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Poll: Americans Divided on Companies That Hire Lobbyists Poll: Americans Divided on Companies That Hire Lobbyists

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Poll: Americans Divided on Companies That Hire Lobbyists

November 15, 2011
A new survey finds that the majority of Americans view companies that hire lobbyists to represent their interests before the government unfavorably. But when presented with specific reasons why a company would hire lobbyists, the numbers shifted, with at least half of Americans saying employing lobbyists in those cases was acceptable.

The poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for the Public Affairs Council, shows that 55 percent of Americans view companies that hire lobbyists unfavorably, with 7 percent viewing them more favorably and 34 percent having no opinion.

"The image of lobbying has been tarnished in the public eye," Doug Pinkham, PAC's president, told reporters on Tuesday.

But, the analysis of the poll says that when "presented with with a range of reasons for a company to engage directly with the government, the public by and large approves of lobbying activities."

Of the 1,753 adults surveyed, 85 percent said lobbying was acceptable to protect jobs at the company; 75 percent said it was acceptable to open new markets for the company; 72 percent said it was acceptable to create a level playing field with competitors; 64 percent said it was acceptable to reduce business costs; and 50 percent said it was acceptable to secure government funding or grants.

Less than a third of respondents said lobbying was unacceptable in these situations, except for securing government funding or grants, which 45 percent found unacceptable.

The survey also found that the majority of Americans dislike when companies pay for advertising that supports a specific candidate or when they form PACs.

The survey also examined how the public viewed major companies and the government. It found that the majority of Americans, particularly young people, view major companies favorably, although they think that companies need to pay top executives less and that there is too much power in the hands of a few corporations.

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