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In the US, is it at all worthwhile to write/call a Senator or Representative about a legislative issue? Is it likely to have any effect at all?

I suspect it's a useless endeavor because of several reasons. In the case of one elected individual, who is of an opposing political viewpoint, wouldn't they just write me off as someone who didn't vote for them to begin with (and so they risk nothing by ignoring me). In the case of another, I already know from their voting history that they would likely agree with me on the same issue. So I wouldn't be changing anyone's mind if I wrote them anyways. Also, I'm but one tiny voice in a large constituency.

Do voters who are unenrolled possibly have a tad more influence because the Sen. or Rep. might view them as a "swing" voter who could be wooed?

This is a similar, but related question to this one: Empirical Evidence Regarding The Effectiveness of Writing Your Representatives

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    Can you explain how this is different from the related question you suggested? It seems to me that the only objective question about this is whether writing will have any effect. Whether it's "worth it" or sensible is a value judgement and opinion based
    – divibisan
    Jul 26, 2021 at 22:09
  • I'm literally doing research on this question now. Jul 27, 2021 at 13:40
  • I wrote Sen. Obama, and he wrote me back, so that was cool.
    – dandavis
    Aug 1, 2021 at 8:35
  • Yes, but did it accomplish anything @dandavis
    – nuggethead
    Aug 1, 2021 at 10:12

2 Answers 2

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One letter usually won't matter, unless it is exceptionally well argued and aligned with the predispositions of the legislator. But I want to add some points to Erwan's answer. As Erwan said, it takes numbers.

  • Before the pandemic, and to some degree before the terror alerts, it used to be that physical letters counted for more than mails or phone calls. Somebody who makes the point of writing a letter, finding an envelope, putting it into a mailbox shows more genuine interest than simply a click.
  • The letter should be polite in tone, easy to read, and coming to the point.
  • Similarly, writing an individual letter counts for more than re-mailing a text provided by someone else. Organized letter-writing campaigns can still work, but less so than disorganized campaigns.
  • Likes on facebook are a dime a dozen. (Well, actually more expensive).
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I think that there is an important point that OP is missing in the question, and it might be important enough to answer the question:

It is true that the individual action of writing to one's representative might not have any direct consequences, partisan affiliation aside. But if many individuals write to their representative arguing abut the same issue, then the representative might realize that this is an important issue in their constituency. If additionally there is a clear majority in the letters about the decision they're asking to make, then the representative is likely to take this into account when they vote because they don't want to be attacked at the next election as the one who voted the wrong way on a very popular issue.

Partisan affiliation is not necessarily involved in every single political decision, in theory at least. Also it's unlikely that a representative would check the political affiliation of every person who sends them a letter, and people don't always think exactly like the party they identify with.

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  • So, @Erwan, if I read you right, the individual caller/writer has little to no effect; but if there are enough like-minded souls who share their opinion it could influence a decision. So by that logic it is wise to write your representatives whether they share your thinking or not. To not do so might mean that others with opposing opinions could be the more vocal group
    – nuggethead
    Jul 27, 2021 at 0:03
  • @nuggethead yes, that's the gist of it. That's the general idea of course, a lot depends on the specifics of what the issue is, who the representative is, etc.
    – Erwan
    Jul 27, 2021 at 10:52
  • Yes, surely. I didn't want to cloud the issue with the specifics...
    – nuggethead
    Jul 27, 2021 at 11:32

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