Greenroots Campaign

As long as I’m reading the New York Times Op-Ed page (“Caveney’s Dish“), David Brooks outlines an indisputable fact about where Barack Obama gets most of his funding from despite the campaign’s efforts to tell you otherwise: from rich people.

“As in other recent campaigns, lawyers account for the biggest chunk of Democratic donations. They have donated about $18 million to Obama, compared with about $5 million to John McCain, according to data released on June 2 and available at,” Brooks writes.

“People who work at securities and investment companies have given Obama about $8 million, compared with $4.5 for McCain. People who work in communications and electronics have given Obama about $10 million, compared with $2 million for McCain. Professors and other people who work in education have given Obama roughly $7 million, compared with $700,000 for McCain.

“Real estate professionals have given Obama $5 million, compared with $4 million for McCain. Medical professionals have given Obama $7 million, compared with $3 million for McCain. Commercial bankers have given Obama $1.6 million, compared with $1.2 million for McCain. Hedge fund and private equity managers have given Obama about $1.6 million, compared with $850,000 for McCain.”

Hedging on Hope!

“When you break it out by individual companies, you find that employees of Goldman Sachs gave more to Obama than workers of any other employer. The Goldman Sachs geniuses are followed by employees of the University of California, UBS, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, National Amusements, Lehman Brothers, Harvard and Google. At many of these workplaces, Obama has a three- or four-to-one fund-raising advantage over McCain.”

Cynics might suggest these are “insiders” and “special interests.”

“When he is swept up in rhetorical fervor, Obama occasionally says that his campaign is 90 percent funded by small donors. He has indeed had great success with small donors, but only about 45 percent of his money comes from donations of $200 or less.”

By small, he means short. Most of his donors really aren’t very tall.

“Over the past few years, people from Goldman Sachs have assumed control over large parts of the federal government. Over the next few they might just take over the whole darn thing.”

Viva la Revolucion.


5 responses to “Greenroots Campaign

  1. I can’t find the post right now except as excerpted by Brad Delong, but Mark Schmitt looked into the numbers Brooks drew from today; you can find DeLong’s quote from Schmitt here. {In case wordpress won’t allow the link, you can find the post by searching Brad DeLong’s blog.

    Schmitt’s take, which does seem to hit the holes in Brooks’s account, is essentially that 90% of the contributions are from small givers, making up 45% of the total–both of which, indebtedness to big donors aside, are unprecedented in our era. He also points out that those giving under $200 don’t have to list an occupation, which means they don’t figure into the occupational breakdowns Brooks offers. {This I’m less sure about: I seem to remember having to list an occupation.}

    Clearly, Obama is going to have to answer to big contributors: that is the reality of political life today. And just what those of us on the smaller end are getting for the money we’re ponying up is still uncertain. But I’ll take this model any day over the recent model that relied almost solely on those who could write the $2,300 checks.

  2. Oops: wrong link. The DeLong piece is here. Sorry about that.

  3. divisionstreet

    DeLong makes no sense at all. I could have seven donors give me a dollar each and three give me $1,000 and say, “Hey, my campaign is mostly funded by small donors!”

    The thrust of what Brooks writes today isn’t new – just the way he breaks it down. Countless articles have been written – mostly outside of Chicago – about Obama’s K Street Project (See The Secret Money Machine at the Beachwood) and how Obama is the candidate of choice among hedge funders and Wall Street.

    Lynn Sweet has also noted that the Obama campaign would keep its events with big donors secret while publicizing small donor events and milestones to the press. Cynical much?

    Finally, we all know that if Obama couldn’t have raised more than the $80 million in public financing that would have been available to him, the system wouldn’t suddenly have been “broken.” He would’ve taken the public money and made a big show of it. Ironically, it was the Clinton campaign that would never commit to public financing, and the Obama campaign that hammered them over the head for it in the primary. But we’ve seen in just the last week alone that a lot – FISA, gun control, the death penalty, gay marriage, welfare reform, NAFTA, flag pins – have changed since then.

  4. I think this is where you and I tend to part ways, Steve: I’m already cynical about politics, especially on the national level. {Hell, I voluntarily campaign for my alderman! If participation in Chicago politics on the side of the office-holder isn’t cynical, I don’t know what is–yet I’m still confident she’s the best we have any chance to get, by far.} However, I still think on balance that we’re getting a better deal with Obama than we’ve been offered in recent years, from the financing of his campaign to his approach to a host of issues.

    But I’m not so insane as to say that you’re definitely wrong, and your points in your comment are strong {except the gay marriage one: so far as I know, that’s not a change; Obama’s been wrong on this issue from the start}. I’ll take him over McCain without question, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have questions about what we’ll be getting when we win this election.

  5. divisionstreet

    Just to clarify, I included gay marriage in the list because while he has always opposed gay marriage, he now says he also opposes a ballot initiative in California that would ban the practice, while seemingly espousing a states’ rights view to the issue nonetheless. So he’s kind of flip-flopped into a muddle.

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