PACs, Big Companies, Lobbyists, and Banks and Financial Institutions Seen by Strong Majorities as Having Too Much Power and Influence in DC Small business and public opinion seen as having too little

NEW YORK, May 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- When one thinks about how Washington, D.C. works, certain groups are always seen as being too powerful and wielding too much influence whether in the halls of Congress or the White House. Almost nine in ten Americans say that political action committees or PACs (88%) and big companies (86%) have too much power and influence in Washington, D.C. More than four in five U.S. adults believe political lobbyists (85%), and banks and financial institutions (81%) carry too much influence inside the Beltway while almost three-quarters believe the news media (73%) has too much power.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100517/NY06256LOGO )

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 1,016 adults surveyed by telephone between April 10 and 17, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Two-thirds of Americans say entertainment and sports celebrities (67%) have too much power and influence and more than two in five say the same about television and radio talk shows (65%) and trial lawyers (62%). Majorities believe this about trade associations (57%) and labor unions (56%).

At the other end of the spectrum, nine in ten Americans (90%) say that small business has too little power and influence in Washington, D.C., while 78% say the same about public opinion and 64% believe this about non-profit organizations. Just over half of U.S. adults say that racial minorities (56%) have too little power.

Two things fall in the middle. Just under half say churches and religious groups (48%) and opinion polls (47%) have too little power and influence while two in five say churches and religious groups (41%) and opinion polls (40%) have too much.

Changes over time

There have been some changes from both last year and over time. Some of the largest shifts from 1994 when this question was first asked are:

  • A fourteen point increase, from 51% to 65%, in those who believe TV and radio talk shows have too much power;
  • A ten point increase, from 46% to 56%, in those who say labor unions have too much power; and,
  • A six point decrease, from 79% to 73%, in those who say the news media has too much power.

Some of the largest changes since last year are:

  • A twelve point increase, from 53% to 65%, in those who believe TV and radio talk shows have too much power;
  • A five point increase, from 62% to 67%, in those who believe entertainment and sports celebrities have too little power;
  • A five point decrease, from 40% to 35%, in those who say labor unions have too much power; and,
  • A four point decrease, from 85% to 81%, in those who say banks and financial institutions have too little power.

Partisan differences
Surprisingly, there are actually some issues where, even in this election year, Republicans, Democrats and Independents tend to agree. Over four in five of all three groups believe that PACs (91%, 85% and 91%, respectively), big companies (86%, 84%, and 87%, respectively), and political lobbyists (91%, 81%, and 87%, respectively) have too much power and influence in Washington, D.C. and around four in five think the same about banks and financial institutions (79%, 83%, 84%, respectively). Less than one in ten of all three parties think small business has too much power and influence in D.C. (6%, 4%, and 3%, respectively).

However, there are also some large differences. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to believe that labor unions have too much power (79% vs. 35%). They are also more likely to think that racial minorities (47% vs. 19%), trial lawyers (75% vs. 49%), non-profit organizations (33% vs. 14%), and entertainment and sports celebrities (79% vs. 61%) have too much power.

Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely than Republicans to think churches and religious organizations (49% vs. 25%) have too much power.

So what?
The perception of business in this country is one that has always been split. For years, big business has been at or near the top of this list, being perceived as wielding too much power, while small business, seen as having too little, has sat at the bottom of the list. This is why the issue of large Wall Street bonuses and tax breaks for big companies will never sit well with Americans and why railing against big business is an effective campaign tactic for politicians.  The other rallying cry will be heard against PACs and lobbyists – two groups that are always seen with derision outside of the Beltway. And, in this election year, the rise of the Super-PAC makes this an even easier group for both sides to campaign against.

TABLE 1
GROUPS SEEN AS HAVING TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE POWER AND INFLUENCE IN WASHINGTON

"And now a question about the power of different groups in influencing government policy, politicians, and policy makers in Washington. Do you think (READ EACH ITEM) have/has too much or too little power and influence in Washington?"

                Base: All Adults


Too

Much

Too

Little

About Right

Not Sure/

Refused

%

%

%

%

Political action committees which give money to political candidates

88

7

3

1

Big companies

86

9

3

2

Political lobbyists

85

10

2

3

Banks and financial institutions

81

11

4

3

The news media

73

19

5

3

Entertainment and Sports celebrities

67

20

7

6

TV and radio talk shows

65

24

7

4

Trial lawyers

62

24

6

8

Trade associations

57

27

6

10

Labor unions

56

35

5

4

Churches & religious groups

41

48

8

3

Opinion Polls

40

47

9

5

Racial minorities

32

56

7

5

Non-profit organizations

24

64

6

5

Public opinion

14

78

5

3

Small business

4

90

4

2

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding.


TABLE 2
GROUPS SEEN AS HAVING TOO MUCH POWER - TRENDS 1994-2012

"And now a question about the power of different groups in influencing government policy, politicians, and policy makers in Washington. Do you think (READ EACH ITEM) have/has too much or too little power and influence in Washington?"

Percent saying "too much"

                       Base: All Adults


1994

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004


%

%

%

%

%

%

%


Political action committees which give money to political candidates

88

83

83

83

83

78

81

Big companies

86

82

84

86

87

80

83

Political lobbyists

79

75

74

71

70

69

72

Banks and financial institutions

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

The news media

79

81

77

77

72

72

71

Entertainment and Sports Celebrities

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

TV and radio talk shows

51

54

54

57

47

54

54

Trial lawyers

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Trade Associations

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Labor unions

46

42

39

44

46

45

48

Churches & religious groups

n/a

n/a

27

28

31

27

32

Opinion Polls

37

36

35

38

33

33

36

Racial minorities

38

31

32

30

27

20

31

Non-profit organizations

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Public opinion

14

21

15

14

15

19

18

Small business

4

3

5

5

5

4

5

 


2005

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Change

Since 1994

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Political action committees which give money to political candidates

85

85

83

85

83

87

88

0

Big companies

90

84

86

85

87

88

86

0

Political lobbyists

74

79

80

81

83

84

85

+6

Banks and financial institutions

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

83

85

81

n/a

The news media

68

71

74

75

66

72

73

-6

Entertainment and Sports Celebrities

n/a

n/a

69

70

61

62

67

n/a

TV and radio talk shows

51

54

57

59

55

53

65

+14

Trial lawyers

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

60

58

62

n/a

Trade Associations

61

52

57

55

57

61

57

n/a

Labor unions

43

47

51

54

57

55

56

+10

Churches & religious groups

35

38

40

34

35

42

41

n/a

Opinion Polls

33

38

44

38

31

37

40

+3

Racial minorities

28

32

33

33

32

35

32

-6

Non-profit organizations

23

18

23

19

21

27

24

n/a

Public opinion

16

17

20

18

13

13

14

0

Small business

4

6

4

5

4

5

4

0


TABLE 3
GROUPS SEEN AS HAVING TOO LITTLE POWER - TRENDS 1994-2012

"And now a question about the power of different groups in influencing government policy, politicians, and policy makers in Washington. Do you think (READ EACH ITEM) have/has too much or too little power and influence in Washington?"

Percent saying "too little"

                         Base: All Adults


1994

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Political action committees which give money to political candidates

8

8

7

6

7

12

11

Big companies

9

8

6

6

5

10

9

Political lobbyists

13

12

12

13

11

15

16

Banks and financial institutions

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

The news media

13

9

8

10

14

17

18

Entertainment and Sports Celebrities

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

TV and radio talk shows

37

29

24

23

29

29

28

Trial lawyers

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Trade Associations

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Labor unions

43

41

40

37

35

37

37

Churches & religious groups

n/a

n/a

52

56

51

53

53

Opinion Polls

52

49

44

41

49

48

47

Racial minorities

51

52

50

51

51

59

54

Non-profit organizations

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Public opinion

82

74

74

73

75

69

72

Small business

92

85

85

88

87

88

88

 


2005

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Change

Since 1994

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Political action committees which give money to political candidates

10

11

9

9

11

7

7

-1

Big companies

5

11

8

10

9

9

9

0

Political lobbyists

17

14

13

14

11

12

10

-3

Banks and financial institutions

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

9

10

11

n/a

The news media

23

20

17

18

23

20

19

+6

Entertainment and Sports Celebrities

n/a

n/a

20

20

24

27

20

n/a

TV and radio talk shows

34

31

32

29

33

36

24

-13

Trial lawyers

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

24

28

24

n/a

Trade Associations

22

28

24

30

24

24

27

n/a

Labor unions

46

42

39

40

34

40

35

-8

Churches & religious groups

55

51

52

57

54

49

48

n/a

Opinion Polls

53

49

46

51

55

53

47

-5

Racial minorities

58

54

51

53

52

53

56

+5

Non-profit organizations

67

68

65

71

67

65

64

n/a

Public opinion

78

74

74

76

82

82

78

-4

Small business

92

90

90

90

93

91

90

-2

TABLE 4
GROUPS SEEN AS HAVING TOO MUCH POWER – BY PARTY ID

"And now a question about the power of different groups in influencing government policy, politicians, and policy makers in Washington. Do you think (READ EACH ITEM) have/has too much or too little power and influence in Washington?"

Percent saying "too much"

      Base: All Adults


Total

Party ID

Difference between

Republicans and Democrats

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

Political action committees which give money to political candidates

88

91

85

91

+6

Big companies

86

86

84

87

+2

Political lobbyists

85

91

81

87

+10

Banks and financial institutions

81

79

83

84

-4

The news media

73

82

66

72

+16

Entertainment and Sports Celebrities

67

79

61

62

+18

TV and radio talk shows

65

65

68

60

-3

Trial lawyers

62

75

49

70

+26

Trade Associations

57

60

53

61

+7

Labor unions

56

79

35

61

+44

Churches & religious groups

41

25

49

45

-24

Opinion Polls

40

48

33

43

+15

Racial minorities

32

47

19

38

+28

Non-profit organizations

42

33

14

25

+19

Public opinion

14

15

13

14

+2

Small business

4

6

4

3

-2

   *Signifies less than 1%

Methodology
The Harris Poll® was conducted by telephone within the United States between April 10 and 17, 2012 among a nationwide cross section of 1,016 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, size of place (urbanicity), and number of phone lines voice/telephone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling are subject to, multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.  Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading.  All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J41437
Q805

The Harris Poll® #45, May 29, 2012
By Regina Corso, SVP, Harris Poll Insights, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom and multi-client market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment.  Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of global partners, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.net

SOURCE Harris Interactive



RELATED LINKS
http://www.harrisinteractive.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/TheHarrisInteractive
http://twitter.com/harrispoll
http://twitter.com/harrisint
http://www.facebook.com/HarrisPoll
http://www.facebook.com/harrisinteractive?ref=share

More by this Source


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

 

PR Newswire Membership

Fill out a PR Newswire membership form or contact us at (888) 776-0942.

Learn about PR Newswire services

Request more information about PR Newswire products and services or call us at (888) 776-0942.