Campaign Finance: 2016 Richest Ever

Forget about the top 1 percent. An analysis of federal elections data by POLITICO shows that five candidates, led by billionaire Donald Trump, are in the top 0.1 percent. Fourteen of the candidates — 12 Republicans and two Democrats — have an average net worth above $1 million. Ten of the candidates (eight Republicans and two Democrats, including the front-runner) exceed the $7.76 million that qualifies them as members of the celebrated 1 percenters club.

Still, the wealth of these candidates isn’t necessarily a turnoff to voters as long as they can talk about it effectively — without coming across as either dishonest or too elitist, several presidential historians and strategists told POLITICO. 

In the 2012 election, Democrats were successful in portraying Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch millionaire in part because of the sluggish economic recovery and in part because the former Massachusetts governor allowed himself to be defined that way. 

“It’s more about if the candidate is comfortable in his own skin,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who served as an adviser to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “Romney was not.”

Trump’s current front-runner status is the clearest counterargument to the critique usually leveled at rich candidates that they are unable to connect with average voters. 

“Trump set the pace on a lot of issues — this is one that a lot of candidates are probably glad he did,” O’Connell said, adding that the millionaires in the field know they can now be open about their wealth. But with the exception of Trump, who boasts of his billions at every opportunity, the other candidates avoid acknowledging their affluence in favor of hearkening back to their humble roots.

Read more at Politico 

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Analysis & Political Strategy