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AARP Bulletin Survey on Political Campaign Processes

Campaign finance and election reforms are topics that have received a lot of attention in American politics.  Given the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC in January 2010 and the upcoming presidential election, the AARP Bulletin commissioned a nationwide survey in October 2011 to assess public opinion on political campaigns and suggested reforms.

Key findings include:

  • Roughly half (54%) of adults think political campaigns should last less than six months.
  • Overall, 40% of adults think that the United States has “about the right amount” of political debates during a campaign
  • The vast majority of adults (82%) think that limiting the amount of money campaigns can spend would improve the campaign process.
  • Overall, 69% of adults think that raising the limit for individual campaign contributions would not improve the campaign process and over half (52%) think reducing the limit for individual contributions would improve the process.
  • The majority of adults (77%) think that disclosing who is paying for attack ads and who is paying for independent advertising (74%) would improve the electoral process.
  • Nearly 8 in 10 (76%) adults think discouraging negative advertising would improve the campaign process.
  • Fifty-six percent of adults think holding a few primaries instead of caucuses or state primaries would improve the campaign process.
  • The majority of adults (69%) do not think making voting mandatory would improve the campaign process. Adults are divided regarding whether the elimination of the Electoral College would improve the campaign process. Fifty-one percent think eliminating the Electoral College would not improve the process, while 40% think it would, and 10% are not sure.

The survey was conducted for AARP by Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS), an independent research firm.  Interviews were conducted October 20-26, 2011, among a nationally representative sample of adults age 18 and older.  For more information, please contact Colette Thayer at cthayer@aarp.org.

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