Poll: Strong support for campaign spending limits
Published 11:43 pm Saturday, September 15, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — Americans don’t like all the cash that’s going to super political action committees and other outside groups that are pouring millions of dollars into races for president and Congress.
More than 8 in 10 Americans in a poll by The Associated Press and the National Constitution Center support limits on the amount of money given to groups that are trying to influence U.S. elections.
But they might have to change the Constitution first. The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case removed limits on independent campaign spending by businesses and labor unions, calling it a constitutionally protected form of political speech.
“Corporate donations, I think that is one of the biggest problems today,” said Walter L. Cox Sr., 86, of Cleveland. “They are buying the White House. They are buying public office.”
Cox, a Democrat, was one of many people in the poll who do not, in spite of the high court ruling, think corporate and union campaign spending should be unlimited.
The strong support for limiting the amount of money in politics stood alongside another poll finding that shows Americans have a robust view of the right to free speech. Seventy-one percent of the 1,006 adults in the AP-NCC poll said people should have the right to say what they please, even if their positions are deeply offensive to others.
The ringing endorsement of First Amendment freedoms matched the public’s view of the Constitution as an enduring document, even as Americans hold the institutions of government, other than the military, in very low regard.
“The Constitution is 225 years old and 70 percent of Americans continue to believe that it’s an enduring document that’s relevant today, even as they lose faith in some of the people who have been given their job descriptions by the Constitution,” said David Eisner, the constitution center’s chief executive officer.
For the first time in the five years the poll has been conducted, more than 6 in 10 Americans favor giving same-sex couples the same government benefits as opposite-sex married couples. That’s an issue, in one form or another, the Supreme Court could take up in the term that begins Oct. 1.
More than half of Americans support legal recognition of gay marriage, although that number is unchanged from a year ago. In the past three years, though, there has been both a significant uptick in support for gay marriage, from 46 percent to 53 percent, and a decline in opposition to it, from 53 percent to 42 percent.