2024 Is Coming

Here’s What You Need To Know
83 elections in 54 countries. That’s how many campaigns public affairs professionals will have to navigate in 2024. In the U.S., that will include at least 6,477 elections for everything from President, Congress, Governors, and other state-level positions, plus tens of thousands of county, municipal, and special district positions (fun fact: America has more than 500,000 elected officials). Even though they get far less notice, these down-ballot races – from statewide constitutional offices to local officials and even more obscure regulatory commissions – hold significant power over a wide range of industry sectors and policy areas.

Despite this major impact, the media will focus on polling in marquee races and political dynamics driving the parties’ efforts to turn out voters, which often have little to do with how newly elected officials will approach business policies or industry regulation. That leaves public affairs professionals scrambling to properly assess the candidates and anticipate the policy debates to come. Here’s what you need to know to avoid the scramble.

Down Ballot Doesn’t Mean Off the Radar

Down-ballot races are crucial to shaping everything from antitrust litigation to investment climates to environment regulations and beyond. Take state Attorneys General, like Ohio’s Dave Yost who is suing pharmacy benefits managers, or state Treasurers, such as West Virginia’s Riley Moore or Utah’s Marlo Oaks who are pressuring asset managers and banks over ESG commitments. As we noted last year, these officials’ policy activity has made campaigns for these offices far more robust.

Similarly, local and county governmental bodies directly impact a diverse array of business operations. County and municipal officials are placing moratoriums on solar or wind projects, restricting AI use in hiring, hiking minimum wages for restaurant workers, banning single-use plastics, and much more. As a result, even previously obscure bodies like state public utility commissions are seeing an uptick in campaign action as more stakeholders seek to shape the work of these bodies.

For businesses and the public affairs professionals who guide them, a deep understanding of who is running for these offices as well as who and what shapes candidates’ views on your issue set is crucial. Even if you do not have immediate matters before them, their campaign rhetoric and actions once in office will impact the policy landscape when you do.

What Happens in Primaries Doesn’t Stay in Primaries

As we’ve highlighted previously, the marketplace of ideas does not strictly adhere to candidates’ win-loss records. Primary candidates’ influence in particularly can surpass their electoral outcomes. Their policy proposals, whether innovative or disruptive, can shift the political landscape and resonate with voters and politicians, irrespective of election results. As the twin tides of populism and progressivism shape each party’s policy agenda, the country’s direction in turn is being molded by these two extreme ends of the political spectrum. This ripple effect of primary contenders’ ideas, coupled with the potential for candidates who come up short at the polls to secure appointments to influential government roles, shows why it is important for public affairs professionals to closely monitor and understand the ideological currents shaping campaigns early in the election cycle.

Ballot Battle Royale Goes Beyond Candidates

Ballot initiatives and referenda are key yet often overlooked elements of elections. Both parties use them strategically to mobilize their voter base and influence the electorate on contentious issues. Earlier this month in Ohio, Democrats got a test run of a ballot measure to enshrine reproductive rights into the state constitution, and its success quickly prompted activists to set their sights on other states to help boost Democratic turnout in 2024. Republicans have leveraged this strategy as well.

Yet initiatives are not just about leveraging social and cultural issues to spike turnout. They can directly impact businesses on major issues like environmental and labor regulations. Activists and industry advocate alike use them to bypass  or overturn polarized legislatures. While early in the cycle, already initiatives have been filed on critical issues like healthcare, taxation, and energy. Businesses need proactive engagement on which initiatives or referenda may reach next November’s ballot – and who is fueling interest in them.

The Media Is More Heat and Noise than Light or Insight

The mainstream media’s penchant for “horse race” journalism, which concentrates on poll standings and campaign strategies, poses a significant challenge for public affairs professionals. The emphasis on political rivalries and the dynamic of who’s leading or lagging comes at the expense of substantive policy discussions and simplifies complex political landscapes. Reporting that sidelines nuanced policy impacts and long-term consequences of election outcomes leaves public affairs professionals in a media environment rich in speculation and punditry yet lacking in the analysis they need to thoroughly assess candidates and their plans to govern.

Likewise, most of today’s media have aligned along ideological lines to cater to particular audiences, with biased reporters driving narratives that resonate with their selected news consumers while omitting or misrepresenting contrary information. Just as many deride politicians of leveraging redistricting to “choose their voters,” media companies leverage agenda-driven worldviews to cultivate their reader- or viewership, creating echo chambers where complex issues are reduced to binary debates. This environment makes it difficult for public affairs professionals to obtain facts and meaningful analysis.

Now Is the Time to Find Your Friends and Understand Your Opponents

Right now, many public affairs professionals are in the midst of annual budgeting processes to ensure they have the necessary resources to protect and advance their organization’s interests as the 2024 campaign unfolds. At Delve, our well-honed playbook helps you identify and secure the resources you need for public affairs success, starting with a risk assessment on which issues and jurisdictions are likely to pose the greatest challenges (or opportunities) and stakeholder mapping that surfaces potential allies and likely opponents among candidates as well as other groups and individuals shaping the campaign debate and the policymaking that follows.

Putting your public affairs operation at an information advantage in 2024 requires a focus that extends beyond top-tier races, recognizing the significant influence of down-ballot positions on policy and regulation and digging deep to remain attuned to the evolving political landscape. To cut through the noise of “horse race” journalism and partisan narratives, public affairs experts need reliable, in-depth analysis from a trusted partner. As you prepare for the coming election cycle, Delve is here to give you a decisive edge and empower you to not just anticipate the future but shape it.

WOE is U.S.

Here’s What You Need To Know
Is Bidenomics a boom or a bust? The U.S. economy reportedly grew at a fast 4.9% annualized pace in the third quarter, “payrolls soared” in September as unemployment remained under 4%, and analysts are raising their economic forecasts. Yet, despite The White House spending the past four months insisting “Bidenomics is working,” Americans remain unconvinced and even the President’s allies worry his economic bear hug has been a “blunder.” What is driving this disconnect should worry every public affairs professional.

While Democrats think it’s a messaging conundrum, the reality is more fundamental: President Biden has overseen what President Trump started: a Washington-Ordered Economy that leverages public funding to advance industrial policies that in turn drive investment. Yet, all that government money flooding the economy has spiked inflation, leaving many Americans treading water.

With Washington’s gaze remaining too long on macroeconomic indicators that do not match Americans’ microeconomic experience, policymakers striving for real economic growth, public affairs professionals trying to shape their thinking, and companies leveraging government incentives may all need to rethink their embrace of Washington-directed investments. Here’s what you need to know to navigate this new economic reality.

Washington’s Economic Barometer Is Broken

While the macroeconomic indicators suggest the economy is “revving up,” most Americans feel run over. That’s because inflation remains high, meaning “a homebuyer’s dollar goes about half as far as it did at the end of 2020,” rent affordability is at its lowest level in decades, and the typical American household is spending about $730 per month more than it did a year ago, even as inflation-adjusted wages have decreased since President Biden took office.

Policymakers, their teams, and the public affairs professionals that shape the Washington debate have long relied on macroeconomic indicators like stock market indices, unemployment rate, and the price of consumer goods like groceries and gasoline to assess the nation’s economy and inform policy decisions. Yet today, two of these three indicators are increasingly disconnected from economic reality.

Indeed, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged in his annual Jackson Hole speech these “uncertainties” leave the Fed and other policymakers “navigating by the stars under cloudy skies.” This disconnect is not limited to the U.S. At the same event, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde warned we are entering a “new age” in which “past regularities may no longer be a good guide for how the economy works.”

Trouble With The (Phillips) Curve

While stock markets often monopolize political attention, the truth, as we noted several years ago, is “The Stock Market Used To Tell Us How the Economy Is Doing. Not Anymore.” That’s in large part because much of the economy now resides within the private markets. Financial expert Greg Crabtree, based on his 100-company model of small and medium-sized private businesses, suggests the ‘real’ economy may already be in a recession, an alarming reality largely overlooked by Washington.

Meanwhile, the conventional fixation on the headline unemployment rate has been losing its relevance for years. We first explained why “the unemployment rate is dead” in an Obama-era analysis and revisited it under Trump. Between a persistent decline in the labor force participation rate, driven by demographic shifts, and under Biden the growth in workers holding multiple part-time gigs, the topline unemployment rate is no longer describes most voters’ reality.

Yet, as highlighted in Chair Powell’s recent speech, policymakers continue to rely on the discredited Phillips Curve, linking employment and inflation even as the modern economic landscape challenges this direct relationship. Low inflation can coexist with low unemployment and strong economic growth, just as low employment currently coexists with rampant inflation.

That leaves consumer prices like gas and groceries as the last compelling economic statistic left standing when it comes to swaying voters. Just as that certainly has implications on the campaign trail, this new reality must also shape policymaking and advocacy in Washington.

Yet Washington Is More In Charge Than Ever

Even as the metrics Washington watches are more disconnected from economic reality, Washington’s influence over the economy has reached unprecedented levels. Elected officials in both parties, corporate leaders, and investors all have embraced a post-COVID era marked by industrial policy initiatives to address supply chain woes, thwart China’s influence, reignite America’s manufacturing base, and address climate change.

While the injection of funds from the government can help mitigate the increased costs and regulatory pressures needed to achieve these policy goals, it requires abdicating corporate autonomy as political agendas become embedded in business strategy. Take for example:

Once government is investing in your sector, expect scrutiny and political pressures to follow. Just as pressure built on firms that took COVID-era assistance, companies taking advantage of today’s government largess can expect elected officials and the public to probe – fairly and unfairly. Indeed, infrastructure developers and cleantech firms with foreign involvement already face pushback for making U.S. investments incentivized by government policies.

Even As Washington Faces Increased Political Chaos

As the “Washington Ordered Economy” unfolds within an era of hyper-polarized governance where commerce is increasingly entangled in political agendas, the scrutiny and pressure on companies will only rise, even as these policies lack certainty. Current laws, especially those rammed through by one party without the support from the other, are susceptible to change or repeal when control of government changes hands. In an era where nearly every election has been a change election, that should give companies real pause.

Business leaders face the daunting task of preparing for heightened scrutiny across diverse jurisdictions, amplified by a broader range of stakeholders and an expanding array of intricate issues, even as they rely on Washington to advance their economic interests in an economy Washington understands less and less. Surviving and thriving in this complex landscape means taking a proactive approach to understanding and mitigating constantly evolving dynamics between government and commerce. Here at Delve, we offer a playbook to do just that.

Truth or Consequences

Here’s What You Need To Know
The barbaric and brutal terrorist attacks in Israel leave us deeply shaken. Our hearts ache for the families, friends, and loved ones who are bearing the brunt of this senseless violence. This post includes resources to help at this difficult time.

At the same time, as risk advisors, we must consider the broader implications of these attacks on Israel, the Jewish community, and those who stand in solidarity with the Jewish people. It is time for many to face hard truths.

Delve has always been at the forefront of supporting organizations combatting anti-Semitism. While the focus is rightly on the humanitarian and security aspects of these attacks, every modern conflict has a public affairs dimension. As Israel appropriately responds to these unprovoked atrocities, public affairs professionals need be well-informed about the complex conflict and its impact on corporate public affairs. Here’s what you need to know.

Social Impact Collides With Geopolitics

In recent years, companies have increasingly integrated social issues and causes into their corporate identities. Whether this alignment with progressive politics was intended or not, many of the same groups that applauded corporate stances on racial inequality, LGBT+ rights, and similar issues are not taking a similar stance on the horrific violence in Israel. Many are inexplicably remaining silent, or worse, excusing or justifying the attacks.

While more recent geopolitical clashes like Putin’s invasion of Ukraine proved easy messaging for most companies across the Western world, they now face a critical juncture where these progressive values collide with the complexities of geopolitics. Companies supporting Ukraine were not expected to show concern for the impact of Putin’s war on Russian citizens, and standing in solidarity with Israel against Hamas will test companies’ willingness to reject false narratives. Nor will it be the last test of how companies handle fraught international conflicts.

Corporate leaders who have been outspoken in past social and geopolitical debates now find themselves under the microscope. After setting a precedent for speaking out, many leaders were caught unprepared this past week. Their silence could have consequences: 35 U.S. states have laws restricting investments and state business with companies that do not support Israel, and nearly as many states have similar restrictions on companies doing business with Iran, which is widely seen as aiding the recent attacks.

Our Civil Institutions Can’t Handle Today’s Challenges

Current events serve as a poignant reminder of the challenges stemming from the fragility of governmental and civil institutions. This year, after five elections in three years, Israel saw the greatest civil unrest in its history as it debated judicial reforms, and in the wake of the violence questions remain about how Israel’s security apparatus missed the threat. In the U.S., the attacks came just days after the U.S. House of Representatives removed a sitting Speaker for the first time in history, putting American aid to Israel in jeopardy. House Foreign Relations Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) called the dysfunction “a dangerous game.”

As we have noted for some time, “Private businesses have become the most trusted institutions in the United States as Americans have become increasingly divided by politics.” That means increased pressure to speak out on a broader range of issues. As trust in civil institutions keeps falling and basic tasks of government become more difficult, that pressure to fill the gap will only grow.

Media’s Misinformation Campaign

The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict has brought into sharp focus the critical issue of mis- and dis-information in today’s media landscape. While governments and commentators have focused on its spread on social media, for too many journalists it has become an easy excuse to reject uncomfortable truths about the conflict and the nature of the attack. A Los Angeles Times investigative reporter, for example, persistently questioned incidents of rape and beheadings attributed to Hamas, and both CBS News and New York Times changed headlines in ways that downplay Hamas’ atrocities. As documented by Newsbusters, those outlets are far from alone in setting a media narrative defensive of, if not sympathetic to, Hamas terrorists in their coverage of the conflict. The biased coverage and agenda-driven narratives of the media serve as a reminder for public affairs professionals: while viral misrepresentations or deepfakes are dangerous, more frequently “the real challenge is not how widespread the fake news is, but rather how fake the real news can be.”

America Awakes To Its Rotting Academia

Student activists expressing support for Palestine and Hamas have surprised many Americans, and many colleges and universities failed to respond appropriately. Most conspicuous was a statement by more than 30 Harvard student organizations blaming the Israeli government “entirely” for the violence. Harvard’s president struggled to respond even as prominent voices like former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers expressed disappointment. Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who spoke for a number of CEOs, demanded names of the signatories “to insure that none of us inadvertently hire” them. Other elite institutions faced similar predicaments and similar opprobrium, a potential watershed moment for corporate concern over higher education’s progressive shift.

While many of these institutions readily condemned various social and political issues, their silence on this matter is notable. Those tracking how anti-Semitism masquerades as progressive inclusivity on campus were not surprised. Still, prominent higher education institutions’ deafening silence implicitly endorses a hateful ideology amidst disturbing student activism in solidarity with Hamas’ attacks. Similarly, corporate executives spoke out about racial injustice, LGBT+ rights, and other social and political issues in recent years, but many have remained silent or neutral in the current conflict.

DEI’s Blindspot

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives intended to address discrimination and foster inclusivity  have a concerning blind spot. Too many DEI efforts perpetuate anti-Semitic attitudes and mistreatment of Jews. The weaponization of DEI measures to unfairly portray Jewish students and Israel as oppressors undermine the very ideals DEI initiatives claim to promote. Instances like Derron Borders, the diversity and inclusion director at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management, referring to Hamas terror attacks as ‘the resistance’ underscore DEI leaders’ failure to eschew hateful rhetoric and violence-inciting speech.

DEI initiatives are at an inflection point in which they must address this blind spot to preserve their principles of inclusivity and free expression. Failing to do so not only endangers the well-being of Jewish students but calls into question the effectiveness of DEI initiatives. This challenge extends beyond campus to companies that embraced DEI initiatives following George Floyd’s murder but now face scrutiny from conservatives. As public awareness of how DEI programs and practitioners treat Jews increases, that scrutiny may transcend partisan divides.

Despite This Past Week’s Clarity, Support For Israel Is Already Evaporating

Last Sunday’s news programs, traditionally influential in Washington discourse, focused questions on civilians in Gaza, neglecting Hamas’ devastating atrocities, Israel’s right to safeguard its citizens, or the anxieties of Jews near and far from Israel. The gruesome and unprecedented attacks cannot fade from memories and allow the conflict to shift into its typical narrative.

As Natan Sharansky, the Soviet Jewish political prisoner who reached freedom in Israel, wrote, “In dictatorships you need courage to fight evil; in the free world you need courage to see evil.” Today, companies and institutions in democratic nations must have courage to see beyond comfortable narratives and support Israel as it confronts the evil exposed by these attacks.

How You Can Help

The situation in the Middle East is complex and impacts the entire global Jewish community. Delve can assist you in better understanding and addressing this issue. To start, we encourage you to join us in supporting these organizations addressing critical needs in Israel and beyond:

  • United Hatzalah is a volunteer EMS organization aiding Israel’s medical and humanitarian needs.
  • Magen David Adom supports frontline medical responders in Israel – and Michael Bloomberg is currently matching donations.
  • Friends of the Israel Defense Forces directly supports the men and women defending Israel from further attack – with Haim and Cheryl Saban matching donations.
  • Israel on Campus Coalition coordinates efforts to combat anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses to ensure they remain safe for Jews.

Storm Warning

Here’s What You Need To Know
The angst in the lead up to this past weekend’s brush with a federal government shutdown felt different. While shutdowns always dominate conversations in Washington, this time the buzz roared in C-suites and boardrooms far beyond the Beltway. That’s because more and more sectors have embraced what President Biden’s National Security Advisor earlier this year called a “new Washington consensus” of central planning, mandates, and subsidies across a number of key economic sectors.

The shutdown near-miss is a stark reminder of how uneasy that consensus might be in a hyperpolarized, closely divided country with political institutions that often seem incapable of basic functioning. Yet, at the same time, more corporate sectors than ever hope to reap benefits from Washington-set industrial policies even as they are caught in the crosshairs of those vying for control of the very same political institutions that set those policies.

For public affairs professionals, this new reality brings greater pressure. Here’s what they need to know as they help their organizations navigate it.

Boosts from industrial policy come at the cost of certainty

In the past several years, billions if not trillions of investment decisions have been driven by measures from Washington promising tax and financing incentives thanks to newly passed laws like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, CHIPS and Science Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and other similar measures. These laws heralded a new age of public-private collaboration intended to advance American economic might in what The White House calls “a modern American industrial strategy.”

Yet, as the shutdown game of chicken reminded corporate executives, this strategy relies on a house of cards buffeted by gusts of wind from the twin tides of progressivism and populism. As companies leverage these public incentives, they entrust their shareholders’ interests to the whims of slim majorities in divided, polarized government. As sharp-thinking friend of Delve Bruce Mehlman recently noted, “change is the new normal” in Washington, with the “average duration of control” cut in nearly half in the past two decades from what the country experienced last century. That means beyond the immediate question of whether the government will be funded beyond the next 45 days, companies must also anticipate the potential for future Congresses to cancel or revise the promises made by recent Congresses. For example, a Republican presidency and/or Congress in 2025 could seek to defund clean energy incentives and other funds distrusted by their political base of support – by one count, they have already attempted to do so 16 times this year.

WOE is Me (and You)

The corporate embrace of industrial policy is just one facet of what former Bush Administration official and World Bank President Robert Zoellick has termed “the Washington Ordered Economy” (WOE). While populists and progressives may have different reasons for doing so, both agree the government in Washington needs more of a say in where and how the private sector invests and grows. The White House’s “new Washington consensus,” Zoellick argues, means “Washington planning, mandates and financing” directing the economy. That’s good if your industry or investment is favored by the political winds, but costly if it is not.

Regardless of whether they are in favor at any particular political moment, a Washington-Ordered Economy might bring companies a lot of disorder thanks to the uncertainty of executive action governing how and where they can invest and operate. That’s because while executive orders and regulatory changes may align with the priorities of the current administration, take President Biden’s tightening of EV tax credits for example, they can also be subject to legal challenges and potential reversal by future administrations. This unpredictability can make it exceptionally challenging for businesses to formulate long-term strategic decisions and investments, as they must navigate a landscape where the rules, at both the federal and state levels, are susceptible to shifts in political direction.

Spring and Summer 2023 Was Just a Preview. Get Ready for the Main Event.

The government shutdown drama is not happening in a vacuum, but within the broader politicization of commerce, both in our Nation’s Capital and across the nation. An expanding array of policymakers and stakeholders fervently expect companies and industries to bend to their particular views on today’s policy, politics, and culture. The Bud Light and Target controversies earlier this year offered a glimpse of how these challenges can rapidly escalate.

While polarization in Washington breeds gridlock and uncertainty for businesses, polarization across states is accelerating the policy gap between red and blue states. In 2023, single party control of states reached a new high, with 140 million Americans living under Democratic control and nearly as many under Republican control. Such domination by one party in state government mean fewer checks on partisan excesses, straining businesses’ ability to straddle the growing policy gap on a broadening range of issues, including fossil fuels and e-commerce.

2024 Will Only Up the Ante – How Are You Getting Prepared?

This new environment is not a fleeting disturbance; it’s a permanent fixture for now . A discernible shift has occurred in how politicians and regulators harness businesses as tools to advance their partisan agendas. The truth is skepticism, scrutiny, and unrelenting pressure will continue to mount, placing businesses at an even greater risk of becoming collateral damage in the political battles of our time. As the 2024 election season gains momentum up and down the ballot, the question is not whether this storm will persist but how well-prepared businesses will be to weather it.

Taking a stand or choosing neutrality can alienate critical policymakers and stakeholders with divergent views. Sustaining trust amid those pressures requires unwavering effort and vigilance amidst growing politicization. Businesses must urgently assess upcoming risks and stay aware of all influencing factors to avoid severe reputational and financial damage in this highly politicized, high-stakes environment. To avoid this damage, public affairs professionals need a playbook to stay ahead. Here at Delve, we are already helping public affairs professionals build their playbooks to ensure they are ready to engage smartly and proactively as the 2024 legislative and political season draws closer.

Welcome to the Multiplex

Here’s What You Need To Know
If the rulebook for artificial intelligence (AI) is a movie franchise, get ready for more spin-offs than even a Marvel executive could dream up. That’s because policymakers around the globe each want to be their own superhero in the race to restrain what many believe is a runaway new technology. As a result, public affairs professionals across every industry sector find themselves standing before a multiplex of policy theaters, each screening its own version of the guardrails needed for AI.

Today, we are launching DelveInto.AI, a new offering specifically designed for those who need more than a seat in the AI regulatory debate theater, but a role in writing the screenplay. In the race to develop and utilize AI, firms and investors must be keyed in to the emerging policy landscape, and Delve’s new offering will help them and the public affairs advisors they rely on to do just that, because waiting until this movie is streaming will cause a lot more than FOMO. Here’s what you need to know to secure your AI information advantage.

“Techlash” = Payback

Policymakers Regret “Mistakes Of The Past.” Policymakers took a hands-off approach to regulation of the internet in the 1990s and the spread of mobile apps and social media platforms in the 2010s. After many years of allowing industry to “move fast and break things,” policymakers and many in the public want to avoid what Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called “the mistakes of the past.” From concerns about the impact of social media on children to content moderation to what some claim are anticompetitive practices in Big Tech, policymakers and their constituents are nursing wounds from their ongoing tussles with Big Tech. This “techlash” could fuel a hasty policymaking process that decommissions AI innovators before their products see the light of day.

The Curtain Is Rising on AI Regulation Across the U.S.

No State of Waiting. On one screen in the multiplex of AI policy theaters are state-level policymakers who show no interest in waiting for Washington to act. Years of experience bringing Big Tech to court and pushing through laws on issues like data privacy have battle-hardened state officials for this moment. States like Colorado, Connecticut, and Illinois have already passed legislation to address AI issues such as algorithmic discrimination. Other states, including California, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island have seen bills introduced that would broadly regulate generative AI. Expect this early trickle of bills to turn into a tidal wave in next year’s legislative sessions with policymakers, stakeholders, and industry scrambling to add their own voice to the debate.

In Delve’s U.S. Nationwide Risk Assessment, we identified eight key factors driving which states are likely to advance AI policies in the coming year, and what issues are top of mind for state policymakers to address.

Washington’s Whole Of Government Approach. Another screening of AI rules is happening at the federal level, where policymakers at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are crafting regulations and coordinating closely with big industry players to set standards that are shaping the terms of the debate. The Biden Administration is bringing to bear on AI the same aggressive, whole-of-government approach it has taken to tackle climate, crypto, and other hot button issues. As a result, numerous federal agencies are enforcing restrictions on the use of AI under their existing authority and are taking additional rulemaking action based on Biden’s forthcoming executive orders. This summer, Biden scored voluntary commitments from leading AI companies to self-regulate, which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plans to enforce. This past week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hosted a who’s who of AI executives and labor and civil rights advocates in the first of a series of Capitol Hill briefings to help lawmakers craft an AI policy framework. If founders and funders of AI projects haven’t yet found a seat at the table in Washington, they’ll be left out in the cold or, worse, on the menu.

Delve’s U.S. Federal Risk Assessment highlights who the key policymakers are and what issues are shaping the debate inside the Beltway.

Global Forces Are Also at Play

Beware the Brussels Effect. The rush to regulate AI isn’t only an American phenomenon, but a global one. The European Union has raced ahead with its nearly complete AI Act, which would ban certain uses of AI and mandate that companies producing high-risk AI tools comply with a range of safety requirements. The EU has a history of winning the first-mover award on major policy reforms, leading to what some call the Brussels effect. By setting the most stringent rules on data privacy in 2018 under the General Data Protection Regulation and more recently content moderation under the Digital Services Act, industry players may face increasing pressure to re-orient their entire global offering to comply with Europe’s demands.

Neither London nor Beijing are keen to let Brussels steal the show. China has new rules that include requiring generative AI providers to register with the government and ensure their systems “adhere to core values of socialism” and London is looking to coordinate global policy as well, with plans to “host the first major global summit on AI safety” later this year. The decisions made today by international players and policymakers will ripple across borders and influence the future of AI innovation, meaning firms with international aspirations must pay careful attention and ensure they can build and leverage the right relationships to shape the debate.

Delve’s Transatlantic Risk Package helps you understand the action at home and abroad, diving into the actions in Brussels, London, and other key European capitals.

Traditional Policymakers Aren’t The Only Actors In the AI Regulatory Theater

Policy Discussions Don’t Happen In A Vacuum. Outside the formal processes, a diverse range of stakeholders are shaping public and policymaker perceptions. There are those who want to stop or at least pause AI development, plus activists concerned about issues like algorithmic discrimination, intellectual property, or other issues. Then there are industry leaders and investors who want AI innovation to continue, though nothing suggests the interests of the major industry players, which already have a seat at the policymaking table in many capitals, will align with the interests of everyone else building or using AI tech.

DelveInto.AI Will Keep You Ahead of the Debate. The AI policy landscape is shaping up to be one of the most complicated and complex in recent memory. Just like the technology itself, the debate is moving faster every day, making it impossible to stay ahead without the right tools in place. That’s where DelveInto.ai gives your public affairs operation an advantage.

In addition to Risk Assessments providing in-depth analysis of the policy landscape in key jurisdictions, our team of analysts is tracking policy and stakeholder activity on a daily basis. This tracking will be available to DelveInto.ai subscribers in the coming weeks, and those who purchase one or more risk assessments will receive a free trial to the tracking service.

If You Don’t Shape The AI Debate, It Will Shape Your Interests. It’s quickly becoming an adage that AI won’t replace you, but someone using AI will. Likewise, you may not be focused on the AI policy debate, but those who are focused on the debate will shape it, and how those rules are written will determine AI rules of the road for every industry sector. To ensure you can focus on this fast-moving debate smartly, you will need DelveInto.AI.

Weak Signals

Here’s What You Need To Know
What does Wagner Group’s aborted march on Moscow tell us about public affairs on the Potomac? How did a journal article by a young think tanker portend big trouble for Big Tech? Did crowd sizes tell us a presidential campaign would have an unexpected finish?

In an age in which “surprise has become the standard” for too many, these three questions all provide examples of how capturing weak signals can help public affairs professionals anticipate what’s coming. So what are weak signals, how can you capture them, and what does it take to connect the right dots?

Here’s what you need to know to ensure your public affairs operation has the insights it needs to shape the future.

Weak Signals Are Whispers Of The Potential Future – Ignore Them At Your Own Risk

The March On Moscow Was Months In The Making: Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group burst into the news in late June with what the media described as a “seemingly spontaneous” and “shocking episode” as it took over a key military center and began a drive towards Moscow. Yet, for those who were closely observing, Prigozhin’s moves were anything but a surprise. Indeed, Prigozhin’s dissatisfaction with the Kremlin, Putin, and Russian military leaders had been escalating for months, with the private militia leader posting frequent public statements condemning the lack of support for his mercenary fighters and all but advertising what he was planning to do.

The Young Think Tanker Big Tech Wishes It Sidelined: Weak signals aren’t just a feature of geopolitics, though. They play out across domestic policy and politics every day. Take for instance, a well-regarded January 2017 Yale Law Journal article by a 27 year-old think tank staffer arguing Amazon’s dominance as a platform for commerce warranted more antitrust scrutiny. That staffer’s arguments helped bring to national attention a renewed antitrust movement pushing for new antitrust enforcement approaches to take on Big Tech platforms. A year later, in another journal article, the same would-be-trustbuster highlighted how her movement “is already shaping how politicians, journalists, and the public see and discuss the concentration of market power and the decline of competition.” Their ideas extended into the halls of Congress and onto the 2020 presidential campaign trail. Today, that formerly young law student, Lina Khan, is aggressively pursuing Amazon and other Big Tech platforms as chair of the Federal Trade Commission. Those weak signals indicated coming policy pressure and who would shape it if not stopped.

With Weak Signals, Knowledge Is Power: This progression from rumblings among academics or activists into a drive for political action and eventually policy results is what weak signals are all about. As we warned in 2017, “A growing chorus of academics and think tanks have begun questioning whether tech companies like Amazon, in particular, but also Apple, Microsoft, and others, have become too big, while new advocacy groups have launched to focus on this issue.” If you saw the weak signals strengthening then, you knew the debate was shifting on competition policy. The question is when and whether to squelch (or boost, depending on your objectives) the weak signals you see.

How To Sense And Assess Weak Signals So You Can Avoid Surprises

Hemingway’s Law of Disruption Is Public Affairs’ New MO: As Ernest Hemingway once wrote about going bankrupt, weak signals develop “Gradually and then suddenly.” That is exactly how disruption – be it in technology or policy – tends to happen. The weak signals are always there if you care to look. What matters is developing a rigorous and systemic approach to capture, analyze, and connect weak signals before they reach that inflection point. Public affairs and government relations teams must incorporate a robust monitoring and analysis capability into how they operate. The days of copy and pasted news clips emailed out to giant distribution lists without any context are gone. To succeed in today’s public affairs environment, you need to be able to see the gradual build up to avoid the sudden disruption.

Separate the Weak Signals From The Noise: Today’s public affairs professionals are swimming in information that can overwhelm the time and attention needed to analyze it. At the same time, the news media too often focuses on (if not furthers) the polarizing noise of our politics rather than the actual substance of our policy. Companies need to invest in their own version of noise-cancelling headphones in order to hear what the weak signals are saying. Too often, free (and paid) media monitoring tools lack the capability to truly analyze the information compiled – even if they offer charts and infographics that dazzle. That makes them just another firehouse, rather than a meaningful filter. While today it is easier than ever before to collect information, discerning the trends and anticipating where the discussion may lead is even harder.

Weak Signals Are the Breadcrumbs – Use Them To Understand Potential Policy Direction Others Miss: The weak signals roadmap is littered with clues to where the policy journey may lead, even if it doesn’t match the conventional wisdom. Take the 2016 presidential race for example. Polling and traditional assumptions missed a rising tide of support for Donald Trump for non-traditional voters. Those on the ground in places like Michigan could see it, but Hilary Clinton’s team and campaign experts ignored it. Yet, anyone tuning into on-the-ground programming like Showtime’s “The Circus” or watching local news coverage saw Donald Trump amassing mile-long lines of crowds for his rallies – something rarely if ever a feature of GOP presidential campaigns – and knew something different was happening. The signal was there for those who discerned what data mattered. We know the shock it produced when not enough people did.

The Right Insights Let You Pivot Away From A Coming Wagner, Khan, Or Clinton Moment

Public Affairs Professionals Need To Understand The Value Weak Signals Provide.  Too often, public affairs and government relations professionals lean too heavily on their experience or expertise rather than neutrally assess what the data is actually showing. Approaching weak signals with a “beginner’s mindset” is critical to seeing when a shift is coming. You need to be willing to follow the breadcrumbs, even if it at first it may seem unclear or go against conventional wisdom.

A Robust Monitoring Program Puts You Ahead Of The Curve. Everything a business does in today’s polarized, politicized, and digitized environment is under scrutiny. Companies must employ that same level of scrutiny to find the weak signals in order to protect their brand and its interests and anticipate from where pressure could come next. Investing in a robust monitoring program that goes beyond keywords and digs into the details provides public affairs professionals with actionable insights built for today’s shifting landscape. When you can see the weak signals, you can make the pivots necessary to avoid your own Wagner, Khan, or Clinton moment. Here at Delve, our monitoring capabilities are built to help you do exactly that.

Forbes Column: Navigating The Storm: AI Regulation And The Future Of Business

In his latest Forbes column, Delve CEO Jeff Berkowitz warns AI tools are filled with potential but also fraught with political, legal and reputational challenges business must consider before adopting or building AI. To understand what those challenges mean for you, read the excerpt below, then head to Forbes.com to read the full article.

Artificial intelligence is here, and it is transforming the world in ways we are only beginning to grasp. As businesses incorporate generative AI into their operations, many will find themselves in an uncharted frontier—a landscape filled with potential but also fraught with political, legal and reputational challenges.

AI’s rapid evolution has drawn the attention of Congressforeign governments and the European Union regarding concerns about AI advancing at such a pace that they can’t keep up. This can leave businesses that rely on AI in a potentially precarious position.

As someone who helps companies navigate risks, I believe that while regulators might try to narrowly regulate the technology, the rush to regulate could stifle the opportunity for AI to boost productivity. Yet, in the absence of defined rules and guardrails, businesses must make complicated ethical, privacy and other contentious decisions on their own.


AI’s capabilities will permeate every sector—law, healthcare, financial services, law enforcement, energy and beyond. Companies must keep pace or risk being left behind.

This reality presents a challenge for businesses unaccustomed to navigating complex policy environments, as the rise of AI could lead to governmental and consumer ripple effects that, like many other areas of technology regulation, vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Businesses will have to stay abreast of this patchwork of legislative and regulatory changes and the evolving public attitudes that vary by culture and region.


Whether your business is building its own AI-enabled tools or leveraging newly available tools built by others, you will need the ability to communicate what AI is and is not to all of your stakeholders, as well as the government entities that can impact your firm.

For businesses, the choice should not be between avoiding AI and risk falling behind or incorporating AI into core processes and face potentially immense political, legal and reputational scrutiny. Instead, businesses must fully understand what is driving this scrutiny and how your firm’s stakeholders—employees, customers, communities, investors and beyond—are likely to respond. This understanding will empower businesses to navigate this complex landscape, manage risks and fully capitalize on the opportunities presented in this rapidly evolving AI era.


Continue reading at Forbes.com and find out how to understand the political, legal, and reputational risks businesses must navigate as they adopt AI.


Here’s What You Need to Know

Pride month celebrations may still be going strong, but with widespread backlash towards companies looking to join the party, many are rethinking their RSVP. Last year, companies were called out for being “inauthentic” when it came to Pride-focused marketing, while this year most of the controversy stems from brands being “overly woke.” It’s enough to give you Pridelash. So what’s changed?

Hyperpolarization once reserved for the halls of Congress and around the Thanksgiving dinner table has permeated every facet of American life. This shift is making it increasingly difficult for corporations to navigate whether (and by how much) to embrace social issues. Bud Light, which lost its two-decade long place as America’s #1 beer this month, and Target have lost billions in market value over what used to seem like easy marketing decisions. This shift shouldn’t come as a surprise. Consumers want businesses to be more involved with social issues, but in a highly polarized country, what they believe that involvement should look like is fraught with controversy.

No company is immune. Red state stalwarts like Cracker Barrel and Chick-fil-A have come under just as much fire as in the last several months as firms like The North Face with a strong history of purpose-driven marketing – in Chick-fil-A’s case for a three-year old hiring announcement. Here’s what you need to know to avoid becoming the next target of activists’ “go woke, go broke” mantra.          

The Battle of Could vs. Should Is Heating Up

To borrow a quote from Jurassic Park’s esteemed Dr. Ian Malcolm, companies have been “so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” A recent Newsweek poll finds that more than 7 in 10 Americans aged 25-44 supported the expression “go woke, go broke.” It is  a dramatic change in the conventional wisdom that millennials, one of the most powerful consumer and voting blocs, want companies to embrace social issues in their marketing and communications. Meanwhile, a Brunswick Group study found 63% of corporate executives think “companies should speak out on social issues,” but just 36% of voters agree. This divergence has set up a true battle within corporate America on how best, if at all, to engage. Consumers, after all, are not the only stakeholder companies must consider, with pressure from employees, investors, and policymakers complicating firms’ desire to sit out particular debates.

Embracing Social Issues Means Embracing The Consequences

 In a deeply divided nation, corporate activism can present challenges for organizations once reluctant to take public stands on contentious issues. As our CEO outlined in Forbes, “before endorsing broad proclamations, business needs to understand the expected actions these proclamations may entail.” In the 20th Century, corporations were more frequently regional and accessible. Now, many brands are owned by multinational conglomerates more removed from the everyday experiences of those they hope to serve. As a result, contends political reporter Salena Zito, marketing decisions on social and political issues are made more and more “to reflect the alienated world of the owners rather than the consumers who are their bread and butter.” This disconnect means companies take real risk when embracing social issues. Activists advancing their own agenda are looking for every opportunity to call business out for “performative” action. In Bud Light’s case, for example, their actions lost both the consumers they hoped to woo and the ones they already had. In this climate, full consideration of the short and long term effects of going “woke” is more important than ever.

Public Affairs Needs A Seat In The Room Where It Happens

In this age of digital sleuthing and viral vitriol, everything a business does, or says, is under a microscope. Businesses need to tread carefully when wading into the cultural fray. As we’ve shared before, “companies face new political and reputational risks from activists that have nationalized, digitized, and professionalized their efforts.” That requires public affairs and government relations staff to be at the table when business decisions are being made. No one is better positioned to provide inside expertise on the political and reputational risk taking a side carries. Without their voice in the conversation, corporations will continue to see real (and expensive) consequences for jumping on the social issues bandwagon.

Same Stance, New Backlash

For Pride month this year, some companies did not do anything different than years prior. Target has long leaned into marketing products around celebratory months and Chick-fil-A’s “new” VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was actually hired in 2021. The thing that differentiates this year’s “woke” backlash is the lens through which these efforts are viewed. State legislatures across the country have thrust transgender rights to the national forefront, and Bud Light brought new activist scrutiny to the forefront this spring. Political and social debates are far from static, and the same position or action in a new context will cause a different reaction. Businesses must pay attention to these shifts and understand their operating environment to avoid a crisis of their own making. It will be hard to predict which way the pendulum will swing next, but companies should be well advised to remain nimble and proactive in today’s politically charged environment.

Avoid Surprise, And The Onslaught

The backlash to corporate social issue engagement will not end when the calendar flips to July. Companies will need to prioritize a holistic and strategic approach if they want to navigate the political and reputational risks to come. That means identifying your existing and potential vulnerabilities, fully understanding your stakeholders and their interests, appreciating the dynamics of the political environment across jurisdictions in which you operate, and building a system to avoid surprises.These steps are part of Delve’s proven playbook, so if we can help you avoid the onslaught, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Primary Concerns

Here’s what you need to know:

The 2024 Republican presidential nomination race gives a nod to Hemingway this week as the field, which has been building more gradually than any in recent history suddenly looks like it could get crowded. Both Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and U.S. Senator Tim Scott launching campaigns this week and at least five other candidates may join them in the existing field of four. That means primary season is in full swing and if your public affairs operations has not been keeping track, it may find itself behind.

While a crowded field might excite political pundits, corporate public affairs professionals must stay attuned to how the campaign debate could impact their company’s or industry’s reputation and interests. That’s because what happens in the early primary states rarely stays in the early primary states, shaping the national policy debate and even the eventual nominee’s platform. Here’s what you need to know to stay ahead of the emerging candidates and how their thinking on key industries could evolve as they hit the campaign trail.

How Early States Shape The Debate

Even long-shot presidential candidates’ ideas have a history of gaining traction nationally, shifting the Overton window of debate, or even getting adopted by the nominee. Even if these ideas do not make it past Iowa, their champions could remain in contention for Vice President, Cabinet posts, other elected offices, or prominent positions in mass media or at advocacy groups.

In 2024, this trend could become a real challenge for business, as each party is more dominated now by populist and progressive voices who are less friendly to business than even the recent past. Candidates competing in a field for voters’ eyes and ears will use charged issues to attract attention but may in turn bring scrutiny to key industries, including some that are newer to being campaign lightning rods. If not checked early, these issues could evolve from reputational damage to damaging policy. Declared or potential candidates have already called for unspent COVID aid to be clawed back, went after the Silicon Valley Bank for not deserving a bailout, and of course, targeted Disney for going ‘woke.’

In many cases, candidates are responding to incentives like media attention and grassroots accolades. The Republican presidential gauntlet still runs through early states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, and a failure to gain traction there will end even the most hyped of candidacies. That means building support among key players in those early states with their own interests and ideas they expect candidates to embrace. That makes these local and state officials and centers of influence just as important to understand and engage as the candidates themselves.

What To Do Before Politics Becomes Policy

Assessing and monitoring the 2024 primary field from the earliest stages is a crucial task for corporate public affairs professionals, and a fast-growing, late-starting field of candidates makes that task more difficult. Here’s how companies and industries with business objectives at risk can act before politics become policy:

  1. Know the Candidates’ Records and Hold Them Accountable: In the early stages of a campaign, candidates will often adjust and contort their positions to gain a leg up and win the support of whichever key players are most important at that time. Understanding candidates’ records and the personal histories that may affect their point of view allows your company or industry to cut through the noise and decipher their true beliefs on important policy issues. In addition to their own personal or professional backgrounds, determining who the candidates are listening to can help inform the positions they eventually take, including formal and informal advisors, donors, and any known close associates. These factors all come together to shape what the candidate is running on, when they engage, and how their approach can impact your company or industry.
  2. Understand How the Campaign Debate Will Unfold and Who Will Shape It: The dynamics of each early primary state — from the issues at the forefront of voters’ mind, the various political and community leaders candidates will try to woo, the interests of vital local industries, and other stakeholders both inside and outside the state — all help set the terms of the debate. To understand these dynamics, corporate advocacy teams should assess the landscape in each state to identify who could define the debate, anticipate the hot-button issues, and position your own for success.
  3. Build a System to Stay Ahead and Avoid Surprise: This week’s change in campaign dynamics highlights how fast the debate can change, and how much wider the range of players who can shape that debate has become. With such speed and volume of information, keeping ahead of not just the candidates but their advisors, surrogates, endorsers, pundits, and numerous third parties can be challenging. That makes a robust and systematic monitoring program a strategic priority to ensure you have actionable, forward-looking insights and the capability to respond quickly to potentially damaging ideas entering the debate.

Taking these steps early will ensure you can anticipate and prepare for policy and regulatory shifts. It also opens avenues for proactive engagement with candidates (and those who could shape their views) on industry-specific issues and aids in reputation management before campaign rhetoric can shape public opinion.

You Don’t Have To Do It Alone

With the presidential primary season heating up, those tasked with defending their organization’s brand or political and regulatory interests need an information advantage that ensures they can educate and inform their organizations on the risks and opportunities, and then take action to shape the debate before it is too late.

With a greatly diminished core of business-friendly political leaders, corporate advocates will have little time to ensure their interests are not vilified by politicians pursuing their White House dreams. At Delve, we are already tracking and assessing the field and the emerging campaign debate. If we can help you put your best foot forward and brave what is expected to be a highly contentious primary season, please reach out.

States Get Ready to Rumble

Here’s What You Need to Know

As of today, 18 state legislatures have already convened their 2023 sessions, and all but five state legislatures will have assembled within the next two weeks. That means life is going to come fast for state-focused government affairs professionals, who will find a dramatically different and even more sharply divided legislative landscape this year.

Shaped by one of the largest waves of freshmen legislators in years, many of whom were swept into office by the twin tides of populism and progressivism, and with increased one-party rule across more states, 2023 legislative sessions will prove challenging for a range of industries.

Public affairs professionals who have not already built their post-election playbook are starting 2023 behind. Here is what you need to know to stay ahead of this year’s key legislative debates.

2023 State Legislatures Bring Newer, More Polarized Landscapes

More than one in four of the nearly 6,300 state legislators elected last November will be freshmen, thanks to the largest number of open seats in six election cycles and the highest number of primary defeats for incumbents in five election cycles. That shake up will extend to chamber leaders as well – about one-third of them will be new.

Many of these new faces will only fuel what has already been a long march towards more polarized legislatures. In 2023, single party control of states will reach a new high, with 140 million Americans living under Democratic control and nearly as many under Republican control:

  • 48 of 50 state legislatures will feature one-party control across chambers
  • 40 of those states will have trifecta control with a governor from the same party (though in both cases, Alaska’s inclusion is with a caveat)
  • And a new high of 26 state legislatures will feature veto-proof majorities

Such domination by one party in state government mean fewer checks on partisan excesses, straining businesses’ ability to straddle the growing policy gap between red and blue states on a broadening range of issues.

That Polarized Landscape Will Pressure Key Industries from Both Sides

From Fossil Fuel Divestment to Building and Vehicle Electrification and Beyond, States Will Clash Over the Energy Transition Even as They Leverage Federal Funds to Advance It. With billions flowing toward transitioning America towards net zero, expect plenty of clashes at the state level, including whether state pension funds should use their shareholder status to pressure fossil fuel companies to increase climate commitments or divest from fossil fuel entirely, which other states view as an unfair economic boycott. Similarly, building electrification initiatives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) could lead to more legislative bans on natural gas hookups in newly constructed buildings – though some may update building codes to enforce these changes instead. With federal funding to build electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure heading to states, more states will consider following California’s lead in banning the sale of new gasoline-powered automobiles, even as other states push back. Other incentives in both the IRA and infrastructure law will encourage states to embrace more renewable energy development, including wind, solar, hydrogen, and nuclear, as well as measures to develop carbon capture, utilization, and storage. Bringing these renewables online will also require states to seek upgrades to the nation’s aging transmission network. Lastly, expect more progressive states to adopt new laws aimed at addressing environmental justice.

States Find Alignment on Tackling Healthcare Cost and Access, Diverge on Reproductive Health, With Many Firms Caught In Between. While the federal government prepares to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare participants, 22 states have adopted caps on co-payments for insulin and many others have introduced legislation as part of a broader push cracking down on prescription drug prices. Red and blue states also are finding common ground expanding access to telehealth, though the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision could drive a wedge on such initiatives as red states restrict access and blue states expand access to abortion pills and procedures. Even for companies outside the health sector, this debate could impact their interests, as some red states look to penalize companies that aid employees skirting their state’s restrictions and blue states expect firms to defy other states’ restrictions.

States Have Big Tech and China in Their Crosshairs – But Their Actions Could Impact Firms Outside the Sector Too. There may be harmony between red and blue states on antitrust legislation targeting Big Tech over content moderation, app stores, and “right to repair”, but businesses outside the sector also could be caught in the middle as some states look to enact digital taxes or other measures that impact a wide array of firms, such as consumer data privacy rights. Closely tied to technology concerns is growing skepticism among state lawmakers regarding China’s presence in their states. At least five states have enacted laws limiting or prohibiting usage of technology products from Huawei and other Chinese makers, and others are considering such laws. Maryland recently became the latest state to ban the use of TikTok and other Chinese platforms on state government devices. These restrictions have gone beyond tech, with six states banning foreign ownership of farmland and others looking to regulate Chinese agricultural land purchases.

Financial Institutions Will Face Greater Pressure from Both Sides of the ESG Debate. 2022 witnessed a surge in red states divesting from banks and asset managers making environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments, and this trend will certainly continue into 2023. 19 states are considering such measures, following the lead of Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and most recently Florida. Such actions have influenced Vanguard, the world’s largest mutual fund issuer, to leave the Net Zero Asset Managers (NZAM) initiative, but the state skepticism reaches well beyond the climate debate. Missouri, for example, is leading a 19-state investigation of whether Morningstar’s ESG assessments violate state consumer-protection laws, while Texas and others have launched a similar investigation into S&P Global. Meanwhile, blue states are calling on financial firms to be even more vigilant in enforcing climate goals and arguing for more ESG commitments.

FTX Crash Shifted Crypto Boosting to Crypto Busting. In 2022, a number of states boosted cryptocurrency with legislation often crafted by the industry itself, but FTX’s collapse has shifted support to skepticism as states line up to enact their own laws regulating the burgeoning industry in 2023. In addition to consumer protections and other rules specifically targeted at addressing FTX-like concerns, state legislators are likely to address environmental impact and energy consumption, usage as a form of legal tender, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), property rights, tax structure and compliance, and cybersecurity.

Public Affairs Professionals Must Be Prepared to Navigate These Pressures

With state legislators rolling up their sleeves to enact a slew of policies that will significantly impact a range of businesses and industries, public affairs professionals cannot afford to wait to prepare for the battles that lie ahead. To anticipate these challenges, mitigate the risks, and leverage the opportunities, public affairs professionals will need a playbook to stay ahead. Here at Delve, we are already helping public affairs professionals build their playbooks to ensure they are ready to engage smartly and proactively in 2023 and beyond.