Survey: How Government Affairs Teams Will Work the 2022 Election
The 2022 election will alter the policy landscape for two full years, deciding which party controls Congress and settling thousands of state and local races nationwide. The State of Government Affairs Survey shows how GA teams plan to participate.
It will come as no surprise that 8 out of 10 government affairs professionals say their team will get involved in the 2022 elections. At many organizations, the stakes are too high to remain quiet.
But would you imagine that 28% of corporate pros say their company will support specific candidates? Or that 41% of companies will devote resources to GOTV?
The numbers are one of many strategic insights revealed in Capitol Canary’s State of Government Affairs Survey, which asked almost 500 professionals about their biggest challenges, the tactics they use, their goals for 2022, how they will address the election and many other questions.
Their answers can help your team set strategy for an election that will alter the policy landscape for the next two years. This year’s voting will not only decide which party controls Congress—Republicans are in striking distance in both the House and the Senate—but will choose thousands of state and local candidates nationwide.
The outcome will impact what President Joe Biden can do in the remainder of his term, how much legislation will flow through Congress, how states will respond on a bevy of issues and which party has momentum going into the 2024 presidential contest. Few things will have a bigger impact on your work.
What Teams Are Doing
How will government affairs teams get involved? The survey revealed a great deal:
- Issue Advocacy. Advocating on issues is the most common strategy, with 62% of all respondents saying their organization will do so. The number grows among associations (69%) and nonprofits (65%) and even more than half of companies (53%) will embrace this strategy. The numbers make sense. Issue advocacy is what government affairs teams do all year, every year, and they plan to do so in the election.
- GOTV. Organizations will devote significant resources to registering voters and helping them get to the polls this year. Almost half (45%) of all respondents said their organization will do so, with the numbers increasing among associations (52%) and nonprofits (50%). Even companies weighed in at 41%, perhaps higher than might be expected. The trendline here is clear. At a time when voting rules are changing due to the pandemic and partisan politics, organizations are stepping in to facilitate civic participation. Helping people vote is a safe way to play in this year’s election.
- Candidate Support. Supporting specific candidates has always been controversial. Organizations that do so take on risk. They can get accused of partisanship; alienate important constituencies, such as employees, members or customers; and make GA work harder by backing the wrong horses. Less than a quarter of all respondents (23%) said their organization would do so, with the number falling to 10% among nonprofits. Yet companies (28%) and associations (32%) are more willing than might be expected.
- PAC Contributions. More than a quarter of all respondents (27%) said their organization would contribute to candidates through a political action committee. That rose to 36% for companies and 53% for associations and shrank to 7% among nonprofits.
What Your Team Can Do
Membership organizations play a valuable role providing information to their audiences and helping them navigate the election—and this is equally true for companies. The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that eight out of 10 respondents (81%) want CEOs to visibly discuss public policy. Perhaps more important, almost three quarters of U.S. employees (74%) trust their employer, far more than the 39% that trust the government or the media.
If your organization does not have an election strategy, now is the time to fix that. When asked about tactics, survey respondents listed many, from holding candidate forums to asking candidates to fill out questionnaires. The appetite for election-related activity will be different in every organization, but all organizations can do something. Here are some things that every team can do:
- Create an Election Center. Give your audience one place to go to register, check their status, get candidate information, and find other valuable resources. A GOTV Election Center is a simple way to serve your audience and it provides a call to action you can use from now until Election Day.
- Send Election Updates. Sending your audience election updates throughout the year that remind them to register and provide important dates and deadlines does several things. It gives your supporters helpful information. It also shows that your organization cares about civic participation.
- Start a Pledge Campaign. One popular tool is a campaign asking for a pledge to vote. While fairly simple to enact, it sends a stronger signal to your audience that you care about the outcome of the election and that everyone should participate. On Election Day, you can ask people to send in photos with their “I Voted” stickers and highlight those who fulfilled their pledge on social media channels.
- Facilitate Voting. Not all states require employers to offer time off to vote, but your organization can. Consider offering time off, meeting-free days and other policies that help employees vote. More than 1,000 organizations have signed up with Electionday.org and agreed to offer accommodations.
With about eight months to go before Election Day, organizations have time to prepare. But smart teams are planning now. Meanwhile, we’ll be releasing more results from the State of Government Affairs Survey in the days ahead. Next up: what government affairs pros say are their biggest challenges.