Calculating Need to Win Number Part 1 by Peter Bratt

By at February 22, 2016 | 10:44 am | Print

Calculating Need to Win Number Part 1 by Peter Bratt

Peter Bratt

Transcript of an interview with Peter Bratt, CEO of PAB Consulting with
Ron Turner, Founder, Frontrunner 2020.

Peter Bratt’s excellent presentation takes imaginary candidate Jack Burden through a methodical process of analyzing the district to see exactly how many votes are required to win.  Peter shares the free online data resources you’ll need for your race.  He shows you how to filter historical voter files to get meaningful insights.  Learn how to calculate the important “win number” which is the cornerstone of your campaign plan and budget.

Hi everyone! My name is Peter Bratt, and I’m a native Michigander, who moved to Texas last year from Philadelphia. My wife got a job in Dallas, and so now I’m getting to enjoy some warmer weather in my life. When I attended graduate school at the University of Michigan, I had a lot of classes that really allowed me to tie in my political junkie habits with my spatial analysis coursework. From there I started showing my work to a few campaigns in early 2008, and the rest is history.

Anyone who works on political campaigns has a few stories they like to tell, and I have a few of my own. I talked with a Democratic state house candidate in Michigan 18 months before the general election, and he asked me what I thought he would get in November. I said 52%, and he told me to try and back up this guess with data. I did, and sure enough, he got 52% in November 2010.

In Pennsylvania I worked on a campaign that challenged an open State House seat that had been held by the GOP for over thirty years. No one expected the Democratic candidate to have a shot, and money was very very limited until October 15, 2010. When we won, it was due in part to the careful precinct analysis and demographic research we did seven months earlier. We were prepared, the other side was not.

Here is an outline of my presentation today. As always, I’m hoping for a lot of audience feedback, whether it be with questions at the end of the presentation, Ron’s comments, or emails that you can send to me after the show. Our topic today is learning more about a district you are considering running for elected office in. It could be the Presidency, State Senate, or a precinct captain. So let’s get started!

To start, what is precinct analysis? I like to call it detective work, where you research the past and present to figure out what might happen in the future. Of course, you say, but why do we even start with precinct analysis?

Precinct analysis is the most affordable tool than any candidate can use when starting to consider a run for office. If you are approached by a candidate that hasn’t done precinct analysis, run to the hills, or at least to the exits. A precinct analysis can tell you whether you can win, what sort of people live in your district, where your potential supporters are, and conversely where your opponents strongholds are. However, most importantly, a good study can show you where to spend your time, treasure and talent during this election.

Let’s meet a potential candidate named Jack Burden. You might remember Jack Burden from the movie “All the Kings Men,” and he’s thinking about doing some precinct analysis for himself.

Jack is a City of Dallas resident, who lives in District 14. He’s been very involved with local governance, and has some experience with governance. He’s thinking about running for City Council because incumbent Angela Hunt is term-limited and can’t run for office again in 2013.

Jack remembers this quote he heard from another candidate that inspires him to do some precinct analysis.

“The best campaign don’t occur in a favorable district, but rather establish a campaign plan that utilizes research and analysis to win in a tough district.”  Paul Wellstone  

Because Jack has been thinking about running for office, he decides to do some precinct analysis during a typical 100 degree day in Texas. He’s happy that this task will be relatively short, and decides to tell some of his close supporters about his decision. He decides to do the analysis himself, in part because he wants to learn more about the district.

So now that Jack is ready to do the precinct analysis, what sort of information does he need? Data, precious data, is where the action here for the precinct analysis.

Jack can start with US census data to get a demographic profile of District 14. The US Census has a large amount of data available on its website. You can use Fact Finder to pull data at the census block or Voting District (VTD) level, which will likely give you the precinct information you need.

Jack will also want to check his local or state government about getting actually election data. Since Jack lives in Dallas, Texas, he will go to the City of Dallas’s City Secretary’s office for data, and the City Secretary’s page will direct him to the Dallas County Clerk’s election page, which has data going back to 1990. Most states have the data available in very accessible locations (such as websites) and formats (such as excel).

So after getting the data, Jack fires up the computer, and starts putting the election data into MS Excel. He was smart, because grabbed election data from the 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 city council elections, and also grabbed the election returns from the mayoral races in 2007 and 2011 as well to see if turnout differed between the two races.

Stay tune for Part 2.

Watch the entire interview with powerpoint here.

Peter Bratt, CEO PAB Consulting;  specializing in voter analysis and targeting.  Peter is an expert in geographical political analysis.  He holds a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan and a political science degree from Calvin College. He has provided winning advice to campaigns in Michigan and Pennsylvania before moving to Texas.  He has spent 2011 serving as a consultant on redistricting efforts here and works at every level, including local non-partisan races.

PAB Consulting Facebook   214 422 2434  peterbratt@gmail.com       peterabratt.blogspot.com      

Ron Turner, Founder and CEO of People Calling People. Services include low-cost automated polls that report voters’ priority issues, test message points, and rank favorability. PCP also conducts live voter outreach programs. In 2011, Ron launched frontrunner2020 to support and encourage those on the journey towards elected office.

People Calling People    Frontrunner 2020    214 506 2834
frontrunner2020 on YouTube

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