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GWU Study: What Influences Congress

Having credible, reliable information is key to influencing members of Congress and their staff, according to a new report from the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. “There are both startling and expected results in this data,” said GW Professor Dr. David Rehr in a press release. “Washington insiders and everyday citizens will have a clearer picture of interactions between staff in the U.S. Congress and those advocating before them on behalf of business, labor, non-profit or cause-related organizations.” 

Researchers surveyed nearly 3,000 congressional staff and lobbyists in Washington, DC in March 2012. They found that 45% of congressional staffers (both Democrat and Republican) say providing credible, reliable information is the most important determinant for gaining access to a member of Congress. Other important determinates were:

  • Having an existing relationship among member/staff/lobbyists (28%)
  • Reputation of individual seeking the meeting (12%)
  • Person having previously worked for the legislator (11%)
  • Reputation as a powerful lobby (2%)
  • Whether PAC has supported the member (2%)

Read the full press release and more findings here

It appears that traditional forms of lobbying, including money and a powerful lobbying ‘brand’ name do matter, but less so than reliable, consistent information, according to Dr. Rehr. 

The study’s findings make fly-in events like IHRSA’s Summit for a Healthier America, all the more important. The Summit gives health club operators the chance to meet directly with their Senator or Representative and provide them with the most up to date, accurate information on the fitness industry and how it plays a role in improving America’s health.

“When a club operator goes into a Congressional meeting armed with all the research and data that IHRSA provides, he or she has the opportunity to really influence the political process, whether they are a chain or single-club operator,” said Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Public Policy. “You can be just as effective as a professional lobbyist.” 

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