Click here to hear Jason Stanford’s interview with Michele Norris on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”
Jason Stanford certainly knows that. He has been doing opposition research since 1994, when he was hired by Texas Gov. Ann Richards to peer into George W. Bush’s background. He now has own firm specializing in background research for Democratic candidates.
He says that simply finding a past blemish is not always enough to change voters’ minds.
“It has to be accurate. It has to be relevant,” he said. Even though bringing up embarrassing news about relatives is common, voters dismiss those stories, Stanford says.
“What they do use to make their choices are things like your voting record, who you take money from, what your business record is, and whether or not you say one thing and do another.”
Opposition research has become more prevalent and more potent with changes in technology and an overall coarsening of American politics.
“Opposition research is ubiquitous,” Stanford says. “I’ve done it for races as small as city council in one-stoplight towns.”