Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Five business stories worth exploring around the national election

May 3, 2016

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Elections consistently provide great angles for business stories.

The national election is ramping up and making headlines daily with ample coverage of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and John Kasich on the campaign trail. However, what business stories can we tease from the political news? This blog outlines some angles for budding business reporters to pursue.

How will the national election affect small business?

Around 34 percent of small business owners have no faith in electoral candidates, up from 25 percent last fall. That’s the result of a March 30 survey by OnDeck, a small business lender, recently released via PR Newswire. Use the study as a business hook and tap small business owners in your own community on their views. Weave in live quotes offering your readers a blend of feedback and a mix of Democrat and Republican supporters. (The same study showed many small business owners feel nostalgic for the days when Ronald Reagan ran for president; many viewed Reagan as a friend to small business. Explore this idea with some of your older subjects.)

How will the election impact big business?

A recent study by the American Institute of CPAs shows little impact is expected from the election on hiring cycles or capital expenditure. However, 64 percent of polled chief executive officers, chief financial officers, controllers and other senior executives say they are carefully monitoring the election when considering the company’s business planning, budgeting or forecasting for the next fiscal year. Take a national study like this and localize it by quizzing executives in your own hometown on their point of view. Or attend a local business association networking meeting for descriptive color.

How are business leaders responding to the campaign?

Several business correspondents, like Paula Dwyer in Bloomberg View, have commented on the anti-business rhetoric rampant in our current campaign. Dwyer notes two CEOs (one from General Electric and one from Pfizer) have retaliated in their own opinion pieces. General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt responded angrily in his Washington Post op-ed to Bernie Sanders’ statement that General Electric was “destroying the moral fabric” of America. Craft a response piece from business owners on whether they see an anti-business backlash among front-runner candidates, and what they suggest candidates can do differently.

How will the election impact the pot industry?

Josh Weiss at CNBC wrote a compelling piece noting how historic this year could be not only for the presidency, but also for the American marijuana industry. Experts note multiple states will vote on whether or not to legalize the substance this election, and these states may have some huge markets. Marijuana Business Daily reports sales from 2015 to 2016 will go from 17 to 26 percent, with between $3.5 billion and $4.3 billion in revenue being raised this year alone. Localize the story by researching what laws exist within your own community and whether your state is one considering pot legalization.

What insight can we gain from business experts?

Tap your local MBA school and ask the economics expert whether he or she has seen similar trends before, what outcome those previous elections had on business or whether they see the election benefiting businesses. Ask the expert what topics aren’t covered well within the media, and why.

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