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Despite public opposition to money in politics, the 2016 election is expected to set new records, with spending by candidates and outside groups expected to approach a stunning $10 billion. (Photo: Pictures of Money/flickr/cc)

Who Actually Thinks Citizens United Is Good for Elections? Turns Out, Hardly Anyone

New study finds the US public is starting to worry about 'the Wild West nature of campaign finance'

Sarah Lazare

Only one in ten people in the United States thinks that the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates to unprecedented outside spending to influence elections, has actually improved the process of nominating presidential candidates, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.

Meanwhile, nearly half of the U.S. public says that the "looser finance rules and an influx of campaign cash" has made the candidate nominating process worse than before Citizens United, the study finds.

Researchers surveyed 1,001 adults across the United States between July 9 and 12, and they say their findings have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

"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, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, which is based in New Jersey.

Wednesday's poll is not the first of its kind. A survey released in June by The New York Times and CBS found that the U.S. public opposes the unlimited flow of dollars into politics, does not think money equals speech, and wants to restrict the power of the one percent to buy ballot outcomes.

But despite public opposition to money in politics, the 2016 election is expected to set new records with spending by candidates and outside groups expected to approach a stunning $10 billion.

Analysts warn that the unpopular Citizens United ruling is wreaking havoc far beyond the 2016 presidential election. 

A report released this week by watchdog group Public Citizen, entitled The Corporate First Amendment, finds that the "legal fiction" of corporate personhood advanced in the Citizens United ruling has emboldened corporations in their quest for power.

Powerful multinationals have launched an "assault on requirements that commercial speakers disclose information concerning the products and services they market," explains a report summary.

"With varying degrees of success," the statement continues, "corporations have used claims of First Amendment speech rights to launch legal attacks on a wide variety of health, economic justice and humanitarian rules, including, for example, warnings on cigarette packages and a provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that requires companies to disclose whether their products contain 'conflict minerals,' the trade in which is fueling violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."


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