By Greg Brown, NAA Legislative Affairs
Apartment Industry Colleagues,
Let me begin this month by thanking everyone who made the trip to Washington, D.C. in March for the 2012 NAA Capitol Conference. We established a new record with 525 attendees and once again showed up in force on Capitol Hill for lobby day. More than 162 meetings were held with members of Congress and/or their staff. But the action did not start and stop in the nation’s Capitol. Several of our affiliates held meetings with their members of Congress before or after the Capitol Conference, while still taking advantage of the opportunity to see Congressional staff on lobby day. We never miss an opportunity to communicate our message to policymakers and their staff!
Lobby day was the main event for Capitol Conference, but a lot of other activities also took place. Those interested in PAC fundraising and grassroots mobilization attended our two educational sessions on these critical components of any advocacy effort. The NAA Legislative Committee met during the conference and covered several hot industry topics including R-22 shortages, building code changes, tax reform proposals and pool accessibility compliance requirements. Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino and political pundit and election prognosticator Stu Rothenberg were keynote speakers at two of our general sessions. Finally, NAA held another very successful fundraising event benefiting the Better Government Fund and NAAPAC.
It appears that the Republican Presidential primary contest is nearing its end as Mitt Romney methodically assembles the delegates he needs to officially take the party’s nomination. Once that happens he will be able to focus completely on President Obama in the race for the White House. The winner of that race will be determined by a lot of factors. Here are three which have been the focus of much discussion and debate among pundits and prognosticators.
First, how do voters feel about where they’ve been for the last four years and where they are going? This is largely a referendum on the President, of course, and if you look at some of the polling, it is a mixed bag. As of February, more voters disapproved of the job the President is doing versus approved by a small margin. At the same time, however, the number of Americans who think we are heading in the right direction are going up while those who feel we are on the wrong track are going down.
Another factor is, of course, the state of the economy. Often this is less about statistics and more about consumer confidence. Again, polling in this area is mixed. Since last summer’s debt ceiling cage match, consumer sentiment has steadily improved and continues to climb, but at the same time year-over-year percentage change in income is negligible or even negative. Some of the most-watched economic indicators are also mixed. Unemployment remains more than 8% despite fairly solid job gains in the past couple of months, but the number of homes in foreclosure has steadily declined since the highs of 2009.
Finally, we must consider the environment in those states that will have the greatest impact on the elections this fall; otherwise known as “swing” states. Pundits may differ on the exact mix of states, but some subset of the following is generally agreed upon: Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. If you group these states by region, you find that they all experienced at least as bad (and in many cases worse) of an experience with job losses and loss in median family income as the rest of the nation, on average. Put another way, these states felt the recession the hardest and therefore voters here may be especially motivated to make their voice heard on who is (a) responsible and (b) best equipped to turn things around.
The three factors discussed above are definitely worth watching between now and Election Day, but they are also not the only ones that could decide who occupies the White House in January 2013. There are wild cards such as another conflict in the Middle East, economic meltdown in Europe or a third-party Presidential candidate emerging this fall. Any one of these or some other factors could turn all analysis and assumptions in their head.
That is all for this month. I hope that you find this information valuable and welcome your suggestions on other topics for future communiqués. If you have questions or comments, please contact me at 703-797-0615 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next month!