The Most Powerful Group of Political Donors in America

posted on 06-07-2019

If you were asked to name the most powerful political fundraising industry in the U.S., who would you list?

Big Oil? 

Big Pharma? 

Attorneys? Defense contractors?

We can almost guarantee that you'd never guess what profession contributed more to House and Senate candidates in 2010 than any other: Retirees.

Individuals who labeled themselves as "retired" contributed almost $279 million to federal candidates in 2008 and over $159 million in 2010. By comparison, the next-largest industry, lawyers and law firms, donated $234 million in 2008 and almost $138 million in 2010.

Political fundraising has turned into a multibillion-dollar industry. And it's no secret why: In a country with an increasing number of special interests vying for the favor of only 100 senators and 435 representatives, the stakes have never been higher. 

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We've used information gathered by The Center for Responsive Politics to list the top-20 industries by amount donated to federal elections (as of April 25, 2011), along with an approximation of which party the industry tends to lean toward: