Paul Harstad, JD


Boulder, Colorado

Phone — 303-545-0200
E-mail —


Paul Harstad brings 38 years of experience in government, survey research, public affairs and campaign strategy.


Harstad Strategic Research has achieved probably the best win-loss record in November elections of any Democratic pollster in America, having won 52 out of 59 statewide general elections for U.S. senator, governor, initiatives and presidential Battleground states – all but a handful of them competitive.  This includes winning 14 out of 17 races for U.S. senator and 15 of our last 16 statewide referenda campaigns.


We have had the privilege of working with Barack Obama since 2002 when he was a little-known state senator (even in most of Illinois) through 2009 when he has probably become the most-recognized and most-admired person in the world.


Unlike most Democratic polling firms based in the DC Beltway, Harstad Research is based in Boulder, Colorado, where the firm built a clientele of six Democratic U.S. senators (Obama, Salazar of Colorado, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Mark Udall of Colorado).  While having worked in Washington, DC, Harstad was raised in the Midwest and since DC has lived in Colorado for 15 years.

We continue to expand upon a remarkable pattern of stand-out victories in nearly every election cycle.  This winning record is not achieved by accident, but instead through listening to clients, hard work, creative survey design, strict survey methodology, thoughtful analysis, strategic insight, and ongoing guidance throughout the campaign.

It is easy to win elections in heavy-Democratic years, but we win tough races in Republican years like:

It can be easy to win elections in Blue States, but we win close races (typically with 51%) in Red States such as in:

In fact, five of our six U.S. senators took over seats held by Republicans, including two who defeated the GOP incumbents.


Few if any polling firms in the nation can match our record of having won 14 of our last 15 statewide referenda campaigns.  Our work on referenda has focused on protecting and increasing funding for public education, as well as promoting renewable energy, funding tobacco prevention programs, and increasing tobacco taxes.

A few of our other clients include Stanford University, the National Education Association, the American Cancer Society, Environmental Defense Fund, Tobacco-Free Kids, the Trust for Public Lands, the League of Conservation Voters, and a variety of foundations.

Paul Harstad has a law degree from Georgetown University, earned while working full-time in the U.S. Senate.  He is admitted to the DC bar but chose to both bypass law practice and leave DC in favor of politics, raising his two children and his office overlooking a lake just north of Boulder, Colorado.




Andrew Maxfield, PhD


Senior Vice President
Washington, DC

Phone — 202-387-4738
E-mail —


Andrew Maxfield has been seeking out communication challenges, conducting innovative research, and developing successful communications strategies for 20 years. He is known for “looking around the corner,” providing well-rounded recommendations on message and framing strategies to help clients create opportunities and deal with the unexpected turn of events. Unique amongst political pollsters for his expertise in the science of persuasion, his diverse background in communications, and his training in qualitative and quantitative research and analytical methodologies

Some of Andrew’s biggest accomplishments including being the pollster for Senator Jon Tester of Montana. He provided the research and strategic leadership in what was widely hailed as one of the best run Senate campaigns in the country in 2012. Senator Tester defeated 5-term Congressman Denny Rehberg by a margin of 3 points in a state that President Obama lost by 13 points. Additionally, Andrew was the pollster for Democrat Walt Minnick in his 2008 upset win in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, one of the most Republican House Districts in the country. Andrew has also conducted a number of in-depth and highly innovative communication research projects for Obama for America and DNC from 2007 to 2012 on issues and messaging.

Andrew’s message and positioning strategies have been adopted widely by progressive candidates and organizations on several key issues, including climate change (with Breakthrough Strategies) and taxes (for the Center for American Progress, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and other progressive groups). He contributed a number of innovations for progressive causes. Andrew was instrumental in the early efforts to develop microtargeting on the Democratic side in 2003 and 2004. He developed advanced statistical analyses for the Obama campaign that was recognized in the 2009 ARF David Oglivy Awards.

Previously, Andrew evaluated public health communication and social marketing campaigns for the Centers for Disease Control, developed strategies for encouraging organizational change among health care organizations for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and worked on developing innovative uses of interactive communication technologies in developing nations for the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs.

Andrew received his Ph.D. in Communications Research from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. He taught communications research at the University of Maryland and has published research in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the British Medical Journal (BMJ), and other peer-review journals. Andrew is also a returned Peace Corps volunteer, serving in The Gambia from 1989 to 1991.




Shawn Bird, PhD


Washington, D.C.

Phone —  202-779-0259
E-mail —


Shawn Bird has been at the vanguard of the opinion research field for the last 15 years, conducting quantitative and qualitative studies in a wide range of environments and providing data-driven analysis to a diverse set of clients.  He recently joined Harstad Strategic Research after 12+ years at the U.S. State Department, where he served as the Deputy Director (Acting) of the Office of Opinion Research.

Over the years, Shawn has directed opinion research in over 100 countries—from Europe to Asia to Africa to Latin America—and has had to overcome myriad obstacles to deliver methodologically-sound research and first-rate analysis.  He knows how to tailor research methods to fit the conditions and culture of a given population helping to make certain he gets it right for the client.  On multiple occasions, Shawn has given keynote remarks at conferences of international opinion researchers, most recently in Dublin, Ireland in 2015.

Shawn designs customized research for the needs of clients—whether it’s been for the U.S. Secretary of State who wants to understand sentiments of foreign publics, an emerging company seeking to gauge its public image and opportunity for expanding market share, or a campaign needing research-based message development.

Shawn never forgets that a successful research project starts with listening to the client.  Clients know best what they need, but often aren’t sure how best to collect it.  Before deciding on an appropriate sample frame, interview mode, or question-wording, Shawn works with clients to identify a central research question and desired actionable outputs.  Setting a research project off on the right foot greatly improves the prospect of a gainful conclusion to it.

Effective communication—whether to prospective voters or consumers—depends on understanding the targeted audience’s values and emotions.  Harstad Strategic Research’s approach to research zeros in on what messages resonate most and what factors drive feelings and behavior.  Shawn employs the firm’s multi-dimensional approach to message testing that uses experimental research designs.

Shawn earned a Ph.D. from the University of Florida, a Master’s Degree from the University of Colorado, and a BA from the University of New Hampshire, all in the field of Political Science.  He has taught courses at Tufts University, Bentley College, and UMass-Boston.  He is a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the World Association of Public Opinion Research (WAPOR).