Feb 26, 2017
Congress is back in action on Monday after getting an earful from concerned constituents. At town halls across the country, lawmakers faced crowds of constituents demanding answers to where they stand on pressing issues. And for legislators who’ve yet to plan a town hall, constituents hosted “empty chairs” to make their presence known and their member’s absence felt. These town halls have fueled a surge in the dialogue between Members of Congress and their constituents.
Democrats are talking about town halls more than Republicans
So far in 2017, there have been 1,487 mentions of town halls by Members of Congress in press releases, emails to constituents, and social media posts. Democrats lead the conversation with 793 mentions compared to Republicans 694 mentions.
Eight of the top 10 Reps. mentioning town halls are from PVI districts of +6 or greater
There have been 1,348 mentions of town halls by Representatives in press releases, emails to constituents, and social media posts. Rep. McCollum (D-MN-4) leads the House with 51 mentions. There is an even split between Democrat and Republican districts with 8 of the top 10 Representatives serving districts with a PVI rating of +6 or greater. The seniority of members had no impact on how frequently they mention town halls.
First-term Senators dominate the town hall conversation
There have been 139 mentions of town halls by Senators in press releases, emails to constituents, and social media posts. Sen. Merkley (D-OR) leads the Senate with 15 mentions. There is an even split between Senators from states won by President Trump and won by Secretary Clinton. Six of the top 10 Senators are still serving their first term.
Senate Democrats have mentioned “constituents” double that of Senate Republicans
"Constituents" have been mentioned 2,839 times by Members of Congress in official statements, floor speeches, and social media posts. Democrats lead the conversation with 1,565 mentions compared to Republicans 1,278 mentions. Rep. Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12) leads the House with 33 mentions and Sen. Heinrich (D-NM) leads the Senate with 21 mentions.
What to expect from the April recess
Congress is in session through most of March followed by a two week recess in mid-April. Constituents will have plenty to discuss with their members during the April recess as Congress continues debate over Obamacare, Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, and “the wall” with Mexico. And with April 30th marking President Trump’s first 100 days in office, constituents will be eager to evaluate how their member has responded to the White House’s early moves.