Who’s contributing to the candidates and how does this affect their policies?

What factors are influencing the way the candidates form their policies? Are their decisions based on past administrations? Or could these policies be what the American people want? Do advisors or lobbyists help form the candidates’ plans?

All these reasons may be important, but they are not the only factors that define the candidates’ policies. Donations from key industries are significant elements. Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, like most modern presidential candidates, rely heavily on contributions to fund their campaigns and get their respective messages out there. Key contributors include the oil & gas industries, the coal-mining industry, green efforts/environmentalists and the agribusiness industry.

The agribusiness sector includes crop producers, livestock ranchers, meat processors, the poultry and egg industry, dairy farmers, timber companies, tobacco companies, food products manufacturers, food stores and veterinarians. Though most contributions in this industry go to the Republican Party, sugar growers give more to Democrats, which other industries may eventually do if they wish to find allies in the new Democratic Congress. This year, the agribusiness industry has given $2,398,839 to McCain and $1,263,755 to Obama. Some of the contributors include American Crystal Sugar, Farm Credit Council and Reynolds American. According to OpenSecrets.org, this industry will pay close attention to reform topics related to strengthening disaster relief programs and increasing U.S. involvement in global food markets.

Oil and Gas
Obama and McCain are both receiving hefty contributions from companies in the oil & gas industry. McCain has received three times more than Obama. Whereas Obama beat McCain in contributions from companies like Exxon and BP, McCain has received more from companies like Koch Industries, Valero, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, Conoco Phillips and Hess Corp. As of Oct. 19, McCain has received $2,028,275 from the oil & gas industry this year, while Obama has received only $523,133, according to figures that were released by the Federal Election Commission and that appeared on OpenSecrets.org.

Coal Mining
As McCain and Obama have both committed to advancing clean-coal technology, they are showing support from the coal-mining industry. McCain is again receiving more from this industry than Obama at $75,596, while Obama has received just $12,900. Though his running mate has said differently, Obama knows that the coal issue swings voters and has released many ads to show that he supports clean-coal technologies. McCain is doing other things to show that he supports clean-coal technologies, including visiting one of the country’s largest coal producers, Consol, and touring its research and development campus located in Pittsburgh.

Green Efforts
The candidates are also paying close attention to the alternative energy industry, which includes wind, solar power, crop-based ethanol and other biofuels as their importance is significantly increasing. While McCain has received the majority of contributions from the other industries, Obama enjoys 73 percent of all alternative energy contributions. This industry has given him a total of $90,557. The top contributor in the industry is National Biofuels, which has given a total of $160,400 to Democrats. Environmental groups are also making donations, hoping to affect energy and agricultural legislation. Environmentalists have given $201,050 to Obama and $38,925 to McCain. The Environmental Defense Fund and Defenders of Wildlife spent the most in lobbying efforts, while the Sierra Club donates directly to issue ads rather than siding with a political party or candidate.

As you can see, financial contributions play a major role in elections, but it’s still unknown how much they will affect policy making. How do you think these contributions are affecting the candidates’ policies? Would an industry’s support sway your vote? What do you think? Please comment below.

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