HPU/UNC Poll: voters would like to ban super PAC spending
Posted April 10, 2014
Updated April 11, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Voters surveyed in a new High Point University / University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill poll are unhappy with the idea of super PACs spending unlimited sums to help or harm candidates.
The poll question defined super PACs as organizations that "can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of candidates they support." Although a "super PAC" is a particular type of campaign entity, that definition could apply to a number of nonprofit groups that raise and spend unlimited campaign cash.
But given that definition, 63 percent of respondents said they believed "somewhat" or "strongly" that it should be illegal for such groups to spend what amounts to unlimited money to influence elections.
"In the 2012 presidential campaign, polls showed that about 40 percent of Americans knew about super PACs," said Daniel Riffe, a professor in UNC's School of Journalism and Mass Communication. "Higher recognition in North Carolina this year points to escalating efforts by candidates to frame their opponents as pawns of special interests and media coverage of those groups’ spending. The question is whether greater awareness also means more people become more cynical about truth in politics and political advertising."
Other interesting results from the survey include:
- 77 percent of respondents either "somewhat" or "strongly" agree that "news media should help voters recognize ads paid for by super PACs."
- 46 percent of those surveyed believed national Republicans got the most support from super PACs, 24 percent believed that more Democrats got support from super PACs.
- Despite opposing such ads, only 41 percent of those surveyed said they could remember seeing "a few" or "a lot" of super PAC ads.