Opposition research: the collection and analysis of an opponent’s information.
Whether it's examining past policy missteps, personal indiscretions, or questionable financial activities, investigating opponents is a multi-faceted practice that develops information for a singular purpose: the collection and analysis of targeted data to enhance a candidate’s understanding of their opponent’s weaknesses.
It's a practice as old as the United States.
When evidence of America’s first sex scandal fell into Thomas Jefferson’s hands, he used the information to force his hated rival Alexander Hamilton from office and derail his presidential chances when Washington’s term expired. Andrew Jackson’s enemies unearthed marriage records implying he was an adulterer for marrying his wife before she was legally divorced from her first husband. William Herndon, Abraham Lincoln’s law partner, collected "all the ammunition Mr. Lincoln saw fit to gather" when preparing for the presidential race of 1860 against Stephen Douglas.
Although they used simple approaches compared to contemporary methods, the theme remains the same: candidates who win develop clear, actionable intelligence about their opposition.
The Role of Opposition Research in Modern Campaigns
Opposition research has a one purpose: develop or obtain information candidate can use to control a campaign’s narrative through shaping public opinion and media coverage. This enables a candidate to build a core argument into their campaign’s message – one that forces their opponent respond defensively.
What ICU Investigations' Does
ICU Investigations has executed research at every level – from presidential campaigns to local elections – building in-depth research through two methods: the systematic research of available public data regarding an opponent’s public, professional, and political record, and through physical surveillance and manual investigation. Whether we’re investigating campaign finance data, courthouse records, or questioning witnesses, ICU Investigation’s develops thorough profiles in the library and on the ground. We provide accurate, documented research to candidates, political parties, and interest groups that drive successful campaign communication strategies.
Over the years, campaigns have developed numerous methods of conducting opposition research. Choosing which method is best for your campaign depends on the type of information you hope to uncover.
For example, your opposition research may include:
Checking the veracity of a candidate’s personal story or biography.
Combing through the social media accounts of opposing candidates.
Questioning past colleagues or employers.
Inspecting the candidate’s voting record and tax records.
Whether you’re researching a first-time candidate or a forty-year political veteran, ICU Investigations can help you develop the strategy to that best fits your campaigns needs. Contact us for a free consultation to learn how our services can assist you in uncovering the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of your opponent’s campaign.