David Petts is a founding partner of Normington, Petts & Associates. David Petts has over thirty-three years of experience in public opinion research and strategic consulting.
In 2012, David Petts helped guide incumbent Governor Jack Markell in Delaware and Governor Jay Nixon in Missouri to landslide victories, the culmination of four years of strategic advice dating back to their initial victories in 2008. In 2012 and 2014, he also conducted polling in over a dozen U.S. Houses races for the independent expenditure efforts of the DCCC and House Majority PAC, along with the successful campaigns of Jason Kander as Secretary of State in Missouri and Eugene DePasquale as Auditor General in Pennsylvania. Petts has done extensive polling for the Democratic Governors Association. In 2010, he polled for the DGA’s Independent Expenditure races in Connecticut and Rhode Island and in 2014, he conducted polling on their behalf in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
In 2008, Petts helped guide Jack Markell to an upset victory in the Democratic primary for Governor in Delaware, and then on to a win in the general election. In 2010, he helped engineer Joe Sestak’s surprise, come from behind, victory over Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. And in 2009, Petts helped Creigh Deeds in his stunning upset victory in Virginia’s Democratic primary for Governor. For the last six election cycles, Petts has polled for the DCCC Independent Expenditure program helping them gain a majority for the first time in 12 years. In 2006, he also conducted polling for the DSCC Independent Expenditure effort in Missouri, Minnesota and New Jersey.
David Petts regularly delivers lectures on American elections and polling to both graduate and undergraduate students at a number of universities. He has lectured at the University of Pennsylvania, Exeter University in England, American University, and George Mason University among others.
His clients have included major corporations such as Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, Virginia Power, G-Tech Corporation and Kansas City Power and Light. Non-profit clients have included Workforce Alliance, the United Auto Workers, the Environmental Defense Fund, the League of Conservation Voters and the Beldon Fund.
From 1988 to 1991, David Petts was a founding member of Donilon & Petts Research. During the three years of the company’s existence, the firm conducted polling for a wide array of clients including Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey, Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, Senate challenger Harvey Gantt against Jesse Helms (1990) and Congressmen Owen Pickett (VA), Stephen Neal (NC) and John Murtha (PA). In 1989 Donilon and Petts Research conducted the polling for Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder in his historic election as the first African American Governor in the South since Reconstruction. In 1991, the firm conducted the polling for Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford in his stunning upset of former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh. In that race, Wofford started out the race more than 40 points behind Thornburgh and went on to win by ten points.
Prior to founding his own companies, David Petts was Executive Vice President of Hickman-Maslin Research from 1985 to 1987. Mr. Petts came to Hickman-Maslin Research from Pat Caddell’s firm Cambridge Survey Research, where he conducted research for clients that included Coca-Cola, Apple Computer and AT&T; political research for clients that included Mario Cuomo (NY), Senator George Mitchell (ME), Senator Paul Simon (IL) and the 1984 presidential campaign of Gary Hart.
David Petts has also conducted work for international clients. He has conducted polling for Prime Minister Suzy Roemer of the Netherland Antilles. He has also worked with the National Democratic Institute volunteering his time for democracy building projects in Nicaragua and election monitoring in Bulgaria.
A graduate of Arizona State University, David Petts attended graduate school at the University of Michigan where he worked on the National Election Study at the Institute for Social Research (ISR). While at ISR, Mr. Petts worked with Professor Don Kinder on a cognitive model of voting behavior that transformed the academic analysis of presidential elections.