Cornell Belcher

Fall 2015
Visiting Fellow

Cornell Belcher is President of brilliant corners Research & Strategies and is one of the premier strategists in national progressive politics as well as in the rebranding of corporate America. He is also a former political contributor to CNN, having provided political analysis to them for six years. Cornell served as Pollster for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) under Chairman Howard Dean making him the first minority to lead in that role for either national Party. He also served on the polling team for both Obama presidential campaigns. Over the years, Cornell has worked with both Senate and House Democrats as Senior Political Advisor to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) in the 2002 cycle and Special Projects Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in the 2000 cycle. And Cornell served as Women VOTE! Coordinator for EMILY’s List in the 1998 cycle, helping to put together communication and GOTV operations targeting women voters all over the country.

Belcher is an experienced hand at campaign politics and has years of expertise in quantitative and qualitative research, message development, and product and behavioral insight. Founding brilliant corners in 2001, he is considered the vanguard for demographic trends among the emerging younger and browner America. Both the political and corporate world seek his counsel to decipher emerging trends and to develop communication strategies for reaching this coalition redefining the American marketplace. In 2008 and 2012, youth and minority voters over-indexed and changed the face of the electorate helping not only President Obama, but progressive candidates and issues up and down the ballot; indeed in 2012 African American voter turnout surpassed that of whites for the first time in history.  Both historic watershed moments that greatly depended on Cornell’s nonconformist contributing work.

As the pollster for the Democratic National Committee under the pioneering Chairmanship of Governor Howard Dean, he was able to ignore beltway criticisms and take the national Party’s research into previously unchartered directions, exploring how best to challenge Republicans’ strengths among voters in supposedly untouchable "red states," particularly "faith" or "values first" voters. Cornell’s research helped rebrand and reposition the Democratic Party to better compete for voters in areas previously thought to be lost to Democrats. Under Governor Dean’s leadership, Cornell helped to construct a savvy framework for the visionary 50 State Strategy that expanded the Democratic footprint on the electoral map and ultimately produced a Democratic realignment. Asked about Cornell’s role, Governor Dean was quoted in the Washington Post as saying that the research conducted by brilliant corners for the DNC was "the best poll [he'd] seen in ten years."

Cornell has built brilliant corners into an established brand that organizations and companies seek out daily for its unique perspective and creative approach. Additionally, Belcher was recognized for his stellar contribution to the field as one of the pollsters of the year by the Association of Political and Public Affairs Professionals (APPC). Twice Cornell has been named to The Root 100, a list of the top 100 African American achievers and influencers in the country. He has been featured in a variety of media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Black Enterprise, The Root, The Atlantic, POLITICO, CNN, The Russ Parr Show, Anderson Cooper 360, BET, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Melissa Harris-Perry, and BBC. He also serves on George Washington University’s National Council for Media and Public Affairs.

Disclaimer: This information is accurate for the time period that this person was affiliated with the Institute of Politics.