By Becky Hogan
If you’re a member of Congress, your popularity is fading fast during the government shutdown. Let’s face it, the public isn’t happy that partisan gridlock has left thousands of federal workers furloughed. Plus, your colleagues on aren’t budging when it comes to ending the fiscal impasse.
But there’s still hope for your online engagement. How can you generate some positive buzz in the midst of the government shutdown?
Take a page from Congresswoman Ann Wagner’s book. Last week she was one of the first to announce that she would be withholding her pay during the government shutdown.
On her Facebook page, she said “As a result of partisan bickering and gridlock, I have waived my salary for the duration of the government shutdown because Congress didn’t get the job done. Those who make the laws should have to live by those laws, and I will continue to fight for the people of Missouri’s 2nd District.”
Her letter declining salary during the shutdown had been viewed by 17.4 million people on Facebook as of Friday. She also tweeted a copy of the letter.
Our data shows Wagner’s Facebook gains since her announcement–approximately 7,000 Likes over one week.
The Missouri Republican has been able to mitigate political risk with the announcement that she’d decline her pay–she’s also been a trendsetter for others on the Hill.
According to the Washington Post, at least 143 lawmakers have said that they plan to donate or refuse compensation earned over the course of the shutdown.
Here are two #SenateSweeps matchups where both Senators have announced that they have refused pay during the shutdown (Hint: Keep this in mind for your #SenateSweeps Bracket!).
In a 40-second YouTube video, Senator Lindsey Graham announced that he’ll donate his salary to the Wounded Warrior Project. He said, “I shouldn’t get a congressional salary while other federal employees are denied the ability to go to work. I’m going to take my salary during the government shutdown and donate it to the Wounded Warrior Project.”
Sessions was the sixth senator to announce he’d donate his paycheck–ahead of Graham and it showed on Facebook. Graham was able to fight back on Twitter and YouTube after posting his video, but saw minimal gains.
Another match-up in the first round of #SenateSweeps is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vs. Senator Tom Coburn. McConnell has received more attention on Facebook and Twitter than Coburn, likely because he has a more high-profile role in Senate negotiations.
Timing and message platform was everything in this case. Wagner gained a lot attention around this story because she was one of the first to announce it and she did so effectively on Facebook and Twitter. Graham’s YouTube video was a nice touch but he didn’t share it across all of his social platforms and it shows in his social stats.
Check back here to see how political trends are affecting your #SenateSweeps bracket.