Tag Archives: Money and politics

Politics by the Numbers: Stats Tell the Tale of the 1% of 1%

Political junkies, more attuned to counting votes than comparing and contrasting statistics, are furrowing their frazzled brows these days as they parse the implications of the 1% of the 1%.   Sunlight Foundation started it all with their ambitious study and reports on the elite political donors, the .01% of the U.S. population who call the electoral shots.

Basically, that’s 31, 385 individuals who forked over a whole lot of money to influence the 2012 presidential election. The heavy hitters are 1% of 1% in a nation of 313.85 million people, nearly 66,000,000 of whom voted in the 2012 presidential election.  In sum, total political giving by the 1% of the 1% in 2012 was $1.7 billion.

It may surprise some Minnesotans to learn that Wayzata is #5 among the nation’s cities with the highest percentage of 1% of 1% donors.  Fifty Wayzata donors scraped up a total of $3.7 million in campaign contributions.

This is but one local stat extrapolated from a mountain of figures aggregated and interpreted by the Sunlight Foundation.  To wit:  Nearly 72% of the donors were male; the top five employers were Goldman Sachs (85 donors, $4.6 million), Blackstone (49 donors, $2.2 million), Kirkland & Ellis (40 donors, $1.5 million), Morgan Stanley (38 donors) and Comcast (37 donors) tied for fifth place with a measly $1.2 million each.  The median contribution from the 1% is $25,484 which researchers note is “a little more than half the median family income in the United States.”

Of these major contributions approximately 85% of the donors contributed 90% of their money to one or the other party only.  Lobbyists, it seems, are the most egalitarian in their distribution of political wealth and access.

Researchers caution “the 1% of 1% dominated campaign giving even in a year when President Barack Obama reached new small donor frontiers.  In 2014, without a presidential race to attract small donors, all indicators are that the 1% of the 1% will occupy an even more central role in the money chase.”

The Sunlight Foundation reports are replete with graphs and charts, infographics, even a video describing the process and findings.  For the mathematically gifted, opportunities to drill down – and rant – abound.

Learn more on the Sunlight Foundation blog: http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/tag/one-percent-of-one-percent/