With the Virginia elections over opposition researchers may be wondering what’s next. Collection management should be a top priority. For years once an election finished opposition research was thrown in a box and tossed in a garage somewhere often lost forever. Research from prior elections is extremely valuable. First, not having to reinvent the wheel saves time and money. It is also possible that when a candidate runs for broader office some time later records and sources accessed in prior research may not be available. There is a strong push at the state and local levels today to destroy paper records custodians feel are of little value. To opposition researchers having a docket sheet showing an old case for a candidate is of little value without the actual case file to verify information.
The first step should be to digitize the collection. Much of what was collected is likely in digital form already. Everything else needs to scanned or photographed, if too large for a scanner, and added to the collection. This should include opponent’s flyers and rally handouts, mailings, and researcher notes. Some local and state parties have a point-of-contact for opposition research would be a good place to start. A copy of the collection should be given to your candidate. Opposition researchers should be reaching out to candidates from previous elections as they begin their own research.