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Sept. 3, 2014

As Senate Vote Looms, Poll Shows Strong Support Across Party Lines for Constitutional Amendment to Curb Money in Politics

Voters Reject Arguments Against Amendment; Senate Votes Sept. 8

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Voters across party lines overwhelmingly oppose the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling and strongly support a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision and curb the influence of money in politics, a new bipartisan poll shows.

When provided a short description of the amendment, which is scheduled for a Senate vote on Sept. 8, Republicans support the amendment by a roughly two-to-one margin.

Notably, voters reject arguments against the amendment by wide margins.

The poll was commissioned by Public Citizen and conducted by Lake Research Partners, a Democratic polling firm, and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, a Republican polling firm. The firms conducted a live telephone survey of 800 likely voters between July 26 and July 29. The numbers of Democrats, Republicans and independents polled reflected the proportions of projected likely national 2014 voters from each of those parties. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent.

“It’s time for Congress to act on the people’s demand for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and restore our democracy,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “This poll shows that the public, including Republican voters, forcefully rejects arguments from Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Ted Cruz in defense of the status quo.”

“The context is really ripe for this amendment, which voters view as a solution to the out-of-control spending in elections, particularly by lobbyists and special interests,” said Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster and president of Lake Research Partners. “Voters are fed up with the influence of money in politics, and we see high energy levels for campaign finance reform across party lines. This is a truly bipartisan issue that candidates not only can safely promote, but can benefit greatly from taking on.”

Added Robert Carpenter, Republican pollster and president of Chesapeake Beach Consulting, “Amending the Constitution is always a big undertaking, but given the strong support for this amendment from Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, and given that voters are three times more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the amendment, it is time for the Senate to act.”

The amendment under consideration, the Democracy For All amendment (S.J. Res. 19), was introduced by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). It would overturn Citizens United, which gave corporations and the wealthy the green light to spend unlimited sums to influence elections, by giving the government the ability to regulate money in politics. That way, the people, through their elected representatives, can enforce commonsense rules so government responds to the will of the people, not the will of the wealthy. So far, 50 senators have indicated their support for the amendment.

The poll showed that:

  • Voters oppose Citizens United by a nearly 3-1 margin, with Republicans opposing the ruling by 2-1.
  • By a more than 6-1 margin, voters hold an unfavorable view of spending in elections by special interests and lobbyists. This opposition is roughly equal among Republicans, Democrats and independents.
  • By a 6-1 margin, voters feel that reducing the influence of money in politics is an important issue.
  • By a 2-1 margin, voters provided with a short description of the amendment favor a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
  • Presented with strong arguments for and against an amendment, voter support for an amendment rises, with voters strongly rejecting the claim that an amendment would constitute an assault on free speech.
  • Voters are ready to reward candidates and elected officials who support the amendment.

Momentum for an amendment is growing. More than 3 million petition signatures have been gathered in support of an amendment, and 16 states and more than 550 local towns have passed resolutions supporting it. President Barack Obama also has indicated his support.

Activists from Public Citizen and other groups will deliver petition signatures today to some of the district offices of senators who have yet to publicly support an amendment. They include U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

“This is a historic moment,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president at People For the American Way, which helped to underwrite the polling and has been one of the leaders of the push for a constitutional amendment. “The Citizens United decision came just four and a half years ago, and now the Senate is about to vote on an amendment to overturn it. Americans are fed up with the staggering amounts of money flooding elections. With this level of public support for taking money out of politics, it’s clear that this is just the beginning of the push for an amendment.”

View more information about the poll.


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