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BUSINESS WEEK/HARRIS EXECUTIVE POLL: LOOK WHO WANTS TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM

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.


REFORM, PLEASE

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?

Appropriate        51%
Inappropriate 46%
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% altogether
Ending unlimited "soft money" 68% 30% 2% contributions to political parties by corporations and other interests
Encouraging individual giving 49% 49% 2% through tax credits for contributions
Replacing private giving with 37% 60% 3% taxpayer-supported public financing of campaigns
Requiring TV and radio stations 56% 43% 1% to provide candidates free air time


CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS...

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%
Mean: $3,278


SOFT-MONEY SUPPLIERS...

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%
$100,000+ 22%
Mean: $132,534
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% its PAC
I have personal connections to a candidate 21% 30% 48% 1%

PARTY PLEAS

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%


ARM-TWISTERS

Which of the political parties exerts more pressure on you to contribute money--Democrats, Republicans, Perot, or other?

Democrats        19%
Republicans 39%
Perot 1%
Other 10%
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%


PRESSURE TACTICS...

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%


PARTY AFFILIATION

Regardless of how you may vote, what do you usually consider yourself--a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or something else?

Republican                    63%
Democrat 12%
Independent 23%
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.

Edited by Keith H. Hammonds


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Updated June 15, 1997 by bwwebmaster
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