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Manhattan Institute

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Issues 2016: Are Billionaires Buying Elections?

issue brief

Issues 2016: Are Billionaires Buying Elections?

May 19, 2016
OtherCulture & Society
EconomicsIncome Inequality

Abstract

The largest slice of the “big money” in U.S. politics comes from organized labor, not from billionaires like the Koch brothers. In recent years, despite declining membership, organized labor has increased its political spending on elections and lobbying; while there is now far more money flowing into U.S. political campaigns, it is unclear if any group has gained a sizable advantage.

Key Findings

  • The top spenders in U.S. campaigns and elections are labor unions.
  • Unions give overwhelmingly to Democrats, a choice unreflective of their members’ political views and voting patterns.
  • There is limited evidence that campaign spending has a major effect on U.S. election outcomes.

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