Monday, August 23, 2010

how to succeed at lobbying

I'm a card-carrying political scientist,but sometimes I feel as if my profession, as a colleague once said, is like late 19th century medicine, where for the first time we're doing more good than harm.

I've been intrigued by recent discussion over the effectiveness of lobbying. A major study by several professors and their many research assistants, summarized here, concludes that lobbyists with the greatest resources win in Congress only about half the time, and the general result of lobbying is preservation of the status quo. Taking issue with these findings, Lee Drutman of the Progressive Policy Institute, an analyst whose work I have found good and persuasive, argues that lobbying is a process that sometimes never ends.

I haven't read the book in question, but I know that many distinctions need to be made to answer the questions who won and why on any issue. Some issues have evenly matched lobbyists on each side; some are one-sided either in size or intensity. Some issues have action-forcing circumstances while others can delayed until atrophy. And perhaps most important from my view, some issues are decided outside Congress. Studies that look only at efforts to influence the legislative branch miss what is often the most effective influence -- on the executive branch.

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