Research and Data Collection
For any policy campaign, it is essential to present data that defines the problem
and science that support your policy solution. (For example, a campaign to increase a state tax on smokeless tobacco products would need to show data on
the increasing use of these products among adolescents, as well as studies that show how a price increase leads to decreased use in this population.) Without
data that explains the problem and justifies a solution, a proposed policy lacks credibility and is unlikely to gain the support of decision makers.
However, strong data alone will not guarantee a campaign's success! You will
need an understanding of what is happening in the decision-making "environment"
in order to plan your campaign approach. You can get a sense of this environment through research that answers the following questions:
- Who has the power to give you what you want?
- What motivates these key decision makers?
- How will you access and influence these decision makers?
- Who will oppose your issue?
Conducting this research early in your campaign will help you find "pathways of influence" – or ways to connect with lawmakers on
your issue through common interests or contacts. You may find that your organization already has internal resources to help you
reach key decision makers – and doing research early on will help you plan WHO and HOW to contact most effectively.