Wall Street Bets On The Democrats
by Scott Shields, Mon Apr 24, 2006 at 11:07:52 AM EDT
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, even the financial industry has had it with the Republican Party. Bloomberg has the story, via The Politicker. As one financial industry heavyweight puts it in the article, "[w]hen the party with no power can raise more money than the party with all the power, it means people are pretty disturbed about the country's condition."
Democrats got $13.6 million, or 52 percent of the financial industry's $26.3 million in political donations in 2005, said the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan Washington group that researches the influence of money on elections and public policy. In the two years leading up to the 2004 presidential election, Republicans received 52 percent of the $91.6 million given by the industry.
"Wall Street wants change" on issues such as the Iraq war and the budget deficit, said James Torrey, chairman of the Torrey Funds, which manages about $1 billion. "I'm finding people who are registered Republicans who are saying to me, 'what can I do to help?' "
The securities and investment industry is among the biggest sources of campaign cash in U.S. politics. The industry's 2004 contribution total to candidates and parties was higher than any group except lawyers, health professionals and the real estate industry, according to the center, which studied Federal Election Commission records.
I can't say I'm 100% thrilled with this development, though. For one thing, it's not as if the financial industry has been a force for progressive change in America. To say that their money is less than clean would be a vast understatement. And it's also not as if the majority of this money is going to the Paul Wellstones of the Democratic Party. According to the article, "the two most successful fund-raisers in 2005 on Wall Street" were Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton.
That said, it's always a good thing to see the Republicans lose a key constituency. And this also seems to be something of a leading indicator, politically speaking. Wall Street doesn't want to be shut out of Congress next January, so these donations can be seen as a bet on the Democrats to win in November. Perhaps most importantly, this move can be read as a vote of no confidence in the weak Republican leadership -- or alternately, a vote of confidence in Democratic leadership. Led by Rove, the Republicans will be shouting from the rooftops about the disaster that will ensue if Democrats take over one or both houses of Congress, both in terms of national security and the economy. With retired Generals publicly decrying the Republicans' failures on national security and Wall Street backing the Democrats, those claims become less and less convincing.