Richard Wiens, The Triplicate

Focus on the positive, flaunt your knowledge, downplay incumbency and put on some comfortable shoes for going door-to-door.

Oh, and don't forget about The Daily Triplicate, which is read by an astounding 96.6 percent of likely voters in Del Norte County, according to a newly released survey.

That's some of what the 25 or so candidates for local office in the Nov. 2 election could glean from the LifeStyles Research Company survey of 300 people who voted in the last two elections. It was conducted June 22-26.

The fact that almost all of the respondents said they read the newspaper is gratifying - and a strong reminder that in Del Norte there really is only one source for local news. More humbling is the fact that when asked to identify the section of the paper most important to them, more chose letters to the editor (30.4 percent) than local news (18.5 percent).

I knew letters to the editor were well-read, but those results surprised me. They make me glad that we cleared out a bit more space for those letters as part of our recent design changes, just in time for pre-election correspondence.

The Daily Triplicate also soared to the top when respondents were asked to identify their three most important sources of information about local candidates. The newspaper in general was mentioned 32.9 percent of the time, and candidate forums - generally organized by the paper - were mentioned 14.8 percent of the time. Radio got 12.2 percent.

Here's a message for candidates: In deciding who to vote for, 48.5 percent said the most important factor is "positive information" about the candidates, compared to just 4.4 percent who said "negative information" is most important. By the way, second-highest at 27.2 percent was a newspaper editorial.

What three qualities of candidates were most important to respondents? Knowledge (31.8 percent), integrity (29.1 percent) and honesty (25.7 percent) were tightly bunched, with leadership much lower on the list (11.4 percent).

As for incumbency, 28.1 percent viewed it as positive but 26 percent viewed it as negative andndash; 45.8 percent said "not sure or neither." That 26 percent negative might make current office-holders think twice about flaunting their experience.

Del Norte candidates in past elections have spent a lot of time making personal visits to voters' homes, and the survey supports the wisdom of that practice. Asked what is most helpful in influencing their vote, 37.5 percent of respondents said having the candidate appear at the door. Newspaper ads were second at 17.4 percent.

There's a lot more for candidates to chew on in the latest work of LifeStyles Research Company, including statistical breakdowns by gender and political party.

Here at the newspaper, we're looking forward to playing our role in the local elections over the next 10 weeks with news coverage, advertisements, candidate forums and editorials. And yeah, it's nice to have survey results that validate the importance of that role.

Happy campaign season.