Corporate money disapproval

UD poll shows public favors limiting corporate campaign donations


6 p.m., Nov. 2, 2012--The majority of the public favors limiting corporate campaign donations, according to a University of Delaware poll.

The 2012 presidential race is the most costly in American history, fueled in part, by unlimited corporate and individual donations allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case.  Yet, the National Agenda poll, conducted by UD’s Center for Political Communication, found 62 percent of respondents favored limits on corporate contributions with 34 percent opposed. 

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Even more respondents said they believe corporations should be required to publicly report how much they spend on behalf of candidates they support (75 percent favor vs. 21 percent oppose).  Notably, support for reform cut across party lines.  

Prof. Paul Brewer, the CPC’s associate director for research, said, “In a year of unprecedented campaign spending, there is one point on which most Republicans and Democrats agree: They want full disclosure about what corporations are doing with their money. There is clear bipartisan public support for changing this part of the campaign finance system.”  

The public is more evenly divided over contributions from wealthy individuals. Fifty-six percent approved of limits on the amount of money the wealthy can donate to candidates with 46 percent opposed.  A clear majority of respondents, however (61 favor vs. 33 oppose) favored requiring wealthy Americans to publicly report donations. 

Jennifer Lambe, associate professor of communication, said, “The public feels more comfortable placing spending limits on corporate persons than on actual human beings.  In both cases, however, a majority of the public favors transparency about any political donations.”  

About the study

The National Agenda Opinion Project research was funded by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication (CPC) and the UNIDEL Foundation. The study was supervised by Jennifer Lambe, an associate professor in and acting chair of the Department of Communication, and the CPC’s Assistant Director for Research Paul Brewer, a professor in the Department of Communication. 

Results are based on telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 906 adults living in the continental United States. Telephone interviews were carried out using a dual sampling frame consisting of both landline (n=551) and cell phone (n=355, including 158 without a landline phone) extensions. The survey was managed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI), and the data were collected through English-only interviews by Princeton Data Source. The data were collected from May 30 to June 5, 2012. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.9 percentage points. Readers should be aware that in addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls. Please contact Paul R. Brewer at 302-831-7771 for more details about the survey’s methodology.

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