public will was firmly behind the dollar bill. It also showed that Americans were pessimistic about the nation’s current economic situation and that they desperately wanted their elected officials to come up with real solutions to real problems. Indeed, in many focus groups, participants felt this debate was simply another example of politicians in Washington wasting time and not focusing on the issues that truly matter to the country.  

The Results

These survey results were deployed by Americans for George to be used for their website and social media efforts, along with a coordinated paid media campaign that included subway, print, and online advertising, among other media campaigns. These efforts led mentions of Americans for George in nearly every major publication, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today and The Washington Times. In short, Americans for George proved to be the authoritative voice of the pro-dollar side of the debate and took the conversation straight to Members of Congress.

H.R. 2977 never made it out of the House Committee on Financial Services, and went on to fail in Congress multiple times – meaning George’s home on the dollar bill is safe. 

 

For a PDF version of this case study, please click here.