Wall Street's outsized political influence is no secret, but some new data shows just how much it's ballooned. According to the Sunlight Foundation, campaign spending by elite donors from the finance, insurance, and real estate sector has jumped 700 percent in the past two decades, far outpacing individual donations from all other industries.
Sunlight found that donors who give more than $10,000 to candidates, parties, and outside spending groups—the "political one percent of the one percent"—account for 25 percent of total individual contributions. Among those elite donors who work in the so-called FIRE sector, contributions have risen from $15.4 million in 1990 to $178.2 million in 2010. According to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, the finance part of the FIRE trio (i.e., Wall Street) accounts for around two-thirds of the sector's donations. (Not surprisingly, a significant chunk of 2012's biggest super-PAC donors are current or former Wall Street execs.)
During the 2008 election cycle, FIRE's top donors gave $328 million, outspending their closest competitors—lawyers—by more than $200 million.
After a brief Democratic fundraising advantage before Barack Obama's election, Republicans are once again reaping the majority of the sector's money.
Take a look at all the charts and findings here.
This post has been updated to more accurately explain the difference between the FIRE sector and Wall Street.