In the coming weeks on Full Measure, I'll be reporting on the big money backers behind the candidates. Why does it matter? This money is what's being used to influence much of what you see on the news and the Internet. And, as you can imagine, the budget is huge. Political, corporate and special interests whose financial fate rests with who gets elected are spending hundreds of millions of dollars -- often in surreptitious ways -- to convince you to vote for their candidate (or against the other guy/gal).
Money is raised for the candidates both directly and indirectly. The direct money comes into their campaigns. The indirect money (called "outside spending") is raised by political action committees, super PACs and 501(c) "dark money" organizations that can raise unlimited funds without disclosing who the donors are.
The "outside spending" is largely used to conduct opposition research, buy negative ads, maintain websites and blogs that attack the opponent, influence the news and social media, use PR firms to disseminate messaging, arrange for surrogates to appear as guests on news programs, and hire "trackers" to follow around the opponent and record any missteps. For example, sometimes these groups use software so that one actor can maintain multiple, fake social media accounts under various identities with unique I.P. addresses to create memes and advance narratives that sway opinion of mass audiences online and set the news agenda. They may also hire people to "comment" on online news stories and attack users on social media who oppose their candidate.
Here's how things stack up today:
Clinton has triple the "outside money" support. The largest pro-Clinton super PAC has raised over $143 million compared to the largest pro-Trump super PAC, which has raised about $40 million.
Clinton's largest block of "outside money" contributors are Wall Street banks: $58.5 million, followed by "retired" with nearly $46 million.
Trump's largest block of "outside money" contributors are "retired," by far, with $14 million.
Clinton has a greater percentage of large contributors (59%) compared to Trump (16%).
The biggest contributor to Trump ($15.5 million) is also the second biggest contributor to Clinton ($11.5): hedge fund Renaissance Technologies.
Besides Renaissance Technologies, Trump's other top donors include real estate interests and a casino. Besides Renaissance Technologies, Clinton's other top donors are hedge funds Paloma Partners ($13.1 million) and Soros Fund Management ($10.5) million.
Clinton has many contributors above $1 million. Trump shows three.
Source: Center for Responsive Politics
[button link="http://fullmeasure.news/news/campaign-2016/campaign-cash"]Here's the candidates' tallies from last May[/button]