What is the AAPC?
The American Association of Political Consultants, founded in 1969, is a nonpartisan organization of political professionals. We are proud to represent the women and men of our industry who have dedicated their lives to making America a better place to live by attaining the goals set out more than 200 years ago in our nation's Declaration of Independence.
What is the AAPC's mission?
First and foremost, AAPC is proud to maintain a Code of Professional Ethics for its members. AAPC encourages members to live by the standards it sets, thus enhancing the political process and improving public confidence in the American political system. In addition, AAPC provides education and networking opportunities for its members and advocates for the protection of political free speech.
Click here to read AAPC’s full mission statement.
Who are the members?
AAPC members consist of political consultants, media consultants, pollsters, campaign managers, corporate public affairs officers, professors, fund-raisers, lobbyists, congressional staffers and vendors. Membership is open to everyone associated with politics from the local level to the White House.
AAPC members understand that, while we are often competitors on Election Day, we are all colleagues with similar professional concerns that transcend "Republican", "Democrat" or "Independent" labels.
What is the benefit of becoming a member?
Being a member of AAPC places you among the nation’s largest network of political and public affairs professionals.
Membership in AAPC enables you to:
- Build your network of professional peers and potential clients
- Learn about latest industry trends at complimentary webinars and regional conferences
- Attend the premier political consulting event of the year – the Pollie Awards & Conference at deeply discounted rates
- Be hired by candidates and campaigns
- Stay connected with our monthly e-newsletter
- Demonstrate your commitment to professional development and ethical business practices
What is Political Consulting?
The profession of political consulting as its own niche is a very recent phenomenon, taking its place alongside computer gurus and television reporters as a career that has come of age.
Yet, political campaigning was not born yesterday, despite many pundits insistence that they helped it evolve in their own shops. In fact, the first recorded political consultant was Quintus Cicero, author of the Handbook of Electioneering. Written to help his brother win a campaign for the consulship of Rome in 63 B.C., it was a first. Since then perhaps millions have offered advice to candidates for public office. Machiavelli's suggestions to his prince being among the most quoted.
The creation of political consultation as a separate career discipline has been a development of the middle 20th Century. As with most of politics, there is disagreement over when the "industry" began. Some call the California firms of Baus and Ross or Whittaker-Baxter, back in the 1930s, the founders of the field. Others credit people like Joe Napolitan, Clif White, Matt Reese, Bill Roberts, Stu Spencer, Joe Cerrell, Bill Hamilton, Bob Squier, Walter deVries and their peers as the first "true" political consultants. These political pioneers date back to the 50s.
More than 50,000 public elections are held in the United States each year. Add to that number the selection of elected leaders for private, professional, academic, business, labor, public interest, and other organized bodies, as well as public votes on local and state referenda, initiatives, and constitutional amendments, and the tally skyrockets to over 500,000 elections annually. Indeed, this business is growing by leaps and bounds. More than a billion dollars is spent yearly on campaign communication.
Political consultants can do everything or specialize in one specific service. General services include overall strategic expertise, whereas specialist services include such diverse talents as survey research, television or radio production and placement, telemarketing, direct mail, fund raising, media relations, computer use, and a host of additional forms of expertise. A recent issue of Campaigns & Elections Magazine lists more than 56 separate job categories of political professionals. In addition, a growing number of corporations, public interest groups, labor and other entities interested in public policy are hiring political consultants as members of their public relations, public affairs, or advocacy teams.
Political advice-giving as a business, independent of other types of income production, began about the same time as the formation of the American Association of Political Consultants -- in 1969. Only a handful of people attended the first meeting at Lincoln Center in New York City. The association now numbers more than 1,100 active members, and operates from a permanent office in Washington, D.C.