Based on media coverage, conventional wisdom suggests Wall Street would favor Republican Party candidates when donating to campaigns. But that’s not the case.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics Web site OpenSecrets.org, out the top 25 political contributors for the 2008 election cycle, nine were Wall Street banking or investment firms, including the now defunct firm Lehman Brothers. Employees at eight of those nine firms gave more money to Democratic candidates – nearly $17 million to Democratic candidates versus only $11 million to their Republican counterparts. That’s 60 percent for Democrats to only 40 percent for Republicans.
Four of the top six overall donors are Wall Street financial firms participating in part of the recently passed $850 billion bailout – Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Citigroup (NYSE:C), JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS). Employees of those firms gave $10.4 million to Democrats and $6 million to Republicans or 63 percent Democrat. Employees of bank Goldman Sachs alone gave $3.6 million to Democrats and $1.3 million to Republicans, a nearly 3-to-1 ratio.
Still, the Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama criticized Republican President George W. Bush for putting Wall Street before
And, Obama has had his blame game message conveyed by the media in many cases – that “Republican policies” are behind the financial crisis.
“Barack Obama and Joe Biden – they deliver a tag team attack on John McCain,” CNN “The Situation Room” host Wolf Blitzer said on Sept. 15. “They say Republican policies are to blame for this latest financial blow and they’re accusing the McCain camp of smears and deception.”
Although Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has had harsh words for “Wall Street greed,” the media in many instances have linked the GOP to the Wall Street crisis, despite donations from Wall Street being a huge part of funding for the Obama campaign.
“I was just in Ohio this past week and I can tell you in small towns in Ohio, the economic debate is dominating and it’s not so much that they are in love with Obama plan but they are tired of Republican policy and saying they are though the hearing much different from John McCain,” CNN’s John King said on the Oct. 7 “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” “So that is his challenge to prove he has an economic plan and prove it is different from the current administration.”
And that echo of the Democratic candidates by the media has had an effect on public opinion. According to a Sept. 22 CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, 47 percent of registered voters polled blamed Republicans for the problems facing financial institutions and the stock market versus only 24 percent that have blame Democratic candidates.
Even when companies outside the top 25 are counted, Democratic support is strong. Out of the top 100 political contributors for the 2008 election cycle, 16 were Wall Street banking or investment firms, including Bear Stearns. Employees of those 16 firms gave more to Democratic candidates – $22 million versus $16 million to GOP candidates. That’s 58 percent for Democrats.
The data from the Center for Responsive Politics are based on contributions from PACs and individuals giving $200 or more to federal candidates and parties as reported to the Federal Election Commission, released on Oct. 19.