The Importance of Political Candidate Research on a Campaign

As a candidate for elected office it’s a good idea to know both the strengths and the vulnerabilities of not only your opponents, but also of yourself as a candidate.

It’s good to put the public records of both yourself and those running against you under the microscope.

That’s where political candidate and opposition research comes in.

For this article I’ve chosen to interview an expert in the field, Dan Kramer.

Dan Kramer is the President of KPA Strategies, as well as colleague, mentor and friend of mine.

Dan has more than 20 years’ experience in political, campaign and trade association management, investigative research, and public relations.

Dan, where does candidate research fall into the scheme of things for a political campaign?

If you are a candidate for elected office, or thinking about becoming one, one of the first things you will want to complete in advance of your campaign is opposition research.

Why is that?

Preparation is key. Having a plan in place, and executing early, may save a campaign money and provide a competitive advantage to your successful campaign.

Can’t research be done closer to an election?

Yes, but earlier is better, for several reasons.

Cost savings are likely when there is less research work to be done versus waiting until the last minute when production capacity may be limited, and good research will come at a premium price.

In addition, having research completed early helps inform your initial baseline surveys of issues and candidates.

Why should a candidate, particularly someone who’s never ran for office, do research on themselves?

For a first-time candidate, a self-vulnerability assessment is a must and should be done as soon as possible.

And when should a candidate conduct such a vulnerability assessment?

I recommend doing this research a year or more out.

This allows you to find and fix problems before they become public in the heat of a campaign or before issues are required to be reported on candidate disclosure forms.

And what about research on one’s opposition in a race?

For research on political opponents, you may not know who your political opponents are until the filing period closes.

Once it does, I suggest immediately assessing the viability and vulnerabilities of other candidates.

Is your company available to assist a candidate reading this article with their research needs?

If anyone is interested in learning more, KPA has a short presentation that we are happy to share via a phone call or Zoom.

KPA Strategies offers and initial consultation for new clients, candidates, or their consultants to understand our services, get some good initial advice, and walk away with at least a basic checklist of the things we look at during our research.

Please have them contact us through the KPA website ( and mention they were referred by Brian Floyd and The Campaign School.