Big Banks Line Up Against Obama

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Financial services companies making big presidential campaign contributions typically hedge their bets, but maybe this time they won't.

With the industry tired of being kicked around by President Obama and reeling from the continued regulatory onslaught in the wake of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act -- with federal regulators' convoluted proposal to implement the Volcker Rule being a prime example -- the top financial services contributors are leaning heavily Republican.

Michael Beckel, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, said that "the trend is clear, that the finance, insurance and real estate sector has overwhelmingly been backing Mitt Romney," while adding "that's not to say that Wall Street is monolithic. The sector has been a major source of campaign cash for both parties over the years."

President Barack Obama

Wall Street has already gotten behind Romney -- generally considered the "most electable" of the aspirants to the GOP nomination -- in a big way, with finance, insurance and real estate companies contributing $7.5 million as of Sept. 30, even though the Republican nomination is far from settled.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, President Obama had raised only $3.9 million in bundled contributions from finance, insurance and real estate companies as of Sept. 30, with only two of the top financial sector contributors from the previous election cycle included among the top 20 contributors. Goldman Sachs ( GS) has contributed $49,124 to Obama's reelection campaign so far, and Bank of America ( BAC) has provided $46,699 in bundled contributions.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama managed to $656 million in individual contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (which cites Federal Election Commission data), mainly through an innovative web-based fundraising effort, but the candidate garnered major support from the financial services industry, with $42 million coming to the campaign coffers from companies categorized as "Finance, Insurance and Real Estate."

Top financial services contributors to Obama during the 2008 campaign included Goldman Sachs, with $1.6 million in bundled campaign contributions; JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), kicking in $808,799; Citigroup ( C), contributing $736,771; UBS AG ( UBS), giving $532,674; and Morgan Stanley ( MS), which forked over $512,232.

The Center for Responsive Politics explains that the above figures represent the bundling of "many individual contributions," which "can come from the organization's members or employees (and their families)," with some companies hedging their bets "by supporting multiple candidates."

During the 2008 campaign, Republican presidential nominee John McCain garnered $31 million in bundled contributions from finance, insurance and real estate companies, with Merrill Lynch at the top among financial services companies, with $375,895 in bundled donations. Merrill was acquired by Bank of America in January 2009. Bank of America contributed $167,826 to McCain's 2008 campaign, but was not among the top 20 contributors to Obama.

Top Wall Street contributors to Obama who hedged their bets with bundled contributions to McCain's campaign included JPMorgan Chase, donating $343,505, Citigroup, giving $388,202, Morgan Stanley giving $271,902, and Goldman Sachs, which provided $240,295 to McCain's campaign.

While we're still quite early in the 2012 election cycle, with several GOP nomination aspirants clobbering each other over the head, it would appear that the financial services crew will do a little less hedging of bets this time around.

At the party level, the Democratic National Committee had received $8.8 million in bundled contributions from finance, insurance and real estate companies during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive politics, based on Federal Election Commission data released on Sept. 26. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee had received $4 million from finance, insurance and real estate companies.

Of course, on the party level, the picture is likely to change, once the Republicans settle on a nominee, who will no doubt form a separate election committee to funnel contributions to his or her own campaign, as well as to the GOP.

The following is a quick rundown of financial sector campaign contributions to the five top GOP candidates:

5. Herman Cain

Despite his top-standing among aspirants for the Republican nomination in recent polls, Herman Cain was in fifth-place among GOP fundraisers, collecting $5.3 million in contributions as of Sept. 30, including just $129,416 in bundled contributions from finance, insurance and real estate companies.

Top contributors to the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City include Wausau Homes, with 9,800 in bundled contributions as of Sept. 30, and Wells Fargo ( WFC), kicking in $8,300.

4. Michelle Bachmann

The former U.S. representative of Minnesota's 6th district and founder of the U.S. House Tea Party Caucus has faded in the polls since winning the Iowa straw poll in August.

Bachmann raised $7.5 million for her presidential campaign as of Sept. 30 according to the Center for Responsive Politics, including $193,698 from finance, insurance and real estate companies. Top sector contributors have included TCF Financial ( TCB) of Wayzata, Minn., which famously sued the Federal Reserve over the regulator's initial plan to implement the Durbin Amendment's reduction in the interchange fees large banks charge to merchants to process debit card transactions. TCF provided Bachmann's campaign with $8,300 in bundled contributions as of Sept. 30.

3. Ron Paul

The current U.S. representative for Texas's 15 district raised $12.6 million for his presidential campaign as of Sept. 30, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, including $291,757 from finance, insurance and real estate companies.

The top sector contributor to Paul's campaign as of Sept. 30 was Mason Capital Management, with $14,000 in bundled contributions.

2. Rick Perry

The Texas governor raised $17.2 million for his presidential campaign as of Sept. 30, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with $2 million coming from finance, insurance and real estate companies.

Top contributors to Perry's campaign include accounting firm Ernst & Young, with $45,300 in bundled contributions as of Sept. 30, JPMorgan Chase, contributing $27,050 and Morgan Stanley, kicking in $20,750.

1. Mitt Romney

The former Massachusetts governor and an aspirant for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination raised $32.2 million in campaign contributions as of Sept. 30, according to the Center for Responsive politics.

Finance, insurance and real estate companies contributed $7.5 million to Romney's campaign as of Sept. 30, even though the Republican nomination was far from settled.

Romney's top contributors as of Sept. 30 included Goldman Sachs, with $354,700 in bundled contributions as of Sept. 30; Credit Suisse ( CS), contributing $195,250; Morgan Stanley, giving $185,800; Barclays ( BCS), providing $155,250; Bank of America, giving $121,500; JPMorgan giving $109,750; UBS, donating $64, 250; Wells Fargo, providing $63,000; BlackStone Group ( BX), with $57,300 in contributions; and Citigroup, with $56,550 in bundled contributions.

-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

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Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.

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