Leading with Authority (2008)



Between August 15, 2008 and November 30, 2008 we collected and reviewed news articles from the largest daily newspapers in each contested state, followed and collected liberal and conservative blog postings and website activity for the campaigns and their opponents. During that same period we reviewed and selected TV news coverage of each race, collected all available recorded debates, and reviewed and collected all candidate and Independent Expenditure TV ads that were available.


Between December 2008 and February 2009, we interviewed and reviewed transcripts for the candidates, campaign managers, communications directors, finance directors, pollsters, media and mail consultants. We also interviewed a Party official, one member of the print and one member of broadcast press covering the race in each state.

Polling and Focus Groups

In 2008, Lake Research Partners, a Democratic firm, and American Viewpoint, Inc., a Republican firm, conducted four pre- and-post election surveys1 in the four states where women were gubernatorial candidates: Indiana, North Carolina, Washington and Vermont. The research measured voter attitudes and perceptions of the candidates focusing on their leadership skills, issue identification and job performance.

We conducted a total of 18 focus groups pre- and post-election in each state. Participants were people ages 35 to 60, who said they were likely to vote in the 2008 general election, and who did not identify as strong partisans. Each group included a mix of occupations, marital and parental status, among other demographic characteristics. The same participants were included in the post-election focus groups. In North Carolina, there were also pre- and post-election African American focus groups.