President Obama Spent $684 Million to Get Elected. You'll Never Guess How Much Wall Street Chipped In

President Obama spent nearly $684 million of his campaign money during the 2012 election. Many have said that President Obama has been in the pockets of Wall Street for years, but the campaign finance data tells a story of two dramatic shifts.

The 2008 election
In 2008, President Obama received more than $2.5 million in campaign finance support from employees at Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) , JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) , and Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) alone. While there were distinctly more Wall Street firms represented on the list of supporters of John McCain, the reality is that McCain's Wall Street ties only garnered him $1.5 million in support:


Source: Open Secrets.

In fact, the contributions from Goldman Sachs employees alone to Barack Obama outpaced McCain's total contributions from his top three firms of Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup.

This was a dramatically divergent trend from past elections, as in 2000, George Bush raked in nearly three times more from Wall Street when compared to Al Gore. That held true again in 2004, when President Bush received $36.2 million from those in finance, insurance, and real estate, more than twice the amount Democratic senator John Kerry received.

In total, Obama received more almost $44 million from those in the finance industry, of which $16.6 million came from those classified in "securities & investment," i.e., Wall Street.


Source: Open Secrets.

The run-up to the 2008 election was also the height of the financial crisis. In fact, the Lehman Brothers collapse on September 15th was exactly 50 days prior to the date on which Barack Obama defeated McCain. And statements from each campaign provide some evidence as to why Obama was favored by Wall Street.

While the Obama campaign took a pragmatic stance during the financial crisis, noting, "[i]n front of audiences on Wall Street and Main Street, Sen. Obama has proposed an aggressive plan to mitigate the sub-prime mortgage crisis both to protect homeowners and to prevent the problems in the housing market from taking a toll on the economy as a whole," it was a dramatically different tone than the one struck by John McCain.

In an interview, McCain said bluntly to ABC's George Stephanopoulos, (emphasis added), "I think that Wall Street is the villain in the things that happened in the subprime lending crisis and other areas where investigations and possible prosecution is going on."

There is no denying Obama was greatly favored by Wall Street and the financial sector in 2008, but the 2012 election tells a radically different story.

The 2012 election
Consider how dramatically the campaign contributions shifted in 2012, where no financial firm was among Barack Obama's top seven donors, whereas all of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's top seven donors were:


Source: Open Secrets.

In fact, apart from the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, 14 of the top 15 organizations represented by Romney's donors were Wall Street firms. Were it not for public accounting firm Deloitte, which ranked eighth in employee campaign contributions for Obama, not a single firm in the financial industry is found on Obama's list.

Romney's contributions from those in the Securities & Investment industry were almost 350% higher than President Obama's, and roughly three times more when looking at the broader financial industry:


Source: Open Secrets.

In total, Obama's contributions from those in finance were $23 million less in 2012 when compared to 2008, a decline of more than half. This was driven by the 60%, or $10 million drop from those employed on Wall Street.

While many chalk this up to Romney's close ties to the financial industry -- which is certainly true -- another reason is the dramatically different tone from President Obama regarding banks.

Consider the 2012 campaign websitesays, "President Obama passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to hold Wall Street accountable, prevent future financial crises, and end the era of 'too big to fail.'"

Wall Street reform aims ensures that if a financial company fails, it will be Wall Street that pays the price -- not the American people -- and sets ground rules for the riskiest financial speculation."

That language is a far cry from the, "mitigate," "protect," and "prevent" verbiage used in 2008.

Say what you will about Barack Obama, but the reality is, he lost a great deal of support on Wall Street from the 2008 campaign to the 2012 election.

Beyond Wall Street
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Read/Post Comments (38) | Recommend This Article (26)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 1:46 PM, Rusty56 wrote:

    Obama's a snake, plain and simple.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 8:26 PM, savage393 wrote:

    Wall street will ALWAYS support the candidate (regardless of party) who they think will do them the most good. (their bottom line) Their only politics is money. Nuff said.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 8:31 PM, CatDadJohn wrote:

    Old news. Wall Street will always hedge their bets.

    They had (correctly) sensed that Americans were exhausted with Bush's GOP so they threw their money instead to Corporate Democrats. What they probably did not anticipate though was that their favorite son Romney would loose.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 8:34 PM, navvet1967 wrote:

    no wonder none of those crooks were prosecuted or went to jail.did you see that jolt from Harvard University and the college where that other lizard Janet Napolitano went after opening our borders to the illegals.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 8:52 PM, shhitsmecasper wrote:

    Picking Sarah Palin as your running mate will do that to you.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 8:57 PM, airjackie wrote:

    At lease Bush, McCain and Romney did not have to use Corporate or wealthy donations they were supported by the poor and hard working people that wanted a President that put the people first. Clinton and Obama caused two Wars, Housing collapse the Recession. To read the Press reports Bush had to balance budget and left Obama with a surplus. Bush is said to have collected as little as a dollar from just regular folks to use. Mitt was the people's President who held women to respect and wanted to end the War. When your paid to change the facts and history some people buy it others know who got paid.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 9:11 PM, tristinstone wrote:

    Hows that hope and no change in your pocket working out for you welfare for life losers now?

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 9:22 PM, Obamasaliar wrote:

    Why not investigate the amount of money donated from foreigners? Rumors are Obama got over 300 million from the Mideast via credit cards.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 9:27 PM, cp123 wrote:

    Corruption at its finest. How do any of these people sleep at night and who raised them (wall street)?

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 9:40 PM, Dogggone wrote:

    In 1994, my family and I were out walking, tending our farm animals in a rural area of Illinois. It was early in the morning and there was a chill in the air. All of a sudden, a brisk wind started to swirl, faster and faster, becoming very intense. It began whisking items on the ground and flinging them in the air. In a brief moment the chickens were gone. The wind shook the trees violently. It picked up BO our donkey and carried him airborne. Years later we saw him on TV being sworn in as president. Now we visit him and Michelle often to discuss how things used to be

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 10:50 PM, talisker wrote:

    Why Is UC contributing to campaigns? Isn't it a public institution? Help me out here...

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 10:54 PM, EricMJohnson wrote:

    If the USA were a truly free market economy, Wall Street wouldn't be deciding who our next president will be. The tax code, government contracts, subsidies and bailouts provide Wall Street with enormous amounts of money. In a free market economy, investments would depend on honesty and a proven track record, not political favoritism, where massive amounts of tax payer money is available for the biggest campaign contributors.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 10:59 PM, Lhava wrote:

    @airjackie,

    What the f.....@k u r talking about. U wrote this comment in sleep or what? Bush left surplus? R u out of mind or u just came from another planet? I advice u not to talk or write about politics if u know nothing. Shame on u.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 11:13 PM, Libertariang123 wrote:

    @airjackie ....that was awesome! Lmao

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 11:25 PM, mamabrumble wrote:

    obamacare doesn't have to be complex? Just read what you need to know ? Give me a break ! Obviously we can see where your pledges went. One way or another this obamacare will be repealed. It is just a matter of when and how many small companies and poor shmoes on the fringes gobelly up before it is...

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2013, at 11:45 PM, bikoma2002 wrote:

    I can imagine how frustrated these corporations who spent on McCain and Romney are today. No doubt all the criticism on Obama. How much did George W Bush spend on the Weapon of Mass destruction?

    Do you want to know??? The GOP does not want to know. But it may interest them to know the number of enmity that it brought against Americans abroad

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 2:37 AM, Bombama wrote:

    This is outrageous! The average American has difficult time to pay taxes and keep the food on the table while Presidential campaigns gobble up huge amount of money. Also University of California charging high tuition from poor students who end up in debts while sending cash to Obama? This does not make any sense. Presidential campaign should be outlawed. It has nothing to do with democracy or freedom on contrary, it keeps only rich in power. Presidential Campaign in the United States is proof of highly corrupted country.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 2:48 AM, NoWindows8LockIn wrote:

    Certain individuals, who have disproportionate representation on Wall Street, have a vested interest in seeing that the USA fosters the well-being of a certain "geopolitical entity". Those individuals hedged when they though Obama would continue the status quo. When it became clear that he would not, but would exercise the most objectivity in this regard of any American President except Kennedy, they changed their positions.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 2:51 AM, Conscript40 wrote:

    A short trip back in history to learn some lessons and we could fix so much so quickly. Look at Iceland. Don't bail out the troublemakers. Bail out the people, jail the bankers. Apply this to politicians as well.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 2:52 AM, bogusmill wrote:

    The ugly truth is that none of the said money belonged to these corporations, it was OPM. It's the privileged Harvard rules of we few are special. Law makers should insist as to where and by who the money was generated, and not allow for statements of corporate umbrellas. Spooks money. It could be described as the pushers money because like pushers it is really unclaimed funds of unknown sources by unidentified givers. Do away with it! Journalist should have access to the givers and the amounts two weeks before the elections! Not disclosing would mean charges of fraud!

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 3:36 AM, fulredy wrote:

    How much did Obama get from laundered money from Muslims?

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 4:51 AM, crappypatty wrote:

    Why don't we impeach Obama? He is just a dictator--like Hitler.

    Obama you suck as a leader.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 8:03 AM, JePonce wrote:

    no surprises here. Anyone that monitors the Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports knows that the Left always fatten up their Commie coffers with the 'big banks' money while claiming the Republican's are owned and operated by the 'big banks.'

    It was a Leftist strategy raise to an art form by Franklin Delano Roosevelt who made it a permanent plank in the Democrat campaign platform.

    And these numbers do not reflect the contribution of the CEO's, CFO's and members of the Boards of the 'big banks' which also heavily fund the Left.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 8:53 AM, kevinz28 wrote:

    here,s the way it worked and its very interesting

    the people from wall street gave obama alot

    of money in his campaign fund the same people

    that gave money are the same people that

    lost million in wall street the goverment had to

    spend billions to bail out wall street 3 years

    later them people took bank of america

    to court for faulty land deals and won they

    7 billion dollars so they took millions and

    turned it in to billions in a short time and

    kept the money the goverment never saw

    a penny of it

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 11:11 AM, marvdenny wrote:

    As taxpayer in California, I object to UC spending any money on politics. Why isn't this against the law?

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 12:19 PM, Freddyfreebe1 wrote:

    Do you have to really wonder , why the rich gets richer.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 12:46 PM, batman9999 wrote:

    Wall St. isn't red or blue. They're just GREEN.

    And they don't "support" candidates running for office.

    They use their money to buy ACCESS to advance policies that serve their interests at everyone else's expense: tax loopholes for hedge fund managers, bailouts, etc.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 1:24 PM, jcp6594 wrote:

    dic taster, woops dictator

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 2:26 PM, johnnyrook wrote:

    So that's why my college tuition was so high... They were spending it on politics!!!

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 3:48 PM, Cosmo1957 wrote:

    To clarify for those of you who don't fully grasp the data these are contributions from people employed by these firms or PAC associated not the companies or universities themselves. Direct corporate contributions to presidential campaigns are still illegal.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 5:31 PM, JDRBAR wrote:

    It is my belief that Presidential Campaigns need a major reform. whoever first coined the expression "money is the root of all evil" was right on. The more money involved, the more evil the candidates.

    I'm not talking about the money a man earns or inherits.

    Today, our country is in dire straits for several reasons. The economy is horrid. Jobs are scarce, and people can barely make it from one month to the next. Yet, Obama can dare to smugly boast of spending 684 million dollars to get reelected. If all campaign dollars since 2000 alone were used to help those who can't help themselves, this would truly be great country.

    Candidates are not judged by their honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, or experience, but by how much money they can get in exchange for certain favors

    George Washington, Herbert Hoover, and JFK all REFUSED to accept their salary for being in office. These men cared. Truly cared. Not like the candidates today who are out to get all they can get while the gettings there.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 5:32 PM, dbs815 wrote:

    Oh! And here I thought the top contributor of Obama's campaign finance support was Oprah.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 5:41 PM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    The top contributors were stupid people who fell for "hope and change". They got shafted.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 8:00 PM, UPMC4dotbusting wrote:

    Doesn't the University of California get public funds? Do they support Obama because they share the bond of hating Asian Americans? Do they use taxpayer money from Asian Americans to fund antihinduism?

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 10:18 PM, Keegs79 wrote:

    No surprise. Its liberal universities and its wall street who he gave 100s of millions too as a bailout. They are scratching his back for scratching theirs. That is all it is.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 10:20 PM, Keegs79 wrote:

    I will add that campaign funding is like lobbying. You give and you expect something back. That is what it is. It should not exist. Its just a waste of money. If they can't get around with their own money than they don't deserve to be President. It makes no sense. It makes the election unequal if one has more exposure in the first place!

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 10:33 PM, thegodfather4u wrote:

    I assure you America did not elect obama........the CFR/TLC did...........we just think our votes count...or are even counted.........

    During the 1976 political campaign, Carter repeatedly told the nation that he was going to get rid of the Establishment Insiders if he became president. But when he took office, he promptly filled his Administration with members of the Council on Foreign Relations (284 to be exact) and The Trilateral Commission, the two most prominent insider organizations in America. Included in this list of members of The Trilateral Commission were Walter Mondale and Dr. Henry Kissinger.

    Beginning with Jimmy Carter, all the recent presidents, including president Clinton, have promptly filled their administrations with members of the Council on Foreign relations and The Trilateral Commission.

    The members of the CFR dominate almost every aspect of American life, yet most Americans have never even heard of the Council on Foreign Relations. One reason for this is probably because there are over 170 journalists, correspondents, and communications executives who are members of the CFR, and who do not write about the organization. Also, it is an express condition of membership that no one is to disclose what goes on at CFR meetings. The CFR is the American Branch of a society which originated in England, and which believes that national boundaries should be obliterated, and a one-world rule established.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2013, at 12:23 AM, carglass wrote:

    my kind of president, someone with back up

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