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Who’s Funding the Race for the White House: Lawyers Back Clinton, Financiers Flock to Bush

The 2016 presidential candidates looked to a variety of industries in their quest for campaign money.

Lawyers are showing a lot of love for Hillary Clinton, while Wall Street is investing most heavily in Jeb Bush.

Outside of retirees, a traditional and unsurprising donor base for most candidates, the 2016 presidential candidates looked to a variety of industries in their quest for campaign money from individuals in 2015’s third quarter, a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of Federal Election Commission data shows. But a few rose to the top for each White House hopeful.

For Bush, the former Florida governor, donors employed in the securities and investment industry combined to be his top source (after retirees) of the prized “hard money” that lets candidates meet payroll, fund travel and pay the rent; they gave his campaign $644,065. Former Secretary of State Clinton raised almost $2 million from lawyers and law firm employees, making that her No. 1 source of contributions; that group also led the giving for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, at $211,122, and Gov. Chris Christie, at $213,738.

The real estate industry topped Sen. Marco Rubio’s list, handing him $222,253 last quarter, as well as that of Carly Fiorina, who mined $101,323 from the industry. Sen. Bernie Sanders tapped $223,035 from education industry employees, mostly people who teach or work at the University of California, Columbia and other higher education institutions. Sen. Ted Cruz received $260,217 from miscellaneous businesses, a category that includes a range of manufacturers as well as restaurants, funeral services, tourism and other enterprises.

All that paled in comparison to the amount each candidate received from retirees, who gave about $15 million in contributions of more than $200 to the candidates between July 1 and Sept. 30. Retired Americans’ favorites, Clinton and Carson, received nearly $6 million of that.

While retirees were generous across the board, making up every candidate’s largest “industry” in CRP’s data, the candidates who are struggling hardest to raise money for their campaigns found little comfort outside of that group. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee raised $11,300 from the oil and gas industry, his second-largest donor base, and Sen. Rand Paul raised $56,952 from health professionals. On the Democratic side, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley raised $90,000 from the generous – though much more so to Clinton – lawyers and law firms industry.

In combination with data from earlier quarters, it’s possible to see trends emerging; industries are coalescing around candidates. Republican donors in the securities and investment industry, for instance, strongly prefer Bush and Rubio.

Several companies stuck out as major financial boons for specific candidates. Corning Inc. and DISH Network gave Clinton $160,000 and $155,896, respectively. Corning is the eighth biggest donor to presidential candidates at large so far this cycle, and DISH Network is 10th. DLA Piper, a massive law firm and the fifth-largest donor overall this cycle, gave $98,700 last quarter to Clinton of a total $226,055 to all candidates so far.

Employees of Donald Trump’s top donor, homebuilder MDC Holdings, gave him a relatively paltry $10,800, probably reflecting the fact that he’s done very little fundraising and has said he’ll self-finance his campaign to the degree necessary.

Overall, recent industry contribution trends appeared to continue into the third quarter of 2015. Wall Street showed no signs of altering course to significantly aid Democrats – perhaps unsurprising given Sanders’ rise and Clinton’s careful accommodation of his rhetoric in the race. The securities and investment industry contributed $525,314 to Democratic presidential candidates overall and gave $1.4 million to Republicans.

Before the Dodd-Frank financial industry overhaul began to take effect, for 20 years Wall Street contributions had ebbed and flowed between Democrats and Republicans fairly evenly. That changed in 2010, the year the law took effect – contributors with Wall Street companies began to favor candidates on the right rather than the left. That helps explain why individuals who work in securities and investment – who backed President Obama in a big way in 2008 – haven’t been enthusiastic about Clinton’s candidacy; the industry came in at No. 7 for her (or sixth not counting retirees) from July through September.

Another trend, Clinton’s popularity in among educators, continued last quarter. Again, the former secretary of state topped the field in contributions from the industry’s employees with $737,078 in contributions. Donors involved in education made that interest a major contributor to President Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Overall, Democratic White House candidates received 75 percent of the education industry’s $3.3 million given so far this cycle.

The industry that has split its money most evenly between the parties? Hospitals and nursing homes, which divided $1.2 million contributed to presidential hopefuls exactly evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

Senior Researcher Doug Weber contributed to this post.

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