Stagwell is partnering with RealClearPolitics to help the independent media company enhance its political polling site and advertising platform ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
RealClearPolitics specializes in aggregated polling averages. Stagwell, which owns The Harris Poll, is tasked with reimagining RCP’s polling platform to be more interactive while developing an advertising offering that draws brands interested in connecting with RCP readers. The new site will include both custom and programmatic advertising units in addition to email content opportunities.
While both Stagwell Chairman-CEO Mark Penn and RCP CEO John McIntyre were adamant that RCP will maintain complete control of editorial content, the partnership has the potential to raise some eyebrows, considering Penn’s past in political spaces. Penn began his career as a pollster and worked on Bill Clinton’s successful 1996 presidential run and Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 run.
In recent years, Penn has been linked to President Donald Trump, making TV appearances denouncing impeachment efforts and facing accusations that he offered counsel to the former president on the impeachment process in 2019. A spokesperson for Penn strongly denied the accusations.
Penn is firm in maintaining this partnership is not about politics or ideology. “I’m not advertising myself on this,” he said. “Today I just do commentary and just call balls and strikes on what’s going on, whether people like it or not. This is about upgrading the polling experience for people.”
RCP’s dedication to being a “trusted source for non-partisan news, analysis and commentary,” as it specifies on its website, was called into question by the New York Times after the 2020 election when it was the last outlet to call the election for President Biden. The delay was a foothold for many Trump allies who spread election falsehoods. Some of the site’s funding was also connected to several nonprofits linked with wealthy conservatives.