Wall Street Drifting – Slightly – Toward Dems


There’s an interesting story from Bloomberg News today on a shift toward Democrats in political giving this year by Wall Street. The story, by Michael Forsythe and George Stein, cites donation totals from 11 top securities firms, showing $3.1 million going to Democrats in this year’s congressional elections versus only $1.9 million to Republicans.

Bloomberg is certainly well plugged in on Wall Street and the story features interesting quotes from industry insiders. But if you read the story and got the impression that there’s been a real sea change on Wall Street, you’d be wrong.

According to the latest numbers on Open Secrets, the industry as a whole this year has shifted its giving ever-so-slightly to the Democratic column: 50% to 48%. In 2004, the industry gave just over half its money – 52% to 48% – to the GOP. That’s a four percent shift. To me it says the industry is doing this year what it does every year – cover its bets.

One reason for the strong Democratic shift among the 11 Wall Street firms that Bloomberg surveyed can be answered in a single word: Hillary. Wall Street is Sen. Hillary Clinton’s home turf this reelection year, and she has tapped deeply into New York’s biggest industry for plenty of campaign funds (as the story points out).

She is the top recipient of securities industry money overall this year, with more than $1.1 million in contributions so far. And if you add to that the money she’s collected over the past six years she’s been in the Senate – as her Open Secrets profile shows – the total comes to more than $1.7 million.

That’s a nice pool of money, and good friends on Wall Street will be a big financial asset when the 2008 presidential race rolls around. But don’t read too much into it if you’re trying to extrapolate outwards and measure the mood of Wall Street as a whole. A one-year blip from a hometown industry does not a trend make.