According to the folks at LegiStorm, Republicans are far better at holding town hall events with their constituents than Democrats:
Republican town halls consistently outnumber events hosted by Democrats, with 1,712 by Republicans and 977 by Democrats in 2014. The overall number of town halls since the start of August, 1,078, was lower in the election period compared to the same time frame last year when both parties hosted 1,578. LegiStorm began tracking town halls in August 2013.
Since August this year, Democrats hosted 327 of the events compared to 738 for Republicans. Republicans also hosted double the number of town halls in the August-December period of 2013, with 1,075 compared to 492.
Which member of Congress held the most? North Dakota’s own Rep. Kevin Cramer who has held numerous in-person town halls around the state and also appears weekly on multiple radio stations around the state for an open-phones call in session.
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) participated in the most town halls in 2014 with 81 events, most of which were conducted weekly on the radio, with the opportunity for constituents to call in to talk to him. In the Senate, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) led the pack with 68 town hall events mostly during his “Kansas Listening Tour.”
I’ve given Cramer a lot of credit for his availability for these sort of events in the past, and I think he’s deserved every words of it. Even media types in the state who I’ve spoken to, some who aren’t all that fond of Cramer’s politics, grudgingly admit that he is perhaps the most accessible public official in the state.
Which is remarkable for a member of the U.S. House, and much different from this Senate colleagues John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp.
Heitkamp has held a few town halls, but mostly opts for the phony social media variety where participation can be screened and the degree of the Senator’s participation can’t even really be verified. North Dakota’s only Democrat elected on a statewide ballot is also allergic to communicating with her critics in the media, as I and others can attest to.
Hoeven hasn’t done many town halls either, though he’s always been great about scheduling interviews with me and did participate in an open-thread town hall here on SAB.
Really, both Heitkamp and Hoeven could take a page from Cramer’s book. I think a big part of Cramer’s wide re-election margin over Democrat challenger George Sinner was the fact that he’s so accessible to the public. That plays well in North Dakota where our small population still expects to have a level of personal interaction with our elected leaders.