2006 October 22 Sunday
Campaign Donations Show Who Would Lose If Democrats Win

Jeffrey Birnbaum reports on how K Street lobbyists and PACs are handing out money in the current election and which groups will lose if the Democrats win control of one or both houses of Congress.

Democratic leaders have signaled, in campaign commercials and elsewhere, that they intend to attack pharmaceutical and oil companies in a variety of ways when Congress reconvenes. That isn't a surprise; neither industry has been very supportive of Democrats in recent years. Since 2002, drug firms have given about two-thirds of their donations and energy companies have given roughly three quarters of theirs to Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).

Other industries that would be wise to watch their backs if Democrats take over include insurers, electric utilities, manufacturers, chemical makers, home builders, general contractors, food processors, railroads and building material producers -- all of which gave 60 percent or more of their contributions to Republicans since 2002, according to the CRP's statistics.

Democrats are likely to play favorites as well. If they win, they will almost surely give high priority to the wishes of labor unions and trial lawyers, which have generally been dismissed by Republicans.

Lawyers and unions? Doesn't any productive group win? Who else will gain if the Democrats come to power? Film studios and record companies? Big media companies? I am thinking it will be a win for illegal aliens - unless public anger on immigration prevents the Democrats from doing what they want to do.

The corporate shift of money from Republican to Democratic candidates has been noticable but small. One reason why: Political Action Committees give most of their money to incumbents.

That's why 80 percent of the money donated by PACs to federal candidates go to people who are already in office. They are, after all, the people who can vote in Congress. What's more, they also usually win reelection -- 90 percent of the time or better. Some PACs are actually prohibited from contributing to non-incumbents for these reasons.

Once the Democrats win a house of Congress then the money will shift more in their favor in the following election.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 October 22 07:26 PM  Politics American Congress

crush41 said at October 22, 2006 10:22 PM:

Barron's has an interesting article in which Jim McTague predicts the GOP will retain control of both houses based on fundraising numbers. It's worth a skimthrough at least.

I'm guessing he's right. He comments that those who raise more cash have better grassroots networks, which is generally true. But more money also indicates that the savvy business world is behind the candidate as well. I've more faith in the market to put money into winners and refrain from blowing it on losers than I do on polling data that historically favors Democrats because they, on average, are less likely to actually vote even when those in question are self-described likely voters.

I also hope he is correct. Lots of Republicans are running from the Bush Iraq war, and victory by the skin of the teeth will require a focus on 'populist' issues like the war and immigration.

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