Reality Check

Reality Check

Vets the truthfulness of claims and measures the efficacy of public policy

Reality Check: Dems Using Bay Area As Piggy Bank?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In this edition of Reality Check, Sam Brock looks at the perception Democrats are using the Bay Area as a "political piggy bank" and if they're the only guilty party.

    It’s a common perception in blue-leaning California that politicians love to swoop in for some quick cash, particularly those of the Democratic variety, and then leave just as speedily.

    President Obama is in town for multiple fundraisers this week, marking his 17th trip to the Bay Area since he took office in 2008.

    But are the president and his party actually guilty of using Bay Area donors for their deep pockets?

    The reality is they are guilty, but so, too, are their Republican counterparts.

    From the 2008 election cycle to present day, Bay Area donors have given about $600 million to the Democratic Party and around $400 million to the Republican party, whopping sums in their own right that make up a ratio of 3:2 in favor of Democrats.

    Those figures come from the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org.

    “The Bay Area is an ATM for Republicans, Democrats, any party you name it,” said Larry Gerston, NBC Bay Area’s Political Analyst and a professor of political science at San Jose State University. “That’s because there’s so much money flowing, especially in this part of the world, because of high tech and social media,” Gerston said.

    In the Bay Area, the fundraising is heavily weighted in favor of Democrats.

    If you add up the 9 counties comprising the Bay Area, donors doled out about $244 million to Democrats since 2008, versus a comparatively stingier $84 million to Republicans.

    Context, of course, is still everything. A sum of $84 million raised in a couple election cycles is not pocket change.

    “We’ve said it before, California is a great big cash register [for both parties], there’s no question about it,” Gerston said. “And that cash register is picked again and again. There’s a reason why they come here, the money is here, the draw is here, and there’s no reason for them not to be here.”

    Dating back all the way to the 2000 election cycle, California as a whole contributed roughly $1 billion in individual contributions to Democrats and just over $700 million to Republicans.

    High-profile GOP members who’ve come to the Bay Area to raise money include former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Rand Paul, although not all of these visits came wrapped in publicity.

    “We hear when the president comes because the streets are blocked off, the press is informed and all of that stuff, right,” noted Gerston. “But in fact, numerous Republicans come in-and-out of the state almost under the cover of darkness. Why? Because this is where the cash register is.”