158 families own the 2016 presidential election — or so they think

They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.

Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.

The majority of it guided by ideology not economics. BTW.

These donors’ fortunes reflect the shifting composition of the country’s economic elite. Relatively few work in the traditional ranks of corporate America, or hail from dynasties of inherited wealth. Most built their own businesses, parlaying talent and an appetite for risk into huge wealth: They founded hedge funds in New York, bought up undervalued oil leases in Texas, made blockbusters in Hollywood. More than a dozen of the elite donors were born outside the United States, immigrating from countries like Cuba, the old Soviet Union, Pakistan, India and Israel.

But regardless of industry, the families investing the most in presidential politics overwhelmingly lean right, contributing tens of millions of dollars to support Republican candidates who have pledged to pare regulations; cut taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances; and shrink entitlement programs…

In marshaling their financial resources chiefly behind Republican candidates, the donors are also serving as a kind of financial check on demographic forces that have been nudging the electorate toward support for the Democratic Party and its economic policies. Two-thirds of Americans support higher taxes on those earning $1 million or more a year, according to a June New York Times/CBS News poll, while six in 10 favor more government intervention to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly seven in 10 favor preserving Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are.

RTFA. Please. A solid piece of research.

I doubt it will hold any surprises; but, it may also reinforce your resolve to continue the change that the majority of Americans endorse. Even if that bothers the nouveau riche.

2 thoughts on “158 families own the 2016 presidential election — or so they think

  1. Working stiff says:

    “As Burt Neuborne, a professor at NYU Law School, puts it in his important and timely book on the First Amendment, “Madison’s Music”, the super-rich, the wealthiest one to two percent, “set the national political agenda, select the candidates, bankroll the campaigns…, and enjoy privileged postelection access to government officials.” The rest of us are left to “navigate among the choices made available” by the super-rich. Only about 40 to 60 percent of citizens vote in any given presidential election. The rest, who are disproportionately poor and members of minorities, do not even participate. Some are impeded from voting by unnecessarily stringent registration and voter identification requirements as well as narrow time windows for voting, long lines, and other obstacles. Many others have likely concluded that in view of the outsized influence of the rich, their votes wouldn’t matter. At the same time, increasingly sophisticated gerrymandering has ensured that many elected offices are sinecures for one of the two major parties. In the House of Representatives, only about forty seats, or less than 10 percent of the chamber, are filled in genuinely contested general elections.” (“Free Speech, Big Money, Bad Elections” By David Cole. New York Review of Books, November 5, 2015 Issue)

  2. No Ro☆Tel® says:

    It is no secret that the Kochs’ network has invested hundreds of millions of hard-to-track dollars in conservative political nonprofits that influence elections. The brothers, who earned their billions leading private oil, chemical and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries Inc., were dominant forces in recent election cycles. They’re now poised to rank among the most influential Americans shaping next year’s presidential and congressional vote.
    Much less well known: their activities on college campuses.
    Last summer, a top lieutenant of Charles and David Koch’s vast network of philanthropic institutions, laid bare the billionaire brothers’ strategy to evangelize their gospel of economic freedom.
    Political success, Kevin Gentry told a crowd of elite supporters attending the annual Koch confab in Dana Point, Calif., begins with reaching young minds in college lecture halls, thereby preparing bright, libertarian-leaning students to one day occupy the halls of political power.
    “The [Koch] network is fully integrated, so it’s not just work at the universities with the students, but it’s also building state-based capabilities and election capabilities and integrating this talent pipeline,” he said.
    “So you can see how this is useful to each other over time,” he continued. “No one else has this infrastructure. We’re very excited about doing it.” http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/10/30/koch-foundations-invest-in-higher-education.html

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