CNN Poll: Two-thirds say elections are usually for sale
June 9th, 2011
11:45 AM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll: Two-thirds say elections are usually for sale

Washington (CNN)- Most Americans are cynical about the effect of money on politics in the U.S., and that cynicism is significantly higher than it was in the 1990s, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday indicates that 86 percent of the public thinks elected officials in the nation's capital are mostly influenced by the pressure they receive from campaign contributors.

Read the full results (pdf).

"Back in 1997, that figure was 77 percent, pretty high, but not as bad as the current numbers," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Only one in eight believe today that Washington officials are mostly concerned about what is best for the country."

The survey indicates that two-thirds say elections are usually for sale to the candidate who can raise the most money, with less than one in three saying that elections are generally won by the best candidate. In 1997, 59 percent felt that elections were generally for sale to the candidate with the most cash.

But are these problems worse today than in the past?

"Roughly half say they are, but just as many feel that the problems with campaigns today are no worse than in the past," adds Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted June 3 through June 7, with 1,015 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

– On Monday, June 13, CNN will host the first New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, live from Manchester, NH at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on CNNPolitics.com and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.


Filed under: CNN poll
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. bill

    Surprised the number is that low.

    June 9, 2011 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. Bubba

    An honest politician is one who STAYS BOUGHT.

    June 9, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. deb

    Money buys power! Example: The new govenor of Florida was elected by money only? The mans Billion dollar Healthcare Corp.(which he was CEO of) was fined Millions for Fraudulent "Over Billing American Tax Payers Medicare???? He,s the Govenor of Florida,and his pockets are lined with millions of Tax Payers Money??? Thats a perfect example of why "Americans are mad as hell? Now the repubs want to take all of our Social Security? I can,t make sense of it all????? WOW

    June 9, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Welcome to plutocracy. Please pass the cake.

    June 9, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    The "Citizens' United" spells doom to the voices and best interests of the average American. Only the most liberal interpretation of The Constitution by the most conservative jurists was used as the rationale to grant companies the same rights of citizens.

    June 9, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. Democrat Swamp Inspector - Help Wanted, Now Hiring, Overtime Possibilities

    Obama spent nearly a BILLION in 2008 and will spend more in 2012. He lied when he said he'd take public funding then reneged. He is the poster child for Bought and Paid for.

    June 9, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. EatRunDive

    Elections may USUALLY be for sale, but politicians ALWAYS are.

    June 9, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. Pam

    Of course elections are bought! How else would GW Bush have gotten re-elected?
    Even JFK had his win bought and paid for by his daddy (along with the Mafia ties)

    June 9, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  9. Four and The Door

    deb
    ... Thats a perfect example of why "Americans are mad as hell? Now the repubs want to take all of our Social Security? I can,t make sense of it all?????
    __________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Medicare fraud is a huge ( $ billions/ year ) industry. That's on top of it being a totally inefficient bureaucratic mess to start with. But the only one stepping up to fix it and SAVE it is Paul Ryan, a Republican. Why are the Democrats missing in action on this problem? They are nowhere to be found, except supporting a very poorly executed program and offering no support to the American taxpayer. With their lack of management, all entitlements are in jeopardy.

    June 9, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. New England Independent

    When will we act upon our opinions and get rid of all the politicians in our national, state, and local goverments that we claim are on the take of the lobbyists, PACs, etc...I'm surprised the survey numbers are that high. And it's both sides of the aisle that take money. We were warned about this and we let it happen.

    June 9, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. concerned liberal

    This is just another on the list of things Obama did NOT Change. His corporate donations included big finance and fat cats.
    Why do you think he broke his promise on tax cuts for the rich. They are laughing at us behind closed doors.

    Vote 3rd party next time for a change. A real change.

    June 9, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "That's on top of it being a totally inefficient bureaucratic mess to start with."

    Really? Medicare is inefficient? Medicare runs with a 1.5% to 3.0% overhead, depending on the study you look at. If that's inefficient, please tell the class what that makes the private insurance industry that is flipping out because the ACA limits them to 20% overhead (i.e., they currently are running with overheads much larger than that...7-8 figure salaries and all, you know...after all, we can't have CEO's making decisions about whether to rescind our insurance contracts when we get sick if they're not nice and comfortable on a goilden toilet for the "thinking" process).

    June 9, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "Why are the Democrats missing in action on this problem?"

    They're not. Medicare is NOT broken. Medicare is fine. The problem is the underlying health care industry and its skyrocketing costs, not the organizational or benefits structure of Medicare. Other than tightening up the fraud issue, which represents approximately 10%-12% of Medicare's annual budget, and can certainly be brought under more control...but it should be noted that that percentage is lower than the fraud rate int he private insurance market. Ryan's CouponCare plan does NOTHING to contain costs and force them not to continue at the same pace they are currently rising. Moreover, the coupons it provides increase at a rate that is slower than the increasing rate of health care costs. Yeah, it's a dwindling attenuation of the help people would receive from the government...all to appease the private health insurance monster and give the rich more tax breaks.

    June 9, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Democrat Swamp Inspector - Help Wanted, Now Hiring, Overtime Possibilities

    The "Citizens' United" spells doom to the voices and best interests of the average American. Only the most liberal interpretation of The Constitution by the most conservative jurists was used as the rationale to grant companies the same rights of citizens.
    =================================================================================================
    Companies are comprised of people and those people have interests. If companies can't contribute then unions can't as well as other "non-people" according to you. Why do libtards always try to silence those that oppose them? Seems rather fascist to me.

    June 9, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Only one in eight believe today that Washington officials are mostly concerned about what is best for the country."

    I would further state that only one in eight actually follow their elected officials voting records AFTER they are elected. Or actually research the media driven campaign rhetoric ... lobbyist talking point comments spouting lies and innuendo comes to mind. Strange that in this day and age of computer research advances, ALL of the GOPer candidates have no qualms about lying and misleading. Indeed, they seem proud of their lies. Nearly as proud as the uninformed who are either too lazy or too unwilling to think for themselves, and continue to give credence to the lies by repeating verbatim that which they absolutely know to be false ... for no other reason than the benefit of their political party allegiances.

    June 9, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. Oregon Calling

    We need to come together as a country and PUSH for campaign finance reform and we need to have the fairness doctrine reinstated. Thanks just my opinion.

    Peace :-)

    June 9, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. vic , nashville ,tn

    Yes who raise more money win the race

    Yes who gave empty promises win the race

    Weiner call the media and lie he won’t resign he will win the election his seat is safe

    David Vitter went to DC to meet “DC Madam” didn’t resign he won the election his seat was safe

    June 9, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. The Other Michael in Houston

    Wow what insight CNN! Of course elections are bought. Every politician who has ever won anything, Federal level, State Level, and City level won on corrupt dirty money, filtered in by some special interest group. It has always been that way. Who cares though, us 80 million who voted for President Obama in 2008 will be there again in 2012, well add another 10 million for those that were not old enough to vote in 2008. Oh by the way Republican Jihadist, would it be too much to ask you Amir Sarah to stop trying to rewrite history. "Her daughter stated to her that George Washington must have been real busy, taking care of his farm while being President", no idiot he had slaves for that, moron. All men are created equal my a–!

    June 9, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  19. Rexben

    Surprise, surprise. Now how do we get our country back from corporations and lobbyists? We need common people to run like me. Normal every day people that don't take money from special interests and figure out a way to get elected without massive funding. I believe it can be done and I'm going to fight to replace my representative.

    June 9, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |