Public Policy Council Update – October 27, 2010


October 27, 2010

A master of the political arena met with The Chamber’s Public Policy Council members last week – and provided an up-close viewpoint of just how much the national political landscape is likely to change following  next Tuesday’s elections. 

John Ashford, founder and CEO of The Hawthorn Group in the Washington, D.C. area is a native of Marshall, Missouri and has participated in years of candidate and issue campaigns.  He was once called a “kingmaker” by the Kansas City Star.  His firm specializes in grass roots advocacy and is an international public affairs company of senior political specialists.   

Ashford regaled the PPC with his comprehensive look at the major elections across the US and a comparison of the leading pollsters’ assessments of the national races.  He called the 2010 elections “A season of changing fortunes,” evidenced by retirement, outsiders’ victories, money and the “Massachusetts Miracle,” Scott’s win in the race for Teddy Kennedy’s Senate seat. 


Kristi Smith Wyatt, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Policy Development

It’s the Economy Stupid

Seats up for election next week include 37 US Senators, 435 US House members, and 37 Governors.  Almost 60% of the electorate believes the country is on the wrong track.  To make matters worse, President Obama’s favorability is at 44%.   Presidents Reagan and Clinton had lower presidential favorability at the same relative time in their first terms and both recovered and went on to win re-election.  But under those leaders the economy was healthy….53% of the electorate disapprove of the way economic problems are being addressed.  And though economists announced the recession was over months ago, 74% of voters believe, “my recession hasn’t ended.” 

Not surprising, Ashford predicts a Republican House and the Democrats holding onto the Senate – barely.   2010 voter enthusiasm has been trending towards Republicans, with Democrats and Independents struggling to stir voter excitement.  Congressional approval rating sits at 20%, exactly where it stood right before the 2008 elections and five points below the 2006 midterm rating.  Congressional approval reached a 40-year high of 54% in 2001.


Funding Gap

Ashford also pointed out the acute fundraising gap between the two major parties with GOP challengers in 34 key House districts outraising their Democratic incumbent opponents.  According to Ashford, Senate Republican candidates outraised their Democratic opponents by nearly 30% during the July-September reporting period.  And in the key Senate races (including the Blunt-Carnahan race) the Republicans all reported more cash on hand September 30 than the “Ds”.  Additionally, of the top 12 special interest groups/third-party big spenders and the party committees, 8 are supporting GOP candidates with over $89 million invested in Republican races and 4 are weighing in for Democrats with just $43.5 million.  In the week of October 11 alone, Republican special interest groups (including the RNC) outspent Democratic groups more than 5 to 1.

Ballot Issues: Taxes, Pot and Hunting

There are 155 state ballot issues on the November ballot with over 100 of them related to taxes.   There are 450 local tax issues on the ballot throughout the country.  Massachusetts has a ballot measure that will cut sales tax to 3% and reduce state revenue by $2.5 billion, while Colorado has a measure that will slash property taxes and reduce state coffers by $2.1 billion and another that will prohibit the state from borrowing.

Ashford said seven states have hunting expansion measures on the ballot and four states have ballot issues dealing with some form of marijuana legalization.  He predicted that “taxes and state budgets lose (tax reduction measures pass) and hunting and pot win.”

For the complete presentation please click this link.


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