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CCP’s Response on DISCLOSE Act Polling Analysis

In response to my post earlier this afternoon on new polling numbers for the DISCLOSE Act, The Center For Competitive Politics’s Jeff Patch has supplied me with the following response:

Regarding your post, I guess I take your point that the poll questions weren’t uniformly positive in terms of supporting our ideology. I thought that was evident, not something we were hiding or “spinning.”

Nonetheless, a couple points:

(1) Our observation that DISCLOSE doesn’t enjoy the support many reform groups claim is not based mainly on the disclosure questions; it’s based on question 8 (and 5 to a lesser extent) showing that 56 percent of likely voters think interest groups should be free to spend money on politics. This contrasts with the WaPo poll and others showing large majorities opposed to CU when using wording about corporations or corruption. The post doesn’t even address that issue, which is still a huge part of DISCLOSE. Despite The Hill report that Schumer is considering stripping the non-disclosure provisions, they still remain and we’ve heard of no outreach whatsoever on these issues to moderate Republicans.

(2) Our assertion isn’t that people oppose disclosure, it’s that they’re more skeptical than commonly believed. We freely acknowledge that the disclosure threshold provision question (9) is mixed, but this goes to the point that there’s not overwhelming support for the DISCLOSE provisions, not that the public is uniformly opposed to them. As you note, if we were trying to skew the results, we wouldn’t have even released question 10, which shows that Americans support some level of informational disclosure.

I accept Jeff’s point that CCP wasn’t blatantly skewing the data. The poll released today did include questions/responses that didn’t back up the organization’s ideological beliefs (though I’d argue it would have been unethical to remove them). The part I continue to take issue with, however, is whether Jeff’s nugget of wisdom — “56 percent of likely voters think interest groups should be free to spend money on politics” — proves anything about support for the DISCLOSE Act.

The DISCLOSE Act, as it stands,* *does restrict political spending for certain corporations — those with foreign investment totaling more than 20 percent, those holding government contracts in excess of $10 million, and those still benefiting from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). I’d argue that if you asked whether corporations with these characteristics should be spending money to influence campaigns and lobby government, the majority of Americans would say no. The larger point, however, is that the poll didn’t ask that question, and it’s a specious example of reasoning to take question five to indicate anything about popular support for the DISCLOSE Act.

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