The 2008 presidential election was the most expensive on record, with candidates, parties, and outside groups dropping $5.3 billion. This year’s contest promises to break that record, due in part to the new rules of political fundraising: Donors can pour unlimited cash into outside-spending groups that can freely boost or attack the candidates of their choice. Which means that wealthy donors who have maxed out on their gifts to candidates or just want a lot more bang for their political buck can write massive checks to any of the new super-PACs that are popping up as proxies for politicians and parties.
Throughout the year, we’ll be keeping tabs on these superdonors (many of them couples who double up or spread out their gifts). As primary season heats up, we’ve tallied the current top 20 political givers based on donation data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Here’s a quick look at how they’re giving, starting with their partisan tilt: 17 out of 20 are giving to Republican or conservative groups and candiates.
And half of the top 20 are major donors to the pro-Mitt Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future:
The full list (don’t worry, I’m sure your vote will have just as much influence on the results of the election and, subsequently, the policies that follow):