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Who Carries More Political Weight--Hollywood or Wall Street?

CNBC's Sue Herera says that "Hollywood has a megaphone like no other." But Wall Street is, well, Wall Street: the embodiment of big bucks. Which will prove a bigger force in picking the next American president in 2008? John Harwood and Financial Times' Ben White weigh in.

Harwood, CNBC's chief Washington correspondent, quoted a Center for Responsive Politics study which said that the Street's figures contribute three times as much money as Tinseltown to political campaigns. White, the FT's Wall Street correspondent, agreed, declaring on "Power Lunch" that the financial community had coughed up some $30 million for the 2006 midterm congressional elections, versus Hollywood's $10 million.

Every "dollar," however, may not be equal. White points out that the movie industry possesses the "buzz factor," with the ability to "manufacture culture...trends...and opinions." And Harwood made reference to the recent "million-dollar fundraiser" for Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama, fielded by the powerful entertainment triad of Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. The high-profile event certainly generated as much attention as it did cash.

When it comes to which candidates each community will back, stereotypes like buttoned-down bankers or "liberal Hollywood" are too cut-and-dried to trust in this age. White says Wall Street is politically "more balanced than Hollywood, but leans" to the GOP, with a preference for "tax cuts and small government." Harwood notes that nowadays, the financial world contains "lots of liberal baby boomers" and others who may eschew voting by "the pocketbook," with a concern over "social issues" like the war in Iraq or pro-choice sympathies.

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