Nothing to ad to this, just a rare look into the world (industry?) of opposition research by election committees and campaigns. Rothenberg Political Report:
In the field, the standard rule is to be discreet.
“Do not engage in any action or conversation that you would not want to read about on the front page of a major newspaper,” according to the “Ten Commandments of Opposition Research” listed on the third page of a “Field Research Guidebook” obtained from one of the committees.
If researching, instead of the research, becomes the story, “it says you’re not good at winning on the issues,” according to one party operative.
Eventually, all the research is compiled into a book, sometimes an actual binder with appropriate tabs, other times an electronic file that is passed on to candidates.
But “the book” is just the first step in the process.
“Just the list of votes does nothing,” according to one Democratic researcher. “The difference between good research and bad research is a comprehensive story.”
The goal is to develop a pattern, similar to what Democrats have tried all cycle to do in Louisiana by attempting to portray Sen. David Vitter (R) as anti-woman.
“If it looks like an isolated incident, then the candidate or committee will get push-back,” the researcher added. “It has to build into the narrative of who they are.”
Whether it’s in the hands of the committees or the candidates, the research is then often tested in polling. What is often construed as “push-polling” is actually just message testing to a small sample of voters. Getting the information out to more voters is another question.