New Poll in NY: Support for Comprehensive Fair Elections Reform and Public Financing at Historic Levels

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Voters want real, comprehensive overhaul of election laws, not modest changes

New Yorkers overwhelmingly reject opposing arguments made by Republican leadership in State Senate

Washington, D.C.—A statewide survey conducted by Lake Research Partners and released today by Public Campaign Action Fund shows that New Yorkers want their elected officials to pass the boldest package of campaign finance reforms, including small donations coupled with public matching funds for all state offices.

The poll, which was conducted from December 13-17 of 504 registered voters in the state and has a sampling error of 4.4 percent, found that by a two-to-one margin voters want to overhaul campaign finance laws as opposed to make just modest changes. When asked about a specific proposal, 79 percent of voters backed a comprehensive set of reforms including public matching funds, lower contribution limits, and disclosure, to help address the state’s lax campaign finance laws. This proposal mirrors Governor Andrew Cuomo’s comprehensive plan. Just eight percent opposed it.

“New Yorkers want to have their voices heard in Albany and they want to be heard above the roar of special interest money,” said David Donnelly, executive director of Public Campaign Action Fund, a national nonpartisan campaign finance group. “Voters unequivocally back an overhaul like the governor’s proposed Fair Elections policy that includes small donations and public matching funds as its centerpiece.

“Opponents in the State Senate—a small number of vocal Republican leaders and a few others—are making arguments that barely register with the public,” Donnelly said. “They can continue, but it’s not working. Pro-reform arguments are carrying the day. The only remaining question to answer is, Will Albany produce the change voters want?”

Among the poll’s findings:

  • When asked to choose between an overhaul of election laws or more modest changes, voters selected an overhaul by a 58 to 29 percent vote, with nine percent preferring to leave campaign finance laws as they are.
  • New Yorkers back a comprehensive package of reforms by 79 to eight percent with 83 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of independents, and 74 percent of Republicans supporting the measure. That package, as described to poll respondents, includes public matching funds, contribution limits, and disclosure of outside spending.
  • In districts won by Republicans in November, voters backed the proposal by a slightly higher amount, 80 percent to 10 percent.
  • Voters were asked about their support of the comprehensive measure after hearing both supportive and opposing arguments about the legislation. The opposition argument closely resembled statements made in recent days by Republican Senate leaders. After hearing both sides, the opposition argument raised very few doubts, with three in every four voters still backing the proposal. 

A memo and polling toplines with exact wording of questions are available at www.campaignmoney.org/nypoll.

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Public Campaign Action Fund is a national nonpartisan organization dedicated to passing comprehensive change in America’s campaign finance laws. The organization works to hold elected official accountable for opposing reform and for the special favors they do for contributors. Learn more at www.campaignmoney.org.