Opposition Research: Create Winning Contrast for Your Campaign
Opposition research, or “oppo” for short, is something we have mentioned in this blog before, but have not discussed at length. Such an omission is unforgivable, and can only be chalked up to missing the obvious. Like, for instance, when a newspaper has a typo in its front-page headline because everyone was looking for little, nuanced stuff but missed the big, glaring oops! before going to print. So let’s right this wrong now, shall we?
Opposition research is a type of political consulting firm. They specialize entirely in finding things out about people that a simple Google search would not turn up. (Though they can definitely get details on all Google-able offenses, too.) Opposition research political consulting firms subscribe to more advanced search engines; regularly compiling government documents using FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests to look for homeownership, tax documents, arrest records and other legal documents. These folks will know if your opponent has lied about their primary residence in just a few keystrokes. In short, an opposition research political consulting firm is important to have on your team.
Opposition research, it’s important to note, are not PI’s or police detectives, and you should leave any paternity questions up to Maury Povitch. Great opposition research political consulting firms will turn up stuff you didn’t even know about your opponent (a DUI a few years back that no one noticed is a personal favorite) that is provable, germane to the campaign and creates damning contrast for voters. There are two different kinds of bad opposition research political consulting firms, in my opinion. First, those who make wild accusations without the proof to back it up are my least favorite. You may have heard that your opponent doesn’t pay his or her taxes, but unless your opposition research team can dig up an IRS audit, summons, conviction or lien, hell, even a newspaper article asserting it, you can’t use it. Don’t let them tell you otherwise or that you can use it because “they’re just waiting on the proof.” Second, bad opposition research political consulting firms won’t have the bandwidth to perform specialized research. Whether they let their Lexus Nexus subscription lapse or have never heard of FOIA, they don’t give you anything that you couldn’t get on your own while charging you through the nose.
Sometimes opposition research political consulting firms don’t turn up anything in their searches. It’s rare, but totally possible. You might have a squeaky clean opponent, or worse, one that’s really good at hiding stuff. Regardless, it's worth the investment to hire professionals to make that determination for you, and to know that you have all the tools at your disposal to create good contrast in order to win your campaign.
Read our longer post on opposition and self research here