Financial support of the American electoral politics and campaign finance regulation play a decisive role in the presidential campaign of each candidate who dedicates the biggest part of the time on the promotion of his or her candidacy during the pre-election campaign. Participation in TV shows, debates, public speeches, publication of booklets and books, this is just a small part of their campaign. Obviously, there is no precise answer of how much money is required for successful promotion. Nevertheless, a successful campaign requires big donations from investors.

According to top predictions of the fundraisers, the amount spent for financing the 2016 presidential elections are supposed to double compared to the 2012 campaign, and equal as much as $5 billion. The total spending of both candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, already counts billions. These two candidates stood out from the others by the scope of their campaigns. Hillary Clinton relies on individual donations much more that Trump does:  she gets almost 90% of her financial support from outside sources. Therefore, in the case of successful election for the post of the U.S. President, it will affect her public policy more than, if Trump should he win in 2016. .



Sponsorship of the political candidates in the USA has always been a controversial issue. In 1990, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart, an experienced Supreme Court litigator, brought forth an idea that the government should ban sponsorship of any political communication by a profit or a nonprofit corporation. It was the time when candidates were not even able to publish and distribute censoring political books. The main goal of this campaign was to reduce or even ban any kind of foreign investment aimed to influence the US presidential campaigns. Nevertheless, the final decision of the Court allowed allocation of money for supporting or opposing candidates. Furthermore, Citizens United, a non-profit organization founded in 1988, was legally entitled to spend unlimited sums on the presidential campaigns in favor or against any candidate. In 2012, Citizens United’s political spending was twice more than during any other previous election.

In the USA, there are four major sources for financing election campaigns: voluntary donations from individuals; contributions by political parties and political committees; own funds of the candidates and their families; and the funds allocated by the state. In 2008, the 56th campaign for the U.S. Presidential election recorded the biggest amount of election funding for candidates. The Federal Election Commission declared that candidates managed to collect $1,681.5 million, including more than $100 million allocated from the state budget of the USA.


Comparative analysis of the major funding sources for the both candidates

Hillary Clinton is one of the most influential female politicians in the world who has been adhering to the Democratic Party ever since 1968. After her term as the First Lady terminated, Hillary Clinton continued to strive for the heights on the political arena and fight for the U.S. presidency. From 2009 to 2013, Hillary Clinton held a post of Secretary of State and remained one of the most active American diplomats in the long time. Being actively involved in foreign and domestic affairs of the USA, she found many supporters who continue to support her candidacy on the post of the President.

In comparison to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump has never been actively involved in political life of the USA. With a fortune estimated at $4.1 billion by the Forbes magazine, Trump strives to get to the highest public office without any significant experience in political affairs. He is known as a successful businessman and multibillionaire, as well as the host of a TV reality show called “Candidate”. Since the late 1980s there have been talks about his possible presidential ambitions, but they were not taken seriously because of uncertainty of his political views: Trump counted himself a Democrat before switching to the Republican side. In late 2013, Trump was considered as future governor of New York, but once again he decided not to participate. Finally, on 16 June 2015 Donald Trump made a public statement about his nomination as a contester in the Republican presidential campaign.

Both candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have stable donations required for their campaigns. In both cases, it is necessary to highlight four sources of funding for the both candidates: Individual Contributions, PAC Contributions, Candidate self-financing and Federal Funds.


Table 1. Sources of Funds for Presidential Campaign of Donald Trump

Source: Federal Election Commission data (


Table 2. Sources of Funds for Presidential Campaign of Hillary Clinton

Source: Federal Election Commission data (


From this table, it is visible that about half of Trump’s campaign funding (42%) derives from self-financing. Big financial resources enable him to pursue an aggressive campaign in order to bolster his popularity among the electorate. In comparison to Trump, Clinton’s own finances constitute only 2% of her campaign. Nonetheless, her 2% equals $14,293,734, while 42% of Trump’s self-financing equals just $52,003,469. 

In 2015, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign obtained $112 million. According to the figures declared by the Federal Election Commission, George Soros (Democratic billionaire donor) provided $6 million to her super PAC. The former secretary started a new year with the budget worth over $38 million. Hillary Clinton’s super PAC continues to bring her millions of dollars. Priorities USA raised $109,938,605 throughout the last month. Additionally, two other big groups, American Bridge and Correct the Record provided more than $6 million of donation. What is also important, Clinton gets robust support from a group run by National Nurses United that sustains her candidacy with a donation of $2.3 million. Moreover, resources, necessary to wage a successful campaign, are getting from National Committee and state Democratic parties. The Democratic National Committee donated $18 million for Clinton’s campaign. This statistics demonstrates that thanks to her high activity in the social life of the country, Hillary Clinton is a popular politician among big and small groups, donating millions.

In comparison to Clinton, Donald Trump gets just small financial support from Super PAC Contributions such as Donald J Trump for President ($125,220,911) and Great America PAC ($7,564,708). Moreover, there is also Our Principles PAC that donated $19,006,593 for the anti-Trump campaign. Overall, this donation is too small to have a serious weight in the table provided above.

In the both cases, financial support from individual contributors is obviously quite high. Individual contributions comprise the 86% of funding sources for Hillary Clinton and 45% in the case of Donald Trump. In comparison to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton depends on some of America’s richest and most powerful people, from investment bankers to the Hollywood elites.

In many cases, individual members of PACs, employees or owners prefer to donate money to the candidates. As it was mentioned before, Hillary Clinton has since long been engaged in manifold aspects of social activity. In 1993, she headed the committee on National Health Care Reform. Later on, Clinton switched to the protection of the interests of women and children of the United States, and took over the chief executive position in Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer company. Hillary Clinton has made great strides in jurisprudence that gained her with many supporters from within the law industry who continue to sustain her candidacy on the post of President of the USA. Lawyers and law firms can be considered among the main donors for Clinton’s campaign.

Despite the fact that Hillary Clinton started her presidential campaign by offering support for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United regarding allowance of unlimited spending on political campaigns, investment bankers, the Hollywood elite, lawyers, media and powerful business interests represent her biggest donors.

According to the figures released by OpenSecrets, Clinton’s campaign has raised $44,295,259   from lawyers and law firms, donated by individuals and through PACs. Moreover, there are a number of lobbyists like Akin Gump who help to drive presidential campaigns through soliciting major donations to super PACs. Another telling fact is that powerful media moguls, wealthy investors, and some of Hollywood’s largest corporations send millions to the Priorities USA Action, Clinton’s largest super PAC. Top media donors such as DreamWorks, DISH Network and Time Warner provided generously to her campaign in the last year. Moreover, according to the Wall Street Journal, Wall Street has provided close to $5 million for Clinton's campaign.

Throughout the last four decades, the Clintons family has created a robust global network of individual sponsors, including elites. According to a Washington Post investigation, Hillary and Bill Clinton have already drawn $110 million in support of their political or charitable purposes from roughly 336,000 individuals, along with corporations, unions and foreign governments.

The list of top donors includes Steven Spielberg (Film Director, Actor), George Soros (Hedge Fund Executive/Philanthropist) and Frank Giustra (Canadian mining magnate). The biggest chunk of the individual donations go to the Clinton Foundation, one of the world’s fastest-growing charities, which supports health, education and economic development initiatives around the globe. By February 1, 2016, the total amount of investments made to support the Democratic candidate had already exceeded $40 million.

Although Donald Trump boasts he is self-financing his presidential campaign, he still gets donations from individual supporters. Among his supporters, Jim Shore (an artist from York, South California) donated $5,400, while Pamela Newman (insurance executive) made a $2,700-worth donation to the Trump’s campaign. Obviously, those donations are not as high as in the case with Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, it demonstrates that Donald Trump has many supporters from various industries such as business, consulting firms, healthcare, and celebrities. Mainly, all individual investments goes to Make America Great Again PAC and counts as almost $2 billion.

Usually, Trump prefers to spend money on the public speeches, advertisement, T-shirts and other campaign-branded items in order to raise public awareness about his candidacy. Moreover, due to the lack of experience in political affairs, he tries to sustain relations with consulting companies that organize his public life.



To sum up, a detailed analysis of financial support of the two candidates for the office of President of the United States in 2016, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump demonstrated that both candidates spend lavish amounts on their campaigns. Millions of Donald Trump helps him to organize his campaign from his own resources and stay (relatively) independent from any outside donors. PAC and Individual Contributions are more important for Hillary Clinton probably because many representatives from the elite groups prefer to keep confidentiality and donate money to the PACs. Stable financial support, great experience in political affairs and electoral popularity provide good chances of winning for Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, she relies more on individual contributors, especially from lawyers, politicians and celebrities that connect her future policy with the interests of the separate groups that might obviously undermine the American idea of democracy.