Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"Let's turn opinion into action by overturning #CitizensUnited and enacting public financing of elections nationwide," says Public Citizen's Democracy Is for People campaign. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

New findings from the Pew Research Center reveal widespread support for campaign finance reform. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

Recognizing Powerful Interests Running the Joint, More Than 75% of Americans Back Campaign Finance Reform

"Let's turn opinion into action by overturning #CitizensUnited and enacting public financing of elections nationwide," says Public Citizen in response to new Pew survey.

Andrea Germanos

Amidst a widely-shared recognition that the country is effectively being run by powerful special interests, a new poll out Friday shows that more than 3 out of 4 Americans now support serious campaign finance reform as a way to mitigate the corrupting influence of money in the nation's democracy.

The results of the extensive Pew Research Center survey, released Thursday, reveal Americans "see the country falling well short in living up to" democratic ideals and values, and believe core changes are needed in the political system.

Seventy-six percent say the government is run by a few big interests, a level unchanged since 2015. Just 21 percent say the government is run for the benefit of all.

Most Americans continue to say government is by a few big interests.

This marks the continuation of a trend begun in the early 1970s.

Though the majority of both Democrats and Republicans see a special interest stranglehold on government, there is a slight partisan divide. While 84 percent of Democrats now say government is run by big interests, 71 percent had that opinion in 2015. For Republicans, meanwhile, the percentage has shifted downward. Eighty-one percent held that belief in 2015 compared to 71 percent now.

Rewind to 1964, and Americans' views on the issue were quite different. In 1964, only 29 percent believed the government was run by special interests, compared to 64 percent who said it was "run for the benefit of all the people." By 1974, however, the belief that government was run for the benefit of all had taken a deep nosedive, plunging nearly 40 percentage points to 25 percent.

The new survey also shows widespread backing of campaign finance reform.

Over three-quarters of Americans—77 percent—say that there should be limits on the amount of money political candidates can spend on campaigns. There is strong support from both Democrats (85 percent) and Republicans (71 percent).

A majority of Americans—65 percent—say they believe new campaign finance laws would be effective in limiting the amount of money in political campaigns.

Noting such support, advocacy group Public Citizen's Democracy Is for People campaign said the poll results should fuel the call to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United, which struck down laws that limited corporate and union spending in elections.

"Let's turn opinion into action by overturning #CitizensUnited and enacting public financing of elections nationwide," the group tweeted.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

'Truly Disturbing': Facebook Blasted for Blocking NYU Researchers Examining Ad Model and Misinformation

"It is disgraceful that Facebook is attempting to squash legitimate research that is informing the public about disinformation on their platform."

Jessica Corbett ·


As EPA Forced to Finalize New Rules, Report Details Widespread Use of Neurotoxic Pesticide Across US

"For years, the EPA has avoided protecting children from learning disabilities and has kept chlorpyrifos on the market, in our food, and in our water."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Time for Medicare for All': US Healthcare System Ranks Dead Last Among Rich Nations—Again

"There's no question: our cruel, for-profit healthcare system is broken," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Jake Johnson ·


More Than Two-Thirds of US Adults Support Mask Mandates as Variants Spread

Fully vaccinated people were more likely to report that they plan to wear masks in public.

Julia Conley ·


Biden Interior Dept Denounced for Giving Big Oil Green Light to Harass Polar Bears, Walruses

"President Biden promised bold climate action, but this is business as usual. Polar bears and walruses deserve better."

Brett Wilkins ·