State legislators in New Mexico State House: The reason for not using both chambers is that any information given to someone in one chamber could potentially be used to inform the legislator in the other chamber who had an overlapping district. The House as opposed to the Senate was selected because the House is larger with 70 members as compared to only 42 in the state Senate.
We first matched legislators into pairs with the individual who looked most similar to them along the following dimensions: party of the legislator, the results of our survey for their district, whether they were up for re-election, and the 2004 vote share for George Bush in the district. We then randomized within each of the 35 matched pairs to determine which of the two would receive the treatment and which would be part of the control group.
A letter was sent to the legislators in the treatment group with information about their constituents’ opinions about about the governor’s spending proposal regarding road projects and tax rebates. The letters were delivered in the morning on the day the special session began, Friday, August 15. In addition to using delivery confirmation, we confirmed with New Mexico’s Legislative Council Service that the letters had been delivered that morning. We also emailed all of the legislators in the treatment group, using one of the author’s university account, in order to tell them that they would be receiving the letter. The emails also included the full text of the letter.