A new Gallup poll shows half the voters in the United States would approve publicly financed campaigns for federal elections. It is a timely poll as campaign funding becomes a focus in South Dakota's 2014 U.S. Senate race.
On Monday, Gallup released the findings of the poll it conducted June 15-16. Gallup interviewed 1,015 U.S. adults ages 18 older in the poll. Nationally, the results show 50 percent of adults polled would vote for a law creating a new, 100 percent government-funded campaign finance system for federal elections; 44 percent voted against it.
Breaking down Gallup's poll to geography and party affiliation, more Democrats (60%) were in favor of such a law than Republicans that opposed it (54%). Most approval came from the East (56%) and most opposition was held in the South (52%).
The poll also asked participants if they would support limiting the amount of money congressional candidates can raise and spend on campaigns. Close to 80 percent of nearly every major demographic and political group favored the idea. 83 percent of Midwest participants also supported the idea.
Campaign funds have been the recent focus of the 2014 US Senate race in South Dakota. Earlier this month, Governor Mike Rounds, running for the Republican Party nomination, announced he is seeking to raise $9 million for his senate campaign.
Meanwhile, Rick Weiland, running for the Democratic Party nomination, is asking to keep big money out of the 2014 U.S. Senate race because he said it already controls Congress.
"I think when big money's at the table you don't get the kind of health reform you need. You don't get the kind of energy policy you need. You don't get the kind of financial reform you need, because it's big oil and big banks that are controlling what's being decided in Washington, D.C.," Weiland said.
Rounds said Weiland's proposal is not feasible, especially if he or Weiland want to defend themselves against super PACs-- which he said are the real problem.
"Our challenge is not one single candidate, it is correcting misinformation form numerous super PACs that have no intentions of complying, or any desire to comply, with a hundred dollar per person individual contribution," Rounds said.
On June 17, Weiland sent a letter to Rounds asking that neither party accept any campaign contributions in excess of $100. On Tuesday, June 25, Weiland issued a news release asking Rounds to meet with him one-on-one on the matter. He didn't know exactly what they would discuss, but Weiland mentioned he and Rounds could talk about Lincoln-Douglas debates as a substitute of raising funds for campaigns. Weiland said his proposal is not a means of leveling the political playing field. He said it is a chance to provide a clearer election South Dakotans will appreciate much more.
"I'm running against the $9-milliion-man and I'm asking South Dakotans to give me $9," Weiland said. "I think South Dakotans, whether you're spending $9 or $9 million, want to meet you; they want to look you in the eye; they want to see what's in your heart; they want to see what you stand for."
Rounds said two candidates could come together to discuss limiting campaign finances but that still won't stop outside interest groups from paying top-dollars in attacks on an individual candidate. In fact, he said even if a candidate reached out to a super PAC to limit campaign funds he or she would be violating election laws.
"The biggest trouble we've got is we have no control over those organizations so we have to be able to have the campaign financing necessary to respond and correct misinformation that is already starting," Rounds said.
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