Poll: Majority of likely voters support consumer bureau mission

Roughly three-fourths of likely 2018 voters support the existence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and more than half are concerned about Republican efforts to restrain it, according to poll results shared Thursday with The Hill. 

The poll commissioned by Americans for Financial Reform and the Center for Responsible Lending, nonprofits that support vigorous financial sector regulation, surveyed 1,000 registered voters who said they plan to vote in the upcoming midterm elections.

The results found broad support for the CFPB’s historically aggressive oversight coupled with opposition to changes implemented or proposed by Acting Director Mick Mulvaney to ease the bureau’s strain on banks and lenders.

The survey, conducted by polling firms Lake Research Partners and Chesapeake Beach Consulting found widespread support for the CFPB, a stark contrast from its polarizing presence in Washington. The poll’s results were broken down by U.S. region — Northeast, Midwest, South and West—and respondents from each area held similar levels of support for the CFPB’s purpose.

Three-fourths of respondents from the Northeast, Midwest and West and 69 percent of likely voters from the South said they favored the CFPB’s mission, described in the poll as “preventing deceptive, unfair and abusive lending and collection practices by banks and other companies.”

The CFPB was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law to police the financial services industry for predatory lending and abusive treatment of consumers. The agency has been the focus of an intense partisan battle since it opened in 2012.

Republicans and financial sector advocates have said the CFPB and its former director, Richard Cordray, abused its immense power to strangle banks and lenders. Democrats and bank skeptics say the CFPB is an essential watchdog protecting consumers from shady practices.

Mulvaney, who also serves as Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director, has delayed or scrapped key CFPB regulations, cut the bureau’s funding and pulled back its crackdowns on banks and lenders suspected of wrongdoing.

More than 60 percent of respondents to the poll in each region said the CFPB should maintain strict regulations for financial products, while between 22 percent and 28 percent said they agreed that the bureau has become “an unaccountable bureaucracy.”

Majorities from each region also expressed concern with Mulvaney’s proposed efforts to make private a public database of consumer complaints to the bureau, loosen a rule regulating payday lenders, and reorganize the CFPB office handling student loan issues.

The poll comes a week before the Senate Banking Committee is expected to vote on the nomination of Kathy Kraninger to be the CFPB’s full-time director. An associate director at OMB, Kraninger is expected to continue Mulvaney’s efforts to scale back bureau oversight and regulation.

Democrats all of stripes are largely united against Kraninger’s nomination, but she’s likely to be confirmed with unanimous support from the Senate’s slim Republican majority.

Updated on Aug. 10 at 8:45 a.m. 

Tags Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney poll Richard Cordray

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