Turn on the Twitter, or the TV, or any other source of news. Times are changing so quickly, you might feel like the ball on a roulette wheel.
Voters are frustrated. Politicians are polarized. Media are befuddled.
This political environment shift – roulette-spin-esque downward spiral, whatever you want to call it – is having a major impact on the legislative process in the states and on Congress.
In response, you can’t double down on the ways you educate and persuade elected officials. How you frame your issue, participate in elections, and build rapport needs an adjustment.
Here are three casino-themed tips to help your corporation or association improve its odds of successfully navigating the new political reality in both elections and Statehouses.
Learn to Count Cards
Information is power in politics and advocacy. Remember the scene from Rain Man when Tom Cruise realizes Dustin Hoffman can count cards?
That information is invaluable in a casino. (NOTE: Don’t ever go into a casino and attempt to count cards; that’s a great way to end up in a desert scene a la The Hangover.)
You can have similar power, however, with access to the right data. Know what voters think about candidates in elections. Understand what constituents in targeted districts think about your key issues. Review an elected official’s current issue positions and previous media statements.
Gather this data from polling, opposition research, and vote histories. Take it up another notch by working with a firm that specializes in collecting and synthesizing this data for use in legislative affairs and advocacy.
Make Early Bets
We have all watched as that one guy at a craps table waits to see what everyone else bets, then haphazardly places nonsensical bets he believes will make him rich right before the dice are rolled.
If you aren’t playing in primary elections, you aren’t playing the same game as everyone else. Thanks to decades of redistricting by both political parties and changes in political polarization, the partisan outcome of most districts is decided before an election occurs.
Many legislative elections are essentially over by the summer, and investments you make in races for the fall are like giving dimes when everyone else is giving dollars.
Playing in primaries requires more work and research. The battlelines aren’t as clear, so polling and candidate interviews are your friend.
Know the Rules
The rules of legislative affairs used to be: 1) start a deep relationship, 2) spend more time building that relationship, and 3) cash in those relationship chips; bill either starts or stops.
Not any more.
Candidates want to know you care about their election while it’s going on. That means more than simply anteing up.
Elected officials want to hear about your issues from “folks back home,” not just the guy or gal in the nice clothes hanging around the capitol.
Public opinion and media coverage can undo years of your hard work in mere days.
If these changes to the political environment cause you night sweats, it’s time to rethink your Statehouse-only strategy to ensure public policy is fair to your industry.
With 2018 right around the corner, now is the perfect chance to supplement your current approach, ensuring you tackle each of the three areas mentioned in this article.