Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Which candidate gets the most beltway dollars?

++Addition++Noah offered some much needed guidance as to what geographic areas constitute "the beltway". Due diligence has now been done. I've cleaned up the FEC zip code areas to better reflect what the post was trying to show (and now more accurately does).


We hear plenty of grumbling from the conservative 'grassroots' about those referred to as Washington insiders, beltway conservatives, and the like. Before imploding, in fact, Herman Cain explicitly billed himself as a political outsider who would "bring change to Washington!"

One way to measure insider status is to look at where campaign donations are coming from. Having recently familiarized myself with the FEC's useful website, the following table ranks (current and former) presidential candidates by the percentage of contribution dollars for each campaign that have come from people and organizations inside of Washington DC and also from Montgomery County on the Maryland side and Fairfax, Arlington, and Alexandria on the Virginia side, where much of the influence and affluence in the nation's capital actually resides:

Presidential candidate
DC dollars
1. Newt Gingrich
2. Rick Santorum
3. Barack Obama
4. Mitt Romney
5. Tim Pawlenty
6. John Hunstman
7. Gary Johnson
8. Rick Perry
9. Charles 'Buddy' Roemer
10. Ron Paul
11. Herman Cain
12. Michelle Bachmann

Indeed, despite his past as a lobbyist, Cain appears to be quite the outsider. Other outcasts in the eyes of the Republican establishment--Bachmann and Paul--round out the rest of the bottom. Gingrich, while not especially popular within DC itself, still appears to have many friends and fans inside the beltway (in addition, of course, to the many enemies he has there). Rick Santorum's beltway share stands out more than anyone other candidate's does--is it due to a strong contingent of "religious right" influence peddlers in DC having gotten behind Santorum? I'm (now!) surprised to find that the percentage of Obama's campaign dollars coming from the seat of federal power is not higher than every single one of his Republican challenger's percentages. Alas.


Noah172 said...


Why didn't you include Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax? Geographically and culturally, those areas are "inside the Beltway." Mind you, I don't expect that the thrust of your post would have been different, but it would have clarified the picture.

Audacious Epigone said...


Personal ignorance, honestly. I'm not very familiar with the DC area and don't know to what extent the relevant zip codes prefixes (which is how the FEC drills down) constitute the inner suburbs of DC and didn't want to mix too much of generic mid-Atlantic middle class suburbia in. But I'll assume as much as Montgomery county does and redo the table with them included.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Wow, Newt sure surged to the top after the revision.

Noah172 said...

A lot more Republicans live in the VA suburbs than the Maryland ones. I didn't think of that in my first comment, but now it seems to make a lot sense. Heck, I think Gingrich himself lives in the Fairfax area.

With Gingrich, though, what really matters is the support he gets from cartoon-villain billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The rest is decoration.

Anonymous said...

Newt is an SOB and he isn't even our SOB.

Anonymous said...

Who has higher negatives with independents, Newt, or Sarah Palin?