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Re:  Recent Shows Overwhelming Support of Public Financing of Elections – Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE)

Date: September 29, 2008

Click here to read the full survey

What:   A recent survey by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) reveals political donors’ overwhelming support (nearly three-fourths) of public financing of elections – Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE).

Through CCI’s Count on Me Voter Project, members are working to find out where candidates stand on issues like VOICE, making sure it is at the top of their agenda this election and legislative session.

Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections

Thousands of Iowans and members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) are pushing candidates to find out where they stand on public financing of elections, known as the  VOICE bill. Members of CCI have pushed the Iowa legislature to move the bill further than ever before, where it ended last session in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. This bill would shift lawmaker attention away from fundraising and allow them to spend all of their time campaigning focused on constituents, rather than special interests.

Current Survey of Donors: Too Much Money in Politics?

While many may expect political donors1 to be content with the current system, our survey of 1,502 Iowans reveals that donors across the political and financial spectrum are in support of a system where people matter more, and money matters less.  The survey shows that nearly three quarters support a system of public financing of elections.

- When asked, “Many people believe there is too much money in the political process. Do you agree or disagree?” nearly nine out of 10 (88 percent of) donors said they agreed.  Just six percent of respondents said they did not believe there was too much money in politics.

    These sentiments go across party lines as well, with 89 percent of Democrats, 88 percent of Republicans, and 82 percent of Independents agreeing that there is too much money in politics.

- And, 73 percent of political donors support public financing as laid out in the VOICE Act as a way to reduce the role money is playing in our political process. Only 20 percent were opposed.2

    This support also crosses party lines –75 percent of Democratic donors, 70 percent of Republican donors, and 74 percent of Independent donors favor VOICE.

- Eighty-one percent of those polled that have a household income over $100,000 supported VOICE, and 74 percent of those with a household income less than $100,000 supported VOICE. (This leaves out a group who did not disclose their household income, which still supported VOICE at 65 percent.)

- The support is also high among all giving levels, from $20 to $20,000. Across all giving levels, support for public financing stays above 57 percent.

“It’s great to see such overwhelming support for VOICE, especially with large political donors,” said CCI member Judy Lonning of Des Moines. “We’ve been working hard to put the issue of VOICE before our candidates, and we will make sure they see just how much their supporters want a system where people matter more, and money matters less.”

Thousands of CCI members and other everyday Iowans support VOICE as a means to restoring the power of our political system to voters. We conducted this survey because we believe that political donors would also support public financing to reduce the role that money plays in campaigning and the reliance on large contributions to candidates. The survey results show that those with a financial stake in the outcome of state elections believe that the current system is broken. We contacted 2,861 donors and conducted phone interviews with 1,502 people who were chosen because they donated to political candidates for state office. The charts that follow show the findings of this study, which break down support for VOICE by income, amount donated and political party. 

“These results show our elected officials at every level of government that not only is the general public in favor of reducing the role of money, but the same people who are writing checks to support candidates are fed up with the system, too,” said CCI member Patrick Bosold of Fairfield.

Moving forward for VOICE

Donors and everyday Iowans alike agree that money is playing too much of a role in the political process. Members of Iowa CCI are looking ahead, stressing to candidates for state office that this issue will not go away. Through CCI’s Count on Me Voter Project, members are working to find out where candidates stand on getting big money out of politics, letting them know that voters deserve to set the agenda. CCI members have been talking to their candidates, letting them know that they want to see VOICE passed, and they are also working to educate others in their communities. The results of this survey show that candidates should put VOICE at the top of the agenda this election and legislative session.

After the elections have passed, some candidates will still be working to pay off campaign debts, or even starting to fund raise for the next campaign. CCI members will be gearing up for their Rally and Lobby Day at the Capitol January 14, 2009, when they plan to lobby the new legislature for passage of VOICE.


1 – People who donate money to political candidates

2- Text of proposal: Some states have passed laws that provide a limited amount of public financing to qualified candidates who agree to take no or little private money and who agree to limit their campaign spending. Do you favor or oppose Iowa passing a campaign finance reform law like this?





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