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A Mystery for 2008: Who’s Behind Evan Bayh?

Evan Bayh, Evan Bayh. Everywhere I turn, it seems, there’s somebody listing Indiana Senator Evan Bayh as a “major contender” for the presidency in 2008. At first glance, it’s hard for me to see why Bayh would be considered a “major contender.” Of all Democratic respondents to the Marist poll out this fall, only 2 percent indicated they would support Evan Bayh if a 2008 Democratic presidential primary were held today. Bayh actually got zero percent support among Democrats in a September Opinion Dynamics poll (source for both polls: the excellent And although we offer a wide variety of bumper stickers, buttons, magnets, posters, and shirts expressing support of an Evan Bayh presidential bid, last month such pro-Bayh items represented less than 1 percent of all Election 2008 goods we sold.

So why, if he has such tepid public support, do the pundits consider Evan Bayh to be such a “major contender”? The Indianapolis Star helps me out:

Although his birthday isn’t until the 26th, Bayh celebrated with several hundred supporters at the Murat Centre in Downtown Indianapolis on Friday night.
The evening was projected to raise more than $600,000 for Bayh’s re-election campaign.

Bayh won’t have to defend his Senate seat until 2010, and the nearly $8 million he had on hand at midyear already was one of the largest campaign war chests in the Senate. But Bayh can tap into the money earlier if he decides to run for president in 2008.

Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of the political newsletter Indiana Legislative Insight, said a $600,000 fundraiser in Indiana is “clearly stunning.”

So it’s the more than $8 million raised and made available for a presidential election campaign that makes Bayh a player, not his widespread popular appeal. The money’s talking here. But who is it speaking for? We won’t be able to access public records on that gala $600,000 fundraiser for some months yet. But we can look at who’s been giving for the first nine months of 2005. Looking at records from the Federal Elections Commission, we get the following contributors:

PACs (Political Action Committees)
Agribusiness: 1 contributor
Banking/Investment: 12 contributors
Communications Corporations: 2 contributors
Consulting Firm: 1 contributor
Defense Corporations: 3 contributors
Financial Trading Corporations: 3 contributors
Insurance Corporations: 9 contributors
Legal Firms: 6 contributors
Manufacturers: 7 contributors
Marketing Groups: 3 contributors
Non-Profits: 5 contributors
Pharmaceutical/Health Care: 4 contributors
Real Estate Corporation: 1 contributor
Retail Corporations: 3 contributors
Unions: 4 contributors
Utilities: 5 contributors
Unknown: 2 contributors

The two most dominant sectors in PAC contributions to Evan Bayh this year: Banking/Investment and Insurance. Corporate contributions strongly outweigh union and non-profit contributions.

It’s good to know who is powering Evan Bayh’s push toward the White House in 2008, given that his campaign isn’t based so far in broad popular support. Tomorrow, we’ll look at individual campaign contributors to the Bayh effort.

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