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Recent Polling on Financial Reform and the CFPB

Key Findings of Surveys Taken Since 2010


THERE IS OVERWHELMING PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR TOUGHER REGULATION OF THE FINANCIAL SECTOR

Nearly five years after the 2008 crisis, Americans come down decisively in favor of stronger regulation of Wall Street and financial companies; that sentiment extends across lines of age, race, geography, and political party.

In a July 2013 survey by Lake Research Partners on behalf of Americans for Financial Reform and the Center for Responsible Lending, 83% of likely voters expressed a desire for stronger rules and enforcement, compared to just 9% who identified with the view that the financial world has changed its practices and doesn’t need more reform.

In 2012, the pro-reform position was favored by 73% of those surveyed; in 2011, the figure was 77%.

After hearing forceful arguments against as well as for reform, nearly two-thirds (63%) of those in the most recent Lake survey said they identified with the view that Wall Street must be held accountable and kept from repeating past actions; even among Republicans, only a minority (41%) took the opposing view that excessive regulation will hurt the economy.

These findings are consistent with earlier surveys, including:

  • A 2011 Harris Poll in which 83% of adults said that Wall Street needed stricter regulation; and 67% said that Wall Street bankers and executives would break the law without robust controls.
  • A national web survey conducted by Democracy Corps in 2012 in which most Americans agreed with the assertion that an unregulated financial sector presents a serious threat to our economy, and that strong government oversight is necessary.
  • A December 2012 survey conducted by Lake Research for Small Business Majority in which small business owners supported stronger regulation of Wall Street by a 2-1 margin

THE DODD-FRANK FINANCIAL REFORM LAW ALSO COMMANDS WIDE SUPPORT

According to a Gallup Poll from 2010, 61% of Americans held a positive opinion of the Dodd-Frank Act – a higher level of support than for any other piece of current legislation.

A 2012 Lake Research Survey showed 73% approval of Dodd-Frank.

THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU AND ITS WORK ARE BROADLY POPULAR

In Lake’s 2013 survey, 8 in 10 voters (after hearing a short description of the agency) expressed their support for the CFPB, while nearly half (49%) expressed strong support.

Another recent Lake survey, commissioned by Small Business Majority, showed 84% of small business owners in favor of the CFPB.

The 2012 Lake survey showed voters agreeing by more than a 3 to 1 margin on the need for an oversight agency dedicated to preventing deceptive and abusive financial-industry practices and protecting consumers.

Support for the CFPB crossed party lines, Lake found, with Democrats in favor by a margin of 63 percentage points, independents by 39 points, and Republicans by 16 points.

By contrast, just 28% of those surveyed agreed with a characterization of Wall Street reform as a job-killer and a case of means excessive government regulation and oppressive bureaucracy.

A 2011 Consumers Union survey showed the CFPB enjoying the support of 74% of voters.

VOTERS WANT MORE ACTION BY GOVERNMENT AS WELL AS BANKS AND LENDERS TO RENEGOTIATE MORTGAGES AND HELP ENDANGERED HOMEOWNERS

According to polling by Lake Research in 2011:

  • Voters want financial institutions to be required to work with homeowners to renegotiate mortgages. This support is nationwide and extends across party and ideological lines, encompassing a majority of self-identified Tea Party voters. In all, 75% of voters took this position.
  • Voters believed that elected officials were doing too little to prevent foreclosures. 72% of those surveyed said that officials had not been tough enough on banks and mortgage lenders who violated rules or broke the law.
  • 90% of voters ranked foreclosures as an important national issue.