A new poll of likely voters found that 72 percent favor a law to provide candidates with “limited public matching funds for small contributions they raise from constituents,” with 39 percent favoring it strongly. Only 21 percent oppose it, and of those, only 7 percent oppose it strongly.
Support was strong across the political spectrum, with 76 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents, and 66 percent of Republicans favoring such a law. Moreover, the somewhat lower support on the right was mostly due to GOP respondents having no opinion rather than opposing small donor matching funds — just 23 percent of Republicans opposed the concept, and just 9 percent of them opposed it strongly.
The poll was conducted by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg’s Democracy Corps. Recent previous polling has generally found somewhat lower though still strong levels of support for small donor matching funds.
The concept of small donor matching funds has been endorsed by both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and congressional bills implementing such a system have 157 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 22 in the Senate.
The poll described the hypothetical matching funds law as also requiring “disclosure for all political spending by outside groups” and the strict enforcement of election law. The question thus covered most of the campaign finance reform agenda released this summer by 12 major U.S. public interest organizations.
A separate question also asked respondents to rate how warmly they felt, on a scale of 0 to 100 with 100 being the warmest, about 20 separate individuals, political parties, groups, and real or possible laws — including “a plan to overhaul campaign spending by getting rid of big donations and allowing only small donations to candidates, matched by taxpayer funds.”
Interestingly, the matching funds proposal, with a mean of 64.4, received the warmest response of anyone or anything else, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Tea Party, the NRA, Muslim Americans, gay marriage, and the Affordable Care Act. Respondents felt least warmly toward Trump, at 31.8, and second-most warmly toward Muslim Americans, at 61.7.
The poll also tested three potential lines of attack against a Democratic candidate who supports small donor matching funds. The most effective, raising “serious” or “very serious” doubts among 52 percent of respondents, were claims that the money could better “go to help pay to secure Social Security, pay for badly needed road repair or help provide better health care to our veterans.”