Senate Democrats, Republicans Raced to Raise Money from Finance, Insurance, Real Estate Sector in 2009


More than two years after the collapse of Bear Stearns presaged the 2008 financial meltdown, the United States Senate is finally ready to begin debate on reforms to the financial regulatory structure that failed to keep the industry in check. While it may have seemed audacious at the outset of 2009, the finance, insurance and real estate sector (FIRE) has continued to pour campaign contributions into the coffers of both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. From January to December of 2009, the FIRE sector contributed a total of $17.82 million to sitting senators.

With a haul of $12.24 million, Senate Democrats pulled in nearly twice as much money from the FIRE sector as Senate Republicans. The Republicans received $5.58 million from the FIRE sector over the same period of time. All contribution data comes from the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Senate Democrats beat the Republicans in the FIRE money race almost every single month. The only month that the Republicans beat the Democrats was in December, perhaps representing a change in loyalty in the run-up to the financial reform debate.

As you can see from the above graphic and the motion chart below, campaign contributions tend to spike every three months. This is due to the end of each reporting quarter for campaigns coming every three months. Campaigns often try to raise as much money as possible in the final month of a quarter.

The FIRE sector is the most prolific contributor to campaigns over the past 20 years. Since 1989, all candidates for the Senate have received a total of $431 million from the FIRE sector.

(The motion chart below shows 2009 FIRE contributions to sitting senators by month and party. I suggest setting the color to “Unique Color” and the x axis to “Time.”)

More graphics below:

Contributions to the parties come from different parts of the country. Senate Democrats received vast amounts more from FIRE sector companies in New York in 2009 than their Republican counterparts. This may be largely due to both New York senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, running election campaigns.

The Republicans and Democrats are almost even in Texas. Republicans lead in the southern states, particularly Georgia. Outside of about ten states, contributions from the FIRE sector are insignificant.

You can see an animated graphic of the state-by-state distribution of FIRE contributions to the parties below: