Groups now setting sights on post-election agendas

WASHINGTON: Political advocacy groups last week shifted focus away from supporting their candidates and toward influencing the election's winners.

WASHINGTON: Political advocacy groups last week shifted focus away from supporting their candidates and toward influencing the election's winners.

The weeks following the election are a rare opportunity to set the terms of debate on their issues by getting fresh data or ideas in front of newly elected officials once they win.

The AARP and the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) are holding a post-election forum Friday as a way to publicly declare their members' latest priorities.

Less than a month later, CEO Bill Novelli will address the National Press Club on issues that will affect Americans over the age of 50.

Health-insurance trade organization America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) will on Friday release a national poll regarding healthcare concerns in America.

The survey will be conducted immediately after the polls close to get the earliest possible measurement of voter priorities in the new legislative session.

"We're making sure the lawmakers and other groups actually know what a realistic agenda is for the new session ... regardless of who the winner is," said Mohit Ghose, AHIP's communications director.

AHIP plans an aggressive media push around the poll. It will be distributed not just to national media, but to key members of Congress and the elected administration.

Ghose and others acknowledged the PR challenge in crafting a post-election message while the votes are still being counted.

"We don't want to just jump out with some predetermined message," said Lisa Davis, AARP director of communications. "Things are very volatile, and we have to take that into account as an organization that listens to and hears from our membership."

Meanwhile, at least one group was switching to crisis mode in case the election yielded no clear result.

"We have our Voting Rights Project and our communications department gearing up to monitor what's going on in polling places and to respond, if necessary, in the courts," said ACLU director of communications Emily Whitfield. "We're setting up our Florida affiliate to act as a clearinghouse so we can proceed in a coordinated fashion."

"Our [issue work] is the same on November 3, regardless of who the President is," added Whitfield. "But if [that] can't be determined, we'll have a lot to do."

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