LAWFUEL – Cost of ’08 Presidential Race Already Tops All Elections Prior to ’04
While Republicans saw gains, exclusive analysis of year-end contributions finds Democrats maintained their hold on most top-giving industries. Lawyers, retirees and Wall Street still dominate. Candidates are on pace to break 2004 records before parties officially nominate.
WASHINGTON—Even before a single vote was cast, the candidates running for the White House raised and spent more money in 2007 than in all of seven of the last eight presidential elections, the Center for Responsive Politics has found. And based on their year-end campaign finance filings, the candidates are on pace to break 2004’s fundraising records before the major parties officially nominate their candidates for this November’s contest.
“We knew from the start that this would be the most expensive presidential election ever, but to see the pre-primary season alone costing more than entire elections is remarkable,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the nonpartisan watchdog group.
In 2007 the field of presidential candidates for ’08 raised $582.5 million and spent $481.2 million. That exceeds the total fundraising and spending in each election from 1976 through 2000—the last time both parties had competitive fields. In 2000, George W. Bush, Al Gore and the other candidates who ran collected $528.9 million and spent $343.1 million, including public financing. In 2004, Bush, John Kerry and the rest of the field raised $880.5 million and spent $717.9 million. In 2008, the Center predicts, the candidates alone will raise more than $1 billion—the first time a U.S. presidential election will cross the billion-dollar mark.
On its award-winning website, OpenSecrets.org, the Center for Responsive Politics has incorporated the year-end presidential campaign finance reports into its exclusive analysis of the top industries and contributors backing each candidate. The site’s presidential section also includes analyses of the geographic distribution of contributions, the candidates’ fundraising over time and contributions from major sectors and selected industries in the news. CRP has also updated OpenSecrets.org’s Money Web, a popular new feature for the ’08 election that uses social networking software to illustrate links between the presidential candidates and their top donors.
Looking at the industries financing this election, lawyers and law firms have contributed more than any other industry, totaling at least $46.6 million to the candidates in 2007. Democrats have received 77 percent of lawyers’ donations, and Hillary Clinton is the top recipient.
Retired individuals made up the No. 2 “industry” for the year, and in the 4th Quarter, they were No. 1. Retirees have contributed more than $38.6 million in this campaign, splitting their donations evenly between the two major parties. Barack Obama has raised more from retired individuals than any other remaining candidate.
In third place for 2007 was the securities and investment industry, which contributed nearly $28.7 million, 56 percent to Democrats. Clinton has received more from Wall Street than any candidate, but Obama is close behind her.
“While this election has been unusual in a number of ways, we have seen consistency in the industries financing these candidates,” Krumholz said.
Other top-giving industries in 2007 included real estate (No. 4), health professionals (No. 8), education (No. 9) and entertainment (No. 10). Democrats have collected more money from all of those industries, topping Republicans’ fundraising in 15 of the 20 industries that have given the most toward this presidential campaign. Three of the top 20 industries favored Republicans in 2007 (miscellaneous finance, general contractors and miscellaneous manufacturing and distributing), while two (retirees and real estate) were roughly split.
Top 10 Industries Contributing to Presidential Candidates, 2007
Industry Grand Total %Dem %Repub
Lawyers/Law Firms $46,557,623 77% 23%
Retired $38,610,407 50% 50%
Securities & Investment $28,671,624 56% 44%
Real Estate $21,426,989 51% 49%
Misc Business $12,497,500 67% 33%
Business Services $12,016,066 62% 38%
Misc Finance $9,798,635 47% 53%
Health Professionals $9,714,655 55% 45%
Education $8,511,935 75% 25%
TV/Movies/Music $7,981,956 82% 18%
While the Democratic candidates dominated the fundraising in 2007, there was some good news for Republicans during the 4th Quarter: They increased their share of the money in nine of the 10 industries that contributed the most in October through December. The bad news for Republicans is that the ground they gained was fueled in part by candidates who have since dropped out, particularly Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.
Top 10 Industries Contributing to Presidential Candidates, 4th Quarter
Industry Grand Total %Dem %Repub
Retired $11,510,739 45% 55%
Lawyers/Law Firms $6,122,714 70% 30%
Securities & Investment $3,330,854 50% 50%
Real Estate $2,852,061 47% 53%
Health Professionals $2,153,116 49% 51%
Education $2,077,402 73% 27%
Business Services $2,013,354 62% 38%
Misc Business $1,747,086 51% 49%
Misc Finance $1,412,332 44% 56%
Computers/Internet $1,400,256 56% 44%
Ranking individual companies based on their employees’ contributions, as well as the small amount of PAC money in the presidential race, the Center found that Wall Street’s biggest banks were the top givers in 2007. Goldman Sachs was the corporate leader; its employees and their families gave nearly $1.5 million to the presidential candidates, 71 percent to Democrats. Employees of the other major banks—Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers (which was the biggest donor among all companies in the 4th Quarter), JP Morgan Chase and others—have also favored Democrats. Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse are the only exceptions on Wall Street; their employees’ money went mostly to Republican candidates.
“No matter who becomes our next president, Wall Street will have an indebted friend in the White House,” Krumholz said.
Following the investment banks in the company rankings, DLA Piper was the top contributor among law firms in 2007; employees and the firm’s PAC have contributed more than $682,000 to the candidates, 92 percent to Democrats and 69 percent to Clinton alone. The Skadden Arps firm, Greenberg Traurig, Kirkland & Ellis and Sidley Austin were also big givers in the legal industry.
The biggest “contributor” of all after one year of fundraising remains the progressive group ActBlue, which facilitates individual donors pooling their money to finance Democratic candidates. In donations exceeding $200, ActBlue has directed more than $2.2 million to the presidential candidates, but nearly all of it went to dropouts John Edwards and Bill Richardson. ActBlue’s fundraising is far greater than campaign finance reports would suggest, however, since donations below $200 are not itemized on candidates’ reports and, therefore, cannot be tracked or totaled.
Top 10 Contributors to Presidential Candidates, 2007
Donor Grand Total %Dem %Repub
ActBlue $2,246,871 100% 0%
Goldman Sachs $1,472,646 71% 29%
Citigroup Inc $1,317,453 61% 39%
Morgan Stanley $1,012,097 62% 38%
Lehman Brothers $990,150 61% 39%
Merrill Lynch $932,376 42% 58%
JP Morgan Chase & Co $793,894 66% 34%
UBS AG $696,839 64% 36%
DLA Piper $682,560 92% 8%
Credit Suisse Group $651,895 45% 55%
Top 10 Contributors to Presidential Candidates, 4th Quarter
Donor Grand Total %Dem %Repub
Lehman Brothers $234,060 56% 44%
Microsoft Corp $180,620 71% 29%
Merrill Lynch $174,654 28% 72%
Goldman Sachs $174,143 52% 48%
Morgan Stanley $169,922 55% 45%
Citigroup Inc $169,839 36% 64%
Sullivan & Cromwell $167,785 48% 52%
DLA Piper $136,400 92% 8%
Google Inc $115,511 71% 29%
Pricewaterhousecoopers $112,914 86% 14%
(Company totals include contributions from PACs, employees and their families.)
The Center for Responsive Politics offers these additional observations on donor groups of interest in this campaign:
CLINTON LEADS WITH LOBBYISTS: The industry that has perhaps gotten more discussion in this race than any other, lobbying, continues to favor Hillary Clinton. She received $823,000 in 2007 from the lobbying industry, which gave about $2.7 million overall.
WOMEN SPLIT BETWEEN CLINTON AND OBAMA: Clinton has outraised Obama with women—$35.1 million to his $28.8 million—but his campaign finance reports list more female donors—29,000 versus her 25,000. Clinton and Obama’s percentages from women are about even—45 percent of her total and 43 percent of his. On the Republican side, Mitt Romney collected the most from women at $14.4 million from about 11,000 donors.
MILITARY DONORS FAVOR ANTIWAR CANDIDATES: Individuals in the Army, Navy and Air Force made those branches of the armed services among the top contributors in the 4th Quarter, ranking No. 13, No. 18 and No. 21, respectively. In 2007, Republican Ron Paul, who opposes U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, was the top recipient of money from donors in the military, collecting at least $212,000 from them. Barack Obama, another war opponent, was second with about $94,000.
$1.4 MILLION CAME FROM OVERSEAS: Americans living abroad contributed $1.4 million to the presidential candidates in 2007, exceeding the $908,000 they contributed in all of the 2004 election. These donors favored Democrats with 69 percent of their money in ’07. Obama was the top recipient for the year, but Hillary Clinton, whose husband visited London in October to raise money, dominated in the 4th Quarter.
The Center’s researchers identified the top donors to the ’08 presidential race using the candidates’ Federal Election Commission reports covering Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, which were due on Jan. 31, and added in data from the candidates’ reports from the campaign’s first nine months. Researchers fingerprinted tens of thousands of individual donors—a task only the Center undertakes on such a large scale. Matches among family members were made to associate unemployed spouses and children with the company and industry of their wage-earning family member. All but about 1 percent of the money flowing to presidential candidates comes from individuals. Political action committees controlled by corporations, unions and interest groups give a relatively small amount to presidential candidates.
If a donor gives more than $200 to a candidate, their name, address, employer and occupation must be provided to the FEC. Donors who give less are not itemized in campaign finance reports, so the Center’s analysis by industry and organization does not include them. CRP’s research, displayed in a variety of ways on OpenSecrets.org, is based at this point on the successful classification of more than 70 percent of the candidates’ itemized contributions in 2007. For the year, the Center processed more than 650,000 presidential contribution records, totaling $461 million. CRP researchers will continue their analysis over the coming weeks, so figures and rankings are subject to change.