Social Lobbying

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Date and Time: 
Thursday, March 2, 2017
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Does direct social lobbying cause legislators to support interest group-preferred policy? We theorize that direct social lobbying – the meeting of a lobbyist and public official outside of a formal office visit – persuades government officials to publicly support policy initiatives favored by interest groups. Social lobbying influences public officials because the social environment allows for greater receptivity to interest group messages. A lobbyist conducted a randomized field experiment in a legislature. Legislators randomly assigned to be socially lobbied were more likely to take positions supporting the interest group’s preferred policy than were legislators lobbied in their offices or not contacted by the lobbyist. Legislators who were ideological allies of the interest group were most likely to be persuaded by social lobbying. The implications are significant, as political elites are influenced by the social environment; and interest group direct lobbying is influential when conducted in places not easily observed or regulated.