Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Support for Campaign Finance Reform

Here's a survey question for you:
Currently, groups not working with a political candidate may spend unlimited amounts of money on advertisements during a political campaign. Do you favor, oppose, or neither favor nor oppose placing limits on this kind of spending?
This is from the 2016 ANES pilot study, a survey designed to test new questions for possible inclusion in the traditional ANES surveys conducted before and after each election. In our case, it allows us to see not only what people think about money in political campaigns (other surveys ask this kind of question too) but also to examine it in relation to other factors, from the obvious (party identification, ideology) to the less obvious.

First, let's look at the breakdown. There's a graphic below, but as you can see, in a national survey of 1,200 respondents, more favor than oppose limits. The key here may be use of the word "advertisements," as no one likes them. A lot of folks, obviously, go to the middle and easy answer, a result we often see in surveys. Clearly, though, the data are weighted toward the limiting of campaign spending on advertisements.

As you'd expect, the more strongly you describe yourself as Republican or conservative, the more you oppose such limits. Also the more interest you have in the news, the less you like the idea. The more educated you are, the more you favor limits. Also interesting is political knowledge is unrelated to an opinion about limits, as is age. Whites favored limits more than blacks, women slightly more then men.

A real test, of course, would be to set these factors up to compete with one another to see which ones truly predict opinions about campaign finance. My very quick and really dirty regression analysis, in which all the factors statistically control for one another, says party identification and ideology trump most other factors. Even so, a little statistical room is left for education and interest in news. The other factors drop out.

Like so many other issues, this one appears to be largely partisan.

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