Most of America isn’t interested in next week’s elections. Wall Street is an exception.
The $169 million from donors in the securities and investment industry is the most they have ever contributed in a midterm election, according to Center for Responsive Politics data. That makes them the most generous group for the first time in decades, with about two-thirds of the money going to Republicans in what the Washington-based nonprofit expects will be the country’s most expensive non-presidential election.
Financiers donating to Republicans and Democrats said their investments were driven by something grander than self-interest.
“If Wall Street is in fact the largest contributor to the midterms, it is precisely because of its true concern for the future of our country,” said Dan Lufkin, who co-founded investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and has donated to candidates from both parties. “Wall Street, in its many forms, has as its operative word ‘the future.’”
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The industry’s biggest donor was Paul Singer’s hedge fund Elliott Management, with $12.1 million. Among top givers were employees from Ken Griffin’s Citadel LLC, Soros Fund Management LLC and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Wall Street’s lead over retirees, lawyers and other groups grows wider when commercial banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. are added.
After giving more to Democrats in 2006 and 2008, securities and investment donors switched allegiance in 2010, when President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act’s financial regulations into law. Three Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn, each received more than $1 million from the industry from the beginning of last year through Oct. 15, according to the center’s data.
That doesn’t match Democrat Cory Booker, the U.S. senator from New Jersey, whose $1.9 million makes him the industry’s current favorite, the data show.
“It is not surprising to me that financial services contributed more to the midterm election than any other industry,” said Robert Wolf, founder of 32 Advisors LLC and a former UBS AG executive, who held an August fundraiser for Democrats that Obama attended. “For me it has always been based on the candidate and how his or her views align with my views on certain key issues.”
Wolf’s peers are paying more attention than most Americans to the elections, which will determine control of the Senate. About two-thirds aren’t following midterm news closely or at all, a Pew Research Center survey conducted Oct. 2 through Oct. 5 found. Attention lags behind where it was four and eight years ago, overshadowed by interest in Ebola, Secret Service missteps and airstrikes against the Islamic State.
When Pew asked voters which parties control the House and Senate, fewer than half answered both correctly.