JULY 2023

Widespread Press Coverage for Survey Finding Bipartisan Support for Ban on Stock Trading for Members of Congress and President

This week, the Wall Street JournalNPRVoxRoll Call, and many other media outlets highlighted a public consultation survey conducted by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. It found that overwhelming bipartisan majorities favor prohibiting stock-trading in individual companies by Members of Congress (86%, Republicans 87%, Democrats 88%, independents 81%), as well as the President, Vice President, and Supreme Court Justices (87%, Republicans 87%, Democrats 90%, independents 82%). This includes any family members that live with them.

While criticism of Members of Congress trading stocks while in office has been present for some time, the issue was given new life with accusations of Members making lucrative purchases of pharmaceutical stocks based on insider information on Covid-19 vaccines.

Interestingly, majorities did not favor a proposal to ban stock-trading for all federal employees – roughly 2 million workers. This was favored by just 40%, including just 42% of Republicans, 37% of Democrats and 42% of independents.

Bipartisan Backing for Prohibiting Sales of Property to Affiliates of Foreign Adversaries

A recent study by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy found that a large bipartisan majority support proposals that would prohibit the sale of US property and oil reserves to entities linked to foreign adversaries, such as China and Russia. 

The study showed that 73% (Republicans 84%, Democrats 64%) support a prohibition on the sale of property, including farmland, while 72% (Republicans 82%, Democrats 65%)  support a prohibition on selling oil from US oil reserves. This comes amid growing concerns among Members of Congress over the US’ economic relations with its adversaries, especially China, due to increasing purchases of US agricultural land by Chinese companies and the sale of US oil reserves to Chinese energy companies.

Members of Congress and state legislatures have introduced legislation to address this issue. Rep. Mike Gallagher, the Chairman of the House select committee on China, recently put forward a bipartisan bill which would give federal officials greater authority to block companies affiliated with foreign adversaries from acquiring certain US lands, particularly those near sensitive US sites (e.g. military bases.)

Though there was strong support for limiting economic engagement with China, among other adversaries, only one in three said they saw China as an enemy (34%), with large partisan differences (Republicans 53%, Democrats 19%).  Rather, a majority (59%) saw China as a competitor, while just seven percent saw it as a partner.  These perceptions relate to support for these new restrictions.  Nearly nine-in-ten of those who view China as an enemy favored the property and oil reserve restrictions (89% and 88%, respectively), with support dropping to around two-thirds among those who said competitor (68% and 65%), and below half among those who said partner (43% and 47%).

South Korean Deliberative Poll Finds Overwhelming Support of Electoral Reform

In a bid to gather the opinions of the Korean public regarding potential changes to its electoral system, the National Assembly of South Korea recently conducted a Deliberative Poll®. This poll was carried out during a nationally broadcasted event that took place between May 6 and 13, 2023. It was televised live by the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), making it accessible to a broad swath of the country.

Hankook Research, a company with extensive experience in Deliberative Polling® in Korea, oversaw the project in collaboration with the Deliberative Democracy Lab (DDL) at Stanford.

During a television announcement, Kim Jin-Pyo, the Speaker of the National Assembly, declared that the results of the poll would provide a guideline for the ruling party and other stakeholders to decide on the appropriate rules. The reform of the parliamentary election system is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of this year through discussion and negotiation.

Professor Jim Fishkin, who serves as the director of DDL, provided expert input on the project and also explained the concept of Deliberative Polling® during the broadcast. A random sample of nearly 500 voters deliberated over the issues and then answered questions for the broadcast and, later, completed a more in-depth questionnaire. Support for changing election rules increased from 77% to 84%, while support for smaller single-member districts rose from 43% to 56%. Proportional representation gained 43 points, rising from 27% to 70%.

Fix Congress Caucus Aims To Improve Congressional Operations

The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress has released an extensive report with over 200 recommendations aimed at improving Congress’s operations. Some former members of the Committee  have taken action by creating a bipartisan Fix Congress Caucus

The caucus, led by Representatives Derek Kilmer and William Timmons, will serve as a forum for Members of Congress, Congressional staff, and civil society groups to discuss issues related to Congress’s efficacy and generate ideas for reform and modernization. As the branch of government responsible for making laws and addressing the needs of the American people, Congress must have the necessary tools and resources to operate effectively and work on behalf of the people. 

Public Opinion on the Supreme Court’s 2023 Decisions

The recently concluded Supreme Court term, which ended last month, saw a series of significant decisions that will impact Americans’ lives for years to come. These rulings covered issues such as affirmative action, student loans, and LGBTQ rights. To compare the Supreme Court rulings to public opinion, The New York Times published an interactive article detailing public opinion surveys about the court’s decisions conducted by researchers at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Texas. The surveys found that the public’s opinion on how the court should rule in major cases often, but not always, aligns with partisan lines.