(Updated 06/15/2017) Political consulting firm Ellis Industries’ CEO Lisa Ellis has seen and worked her share of elections in the state of Maryland. She said one thing is always missing: data or candidate polls from the Black community for the Black community that often determine the outcomes.
She and her staff have always had to count on unscientific data culled from cold calls to Super Voter Lists. Super voters are voters who have voted in the last three election cycles. Currently, the leading polling companies in the state are Gonzalez, Gallup and Washington Post-University of Maryland.
Those polling companies, however, rarely provide results for local races such as county executive, county council, state senator, state delegate or municipalities. Most of the candidates in those types of races have to commission private firms to provide results. Ellis said sometimes because of unfamiliarly they rarely know where to turn to get accurate data.
“We have found there is a major void in the market,” said Ellis, who has worked as a major consultant on numerous local elections, including winning races for Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot and former county council representative Tony Knotts to name a few. Working as a consultant, she used her polling information to catapult Franchot to victory after starting with just 5 percent of the vote and with no name recognition in Prince George’s County. She also helped former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in his near victory.
Ellis, who has more than 15 years of political experience, currently is working on a poll for Prince George’s County Del. Darryl T. Barnes (D-25), who is considering a run for the state senate seat that is expected to be vacated by Ulysses Currie next year. She said she is also receiving calls from other local candidates who want to know where they stand before launching campaigns. On June 14, Barnes announced that he would not run for the seat. He said he plans to run for re-election in the Maryland House of Delegates.
“Our firm also will be doing a lot of work around issues as well,” Ellis said. “That’s the most important thing for candidates knowing and understanding the issues. Candidates need a starting point. They need to know what the concerns of the voters they represent will be.”
State Del. Diane Fennell (D-47th) said she thinks Ellis is on to something.
“This is something that is much-needed in Prince George’s County,” Fennell said. “ It is a service that I would use if it was available.”
Political Consultant Michelle Lyons says it would be good to do business with someone local who knows the candidates and the political landscape.
“Instead of calling some 800 number, we can call someone local,” she said. “This has been a long time coming. I think they have a great business opportunity.”