Hillary’s Investors vs. Trump’s Retirees

Wall Street is the top source of Clinton's massive war chest of campaign cash

Democrat Hillary Clinton has run laps around Republican Donald Trump on the fundraising circuit, and the nearly final tallies contained in campaign finance reports explain why: Hillary Clinton is the candidate of Wall Street.

It is not the $529.9 million that Clinton and friendly PACs have raised that sets her apart — it is where that money has come from. The No. 1 source by occupation has been donors who work in the securities and investment industry — almost $58.9 million, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

“It just should solidify in everyone’s minds their worst suspicion that Hillary Clinton is bought and paid for by Wall Street insiders.”

Trump and his allied PACs, meanwhile, have garnered their highest proportion of donations by occupation from retirees, raising a little less than $16.3 million from that group.

It flips the script of previous presidential elections, in which Democrats have painted Republicans as beholden to the wealthy.

“It just should solidify in everyone’s minds their worst suspicion that Hillary Clinton is bought and paid for by Wall Street insiders,” said Trump supporter Michael Johns, a Tea Party activist from New Jersey and former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush.

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Harlan Hill, a Democratic strategist who formed a pro-Trump super PAC after Sen. Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic primary, said the fundraising distribution makes sense, given how the race has played out.

“There’s no question from WikiLeaks that there’s a cozy relationship between Hillary Clinton and top banks,” he said. “Nothing surprises me about any of this. Isn’t this exactly what you’d expect from Hillary Clinton?”

John Geer, a professor of education and public policy at Vanderbilt University, said the unusual makeup of the donors for both candidates reflects the race Trump is running. His views on issues like trade have driven away some traditional, big business supporters of Republican candidates, he said.

“It speaks to the Trump campaign,” he said. “Trump has not courted the support of the business community in the Republican Party.”

Geer said Wall Street executives are giving to Clinton not just because they want her to win, but also as a hedge because they think she will win. He said a more traditional Republican no doubt would be more competitive on Wall Street. He added that Clinton likely would be hammering her opponent on issues like Social Security and Medicare, staples in recent campaigns that have been largely invisible this year.

“And it would be [a campaign] we’d all be comfortable with,” he said. “But this campaign has been upended by Donald Trump’s campaign — for good or bad.”

Johns said Trump’s moderate views on those issues reflect his supporters.

“Trump has really done a smart thing not running on a promise to make cuts to Social Security or Medicare,” he said. “We have a growth problem.”

Hill said retirees and employees in the securities and investment industry are making rational choices with respect to their candidates.

“It is pretty [apparent] that the two groups are worried about their interests,” he said, noting that those interests frequently clash with each other.

Also noteworthy from the campaign finance reports is the scale of the donations. Trump’s second-biggest donor group — perhaps, not surprisingly — is the real estate industry. But the $2.2 million haul is 5.5 times smaller than Clinton’s, even though it ranks only eighth on her list.

Clinton’s donor groups include several industries associated with Democrats. Lawyers and law firms rank third at $28.1 million, followed by TV, movies, and music, at $19.7 million. Nonprofit institutions [$15.5 million], education [$13.7 million], and women’s issues [$13 million] come next.

For Trump, donors are much more likely to come from business or traditional conservative groups. Miscellaneous business ranks third, at $1.8 million, followed by health professionals [$1.3 million]. Also ranking in Trump’s top 10 are Republican/conservative sources [$680,508], general contractors [$564,987], and crop production/basic processing [$454,702].

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The Trump campaign has raised $169.6 million. That includes $54 million that Trump has poured into the campaign from his personal wealth. Almost two-thirds of Trump’s individual contributions are from small donors. Clinton, by contrast, has gotten 75 percent of her individual contributions from large donors. She has chipped in nothing from her personal wealth.

“She’s contributed essentially none of her own money, which reflects a lack of equity that would somewhat offset the influence of big donors,” Johns said.

With Clinton at the top of the ticket, Hill said, “The Democratic Party is the party of Wall Street.”

But Hill said the change may last only as long as Trump.

“That’s not a sure thing,” he said. “If he loses, I could see an over-correction of the Republican Party.”

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