The quickest way to a presidential candidate’s heart (or at least a small measure of loyalty) is to make a campaign donation. And both the Democrats and Republicans are adept at raking in the cash.
Figures filed by the campaigns with the Federal Election Comission as of Sept. 21, listed by opensecrets.org, show that Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have combined to raise a whopping $711 million. Of that total, Obama has pulled in $432 million and Romney, $279 million. Obama has a big advantage in the final weeks of the campaign because he has nearly $89 million left while Romney has "only" $50 million. Of course, these figures don't include the massive super PACs that can spend, with some rules about how they do it, on behalf of either candidate.
Where does all that cash come from? The stereotype is that Wall Street and big business showers its donations on the GOP and the Democrats are left to fund their campaign through small, grassroots donations. The truth is more of a mixed bag. Obama can count on the legal sector as one of his top supporters, while Romney, according to NBC News, has the backing of most of the CEOs of the top companies.
Of their totals, Romney has raised 81% from large donors and Obama 61%, according to opensecrets.org, which combs through Federal Election Commission reports to analyze political contributions.
Still, the stereotype does have some validity. Romney’s top five contributors are banks or financial services firms including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. Obama’s top five includes two elite colleges, the University of California and Harvard, and two high-tech firms, Google and Microsoft. (Opensecrets.org says the totals are not from the organizations themselves but derived by adding those from PACs, individual employees or owners and their immediate families, as well as affiliates of the organizations.)
It’s also worth noting that in some sectors, tens of millions are being funneled through outside spending groups, which are less transparent, as to who they back.
We decided to look at just who is donating to each party by using opensecrets.org’s economic sector breakdown of contributions. Here is AdvisorOne’s look at Obama vs. Romney: Top 7 Places Where Campaign Cash Comes From.
1) Lawyers & Law Firms
Of the $29 million contributed to the nominees this year, more than 60%, $18 million, has gone to Obama. Big law firms, like Mostyn Law Firm, Kirkland & Eliis, and DLA Piper, as well as the American Association for Justice lead the way. It’s not clear why Obama commands such a lead, but Republicans have long battled for tort reform as a way to keep down the costs of class action suits to businesses. Also, law firms are the top source of bundled money for Obama’s campaign. Bundling is the practice by individuals who reach their contribution limit of soliciting donations from friends, family and associates.
2) Finance, Insurance & Real Estate
Romney has a more than two-to-one lead in donations here, $39 million to $14 million. Among his top contributors are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase, each on the hook for more than a half million dollars. Romney's former company, Bain Capital, has given $4.6 million, most of it to outisde spending groups. Other top supporters in the sector include Barclays, Wells Fargo and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. On the other hand, The New York Times noted that Obama has managed to reel in some big donors of his own, including Jay Snyder, a financier, and Azita Raji, a retired investment banker.
With all the controversy over the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), it might not be surprising to learn the candidates have each had their share of donors from this sector. Obama leads with $11 million to Romney’s $9 million. The Romney campaign was reported to have raised $2 million in the days after the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding Obamacare. There was no word of the president receiving a similar bump. It should be noted that the Adelson Drug Clinic of Las Vegas has donated more than $17 million to outside spending groups. The doctor who runs the clinic is the wife of Romney mega-supporter Sheldon Adelson, who has donated a record $70 million to support Republican candidates in the 2012 elections.
4) Energy & Natural Resources
Romney has a four-to-one edge in this sector, having raised more than $6 million to Obama's $1.5 million. With Romney’s vow to open more land for oil drilling (remember GOP's “drill, baby, drill” from 2004) it’s not exactly an upset that he would lead this category by a wide margin. The heavy hitters who made direct contributions leaning staunchly to Romney include ExxonMobil, Koch Industries and the National Rural Electric Association. In addition, Alliance Resources and Oxbow Corp. each gave more than $3 million to outside spending groups.
Obama has a huge lead in this category, having raised more than $13 million compared to Romney’s $4 million. The top contributor in this category is the cable company Comcast, which has pumped more that $3.4 million to both candidates, with a slight edge to the president. AT&T gave the bulk of its $3.1 million to Romney, while Microsoft leaned the opposite way with its $2.8 million. Newsweb Corp., an Illinois based publisher of weekly newspapers and owner of radio stations, is the second largest donor in this sector, having given more than $3.3 million. Most of that went to outside spending groups with a tiny fraction going to Romney.
Companies in this sector are hedging their bets. They realize that no matter who is president their expertise will likely be needed. Obama leads Romney $658,000 to $574,000, totals that leave the industry far down on the list in terms of total contributions. However, the firms have contributed in the millions over the last two years to candidates in other races. Leading the way are Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
7) Miscellaneous Business
Each candidate has attracted millions from this this sector, with Romney ahead $17 million to $14 million. But the real eye-opener is in the amount given to PACs, those ubiquitous outside spending groups. More than $39 million was given in that fashion to aid Romney and the Republicans by just two entities, the Las Vegas Sands casino, whose chairman is Sheldon Adelson, and Contran Corp., a holding company that control various businesses that make and sell titanium oxide pigments, engage in waste processing and manufactures engineered components for a variety of products.
Please check out AdvisorOne's Election Impact 2012 home page for complete advisor-related election coverage, including: