Survey says: Constituents lobby best

Nothing makes a bigger impression on lawmakers than a visit from constituents, according to a new report released Friday that examines strategies for lobbying Congress.

The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), in a three-year survey of Capitol Hill staffers, found that constituent visits to the Washington office (97%) and to the district office (94%) have “some” or “a lot” of influence on undecided lawmakers, more than any other strategy.

ADVERTISEMENT

The group is releasing a research-based guide for individuals and groups on how to schedule, conduct and follow-up on meetings with lawmakers.

The report explores issues such as when is the best time to request a meeting, what to discuss and what are the preferred locations.

The group’s research found that House lawmakers work an average of 70 hours a week when the House is in session and 59 hours when the chamber is out.

Lawmakers have about 13 meetings a day on a wide array of issues, and they are bombarded with data and opinions, many of them unsolicited, the report said.

Besides those duties, lawmakers also have to find time for their families, campaign duties and political party functions.

“Though senators and representatives want to meet with constituents, because of these competing demands, getting on their calendars and influencing the policy decision-making process requires preparation and a little finesse on the part of advocates,” the report said.

CMF collected and compiled the data from 450 responses from House and Senate staffers between 2010 and 2013.

“Included in the survey were open-ended questions that allowed staffers to report candidly and anonymously on aspects of constituent meetings that they would never reveal to constituents, convey to lobbyists, or whisper to reporters,” the report said.