"We're exploring other opportunities for advocacy in other states," said NAM spokesman Matt Lavoie.
The Chamber of Commerce's last ads mentioning regulations were in July. They targeted the records of Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida, Jon Tester of Montana and Brown of Ohio and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic Senate candidate in Wisconsin.
Lincoln maintains the regulation issue is "seeping down" to voters beyond pro-business Republicans. The paucity of polling on the issue makes that difficult to verify.
A July poll by CBS and The New York Times found 49 percent said the federal government regulates business too much these days. Twenty-two percent said it regulates business too little and 19 percent said the right amount. In a February 2011 poll, 45 percent said the government regulates business too much, while in February 2009, just 28 percent felt the government encroaches too much on business.
The experience of Dale Kaplan, owner of a dry cleaning business in the suburbs of Harrisburg, Pa., shows the difficulty of convincing those not directly affected that they should care about federal rules.
Kaplan said he's voting for Romney because, he believes, Obama's Environmental Protection Agency wants "to regulate me out of business." Active in an employer's advisory group on regulations, Kaplan said fellow dry cleaners feel the same way because of strict rules for cleaning solution.
"It definitely has much more impact on people like myself in chemical-using industries," he said.
His customers, Kaplan said, are more inclined to talk about their economic struggles in a more general way, saying how they come in less frequently to get clothes cleaned, hold on to their clothes rather than buying new outfits and even ask him to press rather than clean garments because it's cheaper.
There are some indications that traditional Democrats are upset with the Obama administration's regulations. While most unions have endorsed the Democratic president, the United Mine Workers of America has withheld its support so far because of stringent proposed EPA rules that, the union fears, could cost jobs.
Mine Workers spokesman Phil Smith said the EPA proposals "make it very difficult for our members to feel comfortable with supporting an administration that is embarking on that path."
"The alternative is no good either," he said, referring to Romney. "Our members recognize this as well. We're stuck between a rock and a hard place."
Other unions are standing with Obama despite concerns about specific regulations.
Daniel Hoppes, who heads Local 293 in Nebraska of the United Food and Commercial Workers, said his members who work in the meat industry are concerned about regulations sending more corn for use in ethanol rather than leaving it for livestock.
That and the drought could lead to employee cutbacks down the road, he said, but his local's members see the drought as the bigger problem.
"I don't see them blaming Obama," Hoppes said. "Most of my members are supportive of Barack Obama as president. Of course, I'm a union guy."
National Federation of Independent Business coalition, http://www.sensibleregulations.org
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