The Future of Political Consulting: Tomorrow's Battlefields
As the preceding chapters have indicated, the political consulting field has changed dramatically in the relatively short span of the last 30 years. Evidence of that change abounds. What then does the future hold? Clearly, it is impossible to predict precisely what the future has in store for an industry as volatile as this one. Nevertheless, based on a thorough examination of the literature, participation at a variety of professional meetings, and interviews with a host of consultants, several recurring themes are evident when leaders of the field consider the directions in which they are moving.
Seven themes are repeatedly advanced when speculation turns to the future of political consulting. First, political consulting will continue to be a growth field. Second, that growth will be driven in part by increasing geographic specialization. Third, the growth of political consulting will be driven in part by increasing issue and corporate advocacy. Fourth, the growth of political consulting will be driven in part by increasingly sophisticated communications technology. Fifth, political consultants will continue to produce negative messages. Sixth, the culture of the political consulting field will cause discord. Seventh, political consulting is currently operating under the threat of regulatory change. It is a field that could be sharply impacted in the immediate future by regulation. Let us briefly examine each of these themes.
1. Political consulting will continue to be a growth field. Although estimates vary, a reasonable guess would put the number of firms currently engaged in political consulting somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000. Twenty years ago, there were approximately 250 such firms. 1 The American Association of Political Consultants was founded in 1969. Eleven