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Federal candidates depend on financial sector more than any other for campaign money

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Candidates running for federal office are two-thirds more dependent on donors from the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector for campaign contributions than any other sector. Through the second quarter of 2012, federal candidates have relied on the sector for 15.2% of their itemized (over $200 contributions), solidly ahead of their dependence on the next closest competitors -- health interests (at 8.9%) and lawyers and lobbyists (at 8.8%). This is not a new phenomenon. In each of the last seven election cycles, federal candidates have depended on the finance sector for between 15% and 17% of their contributions at the same point in the cycle. But with tax reform being high on the agenda no matter who is elected and the finance sector eager to continue to shape the implementation of Wall Street reform, the contributions are as important as ever. What is different this cycle is that FIRE contributions are solidly supporting Republicans for the first time since 2000. Through the second quarter of 2012, 54.8% of finance industry contributions to federal candidates went to Republicans, up dramatically from 44.3% in 2010 (even after the passage of Dodd-Frank) and 42.2% in 2008. This shift has taken place in the House, the Senate, and as most frequently reported, the presidential race. In the battle to be president, our calculations show that 58.6% of all financial sector itemized campaign donations going to Republican candidates, up from 38.6% in 2008. To be clear, this total only includes money directly to candidates. If we looked at super PACs, finance money would be titled even more Republican. Through the second quarter, we calculate that Mitt Romney’s Restore Our Future super PAC depended on the finance sector for 43% of its money, and 75% of the finance money was coming directly from the securities and investment sub-sector (aka Wall Street). No other sector of the economy even came close in helping to “Restore Our Future.”

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