The defense industry this year abandoned its decade-long commitment to the Republican Party, funneling the lion share of its contributions to Democratic presidential candidates, especially to Hillary Clinton who far out-paced all her competitors.
An examination of contributions of $500 or more, using the Huffington Post's Fundrace website, shows that employees of the top five arms makers - Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics -- gave Democratic presidential candidates $103,900, with only $86,800 going to Republicans.
Senator Clinton took in $52,600, more than half of the total going to all Democrats, and a figure equaling 60 percent of the sum going to the entire GOP field. Her closest competitor for defense industry money is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R.), who raised $32,000.
Insofar as defense workers making political donations reflect the interests of their employers, the contributions clearly suggest that the arms industry has reach the conclusion that Democratic prospects for 2008 are very good indeed. Since their profits are so heavily dependent on government contracts, companies in this field want to be sure they do not have hostile relations with the White House.
The strong support for Clinton indicates that a majority of defense industry executives currently believe Clinton is a favorite to win the Democratic nomination and, in November, 2008, the general election. In the 2004 presidential race, defense company workers, almost all of them upper-level employees, gave George W. Bush $819,358, more than twice the $366,870 received by John Kerry. Similarly, in House and Senate races over the past 10 years, the defense industry has favored Republicans over Democrats by a 3-2 margin.
Republicans holding public office almost always provide much stronger support for weapons programs and other Pentagon spending than do Democrats.
In an unexpected development, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee and a decorated Vietnam War veteran, raised just $19,200, barely more than the $18,500 collected by Texas Representative Ron Paul (R.).
No other Democrat came near Clinton's totals. Running second to her in the competition for Pentagon contractors' cash was Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn), who raised $13,200, almost all from executives of General Dynamics which has a major submarine building facility in Groton, Conn.
Former Senator John Edwards (D-N. Car.) raised $12,200 and Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D) took in $10,000.
Clinton's major industry benefactors - donors who gave the $4,600 maximum allowed by law -- include Roger A. Crone, Boeing's president of Network and Space Systems; Stanley Roth, Boeing's Vice President for Asia, International Relations, $4,600; Anne Sullivan, a Raytheon attorney; William Lynn, Raytheon's Senior Vice President for Government Relations; and Michele Kang, Northrop Grumman Vice President for health science solutions.