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What Lobbyists Think vs. What Staffers Think What Lobbyists Think vs. What Staffers Think

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What Lobbyists Think vs. What Staffers Think

June 13, 2012
Our colleague Alexandra Jaffe reports on a survey of congressional staffers and lobbyists, conducted by the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. As Jaffe writes, the survey "indicates lobbyists don't have as tight a grip on policymaking as they might like":

What staffers think of lobbyists stands in stark contrast to what lobbyists think of themselves: Twenty-nine percent of lobbyists believe they are very influential, compared with 8 percent of staffers who feel the same. And while 68 percent of lobbyists believe they're a valuable source of information, only 41 percent of Hill staffers agree, placing lobbyists below Beltway publications, Internet searches, and constituents for value when it comes to gathering information about policy.

Staffers, instead, overwhelmingly rely on the Congressional Research Service when learning about policy, with 86 percent naming it a valuable source. Issue experts were named by the second-largest group as valuable, and the Congressional Budget Office was third.

Lobbyists, too, underestimate how important Web searches are for staffers when doing research. Half of the staffers surveyed said they almost always consult Internet searches for their research, a fact that survey author David K. Rehr said indicates lobbyists might want to be focusing more on optimizing their information for search engines. ...

And good search-engine optimization might make up for the time not spent by lobbyists on the Hill, chatting face-to-face with staffers - 31 percent of lobbyists said they don't meet with staff on an average day, and 36 percent of staff said the same about lobbyists. Rehr, who was formerly head of the National Association of Broadcasters and National Beer Wholesalers Association, cautioned that this might diminish the quality of information exchanged on the Hill.

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