Strong Campaign Finance Reform: Good Policy, Good Politics


Stan Greenberg, Andrew Baumann, Jesse Contario
Common Cause, Change Congress and the Public Campaign Action Fund

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Memo (PDF - 4 K)

Survey Results (PDF - 5 K)

Executive Summary

February 8, 2010. Washington, DC. Ratings for everyone in Washington are low and voters are deeply pessimistic about the direction the country is heading. Driving those sentiments is the belief that special interests are still running the show and that voters’ voices are being drowned out by those who help fund politicians’ campaigns.

This antipathy leaves voters staunchly opposed to anything that makes it easier for special interests to influence the outcome of elections, and by a two-to-one margin they oppose the recent Supreme Court decision on Citizens United. Voters crave solutions that will put power back in the hands of the people and respond intensely to proposals that would do so.

Key Findings

Voters, particularly independents, strongly embrace the Fair Elections Now Act, a system that allows candidates who eschew contributions over 100 dollars to receive public matching funds for money they raise from individuals in their own state. Voters support the Fair Elections Now Act by a two-to-one margin (62 to 31 percent). Perhaps more important for congressional incumbents, support for the Fair Elections Now Act offers a significant political boost. By a net of 15 points, voters say they are more likely to support the re-election of their Member of Congress (asked by name) if he or she votes in favor of a reform package that includes the Fair Elections Now Act as well as limits on spending by foreign corporations, even after hearing messaging in opposition to the proposal.

Methodology

These results are based on a survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in conjunction with McKinnon Media for Common Cause, Change Congress and the Public Campaign Action Fund. The survey fielded February 2-4, 2010 and was conducted among 805 likely 2010 voters nationwide. It has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percent.