The Congressional Management Foundation released a new report based on the results of 260 congressional staff who were surveyed on their opinions about practices related to constituent communications.
Here are some takeaways from “Communicating with Congress”:
- 57% of staff felt email and the Internet have made Senators and Representatives more accountable to their constituents.
- 90% said postal mail (and 88% said email) from a constituent would influence an undecided Member of Congress.
- Most of the staff surveyed said constituent visits to the Washington office (97%) and to the district or state office (94%) have “some” or “a lot” of influence on an undecided Member.
- Staff also said questions at town hall meetings (87%) and letters to the editor (80%) have “some” or “a lot” of influence.
Constituents still have competition–81% of staff said that lobbyists have some influence in the decision making process–although visits from constituents were said to be more influential. While the results of the study are based on self-reporting, and must be analyzed as such, they still reveal important information on how members of Congress view their constituents.
No matter your method of communication, “personal stories really are what make a difference for members…because they know it’s far easier to send a form campaign to Capitol Hill.”
The moral of the story? Put on your walking shoes and get on over to city hall, the state house, or Capitol Hill and tell your elected officials what you think. Too much snow? Then write an email from your couch, or put a letter in the mail. It’ll go a long way.