Friday, October 31, 2014

Do elections matter (to a lobbyist)

Elections are held three out of every four years (municipal count to some lobbyists). We see the TV ads, hear the radio ads, get to stare at yard signs while commuting or running errands, but does anyone actually know what the candidates think about assorted issues? Well, lobbyists do. Especially for state and federal races, the person running those "vote for me because my opponent kicks puppies", is the person that can make or break an industry. All around the country, there are races that are hotly contested...the races where the media and campaign dollars flow are usually the ones most likely to strongly influence the general direction a municipality, state or even nation will take. I'm in Indiana. We don't have any major races at the state or federal level, but next door, in Illinois, the race for Governor is going to end up being the most expensive ever...probably $50 million give or take a few gallons of milk. $50 MILLION for a Governor's race! But the stakes are pretty high. Illinois is (depending on who you ask) in the hole about $100 billion, so whoever wins that race, someone is going to have to raise taxes and cut spending without any noticeable change for quite some time. The average voter probably didn't pay much attention when the race really kicked into gear because they were enjoying their spring, summer and fall activities. Now that it's down to the wire, the advertising is relentless. I'm surprised we don't get flyers while pumping gas when we go to visit the in-laws. While the average voter isn't paying attention, lobbyists are giving every penny they can find to help their candidate win because the stakes are so high for their group. Groups are going to see tax and services change based on what happens in the ballot box. So while the average voter is going to be impacted directly and indirectly to a much larger extent than a state association of dentists, that dentist group has been actively telling their members to support one candidate or the other based on his potential to help their group. It's the nature of politics, people support whom they perceive will benefit them the most and they've been watching the race long before anyone even formally declared their candidacy. So, as the 2014 election season draws to a close, enjoy the quiet that occurs on November 5th...because in early January, those people with the annoying yard signs and radio ads will be deciding on policies that impact every single one of us. Good luck!

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