Poll: Utahns Want Campaign Finance Limits

More than two-thirds of Utahns want some kind of campaign contribution limits in state elections, a new poll finds.

Tuesday afternoon one of several campaign contribution limit bill hits a House committee.

House Minority Leader Brian King’s measure, however, failed to pass in a 2014 interim study committee.

Now he’ll try again in the general session. You can read HB60 here.

A new Dan Jones & Associates poll finds that 69 percent of Utah registered voters favor some kind of campaign donation limits.

Only 15 percent oppose such a measure; 14 percent were “neutral,” meaning they didn’t favor or oppose it; and 1 percent didn’t know.

Jones conducted the poll from Dec. 22 to Jan. 10 of 715 registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.66 percent.

Jones didn’t give specific donation limits in his question, just asked if the respondent favor or opposed the idea of such limits.

King’s bill would limit legislative candidate donations to $5,000 and donations to statewide campaigns, like the governor, to $10,000 per person or group – like a Political Action Committee (PAC).

Legislative candidates rarely get $5,000 donations – although it has happened.

Incumbent governors however, routinely get donations in excess of $10,000 a pop.

Besides King’s bill there may be several other campaign donation limitation bills introduced this session.

Legislators, however, over the years have constantly refused to place any kind of campaign donation limits on their own races, much less the governor’s.

King, D-Salt Lake, says Utah is one of only four states that have no campaign donation limits in state races.

Several Utah cities and counties have, on their own, passed ordinances that limit donations in their municipal and county races.

No matter how Jones breaks out the responses according to respondents’ demographics, a majority still support campaign donation limits.

Some examples:

— Republican rank-and-file support campaign donation limits, 61-20 percent, 19 percent neutral.

— Democrats support limits, 91-4 percent, 5 percent neutral.

— Political independents support limits, 77-10 percent, 13 percent neutral.

— Those who say they are “very conservative” politically support limits, 55-25 percent, 20 percent neutral.

— As respondents’ political philosophy moves further to the left, there is even more support for contribution limits – “somewhat conservative” 68-13 percent and “moderates,” 76-12 percent.

There are 104 legislators, and Jones can’t poll in individual House and Senate districts.

However, by far most legislators live in, and represent, districts located along the Wasatch Front.

Geographically speaking, here is what Jones found:

— In Salt Lake County, 71 percent of voters support campaign donation limits, only 14 percent oppose and 14 percent were neutral.

— In conservative Utah County, 61 percent of voters want limits, 22 percent oppose and 16 percent were neutral.

— In Davis County, limits were favored, 71-10 percent, with 18 percent neutral.

— In Weber County, voters liked limits, 74-12 percent, with 12 percent neutral.

— And in the rest of the state, limits were favored 72-15 percent with 12 percent neutral.

While there could be pockets of voters who oppose campaign donation limits in parts of their county as a whole, one has to wonder if any House or Senate district would be greatly different than a large urban county.

Thus, it is safe to say, that if you are a House or Senate member representing part of Weber County – for example – three-out-four of your constituents want some kind of dollar limits put on donations to your campaign.

Will House and Senate members vote their own political interests over the wishes of their constituents on this matter?

Keep tuned into UtahPolicy to find out.