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New Poll: Broad Support for Small-Donor Driven Solutions to Money in Politics

December 17, 2015 | Laura Friedenbach

Washington, D.C. —  Seventy-two percent of Americans, a broad, bipartisan majority, support small-donor solutions to overhaul our broken campaign-finance system, according to new polling released today by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps and Every Voice.

“Voters from across the political spectrum agree that America has a money-in-politics problem and small-donor driven reforms are the answer,” said David Donnelly, Every Voice president and CEO. “Americans — and particularly millennials — understand that when our presidential elections are funded by a small set of unrepresentative, elite donors, the voices of everyday people are not heard. Small-donor reform is good policy and good politics, and candidates should rally Americans to this cause.

“While Bernie Sanders is already sounding these themes, if Hillary Clinton did so more often and consistently by elevating her entire platform, these results point to how she would benefit by going on offense to effectively neutralize the criticisms likely to be levied against her about fundraising from big-money donors,” Donnelly continued.

“The public understands we are in a new and dangerous era when it comes to the influence of money in politics, and voters of all political persuasions are insisting on campaign reform.  It is time for our leaders to catch up,” said Stan Greenberg, co-founder of Democracy Corps and CEO of GQR. “Candidates have nothing to lose when it comes to talking about money in politics on the campaign trail—and everything to gain.”

Key findings from the poll: 

  • Broad, bipartisan support for small-donor solutions. Seventy-two percent of Americans including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents favor a plan to address the role of money in politics with a small-donor public financing system combined with disclosure for all political spending by outside groups and strictly enforced election laws.
  • There is an upside for Democrats including Hillary Clinton to talk about money-in-politics solutions on the campaign trail. Sixty-four percent of Americans are more likely to think positively of Hillary Clinton after hearing her discuss her pro-reform agenda on money in politics. 
  • Going on offensive by talking about money-in-politics solutions early bolsters Democrats including Hillary Clinton against attacks. In the face of criticism, Hillary Clinton holds or gains ground in a head-to-head matchup against Donald Trump after voters hear her money-in-politics platform followed by a battery of messages from critics. 
  • Voters are concerned about the outsized influence of a small, unrepresentative donor class. When asked to select their top concerns about money in politics from a list, voters were most concerned that big donors aren’t like regular people. Thirty-nine percent of respondents were concerned that donors are “overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, and have made their money in finance, oil and coal in a nation that is increasingly younger, more diverse, and where women are a majority.” Poll respondents also expressed concern over the fact that many presidential super PACs are raising more than their campaign counterparts and that just 158 families contributed nearly half of all the money raised for presidential candidates so far this cycle. 

View and/or download the full polling memo here. Here’s a graph showing support for small-donor driven solutions among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents:

Support for Small Donor Proposal

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner conducted a national survey of 900 likely 2016 voters from December 5-9, 2015. Unless otherwise noted, the margin of error for the full sample is +/-3.26 percent at 95 percent confidence.

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Every Voice is a national nonpartisan organization fighting for a democracy that works for everyone. Learn more at everyvoice.org.