Preparing for Multiple Election Outcomes

Preparing for Multiple Election Outcomes


A framework for 2021 public affairs planning

Executive Summary

Every election, public affairs professionals spend time and money developing strategies to immediately make an impact when the new term begins. However, during the 2016 election, many organizations presumed a Clinton presidency and singularly focused their strategy on that expected outcome.

The actual results of the election–a Republican trifecta–left many corporate and association public affairs teams unprepared and at a severe disadvantage. The speed of legislative action at the beginning of 2017 left many teams playing catch up.

In order to aid public affairs experts as they plan for 2021, Adfero identified six potential outcomes of the upcoming presidential election.

Some of the scenarios are more likely than others. Yet we believe there is tremendous value in considering not only the likely scenarios, but developing multiple strategies for multiple potential outcomes – even if they seem unlikely.

The election-outcome scenarios we outline in this report are based largely on Adfero’s own primary research. We surveyed 1,000 Likely Voters on their attitudes on the economy and the likely outcome of the election. Each of the six scenarios includes details on the overall agenda and the likely policy focus in seven major policy areas.

Key Objectives

This report will help public affairs professionals conduct 2021 strategic planning by:

  1. Providing insight into the current thinking of Likely Voters on the economy and the outcome of the election.
  2. Identifying six potential scenarios for the composition of government in 2021.
  3. Outlining a framework for the likely policy environment and agenda for each scenario.

Download the report as a PDF

With only a few months left until Election Day, and the economy and pandemic continuing to create uncertainty, public affairs professionals benefit from considering the six potential scenarios for January 2021.

2020 Potential Election Outcomes

Our six scenarios are based on the state of the economy, the level of united or divided party power in government and the strength of governing coalition unity.

We have used ratings from the Cook Political Report, polling averages from Real Clear Politics and the prediction markets to provide a base likelihood rating for each scenario as of July 2020.

For more information on each 2021 political scenario, download the full report below.

Download the report as a PDF