Almost half of people surveyed in a recent Monmouth University poll (48 percent) said that the looser campaign finance rules since the Citizens United decision have worsened the presidential election process.
Citizens United was a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that stated that political spending is a form of “free speech” protected under the First Amendment.
According to the decision, the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including advertisements.
Besides the 48 percent who feel that the looser rules have worsened the political process, just 10 percent of Americans feel that the looser rules have improved the presidential election process, according to the Monmouth survey. 29 percent said the changes over the last half-decade have not had much effect.
“The public is starting to worry that the Wild West nature of campaign finance is damaging the way we choose presidential candidates,” said Patrick Murray, the director of Monmouth University Polling Institute, writes Politico.
42 percent of Americans said that looser finance rules make it more likely that an unqualified candidate can stay in office longer, while just 14 percent it would be less likely. 33 percent said that campaign finance rules would not have any effect.
28 percent of the poll respondents said that the current funding situation makes it more likely that a qualified candidate with lower name recognition would be able to capture voters’ attention and stay in the race. 27 percent said that the campaign finance rules make it less likely that a lesser-known candidate would able to withstand a cash onslaught. 34 percent said that the new funding environment has no impact on a qualified candidate.
Asked their opinion on the best way to finance presidential campaigns, just 17 percent said the funds solely should come from public financing through the government, while 33 percent said it should come from private donations alone. A plurality of 44 percent said there should be a combination of the two.
Another important Supreme Court decision was McCutcheon v. FEC, which loosened restrictions on private citizens donating to candidates. The Supreme Court ruled on it in 2014.
The survey was conducted by telephone from July 9-12, polling 1,001 adults across the country. The poll features a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.