Americans’ Views on Money in Politics

In a rare show of unity, Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, agree that money has too much influence on elections, the wealthy have more influence on elections, and candidates who win office promote policies that help their donors.

Thinking about United States elections, do you think all Americans have an equal chance to influence the elections process, or do you think wealthy Americans have more of a chance to influence the elections process than other Americans?

Thinking about the role of money in American political campaigns today, do you think money has too much influence, too little influence or is it about right?

How often do you think candidates who win public office promote policies that directly help the people and groups who donated money to their campaigns — most of the time, sometimes, rarely or never?

With near unanimity, the public thinks the country’s campaign finance system needs significant changes. There is strong support across party lines for limiting the amount of money individuals can contribute to political campaigns, limiting the amount of money groups not affiliated with candidates can spend, and requiring unaffiliated groups to publicly disclose their donors if they spend money during a political campaign.

Which of the following three statements comes closest to expressing your overall view of the way political campaigns are funded in the United States: 1) On the whole, the system for funding political campaigns works pretty well and only minor changes are necessary to make it work better.2) There are some good things in the system for funding political campaigns but fundamental changes are needed.3) The system for funding political campaigns has so much wrong with it that we need to completely rebuild it.

This question was asked only of people who answered that the system needed changes.Looking ahead, are you optimistic or pessimistic that changes will be made to improve the way political campaigns are funded in the United States?

Which one of the following two positions on campaign financing do you favor more: limiting the amount of money individuals can contribute to political campaigns, or allowing individuals to contribute as much money to political campaigns as they would like?

Currently, groups not affiliated with a candidate are able to spend unlimited amounts on advertisements during a political campaign. Do you think this kind of spending should be limited by law, or should it remain unlimited?

Do you think groups not affiliated with a candidate that spend money during political campaigns should be required to publicly disclose their contributors, or do you think it’s O.K. for that information to remain private?

On the whole, Americans do not think donating money to political candidates is a form of free speech. Yet, opinions diverge along party lines with Republicans divided and slightly more inclined than Democrats or independents to agree.

Do you consider money given to political candidates to be a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution or not?

While a majority of all Americans (including most Republicans and independents) think both parties benefit equally from money in political campaigns, most Democrats think the Republican Party benefits more.

In general, which political party do you think benefits the most from the amount of money in politics today — the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, or do both parties benefit about equally?

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