John Morgan, a pioneer in political campaign targeting who played a major role in helping New Jersey Republicans capture control of the State Assembly in 1985, died on January 14. He was 73.
Morgan was an expert in the use of demographics and worked in the Reagan White House before opening his political consulting firm, Applied Research Coordinates, in 1985.
During the 1985 campaign, Morgan attended New Jersey GOP strategy meetings with oversized posters of legislative districts that he drew and colored in by hand to demonstrate where candidates should spend their time and resources. In the days before red and blue, Morgan viewed dark purple – the color of royalty, he said – as appropriate for the most Republican areas of a map.
“Back before PowerPoint or map programs John created visual tools that changed the way we approached campaign targeting,” Cliff Pintak, a Republican political consultant who worked in New Jersey in the 1980s, posted on his Facebook page. “He was a trailblazer and consummate professional but most of all John was one of the most decent and thoughtful people you could ever hope to meet.”
Republicans picked up fourteen Assembly seats in 1985, the year Gov. Tom Kean was re-elected with 70% of the vote, to give them a 50-30 majority. Morgan helped Republicans maintain the control in 1987 and regain it again in 1991.
“He was a fount of knowledge and a tower of strength,” said Joe Gaylord, a former executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).