We already know that Republican presidential candidates have so far raised a lot less money overall than their Democratic counterparts. What is really remarkable: This is true even in industries where you would expect the Republicans to enjoy big advantages.Instead, the GOP, once the party of Wall Street, is losing Wall Street. The party that once dominated business ... doesn't. Through the end of September, Democratic presidential candidates outraised their Republican rivals at securities and investment companies by nearly $2 million, $10.7 million to $8.75 million, according to OpenSecrets.org, a Web site that aggregates data from the Federal Elections Commission. That's a 56% to 44% advantage. By comparison, in 1996 Wall Street gave 58% of its money to Republicans. So far this time, Democrats also have outraised Republicans among hedge funds and private-equity tycoons by a similar margin, raising about $2.7 million compared with $2.1 million. This was so even though Democrats have taken the lead in pushing for changes in the tax law to close a loophole benefiting hedge-fund and private-equity managers. The Democratic candidates also grabbed 60% of contributions from the ultraconservative insurance industry -- a sharp reversal of the usual situation, where about two-thirds of the dollars go to Republicans. The Democrats are even seeing slight majorities in traditional GOP strongholds like commercial banking and real estate. When commercial bankers split slightly to the Democrats, you know the GOP is on its back foot. Imagine if the Democrats were losing the support of bedrock loyalist groups like public school teachers, trial lawyers or municipal unions.
I have written about this
before . I first noticed the trend among investment firms three years ago, when I covered the local fund management industry for a Boston newspaper. There are a lot of reasons why the investment world might have moved away from the GOP. Among them, the growing ethnic diversity of Wall Street banks and the big changes in the GOP. It's been 40 years since Richard Nixon launched his "Southern strategy" to woo rural southern whites. It worked. But a policy of "God, guns and gays" doesn't tend to win a lot of support on Wall Street. Nor do policies of big government spending and huge deficits. You might have expected the new Democratic majorities in Congress this year to scare at least some traditional Republicans back into the fold when it comes to presidential stakes. Swing voters, at the very least, tend to like checks and balances. So far, it hasn't happened. And the contributions shift isn't only taking place in the presidential race. The Center for Responsive Politics, an independent think tank in Washington, D.C., tracks money and politics. And perhaps its most astonishing analysis can be found here . This Web site aggregates the contributions to all federal candidates, whether for president, Congress or the Senate. So far this election cycle, the GOP retained a big lead in only two industries: oil and gas and general contractors.
Every other field was either on the fence, or leaning toward the Democrats. Caveat: The contributions data so far cover only the first two quarters of this year. There is, of course, plenty of time to go before the primaries, let alone next year's general election. It will be fascinating to see whether traditional GOP industries return to the fold, or whether this long-term shift continues. At this stage in the game, opinion polls don't really mean a lot. But the campaign contribution story makes ominous reading for Republican strategists.