2024 Election Impact: Navigating Research Challenges and Strategies for Accurate Insights

In the 2024 election cycle, we explore strategies to navigate the changing consumer landscape.

As we head into the 2024 election cycle, Rathbone Falvey Research explores strategies to navigate increased political sensitivity, shifting consumer sentiments, and survey fatigue—ensuring your research remains impactful and unbiased.

There are three main research challenges we’re anticipating: 

  1.  Increased Sensitivity to Political Climate

The heightened political climate during an election year may make people more sensitive to political issues and polarized in their views. Participants may be more cautious about sharing their opinions on certain topics, including those related to business or consumer preferences. Participants may be more sensitive to perceived political biases in research.

  1. Shifts in Consumer Sentiment and Media Consumption

We are anticipating increased news and political media consumption by the public. Consumer sentiment can be influenced by election-related news and political discourse.  The public’s perceptions of the economy, taxes, and government policies may change, impacting spending habits and preferences. These fast or frequent shifts may change the relevancy of previous research initiatives.  

  1. Survey Fatigue and Increased Costs per Response 

There are many more research opportunities in the market during election years, and participants may get fatigued.  We are seeing already that research participants are feeling more demanded upon and have less energy for participating in surveys. This can result in lower quality responses, and higher costs to complete.  

How we prepare and conduct research with these challenges can be more nuanced and industry specific.  Here are the overarching principles that we see as most important: 

  1. Maintaining Neutrality and Appropriate Transparency 

Recognize that participants may be more sensitive to political topics during an election year.  Neutral framing of research questions is more important than ever, to avoid potential bias in responses. 

We like to include up front information about the purpose or goals of the research so that the participants understand how the information they use will be shared, and feel comfortable participating.  

  1. Careful Sampling and Comparing Data to Non-Election Years 

As shifts happen quickly, it is very important to make sure that sampling accounts for these shifts, and that you are still getting accurate representation of your desired audience.  Qualifying and demographic questions should be carefully considered.  

Comparing data to non-election years can be a good exercise for organizations who do longitudinal or year over year studies, to understand this effect over time, and account for it in their strategies. 

  1. Simplifying The Research

As research participants may be facing research fatigue, it is very important to keep our research efforts focused on the key things that we need to learn.  We also take careful steps to simplify question structure and language - easing the cognitive burden on the research participants. This ensures the highest quality research responses, and most accurate results.  

The upcoming 2024 election cycle presents significant challenges for researchers navigating an increasingly sensitive political landscape, shifting consumer sentiments, and growing survey fatigue. Rathbone Falvey Research emphasizes the importance of maintaining neutrality, enhancing transparency, and adapting sampling techniques toensure accurate representation and data reliability.

Simplifying research designs and questions is also critical to mitigating participant fatigue and ensuring high-quality responses. By implementing these strategies, researchers can effectively overcome the hurdles of the election year, yielding impactful and unbiased insights despite the complex environment. As we move forward, it's clear that flexibility, sensitivity to participants' perceptions, and a commitment to methodological rigor will be key to navigating the ever-evolving research landscape during politically charged times.