As Sheldon Adelson has shown, a single billionaire donor has the potential to make a critical difference in an American Presidential race. For this reason, there has been intense interest, on the Democratic side, in gauging the intentions of George Soros, who is ranked seventh on Forbes’s list of the wealthiest Americans. Over the past thirty years, no benefactor has contributed more to liberal causes. Campaign donations have been a small part of his philanthropy, but in 2008, four years after he made his record campaign donations, he gave five million dollars to help elect Barack Obama. This kept expectations high for 2012.

Soros declined to comment for this article. But several people familiar with his thinking suggest that Soros—who was born in Hungary, and who has made his fortune in global investments—is currently preoccupied with other issues, such as the fate of the European Union, and is not inclined to take an outsized role in the 2012 Presidential campaign. As an advocate for greater government transparency, he is reportedly uncomfortable with the burgeoning role that secret donations now play in U.S. elections. In addition, confidants say that, although he still supports Obama, Soros has been disappointed by him, both politically and personally.

Small slights can loom large with wealthy donors. When Soros wanted to meet with Obama in Washington to discuss global economic problems, Obama’s staff failed to respond. Eventually, they arranged not a White House interview but, rather, a low-profile, private meeting in New York, when the President was in town for other business. Soros found this back-door treatment confounding. “He feels hurt,” a Democratic donor says.

“They pissed on him,” a confidant says. “He didn’t want a fucking thing! He didn’t want a state dinner, or a White House party—he just wanted to be taken seriously.”

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