CONVENE: Polls Show Americans Favor an Overhaul of Campaign Financing

Americans of both parties fundamentally reject the regime of untrammeled money in elections made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and other court decisions and now favor a sweeping overhaul of how political campaigns are financed, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

By Nicholas Confessore and Megan Thee-Brenan - New York Times

The findings reveal deep support among Republicans and Democrats alike for new measures to restrict the influence of wealthy givers, including limiting the amount of money that can be spent by “super PACs” and forcing more public disclosure on organizations now permitted to intervene in elections without disclosing the names of their donors.

And by a significant margin, they reject the argument that underpins close to four decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence on campaign finance: that political money is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. Even self-identified Republicans are evenly split on the question.

“I think it’s an obscene thing the Supreme Court did,” Terri Holland, 67, a former database manager who lives in Albuquerque, said in a follow-up interview. “The old-boy system is kind of dead, but now it’s the rich system. The rich decide what’s going to happen because the Supreme Court allows PACs to have civil rights.”

The poll provides one of the broadest and most detailed surveys of Americans’ attitudes toward the role of money in politics since the Citizens United decision five years ago. And the responses suggest a growing divide between the nation and its highest court on constitutional questions that have moved to the heart of the American system, as the advent of super PACs and the abandonment of public financing by both parties in presidential elections have enabled wealthy donors, corporations and unions to play a greater role in political fund-raising. READ MORE

GRAPHIC: From the Nationwide telephone poll by New York Times and CBS News


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