Election Marketing Update

I know, I know… you’re already sick and tired of reading about the 2016 election. You’ve had all you can take of the mudslinging, the lies, and the controversy. And you’re one of the millions of people googling “move to Canada.” But hear me out… this is a big opportunity.

“Elections have consequences,” President Obama said back in 2009. These include tax consequences. Your prospects and clients may or may not be tired of the election coverage. But they’re wondering what the races and results will mean for their taxes. That gives you the opportunity to score points by delivering that information. (Seriously… should they really be turning to Fox News for tax-planning advice?)

They may also want to know what you think about the candidates. This year, the candidates themselves make that harder than usual.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton pretty much has the race wrapped up. There are still enthusiastic progressives “feeling the Bern,” but Hillary’s existing delegate lead and polling numbers predict a comfortable victory. The only real wild card is the distant, but distinctly non-zero possibility that she winds up in even hotter water over her private email server – and an actual indictment would probably be the end of her campaign.

Clinton has been an integral part of the Washington establishment for decades. That’s a disadvantage in a year when voters want to “throw the bums out.” Critics on the right have spent decades smearing her as a communist, while critics on the left paint her as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs. She’s a divisive candidate, and lots of voters, even on the Democratic side, don’t like her.

Clinton has always been a policy wonk, so she’ll probably release a detailed plan that raises taxes on the super-rich and throws in various targeted deductions and credits for the broadly defined “middle class” (whatever that is these days). If she wins the election, the House of Representatives will promptly ignore her. You’ll be able to focus your CE classes on representation, technology, and maybe marketing, simply because there won’t be any substantive tax policy changes to discuss.

Whatever Clinton proposes, we’ll be here to help you explain it to your prospects and clients. Our coverage won’t be as detailed as the 10-page summaries that CCH puts together. But our coverage will focus on getting readers into your office, where your proactive planning service can help them navigate the possibilities and pitfalls.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump has broken all the rules. His supporters love his willingness to speak his mind, even at the risk of offending good taste and traditional political norms. His opponents ridicule him as a clementine-colored, dumpster fire and authoritarian goon who threatens everything Americans hold dear. He’s not the presumptive nominee yet – but he’s also the safest bet to take that nomination, despite the desperate battle the remnants of the Republican “establishment” is waging against him.

(On a side note, I had to laugh at Mitt Romney’s speech trashing Trump earlier today. Doesn’t the establishment realize that Trump voters hate Romney? If you’re starting a new nonprofit and you want a high-profile board member, call Mitt. Need a fourth for squash? Mitt’s your man. But sending Mitt out to take on Trump just seems doomed to fail.)

Trump isn’t a detail guy like Clinton. But he’ll release a plan too, maybe on the back of a napkin. Expect the usual massive tax cuts, of course. But don’t be surprised if he throws in a few wild cards. He’s already proposed ditching the carried-interest loophole that so many hedge fund managers have used to finance their Hamptons mansions. Trump is a canny salesman campaigner who understands his target market voters, so we can probably expect some populist measures as well.

If Trump takes the oath of office on January 20, Democrats in the Senate will use every last shred of power to squash his proposals. You’ll be able to focus your CE classes on representation, technology, and maybe marketing, simply because there won’t be any substantive tax policy changes to discuss. (Wait… that sounds familiar.)

We’ll cover Trump’s proposals for you, too. Again, the goal will be more than just to convey information. (Information is great, but motivation is “yuge.”) The real goal will be to encourage prospects and clients to call you to ask what it all means for them.

The bottom line here is that we’re probably looking at a race between two divisive, controversial candidates who won’t be afraid to fling more poo at each other than the monkeys at your local zoo. Hey, it’ll be fun!

Finally, what do you say when someone asks who you’re supporting? I say be honest, don’t trash the opponent, and don’t apologize. Clients want to do business with people they know, they like, and they trust. Being honest and telling clients why you think the way you do is delightfully authentic in a world full of hype. I think you have more to gain with that honesty than you do to lose to ideological opposites. Just be sensitive remember that not everyone will agree with you.