Now that we know that banks run the world, it’s time to look into which politicians they like to support. What sort of politicians do bankers trust to keep them in power? Short answer: all of them.
Using OpenSecrets’ Heavy Hitters list, which includes the top 140 donors from 1989 until the present, one can take a look under the hood of our democracy, and see which banks like which sort of politicians by filtering for political tilt, as the tool allows you to do.
Unions to the Left, Scammers to the Right
Perhaps not surprisingly, the most staunchly Republican donor among the top 140 is Amway, the cult-like pyramid scheme-like direct selling company. The other side of the aisle is largely funded by unions, which is not so surprising either. One side wants regulations, the other does not — this all makes sense.
But what do banks want?
That’s what’s interesting. You find the majority of large financial institutions all in the middle, or “on the fence” to use OpenSecrets’ words — with no more than 59% of donations going one way or another. UBS, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America®, Credit Suisse, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns (because the Heavy Hitters list is an aggregate of data from 1989 to present, there are several defunct firms included), and even the Credit Union National Association all come down as fence riders. They like what both parties can do for them, it seems.
Banks Love All Sorts of Politicians
If anything, this shows just how well our government cooperates with financial industries on both sides of the aisle. And, as Wall Street money is fleeing Democrats — most “fence riders” seem to be supporting Romney this year — it’s clear why: they’re finally cracking down on the underregulated industry.
But even these “on the fence” companies lean pretty far right; Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and Lehman Brothers are the only ones mentioned above who don’t tilt Republican. 58% of UBS’ donations, for example, have gone to the GOP; they’re technically a fence rider, but we know who they really like.
Voting Republican with your dollars is actually a good predictor for no longer existing; MBNA, Merrill Lynch and Wachovia are among the most right-wing financial institutions, and none of them exist independently anymore.
Perhaps most shocking is the most left-leaning bank out of the bunch: Goldman Sachs Bank USA. Over the years, 60% of their political contributions have gone to Democrats. That might be changing soon, as they have donated $290,750 to Mitt Romney, and a mere $44,750 to incumbent Barack Obama.
In any event, it’s fascinating to know that for the last two decades banks, for the most part, really had no preference between Democrats and Republicans — both sides were looking out for their interests. It will be interesting to see how far they will flee to the right in the wake of Dodd-Frank, what outcomes that will have for Dems at the ballot box, and what it will mean for our democracy.