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Edgy Interview: San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector Dan McAllister

Dan McAllister
If you think tax collectors are a bit challenged in the personality department, then you haven't met Dan McAllister yet. Dan grew up in the days of surfboard southern California, playing drums in a rock band that was doing gigs on military bases before he even hit drinking age. Not long after, he went halfway around the world with the Peace Corps. After working in politics and business, he now heads up a tax collection department that speaks a whopping 17 different languages, and Dan regularly gets more votes than any elected official in San Diego County. Read Dan's interview and you'll never view tax collection as dry again (or dare to pay in pennies if Dan is nearby).
Read the Edgy Interview

Midterm Elections: Historic Midterm Trends Tell Us… Nothing?

As a researcher and a student of politics, it’s important to take in all views about the nature of prognistication as the midterms near. I came across this interesting piece by Doug Usher that throws a pretty cold blanket on just about.. everything. Doug contends that a review of House turnover since 1980 shows that although the average turnover number is modest, the numbers themselves have been all over the place from election season to election season.

One clear point that we should all remember: don’t take the average as the be-all end-all of analysis. Usher then dissects GDP, Presidential approval rating and unemployment, showing that each is indeed a good indictor for Presidential elections, but midterm performance has tended to defy prediction. A good read for those contemplating the existence or size of a blue wave that may (or may not) be coming in November. What do you think?
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Midterm Elections: Massive Increase in Newly Registered California Teen Voters

Campaigns, especially on the Republican side, will have to figure out ways to be relevant to these brand new voters. In San Diego, for example, we anticipate that at least half the folks voting in 2018 are new. That is, this is the first time most voters in a jurisdiction are seeing an incumbent supervisor, city council person or mayor on their ballot. See this article in The Sacramento Bee for broad reporting about new teen voter registration across the state of California.
Read the Article

John and David Catch a Padres-Phillies Game at PETCO Park

Call Center Manager David Ferree (left) & President John Nienstedt (right)
Who’s David Ferree? He’s our highly valued manager who we're thrilled to have as our Call Center Manager. David also happens to be a Phillies fan, because, well, he was born in Philadelphia. So, we flew David out from CERC's El Paso call center to catch a Padres-Phillies game, from behind home plate nonetheless. The outcome? It was the Padres all the way, and a great game to watch on a sunny afternoon in San Diego. Thanks for all your good work, David.
Competitive Edge Research & Communication

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CERC Completes Move to New
Downtown San Diego Offices

President John Nienstedt inside CERC's new offices
It's been work, and we're happy to share that CERC's move to downtown San Diego is complete! We are now comfortably installed at 1620 5th Avenue, Suite 825, San Diego, CA 92101. Our phone number stays the same: 619.702.2372

Feel free to give us a call, we'd be happy to invite you over and show off our great new views!

Ask the Guru

Q. What are the advantages of focus groups?
Sometimes to convey a "zen understanding" to others of a subject, we need to go back to first principles. Living and breathing survey research at CERC, we sometimes need to slow down and step back to share some basic advantages focus groups give us.

Surveys provide the means to represent a large population through a limited sample, but the quintessential exploratory nature of focus groups allows us to delve deeply into the voter’s psyche. We get to “play around with ideas,” exploring possible ways of treating an issue and making our case. Done correctly, the exploration done in focus groups will lead us to better survey questions.

Exploration allows us to take some time to find that potential “nugget.” It may only be a word or a phrase, or it may be a tone or a look, but the idea is that when you guide real people to talk and open up, you will eventually find what you are looking for. It’s not pure “stumbling upon,” the participants are directed. At the other end of the spectrum, it’s not a regimented color-by-numbers process. Both those approaches are likely to get dross, not gold. An approach that engages respondents and lets their minds develop and express ideas is the best way to get that crucial information to pop up.

in a very practical sense, focus groups are done to save time and money. They are insurance policies taken out against bad questionnaires, and they help researchers avoid having to conduct two or three surveys. If one spends $15,000 on focus groups to avoid having to re-do a $25,000 survey, is that not coming out ahead? Indeed, the place to stumble is in the soft grass. Focus groups allow us to take chances, make mistakes in the soft grass – and then learn from them so as not to fall off the cliff in the quantitative research phase. 
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San Diego Business Forecast: Business Confidence Continues
to Build in September 2018 

The San Diego Business Forecast
The San Diego County Business Forecast sponsored by CalPrivate Bank showed confidence continuing within the business community throughout September. The Business Outlook Index (BOI) comes in at a solid 19.7. Expectations about hiring have improved, while the local business community's outlook on hours offered to employees, company revenue and general industry conditions are holding steady.  

September's poll looked at the recently imposed tariffs on imports and exports, and how they will impact the business community. See the full August report at: The San Diego Business Forecast
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