Connecticut donors’ campaign money flows toward Romney, Republicans

Washington — Connecticut voters may help President Obama’s re-election chances, but they’re not giving him much political cash — especially in Fairfield County, which donated generously to him four years ago.

Four years ago, Obama received more money from state residents than any other presidential candidate, according to the Federal Election Commission. He raised nearly $10 million, compared to about $4 million raised by Republican rival Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Back then, Democratic candidates — in Connecticut and across the nation — received more money from state donors than Republicans did.

But that fundraising pattern has flipped.

As of June 30, Obama received $2.9 million from Connecticut donors, while his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, raised $4.8 million.

And Connecticut donors are now giving more to all Republican candidates and PACs than to Democrats. As of June 30, Republican federal candidates raised $20.1 million in the state, while Democrats raised $18.3 million.

At this point in the 2007-2008 election cycle, Democrats had raised $32.1 million; Republicans $22.4 million.

But hearts and wallets seem to have shifted in Fairfield County, source of the lion’s share of political giving in Connecticut.

As of the last filing date, FEC records show residents of Fairfield County gave Obama only about $1.1 million and Romney $4.8 million.

Donors in other parts of the state, including Greater Hartford and New Haven, still favor Obama, but they are giving less money to his campaign than they did four years ago.

To try to close the gap, the Obama campaign hosted two fundraisers in Fairfield County earlier this month, one at the beach-front home of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein that cost $35,800 a plate. But because of contribution limits, all but $5,000 of each donation will go to the Democratic National Committee instead of Obama’s campaign.

The money raised at those fundraisers hasn’t yet been reported to the FEC; and Obama campaign spokesman Michael Czin declined to say how much money was raised.

But if the fundraising trend in Connecticut continues, this very “blue” state with a majority of Democratic voters will be green for Romney this year.

The next presidential campaign filings, due at the FEC Aug. 20, may shed more light on the state of Obama and Romney’s fundraising in Connecticut.

Gary Rose, chairman of the Government and Politics Department at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, said rich donors, especially those working in the financial services industry, have cooled toward Obama because of his attacks on Wall Street and efforts to raise taxes on the rich.

Fairfield County is home to many financial services executives who donated to Obama in 2008, but switched allegiance to Romney this year.

“The rhetoric about class warfare has probably alienated some people who were enthusiastic about Obama,” Rose said. “We [in Fairfield County] are the 1 percent here.”

Wall Street’s rejection of Obama is a national phenomenon. He’s raised about $10 million nationwide from the financial services industry while Romney has raised more than $25 million.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Romney’s top five donors are individuals and PACs associated with Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Credit Suisse Group. They are responsible for giving him a total of more than $2.5 million.

None of Obama’s top donors come from the financial services sector.

Harry Clark, a managing partner of a consulting firm in Greenwich, has donated money to both Obama and Romney this year.

“I’m truly undecided,” he said. “I have mixed feelings about each candidate. There are some things I like about Romney, but I like Obama on social issues.”

Clark said his neighbors in Fairfield County like Romney because “he came out of the private equity industry,” Bain Capital.

“He’s of the neighborhood and Obama isn’t,” Clark said. “Fairfield County is populated by a lot of hedge fund managers who are precisely the type of financial institutions Obama has attacked.”