There is only one thing abundantly clear in the polls right now: There is way too much money in politics. A new poll commissioned by the Corporate Reform Coalition found that nine out of 10 Americans agree there is too much corporate money in elections, and 51 percent strongly agree with that statement. For all you poll junkies out there, you’ll be relieved to know nine out of ten is way outside the margin of error.
The poll found strong evidence that not only do Americans think there’s too much money in politics, they believe this money has a damaging effect on our democracy. A whopping 81 percent believe the secret flow of money in politics is bad for our democracy. And 84 percent believe that corporate political spending drowns out the voices of average Americans. The same percentage believes corporate political spending makes Congress more corrupt. The results clearly show that Americans are ready for a dramatic revamping of the campaign finance system.
On that front, Americans broadly support commonsense reforms that have been stonewalled by this Congress. When it comes to the issue of disclosure, 85 percent of Americans believe prompt disclosure of political spending would help voters, customers and shareholders hold companies accountable for their political spending. Congress had the opportunity to provide that accountability earlier this year by passing the DISCLOSE Act, but the bill met a Republican led-filibuster in the Senate. Congress also has yet to move on the Shareholder Protection Act despite the fact that 73 percent of Republicans and Democrats support requiring corporations to get approval from their shareholders before spending in elections. Shedding light on corporate political spending enjoys the bipartisan support our presidential candidates could only dream of.
The good news is that Americans are ready to start holding corporations and dark money spenders accountable with or without the help of the presidential candidates, Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the poll, almost 80 percent of Americans would refuse to buy a company’s products or services based on its political
The SEC has the ability right now to empower investors and consumers to make the right choices for their wallets while keeping in line with their values by creating a rule requiring public companies to disclose their political spending. Americans are ready for the accountability the SEC can and should bring to our democracy.spending. Meanwhile, 65 percent would sell their stock in a company if they didn’t like a company’s election spending. And 75 percent of Americans would sign a petition asking the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require corporate disclosure of political spending. As it happens, more than 300,000 people already have signed just such a petition.
Despite all those 50/50 polls out there showing that Americans can’t seem to agree on anything, there is one issue that has the unambiguous support of the vast majority of people. Poll after poll proves Americans want transparency and accountability in their elections. No statistical ties. No polling conspiracies. Americans want and deserve a country where their voices are heard regardless of the size of their wallets.
Kelly Ngo is a legislative assistant for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. Follow @CorporateReform for more information.