Lobbyists have too much power - unloved by Americans
Legislative Elthics Newsletter
On March 20 and 21, Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C. surveyed 700 Wisconsin voters on a variety of candidates and political questions. One of the questions asked the voters’ opinion of the people who lobby the members of the U.S. Congress. It was asked as follows:
Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Washington lobbyists?
The margin of error for the survey is +/-3.7%. Full details of the poll are available at:
The Wisconsin results are similar to national polling done by Gallup since 2007. In Gallup’s Honesty and Ethics of professions survey, nurses consistently rank at the top of the list, and pharmacists, medical doctors, police, and engineers are likewise well-regarded for their honesty and ethics. Dentists, teachers, and members of the clergy also get high marks from at least half of Americans.
At the other end of the spectrum are lobbyists, advertising practitioners, telemarketers, and car salesmen, all of whom are considered to have low or very low honesty and ethics by a majority of Americans. In 2007, the first year in which Gallup included lobbyists in the Honesty and Ethics survey, each of those occupations received support from less than 10 percent of the poll’s respondents.
According to Business Wire, a recent Harris Poll finds that a large majority of Americans (81%) believe lobbyists have too much power in influencing government. Lobbyists rank just behind “big companies and political action committees (PACs),” which 85 percent of Americans believe have too much power and influence in Washington, D.C.
The news media (75%) and entertainment and sports celebrities (70%) round out the top five of groups the public believes have too much power. According to the Harris Poll, 90 percent of Americans believe that small business has too little power and influence. Large majorities also believe public opinion and nonprofit organizations have too little power and influence.
Business Wire states that since the Harris Poll began asking these questions 15 years ago, the rank order of interests, in terms of their perceived power and influence, has not changed very much. Big companies, PACs and political lobbyists have always topped the list of the too powerful; small business, public opinion and nonprofit organizations have always headed the list of those having “too little power and influence.”
Republicans, Democrats and Independents tend to agree on some groups related to their power and influence in Washington and disagree about others. Over 80 percent of all three believe that big business and PACs have too much power and influence. Furthermore, similar numbers of Republicans and Democrats believe TV and radio talk shows (60% and 64% respectively) have too much power and influence. Only four or five percent of all three party groups think small business has too much power and influence in D.C.
Business Wire says “the foundation of America may be business but the distrust of big business is pervasive. However, it may be worth noting, hostility to big business is no higher than it was over the last three years. The economic crisis has had a big impact on how people see banks but not, it seems, what they think of business in general.”
Results of the Gallup and Harris Polls are based on telephone interviews with 1,010 national adults. The Gallup polls are available at http://www.gallup.com/Home.aspx The Harris Poll is available at www.harrisinteractive.com