2014 Midterm Election Advocacy Impact Report

With the exception of a handful of races now headed to runoff or recount the 2014 Midterm elections are over. While the coming months will prominently feature endless discussion as to the legislative impact of the election, we thought it was important to briefly highlight the impact to yours and thousands of other advocacy-active organizations across the country.

US Senate

With a pickup of 7 seats (at the present moment), the GOP will now be given the chance to prove there was substance behind the obstruction. All eyes will turn to the Senate now and the significant level of legislative activity that will be required to prove voters correct for giving them a chance at the reins.

From a pragmatic and logistical perspective this means your organization, like every other group out there, must now begin the process of identifying and executing the most positive and credible introduction possible. If you are an advocacy organization with a strong federal focus you have potentially lost scores of highly valuable relationships with 11 US Senators. Relationships that, in some cases, had developed between organization stakeholders and electeds over a period of decades.

The likelihood that Republicans will look to begin quickly adds additional urgency. Since virtually all pieces of currently considered legislation impacting broad sectors of the economic and ideological spectrums, the hallways, US Senate phone lines and email accounts will be crowded. Would an introduction from the incoming Senator’s high school classmate help or hinder your first attempts to establish a credible relationship?

US House

The GOP further solidified its grasp on the House, adding another 12 seats thus far. In truth, the results of the US Senate races will have more of an impact on the House’s role in the next Congress.

Recently the driver of discussion and motion, the House will get a breather as the US Senate steps into the lead spot for a time. Absent strategic clumsiness in the Senate, the House will likely play a prominent role at strategic moments when it believes the excesses of Senate compromise need trimming.

As always, the combination of its size, importance, and the fact that all members are up for reelection every two years, the House generates a tremendous work load for advocacy professionals. Even though the US Senate expected to step in as the driver of the legislative calendar, the House will likely continue to play an important role in the shaping of legislation.This only adds to the importance of beginning the process of building strong, credible relationships with the newly elected.

Over 60 newly elected Members of Congress translates directly into hundreds of hours invested in identifying and managing relationships.

From the drafting of emails to stakeholders and the innumerable phone calls that must be made to identify even 50 relationships between stakeholders and the newly elected, the results of the Midterm elections in the House are sure to keep advocacy professionals busy in 2015.

Governors, State Legislatures and Local

State-by-state constitutional and political considerations determine the level of influence governors have over legislation.

Even still, with constantly simmering tensions between federal and state policy boundaries (and 2016 Presidential politics now formally underway), governors and state legislatures will at times feature prominently in various legislative debates. In some cases it will be by seeking to oppose or thwart perceived overreach by their federal counterparts. In other cases they will move directly to address legislation they believe to be squarely in their purview.

One way or another, advocacy organizations will continue to see an increased need in bolstering efforts at the state level.

In this year’s Midterm elections 1,098 state senate and 4,958 state house seats were up for reelection. With 6,057 of the total 7,383 state legislature seats in the United States, the elections create a significant workload for advocacy organizations with interests represented at the state level. While the volume of lost relationships and work required to identify and develop new relationships can seem staggering, the increase in the volume of relationships existing between newly elected state legislators and stakeholders provides a huge advantage.

Are you prepared?

It doesn’t take more than a cursory glance at the results of this year’s election to see that advocacy professionals have their work cut out for them in 2015.

While the focus in advocacy has often been on the utilization of the organization’s assets (i.e. mobilization), more and more organizations are coming to understand the importance of developing a deeper, more strategic, targeted approach to the front-end of the process: the identification of the relationships with electeds and the stakeholders who hold them.

Making phone calls and sending emails are a central feature of the world we currently live in. That doesn’t mean technology doesn’t provide easier, more efficient ways to do things like identifying and managing the credible relationships that exist between stakeholders and electeds throughout your organization.

As you are finalizing the planning and outlining of your success plans following this year’s elections, pay close attention to the amount of time you plan to invest in capturing relationships with the newly elected. If it seems excessive, or you believe your time as an advocacy professional could be better spent, give us a call or email us. We’d love to share the many ways we can increase your effectiveness and give you time to focus on more strategic considerations. All for a fraction of the cost of a new entry-level staffer.

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