Craciun says “Every vote matters”
by Mariah Oxford
Jean Craciun, sociologist and market researcher, took time away from her 8-day-old daughter to address Alaska Press Women at its November luncheon, just a few days before the election that had everyone talking.
Craciun provided her insights into the race, as well as predictions for how she thought it would turn out.
“I have great respect for communicators and journalists,” she told those gathered. “You present information in an unbiased, neutral, and fair way – and that’s some of what I’ve been doing in my career.”
Craciun has been in Alaska 26 years and began her business when she purchased the research division of Rick Mystrom’s ad agency in 1989.
Since then she’s worked during a lot of big campaigns, including for Wally Hickel, Arliss Sturgelewski, Tony Knowles, and Fran Ulmer.
During the 2006 election season, she’s been working for a lot of outside groups, from California to Michigan and Ohio. Yet everywhere she went in Alaska, people kept asking her, “What’s going to happen?” in the local races.
“Once critical mass was reached, I said I’d do a poll,” she said. Their poll was the first released before the primary, and according to Craciun, “We called it as it ended up.”
Regarding the Alaska state governor’s race, she noted that it would be a “very close race – it’s all about who shows up.”
“It will come down to each person’s vote,” she said. Her poll showed Knowles and Palin neck and neck with 43% each. Craciun indicated that she didn’t think Andrew Halcro would be a spoiler because he would get some votes from Republicans and some from Democrats.
Rather, she predicted, it would be the swing voters that would help decide the election. Who are they? “Honest, open, inclusive; they want elected officials that look, think and act as they do. They want a person you’d trust your kid to be picked up by from the toddler preschool. They value community involvement, have simple values of doing for oneself and being responsible for what they said.”
She said the race would come down to how much someone is impacted by what they saw in the Daily News, on a tv ad, or what they heard a friend say at a dinner party.
“Every single vote will matter this time, even more so than in the past.”
Regarding the race for U.S. Representative, Craciun predicted that Don Young would win, even though Diane Benson would make a good showing. “It won’t be enough to make a big difference.”
Craciun also talked a bit about a survey she had conducted on global warming for the National Science Foundation. One of the questions asked participants to rank different factors according to their levels of risk to American society. For Alaskans, terrorism was first, followed by the Iraq war and then global warming. However, Craciun noted that some Alaskans were in favor of global warming, with better weather and more tourism. “Some people want development and environmental conservation – the ‘I want it all’ group.”
Throughout her address, Craciun brought out the fascinating complexity of surveys and the factors that affect what people think at any given time. After answering a few questions, Craciun excused herself to be in the company of the person whose opinion she probably cares most about right now — her baby girl, Ana Sophia.
More about Jean Craciun
As a sociologist, Jean Craciun has researched every issue critical to Alaskans over the past 20 years — from global warming to subsistence to the urban-rural divide. Her company also does extensive work in marketing.
In 1989, Craciun founded her own research company, Craciun Research Group. Focus group research is one of Craciun’s specialties. She’s also regarded as an expert in surveying Alaska Natives and other indigenous peoples.