In recent elections, campaign financing has been a huge point of contention among candidates and voters. This is because candidates appear to be financed in large part the super wealthy. The New York Times recently published a thought-provoking article, which describes how a group of only 158 families has provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House.
These families have amassed their wealth in an array of industries (although finance and energy lead the pack) and are now deploying their vast wealth in the political arena. According to the New York Times investigation, the families, along with the companies they control, contributed a total of $176 million in the first phase of the campaign. This amounts to nearly half of all seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican candidates.
While both parties have benefited from donations from the high-net-worth families, the Republican party has consistently received much more support. It makes sense, Republican candidates tend to favor eliminating regulation, cutting taxes and reducing entitlement programs. These policies help the super-rich protect and preserve their wealth.
The wealthy donors describe their support of Republican candidates more broadly: the policies look to promote economic growth and preserve a system that would allow others to prosper as well.
However, two-thirds of Americans support higher taxes on those earning $1 million or more a year, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll. Furthermore, six in 10 favor more government intervention to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.
“The campaign finance system is now a countervailing force to the way the actual voters of the country are evolving and the policies they want,” said Ruy Teixeira, a political and demographic expert at the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
While Demographic forces have nudged the electorate toward support of the Democratic Party and its economic policies, the wealthy donors use their financial resources to counteract this shift.
You can read more about the Families Funding the 2016 Presidential Election here.