Americans believe reducing the influence of money in politics is one of the top five most important issues facing the country ahead of the November elections, according to a new Issue One-Ipsos national poll.
The results suggest there is a disconnect between the public’s priorities and their elected officials’ agenda. Of the top five issues facing the country identified by respondents — the economy, health care, terrorism, education and money in politics — money in politics is the only issue elected leaders have not addressed with major legislation in more than a decade. As a result, more than 80 percent of respondents said the influence of money in politics is worse than at any other point in their lifetime, and 70 percent believe our democracy is at risk if we do not take immediate steps to fix the problem.
For Issue One, these findings further highlight Americans’ deep frustration with our elected officials for not addressing this issue. Candidates up and down the ticket, on both sides of the aisle, have an opportunity to lead on this issue and capture coveted independent voters ahead of November.
Our top findings:
Reducing the influence of money in politics is a top voting issue this election year.
This is one of the top five most important issues for Democrats and independents, and top six for Republicans, ahead of November. Men and women; millennials and baby boomers; working class and wealthy; and those from the heartland and both coasts all agree. As the 2016 election inches closer, candidates who are seeking the vote of independents ought to pay attention — a third of respondents identifying as independent say money in politics is one of their top three issues.
Americans want the parties to work together to reduce the influence of money in politics.
Despite the vitriolic headlines and campaign attack ads, 72 percent of Americans back bipartisan efforts to address money in politics. Eighty-one percent of Democratic and 79 percent of Republican respondents support their members of Congress working with the opposing party to reduce the influence of money in politics.
Americans want sweeping changes to rebalance the scales of power in our country.
An overwhelming majority — 78 percent of respondents — say we need sweeping new laws to reduce the influence of money in politics. Eighty-five percent of individuals age 55 and older, who witnessed passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, believe sweeping changes are necessary.
Americans are looking for a party to take the lead on this issue.
Respondents indicated they trust the Democratic Party over the Republican Party on the issue, but 40 percent say neither party will pass laws to control the influence of money in politics. And while 70 percent of Democrats believe their party would pass legislation, only 55 percent of Republicans think the same of their party.
Americans think money in politics is a bigger problem than ever before.
Across the board, more than 80 percent of respondents agree that the influence of money in politics is worse now than at any other time in their lives. Nearly 90 percent of those at least 55 years old, all of whom would have been at least 12 years old during the Watergate investigation, also agree.
A majority say their views are left out of the political process.
An overwhelming 93 percent of respondents believe that elected officials listen more to deep-pocketed donors than regular voters. Republicans express more cynicism: Only five percent of Republican respondents believe regular voters are heard more by their elected leaders.
Overall Americans trust Hillary Clinton more than Donald Trump to fix the problem, but independents lean toward Trump.
While those polled trust Hillary Clinton more than Donald Trump to fix this issue — 56 percent to 44 percent, respectively — independents back Trump by more than half (54 percent). Millennials tend to side with Clinton — 67 percent of 18-34 year olds trust her more to work on money in politics — and of those 55 and older, 55 percent trust Trump.
Americans want elected officials to act now.
Seven in 10 respondents — and three-quarters of independents — said that if we don’t take action to reform the influence of money over our politics, then our democracy is at risk.
These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted June 17-20, 2016 on behalf of Issue One. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,006 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English.
The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage point for all respondents (see link below for more info on Ipsos online polling “Credibility Intervals”). Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,006, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=5.0).
For more information about Ipsos online polling methodology, see: http://goo.gl/yJBkuf.