The funding of U.S political campaigns has been an issue surrounded by controversy for almost 190 years, having first emerged from Andrew Jackson’s 1829 presidential campaign. Nowadays, it has taken a more modern twist with advocates of cryptocurrencies waging their own campaigns in order to allow digital currencies to finally be accepted and thus used in political campaigns. Be that as it may, a recent study from Clovr showed that their efforts have thus far failed to advance the modern cause.
Currently, there are a number of federal and state laws as well as regulations in place to govern how much can contributed to a candidate or political cause and who exactly is allowed to make a contribution. Even so, it has proven to be increasingly difficult to keep tabs on how this funding is being used, which raises the question: will an extra donation method really help or are digital currencies just complicating the issue even further?
Being a strong advocate for cryptocurrency distribution, Clovr decided to explore this question through their recent study and discover exactly how U.S voters feel about the role of digital currencies in political campaigns.
In order to conduct their study, Clovr surveyed 1, 023 registered U.S voters on how they felt digital currencies could affect the overall political process. The results of the study may surprise you, but it appears the cryptocurrency is significantly moving towards its ultimate goal of mainstream status. It seems that even though voters are increasingly suspect of political organisations and politicians themselves, they express a certain confidence and trust in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
Cryptocurrency vs. U.S Dollar
Well over half the registered voters (60%) were found to believe that cryptocurrencies and U.S dollars should be treated equally in federal elections. Only 21% disagreed.
According to current federal laws, U.S dollars and cryptocurrencies are both acceptable payment methods when it comes to political donations but are in no way treated equally. In fact, the Federal Election Commission, which oversees presidential, House and Senate campaigns, issued a ruling in 2014 which stated that bitcoin, the first and most popular of all cryptocurrencies could be accepted, but as an “in-kind” contribution that is limited to $100. This means that while U.S dollars continue to be received in the forms of cash, credit card transactions and checks, cryptocurrency contributions mainly consist of donated items, supplies or subsidised rent.
Now, even though legislations may vary from state to state, with others being more accepting of this new form of donation, cryptocurrency advocates continue encouraging the FEC to place digital currencies in an equal standing with U.S dollars. They claim that from a political perspective, issues surrounding the acceptance of cryptocurrencies are the exact same ones the federal government and private sector are struggling with – value and security.
Are Digital Currencies Secure Enough for Political Donation Use?
When it comes to digital currencies, the issue of security and protection of personal data is one that concerns many. Be that as it may, Clovr discovered that over half the people surveyed (54%) believed that cryptocurrencies are secure enough to be used for political donations. On the other hand, only 26% stated they feel digital currencies are not safe enough. 21% of voters reported being unsure.
Being aware that many people may not be entirely familiar with cryptocurrency technology and how the security behind it works, Clovr reported a second set of statistics that concerned only those extremely familiar with the digital currency. The number quickly jumped up 73% of crypto-savvy voters that trusted cryptocurrencies to be secure enough in order to be used for political purposes.
Given the fluctuations in price most cryptocurrencies dealt with over the last few years, the question of stability was definitely one Clovr chose to address in their study. When asked whether digital currencies were considered stable enough to be used for political purposes, 42% of voters stated “Yes”, whereas 43% said “No”. Clovr then asked the same question to only people who were extremely knowledgeable when it came to cryptocurrencies, where 62% reported they believed digital currencies are in fact financially stable to use for political purposes.
Industry experts confidently state that the question of cryptocurrency stability will become gradually all the more accepted as prices stabilize for longer periods of time. Nowadays people often hear of large swings in value with popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and tend to believe it comes with the territory.
Will Donations Increase with Cryptocurrency Acceptance?
It appears that nowadays donations to political campaigns continue to become more popular and political candidates are constantly on the lookout to increase them even further. According to Clovr’s study, a little under 25% of eligible voters claimed they would actually be more likely to contribute to a political campaign if they had the option to donate in digital currencies. Most voters still appear to prefer donations in U.S dollars, but an increasing number indicated that they would prefer either exclusive cryptocurrency donations or at least a combination of both digital and U.S currencies.
Foreign Involvement Concerns
Ever since President Donald Trump took office, the issue of foreign involvement in American elections has never been “hotter”. Where do cryptocurrencies fall in all this?
Clovr found that 60% of voters believed that digital currencies would make foreign interference in elections even more common. Only 15% expressed disagreement with this. Even when Clovr turned to crypto-savvy voters, more than half (64%) believed that if they were used in the political system, foreign interference in elections would become increasingly common. Even so, respondents explained that their main concern was that candidates or foreign governments would discover ways to manipulate digital currency donations. Their answers did not necessarily reflect how they felt about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology overall.
Illegal Use Concerns
The Clovr study also addressed one of the other main issues when it comes to uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrencies – their illegal use. In fact, 62% of voters expressed that they believed digital currencies are more likely to be used illegally in the U.S political system compared to U.S dollars. Only 15% trusted this was less likely to occur. When it came to crypto-experts, 51% stated that cryptocurrencies were more likely to be used illegally in politics, which leaves yet another strong uncertainty.
Mistrust in Politicians and Political Parties
People being skeptical and not fully trusting politicians and entire political parties is nothing new. Now with the increasing news coverage of foreign involvement in the U.S elections, this trust has seemed to move all the more further away. When asked whether politicians would take illegal advantage of looser regulations on digital currency donations, 64% stated “Yes”. This number dropped to 54% when only asking voters that are knowledgeable on cryptocurrencies. Now, when it came to political parties, results were similar. 56% of voters expressed that they believed political parties would also take advantage of looser regulations on cryptocurrencies.
This does not necessarily reflect on a distrust in the digital currency, but more on politicians and parties themselves that people have grown to not trust over the years.
Conclusion: Will Digital Currencies Find Their Place in Political Campaigns?
When it comes to cryptocurrencies and politics, voters have mixed opinions. Results of the Clovr study showed that digital currencies are not the only problem though. In fact, U.S voters seemed to trust the technology behind cryptocurrencies more than politicians and political parties themselves. Digital currencies are actually moving closer to mainstream adoption with over half the voters accepting them as a secure form of political donation. Many even stated they would be more encouraged to vote were it be for the acceptance of digital currencies as a legitimate donation method. Concerns mostly rose over their use for foreign interference and illegal activities- which as explained previously, was mostly attributed to the growing mistrust in politicians and the political system. Clovr trusts that their recent study can act as a positive step towards lobbying the FEC to gradually expand the use of cryptocurrencies in political campaigns.