WASHINGTON (3/8/12)—The growing political clout of credit unions was illustrated in the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) National Voter Survey, as 55% of respondents said they would favor credit unions if a disagreement over legislation broke out in the U.S. Congress or state legislature between credit unions and banks.
Support for credit unions in a credit union versus bank conflict has grown 12 percentage points since 2004, and has been above 50% since 2010. Meanwhile, public political support for banks has fallen from a high of 48% that was recorded in 2007. A total of 34% said they would favor banks in the 2012 Voter Survey.
The CUNA survey drew responses from 1,000 randomly selected registered voters in locations nationwide. CUNA has conducted an annual voter survey since 1999.
This newest survey showed credit unions also enjoyed support on specific political issues. For instance, 68% approved of the federal credit union tax status, and 58% said they would oppose revoking credit unions' federal tax exemption in a bid to help balance the budget.
The 68% total is a significant increase from the 46% that said they approved of credit unions' tax status in 2009 and has remained steady since 2011. Also, just one in four respondents to this year's survey said they did not support the credit union tax exemption.
In a separate question, 72% of respondents said they agreed that credit unions' tax status is justified by their member-owned structure and their practice of returning earnings to their members through dividends and lower loan interest rates. Only one-quarter of respondents agreed with the banker point of view on this issue.
Survey takers also opined on other hot credit union issues, including the current 12.25% of assets credit union member business lending (MBL) cap.
Legislation that would increase this cap to 27.5% of assets is active in both the House and Senate, and 59% of respondents agreed that credit unions should be allowed to help small businesses and the larger economy by providing more MBLs. Support for an increased MBL cap has remained steady since 2009. Only 29% of this year's respondents said that the cap should remain in place.
"The bottom line is that voters, regardless of party, back credit union issue positions," said Richard Gose, CUNA's Senior Vice President of Political Affairs. "This strong voter sentiment in favor of credit unions puts the wind to our back as we go to Capitol Hill on issues like taxation and MBLs."
The survey results have shown that consumer trust in credit unions continues to grow, and that many voters view credit unions favorably. This is the final News Now story on the survey results.
For previous coverage of the survey, use the resource links.