Dan Eggen at the Washington Post wrote a completely pro-Democrat and pro-statist piece called "Poll: Large majority opposes Supreme Court's decision on campaign financing," a report on a Washington Post-ABC News poll regarding the recent Citizens United v. FEC ruling, disguising it as a news article. It is claimed that as many as 85% of Democrats, 81% of independents, and, shockingly, 76% of Republicans oppose the ruling. But is it true?
If you read the whole of Eggen's "news" article, you'll notice what is missing: the question or questions that were asked.
Here are the claims from Eggen's piece:
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.More:
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 new poll, however, suggests there may be political risks for the GOP in opposing limits that appear to be favored by the party's base.Pretty amazing stuff, if it can be believed. As noted at the end:
Nearly three-quarters of self-identified conservative Republicans say they oppose the Supreme Court ruling, with most of them strongly opposed. Some two-thirds of conservative Republicans favor congressional efforts to limit corporate and union spending, though with less enthusiasm than liberal Democrats.
The questions on corporate political spending were included as part of a poll conducted Feb. 4 to 8 by conventional and cellular telephone. The margin of sampling error for the for the full poll of 1,004 randomly selected adults is plus or minus three percentage points.The poll Eggen is referring to is here. It looks fairly comprehensive, covering a wide variety of subjects. However, there are some quirks I found. One, there is no question 12. Nowhere. I did a Ctrl+F find of the number 12; although the number shows up repeatedly, it doesn't show up as a question number, so there is no way to know if there was a twelfth question or if there was, what was asked.
But it gets better. Reading through the questions asked, there is no mention of the ruling anywhere. However, these did show up: "Questions 35 and 36 held for future release."; and, "Questions 41-43 held for future release." Methinks somewhere amongst these questions "held for future release" are the ones related to the Citizens United v. FEC ruling. So all we are left with is Eggen's view.
About the only hint we get of what was asked is this:
In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the high court ruled 5-4 that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to political speech and can therefore use their profits to support or oppose individual candidates. The decision appears to open the door to unlimited spending by corporations, trade groups and unions in the weeks leading up to an election, which has been explicitly banned for decades.Of course, this is ridiculous. Eggen's employer, the Washington Post, is a corporation. The owners of ABC, CBS, and NBC are multi-national conglomerates, engaged in different businesses along with their media parts. All of these corporations engage in the free speech rights every American enjoys. So how is it that the government can say these corporations can spend money, even indirectly, endorsing candidates but not other corporations? The right answer is the government can't. Which is what Citizens United affirmed. Not only that, the unlimited spending by corporations, trade groups and unions was already in place, except that it wasn't one bit transparent as these entities could, essentially, launder campaign finance money through other entities, namely political action committees (PACs).
Based on this, I suspect the missing questions related to the Citizens United ruling were completely misleading, something not unheard of in polls conducted by Democratic and statist "spokesmouths" amongst the lame-stream media, like those at the Washington Post and ABC News.
It'll be interesting to see what the poll actually asked once they are released, and then rip into them. Until then, all we have are completely biased opinion pieces masquerading as "news".
UPDATE: Turns out I was right.
CATO found the questions that WaPo had originally held in reserve. They are:
Changing topics, do you support or oppose the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that says corporations and unions can spend as much money as they want to help political candidates win elections? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?With all the populist anti-corporation rhetoric flying around from everywhere, including from some conservatives, it makes sense that most people would answer negatively. Sean Parnell at the Center for Competitive Politics has an excellent explanation on how misleading these questions were. CCP also highlights another poll from some group called Argus that showed 41% of people had never heard of the ruling, with another 27% saying they hadn't followed it closely. CCP also added this:
Would you support or oppose an effort by Congress to reinstate limits on corporate and union spending on election campaigns? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
(In light of this data, it's hard to believe that only 2 percent of respondents in the Washington Post-ABC News poll had no opinion of the ruling).Lawyer William McGinley suspects the polling results were driven by the phrasing of the questions. He follows up with questions that would have been more pertinent:
* Do you believe that the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment are a core American value?I have no doubt the results would be far different.
* Do you believe that the government has the authority to ban books containing campaign speech as argued by the federal government before the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case? Should the federal government be permitted to impose criminal or civil penalties for simply engaging in political speech?
* Should the federal campaign finance laws be designed to silence critics of incumbent Members of Congress and the Administration? Do you believe that the ability to criticize the government and its actions is protected by the First Amendment?
* Did you know that an overwhelming number of corporations in the United States are small businesses? Did you know that most jobs are created by small businesses? In this jobless recession, should the business community be permitted to express its political views regarding the economic policies of the Administration and Members of Congress and the government officials who formulate the policies?
As expected, the lefties at HuffPo, the Democratic Strategist, Talking Points Memo, and TalkLeft are having a field day with this, touting it as a way for Democrats to regain some electoral momentum. Naturally, they are engaging in the demagoguery on this just as Teh Won did during his SOTU. But of course, we are talking about those who believe in the "Fairness of Speech" (that is, how leftists define fairness) in the "living" United States Constitution that doesn't actually exist, not the Freedom of Speech that is in the real United States Constitution.
(Hat tip: Memeorandum)