Voters venting to Reps following bailout vote

(Photo/Storm Crypt, Flickr)

(Photo/Storm Crypt, Flickr)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A day after watching the U.S. House of Representatives kill a $700 billion financial package as the stock market dropped more than 700 points, voters continued to vent their rage at Washington.

But fewer of them did than in the days preceding the vote, and more of them encouraged lawmakers to support the package — or simply to do something.

On the political map there’s no pattern to what members of Congress are hearing from their constituents. While congressional offices are calm in Iowa and Minnesota, Coloradans, Michiganders and New Mexicans still appear exercised over Monday’s vote and the prospect of a future vote.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) received hundreds of calls before the vote, but constituents now seem more supportive of a measure to stave off disaster in the credit markets, Kristofer Eisenla, DeGette’s spokesman, said.

In Minnesota, Rick Jauer, spokesman for Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison reported, “It’s pretty quiet here. It is nothing like it was yesterday.”

“There’s still a good deal of calls and emails and faxes,” said Jameson Cunningham, spokesman for Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Minn.).

While most congressional offices estimated the number of calls and e-mails they received, Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a candidate for Senate who opposed the bill, crunched the numbers.

Udall received 831 e-mails and roughly 400 calls to his Washington and New Mexico offices. Two-thirds to 75 percent opposed to the bill. Those calls were split between those who wanted no bailout and those who support a different proposal, according to spokesman Sam Simon.

Before Monday’s vote, Udall’s offices received roughly 1,800 e-mails and 1,000 phone calls. Most were opposed to the package.

His opponent in the Senate race, Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, received fewer calls on Tuesday, and the tone had changed, too, from opposition to the bill to a desire for lawmakers to just “do something,” said Brian Phillips, Pearce’s spokesman. Pearce voted against the bill.

McCotter’s office experienced a huge spike in calls when the vote on the House floor started and the stock market crashed, Cunningham said. The day after the vote, he received roughly 300 calls running 3 to 1 against the bailout, a dramatic drop from Monday and last week.

Meanwhile, Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) and Rep. Ellison, both of whom supported the bill, have not been inundated with angry calls.

Boswell’s Des Moines and Washington offices were flooded with phone calls in the days after Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson submitted his original proposal to Congress, but the calls slowed down.

“It’s fairly quiet,” Susan McAvoy, Boswell’s spokeswoman, said. “There have been some calls in the Des Moines office, but I think people are taking a pause and seeing where this is going.”

Even though voters’ anger has simmered down, the hiatus might not last very long.

The Senate is expected to be in session today, the House will return on Thursday and the coalition of liberal and conservative lawmakers who banded together to kill the bill will be hard pressed by the White House and congressional leadership to reverse their “no” votes.

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Jonathan E. Kaplan

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