For any policy campaign, it is essential to present data that defines the problem and science that support your policy solution. (For example, a campaign to increase a state tax on smokeless tobacco products would need to show data on the increasing use of these products among adolescents, as well as studies that show how a price increase leads to decreased use in this population.) Without data that explains the problem and justifies a solution, a proposed policy lacks credibility and is unlikely to gain the support of decision makers.
However, strong data alone will not guarantee a campaign's success! You will need an understanding of what is happening in the decision-making "environment" in order to plan your campaign approach. You can get a sense of this environment through research that answers the following questions:
Conducting this research early in your campaign will help you find "pathways of influence" – or ways to connect with lawmakers on your issue through common interests or contacts. You may find that your organization already has internal resources to help you reach key decision makers – and doing research early on will help you plan WHO and HOW to contact most effectively.