While the state’s Citizens’ Election Program remains in judicial limbo, a new Zogby poll found 79 percent of the 503 Connecticut voters surveyed support it and 58 percent say the governor and legislature should act quickly to save it.

“Nearly 8 in 10 respondents indicated their support for public financing of elections—this is a message that the Governor and legislators can’t ignore,” Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause Connecticut, said in a press release.

Still according to the poll half of likely voters say they do not know enough about the Citizens’ Election Program to have an opinion, yet nearly everyone else 45 percent say they either strongly approve 29 percent or somewhat approve 16 percent.

House Speaker Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said this past weekend that 80 percent of the lawmakers currently in the General Assembly participated in the program. He said he thinks it has made a huge difference in their interaction with lobbyists over the past year.

Since the lobbyists can no longer donate to campaigns Donovan opined they really had to be more effective in arguing to get legislation their clients needed passed. The ban on lobbyist and state contractor campaign donations is one of the portions of the bill being challenged in a federal appeals court.

“Voters want elections to be about them and not big money donors. Our state leaders must act now to amend the Citizens’ Election program so it is available to candidates for the 2010 election cycle and beyond,” Quickmire said.

While some lawmakers support the Citizens’ Election program there are still some like Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, who believe the money that’s in the fund should be spent on social services until the state digs itself out of a deficit.
When presented with a statement that the state can’t afford the Citizens’ Election program because of the state deficit, only 21 percent of voters agreed while 68 percent said they wants the Clean Elections’ program funded .
“This poll sends a strong message to lawmakers in Hartford – stop cutting the funds to the Citizens’ Election Program!” Karen Hobert Flynn, vice president for state operations of Common Cause, said. “This poll shows, without a doubt, that support for the popular program cuts across political affiliation, ideology, income level and age.”

Opponents of the Citizens’ Election program disagreed.

“The only thing that this poll demonstrates ‘overwhelmingly’ is that people don’t know much about taxpayer-funded political campaigns,” Yankee Institute Policy Director Heath W. Fahle, said.  “The Legislature shouldn’t waste another moment of time on this.  170,000 CT residents are out of work – they need help, not the politicians.”

If voters don’t know much about the Citizens’ Election program it’s possible they may have also been reacting to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, which allows unions and corporations to openly fund campaigns.

“The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United could unleash a flood of corporate money into state elections, but a strong Citizen’ Election Program that allows candidates to magnify the impact of small donations will help candidates to compete and get their message out,” Hobert Flynn said.

Dan Malloy, one of the seven Democratic candidates for governor has been hammering his millionaire opponents to support the Citizens‘ Election program for months.

“This poll should serve as proof of just how strongly Connecticut voters feel about campaign finance reform, and as a warning for those candidates who think they can brush aside the Citizens’ Election Program in order to try and buy a nomination,” Malloy said in a press release Wednesday.

Ned Lamont, a Democrat, and Tom Foley, a Republican, who are exploring or actively seeking a run for governor, have either signaled or said they will raise funds privately outside the guidelines of the Citizens’ Election program.