According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, Americans across the political spectrum are concerned about the influence of money in politics. 85% of respondents, including 81% of Republicans, said our current campaign finance system should be fundamentally changed or completely overhauled. Numbers like that are hard to ignore, and presidential hopefuls from both parties are already weighing in on the influence of money in politics:
Bernie Sanders: During a May 26 campaign kickoff rally in Burlington, VE, Senator Bernie Sanders declared that “if we are serious about creating jobs, about climate change and the needs of our children and the elderly, we must be deadly serious about campaign finance reform…”
Mike Huckabee: On June 2, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that he supports a system in which individual campaign contributions are unlimited but must be fully disclosed. He said that this system “would be less disingenuous than what we have now, which is this utter separation [between candidates and PACs],” and went on to say that “the donor class has been wrong more times than it’s been right.”
Martin O’Malley: When former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on May 30, he referenced “big money trying to buy our elections.” O’Malley also decried the influence of money in politics during a May 13 interview with The Boston Globe, in which he compared elected officials seeking big donations to telemarketers.
Lindsey Graham: On April 13, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham told a New Hampshire radio station that “Citizens United has gotta be fixed.” On April 18, he also said that “you’re going to have money dumped in this election cycle that’s going to turn off the American people,” and that “there’s going to be a need and a movement to try to control the money in politics.”
Hillary Clinton: On April 14, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a group of Iowa voters that “we need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment.”
Several other candidates and potential candidates have voiced their concerns with the current campaign finance system, including Rick Santorum, George Pataki, and Chris Christie. With this much discussion before the first debates have even taken place, campaign finance reform is shaping up to be an important issue during the 2016 campaign.