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2016 election still up in the air for Wall St, big business

David and Charles Koch
Getty Images (L) | Koch Foundation (R)

The big money has yet to settle on who should be the next U.S. president.

On Monday, the The New York Times reported that billionaire industrialists Charles and has signaled their preferred presidential candidate: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

The brothers who lead Koch Industries hinted at their support of Walker and could even assist him financially, according to the report, which cited comments made at a recent donor event in New York.

But David Koch challenged the idea that he and brother—the most prominent supporters of conservative politicians in the country—were choosing sides.

"While I think Governor Walker is terrific, let me be clear, I am not endorsing or supporting any candidate for President at this point in time," Koch said in a statement emailed to by a spokesman.

Wall Street's political kingmakers reach for their wallets

Regardless of who the Kochs ultimately support, the financial and business communities have yet to settle on a candidate.

Hedge fund magnate Bob Mercer—another top conservative donor—is backing Texas Senator Ted Cruz, for example. Private equity titan Henry Kravis is supporting former Florida governor Jeb Bush. And Ken Langone, the Home Depot co-founder, is behind New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Other prominent Republican donors, hedge fund billionaires Paul Singer and Ken Griffin for example, have yet to decide on who to back entirely.

Big money for Hillary

The story is different for Democrats, where backing for Hillary Clinton is strong among more liberal traders and financiers.

"This is a phenomenal country but we have a number of issues to solve, and she's the one to do it," hedge fund manager Marc Lasry told about his support for Hillary Clinton.

Lasry, a longtime Democratic supporter with close ties to the Clinton family, has already emailed potential Clinton supporters and asked them to contribute as much as they can to the cause.

"The response has been extremely positive; there's a huge amount of interest," the billionaire co-founder of Avenue Capital Group said of the response to his financial community outreach.

Individuals can donate up to $2,700 to a candidate directly, but can now give unlimited amounts to "Super PACs," political action committees that aren't allowed to coordinate directly with politicians. Direct donations become public records, but Super PACs are less transparent.

Read MoreThe case for Rubio as the anti-Hillary

Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager and the largest liberal donor in the 2014 midterms, also appears to be behind Clinton, as indicated by a tweet from his group NextGen Climate:

NextGen tweet

The advocacy organization supports or attacks politicians based on their efforts around global warming, or lack thereof. A spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Soros, the billionaire investor and longtime Democratic booster, has given to Super PAC Ready for Hillary and in 2013 became co-chair of the group's national finance council. A spokesman for Soros declined to comment.

Others in finance who support Clinton either financially, politically or both—or are seen as likely to—are: Blair Effron, co-founder of investment bank and private equity fund Centerview Partners; Orin Kramer, CEO of hedge fund firm Boston Provident; Tony James, president of private equity giant Blackstone Group; Greg Fleming, president of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management; Roger Altman of investment bank Evercore Partners; Mark Gallogly, co-founder of Centerbridge Partners; Tom Nides, vice chairman of Morgan Stanley; and Glenn Hutchins of technology investor Silver Lake Partners.

Others who have previously given to Clinton include Jim Simons, the retired founder of Renaissance Technologies; David Shaw, founder of hedge fund firm D.E. Shaw; and Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs.

All declined to comment or did not respond to requests.

No issue with rich-poor focus

I don't view that as any anti-business rhetoric at all.
Robert Wolf
CEO, 32 Advisors
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, greets Hillary Clinton during the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative in New York.
Stephen Chernin | AFP | Getty Images

Democrats from Wall Street don't appear to be alienated by Clinton's initial focus on wealth inequality.

In her first campaign speech in Iowa Tuesday, Clinton noted how there's "something wrong" when "CEOs make 300 times more than the typical worker" and "hedge fund managers pay lower tax rates than nurses or the truckers," according to The Huffington Post.

"We need a vibrant middle class and we need to figure out how to get there and get more better-paying jobs," Robert Wolf, the former chairman and CEO of UBS Americas, told "I don't view that as any anti-business rhetoric at all. That is actually things that need to come out and we need resolve and talk about."

Wolf, who now leads consulting firm 32 Advisors, is supporting Clinton, a natural next step as being a top fundraiser and advisor to President Barack Obama.

Indeed, Clinton is no stranger to Wall Street. The second-time presidential candidate has given paid speeches at Goldman Sachs and major private equity firms Carlyle Group and KKR in 2013, for example.

Read MoreThis is how billionaires enjoy super-low 20% taxes

Scattered GOP field

Conservative financial players have yet to coalesce around a candidate.

One of the largest donations to emerge is from Mercer, the secretive co-head of quantitative hedge fund giant Renaissance Technologies.

A major giver to conservatives in the recent midterm elections, Mercer is believed to be the main donor behind a network of four so-called Super Political Action Committees supporting Cruz that have already reported raising $31 million, according to a report by The New York Times.

A spokesman for Mercer declined to comment.

Read MoreWho is Robert Mercer?

Bush appears to be getting solid Wall Street support.

KKR's billionaire co-founder, Kravis, hosted a February fundraiser for the former Florida governor, who has yet to formally declare his candidacy. The dinner included fellow KKR executives Alex Navab, Ken Mehlman and Zach Pack, plus Neuberger Berman Group CEO George Walker, among others. The suggested donation to attend the event was $100,000, according to the New York Observer.

Representatives for those present declined to comment.

One investor to support Walker is Anthony Scaramucci, founder of hedge fund investor SkyBridge Capital.

Scaramucci tweet

Still dating

Mr. Singer is enthusiastic about the strong GOP field, but has not yet settled on any one candidate.
Michael O'Looney
Singer spokesman
Top presidential pick among millionaires is ...
Top presidential pick among millionaires is ...

Not everyone has decided whom to support.

Paul Singer, the founder of hedge fund firm Elliott Management and a major donor to Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, is taking his time.

"Mr. Singer is enthusiastic about the strong GOP field, but has not yet settled on any one candidate," Elliott spokesman Michael O'Looney said in an email.

O'Looney called a recent story saying that Singer was backing Marco Rubio "categorically false."

Ken Griffin of hedge fund firm Citadel—the same Chicago-based shop that announced Thursday it had hired Ben Bernanke—has given to Walker but hasn't fully committed to any candidate yet, according to a person familiar with his thinking. A spokesman for Citadel declined to comment.

Others known as big donors who appear undecided include Tiger Management founder Julian Robertson; Third Point head Dan Loeb; Baupost Group chief Seth Klarman; and Caxton Associates founder Bruce Kovner.

Representatives for the men declined to comment or did not respond to requests.

Read More

Campaign contributions from securities and investment firms

Election Cycle Total Contributions % to Dems % to Repubs
2014$194,232,682 37%63%
2012$288,249,073 31%69%
2010$108,904,674 49%51%
2008$177,355,719 58%42%
2006$82,754,174 52%45%
2004$103,333,006 47%53%
2002$67,145,000 48%52%
2000$101,678,842 46%54%
1998$40,586,157 47%52%
1996$51,399,806 42%57%
1994$25,535,280 51%49%
1992$33,042,833 52%47%
1990$12,604,388 57%43%

Source: Source: Center for Responsive Politics

Regardless, politicians will continue to court financial community donors.

Securities and investment-focused firms have given more money in each successful presidential election cycle since at least 1990, according to Center for Responsive Politics data.

"Wall Street frequently is the source of more contributions in an election than any other industry, and there's no reason to think that 2016 will be any different," said Viveca Novak, communications director at watchdog Center for Responsive Politics.

Wall Street favored Democrats in 2008 by 58 percent to 42 percent for Republicans, according to CRP. But the financial community swung right in 2012, with 69 percent supporting the GOP.