Under the Dome

GOP firm American Insights adds to NC polling scene

A new polling firm in Raleigh is marketing itself as the Republican alternative to PPP.

American Insights debuted in late February with numbers showing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in better shape than most other Democratic and independent polls suggested.

It also found Democrat Kay Hagan’s approval lower than one other survey (PPP), though her disapproval was down, too, with more listed as undecided. (A poll of the Republican primary for U.S. Senate had too high a margin of error to make conclusions.)

It joins a long list of firms polling in North Carolina, but the first native operation with a Republican slant. The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling is the most cited survey company because it polls North Carolina monthly. Other surveys from independent institutions, Elon and High Point universities, are conducted regularly but less often. The Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank that supports limited government, also commissions regular polling. Each uses different methodology with varying track records.

The man behind American Insights is Chris Stone, a Raleigh PR executive known for his expertise in targeting Christian faith-based consumers. Stone is a registered Republican who gave $1,000 to the N.C. Republican Party in 2013, records show. He runs the Stone Agency and recently launched a political consulting firm called Fusion Strategies.

Matthew Faraci, a Republican strategist, is running American Insights and Fusion Strategies. He previously worked for Generation Opportunity, a firm trying to target 18- to 29-year-olds to vote Republican, and before then Americans United for Life, an organization dedicated to fighting abortion.

Pearce Godwin, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, is American Insights’ polling director.

The firm released data from its “Signature Poll” on North Carolina politics last month, hoping a splashy debut would attract political and corporate clients. BestSchoolsNC, a new education-themed organization, is one of its first partners. Its first poll included straightforward questions about the elections and message-testing questions for clients.

Faraci said its unclear how often the firm will poll in North Carolina. The firm calls households through a combination of landlines, cell phone and online questionnaires conducted by live callers. The first poll surveyed registered voters pulled from the state’s voter file with assistance from Survey Sampling International, a leading national firm that is making the calls for American Insights.

The sample and results are weighted to reflect age, race, gender, geographic area and party registration, Faraci said. In North Carolina the party breakdown is 43 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican and 26 percent unaffiliated. Unlike other firms, American Insights does not publicly release its crosstabs.