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I know how easy it is to convince yourself not to bother with contacting legislators because you think it won’t make a difference, and besides, aren’t there lobbyists (like yours truly) up there working on that?
So I wanted to share the graph below, which I got from a PowerPoint presentation used at advocacy trainings by our friends at WV-CAG. It’s the result of a poll of more than 250 congressional staff by the Congressional Management Foundation.
As you can see, those staffers indicated that the thing most likely to influence congresspersons’ thinking was in-person visits from constituents. Individualized postal letters was #2, followed by individualized e-mails. Phone calls were #5, and visits from lobbyists were #7. So you see, not only does your visit hold more sway than mine, your letter, e-mail or phone call are also more likely to influence a legislator than is a visit from me.
Now, I don’t want to talk myself out of a job. I like to think we lobbyists make a difference because we are able to devote full time to this. We are able to strategize with sympathetic legislators and with other lobbyists. And we work to keep you more informed than you might be otherwise.
But I hope the graph helps to convince you that you can have an effect, and I hope you’ll answer the call when we send out an action alert, a newsletter plea, or a tweet asking you to express yourself to those legislators or other officials.
In fact, don’t even wait for that. I just published as a blog post a document I wrote some time ago called “How to be an Armchair Lobbyist;” you can read it here. So go forth, and lobby! In the current atmosphere, I don’t think we can achieve our goals without you.