Half of Americans Support Publicly Funded Political Campaigns

You know who needs a hefty government subsidy? Political campaign consultants. Americans agree, according to the latest Gallup poll. Politico explains:

According to a Gallup poll posted on Monday, 50 percent of Americans say they would support a law banning campaign contributions from individuals and groups, which would instead have government fund federal campaigns; 44 percent said they would oppose such an initiative. Americans also overwhelmingly support limiting congressional campaign contributions, the poll found: Seventy-nine percent said they would support such limits; 19 percent said they would not.

Polls like this come around every now and then, and beyond attempting to explain why such systems benefit entrenched incumbents and extremely wealthy candidates and would cause the cost of federal elections to skyrocket, not come down, I always wonder how the answers might be different if those polled were told all this money would essentially be subsidizing consultants, polling firms, and major media outlets?

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  • Ken Shultz||

    In related news, 50 percent of Americans have a below average IQ.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    !*(&$^^#(*!(*&@#^!!!!!

  • Cliché Bandit||

    You must be among them as you can not seem to post first.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, but why does he get the +1 from Mainer?

    I mean...seriously?

  • Robert||

    But I don't think IQ explains much in this. Mostly, it's attitudes about politicians in gen'l.

    People tend to see those seeking office as well as those in it as public servants, like civil service but with more glory. People with this attitude figure the campaign should be part of the job, so why shouldn't it be paid out of public funds rather than by potentially limitless corrupting private sources? The objection that some would have to being forced to pay for the campaigns of those they oppose is met by an attitude that they're all the same.

    If you think they're pretty much all the same, and pretty much all crooks, why wouldn't you be for this?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    In other news, half of Americans have an IQ below the median.

  • Mainer2||

    +1 pedant

  • ||

    IQ tests are specifically designed so scores fall on a normal distribution. So mean is probably (roughly) correct here too, assuming there isn't anything particularly weird about the distribution of scores within the US itself (as opposed to the world at large [to the extent that IQ is properly normed to fit the world population]).

  • ant1sthenes||

    But given the way IQ is measured, it doesn't really matter, IIRC.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Political consultants, polling firms, and major media outlets?
    They're doing God's work in some of America's worst neighborhoods.

  • Sevo||

    "Political consultants, polling firms, and major media outlets?"
    And the incumbent politicos; don't forget them! They need more money to stay in office!

  • sarcasmic||

    Private contributions are tainted with with icky profits resulted from voluntary transactions between willing parties, whereas public funds are appropriated by noble coercion and are more fair because everyone is forced to pay.

  • JW||

    50 percent of Americans say they would support a law banning campaign contributions from individuals and groups, which would instead have government fund federal campaigns;

    Makes you wonder why we even bother with elections any more.

    CONTROL ME. DO IT FOR ME. The mating call of the modern 'Merican.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's a great argument for why we should all be free to make choices for ourselves--rather than be bound by majority opinion, that's for sure.

  • sloopyinca||

    According to a Gallup poll posted on Monday, 50 percent of Americans say they would support a law banning campaign contributions from individuals and groups, which would instead have government fund federal campaigns;

    Over 50% of Americans are willing to give up liberty for security.

    I, for one, don't want a retarded-ass majority deciding what rights I will and will not be able to keep. They've already pared down the 4A and 5A and are working on further infringements of the 2A as we speak. I guess they don't realize the 1A applies to political speech...or they just don't give a fuck anymore and want decisions to be made for them by the few people connected enough to get the public funding, because mark my word : there will be a short list of who gets the money (Democrats and Republicans only in most cases).

    Fuck these monkey-brained cocksuckers.

  • JW||

    or they just don't give a fuck anymore

    Bingo. Why do you hate MOAR FREE SHIT?

  • Paul.||

    You forgot the 1st amendment. Liberals fucking haate the first amendment.

  • sloopyinca||

    Fuck these monkey-brained cocksuckers.

    Stupid spellchecker. I meant to say cock-brained monkeysuckers.

  • ||

    Fuck you!

  • Doctor Whom||

    As a member of the Cock-Brained-Monkeysucker-American community, I am offended. Prepare to be reported to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.

  • sloopyinca||

    Ooh, you suck monkeys? You a nasty bastard.

  • Mainer2||

    or brain cocked suck monkeys

  • Loki||

    What about monkey cocked brain suckers?

  • Almanian!||

    Nope, nope....no....TOO silly...move along....

  • sloopyinca||

    Exactly. What is this, amateur comedy hour?

  • Mainer2||

    So juvenile word play is too much, but obscure Monty Python references are OK ?

  • sloopyinca||

    Yes. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

  • ||

    Scott, why do you hate children, puppies, apple pie, and unicorns?

  • Killazontherun||

    When offered to support the public system on their tax forms the vast majority vote, 'no.' It would be even more lopsided if it wasn't explained that in no way would checking 'yes' effect their refund. So, polls likes this, are highly dubious.

  • Killazontherun||

    So polls, likes this one, are highly dubious.

    Half asleep here, practically drooling on myself out of boredom. It should pick up in at the top of the hour, though.

  • Robert||

    But there's a difference between supporting tax-paid financing and adding a dollar to the fund. I think a lot of the people who favor gov't financing of campaigns are in favor of reducing the amount spent on them, and look at the combination of gov't financing and bans or limits on private contributions as a means toward that end.

  • ||

    So it's basically the Prisoner's Dilemma: I highly doubt the majority of the people who said yes check the donation box on their tax return.

    Which means they'd only do it if everyone else was forced to contribute. Which means a disturbing number of our countrymen are fine with enslaving their neighbors.

  • T||

    Which means a disturbing number of our countrymen are fine with enslaving their neighbors.

    The idea of health care as a right didn't drive that point home to you?

  • Loki||

    I'm pretty sure a disturbing number of our countrymen would be fine with forcing their neighbors into cattle cars headed for the ovens so long as they continue to get free shit and never have to think about stuff anymore.

  • ChrisO||

    This would allow the government to effectively determine who gets to run for office and who doesn't.

    What could possibly go wrong with that?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Nothing at all, nothing at all...

    /TEAM-GOP-DNC

  • MichaelTurner||

    Public opinion polls are worthless, period. I'm tired of Reason reporting these. They do nothing and they mean nothing.

    51% of the country voted for anti-American Statist who's never worked a day in his life. That's the only poll that matters.

  • Hyperion||

    Just wait until 2016, when 51% will vote for a sociopathic old bag with the same agenda.

  • sloopyinca||

    51% of the country voted for anti-American Statist who's never worked a day in his life. That's the only poll that matters.

    Wait, are you talking about Obama? Because he got 52%.
    Or was it Bush? Because he got 50.7%
    Or was it Clinton? Because he got 49%
    Or was it Bush I? Because he got 54%
    Or was it Reagan? Because he got 59%
    Or was it Carter? Because he got 50%
    Or was it Nixon? Because he got 60%
    Or was it Johnson? Because he got 61%
    etc...

    Seriously, if you're gonna say "anti-American Statist," you're gonna have to be a bit more specific.

  • MichaelTurner||

    If you're ridiculing all past presidents as Anti-American Statists, fine. Obama did get 51.1% of the popular vote however.

    I think the "never worked a day..." may cover the others as well.

    The point is, these polls are perfectly worthless.

  • Robert||

    I find opinion polls very interesting and probably useful—not as good as focus groups, and far inferior to simulations, but better than nothing. The percentages in response to questions in isolation aren't much use, but the comparisons over time and demographically or in correlation with responses to other questions are very interesting.

  • buddhastalin||

    There is nothing wrong with polls unless they were poorly executed or you read too much into them.

  • ||

    50 percent of Americans say they would support a law banning campaign contributions from individuals and groups, which would instead have government fund federal campaigns

    What about when you follow the question up with, "So, you know this means you will be funding the candidates you oppose, right?"

  • ||

    +1

    I laughed.

  • Tanya||

    While I get there are some problems inherent in public campaign funding, I don't think 'more expensive campaigns' is one of them. I'm Canadian, our campaigns are publicly funded, last about 30-60 days and cost a fraction of what US campaigns cost.

    More importantly, I think, one of the biggest problems in US politics today is that lobbying/campaign funding by private companies are really de-facto bribes in practice. Given the near-fascist state of affairs in Washington, it seems half of Americans tend to agree. (See: "revolving door" et al)

    What would be a more libertarian-friendly solution that protects private campaign funding but also eliminates the accompanying corruption you have today? (Not trying to be a smartass, really. I've genuinely scratched my head over this for some time now and would welcome an 'aha' moment.)

  • ChrisO||

    National bankruptcy. It's probably the only way.

    Limited government is the best (and only) way to prevent government abuses, and it's going to take a fiscal catastrophe to make that happen.

  • Hyperion||

    Limited government is the best (and only) way to prevent government abuses, and it's going to take a fiscal catastrophe to make that happen.

    More than a few of us around here will agree with you on that. On the path we are currently on, it's unavoidable.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    “There is no final one; revolutions are infinite.”

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    What would be a more libertarian-friendly solution that protects private campaign funding but also eliminates the accompanying corruption you have today?

    The root of the problem lies in the power of the State over everyone else. The corruption is a direct outgrowth of that power. Publicly or privately funded, it doesn't matter. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    A separate, real, positive step to be taken is the complete and total dismantling of the FEC, which serves only to protect the 2-party system.

  • sloopyinca||

    I'm Canadian

    So, you don't have free speech as it relates to political campaigns? Good for you, but please don't export that bit of fucktardedness south of the border.

  • Tanya||

    No, that's not true. You could argue under our structure we have more (since you don't need to be connected to really rich people to run.)

    To qualify for federal funding, you have to receive 3% of the popular vote in any given election. Until then, you're free to gather donations and go ahead and run.

    During the last federal election, we had five different parties receiving public funds. In my specific constituency, I had 8 different candidates to choose from.

    There is no lack of free speech as it relates to political campaigns.

    As I understand it, also, individuals are allowed to donate up to $1k to candidates. Corporations can't donate anything.

  • ||

    There is no lack of free speech as it relates to political campaigns... individuals are allowed to donate up to $1k to candidates. Corporations can't donate anything.

    I'm uncertain if there's some alternate Canadian meaning of "lack", but "except restrictions on how much you can spend on speech" doesn't seem to fit....

  • Almanian!||

    There is no lack of free speech as it relates to political campaigns.

    But darius404 - there's NO lack of free speech. You can say anything, as much as you want!

    Within the legal limits. Which for KOCHPORASHUNZZZZ!!!1 is 0.

    duh!

  • sloopyinca||

    I'm gonna forgive Tanya her ignorance here. If you spent your entire life in a political system that deems itself fair and claims to have elections where speech isn't limited then you're likely to think it is.

  • sloopyinca||

    You could argue under our structure we have more (since you don't need to be connected to really rich people to run.)

    Oh, I didn't know that was a requirement in America. I just looked over the requirements to run for Congress and that never showed up.

    To qualify for federal funding, you have to receive 3% of the popular vote in any given election. Until then, you're free to gather donations and go ahead and run.

    So, you're compelled to accept only public funding if you cross 3% and you're not allowed to get it if you fall below 3%. Yeah, sounds like freedom to me.

    There is no lack of free speech as it relates to political campaigns.

    Except, of course, for the dates you're allowed to make that speech, how you fund it, who funds it and the location they fund it in (like the limits placed on over-the-air media speech).

    As I understand it, also, individuals are allowed to donate up to $1k to candidates. Corporations can't donate anything.

    Then you have no understanding of what freedom means.

  • Robert||

    I understand what freedom means, so the question is, what feasible steps are there to getting more of it? Someone here has contrasted Canadian & USAn campaign finance, so it seems reasonable to compare the results quantitatively as to which regime produces more freedom. Not that either gives you perfect freedom of course, but since perfection is not a choice, which gives you more freedom, and how do you measure it?

    Of course campaign finance is not the only difference in the conduct of politics between the countries, and is probably one of the smaller factors, so all of the differences need to be analyzed. Canada has shorter ballots, floating election days, passive voter registration, and different ballot access (easier than in the US on avg. in most respects).

  • sloopyinca||

    You could argue under our structure we have more

    You could also argue under the Nazi regime that the Jews had it good since they no longer had to worry about food or shelter.

  • Almanian!||

    You know who el....wait....never mind....

  • sloopyinca||

    I almost went with "Gypsies", but I figure why not go all-in on the flop.

  • Killazontherun||

    Put it to the test. Any of those parties call for the abolition of your human rights commissions and hate crime laws? Or the single payer health care system, open immigration, free trade policy, low corporate taxes, or for nationalizing all major industries? How far does the yard lines spread? It doesn't matter if you have one, two or a hundred choices if they are all basically saying the same thing. I find it hard to believe that a public financed system doesn't put pressure on parties to conform to the straight and narrow. Say, if the Canadian Libertarian party has as a plank to abolish public financing of campaigns, yet pretty much had to take the money in order to compete, they lose cred even though they pay into the system like anyone else. No easy answer to this, I'm afraid. You can point right back and say the US system allows for the easy, nearly free flow of money, yet Red and Blue are two sides of the same neoliberal coin (I hate the anachronistic usage of the word two paces before the parenthetical but its exactly how a Canadian would put it).

  • Mickey Rat||

    "You could argue under our structure we have more..."

    No, you can't, you really just can't. What you are really saying is you don't contribute much to politics so Canadian campaign finance laws don't have much impact on you directly, so you don't care.

  • KPres||

    "What would be a more libertarian-friendly solution that protects private campaign funding but also eliminates the accompanying corruption you have today?"

    Whatever best facilitates libertarians being elected.

  • JW||

    While I get there are some problems inherent in public campaign funding, I don't think 'more expensive campaigns' is one of them.

    I don't care about the pragmatic argument.

    Money is speech. Full stop.

  • Robert||

    One problem with the idea that money is speech is the implication that speech is money.

  • sloopyinca||

    Whoever implied that? Please show your work.

  • Robert||

    That's the judicial assumption when money and speech are equated. If you're trying to leverage freedom of communication into freedom to spend money on communication, then the response is that regulations on money justify regulations on communication, because communication then has a money value. That was how an independently produced movie was understood to be a contribution to the campaign of a politician the movie worked in favor of. So saying money is speech is a dangerous assertion.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Only if you accept value given as something to be legitimately regulated. On the other hand you do recognize the cognitive dissonance behind the proggy position on CU.

  • sloopyinca||

    What would be a more libertarian-friendly solution that protects private campaign funding but also eliminates the accompanying corruption you have today? (Not trying to be a smartass, really. I've genuinely scratched my head over this for some time now and would welcome an 'aha' moment.)

    Time for that "aha!" moment then. The solution is simple: you take away all of the influence elected officials have on the marketplace (no more labor law, no more regulation of industries, no more subsidies, no more set-asides and "stimulus" spending on crony businesses) and you eliminate almost all of the corporate spending on political influence.

    There. Now go have a V-8.

  • Robert||

    But how do you take that influence away? Maybe you could propose something that isn't pie in the sky.

  • sloopyinca||

    You eliminate the power they wield and the desire to influence the process through political advocacy goes away. How is that pie in the sky? It worked in our nation until about the turn of the 20th century.

  • Jordan||

    Or you could propose something that isn't a violation of free speech.

  • Robert||

    Are you saying that whatever reforms could possibly be put forth have to be either pie in the sky or a violation of free speech?

    Meanwhile, sloopyinca (Is that Sloopy Inca, or Sloopy in Calif.?), it's not pie in the sky as a possible relatively stable end state, it's pie in the sky considering the lack of any way of getting there from here as one step. What can be done, reasonably, now, in some part of the world, by someone who doesn't have dictatorial power (i.e. has to get the permission of a large number of other people) to reduce the influence officials have on the marketplace?

  • Lolo Stahko||

    I can sometimes see where these folks are coming from. The views of the everyday citizen are far out of touch with those of the ruling elite. Publicly funded elections are seem as a way around it. In reality they would make the problem much worse, as the elite would control the political process in any matter. Liberals say they do this to give the people more influence, but that is a bald faced lie. Liberals care nothing about the views of the people when the people overwhelmingly disagree with them on things like affirmative action and the immigration surge. Look at Europe. The people have even less influence, indeed, many dissident views have been criminalized.

  • Hyperion||

    Look at Europe. The people have even less influence, indeed, many dissident views have been criminalized.

    We're working on it. In the meantime, we just make sure that the dissident gets some unwelcome attention from one of our large and unaccountable bureaucracies.

  • sloopyinca||

    The people have even less influence, indeed, many dissident views have been criminalized.

    Hate crime legislation is taking us to that precipice.

  • ||

    50 percent of Americans say they would support a law banning campaign contributions from individuals and groups, which would instead have government fund federal campaigns.

    100% of Americans who don't pay taxes support forcing other people to pay for everything.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Nothing makes speech more free than having the government decide which speech can be given to the people.

  • sloopyinca||

    +a whole bunch of tea dumped in Boston Harbor.

  • Paul.||

    Well, let's see, here in Wa State, the single biggest lobbyist to the government turned out to be the government.

    Guess who suddenly no longer had a problem with money in politics?

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