Public trust in all kinds of communication is eroding, with a notable exception: word of mouth. A Roper poll found the number of people who said they get good ideas and information from television ads declined from 1977 to 2003, while the number who said the same about word of mouth increased by 25 percentage points.
Whether by chance or design, such citizen advocates created the explosive growth in support for Mike Huckabee and sustained John Edwards, even as both were vastly outspent by their opponents.
Our polling found 23 percent of Republicans were advocates for Mike Huckabee as against 16 percent for Mr. Romney. At 30 percent, Mr. Edwards had the most word-of-mouth advocates among Democrats by a narrow margin, which explains how he was able to remain competitive in Iowa despite his financial disadvantage.
That's the good news, we should keep on talking to the people around us.
Something I found interesting, the authors of the above piece are described thusly:
Mark Mellman and Michael Bloomfield are, respectively, chief executive and executive vice president of a research firm.
A research firm? Why not just tell us which research firm? A little googling turns up the Mellman Group, of which Mark Mellman is [surprise] president and CEO. For a glimpse into the world of political consulting, you should read the staff bios.
Some snippets from Mellman's bio:
The Mellman Group counts among its clients the Majority Leaders of both the U.S. House and Senate (Leader Harry Reid, Leader Steny Hoyer). The firm has picked up a Republican seat every election cycle for the 25 years Mellman has been in business and is the only major Democratic polling firm never to have lost an incum-bent re-election for Senate or Governor. In addition to Leader Reid, Senate clients includes Maria Cantwell, Dan Akaka, Barbara Boxer, Carl Levin, and Frank Lautenberg. Gubernatorial clients include Jon Corzine, Jennifer Granholm and Jim Doyle.
Respected entities also turn to Mellman for his objective, unvarnished analysis of public opinion. The U.S. Departments of Justice (under President Bush), State and Labor have all turned to The Mellman Group for critical studies, as has the World Bank. In addition, Mellman works with some of the nation’s most important public interest organizations ranging from the American Cancer Society to the AFL-CIO, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the National Environmental Trust, and the League of Women Voters.