Plutocrats in the Streets, Bernie Bros in the Sheets

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New data reveals sugar daddies are going hard for Senator Sanders.

By Jared Keller

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The original Bernie Bro. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)

If you’re the type of man who pays for female companionship, there’s a strong chance you’re feeling the Bern. In your wallet, that is.

In a poll of 7,270 “sugar daddies” in the United States by SeekingArrangement.com (which you may remember from such headlines as “Sugar Daddy Website Has Coeds Justifying Prostitution”), the most common recipient of financial contributions apart from the site’s female clientele was Senator Bernie Sanders, who narrowly won Indiana’s Democratic primary on Tuesday night. Some 345 male sugar daddies admitted to donating to the Sanders campaign, followed by 291 to Donald Trump and 174 to Hillary Clinton. Almost half donated to more than one campaign.

Who cares, right? Most online polls are complete nonsense. But here’s the interesting thing: The majority of sugar daddies are self-described “one-percenters,” executives and businessmen who earn more than $250,000 a year. According to SeekingArrangements.com’s 2013 data on the company’s 468,000-plus users, the average American sugar daddy is a 39-year-old man who rakes in $275,301 (that’s down from an average of 44 years old in 2007). Most of them are executives and entrepreneurs located in major metropolitan areas. It is not a site for sandal-clad Bernie Bros; it’s the home of the plutocrats-in-waiting that Sanders rails against on the campaign trail.

Pro-Bernie Wall Streeters aren’t as hard to find as you might think.

“Plenty of Sugar Daddies are considered ‘one-percenters,’ making Sanders an unexpected choice,” says Brandon Wade, founder and CEO of SeekingArrangement.com.

Are businessmen really getting freaky for Sanders behind closed doors? It’s certainly not unheard of. Consider hedge fund advisor Paul Ryan, a partner at Heyfield Financial and a 30-year-veteran on Wall Street. In a bizarre 2015 interview with New York’s WNYC Radio, Ryan declared his undying affection for Sanders:

The whole understanding of Wall Street that I have comes from Judge Brandeis [who said], ‘Sunlight is the greatest of disinfectants,’ something that we seem to have forgotten … Wall Street has gotten dark and complex in the last 50 years. There’s disintermediation of the banks, and everything that was clear and understood we’ve now murked up. …

“More than size, complexity is the problem … Glass-Steagall separates things and makes things less complex. When you mix the investment bank and the shadow economy with the commercial bank, that’s a real complicated thing. I dare say — and I’m reasonably educated; went to law school, majored in economics, and worked in a bank — I’m hard pressed to know what Goldman Sachs or CitiBank actually does. And I didn’t fall off a turnip truck. I just can’t figure out what they’re doing right now.

Pro-Bernie Wall Streeters aren’t as hard to find as you might think. Al Jazeera found quite a few by just wandering around the joint. Even Asher Edelman, the iconic 1980s stockbroker who inspired Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko, endorsed the self-described socialist. “If you look at something called velocity of money — that means how much gets spent and turns around — when you have the top one percent getting money, they spend five, 10 percent of what they earn. When you have the lower half of the economy, they spend 100 or 110 percent of what they earn,” Edelman told CNBC in March.

“Bernie is the only person out there who I think is talking at all about fiscal stimulation and banking rules that will make the banks begin to talk about lending again as opposed to speculation,” Edelman added. “From an economic point of view, it’s straightforward.”

Strangely enough, this random poll from SeekingArrangements actually underscores a crucial vein of dissent running through global financial institutions. Despite a government-backed rescue in the aftermath of the 2008 global economic meltdown and S&P 500-stock index profit margins at a record high, some financial leaders are actually starting to question the corruption and profiteering that has powered the market for months. Even investment leviathan Goldman Sachs saw a reckoning on the horizon for the market in a February report: “We are always wary of guiding for mean reversion. But, if we are wrong and high margins manage to endure for the next few years (particularly when global demand growth is below trend), there are broader questions to be asked about the efficacy of capitalism.

Of course, there may be another explanation: These pro-Sanders yuppies polling on SeekingArrangement.com are just a bunch of successful young Bernie Bros looking to get their jollies off. “The average Sugar Daddy is younger than one might assume,” explained SeekingArrangment.com’s public relations manager when questioned by email, “but they also have an obligation to be generous and chivalrous to receive favor with Sugar Babies, who are largely feminist and very keen on getting what they want from their relationships.”

Sounds about right.

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