A new survey by a Republican polling firm finds that legislators may want to think twice before scrapping North Carolina’s embattled judicial public financing program. Here’s more on the findings from North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections:
‘The poll, conducted by a firm that has worked for Sen. Jesse Helms and many leading conservatives, shows that 67 percent of Republican women especially like the fact that the program has increased female representation on the state’s top courts – and by a 57 percent majority, they are less likely to vote for lawmakers who end the public financing option and allow money to play a greater role in judicial elections. Overall, a super-majority (68 percent) of voters said they would hold lawmakers accountable at the polls for ending judicial public financing.
Sixty-one percent of voters are particularly worried about the potential for corruption if the program is eliminated and say the program “should remain in place because even the hint of bribery is too much in our judicial system.”
A poll released last month by the NC Center for Voter Education indicates the program has broad support, with backing by 67 percent of Republican voters and 65 percent of independents.
The new poll by the Republican-leaning Tarrance Group was commissioned by NC Voters for Clean Elections and delved into more specifics on voters’ feelings about the program. Leaders from both parties came together in 2004 to implement the Public Campaign Fund, in order to relieve judicial candidates from the big-money chase. Contrary to the pessimism about government programs, supporters say this one has clearly worked.
A majority of the NC Supreme Court justices are now women for the first time in history – and all have used the program to win election. Overall, 80 percent of appellate court candidates have used the program, including all four African-Americans appellate judges elected since 2004 and eight of the ten Republicans who won contested elections.
Despite years of success and bipartisan support, the program is under attack. The state Senate eliminates the program in its budget bill passed recently, and a similar provision was proposed by the governor’s budget. Read more