Professional, targeted research is in a different league than political polling. The kind of institutional research that IQS Research does is not the same kind of research that a pollster does.

Polls can play an important role in city governments understanding their constituents, but the polls are often surrounded by political messages that can be misleading. To really get a tactical pulse on your community and the opinions of constituents, it’s vital to talk to the silent majority who will not hastily and loudly volunteer their needs and views.

From town hall meetings to city and county message boards, often the people who participate — the squeaky wheels — do not represent the majority opinion of the community. It can be too easy to take these participants’ input and run with it because it’s so accessible, but that’s a mistake.

You need to get the opinions of the silent majority, the ones who are sitting in their living rooms or are out working, or are in their neighborhoods volunteering, but are not showing up at meetings. Targeted professional research does just that, and it can reap tremendous benefits for your city or community, as a politician or community manager. Polling cannot.

A good example of this misunderstanding can be the perceptions of the downtown area of a community. Most people think they know what suburbanites think of downtown…it’s dirty, parking is hard to find, it’s dangerous, confusing to maneuver, etc.

But what we typically find is that most people don’t actually think these things at all. Most people who aren’t engaging with your city’s downtown don’t hate anything—they’re just apathetic. There’s a lot competing for people’s attention these days, and most of the time your downtown or the causes you’re focused on just don’t make the cut. It’s not about problems to be fixed; it’s about giving people a reason to care because apathy is the enemy, not negativity.

This insight only comes with a higher level of research, not with political polling. With this higher level research, you can make the changes in your community that will motivate people to make the trek downtown — or whatever large-scale community issue you’re dealing with — and not be distracted by the hidden agendas of a vocal few..

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