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WaPo-ABC Poll: Citizens United against Citizens United

Posted in Clairvoyance, Law and Politics by Mike Sacks on February 17, 2010

Dan Eggen of the Washington Post writes about the results of a new WaPo-ABC poll:

Americans of both parties overwhelmingly oppose a Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns, and most favor new limits on such spending, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Eight in 10 poll respondents say they oppose the high court’s Jan. 21 decision to allow unfettered corporate political spending, with 65 percent “strongly” opposed. Nearly as many backed congressional action to curb the ruling, with 72 percent in favor of reinstating limits.

The poll reveals relatively little difference of opinion on the issue among Democrats (85 percent opposed to the ruling), Republicans (76 percent) and independents (81 percent).

The results suggest a strong reservoir of bipartisan support on the issue for President Obama and congressional Democrats, who are in the midst of crafting legislation aimed at limiting the impact of the high court’s decision. Likely proposals include banning participation in U.S. elections by government contractors, bank bailout recipients or companies with more than 20 percent foreign ownership.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other Republican lawmakers have praised the ruling as a victory for free speech and have signaled their intent to oppose any legislation intended to blunt the impact of the court’s decision.

This massive disagreement with the Court’s decision and the partisan disconnect in Congress with the voting public show two things:

  1. The Court wisely kicked its Citizens United decision into this term, which has no other fever-pitched case of public concern on its docket.  One deeply unpopular decision a term will allow the Roberts Court as currently constituted to steer right against today’s left-leaning political winds without spending all its political capital and destroying its institutional legitimacy.
  2. Republican voters haven’t gotten the memo…yet.  If Democratic responses move beyond a State of the Union slap and some wonky Congressional bills, and into campaign fodder this summer and fall, the GOP will get the message out to its voters that disagreeing with Citizens United is for liberals–and these days, conservatives can be thrown out of the Republican party for agreeing with liberals on issues of great impact.  Campaign finance is an issue of great impact, but campaign finance legislation makes peoples’ eyes glass over.  As such, expect some terse, lockstep messaging–the GOP’s specialty when communicating to its constituency–coming from on high.  “Corporate Personhood” and “Money is Speech” can and likely will be enthusiastically absorbed into the Republican voters’ canon within months.  Do not count on this “strong reservoir” of bipartisan disagreement with the Court’s decision to last.
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