U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV) speaks to reporters after Senate luncheons as he is accompanied by Sen. Jeff Merkley, (D-OR) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) at Capitol Hill in Washington, July 16, 2013. U.S. Senate negotiators neared a deal on Tu
When Harry Reid and other Democrats rail at the Kochs, it's about far more than these two billionaire brothers—as obnoxious as their influence in our politics is. It's about the ability of a couple of billionaires to buy a branch of government. They're making a bet that the voting public is fed up enough with money in politics and with how that money has stacked the cards against most of us—unemployment insurance extension blocked by Republicans, a minimum wage hike filibustered—that this is a message that will resonate for 2014 and beyond. A new battleground survey from Democracy Corps suggests they might be on to something. Greg Sargent summarizes the findings:
Conducted with the Public Campaign Action Fund, it finds that in the 86 most competitive House districts, there is strong opposition across party lines to the McCutcheon decision—and strong support for efforts to reduce the influence over money in politics.

The poll found that even in contested Republican districts, 70 percent oppose the McCutcheon ruling when it’s described to them, 56 percent strongly, and in Dem battleground districts, 74 percent oppose it, 62 percent strongly. An overwhelming 71 percent of independents in the 86 battleground districts oppose the decision.

That makes reform particularly attractive. The survey polled a proposed campaign finance reform, The Government by the People Act, and found solid support. The survey described it as a measure that would restrict people running for Congress to small-dollar contributions with a maximum of $150 per individual. That would be matched  on a six-to-one basis with public funds, and contributors would get a $25 tax credit. That proposal got 70 percent approval across all districts and all political persuasions. People in Democratic districts supported it 71 percent, Republican districts 69 percent.

They note that "there is particularly intense support for the bill among the Rising American Electorate of young people, unmarried women, and minorities." In other words, the electorate that Democrats need to turn out for elections. Sargent talked with Erica Seifert, a pollster for Democracy Corps.

"The old adage used to be that campaign finance reform isn't something you run on," Seifert told me. "But over the last few years, we've been seeing that this is something voters care about. We've tested it in a bunch of different ways. People see political inequality and money in politics as driving a lot of the fundamental economic problems we’re dealing with." […]

"Focusing on political inequality and money in politics is a good way to appeal to independents, and appeals to moderate Republicans who are starting to take a harder look at the conservative agenda of today’s Republican Party," she said. "It's a way to separate yourself from Washington and appeal to people who are incredibly angry about it."

The groundswell of support that has made the economic populist Sen. Elizabeth Warren a political hero didn't come out of nowhere. Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century didn't become Amazon's top-selling book in a vacuum.  People are riled up about inequality and about the influence of money in politics that's led to that inequality. It's really a no-brainer for Democrats to run against that, even it will mean a little soul-searching, and maybe some campaign finance reform, on their own parts.

It's smart politics because the contrast couldn't be greater, which is proven with every Republican filibuster of the minimum wage or unemployment insurance, every vote the Republican House stages to repeal people's health insurance. Couple it with the backing the GOP has from the too-villainous-to-be-true Kochs, and Democrats might just be able to sway some voters their way.

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