WASHINGTON, D.C.—The 2008 election results reveal that voters seek a change in Washington, but allowing plaintiff’s lawyers to bring more frivolous lawsuits is not the “change” they are looking for, according to an election night poll released by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).
Across the political spectrum, voters agreed that frivolous lawsuits remain a problem in the United States, and that our economy will be negatively impacted if Congress expands opportunities to sue. Eighty three percent of voters said the number of frivolous lawsuits was a serious problem, including 77 percent of Democrats; 80 percent of Independents; and 92 percent of Republicans.
“Many Americans voted for change yesterday,” said ILR President Lisa Rickard. “But change does not mean they want Congress to give the plaintiffs’ bar more ways to sue,” she said.
Of those voters who identified “change” as the single most important quality in determining their vote for President, 76 percent said they would have a less favorable impression of the next Congress if they passed laws allowing trial lawyers to bring more lawsuits.
And voters clearly understand lawyers primarily benefit from lawsuits. “They get it,” said Rickard. “Our survey shows 73 percent of voters identify lawyers as benefitting most from lawsuits, and only 4 percent say victims do,” she said.
On the critical issue of the economy, 79 percent of voters agreed that if Congress expands opportunities to sue, this will have a negative impact on the economy. This is particularly notable, as voters said the economy was the most important issue in how they cast their vote.
The poll also showed that Congress’ favorability is linked to lawsuit expansion. Seventy seven percent of voters said they would have a less favorable impression of Congress if they pass laws allowing trial lawyers to bring more lawsuits. Only 9 percent would have a more favorable impression.
While the voters clearly called for “change” in their vote, their views on the problem of frivolous lawsuits have remained consistent. The survey findings were virtually unchanged from a poll conducted on election night in 2006. The 2008 national survey of 800 voters was conducted on election night and has a +/- 3.46% margin of error.
ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.