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Talking to Voters About Fair Elections Findings from a nationwide survey conducted by Lake Research Partners on behalf of the Campaign for Fair Elections.

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Presentation on theme: "Talking to Voters About Fair Elections Findings from a nationwide survey conducted by Lake Research Partners on behalf of the Campaign for Fair Elections."— Presentation transcript:

1 Talking to Voters About Fair Elections Findings from a nationwide survey conducted by Lake Research Partners on behalf of the Campaign for Fair Elections

2 2 Methodology Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey which was conducted by telephone using professional interviewers between June 26-30, The survey, using a random digit dial (RDD) sample, reached a total of 1500 likely voters nationwide. The data are weighted by age, education, race, and party identification to reflect the likely voter population. The margin of error is +/- 2.5% except for positive message questions which were each asked of one-third of the sample (MOE for 500 sample size is +/- 4.4%). The survey was preceded by focus groups and online dial testing conducted in conjunction with Westen Strategies and McKinnon Media.

3 3 Key Summary The Fair Elections-style policy enjoys broad support (63% favor, 23% oppose), with every major demographic group supporting by double digit margins. Support is driven by a strong desire to change the way we finance elections—including a majority of voters (51%) who favor “major changes.” The best messages speak more to voters’ values than specifics about the bill or on issues. The strongest values include accountability, having the voters’ voices heard, and fairness to ordinary Americans over the lobbyists and special interests.

4 Ballot Support

5 5 Nearly three-fourths of voters want to change the way elections are financed—including a majority who want major changes. When it comes to the way we finance election campaigns, do you think we need to make major changes, minor changes, or should we not make any changes to the way election campaigns are financed, or aren’t you sure 72 “changes”

6 66 Voters support the Fair Elections-style reform by almost a three to one margin. Darker colors indicate intensity. TEXT OF BALLOT Now I’m going to read you a description of a specific proposal that would change the way federal election campaigns are funded. The goal is to reduce the impact of special interest money on Congress. Under this plan, candidates for Congress could run for office without raising large campaign contributions. Instead, they would collect a large number of small contributions from their home state in order to qualify for a limited amount of funding for their campaigns. They would be prohibited from taking any contributions over one hundred dollars from anyone, but would still be allowed to take small contributions. Contributions of a hundred dollars or less from their home state would be matched on a four-to-one basis, up to a strict limit, from a Fair Elections Fund, which would be financed by assessing a fee on big corporations receiving the largest government contracts. +40 Favor Public Financing Ballot Do you favor or oppose this proposal to fund campaigns with small contributions and limited public funds, or don't you have an opinion on this?

7 7 Support is above 60 percent across all regions and age groups.

8 8 Support is high across educational and racial lines.

9 9 While Democrats are the most supportive, a majority of Republicans also favor Fair Elections. PARTY IDENTIFICATION CONGRESSIONAL VOTE

10 Messaging

11 11 While the opposition message does not carry the weight of the positive messages, it resonates with many voters. [Opposition] This proposal is just welfare for politicians. It will take taxpayers’ money and give it to any candidate to pay for their bumper-stickers, salaries for family members, and negative television ads. Think about it for a minute. Instead of spending our tax dollars for education, jobs, or public safety, these incumbent politicians want to put that money into their own campaign bank accounts and rig the game for themselves. We know what will happen because similar efforts have been tried and failed. Extreme candidates on the left and the right who have no chance of winning will come out of the woodwork. They’ll run for office and spout their views – ones that we may find offensive – all with government funding. It’s simply un-American to have the federal government fund private political speech. And it will do no good. Money in politics is just like water running down a hill – the special interests will always find a way around whatever laws are passed. Why would we waste tax dollars on something that will never work? Darker colors represent intensity. Next I’m going to read you a statement that has been made against the proposal for public funding of campaigns. Please tell me if the statement raises serious doubts, some doubts, minor doubts, or no real doubts at all about this proposal.

12 12 The top positive message takes a strong populist tone—juxtaposing corporate influence and their level of taxation with that of the average working family. [Of, By, For] It’s time we return to government of, by, and for the people, not government of, bought, and paid for by special interests. If big businesses want to invest in our government, let them pay their fair share of taxes rather than paying for politicians who’ll write them special tax breaks. Right now, the biggest corporations in America pay a smaller percent of income tax than the average working family, and they even get special bonuses for outsourcing American jobs. Since the crisis on Wall Street less than two years ago, the banks have spent nearly a million dollars a day lobbying in Washington—while taxpayers have been bailing them out. The job of Wall Street bankers is to get a good return on their investment, and unfortunately, they’ve taken those skills to Washington. It’s time we replaced corporate-funded elections with fair elections. We need to put elections back in the hands of ordinary Americans. Our leaders should work for us, not their corporate sponsors. Darker colors represent intensity. Next I’m going to read you a few statements that have been made in favor of the proposal for public funding of campaigns. For each one, please tell me if the statement is a very convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, or not at all convincing reason to support this proposal.

13 13 Accountability is also a strong theme, as well as the need for Americans to have their voices heard. [Accountable] As long as politicians are accountable to the corporations and lobbyists who finance their campaigns, they’re never going to be accountable to the people who elected them. It’s time ordinary Americans had their voices heard. Our elected officials should be concerned with solving OUR problems and addressing OUR concerns, not those of special interests who can afford to pay for special treatment. It’s time we take our government back, with elections that are fair to ordinary Americans, where candidates for Congress only get funding if they share the values and concerns of the people back home. And let big corporations pay their fair share for what we all deserve—fair, clean elections that put American voters back in the driver’s seat—instead of paying for high-priced lobbyists. It’s time we take the “for sale” sign off our government, so that it works for working and middle class Americans. Darker colors represent intensity. Next I’m going to read you a few statements that have been made in favor of the proposal for public funding of campaigns. For each one, please tell me if the statement is a very convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, or not at all convincing reason to support this proposal.

14 14 Another strong message speaks to voters’ widespread sense that systemic corruption pervades Congress. [Rotten Barrel] The problem with our political system isn’t so much that individual members of Congress are corrupt but that the system is corrupt. Sure, there are bad apples in the barrel, but the real problem is that the barrel is rotten. No matter how honest you are, when your ability to get elected depends on collecting millions of dollars from special interests, there’s no way you can be objective. And having to spend so much time fund- raising just discourages good people from running and prevents those who do get elected from doing what we sent them there to do: solve the problems of everyday Americans. It’s time our elected officials started listening to the voices of everyday Americans, not their corporate sponsors. The only way that’s going to happen is if we clean up our elections, and do it now. Darker colors represent intensity. Next I’m going to read you a few statements that have been made in favor of the proposal for public funding of campaigns. For each one, please tell me if the statement is a very convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, or not at all convincing reason to support this proposal.

15 15 This message takes a strong populist frame while connecting top concerns like the BP spill and Wall Street. [Working Americans] It’s time we had a government that worked for working Americans, not for big corporations and their lobbyists. How many disasters does it take to decide it’s time to fix our broken government? We now know that the agency responsible for monitoring offshore oil drilling was owned and operated by the oil companies. BP was even allowed to fill out safety inspection reports on the rig that blew up in the Gulf in pencil so regulators could just trace over them in pen. We know that Wall Street regulators looked the other way when they saw the rampant fraud and recklessness that cost so many people their homes and jobs. There’s one common denominator—money—and there’s one common solution: end legalized bribery dressed up as campaign contributions from big business. Let the people of a state decide who they want to run for Congress with small contributions, and let some of those big corporations that have been paying for politicians pay instead for fair elections and government that works for a change. Darker colors represent intensity. Next I’m going to read you a few statements that have been made in favor of the proposal for public funding of campaigns. For each one, please tell me if the statement is a very convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, or not at all convincing reason to support this proposal.

16 16 The “Accountable” message is the top message for independents and Republicansand is the second most powerful message for Democrats. Positive Messages by Party ID (% very convincing/total convincing) Next I’m going to read you a few statements that have been made in favor of the proposal for public funding of campaigns. For each one, please tell me if the statement is a very convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, or not at all convincing reason to support this proposal. MESSAGEDEMS (ID)INDS (ID)REPUB (ID) Of, By, For(57%) 87%(36%) 81%(44%) 75% Accountable(54%) 79%(46%) 78%(45%) 75% Rotten Barrel(53%) 88%(40%) 76%(44%) 71% Working Americans(53%) 86%(42%) 73%(32%) 64%

17 17 Overall, the congressional messages tested lower than the straight positive messages. This message appeals directly to voter dissatisfaction with Congress. [Answer to Voters] Congressman Y says as a member of Congress, I can tell you in one word why Washington isn’t solving the problems of ordinary Americans: money. When you’re voting for or against a bill, you should be consulting your conscience, not your campaign contributors. But when a politician who’s backed by big corporations has unlimited funds to spend on attack ads tearing you down, you can’t fight back with a slingshot. And that’s the problem. If you have to depend on money from corporate CEOs to fund your campaigns, you have to take their calls. That’s not why I came to Washington. I came here to solve problems for the folks back home. The only way we’re ever going to make government fair, accountable, and effective is if the only people members of Congress have to answer to are voters. And the only way that’s going to happen is if voters decide who they believe will make a difference and make their voices heard, and big corporations match the hard-earned small contributions of ordinary Americans with a contribution to fair elections, not to legislation that favors special interests. Darker colors represent intensity. Next I’m going to read you a few statements that have been made by members of Congress in favor of the proposal for public funding of campaigns. For each one, please tell me if the statement is a very convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, or not at all convincing reason to support this proposal.

18 18 Another good congressional message speaks to the pervasive influence of lobbyists in the current system. [Surrounded-Bad System] Congressman X says as a member of Congress, I’m surrounded all the time by lobbyists offering to donate to my campaign. They know that if you take their money, you have to take their calls, and that isn’t fair. If you’re playing golf with the CEO of a company, you’re hearing their side of things. But you’re not hearing the side of their workers, or of the people who live downstream from their factory. This isn’t about integrity. Most of the people I serve with are good people. It’s about a bad system. If someone’s contributing tens of thousands of dollars to your campaign, can you really be objective about issues that affect them? And every hour you’re out raising money is an hour you’re not talking and listening to the folks back home, or trying to create jobs. It’s time we funded our elections from small local contributions and matched those contributions with funds from those corporations that are so eager to give money to members of Congress today. If they want to donate to American democracy, here’s their chance. Darker colors represent intensity. Next I’m going to read you a few statements that have been made by members of Congress in favor of the proposal for public funding of campaigns. For each one, please tell me if the statement is a very convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, or not at all convincing reason to support this proposal.

19 19 The version of this message that describes the system as “corrosive” rather than “bad” tests slightly lower. [Surrounded-Corrosive] Congressman Y says members of Congress don’t usually say what I’m about to say because it isn’t in their interest. But this isn’t about my interest, it’s about yours. Lobbyists are constantly offering to donate to my campaign. They know that if you take their money, you have to take their calls, and that isn’t fair. If you’re playing golf with the CEO of a company, you’re hearing their side of things. But you’re not hearing the side of their workers, or of the people who live downstream from their factory. This isn’t about integrity. Most of the people I serve with are good people. But the system is corrosive. If some industry is a big donor to your campaign, can you really be objective about issues that affect them? And every hour you’re out raising money is an hour you’re not talking and listening to the folks back home. It’s time we funded our elections from small local contributions and matched those contributions with funds from those corporations that are so eager to give money to members of Congress today. If they want to donate to American democracy, here’s their chance. Darker colors represent intensity. Next I’m going to read you a few statements that have been made by members of Congress in favor of the proposal for public funding of campaigns. For each one, please tell me if the statement is a very convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, or not at all convincing reason to support this proposal.

20 20 Not only is “Answer to Voters” the best congressional message overall, it is strong across party lines. MESSAGEDEMS (ID)INDS (ID)REPUB (ID) Answer To Voters(46%) 73%(38%) 62%(37%) 71% Surrounded - Bad System(50%) 77%(35%) 63%(30%) 63% Surrounded - Corrosive(39%) 78%(35%) 66%(32%) 61% Congressional Messages by Party ID (% very convincing/total convincing) Next I’m going to read you a few statements that have been made by members of Congress in favor of the proposal for public funding of campaigns. For each one, please tell me if the statement is a very convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, or not at all convincing reason to support this proposal.


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