The public is hearing little about increased spending by outside groups in the 2012 election. Just 25% have heard a lot about outside spending by groups not associated with the candidates or campaigns, while three-quarters are hearing a little (36%) or nothing at all (39%) about this. In fact, the term “super PAC” itself is not widely known: Just 40% can correctly identify the term, nearly half (46%) don’t know what it refers to, while 14% give incorrect responses.
When asked an open-ended question about the effect of increased outside spending on the election, a plurality (48%) expresses no opinion. About equal percentages indicate the effect will be neutral (27%) or negative (24%). Just 2% give a positive response about the effect of more outside political spending.
Those who have heard a lot about this issue –which includes nearly equal shares of Republicans and Democrats – nearly half (47%) say increased outside election spending say it will have a negative effect, while 35% say it will have a neutral effect. Among those who have heard little or nothing about increased outside spending, most (59%) have no opinion; 24% say the impact will neutral and 16% say it will be negative.
Read the full report, Little Public Awareness of Outside Campaign Spending Boom, on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press website.