Paul Holmes 02 Jan 2005 // 12:00AM GMT
Big companies, political lobbyists and the news media all continue to exercise too much power in the public policy realm, according to a significant majority of people questioned in a new Harris poll.
Very large majorities of the public believe that big companies (83 percent), political action committees (PACs) which give money to candidates (81 percent), political lobbyists (72 percent) and the news media (71 percent) all have too much power and influence in Washington.
Very large majorities of the public also believe that small business (88 percent) and public opinion (72 percent) have too little power and influence in the nation’s capital.
A more modest 54 percent majority believes that racial minorities have too little power and influence and a 53 percent majority feels that churches and religious organizations have too little influence.
There are two institutions where there is no majority view. A 48 percent to 37 percent plurality believes labor unions have too much power and influence. And a 47 percent to 36 percent plurality believes opinion polls have too little power and influence.
The biggest single change is an increase from 20 percent to 31 percent in those people who think that racial minorities have too much power and influence, and a decline from 59 percent to 54 percent in those who think that they have too little power and influence.
Republicans, Democrats and independents gave very similar answers to some questions. Eighty percent or more of Republicans, Democrats and independents are agreed that big companies and PACs have too much power and influence. They also tend to agree that small business and public opinion has too little influence.
However, there are also some differences. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to believe that labor unions have too much power (67 percent vs. 38 percent). They are also more likely to think that political lobbyists (77 percent vs. 67 percent), the news media (77 percent vs. 65 percent), opinion polls (42 percent vs. 30 percent) and racial minorities (39 percent vs. 21 percent) have too much power.
Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely than Republicans to think that TV and radio talk shows (62 percent vs. 48 percent), churches and religious organization (40 percent vs. 17 percent) have too much power.