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CASE STUDY: Portman for US Senate
April 30, 2012 by admin

The Effectiveness of TeleForums

In 2010 a Republican wave swept across the United States, and Front Porch Strategies was at the forefront of the wave helping many candidates effectively connect with voters in 34 states, including Ohio where Rob Portman successfully defeated Lt. Governor Lee Fisher by an enormous margin.

Front Porch conducted several TeleForums on behalf of the Portman Campaign during the course of the fall election season, in one instance helping Senator Portman connect with over 65,000 voters on a single event.

After Election Day an independent survey of voters in the Ohio race for U.S. Senate was conducted by Wenzel Strategies, an Ohio-based research firm. The survey shows those who participated in a TeleForum town hall meeting with Senator Portman were much more likely to have a better opinion of him and to vote for him in the election.

How the Portman TeleForum affected how voters perceived Portman: TeleForum caused a more favorable opinion of Portman TeleForum caused a less favorable opinion of Portman TeleForum made no difference in their opinion of Portman
Among those who voted for Portman in the election 76% 4% 21%
Among those who voted for Fisher in the election 53% 21% 27%

The survey showed that 60% held a more favorable opinion of Portman as a result of the town hall meeting, as 36% said they had a “much more favorable opinion” of him because of the TeleForum town hall meeting, and 24% said they had a “somewhat more favorable opinion” of him. Another 14% said their opinion of Portman was less favorable as a result of the TeleForum meeting, and 26% said that the telephone forum had no effect on their opinion of Portman.

The survey respondents were randomly selected from a pool of 65,000 voters across Ohio who were invited during the campaign to participate in a TeleForum town hall meeting with Portman. The telephone survey of 1,672 respondents, all of whom voted in the November election, was conducted Nov. 23-28, 2010. It carries a confidence interval of 95% and a margin of error of +/- 2.36 percentage points.

The survey showed a direct connection between participation in the Portman TeleForum meeting and a greater likelihood of voting for Portman. Among those who did not participate in the Portman TeleForum, 54% voted for Portman, while 31% voted for Fisher. But among those who did participate in the TeleForum, 66% voted for Portman, while 22% voted for Fisher, an increase in support for Portman of 12%.

A comparison of election results among those who did and did not participate in the Portman TeleForum: Vote result among those who did NOT participate in a Portman telephone meeting Vote result among those who DID participate in a Portman telephone town hall meeting
Voted for Portman 54% 66%
Voted for Fisher 31% 22%
Other/Don’t remember 16% 11%

Among those who voted for Portman in the General Election, 76% said the TeleForum caused them to have a more favorable opinion of him – in other words, the telephone forum was important in solidifying his political support. What is even more remarkable is that even among those who in the end voted for Democrat Lee Fisher in the election, 53% said the telephone forum left them with a more favorable opinion of Portman.

Among those surveyed, 58% voted for Portman, 28% voted for Fisher, 7% said they voted for someone else, while 7% said they could not remember for whom they voted in the election. The unofficial results of the election show that Portman won 57% of the vote, Fisher 39%, while other candidates won 4% of the vote.

Fritz Wenzel, President of Wenzel Strategies, said the results of the telephone survey shows the telephone town hall meeting format is a very effective political tool.

“In politics today, it is increasingly difficult for candidates, especially candidates for higher office, to make meaningful, personal contact directly with voters. This survey shows that not only does the telephone town hall meeting deliver that personal contact, it generates an enormously positive result for the candidate,” Wenzel said.

There is no doubt that TeleForum technology helped Senator Portman differentiate himself from his opponent, and now more than ever candidates and elected officeholders must find creative ways to communicate with voters and the constituents they serve; TeleForum allows them to do this on a massive scale while still maintaining the magic of personal communication.

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