As Donorgate unfolds, the campaign finance system is drawing the ire even of its biggest patrons. In the 1996 election, 70% of executives contributed an average of $3,278 apiece. Now, almost as many say the rules need an overhaul. Some 68% favor ending unlimited soft-money contributions, and many support stricter disclosure requirements. In part, execs want more bang for their bucks. But they also may simply be sick of solicitations: Three-quarters say pressure to give has intensified.
As a bonus for our online readers, we're presenting here the complete results of the Business Week/Harris Executive Poll that appears in a condensed version in the March 31, 1997 issue.
In light of allegations surrounding the Clinton Administration's fund-raising tactics, which of the following statements comes closest to your views about the current system of financing political campaigns?
The system is basically sound and 2%
there is no need to change anything
The system requires only modest reforms 29%
needed to curb occasional abuses
The system is broken and is in need 68%
of fundamental reform
Don't know 1%
WHITE HOUSE TEAS
Do you think it is appropriate or inappropriate for a president--any President--to meet with major campaign contributors at the White House?
Don't know 3%
HOW TO REFORM
Do you favor or oppose...
FAVOR OPPOSE DON'T KNOW
Increasing the $1,000 limit on 61% 37% 2%
how much money individuals can
give to candidates, while imposing
stricter disclosure requirements
Increasing the $5,000 limit on 25% 74% 1%
how much money political action
committees of corporations, labor
unions, and other special interest
groups can give
Eliminating PAC contributions 33% 63% 4%
Ending unlimited "soft money" 68% 30% 2%
contributions to political
parties by corporations and other
Encouraging individual giving 49% 49% 2%
through tax credits for contributions
Replacing private giving with 37% 60% 3%
financing of campaigns
Requiring TV and radio stations 56% 43% 1%
to provide candidates free air time
Did you contribute money in 1996 to a political campaign, or not?
Contributed money in 1996 70%
Did not contribute money in 1996 30%
Don't know 0%
...AND HOW MUCH
Approximately, how much did you contribute?
$25-$250 18% $251-$500 19% $501-$1,000 18% $1,001-$4,000 22% $4,001+ 13%
In 1996 did your company make any soft-money contributions to either political party, or not?
Contributed money in 1996 18%
Did not contribute money in 1996 59%
Don't know/refused 23%
...AND THEIR GIFTS
Approximately, how much did your company contribute?
Less than $100,000 31%
Don't know/Refused 47%
REASONS TO WRITE THE CHECKS
For each of the following, please tell whether this is a major reason, a minor reason, or not a reason at all why you or your company makes political contributions.
Major Minor Not a Don't
reason reason reason Know
Making political contributions is my way 59% 33% 7% 1%
way of supporting the democratic process
I have strong political views and want to 64% 26% 8% 2%
support a political party and candidates
who share my convictions
My company and I hope to gain access to 50% 27% 19% 4%
politicians so we can gain fair consideration
on issues affecting our business
My company and I hope to get preferential 17% 34% 44% 5%
consideration on regulations or legislation
benefiting our business
I fear I may be at a competitive 30% 28% 40% 2%
disadvantage to a rival on some issue if
I don't give
I fear I may lose influence to labor or 25% 33% 40% 2%
environmental groups if I don't give
My company encourages me to donate to 26% 35% 36% 3%
I have personal connections to a candidate 21% 30% 48% 1%
Would you say that the pressure from political parties to contribute money in the last election intensified sharply, intensified somewhat, abated somewhat or abated sharply?
Intensified sharply 30%
Intensified somewhat 47%
Abated somewhat 5%
Abated sharply 0%
Don't know 18%
Which of the political parties exerts more pressure on you to contribute money--Democrats, Republicans, Perot, or other?
Don't know 31%
CALLS FROM THE POLS
Has a candidate ever personally solicited you for a campaign contribution, or not?
Candidate personally solicited 53%
Have not been personally solicited 47%
Don't know/refused 0%
Have you ever felt pressured for a political contribution in a manner that made you feel uncomfortable, or not?
Yes, felt pressured 22%
No, did not feel pressured 78%
Don't know/refused 0%
...AND WHO PRESSURED
Were you pressured by...
Pressured Not Pressured Don't Know
A candidate or campaign official 66% 33% 1%
A company superior 24% 75% 1%
A business colleague 51% 47% 2%
Someone else 23% 76% 1%
PACS DO THE JOB
How effective are PACs at influencing government policy? Are they very effective, somewhat effective, somewhat ineffective, or very ineffective?
Very effective 24%
Somewhat effective 62%
Somewhat ineffective 9%
Very ineffective 2%
Don't know 3%
Regardless of how you may vote, what do you usually consider yourself--a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or something else?
Something else 1%
Don't know 1%
Survey of 400 senior executives at large public corporations. Interviews were conducted March Mar. 11-18, 1997 for BUSINESS WEEK by Louis Harris & Associates Inc.