Davis said she feels that working on behalf of her constituents is the most important part of her job. Others who responded to the survey echoed that sentiment.
“People think we’re just sitting around and waiting to vote,” she told CQ Roll Call. “We’re actually working very hard, keeping very busy.”
Davis also described her approach to her job as constituent-driven, highlighting another key finding of the CMF/SHRM report: 95 percent cited “staying in touch with constituents” as the most important aspect of the job.
“I see my job through the lens of a social worker,” she said. “I see myself as a resource to people.”
She added that her contributions are not lost on the people she works for at home in San Diego, no matter the gridlock on Capitol Hill: “As I go around and talk to people, a lot of them say, ‘I’m so glad you’re there.’ I hear that from my colleagues all the time.”
The report doesn’t seek to answer questions or propose solutions to the larger problems that loom large beneath the Capitol Dome, nor does it probe members’ feelings about the state of the institution as did the only other report of this kind, a 1998 study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Pew declined to comment on that study for this story.
Instead, Fitch suggested that the findings could, if nothing else, help people realize that the House includes lawmakers like Davis, those who fall under the radar of the national spotlight and see their jobs as meaningful in ways that run contrary to what the public sees.
“Most of the media at the national level doesn’t cover the membership, they cover the leadership,” he said. “They see the leadership battles, the partisan sniping. . . . It’s a very small representation of Congress, but it’s the Congress that Americans see.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.