For 50 years, the American Rental Association’s (ARA) partner, BIPAC (Business and Industry Political Action Committee), has been advocating for more pro-business candidates in Congress by encouraging the business community to share voting and candidate information with employees.
Recent research conducted by BIPAC shows that 59 percent of voters said they would “tend to believe information provided by their employer,” while 55 percent of 2012 voters said they want employer input on policy and politics.
“Then as now, this is a powerful audience to inform, motivate and encourage,” says Alysia Ryan, ARA’s director of state government affairs.
“The polarization in Washington, D.C., has helped the business community understand what BIPAC has known for a while — that their stake and influence in supporting business-friendly candidates is enormous and that no election can be overlooked. They see that the left has gone more to the left and the right has gone more to the right, which has left businesses wanting something more in the middle, something more mainstream and business-friendly,” Ryan says.
“The business community now feels more motivated to play a larger role in the election process, especially with the tepid economic growth many have experienced in the last few years and the growing divide between Democrat and Republican fiscal policy. After waiting patiently, they seem to have realized that the current political system doesn’t have many answers and they are looking for a more pragmatic view,” Ryan says.
Ryan says the government shutdown in 2013 also caused subtle, but important landscape shifts, which could play a large role in the 2014 elections.
“The shutdown caused damage to Congress’ reputation and raised the business community’s awareness that it needs to mobilize on behalf of pro-growth, pro-stability candidates. The shutdown and the responsibility for it have faded for the most part, but what hasn’t gone away is endemic disenchantment with incumbents in both parties. The business community has realized that disrupting the business environment is as dangerous to the economic climate as any anti-competitive policy promoted in Congress,” Ryan says.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the first test of this new business mindset was the special election run off in Alabama’s First Congressional District, where business-friendly Republican Bradley Byrne ran against Republican candidate Dean Young.
“Byrne won, but in large part because the business committee rolled up its sleeves at the last minute and pushed hard for him. This serves as a predictor that with more planning and better coordination the business community can be even more effective in producing general election candidates that won’t threaten the foundations of the economic and business climate,” Ryan says.
“There’s been a tide change in how businesses look at candidates and elections. Most business leaders historically haven’t liked getting dirty in political fights. After all, they have businesses to run no matter who is in office. They’ve pretty much hoped for the best until now,” she says.
Even though 2014 is an “off-election” year because there is not a presidential election, there are thousands of races to be decided — 36 state governors, all 435 members of the House of Representatives, 33 U.S. Senators and thousands of state house representatives across the country.
“Businesses, including all ARA member businesses, are being looked to for guidance and information by their employees, their industry and those who want to represent them. Don’t underestimate or squander this chance to flex your muscle and be heard — as part of the business community, resolve to inform your employees and encourage them to Get Out the Vote in 2014,” Ryan says.