Top Pollster Award Goes to LI Graduate

January 9, 2013 | By Lauren Day

Leadership Institute graduate and former intern Chris Perkins was recently named the top Texas pollster by Capitol Inside’s bi-partisan “Political Consultants Power Rankings.”

Maybe you’ve heard of some his clients: Texas Rep. Doc Anderson, Texas Rep. Greg Bonnen, Texas Senator Donna Campbell, Texas Rep. Stefani Carter, Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Texas Rep. Tony Dale, Texas Senator Kelly Hancock, Texas Rep. Charles Perry, Texas Senator Larry Taylor, Texas Rep. James White as well as Texans for Lawsuit Reform, Texas Republican Representatives Campaign Committee, and Conservative Republicans of Texas, just to name a few.

Helping Ted Cruz win and head into the U.S. Senate this month was one of Chris’ professional highlights.

“Ted Cruz’s win was huge—for many reasons,” Chris told me. “It was great to be involved with such a great man—Mr. Cruz—knowing his heart is in the right place and knowing he’ll do great things for conservatives in the U.S. Senate.” 

“The first poll I did for Cruz was in July 2011 and had him at 2 percent (with only a quarter of likely Texas voters that had ever heard him) - and the margin of error was 3 percent.  So it was a tall order and a full team effort taking him from 2 percent in the polls into the United States Senate,” Chris said.  “For me personally, it validates our firm’s polling accuracy – which is the best in the country – and validates the methodological tools we provide to campaigns that show how voters move behind certain messages, how they gravitate toward candidates based on what type of information that they are receiving, and what issues we are attacked on that we leave alone.”

Chris’ firm WPA took the 1.4 million Republicans who cast Republican primary ballots and used four key demographic variables—age, gender, region, and voter history—to generate a probability score for how likely each person would be to support Ted Cruz in the runoff. These numbers enabled the Cruz campaign to target individual voters with selected pieces of information such as direct mail and phone calls and get the voters to turnout in favor of Cruz on Election Day.  

“This individual level targeting was essential to cutting Dewhurst’s lead in the primary, and eventually overtaking him in the weeks leading up to the runoff,” Chris said. “We are very proud of the work that we have done in the past year and very proud to have worked for Ted Cruz.”

Chris smiled, “Some media folks have called me the ‘young buck’ in the polling business because of my age in comparison to other pollsters, and this victory solidifies my standing in the industry in providing solid, accurate survey research and strategic advice.”

When asked about how Chris learned of the Leadership Institute, he said: “When I was 19-years-old back in 1996 I was working for my first boss in politics – Congressman Steve Stockman.  He encouraged me to attend the LI schools on the weekends during the summer months of his campaign.  I’m glad to see that Mr. Stockman has returned to Congress this session.”

Chris took LI’s Candidate Development School in July 1998, the Youth Leadership School in July 1998, Public Relations School in June 1998, Capitol Hill Writing School in June 1998, Youth Leadership School in March 1998, Public Relations School in March 1998, and the Broadcast Journalism School in August 1996.

“All of the LI schools taught me valuable tools in how to engage voters using skillful campaign techniques. They have been invaluable to me,” Chris said.

So invaluable that he volunteers his time to share his expertise as a LI faculty member at campaign, fundraising, lobbying, future candidate, and youth leadership trainings.

“It’s important to continue training young conservatives for the future of the conservative movement,” Chris shared with me.  “Voters are receiving information in substantially different ways today than they were just 8 to 10 years ago.  It’s important that the conservative youth are learning the proper communication techniques so our public policy goals can be advanced.”

Chris is a partner at WPA Opinion Research, which helps elect senators, Members of Congress, and other leaders; helps not-for-profit organizations grow donor support; and helps companies weather crises, enter new markets, and thrive in current ones.

In the 2010 election cycle, Chris polled for 16 winning Republican candidates in the state legislature, U.S. House of Representatives, and in statewide office in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, and Virginia.

Chris teaches ‘Polling and Targeting’ for the Annette Straus Institute’s New Politics Forum at the University of Texas at Austin, which provides college students a bi-partisan look at how modern political campaigns are managed.

From 2006 to 2008 Chris worked as the independent expenditure unit manager at the Republican National Committee.

And, from 2001 to 2006 he was the executive director of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s Americans for a Republican Majority PAC.

Chris graduated in 1999 from my alma mater—Abilene Christian University in West Texas—with a political science degree. While in college, he came to the Leadership Institute and interned.

“Leadership Institute training is necessary for any conservative who wants to learn campaign and communications techniques to advance our public policy goals,” Chris said.

Come get trained. Check out our 2013 training schedule here.

Lots of LI graduates and faculty were on Ted Cruz's campaign. Click the links to read about Cruz's Deputy State Field Director Nick Dyer and Cruz's Digital Strategist Vincent Harris.

Please welcome Chris Perkins as the LI’s Graduate of the Week.

To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member to be featured as LI's spotlight of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Day, formerly Lauren Hart, at Lauren@LeadershipInstitute.org.