Quelle Surprise! US Big Business Prefers Clinton to Trump by 2:1 Margin

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Politico reported in early May, when Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, that the Clinton campaign started calling major Republican donors almost immediately, pitching her as the natural candidate for them. Many of the recipients were cool to the appear, reasoning that Clinton would probably prevail regardless. But that was before the polls showed that Trump becoming the virtually official Republican nominee meant he quickly moved in national polls to score a mere few points behind Clinton, when the widespread assumption had been that he would top out at a much lower level.

And it’s not as if Clinton didn’t already have real pull among big Republican givers. This chart from Time Magazine shows as of late 2015 where 2012 Romney donors were sending their Presidential bucks in this cycle. You can see that Clinton was virtually on a par with John Kasich:

Screen shot 2016-05-19 at 7.08.47 AM

The Financial Times surveyed major US business groups and found they greatly prefer Clinton. Mind you, “greatly prefer” translates as “loathes Trump, deems her to be less obviously terrible.” Clinton is a status quo candidate, and as much as she would probably shake her finger at businessmen more than they’d like, she won’t break any big rice bowls. From the Financial Times:

In the most comprehensive survey to date of business views on the US election, half of the trade groups who responded to the FT said they would break from the traditional party of business to back Mrs Clinton — despite reservations about the Democratic front-runner’s candidacy.

Only a quarter of respondents preferred Mr Trump, who has run a caustic campaign marked by populist attacks on business. But support for Mrs Clinton was often lukewarm, sparked more by alarm over the presumptive Republican nominee than enthusiasm for her..

The FT polled 53 Washington-based trade associations and received responses from 16 of them that lobby for nearly 100,000 businesses with combined annual revenues of more than $3.5tn. A quarter of respondents said they could not decide which candidate would be best for business because it was too early to judge their policy platforms, or replied “none of the above”.

Several trade groups expressed dismay that for the first time in living memory they faced a presidential race without a clear pro-business candidate, dashing their hopes of a new dawn after nearly eight years of what they see as over-regulation by the Obama administration.

Mr [Bill] Reinsch, speaking shortly before retiring from his trade group [companies ranging from Cisco to General Electric to Procter & Gamble ] this month, added: “The other thing [companies] want is predictability, which is the antithesis of Trump, who brags about being unpredictable.”…

The business groups that said they would prefer Mrs Clinton tended to represent more internationally-minded members in fast-moving or technology-dependent sectors. The smaller core of Trump support came from more domestic-oriented sectors and those hurt by the Democratic causes of environmentalism and trade unions.

While this would seem to be a big negative for Trump, the antipathy of big businesses may not be quite the obstacle that it seems to be. First is that the media gives him massive coverage, reducing his need to spend on advertising, which is the big money pit in presidential bids. The second is “lesser-evilism” is not a great basis for raising money. So while these major companies and their execs will presumably give more to Clinton than to Trump (one can anticipate they’ll make some donation to his campaign to keep the possibility of some level of access), it’s not likely they’ll be generous donors.

In addition, Trump continues to be a media darling. The attentiveness of the press to his every utterance means he’ll have to spend less on TV advertising than Clinton will, which is the big money pit in a presidential bid.

And there is the open question of whether the heretofore skeletal Trump campaign organization can tap into Trump’s base. Despite stereotypes to the contrary, some surveys show that his fans are on average markedly higher income than Clinton or Sanders voters. In particular, Trump has a strong position with small business owners. Helaine Olen reported that surveys done months before Trump became the Republican winner showed him as their clear favorite.

In other words, despite regular elite warnings that Trump will usher in an era of horrors, he continues to defy the odds. And Clinton, despite having what would seem to be an eminently beatable opponent, is so deeply ensconced in her elite echo chamber that her and her allies anti-Trump messaging seems only to reach the already converted. We’ll see soon enough how well Trump contends with this apparent fundraising obstacle.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    The thing about the Clintons is that they are, as politicians, honest. When bought, they stay bought. Hence their popularity with businesses. Trump is far too much of a wheeler dealer to stay bought, this is what seems to worry the oligarchy.

    1. Jim

      I think that the oligarchy needs to keep paying the Clintons. I suppose as long as they keep doing so the Clintons will be tools and servants of the elite.

      I’m not sure what Trump will do if he were to become President but I think it is possible he might tell the elite to get fucked.

    2. RUKidding

      Yes, agreed. Plus for better or worse, the Clintons really know how the game is played, which is what the .001% wants – reliable poodles. Or should I say: well house trained poodles??

    3. flora

      The Clintons are apparently for sale to the entire world. (See CGI funding scandals, see Chinese finding scandals.) Can US biz be sure they won’t get sold out to higher bidders from China ?

    4. johnnygl

      Small businesses may feel under pressure from the monopoly power of big business. Trump’s not afraid to utter the word ‘anti-trust’. This could be a driver of his support.

      Plus, trump has gone on and on about trade so much that he’s gotta slap some kind of tariffs on mexico or china.

    5. Edward Qubain

      How did the Clintons become classified as honest? For example, how honest is Hillary on the issue of Palestine? How honest was the Clinton White House about Iraq in the 1990’s?

  2. Clive

    Is it too late for people who gave Jeb big ticket donations to get a refund? Talk about a lousy ROI.

    1. Amateur Socialist

      Perhaps more to the point, why would a disinterested observer expect their support of Madame Secretary to be any more successful?

      We’re talking about a candidate with a long history of blowing large popularity margins and advantages of institutional support etc.

      This may turn out to be the most useful predictor of her poor showing in November.

      1. Clive

        Very true. Jeb was a lesson for the industrial-political nexus and it did not, so the saying goes, necessarily work out to their advantage. If Hillary ends up being a similarly expensive lesson, even though investors memories are notoriously short, it will still have an impact.

        1. Amateur Socialist

          “How I learned to stop worrying and love Citizen’s United

          When the decision was announced in 2010 I feared the worst, that our politics would become even more lopsided towards oligarchy and away from public accountability. But 6 years hence it has turned out that large trust funds haven’t endowed their owners with any particular skill or insight regarding winning political campaigns. It’s lemonade.

          And this fact explains much about the insane slash and burn campaign against Bernie. In that he has demonstrated conclusively that you can be successful without vast unaccountable resources and remain quite competitive. If you have the politics right. More lemonade.

          In 2016 it looks like Citizen’s United has generally demonstrated how readily the oligarchs can be fleeced by corrupt and unaccountable strategists and consultants. So we have (somewhat) poorer oligarchs who have the opportunity to learn they don’t actually understand things they think they do. And a dawning awareness that the path to victory probably no longer involves people like Karl Rove and Mark Penn. Lemonade for all!

          1. ScottS

            Cold comfort, I know, but I like to imagine Sheldon Adelson doing the NPV on all the money he spent on Newt Gingrich’s last campaign.

            And even more to the point, the Koch brothers threw a ton of money at a local election a few cycles ago that netted them nothing. With them, though, it’s a numbers game. One will eventually stick.

            And score one for the small town people who were suspicious at the stench of money surrounding the carpet-baggers.

    2. human

      I’m not holding my breath waiting for Krugman to disparage all of the Repub pullouts for their irresponsible solicitations of funds.

  3. John Morrison

    I’ve been wondering… What will really happen in the Fall? All I know is that things will be interesting, as in cursed. Past history, as I remember: In 2000, the media was quite nice to Candidate Bush — someone they could sit down and have a beer with. He was the front-runner before a single primary or caucus was held. Contrast with the serial lying about Candidate Gore, accompanied by serious coverage of third-party Candidate Nader’s campaign.

    2008: on the Democratic side, Obama and Clinton were front-runners before a single primary or caucus was held. My idea back then was that whoever would win would be set up for the Fall (note the pun). Clinton was subject to the Clinton Rules. Obama had the worst post-9/11 name possible for a Presidential candidate, not to mention being black.

    Of course, economic reality intervened. Later, I developed an alternate theory for why Obama and Clinton were pushed front. As President, either could be trusted to betray their base and lose badly, divide their base (and give them no motive to energize them) setting the stage for zombie resurrection of the Republicans in 2010 — and also, continue the Republican militaristic anti-civll-liberties, shadow-bank friendly, torture-friendly Bush policies. I have no idea if either theory was correct.

    In 2012, we had minimal coverage of primarying Obama, or of third-party candidates.

    2016: A year ago, we had the media pushing Clinton hard, as this implacable juggernaut, with opponents portrayed as annoying gnats at her heels. Sanders came up and got coverage, perhaps because of his major fundraising, perhaps because he was another candidate they could trust. Other candidates got minimal coverage.

    So: are they being set up for the Fall again? Or is Clinton being engineered as our next President?

    Does anyone *really* believe that Clinton will break up the huge shadow banking system? Prosecute the fraudclosers, prosecute the banksters, prosecute the torturers, stop the “humanitarian bombing” and so forth?

    1. Vatch

      Does anyone *really* believe that Clinton will break up the huge shadow banking system? Prosecute the fraudclosers, prosecute the banksters, prosecute the torturers, stop the “humanitarian bombing” and so forth?

      The only people who believe that are the people who also believe that is what Obama will do.

    2. Damian

      Last night on Hannity. Trump made an interesting quick comment which reflects in part the point you are making:

      “are they being set up for the Fall again? Or is Clinton being engineered as our next President?

      I am paraphrasing – He said He won the nomination because he was the “overwhelming” favorite in state after state – if it was a close vote, he would have lost since they could rig the small difference with manipulation of the vote.

      As you watch Iowa, Brooklyn, NV, and other places for Bernie vote manipulation you get the impression the Clinton Machine will use a “variety” of dirty tricks to get where they need to when it is close but not so Oregon and other places where the differences are large.

      kind of confirms how this will be done – they use the “benefit of the doubt” to gain advantage at the margin

      1. jgordon

        Funny that they are rugging in favor of an unpopular candidate that few actually want to see run. It looks like this electioned cycle has been tailor made to ensure a Trump presidency by the head morons in charge if both parties. This says something important about the longevity of this society.

      2. hreik

        It won’t be so easy in the GE. There will be Republican “oversight” of counting, etc.

        1. hunkerdown

          So? The Republican candidate is always acceptable to the neoliberal Democrat; they just wish they’d be a little nicer to the disadvantaged… in public. False competition is the basis of the legitimacy of the US political system.

      3. inode_buddha

        Taking advantage of the “benefit of the doubt” is one of the greasiest moves imaginable. Basically it is preying upon honesty. The trick is to figure out how to take away that advantage.

      4. TheCatSaid

        “[Trump] would have lost since they could rig the small difference with manipulation of the vote.”

        The new BlackBoxVoting.org report “Fraction Magic” shows that since 2001, for sure at least 25% of the electronic voting machines and ballot scanners include code for registering votes as fractions. The nature of the code shows how it can be rigged (with only 1 minute access to the GEMS tabulator) for either a pre-programmed total or, worse, for weighted percentages.

        “Extra” fractional votes resulting from the percentage divisions can be assigned to any particular candidate that is specified. Voting tapes don’t show the results with the fractions–that would be a huge red flag! But they are there all right, in the MS Access database. The seemingly “minor” differences between a voting machine’s tape and the results as shown by GEMS can be the result of GEMS being programmed to change a vote result–even while vote-counting is underway, even when just the last few precinct results remain to be added in.

        In other worse, vote rigging has long been far easier than was recognized. Also, both major parties have participated in a range of different scams, depending on the locality and its unique procedures, personalities, and power-holders.

  4. C

    In Clinton’s case it is the inside/outside divide, or call it the echo chamber if you prefer. Clinton is, first and foremost, a professional Democratic Politician. She bends as needed to win elections and listens very carefully to what the donors want. She also knows that what you say in public is just that, what you say, and that big donors don’t mind being sniped at so long as, at the end of the day you stand between them and the pitchforks.

    Other professional Democratic Politicians or just professional Democrats like Wasserman Schultz, Kos, Dean, and most senators trust her, because they are just like her. Sanders they don’t trust because he may very well upset their apple cart or, at least, energize the forces that will. They will take someone they know who will keep the game going over someone that won’t try. Even if she loses to Trump she will still spend more energy to preserve the machine than Sanders would.

    Likewise for people who identify themselves as big D Democrats, i.e. members of the tribe, they trust her because she is one of them and has always been. Sanders’ loyalty to the tribe is in doubt so he is suspect.

    At the end of the day the professionals and the tribalists will always unite around someone tho will preserve the tribe. Clinton knows that, she will use that, even as she shows every sign of taking Bill’s “Triangulation” (read Hippie Punching, union Bashing, and general gutting of the actual “Base”) to 11. Bill at least had the decency to wait until after the election to do that. She is doing it right now.

  5. Nick

    It’s interesting how Romney’s main pitch against Trump was based on the fact that he isn’t good for business, while what he actually meant – as evidenced by small-business owners strongly preferring Trump – is that he isn’t good for big business.

    Btw, Trump truly is brilliant to make it seem like he’s sticking up for Bernie with his supportive Tweets about how unfairly he’s being treated by the DNC. I imagine that that will be a pretty successful tactic.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, he’s courting Sanders voters. They may not vote for him, but he may get them to believe he’s not so scary awful and thus they don’t have to vote for Hillary, they can stay home safely or write in Bernie or vote for Stein.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve been thinking for a while that Trump missed a trick in not being more overtly supportive of Sanders against Clinton through the campaign (not that Sanders would have welcomed it of course). He has wedged open the Republicans, he could have done the same to the Dems. Now that would have been a public service.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I think tribalism would have kicked in. Enough Clinton supporters equate Sanders and Trump as it is (because their supporters are all racist and sexist, doncha know).

  6. Strangely Enough

    Democratic causes of environmentalism and trade unions.

    One wonders if the author has been asleep for a few decades…

    1. James Levy

      You can point, among many Democratic politicians, to a kind of “salutary neglect” of these issues, as compared to Republicans, who overwhelmingly would like to crush both. It is cold comfort, indeed, but at least among many Democrats, it means something. Not properly funding the EPA and the National Parks is different from eliminating them, which many hard core Republicans would like to see happen.

    2. Jason

      They are Democratic causes in the sense that Democratic politicians and party officials regularly run those flags up the poles and make sure they’re seen saluting them, before taking them down and boxing them carefully away until the next election cycle.

      The Republicans, in contrast, haul out new copies of those flags and ceremonially burn them every cycle. The only ones who would actually do anything of (positive) significance would be the Greens (if they ever got any measure of power without being co-opted).

  7. Jason

    Clinton, despite having what would seem to be an eminently beatable opponent, is so deeply ensconced in her elite echo chamber that her and her allies anti-Trump messaging seems only to reach the already converted.

    This seems to be Clinton’s biggest blind spot re: Trump. Instead of embracing the scorched earth, and (truthfully) pointing out that Trump is a terrible human being who would make a worse President, so far Clinton & Co. seem determined to point out that Trump’s politics are wrong. And that’s a marginal strategy at best.

  8. fledermaus

    Note how those who fetishize “disruption” go all ‘fraidy cat when it is their status quo that is poised to be disrupted.

  9. EoinW

    Will they learn from their mistakes? Throwing money at Jeb Bush was wasted, why should they expect any more return from financing Clinton? If Big Business donors want to be smart they will be investing in Trump. He has already shown that no establishment candidate has a chance against him. Clinton will be the last first round KO. Therefore donors either throw away more money(on Clinton) or buy shares in President Trump Inc.

    1. hunkerdown

      First of all, erase from your mind that the competition as advertised is necessarily the same one as contested. In fact, in a land of hustling and self-promotion, it is almost always true that the outside competition is just an act obscuring an ulterior motive. Donors are not buying “votes” for their candidate. In fact, they’re buying the agenda by raising barriers to entry for outsider candidates, and occupying the two semi-official places of pride in imperial gladiatoral discourse. The Establishment cares only that their joint sham is ratified by the serfs, and funding both Establishment parties is the most reliable way for big donors to stay big (Google, for instance).

      As to what the driving agenda is, big business wins in any case where labor stays under the Establishment’s boot. Once one’s gotten the nod from Shel Adelson, one’s outsider cred goes way down. On the other side, Hillary doesn’t support neoliberalism because she’s the sort who can be bought; she’s bought because she’s the sort who supports it.

      1. fresno dan

        Yeah, I agree with that insight.
        We don’t have choices – we have pseudo choices.
        You can have one from column a or one from column b
        I don’t WANT Chinese food damnit!

      2. different clue

        In other words, they like the way she thinks because she thinks the way they like.

  10. Mattski

    This is what those of us who narrowly favor Clinton are now pinning our hopes on–the corporate kleptocracy’s ability to swing the election.

  11. nat scientist

    Trump is the carnival barker who earns free air time for driving instant eyeballs reliably better than train derailments, hostage dramas, and natural disasters. The media would have the honor to let him roll forever and they’ll film him ’till the lights go out. Candidate, President, President-for-Life. TV cost-of-goods-sold, next to ‘nuttin’. If the IRS should bill him for the excess time he gets ‘free’ as earned income like bankruptcy debt waived, and disallow the retail price he credits that he donates for unplayed golf rounds in courses around the world, he’ll pull a Sarah Palin, buy his own channel like Yahoo webcasting from the MAGA palace, and USA chumps will pay for the channel, Mexican being as irrelevant as the birthing non-issue and jumping beans.
    That’ll be way more fun for Daffy Don than talking to generals and admirals in private, without tweeting even! Sad!

  12. digi_owl

    And they would go with Trump before giving the “socialist” Sanders any chance. Yep, USA is indeed “exceptional”…

  13. Kimm Warren

    The “ruling class” has cleverly co-opted the working man’s political party, so the Trojan Horse rides again.

  14. Fiver

    Well, when only 16 firms respond out of 53 major trade organizations. Of those, one quarter could not say who was their preference. So, one-fifth of trade groups surveyed conveyed concerns over a Trump Presidency. How many of the firms in both sets of groups contributed to the Clinton campaign before any of this happened?

    One very important business man is backing Trump and planning a Trump trip to Israel. We just might see a bidding war for the pro-Israeli, pro-war vote. I don’t think I could take it.


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