By LISA M. HOFFMANN
IRON MOUNTAIN - A local marketing research company is polling about half of the 50 states on candidates whose names will be on the ballot Nov. 6.
Lisa M. Hoffmann/The Daily News Photo
Cathy Pettibone, interview trainer for Issues & Answers in Iron Mountain, is ready to conduct a survey about a candidate on the Nov. 6 ballot. The company is conducting marketing research for the election season.
Peter McGuinness, president of Issues & Answers, said the candidates range from senators and governors to mayors - to name a few.
"Interviewers ask questions about health care, economy, religious issues such as abortion, and even things like taking God out of the Pledge of Allegiance," McGuinness said.
Jim Carollo, facility manager for Issues and Answers of Iron Mountain, said interviewers are assigned an interview, pick up the phone, dial and get someone on the phone.
McGuinness said most of the polls go beyond candidate choices. "We poll registered voters. The types of questioning we do are more for issues, rather than who someone is going to vote for," he said.
Interviews last between 10 and 20 minutes.
McGuinness said interviewers may delve into local issues at the state, city or local level.
But those working at the Iron Mountain office do not poll Michigan residents. Carollo said they poll in other states, and not the local area, to avoid potential bias.
Employees at Issues & Answers are getting a pretty good current events education on voter issues and the candidates.
"Our interviewers are well-versed in candidates across the country," Carollo said. "On election night, they say 'Oh, I know who that candidate is.'"
McGuinness said the polls largely determine how people are reacting to issues.
"They (the issues) can be a new amendment, a referendum on new roads, construction, new development, local and state issues, such as highways, budget and health care. Those are the three major topics that are discussed," McGuinness said. "Of course, we are rating candidates on how they position themselves on each of those issues."
McGuinness added that when the data from the polls is tallied, it is studied and shared to help candidates shape their campaigns.
"Winning an election, even at the local level to the presidential level, is a management process," McGuinness said. "The best-managed campaign is usually the one that will win."
Polls conducted by Issues & Answers have been cited in large newspapers, including USA Today.
McGuinness said all political polls are conducted by telephone.
"It's the only way you can get the best representative sample of a community, state or nation," he said.
Once election polling season is over, McGuinness said the company will again focus on its tried and true clients - conducting surveys to measure advertising and new products in the health and pharmaceutical, computer, food and beverage industries.
"Every major decision that has to be made about a new product ... we will do research asking if (the public) wants it before the company ends up spending a lot of money on it," McGuinness said. "You have to do market research before launching a new product."
Issues & Answers was formed by McGuinness after he left a clothing and fabric company in New York that went out of business. Headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va., the company has locations in Grundy, Va., Connersville, Ind., Port Richey, Fla., and Escanaba and Iron Mountain. The 30-year-old company has had a location in Iron Mountain since 2006.
Questioned on why the company has two locations in the U.P., McGuinness said, "Because Yoopers come to work every day, they have very clear speaking voices and a good work ethic."
The Iron Mountain location has 106 employees.
Carollo said employees range from high school seniors to retirees from varied backgrounds including lawyers and bank supervisors.
"This is a good job for transitioning back into the work force or to make extra money for the holidays," he said.
Issues & Answers is located at 101 West B St., suite 101 and 102. The company moved to this location in August 2011. It was previously located in the CCI building on Kent Street.
Hours are 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.