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New Poll Explains Debate Clash on Money in Politics

February 5, 2016 | Adam Smith

New polling post-Iowa caucus shows voters’ views on money-in-politics jumps to top tier issue

Washington, D.C.—A night of sparring between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders during a New Hampshire Democratic debate brought money in politics to the fore of their party’s nomination fight. A new poll following Iowa’s razor-close caucus released tonight explains that the issue was driving the results on Monday as well.

Sixty-four percent of Iowa Democratic caucus-goers ranked money in politics among the top three issues on their minds, according to the poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday this week by Public Policy Polling for Every Voice, a national organization working to raise the voices of everyday people in politics. The poll sampled 577 Iowa Democrats who participated on Monday in the caucuses.

“Bernie Sanders’ central message of taking on the broken political system was a key factor in his close second-place finish in Iowa,” said David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice. “While both Sanders and Hillary Clinton have comprehensive plans to give everyday people a bigger voice in politics, this polling shows that Sanders had more success connecting with voters regarding their anger about the role of money in our political system.”

“Hillary Clinton appears to have taken notice and has begun to campaign on her own money in politics platform,” Donnelly continued.

The poll found:

  • One in four voters ranked the issue of money in politics the top issue when making up their minds who to vote for.
  • Eighty-four percent of Sanders’ supporters listed his position on money-in-politics as a top reason or among the two or three top reasons for voting for him.
  • Seventy-five percent of voters reported hearing Sanders talking the most about money in politics as opposed to just eight percent who said Clinton talked about it the most.
  • Fifty-seven percent of Democratic caucus-goers said they trust Sanders more when it comes to supporting a plan to reduce money in politics.

“There’s no question that voter anger about the influence of big donors in our political system is a driving issue in this race,” said Donnelly. “Candidates must pivot, as they began to do tonight, to lock in voters for a vision of the future by promoting solutions. We can all diagnose the patient, but the time for a cure is now.”

Public Policy Polling conducted the poll of 577 Democratic caucus-goers February 2-3, 2016 with a margin of error of 4.1 percent. The polling is available here.


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

Every Voice and Every Voice Center have recently come under new leadership. We will be expanding and diversifying our efforts to promote a democracy that works for all of us and responds to the voices of everyday people. Watch this space for specifics later in 2019.