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Election Prep Playbook: The Ultimate 2024 Strategy Guide

Election Prep Playbook: The Ultimate 2024 Strategy Guide

The 2024 election is approaching fast. If you’re a Regular Joe, you might want to prepare some breathing exercises and practice meditating so you’ve got the right tools to stay calm when the rhetoric heats up. If you’re a government affairs professional, you should probably prepare those breathing exercises too—but don’t spend too much time on it, because your biggest priority in the next few months should be building a plan for every development that might impact you.

Maybe the majority in the House will change, and your key issue will be in the spotlight—or fall to the wayside. Maybe a new candidate in a district important to your organization will win an incumbent’s seat, and you’ll need to build a relationship with them. Maybe a candidate who has made negative comments in public about your organization will win a seat in a key state legislature. What will your strategy look like if any—or all—of these possibilities become reality?

Because there are so many possible electoral outcomes across the US, your organization should start looking to the future now, and Quorum is here to help. We’ve built this playbook for you to think through your pre-election strategies for your grassroots, lobbying, stakeholder engagement, PAC, and regulatory affairs operations.

Grassroots Strategy

Election year advocacy programs don’t just drive policy change. They provide a chance to show your advocates you care, show lawmakers you’re a leader in the field, and capitalize on the momentum you’ve built over the last several months and years. Start planning and achieving those goals now with the below tactics.


Use the election as an urgency driver for your advocacy campaigns

Legislative advocacy work becomes even more urgent in election years. If a specific bill isn’t passed before the new session starts, you’ll need to start over building relationships with officials, sharing your supporters’ stories, and driving lawmakers to take action.

In your outreach to advocates and messaging to officials, you can help lawmakers and supporters alike understand the urgency of getting bills passed before the landscape changes, using the urgency of the moment to (hopefully!) achieve policy wins.

To make that happen, you need to start now. Update the messaging of your most important campaigns to include information about the consequences of needing to start over after the election. To build on that urgency, send emails educating and encouraging advocates to take action. Or, to drive actions fast, consider using text messaging. Gartner reports that texting campaigns can boast as high as a 98% open rate.

To concentrate your impact and make a big splash with lawmakers, consider strategies like gathering stories or letters from your advocates and waiting until a specific day (maybe a fly-in, or maybe your lobbyist team will meet with lawmakers that day) to send the stories to officials all at once. The power of a unified campaign that combines in-person and digital voices shows the breadth of your movement’s impact better than one of those channels could alone.

Check out the following resources for more on how to build effective action centers and how to grow your grassroots network so your impact can multiply.


Show your team, your members, & your advocates that you care with a GOTV campaign

Get-out-the-vote (GOTV) campaigns  establish your organization as a trustworthy and caring partner to your team, your members, or your advocates. GOTV campaigns can also be a great way to build relationships with individuals who might later be interested in participating in grassroots campaigns.

Not only nonprofits, associations, and unions, but corporations, too, should feel empowered to help employees and consumers perform their civic duty. According to a 2019 Harvard Business Review study of eight companies that undertook GOTV campaigns, all of the companies saw benefits from the campaign: in addition to improving voter participation, the campaigns helped with “raising brand awareness, strengthening relationships with employees and shareholders, and even elevating the company with elected officials.”

Provide critical election information to your supporters, members, or employees with a GOTV action center.

Organizations can take several different approaches to GOTV campaigns. These can range from simple actions, like giving team members time off to vote, to more involved programs, like sharing email updates or launching a GOTV resource center.

Sending regular reminders to your stakeholders to vote shows that their ability to participate in the democratic process is important to your organization. However, note that election logistics (like polling places) are subject to change, so make sure you’re providing accurate information.

GOTV resource centers, which share specific election information with each potential voter, provide an easy, central place to get accurate information. These resource centers usually have tools to allow visitors to register to vote or confirm their registration, access information about candidates, see election dates, and more. Access to these tools is often included as a part of grassroots advocacy software, so if you already have a software you use, consider checking if you can set up a GOTV resource center.

Note that no matter what type of GOTV campaign you choose, corporate programs should focus exclusively on messaging that gets people to the polls and avoid messages that prescribe who to vote for. Issue-based associations or nonprofits may have more leeway in terms of recommending who to vote for without alienating their stakeholders.


Run thank-you campaigns

During election years, legislators are often looking for ways to show their constituents that they are engaged and making an impact. Sharing thank-you messages from site visits and fly-ins online can be a great way to get lawmakers’ attention and remind them about your organization’s policy priorities, all while giving them an asset they can share to promote their community involvement.

This type of campaign has other benefits, too. It’s an unobtrusive way to remind lawmakers that the policy referenced in your thank-you campaign is a topic in which your organization has expertise. It may also help strengthen your relationship with the legislator in question, as many organizations only reach out to lawmakers when they need something.

Lobbying Strategy

The post-election period can be extremely busy for lobbying professionals. Building relationships is a key focus of the job, and the potential for change can put the status of those relationships up in the air. To prepare for a period of potential change, you’ll need to prepare a strategy that accounts for 1) which electoral outcomes are possible, 2) what those outcomes might mean for your current relationships, and 3) how to build new relationships when the time comes. Read on for some strategies to do just that.


Determine your 2024 strategy with legislative scorecards

Knowing that the makeup of Congress will change, how will your ability to move key legislation change? Use a legislative scorecard to map your policy champions with their electoral risk.

In your scorecard, you’ll want to include a number of criteria — bills sponsored, bills enacted, votes aligned with your organization on the policy side, and information about whether they are up for reelection, the competitiveness of the race, and whether they are in a swing district on the electoral side.

These resources will help you understand the impact of the election on your policy landscape, what a potential coalition looks like now, and what aspects of that coalition might change after the election. Essentially, these scorecards are your diagnostic tools to identify your organization’s potential legislative allies—and, therefore, influence—before the election.

If many of the lawmakers aligned with your position are up for reelection in competitive districts, you might want to consider strategies to support their reelection efforts, like working with your advocacy team to start a thank-you campaign. Or, you might want to step on the gas to try and get something done while they are still in their seats.

If you have more detractors who are likely to win back their seats, your strategy will look different: you’d focus on educating lawmakers about the issue and your position, as well as why aligning with your position is to their benefit because it’s unlikely that the election will change the policy landscape.

Not sure how to start? Click the following link for a step-by-step guide on how to build legislative scorecards in Quorum, or click the next link for a guide on building interest-influence matrices.


Identify effects of electoral change on each policy issue & build contingency plans

Lobbying Congress requires a strong understanding of the issues your organization cares about. It also requires you to understand the relationships and priorities of Congress. That’s why it’s pivotal to ask yourself whether and how you would reorder your policy priorities based on different majority outcomes.

Start by mapping out the possible outcomes and what they will likely mean for each issue. For example: if the majority party of the Senate changes, what might be the legislative implications for Issue A? Will it become more or less relevant? What about if the majority party of the House changes?

Once you’ve identified the possible outcomes, you’ll want to establish a plan for what you’ll do under each outcome. Here are some strategies to plan for based on switches in majorities in a given legislative chamber:

The change elevates your issue to a higher priority in your favor:

Put your foot on the gas now, even before the election. If it looks like this will be a popular stance to take in the new legislature, help legislators show they are early adopters on the stance.

The new majority elevates your issue to a higher priority, but in a way that threatens your stance:

Bring in advocacy stories to your lobbying to show how changing the approach to a high-profile issue would impact constituents.

New control de-emphasizes your key issue:

Pivot your strategy to first driving issue awareness, rather than convincing lawmakers about a specific solution.

A switch in majorities elevates an issue that previously was less important in your portfolio:

Re-focus on building your brand on that issue to remind lawmakers it’s in your portfolio if the majority of your recent engagements were on a different issue.

Or, on the other hand, if one of your issues would become deprioritized with new lawmakers in office, you might want to refocus your attention to another issue in your portfolio where you would have more ability to move the needle. Determining what your strategy will be in each situation will ensure that come November, you don’t have to scramble to build a new plan.


Make a plan for building relationships with new officials

When incumbents are retiring or ineligible to run again, government affairs professionals need a plan to build relationships with their replacement.

Your first step should be identifying open races and building up intel about frontrunner candidates. Sometimes, it’s also helpful to use campaign finance data to identify frontrunners.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start thinking about how to build relationships with incoming officials. While the actual relationship-building may not begin until they are declared victor or sworn in, you can still consider the tactics you’ll use to build relationships ahead of time, so that when the time comes, you’re ready to get started.

A policy reputation calendar is a good start; these are calendars where you plan outreach to lawmakers  to get them familiar with your organization and your policy priorities. For example, a policy reputation calendar might include planning an in-district site visit so new lawmakers can get to know your organization and priorities.

You can outline the gist of the content and the types of communications or events you’ll run before you know who’s won key races. For pivotal races, as November 2024 approaches you’ll want to write out the key messaging points for each candidate (based on both your priorities and the priorities they have discussed on the campaign trail).

All of this planning will allow you to get started building relationships with new lawmakers and staffers the moment you need to, without skipping a beat.


Get your software systems ready for a new year

It’s important to have your government relations tools already set up and ready to go during an election year. While the rest of your peers and competitors are building relationships, monitoring elections, and planning for every contingency, you don’t want to be digging for information and sorting through spreadsheets. Take the opportunity to get organized well ahead of the election so that by the time things heat up, you’re already prepared for every outcome.

Here are four tools you’ll want to have in place by early 2024, if not sooner:

  • Legislation and regulations tracking
  • Dialogue tracking
  • Relationship management tools
  • Issue management tools

Of particular importance will be getting set up to track the emergence of important keywords in legislation, regulations, news, social media, and other dialogue. While you may also want to prioritize signing up to receive industry publications to understand policy analysis, primary source documents  give a sense of the 2024 landscape without editorial spin.  Hearing what officials are saying on and off the Hill—and if their policy actions align with their words—will be pivotal once dialogue heats up around the election.

Also, you’ll benefit from a tool to organize your key policy issues and keep the information you’ve gathered in one place. In Quorum, that means pulling all the relevant information into the Issue Management tool, where you can record information like which relevant bills have been introduced, which lawmakers are aligned with your stance, and which officials are still skeptics.

If you need some inspiration on what kinds of information will be most useful, the following link will take you to a resource on how to conduct effective research on your key policy areas.

Without your tools organized and your information in place, strategizing for different electoral outcomes is much harder than it needs to be. You’ll be stuck running around for information you should already have at your fingertips in a time that’s already chaotic. While on the flip side, if you get all of the information you might need in one place, all of the other strategies and tips in this article get a lot easier.

Stakeholder Engagement Strategy

After an election, most government affairs teams are concerned with building relationships with new lawmakers and officials. That means your pre-election strategy should be two-fold: planning ahead for how to build those relationships (and who to prioritize meeting with), and spending time building relationships with the people who aren’t up for reelection. That way, when November comes, you can focus your energy on establishing trust with new policymakers, knowing that your existing relationships are strong.


Strengthen relationships with lawmakers not up for election

Part of electoral change management is ensuring reliable relationships with lawmakers not up for election. These are officials who (ideally) know your organization and your priorities and have the bandwidth to focus on them now.

In the midst of the chaos of an election year, lawmakers not up for election can be great partners for important policy progress. When their priorities align with yours, they can also help you build coalitions with new and incumbent lawmakers alike.

If you haven’t yet, take the last few months of 2023 to map your relationships with these lawmakers and identify who your team should prioritize engaging with. You may want to survey your team to see who has strong relationships, scan your meeting notes, or otherwise take stock of the current state of affairs so you can track your impact across the next year and beyond.

Then, build a plan for strengthening those relationships. Maybe you’ll want to invite them to an upcoming event or site visit to meet your team. Maybe you’ll want to prioritize a thank-you campaign from the most recent legislative session, as detailed above. Maybe you’ll want to invite them to a policy roundtable or webinar to talk to your employees or association or union members.

Whatever tactics you take, make sure your outreach is sustained and thoughtful. You may want to keep records of your interactions and how they went with a tool like Quorum’s interaction logger or something similar; this will build up a database of your relationships so you know who on your team knows who in government, which lawmakers have grown more aligned with your policy positions as time has gone on, and other important details.


Schedule site visits with lawmakers up for election

As discussed above in the Grassroots Strategy section, lawmakers running for reelection are often looking for ways to illustrate their involvement in their community and district. If a lawmaker has been a strong partner with you on specific issues (or your whole policy agenda, if you’re really aligned!), inviting them to a site visit to meet with their constituents and discuss policy priorities can be a mutually beneficial strategy. The lawmaker in question can show up for their community, and your organization can show your support for their reelection and get some valuable face time to discuss important issues.

Once you’ve made the appointment with the lawmaker’s scheduler, planning your site visit should be relatively simple. Create a schedule that includes a presentation or meeting to discuss policy priorities first, in case the legislator has to leave early, and plan to show them around your facility or introduce them to employees or members afterward. Meeting the people directly affected by their policy choices and hearing their stories will drive your point home better than any email could, so make sure you’ve invited the relevant parties and helped them prepare what they’d like to share.


Don’t neglect state lawmakers

Even without the added impact of an election, in the past few years state legislation has moved much faster than federal legislation. While much of the country’s attention will fall on federal-level laws and lawmakers, turning your focus toward building relationships and moving policy at the state level can yield significant results. (Of course, some state lawmakers will be up for election this year—if it serves your organization’s policy interests, remember to prioritize those relationships and interactions, too.)

If you’re less familiar with state lobbying, the following guide on preparing to build relationships with new state lawmakers after an election will help you get up to speed. Some of the recommendations from the article are summarized below:

Since policy moves fast at the state level, consider hiring a lobbying firm with someone on the ground who can attend important hearings and meetings. Try to find a firm populated by former staffers; they know firsthand how things get done in that state’s legislature. As you consider which firm to hire, don’t forget to check their record on getting legislation passed, as that is much harder than blocking bills.

Make sure you’ve set a tangible goal. You want to make sure you’re working toward a purpose, whether it’s your organization doing the lobbying or an external team. It’s also important to discuss progress and obstacles often, to make sure your organization and your lobbyists are in lockstep.

Make sure you’re putting in the effort to have face-to-face meetings and talk about the issues before they come to a vote. Try to be strategic about building relationships, and don’t just wait until the last minute to share a priority or concern. Also, remember to be respectful to everyone you come across, both because it’s a decent thing to do and because you never know whether their support will become important down the line.

Lastly, if you need a crash course on how policy is moving and how lawmakers are interacting with their stakeholders at the state level, Quorum’s 2023 State Legislative Trends Report is worth checking out.

Policy Communications

Elections can feature some heated rhetoric. You never know when an issue important to your organization—or even your organization itself—might be on the receiving end of a challenging comment from a candidate. Before the election rhetoric intensifies, make a plan for how you’ll respond to potential dialogue of this kind, including what messaging you’ll use and what distribution tactics you’ll use to get your message out there.


Make a crisis communications plan

Crisis communication plans should prepare you for potential public relations challenges. This kind of plan will be composed of a system for tracking what policymakers, officials, and other important stakeholders are saying about your organization or your policy priorities, as well as a plan for how you’ll address the dialogue.

To make sure you never miss a mention of your organization or policy issue, take advantage of dialogue tracking from tools like Quorum or other government affairs software. These tools can help you easily monitor the public statements of lawmakers or incumbent candidates for keywords, so you get alerted as soon as something comes up. For a real-world example, check out how Toyota planned and then handled their own crisis communications response in response to a Tweet from then-President-elect Trump.

Then, spend time thinking about how someone not aligned with your policy priorities or your organization’s mission might think about the issues you’re focused on. Consider working with your team (maybe even your PR team, if your organization has one) to draft some counter-points ahead of time. In reality, your messaging will need to stay agile in response to the specific conversation happening, but having some key points prepared might help you in the moment.

If your organization is a PAC or has a PAC, your crisis communications plan should also include messaging explaining your PAC disbursements. For more detailed recommendations, you can learn more about building a crisis communications plan here.

Though it can feel like a stressful exercise, ultimately, planning for the worst can help you move fast when you need to and breathe easy in the meantime.

PAC Strategy

Election years often mean an increase of public interest in electoral campaigns, which tends to translate into more receipts and more disbursements for PAC teams—but also more events, more transactions, and more tasks to juggle. Laying a strategic and organized foundation for your PAC ahead of time can make a critical difference in operating efficiently to reach your eligible class, raise the most funds, and stay compliant. Below, check out some suggested tactics to help you lay that foundation.


Benchmark your performance against your peers

Election years mean an uptick in contributions for PACs, so it’s important to set yourself up to understand your impact and growth beforehand, usually by comparing the fundraising data of your PAC with peer or competitor PACs in a similar industry. You can find this information at and compare it manually in a spreadsheet, or use a tool like Quorum Campaign Finance Research that can show your performance versus that of other PACs in a few clicks.

You’ll want to identify the PACs that you consider peers (maybe similar issue advocacy organizations) or competitors (perhaps ideological opponents, or corporate competitors) and report on their receipts and their disbursements within a given time period. Include your own PAC in the report so you can see how you stack up and let that information guide your strategy.

For example, if you’re bringing in considerably less receipts than your peer PACs, consider A/B testing future outreach to identify what types of language motivates your members, or even reaching out to some members who have donated and some who haven’t to find out what motivates their decisions.

On the other hand, if you’re less concerned about receipts and more concerned about falling behind your competition in terms of relationship-building, take a look at which campaigns your competitors are disbursing to and consider whether you should also meet with that candidate.

The bottom line: setting up your benchmarking before the election can help you see where you stack up, understand your growth areas, and use the data to build a strategy that helps your organization achieve your goals. Tools that help you understand campaign finance data trends can also give you better insights into the electoral playing field and let you see which candidates your organization might want to focus on supporting.

Learn More: Quorum Campaign Finance

Set up a peer-to-peer program (so you can drive contributions when the election heats up)

Many PACs find that peer-to-peer programs, where eligible members of a PAC encourage other eligible members to contribute and explain the benefits of political contributions, are a valuable way to drive contributions in a more personalized manner. But waiting to set up a peer-to-peer program when the election is already on everyone’s mind is probably too late. Instead, get the foundation of the program set up now, so that by the time the election is at the forefront of every news article, your members are already in place to drive more contributions.

The following resource can give you a more detailed overview of what an effective peer-to-peer PAC fundraising campaign might look like, how to manage it, and a peek into how one professional organization approaches their successful program. Check out some highlights below to help you see how to get started:

  • Start with the data: Before you start a peer-to-peer program, you need to understand your PAC’s current performance. You should pull together metrics like the average contribution amount and what proportion of your eligible class have contributed so you can see what sort of increase in receipts might be a realistic goal.
  • Find out how your eligible class views your PAC: Do the people in your PAC’s eligible class understand what a PAC is and how it works? Depending on the answer to this question, your strategy for recruiting and training peer-to-peer fundraising ambassadors may change. For example, if people are confused about PACs and what they do, you’ll want to make sure your ambassadors have messaging and resources to explain before they discuss potential contributions.
  • Clarify the rules: Not every member of an association, company, or organization may be eligible to contribute to the PAC. Make sure your ambassadors understand and will follow federal guidelines regarding who they may solicit and what the proper way to do so looks like.
  • Recruit and train the right people: Your ambassadors will be asking people to part with their hard-earned cash. Make sure you work with volunteers who are motivated and well-respected, so that they can explain in a clear and positive way the importance and impact of contributing to the PAC. Make sure that they’re ready to answer questions about your PAC’s mission statement, policy positions, and supported candidates. Remember, too, that preparing training resources takes time and effort, which is another reason to get started now.

With PACs, as with much of policy work, timing is everything. For a truly powerhouse peer-to-peer program, start building your training resources and reporting dashboards now, so that you’re ready to drive more contributions throughout 2024.

Regulatory Strategy

The aftermath of a Presidential election can bring big changes to regulatory agencies, especially because a new face in the White House often means new heads of agencies and new regulatory priorities. Make sure your organization is prepared to advocate for your policy positions and illustrate your expertise in a time of transition with the following tip:


Plan your response to personnel changes in regulatory agencies

When partisan control of the White House—and by extension the entire executive branch—flips after an election, there is often turnover from civil servants in high-level or highly-visible positions. For example, if in 2024 a Republican candidate wins the presidency, most cabinet-level positions will face personnel change, not only when new Secretaries and other leadership roles are appointed, but also at the staffer level.

That’s why, when building contingency plans by issue, you want to make sure to have a plan for if the head of a regulatory agency is replaced by someone less (or more) aligned with your policy priorities. Especially in highly-regulated industries, consider how you’ll get on their radar and communicate your organization’s positions on regulatory changes.

Of course, one of the most common ways to ensure your organization’s voice is heard throughout the regulatory process is participating in public comment periods. This process doesn’t change no matter who is at the head of the agency, but if you suspect that under new leadership an agency’s priorities might shift out of alignment with yours, you might want to create or work with a coalition to illustrate the importance or relevance of your policy position. You may want to work with your organization’s grassroots advocacy team to encourage your supporters to leave comments, too.

Consider also setting up meetings with regulators to discuss the impact of certain proposed regulations. At these meetings, you may consider bringing documents you can leave behind that explain the quantifiable impact of proposed regulations on your organization or the people (or other things!) you represent, be that the possible economic outcome, number of families impacted, or pollution levels.

By the time election results are available, your team will have a host of other strategic work to do, so frontloading this planning now will make a big impact down the line.

Feeling prepared for 2024 and beyond

Election years can be stressful, but don’t let unpreparedness be the reason why. Whether you’re focused on lobbying, grassroots, PAC, or any other government affairs specialty, it’s important to think through the aspects of your work that could be affected by the election and plan a strategy to address those potential changes.

Most of the strategies outlined above will be easier to implement with a set of tools for keeping track of information, relationships, and tactics. The following tools can help you accomplish your pre-election goals and stay as prepared as possible.

Quorum Federal & Quorum State include legislative & dialogue tracking, policy issue management tools, auto-updating visual reporting, and relationship management tools to help you create and execute the strategic plans outlined in this guide, including:

  • Auto-updating legislative scorecards
  • Relationship-building tools
  • Lawmaker dialogue tracking & alerts

To learn more about how to turn these tools into strategies and strategies into action—and ultimately get prepared for the upcoming election—chat with a Quorum team member.

Quorum’s grassroots offerings give you the means to achieve your election year goals, whether you’re focused on driving more actions, building goodwill with lawmakers, or strengthening relationships with supporters:

  • GOTV campaign tools
  • Advocacy action centers
  • Built-in email & SMS tools

Connect with the Quorum team to discuss how to achieve your election year goals.

Quorum Stakeholder: Save contact details, track interactions, and engage with stakeholders in one place.

Quorum News Monitoring: Get alerted when your policy issues are in the news and catch up with the headlines in each lawmaker’s district, all in the same system as your policy tools.

Quorum PAC & PAC Classic: Raise money, report results, and stay compliant with industry-leading PAC solutions, with an optional campaign finance data add-on.