Perceptions of Corruption and Campaign Finance: When Public Opinion Determines Constitutional Law

This article addresses the McConnell v. FEC Supreme Court case, along with American attitudes toward government in relation to corruption and campaign finance. The authors argue that trends in public perception of corruption may have little to do with the campaign finance system. They argue that a person’s view of corruption comes from that person’s position in society, opinion of the incumbent administration and performance of the economy over the previous year, attitudes concerning taxation and “big government,” and finally, propensity to trust other people in general. The authors conclude that a large majority of Americans believe that the campaign finance system contributes to corruption in government; the data does not suggest that campaign finance reform will have an effect on those attitudes.