Only Half of the American Population Believes Elections are Fair and Open

A strong majority across the aisle believe legislation is necessary

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Anne Marie Morán Senior Account Manager, Risk Analytics Division, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, D.C. - A mere 51% of Americans believe that elections are fair and open, according to the latest Ipsos poll conducted in partnership with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Among Democrats, this belief is lower (43%) than among Republicans (68%) or Independents (49%). This supports findings from previous Ipsos polls that show a general decline in institutional trust over the years. A strong majority of Americans across the aisle believe that both political TV ads (87%) and online ads (86%) should be required to say who paid for the ad, indicating a desire for more transparency. A majority of Americans (84%) also believe that federal election laws are necessary to ensure fair elections. This number is slightly higher among Republicans (89%) than Democrats (84%) or Independents (81%). Americans also believe that interest groups should follow the same campaign or election laws as political candidates (75%), with Republicans reporting slightly more agreement (81%) than Democrats (73%) or Independents (75%). 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Americans are strongly against money in politics, as evidenced by 72% who believe that large anonymous gifts are an invitation to corruption. Interestingly, however, Americans voice little support when asked about specific measures for the Supreme Court to fight it, such as placing limits on the amount of money super PACs can raise and spend (48%) and limiting corporate speech (21%). This could suggest that while they want a less corrupt system, perhaps Americans don’t know how to achieve it, or they don’t believe that it is the Supreme Court’s mandate to address it.

About the Study

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted July 5-6, 2018. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,006 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online in English. The sample includes 323 Democrats, 353 Republicans, and 197 Independents. 

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. 

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,006, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=5.0). 

The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 6.2 percentage points for Democrats, 5.9 percentage points for Republicans, and 8.0 percentage points for Independents.

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can  download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]

Anne Marie Moran
Senior Account Manager, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 202 290-8112
[email protected]

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. Through our media partnerships, Ipsos Public Affairs is a leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and internationally. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.
With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,780.5 million in 2017.

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Anne Marie Morán Senior Account Manager, Risk Analytics Division, US, Public Affairs

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