An analysis of Federal Election Commission records, by TIME, which was published on 23 October 2015, showed that the 2012 donors to Romney’s campaign were already donating more to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign than they had been donating to any one of the 2016 campaigns of — listed here in declining order below Clinton — Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, or Jim Gilmore. Those major Romney donors also gave a little to two Democrats (other than to Hillary — who, as mentioned, received a lot of donations from these Republican donors): Martin O’Malley, Jim Web, and Lawrence Lessig. (Romney’s donors gave nothing to Bernie Sanders, and nothing to Elizabeth Warren. They don’t want either of those people to become President.)
Clinton is the only Democratic candidate who is even moderately attractive to big Republican donors.
In ascending order above Clinton, Romney’s donors were donating to: John Kasich, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Jeb Bush. The top trio — of Bush, Cruz, and Rubio — together, received around 60% of all the money donated for the 2016 race by the people who had funded Mitt Romney’s 2012 drive for the White House.
So: the Democrat Hillary Clinton scored above 14 candidates, and below 6 candidates. She was below 6 Republican candidates, and she was above 11 Republican candidates (Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore). The 6 candidates she scored below were: Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, and John Kasich.
This means that, in the entire 17-candidate Republican field, she drew more Republican money than did any one of 11 of the Republican candidates, but less Republican money than did any one of 6 of them. So, if she were a Republican (in what would then have been an 18-candidate Republican field for 2016), she would have been the 7th-from-the-top recipient of Romney-donor money.
Therefore, to Republican donors, Hillary Clinton is a more attractive prospect for the U.S. Presidency than was 64% of the then-current 17-member Republican field of candidates.
Another way to view this is that, to Republican donors, a President Hillary Clinton was approximately as attractive a Presidential prospect to lead the nation as was a President Graham, or a President Kasich — and was a more attractive prospective President than a President Lindsey Graham, a President Rand Paul, a President Carly Fiorina, a President Chris Christie, a President Rick Perry, a President Mike Huckabee, a President Donald Trump, a President Bobby Jindal, a President Rick Santorum, or a President George Pataki.
To judge from Clinton’s actual record of policy-decisions, and excluding any consideration of her current campaign-rhetoric (which is directed only at Democratic voters), all three of those candidates who were in Clinton’s Republican-donor league — Graham, Clinton, and Kasich — would, indeed, be quite similar, from the perceived self-interest standpoint of the major Republican donors.
As to whether any one of those three candidates as President would be substantially worse for Republican donors than would any one of the Republican big-three — Bush, Cruz, and Rubio — a person can only speculate.
However, the main difference between Clinton and the Republican candidates is certainly the rhetoric, not the reality. The reason for that Democratic rhetoric is that Ms. Clinton is competing right now only for Democratic votes, while each one of the Republican candidates is competing right now only for Republican votes.
Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric is liberal, but her actual actions in politics have been conservative, except for her nominal support for liberal initiatives that attracted even some Republican support, or else that the Senate vote-counts (at the time when she was in the Senate) indicated in-advance had no real chance of becoming passed into law. In other words: her record was one of rhetoric and pretense on a great many issues, and of meaningful action on only issues that wouldn’t embarrass her in a Democratic primary campaign, to attract Democratic voters.
In terms of her actual record in U.S. public office, it’s indistinguishable from that of Republican politicians in terms of corruption, and it’s indistinguishable from Republican politicians in terms of the policies that she carried out as the U.S. Secretary of State for four years. Her record shows her to be clearly a Republican on both matters (notwithstanding that her rhetoric has been to the exact contrary on both matters).
In a general-election contest against the Republican nominee, Clinton would move more toward the ideological center, and so also would any one of the Republican candidates, who would be nominated by Republican primaries and so running against her in the general election, to draw votes from the center as well as from the right. The rhetorical contest would be between a center-right Clinton and a slightly farther-right Republican; but, at present, the rhetorical contest is starkly different on the Democratic side than it is on the Republican side, simply because the candidates are trying right now to appeal to their own Party’s electorate (Democrats=left; Republicans=right) during the primary phase of the campaign, not addressing themselves now to the entire electorate (as during the general-election campaign).
Only in the general-election contest do all of the major candidates’ rhetoric tend more toward the center. The strategic challenge in the general election is to retain enough appeal to the given nominee’s Party-base so as to draw them to the polls on Election Day, while, at the same time, being close enough to the political center so as to attract independent voters and crossover voters from the other side.
A good example of the fudging that typically occurs during the general-election phase would be the 2012 contest itself. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney drew closer to the rhetorical center during the general-election matchup; but they were actually much more similar to each other than their rhetoric ever was. (After all, Obamacare is patterned upon Romneycare.) During the general-election Romney-Obama contest, Romney famously said that Russia “is without question our number one geopolitical foe, they fight for every cause for the world’s worst actors.” Then, Obama criticized that statement, by saying, “you don’t call Russia our No. 1 enemy — not Al-Qaida, Russia — unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War mind warp.” But, now, as President, Obama’s own National Security Strategy 2015 refers to Russia on 17 of the 18 occasions where it employs the term “aggression,” and he doesn’t refer even once to Saudi Arabia that way, even though the Saudi royal family (who control that country) have been the major funders of Al Qaeda, and though 15 of the 19 perpetrators on 9/11 were Saudis — none of them was Russian — and though 92% of the citizenry in the nation that the Saud family owns and whose ‘news’ media and clerics drum into those people’s heads the holiness of jihad, approve of ISIS (which the Saud family prohibit inside Saudi Arabiua even while supporting and funding the jihadists in Syria and elsewhere), and though the Sauds as the country’s leaders are using American weapons and training to bomb and starve-to-death Yemenis. Instead of calling the Saudi regime “aggressors,” we supply arms to them, and cooperate with them against their major oil-competitor, Russia. (For example, we arm the Saudi-funded jihadists that Russia is bombing in Syria, because Syria is a key potential pipeline route into Europe for Saudi oil and Qatari gas, to replace Russian oil and gas in Europe. So, we support the jihadists, even though Obama’s rhetoric opposes them — and even though Obama killed Osama bin Laden, whose Al Qaeda was funded mainly by the Saud family and their friends. Hillary Clinton is even more hawkish against Russia than is Obama. She would be even better for Republican donors than Obama has been.)
Also regarding such fudging: on 27 March 2009, President Obama in secret told the assembled chieftains of Wall Street, “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks. … I’m protecting you.” Romney could have said the same, if he had been elected. And President Obama’s record has now made clear that he indeed has fulfilled on that promise he made secretly to them. The reality turned out to be far more like Romney, than like Obama’s campaign rhetoric had ever been. Similarly, on Obama’s trade-deals (TPP, TTIP, and TISA), he has been very much what would have been expected from Romney, though Obama in the 2008 Democratic Presidential primaries had campaigned against Hillary Clinton for her having supported and helped to pass NAFTA. Obama’s trade-deals go even beyond NAFTA, to benefit international mega-corporations, at the general public’s expense.
What Hillary’s fairly strong appeal to Romney’s financial backers shows is that the wealthy, because of their access to leaders in government, know and recognize the difference between what a candidate says in public, versus what the winning public official has said to them (in private) and actually does while serving in office. They know that she keeps her promises to them, not her promises to the electorate.
Hillary Clinton is a good investment for a billionaire — even for the 70% of them who are Republicans. And, based on those 2015 donation-figures, it seems that they would prefer a President Hillary Clinton, over a President Donald Trump. However, their three favorite candidates, in order, were: Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. But, in a Clinton-versus-Trump contest, Hillary Clinton would likely draw more money from Republican mega-donors than Trump would, and, of course, she would draw virtually all of the money from Democratic mega-donors. In such an instance, Hillary Clinton would probably draw a larger campaign-chest (especially considering super-pacs) than any candidate for any political office in U.S. (or global) history. Hillary Clinton would almost certainly be the most-heavily-marketed political product in history, if she becomes nominated and ends up running against Trump.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.