The outfit, Harper Polling, launches this week with the goal of putting the party on parity with Democrats in the field of IVR polling — a term that stands for interactive voice response polling, commonly known as “robo-polling.”
For several cycles now, Democrats have benefited from a high-volume, relatively inexpensive flow of survey data from the company Public Policy Polling, which takes hundreds of polls in any given cycle checking up on individual races and national issue debates. Some of those surveys are released to the public, while others are conducted for private purposes by Democratic campaigns and interest groups.
On the Republican side, candidates and party committees have largely eschewed automated data collection in lieu of more expensive polling taken by live telephone interviews. In 2012, those costlier polls proved inaccurate in many cases, based on flawed assumptions that left the GOP stunned by the scale of its setbacks on Election Day.
Harper Polling founder Brock McCleary, the outgoing polling director and deputy executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the aim of his project is to give the GOP access to flexible, cost-effective polling data that matches what Democrats are producing.
In a way, the project is an extension of a 2011 initiative at the NRCC to conduct in-house IVR polling. That effort was successful enough, according to McCleary, that he decided it would be worth doing on a larger scale.