Influencing Policy Decisions: Impact of Legislator Attitudes and Demographics on Public Relations Practice

Judith M. White 1 *

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Abstract

This study sought to identify strategies to improve public relations efforts to influence policy by discovering U.S. legislators‘ attitudes toward healthcare policy and the impact of legislator characteristics on such attitudes. Analysis of results from an Internet/mail survey indicated statistically significant differences among respondents‘ attitudes based on gender, ethnicity, and political party affiliation (ANOVA). Such differences, however, did not skew in expected directions based on popular wisdom and previous studies. While Hispanic, Native American and mixed-ethnicity legislators were more likely than nonHispanic white legislators to agree that healthcare issues such as access and affordability should be state priorities, not left to the private sector, female legislators were more likely than their male counterparts to downplay the importance of such issues and to indicate they should not be the state‘s responsibility. Democratic Party legislators were more likely than Republican legislators both to see healthcare as an important priority and to relegate it to the the private sector. These attitudes and differences may be used to inform public relations practice with regard to influencing legislators‘ policymaking decisions, although future research should focus on the impact of intersectionality of gender, ethnicity, and party affiliation in mitigating effects of legislator characteristics on issue attitudes.

Keywords

audience targeting excellence theory healthcare policy legislator attitudes legislator demographics public relations strategy

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp. 50-82

Published Online: 25 Jan 2014

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