Campaign finance data shows Delaware’s support for Biden

DOVER — Joe Biden really has some enthusiastic fans in his home state.

Per capita, Delawareans gave more to President-elect Biden’s 2020 campaign than residents of any other state, according to campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission.

While Delaware ranked 24th among the 50 states in total dollars given to President-elect Biden, with Delawareans donating $4.36 million to the Democratic nominee, it finished first on a per-person basis. At $4.48 per person, Delaware can boast of punching above its weight class.

Aside from Massachusetts ($4.39), no other state was within 60 cents.

Delawareans gave about $5.55 million to presidential candidates this past cycle, with nearly 79% of those dollars going to President-elect Biden.

That’s a sharp uptick from 2016, when residents of the state gave $1.49 million in total. The 2016 contest, of course, did not feature the current president-elect, who represented the First State in the Senate for 36 years.

According to The Guardian, just six states gave President-elect Biden a higher share of their popular vote than the 58.8% he pulled in here Nov. 3. His 296,000 votes from Delawareans represent a record for any presidential candidates in the First State.

While only the Dakotas gave less money to presidential candidates four years ago, this cycle saw Delaware finish above 14 states in terms of presidential contributions.

Per capita, seven states gave more money to all presidential candidates than Delaware. Contributions from the First State equated to $5.69 per person.

Forty-seven states contributed more to President Donald Trump than Delaware did, as the Republican collected $816,000 from Delaware. Per capita, the First State comes in tied with Connecticut at 32nd in this metric, averaging 84 cents per resident.

Virginia was first in total per capita contributions by a wide margin, at $8.74 per person. California, the nation’s most populous state, gave the most in real dollars, with $237 million.

Once again, no state gave less than North Dakota, which has about 78% of the population of Delaware.

Vermont contributed the least funding to the Trump campaign, both in total dollars and per person, while Mississippi was last in contributions per capita and all donations to President-elect Biden.

For every dollar Mississippians gave to the Biden campaign, Delawareans gave $16.58.

Delaware was 42nd in donations to the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 47th for contributing to the Trump campaign in 2016.

State candidate finances

Below is a breakdown of spending by state candidates since the start of 2019, according to records from the FEC and the Delaware Department of Elections. Note that this data does not include the final week before the election (for congressional candidates, the data lacks the 20 days leading up to the election).

It also only counts direct spending, meaning independent expenditures — such as the $437,000-plus that businessman Chris Kenny, his ShopRite supermarket chain and a free-market advocacy group he founded — spent on behalf of three GOP state Senate candidates are not included.

Among statewide candidates, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons easily surpassed all other Delawareans in both fundraising and spending. Sen. Coons, a Democrat reelected with 59.4% of the vote, raised about $5.65 million in 2019 and 2020, spending $3.74 million.

His opponent, Republican nominee Lauren Witzke, raised $348,000 and spent $284,000. She finished with 37.9%, although her 186,000 votes represent a record for GOP Senate hopefuls here.

Jessica Scarane, Sen. Coons’ unsuccessful primary challenger, had $419,000 in donations. Her campaign, which garnered 27.1%, spent $336,000.

Gov. John Carney pulled in $563,000 and spent $743,000 (his campaign account had almost $339,000 at the end of 2018). His chief opponent, Republican Julianne Murray, collected $267,000, with expenses totaling $245,000.

Gov. Carney, a Democrat, finished with 59.5% or almost 293,000 votes. The latter figure is a record for gubernatorial candidates.

U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester reported $1.85 million in donations and $928,000 in expenditures, while Republican challenger Lee Murphy had $101,000 and $72,000 in contributions and spending, respectively. Rep. Blunt Rochester, the Democratic nominee, earned a third term in Congress by pulling in 57.6%.

Democratic Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro outspent his opponents in both the primary and the general elections, expending $182,000 on his way to a second term. His chief foe, GOP nominee Julia Pillsbury, spent $49,000.

Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, a Democrat, raised $197,000, while spending $122,000. Republican contender Donyale Hall raised $79,000 from donors and loaned herself $50,000, en route to total expenditures of $81,000.

A few upstate Senate races saw big money as well.

Democrat Sarah McBride, who won the 1st Senatorial District seat to become the first transgender state senator in the nation, flexed her muscles with fundraising, taking in $292,000.

In the 13th Senatorial District, longtime incumbent David McBride heavily outspent challenger Marie Pinkney, but it proved fruitless. Despite the then-president pro tempore spending $160,000 leading up to the September Democratic primary, he was unseated by Ms. Pinkney.

Ms. Pinkney spent $33,000, including just $23,000 ahead of the primary. In other words, Mr. McBride outspent his opponent 7-to-1 but still narrowly lost.

Democrat Spiros Mantzavinos spent $84,000 to deny Republican Anthony Delcollo a second term in the 7th Senatorial District. Mr. Delcollo, who had expenditures totaling $88,000, came up just short, pulling in 48.7% of votes cast in the two-candidate race.

Another upstart Democrat won a close race in the 5th Senatorial District. Kyle Evans Gay spent $149,000 to Republican Cathy Cloutier’s $97,000, ultimately finishing with 52.3%. Ms. Cloutier had held the seat since 2000.

While those totals may seem large, this cycle did not break the record for most spending in a single state legislative race. That distinction belongs to the 2017 special election in the 10th Senatorial District, which determined control of the Senate.
Republican John Marino spent a sum of about $150,000, but that pales in comparison to the roughly $400,000 expended by Democratic victor Stephanie Hansen. (The combined spending there equates to about $72 per vote.)

Of the three Democratic incumbents in the House of Representatives who lost bids for reelection in the primary, two outspent their opponents leading up to the Sept. 15 contest.

John Viola, the longest-serving member of the House, reported $74,000 in expenditures compared to $41,000 for Madinah Wilson-Anton in the 26th Representative District, but Ms. Wilson-Anton finished with 43 more votes. The 27-year-old Democrat will be the youngest member of the legislature and is believed to be the first practicing Muslim to win election to the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, Larry Lambert denied fellow Democrat Ray Seigfried a second term in the 7th Representative District, despite being outspent $18,000 to $36,000.

In the 27th Representative District, Eric Morrison outspent incumbent Earl Jaques, whom he took down with 61.1% of the vote in the Democratic primary. Mr. Morrison reported expenditures totaling $59,000 leading up the primary, outpacing Mr. Jaques’ $23,000.

Mr. Morrison and Ms. Pinkney are the first openly gay individuals elected to the Delaware General Assembly, meaning the legislature will now have three LGBT members (Ms. McBride is the other).

Another hotly contested House seat in the general election was the 22nd Representative District. There, incumbent Mike Ramone overcame a challenge by Stephanie Barry, who came close to winning in 2018. Rep. Ramone, a Republican who finished with 52.6%, had expenditures of $120,000, compared to $38,000 for his Democratic opponent.

Money isn’t everything in elections, but it sure can help.