Even with the rise of small donors, the very wealthiest Americans contribute a vastly disproportionate amount of money to the political system. According to a 2011 survey of rich Chicagoans, about 68 percent of the top 1 percent said they contributed to a candidate, party, or political cause since 2008. That compares, John Sides points out, with just 13 percent of the country as a whole.
Who do they tend to give to the most? The wealthiest Americans may care more about deficits and favor private-sector solutions over government ones, and over half are affiliated with corporations and lobbying firms. But the outside, ideological groups that the top 0.01 percent of donor most frequently give to or affiliate themselves with tend to skew leftward, with the exception of the Club for Growth. The Sunlight Foundation tallied up the ideological organizations that the top 0.01 percent of donors were most frequently affiliated with and/or contributed to:
*Update/Correction: An earlier version of this post also cited the Sunlight study as regarding the top 0.1 percent of donors; it is in reference to the top 0.01 percent. Such donors also frequently affiliate themselves with private corporations—Goldman Sachs (92), Citigroup (32), and Microsoft (28) were the most frequent affiliations—as well as lobbying organizations. But EMILY’s List is still far and away the most popular single affiliation.