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For thousands of advocacy organizations in Washington D.C. and across the country, 2023 will not only ring in a New Year, it will bring in a new way of doing business.
Nonprofits, associations and companies that work to influence policy on a variety of issues will be facing a new political landscape in 2023. While this is not necessarily a departure—change is ever-present in U.S. politics—it will mean that organizations have to adjust.
From reacting to the divided Congress to lobbying before dozens of state legislatures set to start their sessions early next year, here are some of the ways that advocacy may be different in 2023.
Social media may change
Social media remains a primary channel for members of Congress to communicate with their constituents. Though it was down about 10% from last year, lawmakers still posted more than 923,000 times in the first 11 months of 2022, according to Quorum’s 2022 Congressional Social Media Report.
Twitter in particular plays a special role in Washington, where officials use it to announce policy, state positions and argue. Congress tweeted more than 661,000 times this year, almost three times the number of posts made on Facebook. And that’s not counting all the other agencies and organizations that post about policy and politics.
Yet the purchase of Twitter by billionaire Elon Musk has raised questions about the future of the platform. Musk has reinstated users who were removed from Twitter, including former President Donald Trump, who declined to return, and banned others, including some journalists. Together with large layoffs and talk of financial uncertainty, it has caused some to question whether Twitter’s role as Washington’s town square will continue.
While most advocacy organizations rely more heavily on tools like email and text messaging to communicate with elected officials, if large numbers of officials migrate from Twitter, advocacy organizations will be forced to go with them.
There will be two legislative agendas
The takeover of the House is more than just a political victory for Republicans. It has practical effects for those who advocate before Congress.
For starters, every single committee will have a new chair and a new majority staff, meaning that advocacy organizations who work with both Republicans and Democrats may have a lot of relationship building ahead. Equally important is that House Republicans will likely be hot to pass bills that contain their policy priorities, even if those bills will never be considered by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
That’s a change from an agenda that has been dominated by Democratic priorities for the last two years. The truth is that the amount of legislation that gets passed and signed into law is almost certain to decrease, with the chambers split between parties and a presidential race heating up. But the addition of a Republican House eager to legislate will mean advocacy organizations have more to track, analyze and perhaps speak out on.
The presidential election will dominate
Starting early next year, much of what happens in Washington and throughout the country will be seen through the lens of the presidential contest in 2024, and that will impact advocacy organizations in many ways. At a minimum, the presidential race is likely to guide almost all regulatory, legislative and messaging decisions made by the Biden administration. It will also have an impact on the politics in battleground states and in those where governors or lawmakers are planning to launch a presidential primary challenge or a vice presidential bid. For advocacy organizations that get involved in elections, it could shape their own agenda as well. In coming months, political news will be all about the presidential race, all of the time.
States will become more important
While legislation will likely slow in Congress, that is not necessarily true in state legislatures. States are always far, far more prolific. For example, more than 70,600 state bills were introduced this year, according to Quorum’s 2022 State Legislative Trends Report. That’s far more than in Congress—and it could grow next year if current trends persist.
Many major issues are regulated at the state level, such as environmental law, energy policy and insurance regulation. But that list may increase if the federal government continues to push more issues to the states. Reproductive rights are a good example. When the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion rights, state control over what women can and cannot do vasty increased.
More state responsibility and more state bills means more work for advocacy organizations, which are forced to track the legislation that impacts them and then respond with lobbying, grassroots advocacy or both. This job is made even harder by the fact that most state legislatures conduct their sessions under compressed timelines and often at the same time.
Of course, change has always been part of American politics. How could it be otherwise in a system that conducts major national elections every two years? But the scope of adjustment in the year ahead will be a challenge for advocacy organizations, many of which will be forced to keep pace with small government affairs teams and limited budgets. Most will adjust, work hard, win some and lose some. But whatever the outcome, advocacy itself will be different in 2023.
To learn more about how your organization can improve your grassroots advocacy program, see what Quorum has to offer.