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Citizens United Ruling Loathed Across Political Spectrum

The Washington Post finds that Republicans and Democrats alike oppose the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case that opens up elections to corporate funding.

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.

You have the makings of a liberal wedge issue here, and it could be used in a maximalist way to try and get rid of corporate influence in elections, rather than just patch the consequences of the Supreme Court ruling. The Schumer/Van Hollen outline consists of disclosure and transparency, along with some targeted banning from funding of foreign subsidiaries or government contractors. These are all good ideas, but ultimately a more expansive and comprehensive approach, like public financing, would get at the root of the problem. And the public, which is clearly reviled by the Citizens United ruling, could be receptive to such an approach.

When you see some of the wealthiest donors in America call for what amounts to a public financing system, you can envision a larger movement that leverages the anger over Citizens United into finding a better way to fund elections. A harbinger of this will be seen in California in June, where Proposition 15 would install a public financing pilot project in the nation’s largest state for future Secretary of State elections.

Regardless of what policies get forwarded, these numbers show that any effort to roll back Citizens United will carry widespread public support, and put Republicans who oppose it on the side of giant corporations who want to buy elections. That’s a valuable dichotomy, especially in this political environment.

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David Dayen

David Dayen