Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards are closely in tune with American public opinion when they decry the influence of lobbyists and vow to avoid taking lobbyist money. Asked about acceptable ways for candidates to raise money, more than three-quarters of Americans say that raising campaign money from contributions made by Washington lobbyists is unacceptable, putting it at the bottom of a list of six ways for raising money.

Furthermore, two-thirds of Americans say that candidates who accept money from Washington lobbyists cannot change the way things are done in Washington, and overwhelming majorities say that candidates—and Hillary Clinton in particular—should not accept money from lobbyists. Both Edwards and Obama have stated that they will not accept such contributions—and both have criticized Clinton for not taking the same pledge.

Asked about the ways in which candidates raise money, 93 percent felt it was acceptable to take individual contributions from private citizens, and 92 percent felt it was acceptable for candidates to use their own savings. Only 47 percent thought it was okay for candidates to take money from political action committees (PACs), and just 23 percent felt it was okay to take money from lobbyists—fewer than the 41 percent who thought public financing was an acceptable idea.

There was little difference between Republicans and Democrats on this question. Support for refusing to accept lobbyists’ contributions is 75 percent among Republicans, 80 percent among Democrats, and 85 percent among independents.