Connecting to Congress is the newest phase of groundbreaking research on constituent engagement.
Connecting to Congress is the followup to Congress 3.0, a groundbreaking multiyear experiment involving rigorous scientific methodology which proved that deliberative engagement connects constituents and lawmakers in authentic, productive, and mutually rewarding ways.
These deliberative sessions attract every kind of citizen—the citizens who voluntarily participated in these deliberative sessions were more representative of the country than the electorate.
Deliberative events offer lawmakers a chance to reach beyond “the usual suspects”—in fact, they particularly attracted citizens who tend not to follow politics or who have become disenchanted with the system. Furthermore, after participating, these citizens became more likely to vote and take part in political discussions.
Deliberative events use non-partisan background materials and impartial facilitators, which helped participants move past talking points and simplistic arguments and towards thorough and informed discussion.
Participating in these deliberative sessions significantly increased citizens’ trust in government.
Participants surveyed four months after the deliberative event were 10% more likely to vote for the representative that engaged with them in this way.
Connecting to Congress builds on these findings.
We now have a wider array of tools for connecting citizens to their representatives, including:
Common Ground for Action forums—a transparent, visually-engaging online platform for deliberative forums
Deliberative online town halls, with optional video integration
Social media augmentation
In this round of research, we will be investigating which tools are most useful in adding engagement capacity to Congressional offices and how participating in these deliberative sessions can both foster trust with constituents and also be helpful in decision making. We will collaborate with Congressional offices to host deliberative sessions, creating opportunities for meaningful and informed interactions with constituents—and we will offer analysis of these sessions, providing detailed information about what constituents are thinking and why.