by Abigail Quackenboss
About two weeks ago, I wrote about how immigration reform might be impacted as a result of Eric Cantor’s primary loss. In case you missed the blog, here’s the link. Since then, there have been a some developments, initially sparked by Speaker John Boehner informing President Obama that House Republicans would not pass immigration reform this year. On June 30th, President Obama announced that he would instead take executive action to attempt to alleviate the ongoing border crisis. In addition, President Obama requested $3.7 billion from Congress to help with immigration courts to speed up the deportation process.
To gauge what Votifi users thought, on July 8th, we asked users about their reactions to President Obama’s vow to use executive actions to push immigration reform. Well-over half of respondents (70%) agreed that President Obama should act if Congress will not. Thirteen percent of users admitted they’re sick of the gridlock happening in D.C. There were a lot of great comments, too. (You can visit our site and read them here.) One user wrote, “Where in The United States Constitution does it say that the President of The United States can ‘Make Laws’?” while another wrote, “I was beginning to think…Americans have become so cold-hearted that they can’t (or won’t) tell the difference between an immigration issue and a REFUGEE issue.”
One of the greatest problems that the current crisis, immigration or refugee, faces is that most of the children are not coming from Mexico. If the children were from Mexico (and for argument’s sake, Canada), they could be deported without an immigration hearing. Instead, because the minors are from mostly-Central American countries, they must be granted a deportation hearing. Some estimates have placed wait times at almost two years for a hearing.
When you calculate how many children have crossed the border and been taken into custody since October, (over 52,000) it’s no wonder President Obama has asked for such a sum of money to help speed up the courts process. The Rio Grande Valley of Texas alone accounts for most of the apprehensions, with over 37,000 occurring since October.
Texas, where most of the children are crossing, isn’t equipped to handle such an influx of temporary inhabitants. Instead, the U.S Border Patrol is transporting bus-loads of immigrants to places such as Murrieta, California and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Murrieta was in the limelight just before Independence Day when protesters blocked three buses from completing the transport to a detention facility. Murrieta’s own mayor has stated that he had concerns about the transport.
In light of the press and publicity, on July 9th, we asked Votifi users what their reactions to the protests were.
The comments were certainly interesting. Here are a few excerpts.
“Actually, what I see is hatred. I am personally embarrassed by the people who choose to show hatred over showing empathy toward people who need empathy. As a country we need to be ashamed.”
“This law [the one requiring children have a deportation hearing, we assume] was passed by President Bush…Right now there are not enough venues to [protect and turn over children within 72 hours] so they are living in jail-like cells..”
“What part of ‘ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT’ do you not understand? These people –weather [sic] they be Men, Women AND/OR Children are in the United States illegally.”
“I bet if there was a bus-load of beautiful light-skinned blondes they would be welcomed with open arms…just saying to make a point about racism and hatred.”
It is evident that immigration is certainly in the spotlight right now, but part of me wonders how long it will stay there. Regardless, hopefully President Obama and/or Congress can devise a plan of action for the current crisis.
by Abigail Quackenboss
As the situation in Iraq gets worse, American’s view of the Iraq war is following a similar path into the doldrums.
NBC and the Wall Street Journal released a poll on June 24th that was blunt for once. The majority of Americans believe the Iraq war was not worth the time, resources, and devastation. Seventy-one percent of Americans, up from 59% in January 2013, viewed the Iraq War as a “waste.” The poll results go on to show that half of respondents believe that U.S. doesn’t have a responsibility to help the Iraqi people as ISIS begins to take hold in the region. NBC’s poll gives insight into some recent polls we’ve done here at Votifi.
In March 2013 we asked Votifi users, “Is Iraq better off today than it was before the U.S. invasion?” A year ago only a minority (21%) believed that U.S. presence had helped the Iraqi people. One user wrote in the comments, “The US does not invade countries to improve the lives of that country’s citizens. It does so to improve the lives of americans [sic],” while another user wrote, “I don’t know. Why don’t we ask the people of Iraq this question?” Maybe we will be able to someday, Votifi user.
Even more recently, on June 12th, our Daily Poll asked, “Should the U.S. help Iraq combat militants with air strikes per Iraq’s request?” While the results are below, it was interesting to read the comments from users. One user wrote, “We should never have been in in Iraq destroying their social fabric,” which prompted a second poll on June 16th.
The June 16th question read, “What do you believe is the biggest factor that led to the current unrest in Iraq?” Response rates are below. The plurality (48%) agreed that the U.S. should never have invaded Iraq. (Dick Cheney disagrees.) With the majority (52%) of Americans stating that the U.S. has “mostly failed in Iraq,” it looks like, as a nation, we will have the Iraq War on our conscience for quite some time.
But does that mean we should ignore the current turmoil in Iraq? Most Votifi users (62%) would agree that we should wait it out or eventually help, as long as there are no ground troops. President Obama has promised special-forces advisors, not ground/combat troops, to share intelligence with Iraqi forces among other tasks. Sending special-forces troops might not be the foreign policy everybody agrees with, but it’s better than nothing. According to Lamont Colucci, Politics and Government Chair at Ripon College, there are a number of myths surrounding our foreign policy in Iraq but the “best of myths” is “there are no good options… because it translates into inaction and hope that the problem either goes away or is overshadowed by something else.”
To ignore various turmoils abroad, be they in Iraq, Nigeria, or Ukraine, seems to encourage an isolationist foreign policy. I think many will agree that continuing such a policy will not bring about favorable outcomes for anyone.
by Abigail Quackenboss
Immigration is typically a topic that is considered particularly polarizing. However, as Laura Meckler from the Wall Street Journal reported on June 8, 2014, immigration is not having as big of an impact upon primary races as one might suspect. While there certainly are exceptions, as Ms. Meckler cites in her article, the trend is not overly surprising.
Consider the results from a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a nonpartisan group, and Brookings Institution. Currently 62% of Americans “favor a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements.” This can be considered a great sign of things to come for immigration reform advocates, especially considering the fact that the Senate passed an immigration reform bill last year, but is still waiting on the House to act.
Even more importantly, to tie into Ms. Meckler’s point, 53% of voters surveyed in the PRRI said they would be “less willing to vote for a candidate who opposes immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally.” Among Republican voters, respondents saw a similar trend, with 46% saying they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who opposed a reform plan with a citizenship component. Also noteworthy, 21% of Republican respondents said they would support a candidate who opposed an immigration plan with a path to citizenship, while 30% said it would not be a deciding factor in their voting behaviors.
A word of caution: as we saw with Eric Cantor’s primary loss to a Tea Party candidate on June 10, it is important for campaigns to recognize what issues are important to the constituents. Spending too much time away from the district (even if it is only 90 miles from DC) can lead to what some have called a shake-up of the GOP. In light of Cantor’s loss, many have speculated that immigration reform in the House is dead. What is important to remember is that one single man does not make or break an issue.
There is still plenty of opportunity for the Republican-majority House to tackle immigration reform once and for all. Reform may not be the most glamorous or popular topic in Congress, especially considering the number of other scandals and issues such as the Veterans Affairs probe, Bowe Bergdahl’s release by the Taliban, that have happened. However, reform is something the GOP needs to address, espeicailly if they want any chance of gaining Latino support.
Immigration is still very much on voters’ minds. In fact, back in April of this year, we asked our Votifi users, “Do you think we will see comprehensive immigration reform by the time President Obama leaves office?” The results are below. It is interesting to note that the majority of respondents thought that the midterm elections would be pivotal in the immigration reform process. By a bit of a stretch, one might speculate that voters are hopeful that the Democratic Party will gain some seats during the midterm since Democrats are viewed as more competent to handle immigration.
With less than 20 congressional primaries dates remaining, it will be interesting to see what role immigration will play, especially as a) the midterms come and go in November and b) child immigrants become more controversial. Considering Cantor’s loss, one wouldn’t expect immigration to be the hot button issue this fall. Maybe Congress should finally take a step back and take direction from their home districts about what the big topic and campaign platform should be.
by Abigail Quackenboss
On Tuesday, March 18, we asked our Votifi users which of the following they believed is worse for one’s health: alcohol, tobacco, sugar, or marijuana. Want to take a guess which option received the least votes? Hint: it’s not legal for recreational use in 48 states.
We got a lot of great discussion on the question, which is absolutely fantastic. Some comments addressed the idea that marijuana “doesn’t cause enough deaths to even get noticed.” Other comments pointed to the legality of alcohol, tobacco, and sugar. Still others pointed to the deaths as an indirect result of alcohol, sugar, and tobacco.
The inspiration for this question came from a poll a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that asked the very same question. WSJ/NBC found that 49% of poll respondents said tobacco was most dangerous, followed by alcohol (24%), sugar (15%), and marijuana (8%). Part of me wonders if we had the same sample. (Don’t be throwing my daily polls, please!) <— That’s a joke. Anyway, our results are below.
So what do we make of these results? There are a few ways to address the poll. The first stems from the comments we received in conjunction with follow-up questions by the WSJ/NBC poll. As a nation, we are very aware of the effects tobacco, alcohol, and sugar can have on our health. Tobacco and alcohol aren’t even sold without warning labels!
The second way to examine the data is that marijuana isn’t typically associated with health complications. A study published by Forensic Science International, did, however, link two deaths to marijuana. Note: These men also had underlying health issues. What we are not aware of is how heavy marijuana itself is associated with health problems. (That’s not to say there aren’t associations between marijuana use and increased risk of certain health problems.) A 20-year study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham suggested that heavy marijuana use might decrease lung function, but does not carry some of the risks tobacco does.
Finally, and I think this is one of the biggest takeaways, marijuana might be losing its social stigma. More states are approving medicinal marijuana. Maryland’s state house delegation passed a bill last week. The Colbert Report even talked about Colorado’s “booming marijuana industry.”
While there are a number of other issues to address, such as UN laws, if marijuana is so lucrative, there might come a time (perhaps in the near future) when marijuana is legalized across the country. For now, we’ll just take our poll results as they are. Votifi users believe there are more harmful substances out there than marijuana.
by Abigail Quackenboss
Thanks to our 189 voters on Tuesday, February 18, who responded to our daily poll that asked “Should the President authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline?” This was probably one of our higher response rates in the past month. In addition, there was great discussion on the page – something we love to see!
For those of you who are interested in how the cookie crumbled, here are the response percentages from the poll.
These differ quite a bit from the response that Gallup received in March 2012 when 57% of respondents polled believed that the U.S. government should approve the Keystone XL pipeline. In addition, Pew found similar results with its September 2013 poll, with 65% of respondents in favor of building the Keystone XL pipeline.
The real question is why do our results differ so much from what Gallup and Pew say are representative samples of the American population? Well, there could be a number of factors. First, and probably most likely, is that our sample is not necessarily the most representative. We had 189 respondents, which I said was a lot, but when doing public opinion polls, pollsters prefer to get numbers upwards of 1,000. An increased sample size tends to be more representative, but only to a certain extent. (Once you get too large of a sample size you are just wasting time and money.)
Another possible reason, which goes hand in hand with the first, is that our respondents tend to be a bit more liberal with their ideologies than what would be expected in a larger sample. Don’t misinterpret this as me saying ALL of our users are more left on a political spectrum. I am simply saying the nature of the beast (technology, daily use, younger users) suggests we are a bit more left.
A final explanation I would guess might have an impact on the responses is the recent release of the environmental impact statement from the State Department. Although the State Department said there would be no real impact, many individuals and organizations are still skeptical about what sort of irreversible damage we might incur through this 1,180 mile pipeline running from Canada to Texas.
As of right now, the Keystone XL project is stalled again, this time by a lawsuit in Nebraska. Once again, we will have to wait and see how this debacle plays out and whether or not the project will get the go-ahead from a) Nebraska, and eventually b) the President.
by Abigail Quackenboss
Originally proposed in 2008, the Keystone XL Pipeline has been on a long and tumultuous journey to receive approval from the powers that be (the State Department and the President) to go ahead with completion. The current pipeline, known simply as the Keystone Pipeline, runs from Canada through a number of states: North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, and finally to refineries in Texas. Stretching approximately 2,150 miles, the Keystone Pipeline has the ability to carry nearly 600,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada to refineries in the U.S. However, the Keystone Pipeline itself is not the contentious piece of the puzzle.
Rather, there is one leg, a very long leg, of the project (the “XL” in “Keystone XL”), that has stirred a lot of debate. This proposed pipeline would run from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, and to Nebraska. According to Keystone-XL.com, the proposed leg would have a carrying capacity of over 800,000 barrels per day.
But why, if there is already a crude oil pipeline running from Canada to the U.S. are we concerned about this expansion project? Essentially, the Keystone XL pipeline has been a hot button issue since its proposal in 2008. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the number of jobs that this project will create has been disputed from the beginning. Although the project will certainly create jobs, the real question is how many. Reports vary anywhere from 35 permanent jobs (according to the State Department), to 20,000 construction jobs according to proponents of the project.
There are also concerns about the environmental impact of the pipeline. A number of environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund are concerned that the expansion project will have a negative impact on the environment. Their concerns range from water pollution across the Great Plains due to construction to the potential for leaks and soil contamination. These could lead to more problems in the long run. However, these views concerns contradict the much-anticipated report from the State Department, released earlier this month, which can be found here, which stated there would be no significant impact on the environment if the expansion project were to be completed. Why did the State Department have to do the analysis? Because the pipeline crosses our border to Canada, this project and its environmental impact statement fell under the Department’s jurisdiction.
In addition to environmental concerns, there are safety concerns stemming from the project. It has been reported that if the U.S. continues to move crude oil by rail rather than by the proposed pipeline, we will be at risk for dangerous accidents, which could threaten the lives of many. The counter-argument (in favor of the pipeline) is that if we no longer have to move crude oil via rail, individuals will be less at risk.
Another argument surrounding the project surrounds what will happen to the oil once it has been refined in Texas. While many supporters of the pipeline have suggested the oil will be kept here in the U.S. to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, others have suggested that it will be sold to other fossil fuel-dependent countries such as China and India. It can then be argued that if President Obama is truly committed to green energy and our oil dependency, he should again delay the project. However, the oil is not coming from the Middle East, (remember, the pipeline runs from Canada to Texas). In addition, if the Keystone XL project is not completed, it is likely that the rail to transport the oil, which Canadian oil companies have stated they will continue with if the project is not approved, will contribute more to greenhouse emissions than just the oil itself if piped to refineries.
What does the public think of the Keystone XL? Well, according to a Pew Research poll from September, 65% of Americans are in favor of the expansion. However, public opinion does not dictate policy and political action. As of right now, the ball is in President Obama’s court. He has stated that he would not make a decision about the pipeline until the environmental impact statements come back. Now that the public knows what is in the reports, we play a waiting game. Hopefully this will finally be a year of action, in one direction or another.
by Abigail Quackenboss
Last month a court ruling went largely unnoticed, especially by the people whom we would expect to care most about it: internet users. What was the ruling? Net neutrality was overturned. Now, I am by no means an expert on Net neutrality. In fact, before being assigned to write this blog, I’d never heard of it. But it’s definitely a concept that has broader implications. Consider this your crash-course in Net neutrality.
What is Net neutrality?
Net neutrality was designed to keep the playing field level for all websites. It required that Internet service providers (ISPs) give all websites the same level of priority when sending information on the Web. For example, when Net neutrality was in effect, an ISP such as Verizon, Comcast, or Cox Cable could not give preferential treatment to websites that they held a stake in.
In layman’s terms, please.
Basically, now that Net neutrality is out the window, ISPs could discriminate against internet companies or internet users. Your ISP can decide how much speed they will award each site. For example, video streaming sites such as YouTube, Hulu, or Netflix are likely to be impacted because they are bandwidth hogs. For example, during primetime, Netflix accounts for about 32% of data being sent to users. You might not be able to watch the next season of House of Cards at the drop of a hat. Instead, because your ISP can now throttle the bandwidth for Netflix data, your binge watching session might take a lot more than the 14 hours of actual programming. It might seem like the days of dial-up, waiting for videos to buffer. The instantaneousness of a site may be lost. In theory this could impact more than just how much you pay for internet. It could also impact what sites you can see. Trying to view a site that doesn’t align with the mission of the ISP? Would it be a coincidence if that site loaded at a snail’s pace? Could this be a way for companies to censor content?
That sounds awful.
It really does. And the greater implications sound even worse. In order to get back to the internet speed that you enjoy, or is at least more tolerable, ISPs may require users to pay. That’s right. If you thought you were paying a lot for Internet already, ISPs could potentially offer tiered packages. Want to watch a funny cat video on YouTube? $.50 per video. Want unlimited access to your favorite shows and movies on Netflix? With the ISPs in control, they could charge whatever they want, especially if you are opting to stream from a site they don’t host. (For example, NBC has stake in Hulu. Theoretically, Comcast, which owns NBC, can give preferential treatment to Hulu over Netflix.) And to throw another wrench into it all, have you considered how ISPs would know which sites to slow down for you personally? (Hint: They’re not the NSA, but they might be watching what you search for and do on the internet.)
So when should I expect my Internet rate to go up?
Well, here’s the sort-of bright side: ISPs have assured us that this court ruling will not impact how they provide internet service.
That’s reassuring. (Sarcasm.)
I know it’s not. Luckily, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering a number of other options to this ruling. The FCC could appeal the decision. They could also reclassify what broadband is. (Under the 2010 rules, Broadband wasn’t a tradition service provider like your telephone.) The ruling from a few weeks ago said that under the current (2010) classification, the FCC didn’t have the authority to enforce Net neutrality.
Why are ISPs arguing against Net neutrality?
First, there is the argument that some people just use more than their share of the bandwidth to go on their Netflix binges. Shouldn’t they be charged more if they’re using more than an Internet user who is simply checking their email once a week? There’s also the argument that in order to keep up with technology to keep improving Internet speeds for sites such as YouTube and Netflix, companies have to charge more for the improvement costs. Finally, there is the argument that Net neutrality is limiting competition. If a user can get around having to pay more to watch their Netflix, they will.
Could this have any implications on the 2014 midterm elections?
Could I win the lottery? Of course it could. Will it? I’m not an expert on elections, but I going to guess this will not be the hot button issue of the year. Congress seems to have bigger fish to fry. That’s not to say they are ignoring Net neutrality completely. In fact, Democrats have introduced legislation that will temporarily bar ISPs from breaking old Net neutrality rules until the FCC is able to get it together to create their own rules or re-categorize. It’s not certain whether these bills will pass in both houses, but at least it is a glimmer of hope.
President Obama has also made statements in support of Net neutrality, so consumers have that working for them as well. I think (well, maybe it’s mostly wishful thinking) that we will eventually see Net neutrality return. It will just be a matter of time. Hopefully the ISPs don’t get any big ideas in the meantime.
by Abigail Quackenboss
Last week, President Obama stood before all of Congress and America to deliver his fifth State of the Union address. While there were a number of issues addressed during the 65-minute speech, there was one particular topic that was of interest to me: education.
There are many aspects to education, and as a college student the most important of which is paying for it. In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Student Loan Reform Act, which partly goes into effect this year. The bill is multi-faceted. The bill stopped giving subsidies to third party lenders, and instead the Department of Education would award loans directly. Those who begin borrowing this year will no longer have to pay back up to 15% of each monthly paycheck to their student loans. Rather, the repayment is capped at 10%. Another important piece states that new borrowers in 2014 will have their loans forgiven after 20 years, if payments are made on time. This is down from the previous forgiveness time span on 25 years.
As a college student, I understand how important this funding can be. Many of my friends in school, mostly sophomores and juniors, began taking out loans in their third semester of school. Let me reiterate that: college students are taking out loans before they have completed half their coursework necessary for graduation. In some cases, students are entirely dependent upon these loans. Their ability to repay a loan is riding on if they get a decent paying job after graduation.
That is a big if. According to The Fiscal Times, college graduates are entering the workforce completely unprepared. As a collective group, graduates lack work ethic, critical thinking skills, and interpersonal communication skills. That’s ludicrous. I cannot fathom why students would take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans only to not properly prepare themselves for the work force. Then again, I suppose that I can only hope the work ethic I have developed from being a three-time Dean’s List student who is also involved with NCAA D3 sports and holds two jobs on campus, in addition to the critical thinking skills fostered by my college, will hold up in the real world. Unfortunately, my suspicions won’t be confirmed or refuted until I get to the “real world”. What’s even scarier are some data recently released by The Atlantic. They said that 18.5% of Bachelor’s Degree holders were living back with their parents and in the past five years, 40% of 27-year-olds have spent some time unemployed. That means out of my 16-woman cross country team, nearly 7 of us may spend some time unemployed within five years of graduating. Yikes.
I remember in high school our teachers emphasized science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) a great deal. But according to the National Math and Science Initiative, only 36% of students graduate with a STEM major, while 62% of careers will require some knowledge of these areas. Maybe this is why there are so many unemployed or underemployed college graduates these days?
I consider myself very lucky. I received a generous scholarship that covers most of my tuition, and much of my coursework so far has focused on communication skills and critical thinking – which I think (hope) will help me a lot after graduating. And to be on the safe side, I have declared a math minor, which I will complete in the fall.
My younger brother, bless his soul, does not have the knack for school that I did. He’s very smart, but lacks the interest for books and abstract concepts, much of the things a four year degree would require. But he sure is good with tools and real-world skills. In fact, if I asked him, my little brother could change the oil in my car and my tires while he was at it. That, folks, is impressive. Did I mention he is thirteen? Yet he often feels discouraged. He knows school doesn’t come easily for him, yet he doesn’t want to quit after high school. There must be a solution here.
Maybe it is time that we rethink what it means to be prepared for the workforce. Having a four-year degree isn’t a guaranteed ticket to happiness and success. There are plenty of skilled manufacturing jobs and trades that can bring equal if not more economic prosperity than getting a job with a degree. This is something President Obama realizes. On Thursday, he spoke in Wisconsin about forming partnerships between high schools and apprenticeship programs at manufacturing and trade jobs. My brother, and many other students, would be perfect candidates for these sorts of programs. In addition, President Obama signed an executive order that will evaluate all job training programs across the nation to ensure that workers are being properly trained for good, in-demand jobs. And that is something I think we can all be excited about, regardless of party. Getting people into good paying, skilled jobs will help us all in the long run.
The reality of it is that being prepared for the workforce doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hold a degree, in STEM or even in underwater basket weaving. Instead it means that you are recognizing your strengths, be they in academia or trades, and fostering those skills. We are all entitled to our piece of the American Dream, but that doesn’t mean everyone needs to follow the same path to get there.
We are headed back to SXSW this year. For Votifi - it pretty much all started for us at SXSW in 2012. That year we had a chance to demo our product and meet with folks who have helped us a great deal to build this company.
This year one of our co-founders, Aasil Ahmad, is part of an awesome panel called “What Would Cesar Chavez Tweet”. The panel will discuss some of the most effective social media strategies that have been raising the volume for grassroots movements in the Latino community. Empowering groups through technology was one of the principles that we built Votifi on and we’re excited to share our insights on technology and activism. If you are planning to be at SXSW this year please join us. The panel is open to the public (you don’t need a SXSW badge) and will take place on March 7th at 3:30PM.
Before we head to Austin we want to hear from you! What do you use social media for, and how has it changed your level of civic engagement? Take our survey above and let us know. We’ll release the findings during our panel. And follow along the conversation on Twitter via #SXSW and #WWCCT. Thanks!
by Matt Sarge
The Obama Administration recently proposed new IRS rules that could begin to reign in campaign spending by tax-exempt outside groups that expanded significantly since the Citizens United case in 2010. The current rules allow for non-profits to engage in political activity and lobbying so long as they are also “improving social welfare.” The new IRS rules would place a limit on the political spending of these non-profit groups, which would either lead to reduced political activity or registering as an explicitly political organization (such as a PAC).
Non-profits are currently exploited as vehicles for political spending because of the anonymity they offer to donors. Political non-profits are not required to disclose donors identities, unlike Super PACs and political parties. The new rules are controversial given both the vested interest that many prominent voices have in allowing for robust campaign expenditures. Additionally, given the recent scandal surrounding IRS treatment of Tea Party affiliated groups, any IRS rule changes that can be seen as limiting political speech are likely to ignite opposition amongst conservatives. Karl Rove’s Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies is a tax-exempt group that would be highly affected by the rule changes and is currently a major financing source for Republican candidates and causes, while the League of Conservation Voters would be the largest group impacted on the Democratic side. However, the rule change to the allowed political behavior of non-profits would have a disproportionate impact of conservative groups, as nine of the ten largest political non-profits in the 2012 cycle were Republican-leaning.
Outside Spending by Type - Center for Responsive Politics
Spending by tax-exempt social welfare groups has been a major source of campaign expenditure growth, more so than unions and trade associations. Because finance rules often affect Democratic-leaning unions differently than the political non-profits that Republicans rely on, campaign finance issues can become politically charged. However, given the recent proliferation in spending by political non-profits, curbing the political activities of the 501c (4) tax exempt groups that flourished in the wake of Citizens United is an obvious attempt to limit the influence of anonymous money in politics.
If the rules are approved, corporate spending on elections is not necessarily going to be curtailed. Given the vast array of options that corporations and mega-donors have for getting their money into an election, the only effect that the proposed rule changes may have is forcing more of that money to go through channels that require disclosure. The SEC recently dropped a proposal that would have required public companies to disclose all political donations to their shareholders. So while corporations may not be required to disclose, more may choose to donate their money through political groups that require disclosure due to the proposed new rules governing political activity of non-profits. In a post-Citizens United world, limiting the influence of money in elections is unlikely – but that influence may have to be a little more transparent.