Americans have long believed that major political donors and special interests have too much influence on politics and that ordinary people have too little influence. Most see voting as the best way for average Americans to impact the direction of the country. However, the belief that there is too much money in politics is widespread. References to the influence of money and concerns about corruption are some of the most frequently cited critiques of the political system, and many Americans see a monetary gain as a reason why most elected officials seek office, to begin with. When it comes to the decisions made by members of Congress, large shares of Americans say major donors, lobbyists, and special interests have too much influence. By contrast, just 9% of adults say the people in lawmakers’ districts have too much influence; that compares with 70% who say the people in their districts have too little influence (19% say they have about the right amount). Americans’ views on which groups have influence on the decisions made by members of Congress are similar across party lines:

  • Around eight-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (83%) say people who donate a lot of money to campaigns have too much influence on decisions made by members of Congress. A nearly identical share of Democrats and Democratic leaners (80%) say the same.
  • Majorities in both parties also say lobbyists, special interests, and large employers in lawmakers’ districts have too much influence.
  • Relatively small shares in both parties say people in lawmakers’ districts have too much influence. Nearly identical majorities of Republicans (72%) and Democrats (71%) say they have too little influence.” ref