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Expand chart
Data: Cohen, Hazan, Tallarita, and Weiss, The Politics of CEOs, March 2019; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

A new, first of its kind study tracks the political leanings of CEOs by examining 18 years of political contributions by more than 3,800 CEOs of S&P 1500 companies.

The big picture: The chief executives of America's largest public companies are more than twice as likely to lean Republican in their campaign contributions than to favor Democrats.

  • Among big energy companies, CEOs' Republican leanings are even stronger: more than 9 in 10 energy CEOs side with Republicans, and none with Democrats.
  • The study, by professors from Harvard Law School and Tel-Aviv University, classifies a CEO as a Republican or a Democrat if they gave at least two-thirds of their campaign contributions to one party or the other. CEOs that distributed their contributions more evenly between the two major parties were classified as neutral.

Why it matters: Money matters in politics — and CEOs wield significant power in America.

  • The public trusts CEOs more than journalists and government officials, according to a recent Edelman survey, and 84% "expect CEOs to inform conversations and policy debates on one or more pressing societal issues."
  • They sit on presidential advisory committees like President Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum, which included J.P. Morgan's Jamie Dimon and GM's Mary Barra, and Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
  • And they potentially influence how their companies make independent political expenditures, a large and growing source of campaign finance since the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United vs. FEC decision.

The other side: CEOs are responsible for maximizing shareholder value, and "some might argue that support for Republicans is consistent with shareholder interests because share value would benefit from the low-tax and deregulatory policies promoted by Republicans," according to the study.

How they did it: Harvard Law School's Alma Cohen and Roberto Tallarita and Tel-Aviv University's Moshe Hazan and David Weiss analyzed the political contributions to candidates, committees, and parties from 3,810 individuals who served as CEOs of companies in the S&P 1500 index between 2000 and 2017.

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Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

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A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

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Zelensky questions U.S. warnings of "imminent" invasion in Biden call

Biden and Zelensky at the White House last October. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a back-and-forth in their call this evening about just how "imminent" the threat of a Russian invasion might be, according to three sources briefed on the call.

Why it matters: Biden has said previously that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably "move in" to Ukraine, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday afternoon that "an invasion could come at any time."