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CA State Senator Brian Jones, right

The Edgy Interview: California State Senator and All-Around "Good Guy" Brian Jones  

California State Senator Brian Jones is one of the “good guys” in elective office. Despite being an elected official since 2002, Brian is down-to-earth, approachable and engaging. In his recent race for Congress, people CERC knows described him as “the candidate you’d most like to have over to dinner.” That's pretty easy to see from this Edgy Interview, but now we also know he’s also the best guy to ride mountain bikes with!

Read the Interview with Brian Jones

CERC Advances with Two New Hires: Reg Whatley and Simone Aldern

CERC is pleased to welcome to new hires to its growing team: Director of Business Development, Reg Whatley and Research Manager, Simone Aldern.

Reg Whatley is a solutions provider with a diverse high-tech background. His experience ranges from global hardware original equipment manufacturers to SaaS startups to Samsung and almost everything in between. During his off time, Reg enjoys participating in triathlon as a Technical Official. He was the only US Technical Official to officiate triathlon at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Though Reg no longer competes, he prefers to share his experience in hopes others might benefit. One of his other interests is photography, both digital and film, and he describes his work as eclectic. We are pleased to have Reg on CERC’s team.

Simone Aldern holds a B.S. in Political Science/Data Analytics from the University of California, San Diego. Prior to joining the CERC team, she worked as a Research Fellow at UCSD where she managed a survey team focused on swing state voting and immigration policy. During her studies, Simone also interned in China, which led her to pursue a study abroad experience in Taiwan, where she became proficient in Mandarin. This sparked an interest in exploring the region, and she has spent seven months in Southeast Asia. Her favorite experience was a three day motorcycle tour through the remote mountain regions of Vietnam. Simone also enjoys competing in triathalons, doing weekend camping trips and taking her rescue pup (Milo) to Dog Beach.

Online Focus Groups Part III: The Power of In-Depth Interviews

Our third and final installment about online focus group techniques highlights in-depth interviews (also called “depth interviews,” “dyads” or “one-on-ones” and referred to as IDIs), a Competitive Edge specialty that are cousins to focus groups. We find some clients gravitate towards focus groups, with which they are familiar and are comfortable, when they should actually employ IDIs. But what is this technique?

Let's start with why we'd need to conduct a research project that uses IDIs for data collection. IDIs are the best way to get detailed and open-ended information from a small or difficult to engage segment of the population.

Consider a group of developers in a city where there are only 200 of these busy, high-status and well-compensated individuals. It is unlikely that these professionals would subject themselves to a non-confidential 90-minute videotaped discussion with potential competitors in the room or on a Zoom chat. It would be nearly impossible to expect eight to ten of these types of people to get together at the same time for a focus group, let alone two groups. Even if a group was convened, the additional compensation to get these individuals to show would likely make things prohibitively expensive.

Opinion surveys would also be unsuitable because there are not enough of these individuals to generate a random sample. Surveys also have a difficult time allowing for organic and qualitative research. You would be unable to dive deeper into a topic with, in our example, well-versed professional builders using a survey. If you want to understand underlying motivations, beliefs, attitudes and feelings, it's easy for a moderator conducting an IDI to probe and probe again to mine a rich vein.

IDIs can be thought of as halfway between focus groups and opinion surveys. While the number of interviews varies, typically 12 to 40 are completed. While length can vary, typically the interviews take 15 to 60 minutes. So, an in-depth interview usually requires less time from a respondent than a focus group, but involves more respondents, and an in-depth interview is usually longer than an opinion survey, but involves fewer respondents.

There are limitations to IDIs. While focus groups generate insights through participant debate, IDIs are unsuitable for that because they are conducted one-on-one. While surveys generate robust data that can be statistically analyzed, IDIs are like focus groups, as their proceedings are not formally generalizable to the population of interest.

From a technical standpoint, IDIs are easier to pull off than focus groups or surveys. The research firm must be able to recruit participants, schedule the interviews, competently design a questionnaire/discussion guide, and both interviewer and respondent must have a video camera hooked up to broadband connection. But that’s essentially what’s needed to collect the data (although analysis is another step). In fact, Competitive Edge has successfully conducted IDIs with no special software or online platform.

In this new online world where everyone has access to a video camera, research based on high-quality in-depth interviewing has become much more robust and feasible. IDIs can be an excellent option in many circumstances, as long as the limitations are understood. Competitive Edge has the expertise to conduct IDIs and provide actionable insight to its clients.

CERC Was COVID-free in 2020; Continues Strong Precautions

Competitive Edge continues to take all necessary COVID-19 precautions, including taking temperatures upon entering the call center and headquarters, requiring masks be worn, maintaining social distance in terms of the seating arrangement, sending home any employees displaying COVID-19 symptoms, encouraging handwashing, and work-from-home scheduling to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Changing from a survey center-based operation to a work-from-home platform was no easy task in 2020. We are proud that these measures have resulted in the fact that not a single CERC employee contracted a work-related case of COVID-19. We credit this success to the fact that CERC instituted strong precautions from the outset of the pandemic, and continues those precautions to this day.
Competitive Edge Research & Communication

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2021 AAPOR Report on State Election Polling Coming Soon

Competitive Edge and readers of The Edge are intensely interested in the 2020 state-level election polling. We’re happy to learn that the American Association for Public Opinion Research will be delivering an authoritative report in 2021. As with past reports, we expect an exhaustive treatment of the subject and the ways in which some statewide polls missed the mark.
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2021 Padres Tickets: As Loyal Season Ticket Holders CERC's Got 'Em!

It’s Spring Training eve and Major League Baseball has agreed to start the 2021 season on time. That means the San Diego Padres will soon proudly take the field at PETCO Park in their smash-hit brown uniforms (a fantastic CERC research project). Unfortunately, the Padres have made it clear that tickets won't be easy to come by due to California's limits on outdoor gatherings.

However, fortunately for CERC and its clients, Padres season ticket holders are guaranteed access to the games. We will have in hand what are sure to be some of the hottest tickets in town! As with years past, one of the great joys at CERC is taking in a ballgame with friends. If you're interested in a game, please give CERC President John Nienstedt a shout - Go Padres!
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