Poll: Public agrees with principles of campaign finance decision

A poll released Friday showed that a majority of people agree with the principle of the Supreme Court decision handed down Thursday that lifted limits on corporate spending on politics.

57 percent of those surveyed by Gallup agreed that money given to political candidates is a form of free speech and 55 percent agreed that the same altrules should apply to individuals, corporations and unions.

In a 5-4 decision in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court knocked down sections of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that placed restrictions on corporate contributions to political campaigns.

The survey, however, was taken between Oct. 1-2, 2009, months before the Court issued its decision. 

Likewise, Gallup analysts said that the poll did not conclusively mean the public agrees with Citizens United.

"Does the ruling square with Americans' views on campaign contribution limits? In some respects, yes. In others, it depends on whether Americans decide that independent expenditures are tantamount to political 'contributions' or are merely free speech," they wrote.

Those surveyed aligned themselves with the majority of Republicans who lauded the decision, saying that it promoted the free speech rights of corporations and that it could allow political parties to spend more money.

Democrats and some Republicans opposed the move. Democrats spent the latter half of the week pushing legislation to limit the impact of the decision.

But 64 percent of Democrats surveyed in the poll said they believed campaign donations are a form of free speech. 64 percent of Republicans agreed with that sentiment.