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Poll: 61 percent say it's inappropriate for corporations to engage in political speech

A majority of voters believe it's inappropriate for corporations to engage in political speech, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds.

Sixty-one percent of registered voters in the April 16-19 survey said it is not appropriate for corporations to engage in political speech.

By contrast, 39 percent said it is appropriate. 

Seventy-four percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents oppose political speech from corporations while 55 percent of Democrats say it is appropriate.

Earlier this month, business leaders reportedly met to discuss opposition against legislation being considered in state legislatures across the country that would tighten voting laws.

Companies such as Coca-Cola and Delta spoke out against Georgia's recently passed voting law while Major League Baseball said that it was pulling the league’s All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest of the bill.

"Voters want corporations to be ‘responsible social citizens’ and have a broader definition of their purpose than simply maximizing shareholder returns. At the same time, they also don’t want the businesses they purchase services and goods from to evangelize or proselytize about politics, and would prefer if most companies stayed out of politics. That is why 61 percent in our poll say it is not appropriate for corporations to engage in political speech," Dritan Nesho, CEO and chief pollster at HarrisX, told Hill.TV.

"This sets up internal and external pressures that are difficult to manage for business leaders. The easy answer to the question of ‘Should I be politically active?’ is ‘No. Stay out of politics’. The more complicated path, chosen by corporations like Nike, shows that when your consumer base is of a certain profile and wants you to engage, the benefits can outweigh the risks. Diligent research as to what your current and future consumers want is a must in both cases," Nesho added.

The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 2,881 registered voters. It has a margin of error of 1.83 percentage points.

Gabriela Schulte