Major industries shift contributions from Republicans to Democrats ahead of election day

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Wall Street has increasingly backed Democratic candidates as election day draws near. (BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Wall Street doesn’t like to back a loser, and that philosophy applies to elections, too.

In 2006, after years of giving a majority of its contributions to incumbents within the GOP-dominated Congress under President George W. Bush, the Securities & Investment industry gave 52 percent of its contributions to Democrats, just in time for a blue wave.

In 2008, the industry gave 58 percent of its contributions to Democrats, just in time for the election of President Barack Obama.

Stockbrokers and hedge fund managers continued to back Democrats through the first 21 months of the 2010 election cycle — giving Democrats 51 percent of contributions — but as it became clear Republicans would be storming both chambers, contributions shifted right before the election. The industry gave more than 69 percent of contributions to Republicans in the October 2010 pre-general FEC filing period, just in time for a GOP takeover.

During the 2018 election cycle, the 2010 swing is happening again, only this time in the direction of Democrats.

After giving 52 percent of funds to Democrats through the first 21 months of the election cycle, the industry gave 71 percent of its $7.86 million in campaign contributions to Democrats in the most recent pre-general election FEC filing period from Oct. 1 to Oct. 17.

Sixteen of the top 20 recipients of investment group affiliates are now Democrats, with Sen. Claire McCaskill taking the top spot at nearly $2 million.

But it’s not just Wall Street that is shifting its political spending toward the non-incumbent party. The widespread change can be seen across several industries that are active political contributors.

Health Professionals have generally supported Democrats this cycle, but their pre-general contributions jumped to 77 percent toward Democrats, up from 56 percent in the rest of the cycle. 

Finance (21 percent swing toward Democrats), Retail (21 percent) and Hospitals and Nursing Homes (31 percent) have seen the largest shift in contributions in the pre-general period.

Affiliates of already-liberal industries, such as Law Firms, Education and Business Services each upped their percentage Democratic contributions in the lead up to election day.

The largest late shift toward Republicans came among candidate committees, as many GOP candidates have found themselves outraised and in need of campaign cash for the stretch run. Nearly 94 percent of funds from candidate committees went to Republicans in the pre-general period, totaling $5.1 million. In the first 21 months, 56 percent of the candidate committee funds went to Democrats.

Retired people and groups saw a shift toward Republicans in early October, accounting for 56 percent of the demographic’s contributions. So far, the group has slightly favored Democrats — 52 percent of its $276 million contributed to candidates — and is the biggest contributor of any “industry” tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics.

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