Poll: Actually, Voters DO Hate Anonymous Outside Spending

October 26, 2010 4:38 pm ET — Alan Pyke

With donors cloaked in anonymity, it's difficult to know who paid for the 100,000+ ads that right wing groups have run so far this season. It doesn't take much imagination to see that a Republican victory next week would give some very wealthy, very secretive people a big influence over our government.

It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that a huge majority of Americans have serious concerns about the anonymous money pouring in from outside their congressional districts. In this month's NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, seven out of ten registered voters expressed concern about outside spending:

The key takeaway number here is that 71 percent of registered voters are concerned that "a candidate who is helped" by groups like the Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and the Rove-inspired money mills "could be beholden to their interests." And we don't know what those interests are, because they won't tell us where they get their money.

Voters' concerns make perfect sense given the scope of the problem:

  • Independent spending groups have already dumped more than a quarter-billion dollars into this year's midterm elections, with the busiest week of the campaign still ahead. Right wing groups are outpacing liberal ones at a 2-to-1 clip, and some reports claim the numbers are even more skewed.
  • Unions spend big on elections too, but we know where that money comes from: working families making voluntary contributions to labor PACs. Dues money is being used on politics in the wake of Citizens United, but union members can prohibit their own dues from being used for those purposes by writing a letter.

The next time you see someone like Ed Gillespie claim that "most voters care absolutely nothing about" anonymous money infiltrating our democracy, tell him he's wrong, and point to the polling.