Poll: Lawmakers Are Beholden To Donors, Not Voters


Big-time donors and lobbyists have more sway over American lawmakers than constituents do, according to voters polled by Gallup.

In all, 64 percent of voters queried by the polling firm said politicians were beholden to major donors more than any other group. Coming in second were lobbyists, with 55 percent of respondents telling the pollsters that lobbyists have "a lot" of influence over lawmakers, while another 24 percent said lobbying firms have "a fair amount" of influence.

The third most influential group, according to those polled, are party leaders.

And the last? Constituents.

Only 14 percent of respondents told Gallup that people in the home districts of representatives have "a lot" of influence over their members of Congress. Half said constituents had "only a little" influence.

The numbers reflect the overall poor perception of Congress by American voters, but perhaps even more troubling for lawmakers, Gallup found that people who were more informed about how Congress works are more likely to agree that constituents have little sway over the people entrusted to represent them.

"Previous research shows Americans are highly likely to agree with statements asserting that financial contributors, lobbyists and special interests have too much influence over members of Congress," the pollsters wrote. "The current findings reinforce this basic understanding of the way in which Americans view their elected representatives, and provide context for the low levels of confidence that Americans have in their members of Congress."

In a post looking at why American voters feel they have so little influence over their representatives, The Washington Post's Aaron Blake pointed to a Vine that's been making the rounds on social media -- the loop is set to "Make It Rain," by rappers Fat Joe and Lil Wayne, and shows showers of cash raining on the Senate floor, the work of GMO protesters pointing out what grabs lawmakers' attention.

The perception that lawmakers don't listen to their constituents is also what's been fueling the relative success of anti-establishment political campaigns in 2016, Blake argued.

"If you want to know why Americans were willing to throw the electoral Hail Marys that are/were Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, this is it," he wrote. "Americans haven't just grown disenchanted with the influence of special interests; they've lost faith that their members have any interest in representing them, period."

Sources: Gallup, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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