Tips for Legislative Forecasting

Because the political landscape and environment can have a significant impact on the outcome of your issue in Congress, conducting a legislative forecast of the political environment is essential for lobbyists. In a positive environment you can take advantage of having a hook, but in a negative climate the associated disadvantages can hinder your prospects. Timing can be everything. For instance, if a hot new legislative priority should emerge it can have the effect of sending your issue straight to the back burner.

Radar dome
Creative Commons License photo credit: Robbie1

A legislative forecast also makes it possible to respond quickly and in an appropriate manner when circumstances change. Advance planning helps you examine different scenarios and establish back-up plans. Knowing the political environmental allows you to take advantage of the best timing.

Predicting the forecast for the political landscape is similar to forecasting the weather. You must monitor a variety of indicators while considering an array of different scenarios and be ready for changes to occur suddenly.

A variety of factors can influence your issue in regards to timing, support and substance. One of the most important factors to take into consideration when conducting a political forecast is public opinion, because Congress reacts to public sentiment. Always consider public opinion regarding your issue.

Also consider the level of commitment among your key supporters and allies, and which groups and players are most engaged in your issue. Look at key leadership and determine whether key policymakers have the ability to advance that issue. Also be aware of economic conditions–are there any potential distracters on the horizon that might make the issue unattractive? Do you have the political strength and votes in the committee or on the floor to move the issue forward?

Finally, take into consideration the president’s approval rating. Any Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelakchange in the presidential approval rating can increase or decrease congressional support for an issue.

To learn more about assessing the legislative environment, consider our 1-day course, Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, and our 3-day Capitol Hill Workshop.

Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Sections 3.13-3.15 Understanding and Monitoring the Broader Political Landscape and Environment

For more information about effective advocacy in Washington, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net