Gettin' money from their super PACs.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Are you a billionaire with a few million bucks to spare?
Assuming you've already got the customary roster of yachts, planes and vacation homes, you might want to try out the newest craze for super-wealthy Americans: Throw a few million dollars to a super PAC.
Boil down the stats and you come up with one big takeaway: A relatively small number of people are exerting tremendous influence over this election.
Already this election cycle, billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife have given $10 million to a super PAC that supports former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
And Harold Simmons, who played a central role in the development of leveraged buyouts and corporate takeovers, has given $8.5 million to two super PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
FEC filings reveal the Dallas billionaire gave $5 million to Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads, while a corporation he owns chipped in another $2 million.
PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel gave $900,000 to Endorse Liberty, a super PAC that backs Ron Paul.
Friess' donations accounted for more than a third of the donations collected by the super PAC as of Dec. 31.
"Foster has been a long personal friend for 20 years," Santorum told CNN this week. "We have spent a lot of time together ... he's someone, again, who is a friend and will continue to be a good friend."
And if you don't happen to have close personal friends with a ten-digit bank account?
"Now I know why my campaign didn't work," Tim Pawlenty quipped on Wednesday. "I didn't have a billionaire."
The donation patterns of billionaires underscore a bit of common sense: They are really, really rich.
Take Adelson, who is CEO of Las Vegas Sands (Fortune 500), for instance. Recent estimates peg his net worth at around $20 billion. That means his $10 million donation was exactly one twentieth of one percent of his net worth. Yes, 0.05%.,
That would be like a millionaire giving a $500 donation. Or a $50 gift for someone worth $100,000.
More than half of itemized super PAC money this cycle has come from just 37 people, according to a an analysis of disclosure reports conducted by PIRG and Demos, two research firms.
And gifts of $1 million or more -- from just 15 donors -- make up 38% of itemized, individual super PAC donations.
In sharp contrast to traditional campaign fundraising, which limits donations to candidates to $2,500 per person, most donations to super PACs are at least $10,000.
According to the PIRG analysis, 93% of all itemized contributions to super PACs were $10,000 or more. They came from just 726 individuals.
So far, Republican PACs have the upper hand when it comes to attracting huge donations from the super-wealthy.
Priorities USA Action, a super PAC founded by two ex-White House aides, reported only $1.5 million cash on hand at the end of 2011.
A larger coalition of Democratic groups, including Priorities USA, reported raising a total of $19 million.
However, Democrats are looking to reverse that trend.
Obama's re-election campaign is now encouraging donors to fundraise for a Democratic super PAC supporting the president. Administration and campaign officials will be used as surrogates at PAC events.
That's a sharp reversal of policy for the White House, which had previously bemoaned the role of outside spending groups, particularly those that are not required to disclose its donors.
|What we want Apple to unveil at WWDC|
|Millennials squeezed out of buying a home|
|7 traits the rich have in common|
|Big Data knows you're sick, tired and depressed|
|Your car is a giant computer - and it can be hacked|
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.50%||3.49%|
|15 yr fixed||2.70%||2.69%|
|30 yr refi||3.47%||3.51%|
|15 yr refi||2.72%||2.71%|
Today's featured rates:
|Latest Report||Next Update|
|Home prices||Aug 28|
|Consumer confidence||Aug 28|
|Manufacturing (ISM)||Sept 4|
|Inflation (CPI)||Sept 14|
|Retail sales||Sept 14|