Lobbying Okay; Lobbyists Not So Much

Americans see the value of lobbying. but aren't quite comfortable with the people doing the lobbying.New survey data indicates Americans don't mind lobbying; they just don't like lobbyists. 

The 2014 Public Affairs Council survey shows support for lobbying has grown since 2012, despite the seeming dysfunction in Washington, DC that has led to fewer bills being passed by Congress. 

[New York Times columnist Charles Blow consulted the Library of Congress website to compare the productivity of Congress in the first 19 months of each term from the 104th Congress (1995-1996) to the 113th Congress (2013-2104). The 113th Congress has passed the fewest bills (108) of any Congress in the last two decades. Its closest rival was the 112th Congress with 110 bills.]

According to the nonpartisan Public Affairs Council, strong majorities of Americans favor lobbying to protect jobs (84 percent), open new markets (79 percent), create a level playing field (74 percent) and reduce business costs (68 percent).

Americans have even softened their views on lobbying Congress for government funding. Two years ago, 52 percent approved of lobbying to secure federal funding. Now 56 percent approve. Perceived citizen disgust with pork barreling led Congress to scrap its long-time practice of spending earmarks.

Positive vibes sharply decline when talking about lobbyists. Forty-seven percent of respondents say they would feel less favorable toward a company that hired a lobbyist.

Fifty-six percent of Americans favor Super PACs and 75 percent are okay with PACs contributing to campaigns. They don't like the idea of using federal tax dollars to subsidize campaigns. Eighty-seven percent of respondents think candidates should use their own money to campaign, while 80 percent favor contributions from individual citizens.

The survey, conducted in June by Princeton Survey Research Associates International and based on interviews with 1,609 adults nationwide, also found a majority of Americans distrust the federal government to solve problems. Americans express an unwillingness to trade privacy for greater national security.