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 firstname.lastname@example.org.