Wall Street betting on Democratic Congress

Finance, investment firms shift donations from the GOP as midterm election nears, research group says.

By Christian Zappone, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Wall Street is eyeing new leadership in Congress, according to a research group that says contributions from the financial services industry have tilted slightly toward Democratic candidates and committees in the last 18 months.

The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) says donations to Democratic Party candidates from January 2005 to June 2006 have risen to about 51 percent of total contributions versus 47 percent for Republicans. The remaining 2 percent has gone to Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat who is running for re-election as an independent.

This represents a change from the 2004 presidential election when 52 percent of Wall Street donations went to Republicans and 48 percent went to Democrats, according to Massie Ritsch, spokesman for the nonpartisan CRP.

The CRP's numbers are based on political action committees (PACs) and individuals' reported donations. Although individuals' donations vary, PACs tend to donate to the party in power, according to Ritsch.

For that reason, Ritsch expects the Wall Street donation gap to widen if Democrats take control of the House, Senate or both, because the PACs would then presumably donate more to sitting Democrats.

Wall Street is the operating home to such financial powerhouses as Goldman Sachs (down $0.56 to $189.19, Charts), Citigroup (up $0.17 to $50.29, Charts) and Morgan Stanley (down $0.16 to $76.42, Charts), all of which contribute to candidates through PACs.

Although the CRP won't know the extent of the change until after the elections, Ritsch says of the 100 industries whose donation his organization tracks, "only Wall Street has gone in a different column."

"People on Wall Street are the same as people on Main Street," said Phil Singer, communications director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "They're not happy with the direction the country is going and want a new direction."

Ed Patru, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, disagreed saying, "Job creators, whether in small business or on Wall Street, will never have a friend in Rep. Nancy Pelosi's House speakership."

"We remain confident we will hold the House," Patru said.


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