New poll shows strong, bipartisan support for limits on political money
President Obama won a decisive victory on Nov. 6, but America is far from unified as he looks toward a second term. Election Day exit polls revealed that more than half of Americans believe the country is “on the wrong track,” and that we’re sharply divided on abortion rights, same-sex marriage, health care reform and immigration, among other subjects.
But a poll released Wednesday by Public Campaign Action Fund demonstrates that there’s at least one big issue on which an overwhelming majority agrees: there’s too much money in politics and it’s time to do something about it.
The survey by Democracy Corps and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research produced some eye-popping results. Among them:
- Substantial majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents believe that big money is corrupting our democracy. While Mitt Romney benefitted most from big donors, 60 percent of Romney voters gave spending levels in the 2012 campaign an unfavorable rating.
- Democrats and Republicans alike understand that money buys influence in Washington. Sixty percent of Democratic voters and 58 percent of Republicans said special interest groups and lobbyists have the most influence on congressional decision making. In contrast, only 14 percent of Democrats and 15 percent of Republicans believe that their representatives are most swayed by constituents back home.
- A whopping 78 percent of the 1,000 voters in the survey said they favor “reasonable limits” on campaign contributions and spending; even more — 85 percent — support laws that would require outside groups to disclose the sources of the money they invest in elections.
The results should get close, bipartisan scrutiny on Capitol Hill, particularly from lawmakers who’ve dismissed campaign finance reform as an issue most voters care little about.
They underscore nationally the message that voters in Colorado and Montana and most of Massachusetts sent on Election Day by overwhelmingly voting to instruct their representatives to support a Constitutional amendment overruling the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and permitting sensible limits on political spending.
The survey carries a message for President Obama as well. His refusal during his first term to put the full weight of his office behind the DISCLOSE Act or an overhaul of the public financing system for presidential campaigns was deeply disappointing to reform advocates. Returned to office and with broad popular support for reform evident in the survey results, he has no plausible excuse to delay action any longer.