ON-Lion Letter
In April, the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) in Washington, D.C., released the results of a poll on tax-financed political campaigns as a bill to subsidize congressional campaigns with government funds was re-introduced in Congress.  Sen. Dick Durbin's and Rep. John Larson's "Fair Elections Now Act" (FENA) would allow the government to provide a four-to-one match of contributions of $100 or less to candidates who agree to participate.

CCP's poll found that Americans do not support tax funding for political candidates, and that the level of intensity shifts based on the wording of the question.  The poll of 1,000 adults was developed in collaboration with University of Missouri professor Jeff Milyo and was conducted last year by YouGov as part of the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, a multi-university research partnership.

"Promoters of tax financed campaigns tout many supposed benefits such as increased competition, greater candidate diversity, less corruption and reduced interest group influence, but no credible research supports those claims," according to CCP vice president Allison Hayward.  "Americans are leery of a billion dollar bailout for politicians based on the unproven assumptions of Washington, D.C. interest groups."

CCP's poll tested support for two different descriptions of tax financing.  "Version A" asked respondents if they agreed that "[g]overnment should give taxpayer dollars to candidates to pay for their campaigns."  By a 67%-to-12% margin, respondents disagreed. 

Support slightly increases when the question is framed more favorably to FENA backers. "Version B" asked respondents if they agreed that "[c]andidates should be allowed to use public funds to pay for their campaigns."  Still, by a 62%-to-19% percent margin, respondents disagreed.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports CCP, the chairman and co-founder of which is Bradley Prize recipient Bradley A. Smith.
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