In the 2012 election 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.
This graphic is part of Sunlight’s series on the Political ‘1% of the 1%’ in 2012. The analysis explores an elite group of 31,385 individual political donors. Together, they represent just .01% of the U.S. population, yet this group accounted for 28% of the total funding the in 2012 election.
The figures below break the 1% of the 1% up by deciles, going more in depth for the top decile (the top 3,139 donors) and then in more depth again for the top 314 donors (the 1% of the 1% of the 1%).
The major takeaway is that the biggest donors are the biggest donors because they give primarily to super PACs. Since individual aggregate contributions directly to candidates, parties and committees are legally capped at $117,000 (though some seem to ignore this), to be in the top 314 donors (minimum total of $304,000) requires at least some giving to super PACs, which allow for unlimited contributions.