Every serious election campaign should start with a baseline survey. Period. And when I say serious campaign, I mean a campaign with a budget of more than half a million dollars.
Such a baseline survey should show you where the race stands, maybe test different possible scenarios, assess strengths and weaknesses of the various candidates, define low-hanging fruits and show opinions of voters on the main issues. It can also measure the power of possible endorsements. The purpose is not to predict the race. I use such a survey to make recommendations for the campaign communication, messaging, timing, positioning and spending.
I always tell my clients: If you don’t know where you started, how do you know you’re making progress? Or making enough progress? Yet, some want to “go around” or spread some communication first before taking a baseline survey. They are afraid to see the results or don’t want to invest the money. It’s like a pilot of an airplane saying: “I don’t need the navigation system to start. I’ll turn it on once I’m up in the sky and no longer know where I am.” Good luck with that!