"Retail politics" is a term that generally refers to a style of campaigning in which a candidate has a direct contact and individual interactions with constituents and voters. But retail politics in the 2012 presidential campaign will also describe how retail industry corporations and associations contribute money and communicate campaign messages directly to the public in support of the political party and candidates they believe will be best for their own business for the next four years.
Since there is no limit to the amount of financial and advertising support that retail company and association PACs can provide, the impact that the U.S. retail industry can have on the outcome of the 2012 presidential election know no bounds either. This is not good news for democratic party candidates, since the U.S. retail industry tends to support Republican candidates with pro-business platforms.
Super PACs are largely unbridled, but they are also transparent. Since it is difficult for a retail company or association to hide its Super PAC political activities, it is thought that the lack of anonymity will be the regulator of behavior. To openly support one political party over another is to risk alienating customers who have different political opinions.
As an example of that, when Target and Best Buy gave financial support to the political campaigns of candidates who openly opposed gay rights, the LGBT community quickly organized its 300,000 members to boycott Target and Best Buy stores, and take their $759 billion spending power to Target and Best Buy competitors. Certainly this is not the first time that retail companies have supported candidates who oppose gay rights. It's just that in previous years such corporate political support could be hidden, which is getting more difficult for retail companies and associations to do.
In general, retail industry companies and associations are more interested in their own business than they are in any particular political party. So, often retail Super PAC financial support is bipartisan to a certain extent. Nonetheless it is usually clear which political platform the retail company or association prefers by the amount of money that they contribute to support it and its candidates.
What follows is a roundup of U.S. retail industry Super PACs and the political parties that they predominantly support financially. Political contributions from the 2008 presidential election cycle are included in order to compare that financial support with the Super PAC financial activities in the 2012 election cycle so far.
Click to view: